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Interactive Brokers Review

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1 Minute Review

Interactive Brokers is a comprehensive trading platform that gives you access to a massive range of securities at affordable prices. You can buy assets from all around the world from the comfort of your home or office with access to over 135 global markets. Options, futures, forex and fund trading are also available, and most traders won’t pay a commission on any purchase or sale.  

IBKR is geared primarily toward experienced traders and investors but now with the availability of free trades with IBKR Lite, casual traders can also acclimate to IBKR’s offerings.

Best For

  • Access to foreign markets
  • Detailed mobile app that makes trading simple
  • Wide range of available account types and tradable assets

Pros

  • Comprehensive, quick desktop platform
  • Mobile app mirrors full capabilities of desktop version
  • Access to massive range of tradable assets
  • Low margin rates
  • Easy-to-use and enhanced screening options are better than ever

Cons

  • Beginner investors might prefer a broker that offers a bit more hand-holding and educational resources
securely through Interactive Brokers's website

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a comprehensive trading platform for intermediate and experienced traders. If you’re looking for the widest possible range of tradable assets, IBKR should be at the top of your list.

Why Interactive Brokers Over Others?

What sets IBKR apart from other brokers? Let’s take a look at a few of the platform’s key features:

  • Access to a wide market range: Interactive Brokers allows you to buy and sell assets on over 135 unique markets so you can easily buy and sell international stocks and funds.  
  • Comprehensive mobile app: If you’re the type of trader who enjoys trading on a mobile format, you’ll appreciate Interactive Brokers’ full-optimized and responsive mobile platform.
  • Low margin rates: With an Interactive Brokers Pro account, you can access margin trading for as little as 0.75% APR for IBKR Pro. Even Interactive Brokers’ Lite account rate (a flat 2.55% no matter how much you borrow) is affordable. 

Interactive Brokers Quick Summary 

Tradable assetsStocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, forex, options, futures, metals
PlatformComprehensive; widest range of tools available on IBKR Pro
Mobile appFully operational, mirrors desktop web-trading platform
Account minimum$0
Available account typesTaxable, traditional and Roth IRAs, additional options for business owners and corporate investors

Interactive Brokers Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums

IBKR offers 2 unique account types: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. As the names suggest, IBKR Lite is aimed at lower-level traders and offers the lowest fees. IBKR Lite offers unlimited free buy and sell orders for U.S. stocks and ETFs and no inactivity fees. IBKR Pro accounts involve low commissions and have access to Interactive Brokers’ wide range of professional market research offerings. Some more quick facts:

  • Pro account holders have access to IBKR’s SmartRouting tool, which executes trades at the best possible price. 
  • Pro clients have access to IBKR’s API. 
  • Pro clients get access to Interactive Brokers’ full research offerings. Lite clients receive the free services only.
  • The platform experience is nearly identical for both offerings. 
    • Other tools such as charting, scanners, fundamentals explorer, etc. are available to both Lite and Pro clients.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay in commission when you use Interactive Brokers to trade.  

Stocks and ETFs$0 for IBKR Lite accounts; $0.0005-$0.0035 per share for IBKR Pro accounts with bulk discounts available. Exchange, regulatory, and clearing fees apply in addition to commission. 
Options$0.15 to $0.65 per contract depending on your trading volume 
Mutual fundsAccess to thousands of no-fee mutual funds; other funds $14.95 per trade or 3% of your purchase volume. Learn more about its no-load mutual fund marketplace.
Futures$0.15 to $0.85 depending on the asset you’re buying, plus clearing and regulatory fees
Forex0.08 to 0.20 base points plus trade value depending on your regular trading volume. Interactive Brokers is one of the only forex brokers that doesn’t markup its spread. 
BondsCorporate, municipal, treasury bonds and CDs available. Fees range from 0.0125% to 0.1% of the face value of the security
Account minimum$0 for all accounts

IBKR also offers margin trading on both Lite and Pro accounts. Margin rates range from 0.75% APR to 2.55% APR, depending on your trading volume and the type of account you have. Traders who use over $200 million of margin have access to the lowest margin rates. Any amount of money you borrow in margin accrues interest daily. 

Interactive Brokers Usability

IBKR has always been a top choice for professional brokers, but its new IBKR Lite accounts can appeal to new investors looking to test the waters of trading. However, IBKR still maintains its host of professional tools and charting software. Its platform has won awards from: 

  • Barron’s 
  • Benzinga
  • Investopedia
  • Kiplinger’s
  • Investor’s Business Daily
  • And many more

The Desktop Trader Workstation is now available to both Pro and Lite account holders. While Pro account holders will receive access to a wide range of indicators and software, Lite users also receive a full suite of trading tools. Quickly search for stocks, place orders and compare prices with only a few clicks. Price and trade information is updated quickly, and you can also customize your trade station to show you the stocks you trade most often or own the most of first.

While extensive and innovative, IBKR’s desktop trading platform can quickly become overwhelming for new traders. Newer traders may want to explore Client Portal or IBKR Mobile for a simpler solution.

Interactive Brokers offers a number of screeners and tools traders can use to find better investments for their portfolios. Some of the features that we love include: 

  • PortfolioAnalyst tool: If you’re like most traders, your brokerage account represents only a small slice of your overall portfolio. Interactive Brokers’ unique PortfolioAnalyst tool allows you to link external banking, checking, saving and credit card accounts to view a more complete picture of your finances when you log in. The PortfolioAnalyst tool is optimized for mobile, so you’ll be able to view all of your financial information and track your progress on the go.
  • Fund parser: Many passive investors are unaware that the mutual funds and ETFs they invest in charge an annual expense — and these expenses can quickly add up over time, cutting into your retirement savings. Interactive Brokers’ fund parser shows you more information on your fund weighting and which assets are costing you the most money.
  • Portfolio Checkup: Over the years, your life, income, financial goals and money priorities will change. Are you taking steps to make sure that your portfolio is keeping up? Interactive Brokers’ Portfolio Checkup is a dynamic tool that offers a more visual representation of your portfolio. Portfolio Checkup will measure the performance of your portfolio across 200 industry benchmarks (or your own custom benchmark) to make sure that you’re still on track to hit your long-term goals. 

Though IBKR’s desktop platform may be a dream to professional traders or those with market experience, there’s a steep learning curve for new traders to conquer. The platform includes very few in-app directions on how to operate it or use any of the wide range of charting tools.

Interactive Brokers Education

Outside of its trading platform, Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of educational tools and resources you can use to learn more about trading. Let’s take a look at a few of the free resources it offers to help you learn more about the markets:

  • Traders’ Academy: Traders’ Academy is IBKR’s fully online trading course. The course includes over 48 unique courses for traders of varying skill levels. Some course subjects include the U.S. municipal bond market, building a trading plan and understanding how to use leverage effectively. Each course is further broken down into a series of lessons, all of which you can access online 24 hours a day.
  • Webinars: Prefer to learn more about trading with a live format? Interactive Brokers also offers a selection of live webinars that you can follow along online. If you can’t tune in while the webinar is going on, you can catch it later on IBKR’s “recorded lectures” section. Some examples of previous webinars the broker has held include “Volatility Strategies for a Volatile Market,” “TWS Option Chains” and “Russian Capital Markets – an Introduction.” As you can see, webinars do assume at least a basic understanding of the stock, options or forex markets, so you may want to begin your education with Traders’ Academy and move onto webinars once you feel comfortable.
  • Traders’ Insight blog: Interactive Brokers’ Traders’ Insights blog is your daily one-stop-shop for breaking news. The Traders’ Insights blog aggregates stories from reliable sources like Vanguard, Benzinga, Schroders and more. It also includes plenty of original research, and blog offerings are updated daily to keep up with the changing market.

You can also sign up for Interactive Brokers’ daily trading newsletter from its blog and receive insights sent directly to your inbox. Over 10,000 readers currently rely on Interactive Brokers to fuel their trading insights.

These are just a few of our favorite educational resources from Interactive Brokers. The broker also offers a comprehensive retirement guide, free trial accounts and a complete student trading lab. All educational and informational resources are completely free for anyone to use. IBKR also offers a free version of PortfolioAnalyst and the Portfolio Checkup tool for clients and non-clients.

Interactive Brokers Customer Support

IBKR offers clients a number of methods they can use to get in contact with customer service:

  • By phone: U.S. traders should call 877-442-2757. Customer service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. If lines are busy, U.S. traders can take advantage of the broker’s call-back feature, which reduces the time spent on hold. 
  • Online chat: To access chat, follow the instructions. Online chat assistance is available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday for current and prospective clients.
  • Email: You can send an email request to IBKR by filling out an inquiry form here. Interactive Brokers aims to service all inquiries received by email within 24 hours.
  • IBot: Interactive Brokers offers a unique Ibot chat request feature that can instantly respond to thousands of service inquiries. 

No time to send a personal message? Interactive Brokers also offers a complete and comprehensive FAQ section, which can answer most of your on-demand questions. 

At the time of publication, IBKR currently doesn’t offer a specific customer service line for those with hearing limitations.  

Interactive Brokers Offerings

One of Interactive Brokers’ biggest strengths is its massive range of affordable offerings. IBKR’s platform acts as a one-stop shop for everything a trader could need to start investing in stocks, options, funds, forex, futures contracts and even precious metals.

Interactive Brokers Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds

Interactive Brokers offers traders full access to the U.S. stock market on both its Pro and Lite platforms. You can even access stocks listed on European and Asian stock exchanges to buy and sell foreign securities. Most traders will pay $0 on all of their commissions. Interactive Brokers even offers the ability to buy fractional shares of stock, and was also the first major broker to announce that it offers this feature. 

IBKR offers access to 98 commission-free ETFs for Pro traders, while Lite traders get to buy and sell ETFs completely commission-free. 

Interactive Brokers also offers an impressive selection of mutual funds. The Interactive Brokers’ mutual fund marketplace allows traders 25,720 funds from over 285 fund families. If you aren’t sure which fund you’d like to add to your account, Interactive Brokers also offers a comprehensive mutual fund screener to rule out investments based on family, type, and commission. Interactive Brokers is currently one of the largest mutual fund brokers in the United States — its massive range of funds can all be accessed from a single, integrated account. Interactive Brokers is also the largest offshore mutual fund marketplace, with over 25,000 funds available to residents of over 200 countries. 

Worried that your investments are contributing to environmental harm? Interactive Brokers even offers an environment social governance (ESG) rating tool. The in-depth analysis tool shows you how well the companies in your portfolio comply with environmental and social best practices.

Interactive Brokers Bonds

Adding fixed-income bonds to your portfolio can be an excellent way to hedge against market volatility and add a more conservative layer of protection to your portfolio. With 28,617 corporate bonds, 850,260 municipal securities and 31,606 CDs available through Interactive Brokers, the brokerage is one of the best in the industry for fixed-income securities. Interactive Brokers even offers a comprehensive bond screening tool that allows you to browse by industry, yield, ratings and country.

Interactive Brokers Forex

IBKR offers U.S. traders who hold USD as their base currency the ability to trade 23 of the most commonly-held currencies. Like most forex brokers, IBKR charges a small percentage of your trade value in the form of a spread. However, unlike most brokers, it doesn’t inflate the spread or charge you more than the standard spread for the pair you’re trading. This charge comes in addition to a small commission of 0.08 to 0.20 base points, depending on the volume of currency you’re exchanging. 

Interactive Brokers Options

IBKR offers a massive range of options contracts for both the domestic and international markets. You’ll pay between $0.15 to $0.65 per contract, depending on your account type and the value of the contract you’re making. 

Interactive Brokers Futures

Interactive Brokers offers futures contracts for the entire U.S. stock markets, as well as international options. You’ll pay just $0.15 to $0.85, depending on your account type and your purchase volume. 

Interactive Brokers Mobile App

If you’re the type of trader who enjoys trading on the go, you’ll love IBKR’s comprehensive and responsive mobile app. The app mirrors the full functionality of the brokerage’s desktop trading site, allowing you to browse constantly-updating stock and market data and place buy and sell orders.

Let’s take a look at a few other unique factors that make this app a viable trading tool:

  • Mobile check deposit: Want to start trading with your check without waiting for your bank transfer? IBKR offers an instant mobile check deposit that allows you to deposit your paper checks directly to your brokerage account. Just snap a photo, enter the amount on your check, verify that you’re the one making the deposit by completing 2-factor authentication and IBKR will finish the deposit for you.
  • Integrated security features: Interactive Brokers’ IB Key feature allows you to access your device with a unique password and security key. If you prefer a deeper level of security, you can also enable 2-factor authentication, which requires a unique passcode every time you access your account.
  • Fit-to-mobile design: IBKR’s app is fully optimized for both Apple and Android platforms. If you rotate your screen, the design of the app flips to a more detailed horizontal design.

The Interactive Brokers app is downloadable for free. 

How Interactive Brokers Compares

It’s possible to build an incredibly diverse portfolio with IBKR with just a few clicks with access to over 135 markets and a wide range of securities. Traders can choose between a more comprehensive Pro account or an affordable Lite account to match their trading skill level and desired toolset. 

There’s plenty to love about Interactive Brokers beyond its standard charting tools. Its new Portfolio Checkup tool can help you gain a better understanding of where your investments are, while its fund parser tool helps you better understand your mutual fund and ETF exposure by showing you the holdings in each of your investments. Finally, the broker’s PortfolioAnalyst tool gives you a complete picture of your financial health. 

Interactive Brokers has recently increased its offerings even further for 2020, with a unique ESG screener and comprehensive mutual fund and bond screening tools. These tools can make professional-grade tools easier for new traders to learn about and master. If you’re looking for a wide range of securities, rock-bottom fees and top-of-the-line technology, few brokers are able to match Interactive Brokers.