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Interactive Brokers review

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It promises low fees and advanced charting, but some news feeds cost extra.

finder.com’s rating: 4.1 / 5.0

★★★★★

Earn interest on your cash balance and access to competitive brokerage fees.

Interactive Brokers offers an impressive range of tools and low fees for active or professional investors. In late 2019, it introduced IBKR Lite, a platform aimed at casual investors that charges no commissions on stocks and ETFs listed on US exchanges .

$0

Stock trade fee

0%

Annual fee

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

Available asset typesStocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,Index funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures,Cash
Available asset classesEmerging market stocks,Emerging market bonds,Foreign developed stocks,US total stock market,US stocks
Account typesBrokerage,Retirement,Robo-Advisor,Individual,Joint,Trust

Expert review

Shannon Terrell

Review by


Shannon Terrell is a writer for Finder who studied communications and English literature at the University of Toronto. On any given day, you can find her researching everything from equine financing and business loans to student debt refinancing and how to start a trust. She loves hot coffee, the smell of fresh books and discovering new ways to save her pennies.

Expert review

Interactive Brokers offers an extensive list of tradable securities, multiple platforms, comprehensive news coverage and robust research offerings, making it well-positioned to serve professional traders. Its Portfolio Builder tool can help you adjust ongoing investments, and you can test new strategies risk free with its paper trading feature. The platform is equipped with just about everything you need to execute swift, well-informed trades.

That said, its fee structure is more complex than most, and you’ll need a net worth of at least $20,000 to be eligible for an account — though IBKR may waive this requirement if you’re between 18 and 21. Be prepared to invest some time learning the software, as users report a high learning curve.

Who is Interactive Brokers best for?

Interactive Brokers has the potential to suit a wide range of investors thanks to its two distinct services: IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite. Experienced traders will enjoy IBKR’s low brokerage fees, access to extensive investment vehicles, portfolio tracking, live updates and company notifications. And beginners can use IBKR Lite — a simplified version of Interactive Brokers’ software aimed at casual investors.

IBKR Pro vs. IBKR Lite

Amid a sea change of online brokers slashing commissions, Interactive Brokers launched IBKR Lite, a simplified trading platform for casual investors. The platform offers unlimited trades with no commissions on stocks and ETFs listed on US exchanges. You can trade mutual funds, options, futures, fixed income and other such investments for a fee.

The company rebranded its platform for experienced traders as IBKR Pro. You can take advantage of tools such as advanced charting, an options strategy lab and heat maps of stock performance. Fixed fees are $0.005 per share for stocks and ETFs, with a $1 minimum commission and maximum of 1% of total trade value. High-volume traders may be eligible for lower fees on IBKR’s tiered fee structure.

  • Choose IBKR Pro if you’re an active trader with experience navigating investment research and analytics tools.
  • Choose IBKR Lite if you’re new to trading and want simplified commission-free stock trading.

What are the benefits of Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers allows convenient online trading on desktop or mobile. A bevy of other benefits separate the platform from others:

  • Multiplatform. Use your IBKR Pro Traders Workstation trading platform on both desktop and mobile, or place trades through the Client Portal or IBot.
  • Broad access. Unlike other trading platforms, you can access stocks, options, futures, FOPs, ETFs, warrants, SSFs, forex, metals, indexes, fixed income and mutual funds through one account.
  • Wide range of order types. Execute faster trades and limit risk through more than 100 order types and algorithms.
  • Low brokerage fees. IBKR Lite lets you trade US exchange–listed stocks and ETFs for free, while IBKR Pro offers fixed pricing of $0.005 per share with a $1 minimum per order. This includes all IB commissions, exchange fees and most regulatory fees, but not transaction fees. Tiered commissions start at $0.0035 per share with a minimum of $0.35 per order.
  • Low margin-lending rates. IBKR Pro margin loan rates are 0.75% to 1.59%, depending on the balance. IBKR Lite rates are 2.59% regardless of balance.

What is Portfolio Builder?

Portfolio Builder is an application that allows you to:

  • Easily compare and test your portfolio against a benchmark index.
  • Gain access to a live news feed and real-time notifications of takeovers, earnings, options expirations and more.
  • Compare your portfolio and strategy to other leading investors.
  • Adjust your strategy until historical performance meets your standards.

What platforms does it offer?

Interactive Brokers has no shortage of trading platforms available, including in-house platforms and third-party integrations.

Native platforms

Interactive Brokers offers six unique in-house platforms designed to cater to a variety of investor needs:

  • Client Portal. Best for traders new to the platform who want to manage their account. From the Client Portal, you can place orders, view key account metrics, tap into customizable charting tools and more.
  • IB Trader Workstation (TWS). A desktop platform for high-volume global traders. It can facilitate trading, order management, charting, watchlists and more from a customizable workspace. It also provides access to analyst research from third-party providers.
  • IBKR Mobile. The app is for traders who need to trade and monitor positions on the go. It offers access to over 135 markets with many of the same advanced quotes and research options as the desktop platform.
  • IBot. A voice-activated application capable of displaying positions, retrieving charts and placing simple orders through natural-language text commands. Integrates with the Client Portal, TWS and IBKR Mobile.
  • IBKR Web Trader. A web-based version of the Trader Workstation, equipped with many of the same features and tools and designed to work behind a firewall. It’s not available to IBKR Lite clients.
  • IBKR APIs. For traders who want to write their own trading software. It comes with an approachable Excel API and a robust FIX API. Not available to IBKR Lite clients.

Third-party integrations

Interactive Brokers integrates with a variety of portfolio management, order management, post-trade allocation and compliance software. Among the integrations is DAS Trader, one of the most popular day-trading platforms, with basic packages starting at $100 monthly. Sterling is also available, but only for institutional clients.

What is Interactive Advisors?

Interactive Advisors is IB’s robo-advisor service. With a minimum deposit of $100, you can leverage dozens of automated portfolios tailored to your investment goals. Annual management fees range from 0.08% to 1.5% and investments are automatically rebalanced every quarter.

What research and tools does it provide?

The Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation offers a comprehensive suite of research and analytics tools:

  • Account window. View your account balances, available funds, market value and portfolio data from a single dashboard.
  • Watchlists. Craft personalized watchlists to monitor market quotes in realtime.
  • Alerts. Set alerts by price, time, margin and volume.
  • Risk navigator. Calculate and review your risk exposure across multiple assets.
  • Option analytics. Monitor option’s price fluctuations across a number of risk dimensions.
  • Industry news. Access news and research from Morningstar, Reuters, Dow Jones, Zacks Investment Research and Seeking Alpha.
  • Paper trading. Test trading strategies without risking capital.

What to watch out for

While Interactive Brokers offers powerful trading platforms, carefully consider its weaknesses before opening an account.

  • High learning curve. To optimize your account through TWS, you must thoroughly understand what you want to get out of it — no easy task for beginners. On top of this, the setup is complex enough that even advanced traders may find the process takes time to get right.
  • Real-time data may cost you. Interactive Brokers boasts extensive live data feeds and customizable company notifications. But data and news may involve fees that depend on the options you choose.
  • High net worth requirements. You’ll need a net worth of at least $20,000 to trade stocks in a cash account or Reg T margin account, though traders aged 18-21 may be able to open an account with a lower net worth.

Interactive Brokers reviews and complaints

Interactive Brokers is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, it earns an A- rating based on internal BBB criteria that includes the company’s response to more than 20 customer complaints.

Interactive Brokers earns a 3.3 out of 5 on Trustpilot as of September 2020. Many clients complain that customer support is slow to resolve issues and the platform often runs into technical problems.

Pricing and fees

Interactive Brokers markets itself as the lowest-cost trading platform on the market. That may be true, but watch for pricing loopholes for stocks, ETFs and warrants.

Trades for options, futures, forex, fixed income and more come with their own fee structures.

IBKR Lite brokerage fees

For IBKR Lite, commissions you pay include exchange and regulatory fees.

Minimum per orderMaximum per order
US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs$0$0

IBKR Pro brokerage fees

If you open an IBKR Pro account, you can choose between fixed and tiered pricing structures.

Fixed fees

Commissions you pay include exchange and regulatory fees.

Cost per shareMinimum per orderMaximum per order
No-transaction-fee ETFs$0$0$0
Stocks$0.005$11% of trade value
IBKR Pro tiered brokerage fees for US stocks, ETFs, ETPs and warrants

Available only for IBKR Pro, tiered pricing means your brokerage fee decreases the more you trade per month.

Fees vary based on what and where you’re trading, with different fee schedules for different countries and options. Additional clearing and exchange fees depend on which exchange the security is listed on.With IBKR Pro tiered pricing, you’ll pay exchange, regulatory and clearing fees.

Monthly trade valueCost per shareMinimum per orderMaximum per order
First 300,000 shares$0.0035$0.351% of trade value
300,000–3,000,000 shares$0.002$0.351% of trade value
3,000,001–20,000,000 shares$0.0015$0.351% of trade value
20,000,001–100,000,000 shares$0.001$0.351% of trade value
100,000,000+ shares$0.0005$0.351% of trade value

Other account fees

Other fees to be aware of include:

  • Maintenance fee. IBKR Lite accounts don’t have maintenance fees. If you open an IBKR Pro account, you can pay up to $10 a month in maintenance fees. Any commissions you pay on trades are subtracted from the maintenance fee — so if you pay at least $10 in commissions, you won’t be charged a maintenance fee.
  • International share trading fees. IB’s fees on international stocks depend on the country the stock is listed in and whether you’ve chosen a tiered or fixed- fee structure. Stocks listed in the US and Canada charge brokerage fees per stock, rather than value. Most stocks listed in Europe and Asia-Pacific use trade value to set the fees.
  • Data fees. Subscriptions to real-time streaming market data is free in some instances, but you may need to pay when exchanges charge Interactive Brokers for the data.

How do I get started?

It’s relatively simple to open an Interactive Broker account, but with a few interesting eligibility requirements.

Eligibility

  • At least 18 years old
  • Confirmed knowledge of the product you wish to trade — you may be asked to conduct simulated trades using the demo version first.
  • Liquid net assets of at least $20,000 if you’re over 21

I’ve made my first trade. Now what?

  • Take advantage of research. A wealth of research from free and paid sources help you keep up with the newest developments to properly track your investments.
  • Avoid inactivity fees. If you have an IBKR Pro account, you may incur fees if your commission changes or average equity balance fall below stated amounts.
  • Use educational resources. Webinars, short videos, courses and tools help you broaden your trading knowledge. Or visit the IBKR Expert Community for market commentary and data.
  • Get customer support. Get help with your account by phone, email or live chat.

Interactive Brokers customer service

Contact Interactive Brokers in three ways:

  • Call 877-442-2757 weekdays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT or Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
  • Chat live with a rep through your Client Portal 24/7 on weekdays or Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT
  • Email through the message center anytime for a response within 24 hours

Compare other stock trading platforms

Bottom line

If you’re an experienced trader looking for a platform that offers low fees for high-volume trades, IBKR might fit the bill. But beginners to trading may want to compare other trading platforms.

Frequently asked questions

How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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