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Stock trading at a glance

Buying and selling stocks is probably the most common form of investment and given the explosion in the number of online brokers over the past years, nearly everyone can invest in stocks. You don’t need a large amount of money to start investing in a company; everyday investors do it with $100 or less.

Interactive Brokers clients have access to real stocks, meaning they can buy and sell shares at this online broker. Follow these easy steps to start buying stocks at Interactive Brokers:

  1. Open an investment account at Interactive Brokers
  2. Transfer money to your account
  3. Find a stock or ETF that you want to buy on the trading platform
  4. Buy the stock(s) or ETF(s)
  5. Review your positions regularly
  6. Sell as you see fit

If you are a client of Interactive Brokers, you can trade both stocks and stock CFDs. Note that CFDs (contracts for difference) are derivative products that come with a higher degree of risk.

If you buy a CFD, you speculate on price movements without buying the actual asset. For example, if you buy a Tesla share CFD and Tesla’s share price goes up, so will the value of your CFD. If this is the first time you're considering opening a CFD position, we recommend you check out our expert guide to CFD trading.

Same as buying actual stocks, you will need to open an account at Interactive Brokers, top it up, select the CFD(s) you want to buy, purchase them, check your positions regularly, and sell when convenient.

Disclaimer: 60.0% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

CFDs can be a good idea for short-term traders, but remember that these instruments have many drawbacks: for instance, you'll need to pay the broker a financing charge as long as you hold the CFD. This fee could add up to a significant amount if you hold the CFD for several weeks.

Save for a few special cases, investing in real stocks instead of CFDs may be a better long-term strategy.

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
What stocks can you trade at Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers gives access to 83 stock exchanges for trading real stocks.

The following table contains an estimated number of stocks available at Interactive Brokers and its closest competitors. Some brokers that offer access to the NYSE and Nasdaq focus on the biggest names and may not list some smaller companies. Other brokers allow you to trade all stocks listed on the respective exchange, giving you more flexibility in setting up your investment portfolio.

Snapshot of stock market and stock availability
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Number of stock markets 83 50 31
Approx. number of stocks 87,000 22,000 31,000

Check out the following table for details about US stock trading at Interactive Brokers.

Due to limited trading activity, stocks usually have greater price fluctuation and wider bid-ask spreads during extended hours compared to standard market hours.

Interactive Brokers US stock market details
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Number of stock markets 83 50 31
Number of stocks 7,100 7,800 -

At Interactive Brokers, you have access to 7,100 stock CFDs.

Snapshot of CFD market and stock CFD availability
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Number of stock CFDs available 7,100 7,800 -

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Trading costs at Interactive Brokers

Trading stocks comes with a range of brokerage fees, which can be divided into trading and non-trading fees. Trading fees are directly tied to a trade and usually include commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees. Non-trading fees are charges not directly related to trading, such as withdrawal fees or inactivity fees. When you are trading stocks, the most important fees are commissions. For a more detailed breakdown of costs related to investing, check out our in-depth guide to brokerage fees.

When it comes to trading real stocks at Interactive Brokers, commissions are Low when compared with all brokers we’ve reviewed at Brokerchooser. The following tables contain the most important charges related to stock trading and the fees levied by the competitors of Interactive Brokers.

We’ve calculated the fees for an imaginary trade of $2,000 worth of shares on American, British, Hong Kong and German stock exchanges. We’ve converted the GBP, HKD and EUR trading fees to USD for better comparison.

Interactive Brokers stock and ETF commission for a $2,000 trade
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
$2000 trade on the NYSE/NASDAQ $1.0 $10.0 $1.2
$2000 trade on the LSE $4.2 $11.2 $3.9
$2000 trade on a German stock exchange $3.6 $12.0 $5.9
$2000 trade on the Hong Kong stock exchange $2.3 $13.0 $7.2

In order to calculate CFD fees, we compared brokers by calculating all the fees of a typical trade for selected products. We chose popular instruments that best reflect CFD trading fees:

  1. Stock CFDs: Apple and Vodafone (UK)
  2. Stock index CFDs: the S&P500 index (SPX) and the EURO STOXX 50 index

We calculated these simulated trades using a leveraged CFD position, which we held for a week before selling it. The following table contains the most important charges we incurred.

We opened a $2,000 position or the EUR/GBP equivalent. The leverage we used was 20:1 for stock index CFDs and 5:1 for stock CFDs. These catch-all benchmark fees include spreads, commissions and financing costs for all brokers.

Interactive Brokers fee snapshot for stock CFD trades
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Apple stock CFD $2.9 $21.7 -
Vodafone stock CFD $9.7 $24.5 -
S&P 500 index CFD $2.8 $1.2 -
Europe 50 index CFD $3.1 $1.6 -

Now let’s take a look at non-trading fees. Most online brokers don’t charge an account fee, nor deposit fees, but inactivity fees and withdrawal fees are more common.

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

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Minimum deposit for trading stocks at Interactive Brokers

The minimum deposit to open a brokerage account with Interactive Brokers is $0. This is a great benefit as there are brokers that require as much as a couple thousand dollars.

Minimum amount required to open an account at Interactive Brokers vs its competitors
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Minimum deposit $0 $2,000 $0

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Margin vs cash accounts at Interactive Brokers

Clients can open a margin account with Interactive Brokers. These accounts allow you to borrow money from the broker and buy more stocks than what your actual cash balance would cover. You’ll need a margin account if you want to short individual stocks or ETFs (i.e. bet on price decline). Margin accounts require a minimum balance. If you decide to use this feature, you’ll have to pay the following margin interest on your negative cash balance.

Interactive Brokers annual margin interest rates
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
USD margin rate 3.1% - 4.0%
EUR margin rate 1.5% - 4.0%
GBP margin rate 2.7% - 4.0%

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Pattern Day Trading at Interactive Brokers

The Pattern Day Trading (PTD) Rule applies at Interactive Brokers. According to FINRA rules, you are a day trader if you execute at least four day trades within five business days. Pattern Day Traders have to maintain a minimum account balance of $25,000 in their margin accounts. This will allow them to engage in unlimited day trading. Brokers are free to impose a higher minimum requirement, which is often called a “house requirement.” If the account balance drops below the set minimum, traders are not permitted to day trade until the minimum level is restored. If the account balance is less than $25,000, a maximum four day trades are allowed in five business days.

Interactive Brokers stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Bottom line

While buying stocks and ETFs may prove one of the best long-term investments, it also carries a number of risks. In addition to unpredictable market movements, the most common risks include choosing the wrong broker, not diversifying your portfolio and investing in lousy stocks. To avoid some of these pitfalls, check out our guide about managing risks related to trading stocks.

We recommend only quality brokers, so you can be sure that none of the online brokers listed here are scams. In order to be sure, we check roughly 20 safety-related criteria, such as regulation, investor protection amount and the transparency of the broker’s financials. Lastly, at least one top-tier financial authority regulates all the brokers you can find on BrokerChooser.

If you want to read our full review of Interactive Brokers, including fees, deposit options and platform reviews (like web and desktop), visit Interactive Brokers review.

Author of this article

András Iván

Author of this article

Andras has over 5 years of experience in investing and trading equities, options and bonds. He believes that active trading and a more passive investing approach both have merits and everyone can find a strategy that fits their needs. He's eager to help identify the characteristics of specific brokers, so the best match can be found for each client.

András Iván

Broker Analyst

Andras has over 5 years of experience in investing and trading equities, options and bonds. He believes that active trading and a more passive investing approach both have merits and everyone can find a strategy that fits their needs. He's eager to help identify the characteristics of specific brokers, so the best match can be found for each client.

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

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