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Interactive Brokers Logo
4.9
Best online broker

Summary

Recommended for traders looking for low fees and a professional trading environment

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1978 and is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers. The broker is regulated by several financial authorities globally, including top-tier ones like the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As it has licenses from multiple top-tier regulators, the broker is considered safe. Also, having a long track record and publicly disclosed financials while being listed on a stock exchange are also great signs for its safety.

Best online broker

We selected Interactive Brokers as Best online broker for 2020, based on an in-depth analysis of 57 online brokers that included testing their live accounts.

Best broker for day trading

We selected Interactive Brokers as Best broker for day trading for 2020, based on an in-depth analysis of 57 online brokers that included testing their live accounts.

Best broker for futures

We selected Interactive Brokers as Best broker for futures for 2020, based on an in-depth analysis of 57 online brokers that included testing their live accounts.

Overall Rating
4.9
Fees
4.0
Account opening
3.0
Deposit and withdrawal
3.0
Trading platform
4.0
Markets and products
5.0
Research
4.0
Customer service
4.0
Education
5.0

Interactive Brokers pros and cons

Interactive Brokers has the widest selection of markets and products among online brokers, with a lot of great research tools, and it is regulated by a lot of financial authorities.

On the other hand, most users can only make deposits and withdrawals via bank transfer. We recommend this broker for advanced traders, as the account opening process is complicated and the desktop trading platform is not user-friendly.

Pros Cons
Wide range of products Extremely complex desktop trading platform
Many great research tools Complicated account opening process
Regulated by several authorities Funding and withdrawal only via bank transfer
Interactive Brokers main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulation UK, USA, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong
💰 Trading fees class Low
💰 Inactivity fee charged Yes
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $0
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
💳 Deposit with credit card Not available
👛 Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
💱 Number of base currencies supported 19
🎮 Demo account provided Yes
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFD, Crypto, Warrants, Structured Products, Indices, Metals
Gergely Korpos

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Author of this review

Gergely's aim is to bring more clarity into personal investing. He has 10 years of experience in financial markets with GE Money, KPMG and MOL. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and financial portfolio manager

Everything you find on Brokerchooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

Interactive Brokers review
Fees

4.0
Interactive Brokers has low trading fees and for US clients, stock and ETF trading is free. On the negative side, there is a high inactivity fee for non-US clients.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees Inactivity fee
Low stock and ETF fees
Low financing rate
Free stock and ETF trading for US clients

Interactive Brokers fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low $0.005 per share, min. $1, max. 1% of trade value. Free for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.
EURUSD Average Trade value less than $1,000 million: 0.2 bps * trade value with $2 min.
Mutual fund Average $14.95 per transaction or 3% of trade value, whichever is lower
Inactivity fee High $10 per month if you don't generate minimum $10 in commissions. No inactivity fee for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.

We ranked Interactive Brokers' fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Interactive Brokers for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared Interactive Brokers's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Saxo Bank and Degiro. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Interactive Brokers alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Interactive Brokers, let's start with the trading fees.

Interactive Brokers trading fees

Interactive Brokers's trading fees are low. Because of this, it is also recommended if you a lot of trades frequently.

You can choose between Interactive Brokers's fixed rate and tiered price plans:

  • The fixed rate price plan typically charges a fixed rate per contract or share. This charge covers all commissions and exchange fees.
  • The tiered price plan charges fees based on your monthly trading volume. The more you trade, the lower the commissions are. However, exchange, regulatory and clearing fees may be charged additionally.

Since the end of 2019, clients from the US can choose a new service plan, called IBKR LITE. With this service plan, you can trade US-listed stocks and ETFs commission-free without any inactivity fees. 

In this review, we tested the fixed rate plan.

Stock fees and ETF fees

Interactive Brokers has generally low stock and ETF commissions.

Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock $1.0 $10.0 $0.6
UK stock $7.2 $9.6 $2.5
German stock $4.4 $11.0 $5.6

The Interactive Brokers stock trading fee is volume-based: either per share or a percentage of the trade value, with a minimum and maximum. ETF fees are the same as stock fees.

Interactive Brokers stock fees
Market Commission Min Max
North America      

US

$0.005 / share $1 1% of the trade value

Canada

CAD 0.01 / share CAD 1 0.5% of the trade value

Mexico

0.1 % of the trade value MXN 60 No
Europe      
UK up to £50,000 trade volume £6.00 £6 £6
UK more than £50,000 trade volume £6.00 + 0.05% of trade value £6 £29

Belgium, France, Xetra, Italy, Netherlands

0.1% of the trade value €4 €29
Switzerland 0.1% of the trade value CHF 10 No
Spain 0.1% of the trade value €4 No
Austria 0.1% of the trade value  €4 €120
Poland 0.1% of the trade value PLN 15 No

Norway, Sweden

0.05% of the trade value NOK/SEK 49 No

Portugal

0.15% of the trade value €6 No
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania 0.2% of the trade value €10 No
Hungary 0.1% of the trade value HUF 200 No
Asia-Pacific      

Australia

0.08% of the trade value AUD 6 No

Hong Kong

0.08% of the trade value HKD 18 No

Japan

0.08% of the trade value JPY 80 No

Singapore

0.08% of the trade value SGD 2.5 No
India 0,01% of the trade value INR 6 INR 20

If you prefer stock trading on a margin or short sale, you should check Interactive Brokers's financing rates.

What is the financing rate? Financing rates or margin rates are charged when you trade on margin or short a stock. This basically means that you borrow money or stocks from your broker to trade, for which you have to pay interest. This is the financing rate, and it can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

Interactive Brokers financing rates are low. The financing rates vary based on your account base currency and the amount you borrow.

Interactive Brokers annual financing rates for stocks, futures and options
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
USD margin rate 3.4% - 3.1%
GBP margin rate 1.5% - 1.9%
EUR margin rate 1.5% - 0.8%

As of October 2019, the rates for different debit balances in USD ranged between 2.15-3.35%.

Interactive Brokers annual financing rates, USD
Debit balance Rate%
$200,000,000.01 -  2.15%
$3,000,000.01 - $200,000,000 2.15%
$1,000,000.01 - $3,000,000 2.35%
$100,000.01 - $1,000,000 2.85%
Under $100,000 3.35%

Forex fees

Interactive Brokers's forex fees are average, with higher fees for the most-traded EURUSD.

To have a clear picture of forex fees we calculated a forex benchmark fee for major currency pairs. This catch-all benchmark includes commissions, spreads and financing costs for all brokers.

Forex benchmark fee of a $20,000 30:1 long position held for one week
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
EURUSD benchmark fee $17.9 $15.5 -
GBPUSD benchmark fee $13.6 $12.8 -
AUDUSD benchmark fee $12.0 $13.7 -
EURCHF benchmark fee $7.1 $4.6 -
EURGBP benchmark fee $13.0 $10.2 -

When you trade forex, IB charges a volume-based commission. The higher the volume of your trades, the lower commission you pay.

Interactive Brokers forex commissions
Monthly traded amount Commission Min
USD ≤ 1,000,000,000 0.20 basis point of the trade value $2.00
USD 1,000,000,001 - 2,000,000,000 0.15 basis point of the trade value $1.50
USD 2,000,000,001 - 5,000,000,000 0.10 basis point of the trade value $1.25
USD > 5,000,000,000 0.08 basis point of the trade value $1.00

Fund fees

Interactive Brokers's mutual fund fees are average. We calculated the fees for US mutual funds.

Interactive Brokers commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank Degiro
Mutual fund $15.0 $0.0 $10.3

The mutual fund fees are different among ranges. The fee structure is percentage based and can have a minimum and a maximum.

Interactive Brokers fund fees
Country Commission Min Max
US 3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower - -
US funds with no transaction fees 0% $0 $0.00
Europe 0.1% of the trade value €4 €29.00
Global 3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower - -

Bond fees

Interactive Brokers has generally low bond fees. 

Commission of a $10,000 government bond trade
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US Treasury bond $5.0 $88.0 -
EU government bond $10.0 $88.0 $11.3

Interactive Brokers charges a volume-based commission with a minimum amount. 

Interactive Brokers bond fees
Bonds Volume Commission Min Max
US Corporate Face value ≤ 10,000 0.10% * face value $1 $250 or 1% of trade value, whichever is lower
US Treasuries Face value ≤ 1,000,000 0.02% * face value $5 No
Europe Trade value ≤ 50,000 0.10% * trade value €2 No
Hong Kong Government Trade value ≤ 15,000,000 0.08% * trade value HKD 18 No

Options fees

The options fees at Interactive Brokers are generally low.

Stock index options commission of 10 contracts
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock index options $7.0 $40.0 $6.5
UK stock index options $20.4 $36.0 -
German stock index options $12.1 $44.0 $9.9

You pay options fees depending on the number of contracts you trade.

Interactive Brokers options fees for stock index options
Market Commission Min
North America - all options    
US, monthly contracts <= 10,000 $0.65 / contract $1.0
Canada, monthly contracts <= 10,000 CAD 1.25 / contract CAD 1.5
Mexico (AMXL) MXN 25 / contract MXN 25
Europe - index options    
UK GBP 1.7 / contract GBP 1.7
Germany €1.5 / contract €1.5
Belgium, France 

€1.5 / contract

€1.5
Italy €3.0 / contract €3.0
Netherlands €1.5 / contract €1.5
Norway NOK 12 / contract NOK 12
Spain €0.8 / contract No
Switzerland CHF 2.8 / contract CHF 2.8
Asia-Pacific - index options    
Australia AUD 2.0 / contract AUD 2.0
Hong Kong HKD 30 / contract HKD 30
India 0.01% of the trade value INR 6
Japan 0.12% of the trade value JPY 100
Singapore $2.85 / contract $2.85
South Korea 0.2% of option value KRW 1,000

Futures fees

Interactive Brokers's futures fees are low.

Stock index futures commission of 10 contracts
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock index futures $8.5 $40.0 $6.5
UK stock index futures $20.4 $36.0 $29.2
German stock index futures $22.0 $44.0 $9.9

Similarly to options, you pay a commission based on the number of contracts you trade.

Interactive Brokers futures fees for stock index futures
Futures Commission
North America  
US $0.85 / contract 
Canada CAD 2.4 / contract (min CAD 2.4)
Mexico MXN 20 / contract (min MXN 20)
Europe  
Belgium €4.5 / contract (min €4.5)
France, Germany €2 / contract (min €2)
Italy, Netherlands, Spain €3 / contract (min €3)
Switzerland CHF 4 / contract (min €4)
UK GBP 1.7 / contract (min GPB 1.7)
Asia-Pacific  
Australia AUD 6.25 / contract (min AUD 6.25)
Hong Kong HKD 30 / contract (min HKD 30)
Japan JPY 500 / contract (min JPY 500)
Singapore SGD 4 / contract (min SGD 4)

CFD fees

Interactive Brokers charges low CFD trading fees.

To have a clear understanding of CFD fees we calculated a CFD benchmark fee for the selected products. This catch-all benchmark includes commissions, spreads and financing costs for all brokers.

CFD benchmark fees, for a $2,000 long position held for one week
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
S&P 500 CFD benchmark fee $3.6 $2.2 -
Europe 50 CFD benchmark fee $2.9 $2.1 -
Apple CFD benchmark fee $3.5 $22.2 $2.4
Vodafone CFD benchmark fee $8.2 $21.3 $11.9

We calculated with 20:1 leverage for stock index CFDs and 5:1 leverage for single stock CFDs.

In the case of stock index CFDs, all fees are incorporated into the spreads. When you trade stock CFDs, you pay a volume-tiered commission.

Interactive Brokers stock CFD fees
CFDs Monthly traded amount Commission Min
US share CFDs ≤ $300,000 $0.005 per share $1.0
European share CFDs ≤ €10,000,000  0.05% €3.0
Australian share CFDs ≤ AUD 10,000,000 0.05% AUD 5.0
Hong Kong Share CFDs ≤ HKD 300,000,000 0.05% HKD 12.0
Japanese Share CFDs ≤ 9,000,000,000 0.03% JPY 100.0
US 500 index CFD - 0.005% $1.0
UK 100 index CFD - 0.005% GBP 1.0
Japan 225 index CFD - 0.01% JPY 40.0
Forex CFD ≤ 1,000,000,000 0.20 basis points * trade value $2.0

Crypto fees

You can trade cryptocurrencies through futures and ETNs (exchange-traded notes).

  • You can trade with Bitcoin futures on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). The commission on one Bitcoin futures contract is $10 at the CME and $5 at the CBOE.
  • Bitcoin and Ether ETNs are available on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. IB charges a 0.05% fee when you trade on the Stockholm Stock Exchange and the minimum amount is SEK 49.

If you want to learn more about crypto trading, check out our crypto blogpost.

Asset management service

Interactive Brokers provides an asset management service, called Interactive Advisors. It is a mix of mutual funds and a robo-advisor. It's suitable for you if you don't want to manage your investments on your own or just need a bit more confidence in investing.

Besides the usual brokerage commissions, there is an annual management fee ranging from 0.08% to 1.50%, depending on the amount you invest. The required minimum investment amount is $5,000.

There are two ways to invest with Interactive Advisor:

  1. Answer a couple of questions, based on which Interactive Advisor will compile a portfolio that is automatically rebalanced.
  2. Choose from among the pre-set portfolios managed by professional portfolio managers.

Compare broker fees

Non-trading fees

Interactive Brokers has average non-trading fees. There is no account or deposit fee. The first withdrawal each month is also free of charge, while subsequent withdrawals carry a fee

On the negative side, the inactivity fee is high. You will be charged a $10 inactivity fee per month if you don't generate a minimum of $10 in commissions.

Interactive Brokers non-trading fees
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee Yes Yes No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Interactive Brokers review
Account opening

3.0
IB's account opening process is fully digital and the required minimum deposit is low. On the negative side, the online registration is complicated and account verification takes around 2 business days.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Not user-friendly
No minimum deposit for most accounts types Confusing messages throughout the process

Can you open an account?

Visit broker

Interactive Brokers is present on every continent, so you can most likely open an account. Only countries with highly unstable political or economic backgrounds are excluded, such as North Korea.

What is the minimum deposit at Interactive Brokers? 

The required Interactive Brokers minimum deposit is $0. However, there is a $2,000 minimum if you would like to trade on margin or short sale. Trading on margin means that you are trading with borrowed money, also known as leverage.

Account types

Interactive Brokers offers many account types, which fall into two big groups:

  • accounts for individual traders and investors
  • accounts for institutions

As an individual trader or investor, you can open many account types. A few of them, like an IRA account, are available only for US clients.

Interactive Brokers account types
Account types Short description
Individuals Account is owned and used by a single individual
Joint Account is owned and used by two individuals
Trust Account is held by a Trustee (separate legal entity) for your benefit
IRA Individual retirement account, which is only available for US clients
UGMA/UTMA Account for clients who are minors, which is only available for US clients
Friends and Family  Account for a client group of up to 15 members
Family Office Account for an individual who is a Family Office Manager
Small Business Account for small corporations
Advisor  Account for an individual who manages both client administration and the client's money
Money Manager Account for an individual who is hired on behalf of another advisor.

Besides the various account types, you can choose from the IBKR PRO and IBKR LITE service plans if you are a US resident. They differ in pricing and available trading platforms.

Comparison of IBKR LITE and IBKR PRO
Features IBKR LITE IBKR PRO
Commission US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs are commission-free, while other products have fixed or tiered pricing Fixed or tiered pricing for all products
Account fee No account fee Up to $10 account fee per month
Trading features  Client Portal, IBKR Mobile and IBot are available, but the desktop trading platform is not All platforms are available, including the desktop trading platform

How to open your account

The account opening process is fully digital but overly complicated. After your online registration, the account verification takes around 2 business days, which is a bit slower than the usual account verification time for most brokers. 

At first, you have to go through a 5-step registration process, which takes roughly an hour. We experienced a few bugs and errors throughout the process, such as disappearing information and various error messages. It was complicated, with confusing and unclear messages.

During the account opening process, you have to provide some personal information and there are also questions about your trading experience.

Interactive Brokers review - Account opening

In the end, you have to verify your identity and residency by uploading the required documents:

  • Verification of identity: passport / national ID / driver's license
  • Verification of residency: bank statement / utility bill / driver's license / credit card statement / other document

This is a standard process, which in financial lingo is called a KYC (know-your-customer) process. This is required to make sure you are truly identifiable.

Interactive Brokers review - Account opening - Infographic

Interactive Brokers review
Deposit and withdrawal

3.0
Interactive Brokers offers many account base currency options and one free withdrawal per month. The main drawbacks are that you can only use bank transfer and the process is not user-friendly.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
Several account base currencies Not user-friendly
First withdrawal each month free

Account base currencies

Interactive Brokers provides a lot of account base currencies, which is great if you trade with assets in various currencies.

Interactive Brokers account base currencies
Australian Dollar British Pound Canadian Dollar Chinese Yuan
Czech Koruna Danish Krone Euro Hong Kong Dollar
Hungarian Forint Israeli Shekel Japanese Yen Mexican Peso
New Zealand Dollar Norwegian Krone Russian Rouble Singapore Dollar
Swedish Krona Swiss Franc US Dollar   

Compared to its competitors, you can see that IB's selection is similar to that of Saxo Bank, while Degiro offers less base currencies.

Base currencies at Interactive Brokers compared to similar brokers
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Number of base currencies 19 19 9

Why does this matter? For two reasons. If you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account or you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you don't have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.

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Deposit fees and options

Interactive Brokers deposits are free of charge. However, deposit options are limited, as neither credit/debit cards nor electronic wallets can be used.

If you reside in the US, however, you have multiple extra options, such as: 

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House)
  • Check
  • Online bill payment
  • Direct Rollover (IRA accounts only)
  • Trustee-to-Trustee (IRA accounts only)

Australian clients can also use BPAY as a deposit method.

Interactive Brokers deposit options
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No Yes No
Electronic wallets No No Yes

A bank transfer can take 2-3 business days to arrive. You can only deposit money from sources that are in your name.

Interactive Brokers review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fees and options

The first withdrawal each month is free of charge, while subsequent withdrawals have a fee.

Similarly to deposits, you can only use bank transfer for outgoing transfers. US residents can also withdraw via ACH or check.

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fees and options
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The fee for subsequent withdrawals after the first free one depends on the currency and the method you use for withdrawal.

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fee
Withdrawal's currency Wire     BACS/GIRO/ACH/EFT/SEPA
USD* 10 1
EUR 8 1
GBP 7 1
CAD 12 2
CNH 60 7
HKD 95 8
NZD, SGD 15 1
AUD 15 N/A
CHF 11 N/A
CZK 300 N/A
DKK 30 N/A
HUF 6,000 N/A
ILS 30 N/A
JPY 1,600 N/A
NOK, SEK 50 N/A
MXN 100 N/A
PLN 40 N/A
RUB 330 N/A
ZAR 200 N/A

*Check payments are also available in USD and they carry a $4 fee.

How long does it take to withdraw money from Interactive Brokers? We tested it and it took 2 business days.

How do you withdraw money from Interactive Brokers?

  • First, log into the Client Portal then click on 'Transfer & Pay' and 'Transfer funds.'
  • Select the account you want to use for the transaction.
  • At the top of the page, click on the 'Withdraw Funds' tab. 
  • Select the currency of your withdrawal, then the withdrawal method.
  • Fill out the required information.
  • Submit your withdrawal request. 
  • You can see the status of your request in 'View Transaction History.' 

Compare to other brokers

Interactive Brokers review
Web trading platform

4.0
Interactive Brokers's web platform is simple and easy to use even for beginners. On the negative side, it is not customizable.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Clear fee report
Two-step (safer) login
Interactive Brokers platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4 / 5 stars Yes
Mobile 4 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop 3 / 5 stars Yes

When you trade online at IB, you can choose between two web platforms: the Client Portal and Webtrader. In this review, we tested the Client Portal since it is more user-friendly and easier to use than Webtrader. For IBKR Lite users, only the Client Portal is available.

The Client Portal is available in multiple languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovakian, Spanish, Traditional Chinese.

Look and feel

The Client Portal platform is particularly user-friendly and intuitive. You will easily find every feature even if you have just started trading. On the negative side, it is not customizable at all.

Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platform

Login and security

Interactive Brokers provides several options for safe logins:

  1. You can use two-step authentication through SMS messaging.
  2. IB Key is a two-step authentication feature available through IBKR Mobile.
  3. A bit old-fashioned way is the Secure Login System, where you get a plastic code card.

Search functions

The search function is easy-to-use and works better than on the desktop platform.

All you have to do is type in the preferred asset's name, and you can see a list of exchanges and products. The search bar can be found in the upper right corner. 

Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

Client Portal offers many order types. If you prefer more sophisticated orders, you should use the desktop trading platform. Available order types are:

  • Limit
  • Market
  • Stop
  • Stop Limit
  • Limit-on-Close
  • Market-on-Close
  • Trailing Stop
  • Trailing Stop Limit

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

You can also use a lot of order time limits:

  • Day
  • Good-til-Canceled (GTC)
  • Immediate or Cancel
  • Market-on-Open
  • Limit-on-Open

Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts and notifications, but only through the built-in chat. We think that it would be better if users could set alarms when they set up their order.

Portfolio and fee reports

Portfolio and fee reports are transparent. The portfolio tab gives a clear overview of your performance, including historical profit/loss balance and the fees you paid.

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Interactive Brokers review
Mobile trading platform

4.0
The Interactive Brokers mobile trading platform has a lot of functions and a useful chatbot, but its user interface could be better.
Pros Cons
Two-step (safer) login User interface is a bit complex
Good search function
Good variety of order types

IBKR Mobile, Interactive Brokers's mobile trading platform, is available both for iOS and Android. In this review, we tested it on Android.

The number of available languages is almost the same as at the web trading platform, only Slovakian is not supported.

Look and feel

The mobile trading app is handier compared to the web platform. On the other hand, its overall look and user-friendliness lags behind the competitors' mobile platforms. 

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform

Login and security

You can use a two-step login, which is safer than a simple login. Furthermore, if your device has a fingerprint sensor, you can also use biometric authentication for convenience.

Search functions

The search function works well, just like at the web trading platform. You can access the search button easily from any menu.

When you type in the asset you are looking for, the app lists all asset types. For example, if you search for Apple, you can choose between Apple stock, futures, options, warrants, as well as CFDs.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Search

After you have chosen the product are you interested in, you will be greeted by an information and trading window, which shows:

  • Asset market information 
  • An interactive chart with technical indicators
  • Related news
  • Some fundamental data
  • Summary of the latest analyst report
  • The buy and sell buttons that transfer you to the order panel.

Placing orders

IBKR Mobile has the same order types as the web trading platform

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Order panel

Alerts

You can set alerts only via the chatbot, which is not the most intuitive method.

Special feature - Chatbot

The most innovative and exciting function within the app is the chatbot, call IBot. You can use the chatbot to execute or close an order, or to get basic info quickly.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Chatbot

The chatbot understands basic commands, such as “apple price” or “buy 1 apple share.” On top of this, you can also search for company fundamentals, like dividend yields or PE ratios. Some of the functions, like displaying a chart, are also available via the chatbot.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Chatbot charting

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Interactive Brokers review
Desktop trading platform

3.0
Interactive Brokers provides a desktop platform for IBKR PRO accounts with many customizable options and advanced execution functions. However, the platform is not user-friendly and is more suited for advanced traders.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report Not user-friendly
Good customizability (for charts, workspace) Poor search function
Good variety of order types Too complex for beginners

Interactive Brokers's desktop platform Trader Workstation (TWS) is so advanced that even a separate review would not be able to cover all of its features. Nevertheless, we tried to provide you with a comprehensive summary of TWS.

In the desktop trading platform, you have literally every feature you could desire. Whether you were dreaming of replicating your favorite ETF or trading with chatbots - with Interactive Brokers, you can do them both.

The desktop trading platform is available in multiple languages, but fewer than the web trading platform. For example, Dutch and Slovakian are missing.

Look and feel

To be honest, this is by far the most complex platform that we at Brokerchooser have ever reviewed. This platform is ideal for you if you consider yourself a professional user. If you are a beginner or someone who seeks long-term investments, you may have difficulty navigating all of TWS's features.

Despite its complexity the platform is highly customizable, for example, you can set up your own templates.

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform

Login and security

It has the same security features as the web trading platform. You can turn on two-step authentication, which makes the platform safer to use.

Search functions

The search function is the platform's weakest feature. Search results are not structured and it is quite difficult to filter out the product you are looking for.

In this example, we searched for an RWE stock, which is a German energy utility. However, when we typed in "rwe," all the structured and derivative products were listed in the results as well, which made it harder to find the real stock.

Using the chatbot is great substitute solution. When you search for RWE directly through this feature, it will direct you to the stock listed on the main stock exchange.

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform - Search

Placing orders

Trading through TWS, IKBR PRO offers many different order types.

Order types at Interactive Brokers
Limit Mid Price Market Market-to-Limit
Stop Stop-Limit Trail Trail-Limit
Relative Retail Price Improvement Snap Market Snap To Midpoint
Snap to Primary Market-on-Close Limit-on-Close IBALGO
Hedge (with Forex, or Pair Stock)      

On its desktop platform, Interactive Brokers provides Smart Routing, a great feature that detects the best possible route (e.g. exchange) for your trades automatically. TD Ameritrade also has a similar service.

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

The order term options also include some special types beyond the usual ones:

  • Good 'till Canceled (GTC)
  • Good-Til-Date (GTD)
  • Market-on-open (MOO)
  • Limit-on-open (LOO)
  • Immediate-or-cancel (IOC)
  • Fill-or-Kill (FOK)
  • Day 'Til canceled (DTC)

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

Alerts and notifications can be set in the 'Configuration panel.' You can select email, SMS, or mobile pop-up notifications.

You can also set additional alerts, for example for price changes, daily profits or losses, executed trades, etc.

Reports on the Interactive Brokers desktop platform are really transparent, just like on the web platform.

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Interactive Brokers review
Markets and products

5.0
Through Interactive Brokers you can access an extremely wide range of markets, with every product type available.
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes Yes Yes
Crypto Yes Yes Yes

Interactive Brokers has a great selection of products, with an exceptional range of ETFs and bonds. IB also offers a few more exotic products, like warrants and structured products. It only lags behind its competitors in terms of its FX pair and CFD selection.

Regarding accessible stock exchanges, the Israeli Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been added for ETF and stock trading. Since we last checked, IB provides access to almost 140 exchanges worldwide, with alternative services as well, such as Interactive Advisors. This is an asset management service, a mix of robo advisory and social trading.

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Stocks and ETFs

Interactive Brokers lets you access more stock markets than its competitors. This includes major stock markets like the NASDAQ, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the London Stock Exchange (LSE), but also minor ones such as the Warsaw Stock Exchange in Poland or the Mexican markets. Other than regular stocks, penny stocks are also available.

Besides stocks, you can also trade with more than 13,000 ETFs at IB. This is much less than it was in early 2019, but it is still the most extensive selection among competitors.

Stocks and ETFs
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock markets (#) 78 36 30
ETFs (#) 13,000 3,100 5,400

Forex

Interactive Brokers provides a vast selection of more than 100 currency pairs; only Saxo Bank has more.

Currency pairs
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Currency pairs (#) 105 182 -

Funds

Through IB, you have access to more than 250 fund providers including big market names like Blackrock and Vanguard. Only Swissquote offers more fund providers than Interactive Brokers.

Fund providers
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Fund providers (#) 257 17 68

Bonds

Interactive Brokers gives you access to a massive number of bonds. Out of all government and corporate bonds available at IB, 1.4 million are so-called municipal bonds: these are fixed income investments issued by local US governments, cities, states or counties, but they are tradable only for US residents. The table below does not include municipal bonds in the overall number of bonds product, but even so the number of bonds available is still higher than at competitor brokers.

Bonds
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bonds (#) 72,900 38,000 870

Options

As with other product types, Interactive Brokers has an extremely wide range of options markets. You can access the biggest options markets, like the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) or the CME Group, as well as smaller markets, such as the Korea Stock Exchange (KSE) or the Mexican Derivatives Exchange (MEXDER).

Options markets
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Options markets (#) 33 5 13

Futures

Interactive Brokers offers an extensive selection of futures products and markets. There are now 32 markets available, which is more than what competitors provide. Similarly to options, you will find both major and minor markets.

Futures markets
  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Futures markets (#) 32 23 15

CFDs

Disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Only clients who are trading through Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited are eligible to trade with CFDs. Compared to other products and competitors, IB offers an average range of CFDs, mainly stock and stock index CFDs.

  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock index CFDs (#) 13 29 -
Stock CFDs (#) 7,100 8,800 900
ETF CFDs (#) - 675 -
Commodity CFDs (#) - 19 -
Bond CFDs (#) - 5 -
Futures CFDs (#) - - -

Cryptos

At IB you can trade with Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs and Bitcoin Futures:

  • Bitcoin and Ether ETNs are traded on the Stockholm Stock Exchange and the US OTC (Pink) markets
  • Bitcoin Index is available on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)
  • Bitcoin futures are available on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)

If you want to know more about crypto investing, we recommend our crypto blogpost.

  Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Cryptos (#) 2 2 2

Asset management service

Interactive Advisors, IB's own asset management service, allows you to copy professional portfolio managers, letting you automatically make trades as professionals do.

You can choose from many portfolio managers to find the one that fits you best, with real-time portfolio performance available.

The minimum investment depends on the portfolio you want to invest in: the lowest investment amount starts at $5,000.

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Interactive Brokers review
Research

4.0
Interactive Brokers has almost limitless research possibilities, but the user interface is overly complicated, hard to follow and not well designed.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Not user-friendly
Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals

The quality of the research available is good and you always have the freedom to choose between third-party providers.

Recommendations

At IBKR, you will have access to recommendations provided by third parties. These research tools are mostly free, but there are some you have to pay for.

Several famous news sources, like Thomson Reuters, Morningstar and Dow Jones, are available for free.

Fundamental data

Interactive Brokers provides a broad selection of fundamental data on all of its platforms. These include income statements for the past six years, a dividend calendar and peer group companies, for example.

Charting

The charting features are almost endless at Interactive Brokers. There are 120 technical indicators; however, similar to the platforms, the charting tool is not user-friendly. 

Interactive Brokers review - Research - Charting

Other special technical tools include:

  • Stock/ETF benchmarker: helps you to benchmark your stock or portfolio versus a selected benchmark
  • Mutual fund and ETF replicator
  • Volatility lab
  • Option probability lab: a group of option analysis functions
  • VaR, Sharpe: portfolio performance analyzers

News feed

You have access to:

  • News
  • Daily summaries
  • Multiple economic calendars

Interactive Brokers has its own news domain called Traders' Insight. It also provides integrated third-party news and recommendations to its desktop platform.

Upon entering the platform, you have the option to read daily summaries of the markets through the Daily Lineup. This feature helps you to be informed about the latest news and analyst recommendations. An Earnings and an Economic Calendar are also helpful quick shortcuts to start off your day.

Interactive Brokers review - Research - News

The Economic Calendar informs you about upcoming events that will have an economic impact. The feature can be accessed separately at any time from the menu, though the design could be better.Interactive Brokers review - Research - Economic calendar

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Interactive Brokers review
Customer service

4.0
Interactive Brokers customer service is good. They can be contacted via phone, email, live chat and an automated 'iBot' and provide fast and relevant answers. However, most options are not available 24/7.
Pros Cons
Phone support No 24/7 support
Live chat
Fast response time

You can contact Interactive Brokers via:

  • Live chat
  • Phone 
  • Email

Customer service is available in several regions and languages, namely in English, Russian, Chinese, Indian and Japanese.

Regional Service Desks and hours of operation
Location Number Hours of operation (Time Zone)
United States 1 (877) 442-2757 Toll free
1 (312) 542-6901 Direct dial
14:00 (Mon - Fri) - 02:00 (Tue - Sat) (Europe/Berlin)
19:00 (Sun) - 01:00 (Mon) (Europe/Berlin)
Canada 1 (877) 745-4222 Toll free
1 (514) 847-3499 Direct dial
14:00 - 23:30 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Europe 00800-42-276537 Toll free
+41-41-726-9500 Direct dial

+44 207-710-5695 Direct dial United Kingdom
09:00 - 18:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Russia 8-800-100-8556 Toll free
+41-41-726-9506 (Russian)
08:00 - 17:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Hong Kong +852-2156-7907 Direct dial 02:00 - 11:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Australia +61 (2) 8093 7300 Direct dial 00:30 - 10:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
India +91 22 61289888 Direct dial
+91 22 39696188 Direct dial
02:30 - 14:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
China +86 (21) 6086 8586 Direct dial 03:00 - 12:00 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Japan +81 (3) 4588 9700 Direct dial
+81 (3) 4588 9710 Direct dial (English)
01:30 - 10:30 (Mon - Fri) (Europe/Berlin)

We had lots of problems with customer service when we tested it in 2018, with long wait times one of them. On one occasion, we sent an inquiry in English and received an answer email only after four days – in Russian.

In 2019 we tested the chat, email and phone support, three times. Since 2018, the Interactive Brokers customer service improved a lot, we did not encounter any major problems. Email responses arrived within a day. The wait time for a representative in a live chatroom was rather long (e.g. more than three minutes), but after they came online, the experience was smooth with relevant answers.  

The waiting time for a phone call was around one minute.

Also, since we last checked, the Inquiry Response Center got a facelift: now known as Message Center, it has improved a lot in design. We liked the modern look of the interface.

Despite all of the above, the lack of 24/7 availability is still a problem.

Interactive Brokers review - Customer Service

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Interactive Brokers review
Education

5.0
Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of quality educational materials and tools, including videos, courses, webinars, a glossary, and even a demo account.
Pros Cons
Demo account Courses only available after registration
Trading platform tutorial
Educational videos

At Interactive Brokers you can learn in the following ways:

  • Paper (demo) account
  • Online courses
  • Webinars
  • Educational videos
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • Glossary
  • News

Interactive Brokers review - Education

Once you set up a trading account, you can also open a Paper Trading Account. This is a demo account: all paper accounts start with $1,000,000 in virtual money, which you can use to experiment with IB's platforms and trading services. Similar to this is IBKR Mobile's Read-only mode, which lets you check out the mobile interface, although you won't be able to make any trades. In summary, we think these are great services, and the best way to learn how a trading platform works. 

In addition to the above services, you can choose from multiple courses based on your trading skills. There is also a glossary that helps you to understand technical terms, unfamiliar expressions and acronyms.

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Interactive Brokers review
Safety

Interactive Brokers is regulated by several financial authorities, including top-tier ones like the SEC in the US and the UK's FCA. Its parent company is listed on the Nasdaq Exchange.
Pros Cons
Listed on stock exchange None
Negative balance protection
Regulated by top-tier financial authorities

Is Interactive Brokers regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by multiple top-tier financial authorities, like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Is Interactive Brokers safe?

To be certain, we highly advise that you check two facts: how you are protected if something goes wrong and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

Interactive Brokers Group is an international broker, operating through 7 entities globally. This matters for you because Interactive Brokers provides negative balance protection, and the investor protection amount and the regulating authority differ from entity to entity.

Interactive Brokers provides negative balance protection for forex spot and CFD trading, but only for retail clients from the European Union. Professional and non-EU clients are not covered with any negative balance protection 

Interactive Brokers legal entities
Country of clients Protection amount Regulator Legal entity
European countries* £85,000 Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited
USA $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Interactive Brokers LLC
Canada $1,000,000

Covered by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)

Interactive Brokers Canada Inc.
Australia No protection Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Interactive Brokers Australia PTY LTD
India No protection Securities and Exchange Board of India (BSE) Interactive Brokers (India) PVT. LTD.
Japan No protection Financial Services Agency (FSA) Interactive Brokers Securities Japan Inc.
Hong Kong No protection Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission Interactive Brokers Hong Kong Limited 

*If you are from Europe, the picture is a bit more complicated. The regulator and the protection amount also depends on what you are trading with:

  • If you trade with forex, CFDs, non-US stock index options or futures, you are protected by the FCA, up to £85,000. 
  • If you trade with stocks, bonds, funds or US stock index options, you are protected by the US investor protection, i.e. $500,000, with a cash limit of $250,000.

As you can see, the details are not very transparent. Our best advice is to ask customer service from time to time about the protection amount of your actual portfolio.

Background

Interactive Brokers is based in the USA and was founded in 1978. During the last more than 40 years, despite multiple economic crises, IB managed to stay on top on the brokerage market, which is a good sign for the broker's safety.

Interactive Brokers Group (the holding company of the different entities) is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. The listing makes the broker more transparent, as it has to publish financial statements regularly. 

Being listed on the Nasdaq and regulated by both the UK's FCA and the US SEC are all great signs for Interactive Brokers's safety.

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Interactive Brokers review
Bottom line

Interactive Brokers is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers, regulated by several top-tier regulators globally. We recommend this broker for advanced traders.

On the plus side, IB has a vast range of markets and products available, with diverse research tools and low costs

There are some drawbacks though: you can only fund your account via wire transfer and the account opening process is complicated. The desktop platform is complex and hard-to-understand, especially for beginners.

If you have experience navigating complex platforms and you like transparent low-cost trading, Interactive Brokers could be a great fit for you.

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