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Interactive Brokers review

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

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warning iconImportant: This broker offers CFDs which are a leveraged product and can result in the loss of your entire capital. Ensure you fully understand the risks before trading.

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is one of the oldest stock trading platforms with low-cost access to over 125 markets. It offers a wide range of asset classes, including stocks, ETFs, options, futures, forex and more.

Learn more about Interactive Brokers and find out if its offerings are ideal for you.

Quick verdict

Good for
  • Trusted brokerage
  • Low brokerage fees
  • Low margin-lending rates
  • Advanced data and monitoring tools
Not so great for
  • Platform has a high learning curve for beginners
  • Monthly activity fee for IBKR Pro accounts below a stated volume

Compare Interactive Brokers as an online broker

Name Product Number of Stocks Shares Available Markets
Interactive Brokers
Access to global markets
Yes
Global markets
Your capital is at risk.
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Interactive Brokers is regulated by the MAS

Interactive Brokers Singapore Pte. Ltd. Is licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Licence No. CMS100917). Registered Office: #40-02A, Asia Square Tower 1, 8 Marina View, Singapore 018960

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.
  • Customizable. Suit your investment style, whether you’re trading stocks, options, futures, forex or a mix.
  • Broad access. Unlike other trading platforms, you can access stocks, options, futures, FOPs, ETFs, warrants, SSFs, forex, metals, indices, fixed income and mutual funds through one account.
  • Earn interest on idle cash. You can earn interest on cash account balances of more $10,000. Interest rates in November 2019 were 1.05% for an IBKR Pro user.
  • Wide range of order types. Execute faster trades and limit risk through more than 100 order types and algorithms.

Interactive Brokers features

  • Portfolio Builder. An additional platform application in the Traders Workstation allows you to create custom portfolio strategies using historical data and research.
  • IBot feature. This easy-to-use chatbot with voice activation responds quickly to market and company queries and can place orders for you.
  • Research. Access news and research from such sources as Morningstar Equity Ownership, Zacks Investment Research and Seeking Alpha. Get access to other sources through paid subscriptions.
  • Robo-advisor. Leverage automated portfolios from Interactive Advisors with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Plus, pay management fees as low as 0.08% — a favourable rate compared to other robo-advisors.

What can you do with 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 are the 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.

Broker or commission fees

IBKR Pro charge fixed rates, which means commissions you pay include exchange and regulatory fees.

With IBKR Pro tiered pricing, you’ll pay exchange, regulatory and clearing 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.

US fixed brokerage fees for IBKR Pro and for stocks or ETFs not listed on US exchanges

Cost per stockMinimum per orderMaximum per order
No-transaction-fee ETFs$0$0$0
Stocks$0.005$11% of trade value

US tiered brokerage fees for IBKR Pro

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.

Fees for US stocks, ETFs, ETPs and warrants
Monthly trade valueCost per stockMinimum per orderMaximum per order
First 300,000 stocks$0.0035$0.351% of trade value
300,000–3,000,000 stocks$0.002$0.351% of trade value
3,000,001–20,000,000 stocks$0.0015$0.351% of trade value
20,000,001–100,000,000 stocks$0.001$0.351% of trade value
100,000,000+ stocks$0.0005$0.351% of trade value

Inactivity fee

You’ll pay an inactivity fee of up to $10 if your monthly brokerage fees on trades are less than $10. It’s a tiered system, where the inactivity fee is equal to $10 minus broker commissions.

If your commissions equal $6 in one month, your inactivity fee is $4. Unfortunately, this fee increases up to $20 a month if your average equity balance falls below $2,000.

International stock 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.

What to watch out for

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

  • High learning curve. To optimise 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 customisable company notifications. But data and news may involve fees that depend on the options you choose.
  • Complicated fee structure. IB has some of the lowest fees on the market, but additional costs like the tiered inactivity fee aren’t immediately obvious.
  • Liquid net worth of at least $20,000 required. This requirement applies regardless of your age.

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 4 out of 5 on Trustpilot as of November 2019. Many clients complain that customer support is slow to resolve issues and the platform often runs into technical problems.

How do I sign up for an Interactive Broker account?

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

Required information

When you’re ready, provide personal and financial details that include:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • Contact details and residential address
  • Asset and income details
  • Employer name and address
  • Proof of government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license
  • Bank details for funding
  • Investment objectives and details about experience

How do you fund your account?

Transfer money into your Interactive Broker account in six ways that depend on your account:

  • Wire transfer
  • Check
  • Online bill payment check
  • ACH transfer
  • Direct rollover — for IRA accounts only
  • Trustee to trustee — for IRA accounts only

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 charges 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.

How do I contact support?

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

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

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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