Interactive Brokers Review: A Globally-Regulated Discount Broker

Interactive Brokers Review: A Globally-Regulated Discount Broker title=

This Trading Platform is available in Ukraine

3.7/5

Interactive Brokers stands out as a top choice for traders seeking a robust platform with a global reach. Renowned for its extensive range of trading instruments, users can access markets worldwide, making it an ideal fit for both seasoned investors and those looking to diversify their portfolios. Clients praise its competitive pricing structure, which includes low commissions that cater to cost-conscious traders without compromising on execution speed or quality.

The broker's advanced technology is often highlighted in reviews, offering a powerful trading suite tailored to the needs of serious traders. Unique features such as sophisticated charting tools, risk management options, and customizable interfaces receive positive feedback, enhancing the overall trading experience. Moreover, the educational resources provided are greatly appreciated by new users, who find them helpful for navigating the complexities of financial markets. With these compelling offerings, Interactive Brokers continues to attract traders who demand excellence and innovation from their brokerage services.

Min. deposit
$0 for IBKR Lite, $100 for IBKR Pro
Demo account
Yes
Currency
AUDCADCHFEURGBPHKDJPYUSD
Supported languages
EngFraGerItaJpnKorNldPorRusSpaZho
Active
Yes
Payment Methods
ACH TransferBank WireChequeDirect Rollover (IRA)Trustee-to-Trustee (IRA)
Pros
  • Advanced trading platforms
  • Access to international markets
  • Competitive commissions
  • Robust research tools
Cons
  • Complex fee structure
  • Not beginner-friendly
  • No MetaTrader platform support
Awards
Numerous awards for trading platform, mobile app, and customer service
Bonus
No bonuses offered
Instruments
BondsCFDsETFsFOPsForexFuturesIndicesMetalsMutual FundsOptionsSSFsStocksStructured ProductsWarrants
Min. trade price
$0 for IBKR Lite, $1 for IBKR Pro or 0.5% of trade value, whichever is lower
Regulated By
FCA (UK)Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)IIROC (Canada)NYSE (US)SEC
MetaTrader 4
No
MetaTrader 5
No
cTrader
No
OmniTrader
No
AlgoTrader
Yes
TradingView
No
Trading Central
No
Autochartist
No
eSignal
No
STP Account
No
ECN Account
Yes
DMA Account
Yes
MAM Account
No
PAMM Account
No
LAMM Account
No
Demat Account
No
Mobile Apps
iOS, Android
Margin Trading
Yes
Volatility Index
No
Spot Trading
No
Perpetual Swaps
No
ELWs
No
REITs
Yes
AI / Machine Learning
No
Robo Advisor
No
P2P Trading
No
Negative Balance Protection
No
VPS Hosting
No
Tournaments
No
Demo Competitions
No
Managed Accounts
Yes
Market Maker
No
Auto Trading
No
Social Trading
No
Copy Trading
No
Trade Signals
No
Islamic Account
No
Inactivity Fee
$0 for IBKR Lite, up to $20 per month for IBKR Pro if certain conditions are not met
Guaranteed Stop Loss
No
Stock Exchanges
Access to over 135 markets worldwide
Commodities
Yes, through futures and CFDs
Forex Trading
Yes
Forex GBPUSD Spread
Variable, as low as 0.6 pips
Forex EURUSD Spread
Variable, as low as 0.1 pips
Forex EURGBP Spread
Variable, as low as 0.6 pips
Forex Assets
23 currencies and 115 forex pairs
Crypto Spread
N/A
Crypto Lending
No
Crypto Staking
No
Crypto Mining
No
Crypto Auto Market Maker
No
Crypto Coins
No direct trading; offers Bitcoin futures
Binary Options
No
Payout Percent
N/A
Expiry Times
N/A
Ladder Options
No
Boundary Options
No
Show all >>

* The amount that will be credited to the account in the case of a successful deal

* General Risk Warning: Your capital might be at risk

Trustpilot Real Time Reviews

Star

The Trustpilot rating is 3.7,
according to 2544 reviews

4.5 Stars
From Germany
From Germany
stars
de
I really can't understand some of the bad ratings, my experience with the IB customer service has always been positive. For example, today I had an issue with opening a new, secondary account, I opened the wrong account. After creating the ticket it took less than an hour until the customer service person replied and solved the problem. This is really state of the art customer service. Overall, imo this is the best broker you can find in Europe, where you get margin accounts and can trade not only stocks but also options, futures, etc.

View all

Dennis Schaaf
Dennis Schaaf
stars
ie
I transferred some accounts over to the service last year and I am happy with the service so far. It had a steep learning curve and it took a while to get all the trade authorizations and things setup to be able to do everything I wanted.

View all

RJK
RJK
stars
es
Simply the best platform I´ve used, vast instruments at disposal, easy set up and layouts, data very good, cash accounts and margin accounts, paper account, lots of tools for charts, nice design, good alerts and watchlist for inventory. Absolutely fantastic customer care. Extensive trading hours to avail of. IBKR is a path to greatness. And their historical stock performance reflects a good business. The only issue I´ve ever had was me. Trade well, invest well, stay objective. They´re happy to help.

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Marcio
Marcio
stars
br
I'm delighted with how quickly you responded to a note I opened. I opened a ticket and in less than 5 minutes they called me. Despite the language barrier, and my English not being very good, the attendant was patient. He was able to help me solve the problem.

View all

Gnizla Gnizla
Gnizla Gnizla
stars
it
It's a good cheap paltform, with a lot of valuable data and trading options. Customer service really needs improvement, especially for investors investing over 1'000'000 USD. Useful features would include a live chat with operators and shorter answering times (I waited 2 weeks to get an answer on portfolio transfer)

View all

JG
JG
stars
de
So far all perfect. Will see how it goes in the long term and update if necessary. I really like it much more than everything else I tried. It's a bit more complicated but much more powerful. I really like the web interface and compact look and customizability of the mobile app. I also find it somewhat more trustworthy (I never understood how some competitors, that I won't mention here, allowed me to trade so much without really verifying my identity, or made it difficult to update my legal residence).

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Content

It’s regulated around the world and offers low-cost commissions on most products. Overall, it is a quality broker worth considering. However, for those new to the broker, the commission structure it uses can be confusing and the trading platform can have a steep learning curve.

interactive brokers review

Learn all about this online broker before opening an account, including how the trading fees work, what products you can trade, deposit and withdrawal methods and minimums, account types, navigating the trading platform and app, and what support is like.

Is Interactive Brokers Safe to Trade With?

Interactive Brokers is regulated in the United States by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

is-interactive-brokers-safe-to-trade-with

Interactive Brokers is regulated to offer trading services in 220 countries as of 2023, according to the broker’s website under Available Countries. There are very few other brokers, if any, that are as highly regulated around the world.

This means your funds are safe with this broker, as they are unlikely to scam you or make false claims. They are watched by many regulators around the world and adhere to applicable laws. This also applies to trading. Due to its high regulation, the broker is unlikely to defraud you through market manipulation.

In terms of account safety, two-step verification is used to access your account. Even if someone gets your username and password, they can’t make any changes to your account without a code that is texted or emailed to you.

IB’s critical servers aren’t connected to the internet, which prevents hacking, and firewalls are used on all servers that contain client information that are connected to the internet.

interactive-brokers-is-regulated-to-offer-trading-services

Overall, IB is a highly trustworthy broker which follows strict regulation and implements strong security measures, meaning your funds and trading are likely safe in their hands.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Commission Fees

Interactive Brokers LLC is a discount broker, which means it charges a small amount for trades compared to many other brokers. However, this also means it charges various fees for certain services which may be included with more expensive brokers.

All products are offered for trade with no additional markup to the spread. You get the same market prices/spreads professional traders and major institutions get.

interactive-brokers-commission-fees

Here is the basic rundown of how the fees work, based on the account type you choose. Each account has a different pricing plan. The account types are Lite, Fixed, and Tiered.

IB Stock Commissions

Lite is the easiest option, as it has basically no commissions. Fixed has a low flat fee, and Tiered means the more you trade the cheaper commissions get.

ib-stock-commissions

The Lite account offers free stock trading. No commissions. The Fixed account has a $1 commission minimum per trade and $0.005 per share. So buying 1000 shares costs $5.

The Tiered pricing account is cheaper, starting at only 0.0035 per share ($3.5 per 1000 shares), and goes down the more shares you trade. The minimum commission is $0.35. However, note that you are responsible for more third-party fees.

Third-party fees are out of the broker’s hands. Regulators charge 0.000008 per share on all transactions and $0.000145 per share on sales. Clearing fees are $0.00020 per share, and exchanges charge fees for interacting with their liquidity.

regulatory-fees

Depending on how much you trade, one account may be better for you than another.

It is worth noting that while $0 commissions seem nice with the Lite, orders may not be accepted and may not get the best execution price. Fixed and Tiered orders use SmartRouting to find the best price available. Note the fine print on IB’s website (screenshot below).

which-plan-is-best-for-you

IB Options Pricing

For options trades, there is again a choice. Lite offers commissions of $0.65 per options contract, with a $1 minimum. Pro accounts can trade for as little as $0.15 per contract with a $1 minimum.

ib-options-pricing

Be aware that third-party fees are added to these commissions, so the actual cost of trade will be higher than the commission amount. Options regulatory fees are $0.02905/contract. Then there are SEC and FINRA fees, plus clearing fees.

exchange-fees

IB Futures Commission Costs

With futures trading, you again have choices. A Tiered account has cheaper trading costs than a Fixed account in most cases.

Almost every futures contract has different commission costs, so it is important to check on the exact commission for your trading product. Here is a list of commissions for most futures contracts.

ib-futures-commission-costs

Cryptocurrency futures have different pricing. The commission is higher, up to $5 per contract.

cryptocurrency-futures-have-different-pricing

Interactive Brokers Forex, Crypto, and Bond Commissions

Commissions vary based on the asset you are trading. Here are the other commission costs for commonly traded markets.

Forex trading has no spread markups, meaning you get the actual market rate, and commissions start at 0.2 basis points multiplied by the trade value (0.00002 x trade value). For example, when buying 100,000 worth of currency, the commission is $2 (0.00002×100,000).

If trading small amounts of currency, be sure to take into account the minimum commission per order.

interactive-brokers-forex-crypto-and-bond-commissions

Cryptocurrency trading incurs a fee of 0.18% of the traded value, and drops the more you trade. There is a minimum commission of $1.75. If you are interested in crypto trading, see AI forecasted prices for both Bitcoin and Ethereum.

cryptocurrency-trading-incurs-a-fee-of-0-18

Bonds are traditionally used by long-term investors, especially by those nearing retirement or that prefer less volatile asset classes than stocks. Bond fees vary based on what type you are buying or selling.

bonds-are-traditionally-used-by-long-term-investors

Corporate bond commissions start at 0.1% of the face value and drop from there. Treasury bills and notes start at 0.002% and drop from there.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Non-Commission Fees

Interactive Brokers charges fees in addition to commissions, but only under certain circumstances.

The main fees to be aware of are:

  • Margin rates
  • Market Data Fees

Margin fees occur when you hold positions overnight for which you used borrowed funds (leverage/margin). You will pay interest on the amount borrowed each day. The interest rate is a yearly rate.

For example, if you are using less than $100,000 in borrowed funds, you will pay 6.57% per year interest, pro-rated to how long you hold the position. The benchmark rate changes as interest rates change in the economy.

interactive-brokers-non-commission-fees

Note that you also get paid interest on your cash balances – something most other brokers don’t offer. The amount you receive is based on current interest rates in your deposit currency.

Market data fees are how you access live quotes. Each data source provides its own subscription cost, which IB passes along to you. Most market data fees are quite inexpensive, such as $5 per month for access to Futures data and $1.50 per month for basic prices on NYSE stocks.

Some fees are waived if you trade a required amount. These fees can add up if you are trading many different markets. Check IB Market Data Fees before opening an account.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Trading Products

Interactive Brokers offers all the highly traded assets, generally at much lower commissions than what other brokers offer. They offer these products with no additional spread or mark-up, other than the commissions charged.

Trade stocks and ETFs, options, futures, currencies, cryptocurrencies, and bonds.

trade-stocks-and-etfs

In addition to these commonly traded products, you can also trade metal prices as well as “events” called Event Contracts.

Event Contracts are a type of digital option where you select Yes or No to an outcome on an event or asset. Every contract has a fixed $20 maximum payout. Your profit is the difference between the price you bought the contract and $20.

If your trade is incorrect, the contract value is $0 for you, and your loss is the difference between the price paid and $0.

interactive-brokers-trading-products

You can also use IB to invest in mutual funds and hedge funds. Mutual funds are a type of pooled asset where many people invest in the pool, and the mutual fund manager buys stocks (or other assets) according to the mutual fund’s strategy, and then investors are allocated profits and losses according to their investment amount.

Hedge funds work the same way as mutual funds, except hedge funds have more leeway on the types of trades they can make, including the ability to take short positions.

Contracts for Difference (CFDs) are offered in certain regions of the world, where legal, such as the United Kingdom.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Deposit and Withdrawal Methods

How you can deposit and withdraw will vary by country, since different payment methods are offered in different countries. Here are the ways you can deposit US funds along with how many business days the deposit takes to reach your account:

  • Direct ACH bank transfer (1 day)
  • Connect your bank to your IB account via ACH (up to 4 days)
  • Bank wire (usually 1 day)
  • Online bill payment to IB (up to 6 days)
  • Scan a check for mobile deposit (up to 6 days for funds to clear)
  • Mail a check (mail time plus up to 6 days for check to clear)
  • Transfer via Wise Balance (instant, requires Wise account)

interactive-brokers-deposit-and-withdrawal-methods

IB does not charge fees on deposits, although your bank or the payment provider may. IB offers a handy Fund Your Account tool that shows you all the ways to deposit from your country in your desired currency.

For withdrawals, you can log into the Client Portal, select Transfer & Pay, then Transfer Funds, then Withdrawals. You’ll be provided with a list of ways to withdraw. Generally, you’re offered the following methods:

  • ACH bank transfer
  • Check
  • Bank wire

Your first withdrawal each month is free.  After the first free withdrawal, there is a small fee for each subsequent withdrawal in the same month.

USD wires are $10, checks are $4, and electronic transfers are $1.

usd-wires-are-10-checks-are-4-and-electronic-transfers-are-1

As an individual client, you must deposit and maintain a balance of at least $500 to maintain a market data subscription. Thus if your account drops below $500, you won’t be able to access market data and your trading ability may be compromised. Keep this in mind when making withdrawals.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Account Types

While an individual account will provide most people with what they need to trade the financial markets, IB offers a wide range of accounts including joint accounts, business accounts, and hedge-fund or money manager accounts.

Here is a list of accounts offered:

  • Individual investors (joint, trust, IRA)
  • IBKR Lite – no or low commissions
  • IBKR Pro
  • Fixed – low commissions with best execution
  • Tiered – reduced commissions the more you trade, with best execution
  • Non-pro advisor
  • Family office
  • Small business
  • Advisor
  • Money manager
  • Broker
  • Proprietary trading group
  • Hedge and mutual funds
  • Compliance officers
  • Administrators
  • Institutional hedge fund investors

interactive-brokers-account-types

Most of these account types are not applicable to you unless you know what they are. But some may be of interest down the road. Such as a money manager account if you are willing to get registered by the relevant authorities and manage other people’s money.

Or if you want multiple people trading a pool of money you may look into a proprietary trading account. If you want to create your own hedge or mutual fund, you set up your trading accounts through IB.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Trading Platform and App

IB offers a highly customizable downloadable trading platform called Trader Workstation (TWS). It also offers Client Portal, which allows you to place trades and manage positions by logging into the website via the internet. There is also an easy-to-use mobile app that allows for making trades and managing positions on the go.

ib-trader-workstation-tws-review

IB Trader Workstation (TWS) Review

TWS is a very customizable trading platform. This is both a great feature and a downfall. It took me many hours of tinkering and trying out different things to get TWS to do what I wanted it to do. Once I got it set up, it works great, but there can be a learning curve depending on what you want to accomplish.

If you are a casual investor, then stick with placing orders through the app or the client portal. There are so many options and things you can change in TWS that it isn’t worth the effort if you aren’t an active trader.

If you are an active trader or an advanced trader, then TWS, while cumbersome, can be fine-tuned to exactly what you need.

ib-trader-workstation-tws-review

All order types are available and can be customized based on personal strategies. Access live news feeds, live charts, and loads of technical indicators.

Create different layouts for trading different products, as well as load preset themes for various products which have commonly used pre-set settings and features.

Interactive Brokers Client Portal Review

This is essentially like a web trader. It allows you to manage positions, change settings, and place trades. No download is required; just log into your account via Interactive Brokers’ website. You’ll have access to basic charting, but it is not highly customizable. You’ll be able to see all your current positions.

I use the client portal for swing trades and long-term trades. That way I just set my entry price, stop loss order, and target, and send the order. For active trades, which may have elements of automation (such as automatically deploying a stop loss and/or target when a trade is initiated) I use TWS.

interactive-brokers-client-portal-review

The client portal is easy to use, and provides all the order types you will likely ever need. The only downside is that technical analysis is limited in the client portal.

Interactive Brokers Mobile App

The mobile app is very similar to the client portal. It is easy to use and you have access to news, market data, managing trades, and placing trades.

You have access to all the order types which makes placing trades quick and simple, just like in the client portal. Once again, the only thing lacking is in-depth technical analysis. You can see charts, but they are not highly customizable

There is a wide array of fundamental and asset information provided, though. This may serve some traders well, but if you need technical indicators or drawing tools for your trades, that will make it tougher on the IBKR mobile app.

interactive-brokers-mobile-app

For myself, I do my analysis using my own charts on my desktop. You can then create a watchlist or set alerts inside IBKR. That allows me to place trades with confidence when I am on the road because my technical analysis has already been done outside of the app.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers Support and Trading Education

In my own experience, I have never needed to contact support for anything, as everything has worked as it should. I have never had any issues with trading, prices, commissions, or my orders working.

That said, support is available via:

  • Email (use Message Center inside the client portal)
  • Phone (US: 1 (877) 442-2757 Toll-Free)
  • Chat room 
  • Document upload (if you need to submit supplementary pictures or documents)

Live support is available 24 hours per day Monday to Friday, and 1 pm to 7 pm Eastern time on Sunday.

IBKR also offers a wide range of educational material (IBKR Campus), including market analysis, trading courses, webinars, and podcasts. These are accessible via the Education drop-down menu on the site.

Further reading

Interactive Brokers FAQs

Is Interactive Brokers available in Canada?

Yes, Interactive Brokers Canada offers trading in all the major markets, just like its US counterpart. Trade a live or demo account with the assurance that the company is regulated by the Investment Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

Is Interactive Brokers available in Australia?

Yes, IB is available to Australian residents through Interactive Brokers Australia Pty. The company is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The office is located in Sydney.

Does Interactive Brokers offer a demo account?

Yes, you can open a paper trading account which allows you to trade and test out the software using virtual funds. This means there is no risk of loss, and any profits are simply to determine the viability of your strategy. You have access to market data, but it is delayed by 10-15 minutes as live market data incurs a fee.

Does Interactive Brokers offer after-hours trading?

Yes, you have the same access to the market that professionals have. That means you can trade after hours in any market that offers after-hours trading. This allows you to trade a company’s earnings release, for example, since earnings are often issued in the pre- or post-market.

Does Interactive Brokers offer commission free trading?

Yes, you can trade stocks and ETFs (in the US) for free using IBKR Lite. This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t make a lot of trades and isn’t an active trader. While commission free is nice, it does have a downside.

Commission-free trades don’t get the best possible execution on the trade, which means you could get a slightly worse price than someone who pays a commission. That may offset the benefit of not paying a commission. Also, orders may be rejected with a Lite account.

Does Interactive Brokers implement the Pattern Day Trading (PDT) rule?

If you are a resident of the United States, trading US stocks, the pattern day trading rule applies. If you make four or more day trades within a five-day period, you are considered a day trader and thus must have at least a $25,000 balance in your trading account in order to continue trading.

If you live outside the US, the pattern day trading rule doesn’t apply to you, even if you are trading US stocks.

Further reading

Final Thoughts on Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is one of the world’s most heavily regulated brokers, available in more than 200 countries. It is a one-stop shop for trading forex, crypto, futures, options, bonds, stocks, ETFs, as well as mutual and hedge funds.

It offers very low commission fees, with no added markup on the spreads. That means you get the same market data and market prices the pros get. In addition to commissions, you will have to pay market data fees, although these are typically a low monthly cost.

The client portal and mobile app are very easy to use and offer everything you need to trade, except for highly customizable charts and technical analysis tools. For that, you can use the Trader Workstation. This downloadable pattern is highly customizable, which means it can do pretty much anything you want, but is also cumbersome to learn.

Overall, Interactive Brokers is an excellent broker. See reviews on other brokers in our Forex Broker Reviews.

It is one of the best international brokers. Different types of assets, convenient and reliable platform, favorable trading conditions. Want to know more? Click here.

Further reading

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