Last Updated: August 5, 2021
Individual, Joint, IRA
None for US stock trading
Interactive Brokers is one of the world’s most cost-efficient brokerage companies. The platform’s coverage enables international investments in stocks, options, futures, bonds, currencies, and funds – all possible via a single account.
In this comprehensive Interactive Brokers review, we will guide you through the service’s strengths and weaknesses. Read on to make an informed decision as a prospective user.
|Risk warning: The risk of loss in online trading of stocks, options, futures, currencies, foreign equities, and fixed income can be substantial.|
What Is Interactive Brokers?
Interactive Brokers is a New York-based brokerage company founded in 1978. It supports 23 currencies and is available across 135 markets and 33 countries. So, it’s no wonder that it’s among the best day trading platform options out there. Plus, Interactive Brokers fees are so low that make for the service’s main draw.
How to Use Interactive Brokers?
For users interested in IB trade, the primary concern is naturally how exactly the platform operates. Here are some commonly asked questions answered for your convenience.
What are the Account Requirements?
Even before the application process, the brokerage firm offers a quick guide to its new users to help them figure out which type of account is right for them. To create an account, you need to provide some basic info. Interactive Brokers minimum requirements include:
- personal and contact information
- income and tax residency data
- trading experience and objectives
- bank account details
How to Start Trading?
To begin trading, you need to complete your account application and deposit some funds. This would be the first stop on your Interactive Brokers day trading path. The platform supports wire transfer, electronic bank ACH transfer, and check. Each of these methods comes with a detailed set of instructions on the company’s website. After that, you need to get familiar with the dashboard (which we’ll discuss below).
What Can You Trade
With an Interactive Brokers account, you can trade in stocks, options, futures, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The company features currencies and precious metals trading. Pivotal for proper portfolio diversification, commodities are another investment option.
As an Interactive Brokers user, you can also buy Bitcoin futures. Yet, the platform doesn’t allow you to own crypto directly. So, if you are looking for a suitable crypto exchange platform, it might be better to look elsewhere.
What Tools Are Available?
Interactive Brokers offers two different plans — IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. Each of them has its own set of available tools.
The Impact Dashboard, Social Sentiment by Social Market Analytics, and Allocation Order Tool can make analytics, planning, and execution of your trades more efficient. It’s also what makes Interactive Brokers one of the best online stock brokers for beginners. Apart from this, a Trade in Fractions tool is available, which is one of the biggest assets for any day trader, as confirmed by Interactive Brokers reviews.
How Does the Platform Work?
Once you have an account and some funds for trading, you can proceed to the dashboard. Getting familiar with the trading workstation should be the first step. On the default setting, order entry is in the top-left corner of the screen. Here, you can pick an order on the Interactive Brokers platform. In the same section, you have an option to set a buy or sell order based on the current market. The rest of the segments should allow you to monitor assets you’re trading (or you’re just interested in). This is merely the technical aspect of the platform. The rest is all up to your strategy.
Is There a Client Portal?
Yes, the platform has an amazing client portal. Truth be told, it is one of the company’s selling features (other than its low costs). While testing the service for this Interactive Brokers review, we enjoyed the portal’s simplicity and intuitiveness. On top of that, you can see all the key account metrics at a glance.
Interactive Brokers Fees
In terms of commission, Interactive Brokers offers three possible pricing structures – tiered, fixed, and free. The latter is only available for US-based stock traders. Coupled with a $0 minimum deposit, this would make finding the best-performing stocks even more cost-effective.
As far as Interactive Brokers commissions for options per contract go, the fee is $0.65. Futures per contract are $0.85. Finally, a mutual fund trade fee is $14.95, while a broker-assisted trade fee is $30.
Note that there is a difference between IBKR Lite and Pro in terms of costs. Primarily, Lite doesn’t have inactivity fees and doesn’t charge for most of its services, which is quite a big deal for online brokerage firms. In case you wonder, IBKR makes money out of the Lite plan through the order flow.
As for the PRO, every premium greater than $0.10 has a fee of $0.65 per contract. There is a minimum of $1.00 and no maximum. If the premium is between $0.05 and $0.10, the rate goes $0.50 per contract.
When talking about IBKR Pro stock trades, every run is $0.005 per share with a minimum of $1.00 and a maximum of about $0.50 of the total trade value. To wrap it all up, this is a great deal for small orders but can be quite expensive for bigger trade deals.
Interactive Brokers Mobile App
Another matter we’ll cover in this Interactive Brokers review is the company’s mobile app, available for both iOS and Android. The platform provides access to real-time streaming quotes and charts, market scanners, alerts and notifications. It also features IB smart routing. This way, the venue attempts to be as mobile-friendly as possible.
Despite the efforts, however, the app has a low rating on Google Play Store. The majority of customer-written Interactive Brokers reviews are quite underwhelming in regards to the mobile app. In other words, sticking to desktop trading on this platform might be a preferred choice.
Interactive Brokers Customer Service
The Interactive Brokers customer service is available via phone, chat, and email. Phone support is an option for users across North America, Europe, and Asia. In the United States, Canada, and Europe, the call is toll-free.
The company’s chat-based customer service is accessible Monday-Friday, from 08:00 a.m. to 08:00 p.m.
Finally, email support states all emails submitted during standard working hours will be responded to in a single business day (24 hours).
Interactive Brokers Alternatives
The best way to get a fair estimate of Interactive Brokers pricing and products is via a direct brokerage comparison to some of its closest competitors. So, we’ve done just that for you.
TradeStation vs. Interactive Brokers
The first massive difference between the two comes from the fact that TradeStation’s Select Plan requires a $2,000 account minimum. Yet, for TS Go, the minimum is $0, just like with Interactive Brokers.
Stocks and ETFs fees are $0 for TradeStation. Interactive Brokers also charges $0 for US-traded stocks. In terms of other commissions, TS Select users $0.60 per contract, while the TS Go plan asks for $0.50 per contract.
Because Interactive Brokers trading fees may depend on the trade’s total value, cost-efficiency varies according to the trade volume.
E*TRADE vs. Interactive Brokers
To adequately review Interactive Brokers, we need to compare it to a platform like E*TRADE. Once again, neither of the two ask for a minimum deposit, which is quite friendly towards smaller volume day traders.
The first discrepancy in price comes when comparing mutual fund trade fees. For Interactive Brokers, the cost is $14.95, while E*TRADE requires $19.99. On the other hand, E*TRADE asks $5 less for broker-assisted trades ($25 compared to $30 for Interactive Brokers). Options per contract for both platforms cost $0.65. Lastly, E*Trade charges more for futures trades — $1.50 per contract, compared to $0.85.
Since it matches the Interactive Brokers account minimum of $0 and isn’t that far off in other costs, E*TRADE may be a suitable alternative. At least in terms of price.
Interactive Brokers vs. TD Ameritrade
Neither TD Ameritrade nor Interactive Brokers require an account minimum. This makes both platforms suitable for first-time traders.
Other than this, it’s worth mentioning that commissions and fees for Interactive Brokers are a maximum of $0.005 per share for the Pro platform, or 1% of trade value, and $0 for IBKR Lite. TD Ameritrade, on the other hand, takes $0.65 per options contract, while it offers free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading.
In other words, even with record-low IB commissions, TD Ameritrade remains competitive.
For more details, check out our side-by-side comparison of Interactive Brokers vs TD Ameritrade.
Interactive Brokers vs. Robinhood
When comparing IB and Robinhood, there are quite a few similarities. Most importantly, neither of the platforms has a minimum deposit, stock trade fees, or ETF trade fees.
One of Robinhood’s advantages is that it doesn’t require options per contract fee. Interactive Brokers ask for $0.65 per contract.
Robinhood has significantly higher margin rates, however — 2.50% regardless of the trade value. In comparison, even the highest margin rates for Interactive Brokers don’t exceed 1.59%. Also, Interactive Brokers close account fees are inexistent. Robinhood may charge up to $75 for account transfer out.
It’s also worth mentioning that Robinhood lost a lot of reputation with the latest Gamestop shares controversy. So, those looking for Robinhood alternatives may consider opting for Interactive Brokers.
To sum up, our Interactive Brokers platform review finds fees for low-volume trades to be the strongest IB feature. With no minimum deposit requirement and record-low commissions, this platform seems to gear toward beginner and intermediate day traders.
- No account minimum
- No inactivity fees for IBKR Lite users
- No commission for US stock trading
- Both SIPC and FDIC insurance (potentially up to $2,750,000 together)
- High forex fees
- Clunky mobile app
- IBKR Pro has an inactivity fee
- IBKR Pro can be expensive for big deals
How to use Interactive Brokers?
The best way to use Interactive Brokers is to follow a simple three-step process. First, you make an account. Second, you deposit money to your account. Third, you download a desktop trader workstation. For the desktop app, you can choose between the latest, basic, and beta versions.
Why are Interactive Brokers margin rates so low?
One of the main ways Interactive Brokers makes money on Interactive Brokers Lite is through the order flow. This allows margin rates to be so low. The brokerage’s Pro plan, on the other hand, profits from commissions.
How to close an Interactive Brokers account?
To close your IB account, you need to either liquidate or transfer all your positions. Accounts with open positions can’t be closed. You also need to verify your bank wire instructions and ensure that all recent deposits have cleared.
Is Interactive Brokers safe?
Some of the world’s major financial authorities regulate Interactive Brokers and ensure its users’ safe trading experience. These include the FCA (in the UK) and the SEC (in the US).
Is Interactive Brokers good?
The common opinion is that the lack of minimum account requirements and US-based stock trade fees make Interactive Brokers appealing to novice investors. The desktop app’s intuitiveness is also a significant factor.
Why is Interactive Brokers so cheap?
Interactive Brokers has such low fees because the platform primarily focuses on attracting first-time traders with moderate funds. The high combined trading volume keeps Interactive Brokers at the helm of the industry.
What is the minimum deposit for Interactive Brokers?
There is no minimum deposit for Interactive Brokers. Nonetheless, there is a $110,000 minimum requirement for a portfolio margin.
Is Interactive Brokers trustworthy?
As already mentioned in our Interactive Brokers review, some of the world’s major financial watchdogs regulate the platform. IB is also highly regarded by the majority of its users. Although not BBB-accredited, Interactive Brokers scores “A” on the business rating platform.
Is my money safe with Interactive Brokers?
Since Interactive Brokers is both SIPC and FDIC insured, your money can be considered completely safe.