Minimum account balance and deposit at Interactive Brokers

This article discusses what the minimum account balance (if required) and the minimum deposit (if required) at Interactive Brokers stand for. Find out in which cases you must have a minimum balance at Interactive Brokers.

Have you ever accidentally mixed up the minimum account balance with the minimum deposit? Rest assured, you’re not the only one. To prevent any confusion, we'll tell you what they are and how they differ from each other.

Interactive Brokers offers margin and derivative trading: You can trade stocks/ETFs on margin, meaning you can borrow money from the broker to increase your trading position. The following derivative products are also accessible:

Derivative product selection at Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Futures Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No
CFDs Yes Yes No

Note that most brokers offer several account types. If you open a cash account, you don't have to worry about margin requirements because you can only invest the funds that you deposited in the account. Some brokers don’t even require a minimum deposit for cash accounts. In turn, a margin account allows you to borrow money from your broker so you will have to comply with margin rules.

The minimum account balance is the amount that you're required to maintain on your account when you use leverage/margin in trading. Having this amount available is necessary to avoid negative consequences such as a margin call or the liquidation of your assets. If the amount of funds in your account falls below the minimum account balance requirement, you will have to deposit additional funds.

Bear in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure your account is properly funded. You should monitor your account at least on a daily basis to make sure you always meet your broker's margin requirements. It is not a good idea to wait until you get a margin call, because if you miss it, your broker may liquidate some of your assets and you could end up with considerable losses.

The minimum deposit is the minimum amount required for opening an online brokerage account. While some brokers do not require a minimum deposit, others do. The minimum deposit requirement means that you will need to transfer this amount to your brokerage account from your bank account in order to start trading. You can check the minimum deposit at Interactive Brokers here.

The term margin is used widely in the financial world. Note that margin requirements for different asset classes, such as stocks and options, may be different.

There are general margin requirements for all stocks when you trade stocks/ETFs on margin at a US-regulated broker. On the other hand, if you trade derivative assets such as futures or options, the minimum account balance depends on the specific asset you trade as well as the broker’s requirements. In both cases, you have to comply with margin requirements and maintain the minimum account balance at all times.

Minimum account balance at Interactive Brokers
Minimum account balance for stock/ETF margin trading

For trading stocks and ETFs at US-regulated brokers, margin accounts need to have a minimum balance of $2,000 (also called “initial margin”) in cash before the start of trading. Once you buy securities on margin, FINRA rules require your broker to impose a “maintenance margin requirement” on your margin account. This specifies the minimum amount of equity (cash and asset value) you must always maintain in your margin account.

The securities margin is the money you borrow as a partial down payment, up to 50% of the purchase price, to buy and own a stock, bond, or ETF. This practice is often referred to as buying on margin.

Source: Global derivatives marketplace CME Group

Minimum account balance at Interactive Brokers
Minimum account balance for derivative products

Interactive Brokers offers derivative products to its clients:

  • Futures
  • Options
  • Forex
  • CFD

Futures minimum account balance

Interactive Brokers gives access to futures trading. You can trade futures on 32 exchanges.

For futures contracts, futures exchanges set initial margin requirements as a percentage of the contract to be traded. There isn't a legal minimum balance that you have to maintain to day trade futures. When volatility is high, future exchanges may increase margin requirements. The maintenance margin of S&P 500 futures (ticker: ES), for example, stood at $11,000 as of March 1, 2021.

Remember that margin requirements for different asset classes are different.

The futures margin is the amount of money that you must deposit and keep with your broker when you open a futures position. It is not a down payment and you do not own the underlying commodity.The futures margin generally amounts to a smaller percentage of the notional value of the contract, typically 3-12% per futures contract as opposed to up to 50% of the face value of securities purchased on margin.

Source: Global derivatives marketplace CME Group

Options minimum account balance

Interactive Brokers provides options on 33 exchanges.

Options trading strategies involve different degrees of risk and complexity. Some riskier trade types, like selling call options on stocks you don't own or writing an uncovered put option, can only be executed if you have a margin account. However, less risky strategies, such as buying a call option, are permitted with cash accounts, too.

Remember that when you trade options, the minimum size is 1 contract, which represents 100 shares of the underlying asset.

Forex minimum account balance

Interactive Brokers provides forex trading for 105 currency pairs.

When trading forex, you exchange currencies against each other. For example, if you think the euro will strengthen against the dollar, you go long EUR/USD and go short if you think the opposite is bound to happen. Margin requirements and the minimum account balance are sometimes higher for exotic currencies as these tend to be more volatile.

CFD minimum account balance

Interactive Brokers provides CFDs (contracts for difference), so if you trade CFDs at Interactive Brokers, you are required to maintain a certain account balance.

CFDs allow you to bet on whether asset prices will go up or down without buying the underlying asset. Inherently, they carry higher risks. At some CFD brokers, you can easily open an account even with just a couple of dollars and jump straight into CFD trading. The amount you need to start CFD trading also varies by asset classes. Some assets, such as oil, need a higher initial amount than others. In Europe, the initial amount and the initial margin requirements are set by the regulator.

If you trade CFDs, the balance in your account will change constantly in line with the gains or losses accrued and the size of the trades. If the amount in your account drops below the required margin, you will receive a margin call to deposit more money.

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 allows 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, maximum four day trades are allowed in five business days.

Minimum account balance at Interactive Brokers
Minimum amount to open an account at Interactive Brokers

Good news: the minimum deposit to open a Interactive Brokers account is $0. There are brokers that require as much as a couple of thousand dollars. You can check in the table below what is the minimum deposit at the competitors of Interactive Brokers.

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

Besides the Interactive Brokers minimum deposit for standard accounts, there is a $2,000 minimum deposit for margin accounts. A margin account is where you trade with borrowed money, also known as leverage.

Minimum account balance at Interactive Brokers
Bottom line

Now you know what the minimum deposit and the minimum balance are at Interactive Brokers and you understand the difference between the two. If you want to dig deeper, read our article on margin calls and short selling.

The minimum deposit is the minimum amount required to open a new online broker account.

In turn, the minimum account balance is the amount on your margin account or on your account for trading leveraged products that you’re required to maintain to avoid fees.

Don't forget that your maintenance margin requirement may change constantly and it is your responsibility to keep an eye on it. You should place additional deposits or close some other positions on your account if it is getting too close to the maintenance margin level. You definitely want to avoid getting that dreaded margin call or wait until your broker liquidates some of your assets and positions.

Author of this article

Gergely Korpos

Author of this article

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of BrokerChooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of BrokerChooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity 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

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