Interactive brokers – traders reviews and trading platform overview

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Contents

Interactive Brokers Review 2020: Can IB Compete Against The Competition?

In-depth Interactive Brokers Review: IB Have Stiff Competition on Commissions, Platforms, Tools & Execution. Is it Time for You to Change Broker?

Table of Contents

Interactive Brokers Review
Overall
  • Trades & Commissions

Interactive Brokers Summary

Interactive Brokers: Good for Active Investors and Day Traders, seeking the low trading costs, direct market access for fast execution and best in class margin costs. Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers.

Not only are they a long-established company, it is also big. It has a very complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market. Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange and even futures and commodities. Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge and as you will see, this is the case for IB.

Pros

  • Low Commissions
  • Good Platforms MT4 + VPS
  • All Markets & Vehicles
  • Direct Market Access (DMA)
  • Large Established Broker
  • Trustpilot Stars ★★★★

Cons

  • Less than perfect Customer Satisfaction
  • Min Balance for Forex is $500K

The selection of tools available on the IB platform is mind-blowing, offering everything from Algo-Trading to Portfolio Management if you want it all, Interactive Brokers is the choice for you.

Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers. Not only are they a long-established company, but they are also big in terms of market capitalization and financial stability.

IB has a very complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market.

This includes Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange, and even futures and commodities, they also claim any market anytime.

Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge. Not so with Interactive Brokers.

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One of the industries lowest commissions on Stock Trades at $1,- and great commissions on Options demonstrate competitiveness. They also have the lowest margin interest rate in the review, in fact probably in the industry.

When it comes to the trading platform there are no additional costs which are a breath of fresh air as Web Trader, TWS and many more are all free.

Interactive Brokers caters to the more professional investor, or at least those with a minimum account balance of $10,000. Also, you will need to have a balance of $100,000 to be able to trade Forex.

Another huge bonus is that IB manages to throw into the package Zacks and Morning Star research for free, including real-time news.

IB manages to span the divide between Day Traders and Long-Term investors and that is not easy. If you plan to span those worlds also IB is a natural choice.

Round 1 — Stock Brokers Commissions Comparison

Commissions are not the be-all and end-all, but low commissions do help to reduce slippage especially if you are an active investor or trader.

Some Brokers offer a flat fee regardless of how many shares are traded. Some offer an optional “per share” commission structure, which can be beneficial for smaller traders.

Trading & Commissions

When it comes to the low trading costs then Interactive Brokers does well but not perfect. With a stock trading fee of $1 and even a per-share trading fee of $0.005 you have flexibility and low slippage especially if you are an active trader.

IB Trading Commissions Comparison

Interactive Brokers cannot compare to the industry leaders in terms of fees and commissions

Commissions & Fees Firstrade TD Ameritrade E*Trade Interactive Brokers
Online Stock Orders $0 $0 $0 $0.005 per share
Online Option Orders $0 $0 + $0.65/Contract $0 + $0.65/Contract $1 + $0.25/Contract
Online Mutual Fund Trades $0 $49.99 $49.99 $0
Broker-assisted Stock $19.95 $25 $25 $25
& Options Trades (+$0.50/contract) (+$0.65/contract) (+$0.65/contract) (+$0.65/contract)
Minimum Initial Deposit $0 $0 $500 $10,000

Table 1: IB Commissions vs Competitors

Interactive Brokers does offer commission-free ETF’s but only 28 of them. However, the commissions are all other ETF’s are so low it may not matter, as they charge only $1,- per trade.

IB Margin Commissions vs Competition

The margin account interest rates are also the very best at only 2.2% to 3%. This clearly makes IB the leader for financing and margin commissions.

Online Options orders have zero commission while the major competitors still charge $0.65 per contract. Firstrade also has the largest selection of free to trade ETFs and Mutual Funds.

Margin Balance Firstrade TD Ameritrade Fidelity E*Trade Interactive Brokers
$1,000,000 + 5.00% 7.75% 5.00% 7.00% 4.35%
$500,000

$999,999

5.60% 8.25% 5.25% 8.00% 4.35%
$250,000

$499,999

7.50% 8.25% 7.58% 8.50% 4.35%
$100,000

$249,999

7.75% 8.50% 7.83% 9.00% 4.35%
$50,000

$99,999

8.25% 8.75% 7.88% 9.50% 4.35%
$25,000

$49,999

8.75% 9.75% 8.83% 10.00% 4.35%
$10,000

$24,999

9.00% 10.00% 9.33% 10.25% 4.35%
$0

$9,999

9.25% 10.25% 9.33% 10.50% 4.35%

The icing on the cake is that with IB you will also get paid on your account cash balance up to 1.4%. Most other Brokers offer 0% and maximum 0.25%. So if you maintain a large cash holding Interactive Brokers makes a lot of sense.

IB Options Fees Comparison

Interactive Brokers vs. Firstrade vs. Fidelity vs TDA vs E-Trade vs Schwab

Commissions Firstrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity TD Ameritrade E*Trade Charles Schwab
Online Stock Orders $0 $0 $4.95 $0 $0 $0
Online Option Orders $0 $1 + $0.25/Contract $0 + $0.65/Contract $0 + $0.65/Contract $0 + $0.65/Contract $0 + $0.65/Contract

Table 2: Stock Trades & Options Trade Fees

As you can see, when it comes to commissions and fees, Firstrade is clearly an industry leader.

IB Trading Platform Comparison

How do you find the stocks that are in-play, have high volatility and are in a strong trend? This is the job of the trading platform.

You need your trading platform to be fast, intuitive and powerful. In this section, we rate the brokers on their choice of trading platform.

Interactive Brokers has a truly outstanding trading platform based on Trader Workstation (TWS). It is free to download and use as a client

Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation TWS

and it is the single place to be able to trade any and every one of the vehicles on offer from IB. It caters to everything Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Bonds, Mutual Funds & ETF’s.

Not only that there are a huge number of add-on advanced tools that plug into TWS such as:

  • ChartTrader — for trading directly from charts
  • Continuous Futures — for commodity futures scanning and analysis
  • DepthTrader — for deep analysis of market liquidity
  • OptionTrader — deeper Options Analysis with specific Options strategies
  • ProbabilityLab — to test the Probability Distribution of a particular trade

In total there are 27 different advanced trading tools to suit every possible approach to the market.

Video of IB Trader Workstation

Customer Support & Research Comparison

In this round we compare:

  • Customer Support — we want to see all 3 options of Email, Messaging, and Phone
  • Customer Satisfaction Score — how many complaints or bad reviews within the last year on Twitter or TrustPilot (jump to methodology)
  • Research & Ideas — what services are provided free of charge to help you research a particular stock or sector. Stand-alone research services can be costly, so free with an account is a big bonus.
  • News — Is a real-time news service available for free or an additionally paid upgrade

The table is results are sorted in order of:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Rating: ★★★★★ People actively praising the broker & Zero Negative Reviews. ★★★★ 4 is Zero Negative Reviews
  2. Research & Trade Ideas: Quality of the integrated and Zero Cost Research Sources

Customer Support & Research Winner

Interactive Brokers offers by far the best free services in the area of research. Here is a snapshot of some of the services you will get for free.

  • IB Market Signals
  • IB Traders Insight
  • Morningstar equity ownership
  • Thomson Reuters (in 10 languages), stock reports, news, fundamentals
  • Zacks Investment Research
  • Real-time News Streaming

In terms of customer service, they offer the full package of telephone, chat & email contact so no issues there.

We could not find any evidence of negative tweets or reviews so IB has a very good customer satisfaction score, particularly since they have by far the largest twitter following of 233,000 people.

The only reason they are lower on the list of winners is that they do not have a history of people raving about there services. Perhaps the more professional investors trading with IB are not focussing on praising them on twitter but trader making profits in the markets.

In any case, IB is a very high-quality company with the very best research included for free in your account.

Brokerage Regulation & Account Minimum

Is the company well established, well funded and well regulated? This is the main object of this round of comparisons.

Any U.S. based Broker should be a member of the following institutions.

Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) Membership.

FINRA is a nonprofit organization established to protect investors and ensure that the members are complying with the law and the Securities and Exchange Commission rules. They audit all members regularly.

Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) Membership.

The SIPC is there to protect and hopefully recover any money lost if a Brokerage firm fails. Although Broker failure is rare, it can happen and SIPC membership ensures that your account is protected up to $500,000.

Interactive Brokers has all the protection required in the U.S.A, they are fully registered in the FINRA Database and have SIPC insurance.

Account minimums with Interactive Brokers are higher than with its competitors, as they are squarely going after clients with larger investment portfolios, higher net worth individuals or professional money managers. The account minimum of $10,000 for normal trading and $100,000 for Foreign Exchange Trading will be a barrier to new investors.

IB Review Summary

Interactive Brokers: Good for Active Investors and Day Traders, seeking the low trading costs, direct market access for fast execution and best in class margin costs. Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers.

Not only are they a long-established company, it is also big. It has a very complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market. Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange and even futures and commodities. Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge and as you have seen, this is the case for IB.

Interactive Brokers Stock Broker Master Table (Searchable)

Here you can find the table containing all the data in one place. Use the search box to filter on a particular item you are looking to compare. For example type “forex” or “margin” and you will get only the relevant rows to compare.

Brokerage
Result Review Winner
Great for: Active Investors & Day Traders seeking lowest commissions
Likes ★ Industry Leading Low Commissions
★ Great Trading Platform
★ Direct Market Access
★ All Markets & Vehicles
★ Lowest Margin Rates
Dislike ✘ Less than perfect Customer Satisfaction
Trades & Commissions
Direct Market Access DMA
Stock Trading
Stock Trading Fees $1.00
Per Share Trading Fees $0.005
Stock Trading Fees (Max) 1% of Trade
Options
Options Trading Fees $1.00
Leverage Available
ETF Trades
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) $1.00
Number of Commission Free ETF’s 28
Futures $0.85
Mutual Funds $1.00
Bond Purchase
Bonds $1 + Net Yield
Forex Trading
Foreign Exchange (fx) Commission $ per 1,000 $2.00
Margin Account Interest Charges 2.2% to 3%
Margin Costs Rating ★★★★★
Trades & Commissions Score ★★★★★
Trading Platform
Software Provider Interactive Brokers
Trading Platform Cost Free
Web Software WebTrader Free
Desktop Software Desktop TWS – Free
Mobile Software Free
LII Quotes
Indicators / Studies
Streaming Charts
Watchlists
Profit / Loss Graphs
Probability Calculators
Options Chains
Trading Platform Score ★★★★★
Customer Support & Research
Customer Support (Phone & Live Chat)
Customer Satisfaction Score* ★★★★
Research & Trade Ideas ✔Zacks + MorningStar Free
News Real-Time
Customer Support & Research Score ★★★★
Account & Company Details
Available for U.S. Citizens
Account Minimum $10,000
FINRA Member
SIPC Insurance – Assets
Regulated By SEC

Do you want more Stock Broker Reviews?

Read our Review of the Best US Online Stock Brokers Comparison, or our Best Penny Stock Brokers or Best Brokers In-Depth Review

Notes on the Review

Customer Satisfaction Score (Star Ratings)

The customer satisfaction score was compiled using the following methodology.

The Twitter Accounts of the Brokers were scanned back for the 1 year for any negative feedback from customers. Also, TrustPilot UK and USA were reviewed and any negative comments counted against the broker. These two sources of information were combined to provide the star rating you see below.

★★★★★ — No Complaints & Positive Recommendations (1 year)
★★★★ — No Complaints (1 year)
★★★ — 20 Complaints (1 year)

Partnerships & Special Bonus

Liberated Stock Trader has partnerships with most of the service providers in this review. This means if you find the review useful and purchase any of the services mentioned we will receive a small payment which goes towards funding the research and work we do.

As a thank you for using our reviews and purchasing any of the services mentioned we would like to offer you a special bonus of the highly rated Liberated Stock Trader “How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash” eBook and Video Course worth $29.-. Simply contact us specifying which service you signed up for and we will send you your gift.

Review Methodology

Over 200 data points were collected during this review. Brokers change services, terms, and commissions on a regular basis. If you represent a Brokerage House or are a client and you spot an inaccuracy, please leave a comment or contact us here and we will endeavor to correct it.

Interactive Brokers Review

Sarah Horvath
Contributor, Benzinga

1 Minute Review

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a comprehensive trading platform that gives you access to a massive range of securities at affordable prices. With access to over 125 global markets, you can buy assets from all around the world from the comfort of your home or office. 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 investors. The platform offers limited assistance and can be a challenge for new users to become acclimated to. The broker’s tiered pricing strategy can also be frustrating for traders who focus on hourly or daily price movements.

Best For

  • Access to foreign markets
  • Comprehensive mobile app that makes trading simple
  • Wide range of available account types and tradable assets
  • Comprehensive, quick desktop platform
  • Mobile app mirrors full capabilities of desktop version
  • Access to massive range of tradable assets
  • Frustrating and confusing tiered pricing
  • Bloated website that makes finding information a challenge

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 125 unique markets. This makes it one of the easiest ways to 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 1.39% APR. Even Interactive Brokers’ Lite account rate (a flat 3.59% no matter how much you borrow) is affordable.

Interactive Brokers Quick Summary

Tradable assets Stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, forex, options, futures, metals
Platform Comprehensive; widest range of tools available on IBKR Pro
Mobile app Fully operational, mirrors desktop web-trading platform
Account minimum $0
Available account types Taxable, traditional and Roth IRAs, additional options for business owners and corporate investors

Interactive Brokers Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums (5 Stars)

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 Pro accounts pay slightly higher commissions but have access to a wider range of analysis and research tools that professionals can use to inform their trades.

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; $0.005 per shareFor IBKR Pro accounts with bulk discounts available
Options $0.15 to $0.65 per contract depending on your trading volume and IBKR account choice
Mutual funds Access to hundreds of free mutual funds; other funds $14.95 per trade or 3% of your purchase volume
Futures $0.15 to $0.85 depending on the asset you’re buying
Forex 0.08 to 0.20 base points plus trade value depending on your regular trading volume
Account minimum $0 for all accounts

IBKR also offers margin trading on both Lite and Pro accounts. Margin rates range from 1.39% APR to 3.59% 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 (3.5 Stars)

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.

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.

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. If you’re a new trader and you have the time to watch outside tutorials or play around with the system yourself, you may enjoy using IBKR as your first platform.

Interactive Brokers Education (4.5 Stars)

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 with 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.
  • Short videos: Looking for a quicker way to learn more about the technical aspects of your Interactive Brokers account? Flip over to the Short Videos tab, where you’ll have access to hundreds of step-by-step guides to using its desktop or mobile platform. Some video subjects include setting up a watchlist, using futures contracts effectively and entering the options market. Most videos range between 5–25 minutes long, so they’re a great resource if you’re short on time.

All of the educational resources are free, but you do need to be logged into your account to access them.

Interactive Brokers Customer Support (4 Stars)

IBKR offers clients a number of methods they can use to get in contact with customer service. Let’s take a look at them now.

  • By phone: U.S. traders should call 877-442-2757. Customer service is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
  • Online chat: To access chat, follow the instructions laid out here. 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.

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

Interactive Brokers Offerings (5 Stars)

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.

Let’s take a closer look at the tradable assets currently available.

Interactive Brokers Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds (5 Stars)

Interactive Brokers offers trades 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, but high-value Pro account holders may pay a fraction of 1 cent per share.

IBKR offers access to 98 commission-free ETFs for Pro traders, while Lite traders get to buy and sell ETFs completely commission-free. It also offers a respectable selection of over 4,000 commission-free mutual funds.

Interactive Brokers Forex (3 Stars)

IBKR offers U.S. traders who hold USD as their base currency the ability to trade 14 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. 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 (5 Stars)

IBKR offers a massive range of options contracts for both the domestic and international markets. You’ll pay between $0.15 to $0.60 per contract depending on your account type and the value of the contract you’re making.

Interactive Brokers Futures (5 Stars)

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 the volume of your purchase.

Interactive Brokers Mobile App (4.5 stars)

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 (4 Stars)

Interactive Brokers is a comprehensive trading platform for intermediate and experienced traders. If you’re looking for the widest possible range of tradable assets, IBKR will be at the top of your list. With access to over 125 markets and a wide range of securities, it’s possible to build an incredibly diverse portfolio with just a few clicks. Affordable Pro accounts and a comprehensive mobile app make trading even simpler.

For new traders, IBKR’s platform can quickly become overwhelming. You’ll need a solid grasp of common trading tools before you open your platform if you want to trade effectively. Its website is also difficult to navigate — tons of information is available, but the clutter of the site can make finding the info you’re looking for a hassle. New and experienced traders may also be frustrated by its tiered pricing strategies, which make it difficult to quickly calculate what you’ll owe on a trade.

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Interactive Brokers Review

Professional traders looking for a complete multi-asset broker will find Interactive Brokers offers a comprehensive platform with competitive fees across multiple global financial markets.

Top Takeaways for 2020

After spending five months testing 30 of the best forex brokers for our 4th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Interactive Brokers:

  • Founded in 1977, Interactive Brokers is listed publicly (NASDAQ: IBKR) and regulated in six tier-1 jurisdictions, making it a safe broker (low-risk) for forex and CFDs trading.
  • While too complicated for inexperienced traders, the Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation (TWS) desktop platform is full of trading tools and built for professionals. Similarly, with mobile, the IBKR Mobile app comes loaded with features but lacks a simplified experience for everyday forex traders. MetaTrader is unavailable a platform option.
  • Overall, Interactive Brokers enables customers to trade a slew of financial products, from stocks and options to futures and spot forex. Note: We did find that product offerings vary by region. For example, retail spot forex trading is not available to US-residents, and CFDs are not available to clients in Canada and Hong Kong.

Overall Summary

Feature Interactive Brokers
Overall 4.5 Stars
Trust Score 94
Offering of Investments 4.5 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4 Stars
Platform & Tools 4.5 Stars
Research 4.5 Stars
Mobile Trading 4 Stars
Customer Service 3.5 Stars
Education 4 Stars

Is Interactive Brokers Safe?

Interactive Brokers is considered low-risk, with an overall Trust Score of 94 out of 99. Interactive Brokers is publicly traded, does not operate a bank, and is authorised by six tier-1 regulators (high trust), zero tier-2 regulators (average trust), and zero tier-3 regulators (low trust). Interactive Brokers is authorised by the following tier-1 regulators: Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), Securities Futures Commission (SFC), Japanese Financial Services Authority (JFSA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Learn more about Trust Score.

Feature Interactive Brokers
Year Founded 1977
Publicly Traded (Listed) Yes
Bank No
Tier-1 Licenses 6
Tier-2 Licenses 0
Tier-3 Licenses 0
Trust Score 94

Offering of Investments

Retail spot forex trading is not available to US-residents, and CFDs are not available to clients in Canada and Hong Kong. The following table summarizes the different investment products available to Interactive Brokers clients.

CFDs & Cash: Besides exchange-traded forex futures and forex options, Interactive Brokers offers two types of spot forex contracts: IDEALPRO, which uses a notional cash amount to account for trade reconciliations (considered cash-settled securities), and SMART, a contract structured as a non-deliverable rolling CFD.

Feature Interactive Brokers
Forex: Spot Trading Yes
Currency Pairs (Total Forex pairs) 105
CFDs – Total Offered 7400
Social Trading / Copy-Trading No
Cryptocurrency traded as actual No
Cryptocurrency traded as CFD Yes

Commissions & Fees

Despite its monthly minimum activity fees, Interactive Brokers appears to offer competitive rates; however, without publishing its average spreads for forex, it is difficult to make a precise comparison.

Commissions: For forex traders, Interactive Brokers aggregates prices from 14 of the world’s largest dealers, and instead of marking up spreads, it charges a commission per trade ranging from $16-$40 per million round turn ($8-$20 per side), comparable to brokers that offer commission-based FX trading on an agency basis.

Active traders: For active traders, there are applicable discounts you may be entitled to depending on your monthly trading volumes and the relevant products.

Minimum spend: While active traders can be rewarded with commission discounts, beginners may find overcoming fees more challenging due to monthly minimum spend requirements.

Overall, we would like to see Interactive Brokers publish its average forex spreads in 2020, since it competes well in other asset classes such as equities, where it ranked fifth out of 15 U.S. equity brokers in our sister site’s StockBrokers.com 2020 Broker Review.

Feature Interactive Brokers
Minimum Initial Deposit $0
Average Spread EUR/USD – Standard N/A
All-in Cost EUR/USD – Active N/A
Active Trader or VIP Discounts Yes

Platforms & Tools

Trader Workstation (TWS), Interactive Brokers’ flagship desktop trading platform, is not easy to use but is packed full of features covering all spectrums of trading products, including forex. While TWS takes ample time to learn, fortunately, over a dozen default layouts are provided, including one for forex trading. TWS is available for both macOS and Windows.

Forex layout: Within TWS, FXTrader is the main terminal for trading forex and gives traders access to 85 CFDs on forex or 105 cash forex pairs offered by Interactive Brokers. When adding forex pairs to a watch list, users can choose from both spot forex cash rates as well as forex CFDs from either the IDEALPRO or SMART venue.

Charting: TWS offers 96 available studies that can be added to a chart, which is far above the industry average of 42, and is only surpassed by several brokers including thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade, which has 397, followed by Dukascopy Bank with 313, and then City Index with 139.

Web platform: For browser trading, Interactive Brokers offers WebTrader, which is easier to use but very light in functionality compared to TWS. Unfortunately, WebTrader doesn’t support opening forex charts, leaving only stocks, indexes, and futures available for charting.

New traders beware: While the number of customizations available in the TWS desktop platform is impressive, the complexity and long lists of possible configurations can be intimidating to unseasoned investors. For example, the watch list alone can be configured with nearly 500 different available columns, although many of these are related to equities analysis such as earnings per share (EPS) or price/earnings (PE) ratios, and not forex.

MetaTrader: Interactive Brokers does not offer MetaTrader.

Research

While Interactive Brokers lacks a full-featured forex research offering, out of all brokers reviewed on ForexBrokers.com, the broker offers the widest array of third-party research, including free and premium content, as well as bundled services.

Scope of content: Interactive Brokers provides a broad range of choices. Available resources include a long list of analytical tools covering nearly every spectrum, including technical and fundamental analysis, news, and portfolios.

Forex news: Interactive Brokers streams headlines from Reuters, including forex news. The content provided by Traders’ Insight and MarketPulse, alongside the extensive list of analytical tools and news content, helps Interactive Brokers stand out.

Forex research: Interactive Brokers has limited forex research from among its in-house and third-party resources. The majority of research resources available to customers are unrelated to forex specifically, which can make the experience confusing and not ideal for less-experienced traders.

Mobile Trading

The Interactive Brokers mobile app, IBKR Mobile, provides a great experience that competes among the best multi-asset brokers in the industry. For forex trading, its primary drawback is that the app is so diverse that it lacks a focused FX experience.

Charts: Charting within the mobile app is rich and includes 70 indicators, which is far more than most brokers offer in their mobile apps, or even on their desktop and web platforms. Surprisingly, one drawback was the lack of drawing tools.

Trading Tools: The IBot feature, which lets you chat with an artificially intelligent bot (either by typing or using the voice command), understands commands such as “show me a chart of the EUR.USD” and then returns a matching chart that can open from the search results. IBot is also available in TWS.

Economic calendar: IBKR Mobile suffers from the same product challenges as TWS. Since it is not built solely for forex and CFDs trading, it is not ideal for less-experienced traders. For example, the economic calendar does not include forex data.

Video content: I was pleased to see video content available on the mobile app from multiple providers, including Bloomberg, IBKR Traders’ Insight, and Real Vision, supporting Interactive Brokers research offering.

Customer Service

To score Customer Service, ForexBrokers.com partnered with customer experience research group Customerwise to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the UK. For our 2020 Review, 330 customer service tests were conducted over six weeks.

Results

  • Average Connection Time: 1 – 2 minutes
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 6.2 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 7.2 / 10
  • Overall Score: 6.81 / 10
  • Ranking: 17 th (22 brokers)

Final Thoughts

With nearly every type of forex instrument available across 105 currency pairs, including spot, forwards, futures, and options trading, Interactive Brokers provides a diverse and bespoke offering for currency traders, on top of over 6,100 CFDs across global markets.

Interactive Brokers’ minimum monthly activity fees and related charges should be taken into consideration when deciding whether the broker will be a good fit for your trading style. For low-volume and newer traders, I do not recommend Interactive Brokers.

Overall, Interactive Brokers is an excellent choice for professional traders. The broker finished Best in Class in that category in 2020, and four others, including Offering of Investments, Platform & Tools, Research, and Mobile Trading. Interactive Brokers also won our award as the number one broker for Institutional Clients. Interactive Brokers competitive commissions structure and wide range of available markets, alongside the extensive configuration options and order types found within the TWS suite of platforms, is a winning combination.

About Interactive Brokers

Founded in 1977, Interactive Brokers is one of the oldest online brokerages in the U.S. and has been listed publicly (NASDAQ: IBKR) since 2007. It was one of the first to offer a multi-asset solution that now includes equities, options, forex, futures, and bonds across 125 market centers in 31 countries.

Interactive Brokers discontinued its retail forex offering in September 2020 and today only offers retail forex trading to international clients outside of the U.S. and Alberta, Canada. Known as Eligible Contract Participants (ECPs), US institutional traders with at least $10 million in assets are still eligible to trade forex. Read more on Wikipedia about Interactive Brokers.

Interactive Brokers Trading Features

Feature Interactive Brokers
Virtual Trading (Demo) Yes
Proprietary Platform Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes
Web Platform Yes
Social Trading / Copy-Trading No
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) No
MetaTrader 5 (MT5) No
cTrader No
Charting – Indicators / Studies (Total) 121
Charting – Drawing Tools (Total) 9
Charting – Trade From Chart Yes
Watchlists – Total Fields 494
Order Type – Trailing Stop Yes

Interactive Brokers Research Features

Feature Interactive Brokers
Daily Market Commentary Yes
Forex News (Top-Tier Sources) Yes
Weekly Webinars No
AutoChartist No
Trading Central (Recognia) Yes
Delkos Research No
Social Sentiment – Currency Pairs No
Economic Calendar Yes

Interactive Brokers Mobile App Features

Feature Interactive Brokers
Android App Yes
Apple iOS App Yes
Trading – Forex Yes
Trading – CFDs Yes
Alerts – Basic Fields Yes
Watch List Yes
Watch List Syncing Yes
Charting – Indicators / Studies 70
Charting – Draw Trend Lines No
Charting – Trend Lines Moveable No
Charting – Multiple Time Frames Yes
Charting – Drawings Autosave Yes
Forex Calendar No

2020 Review Methodology

For our 2020 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 30 international forex brokers over a five month time period. Each broker was graded on 105 different variables and, in total, over 50,000 words of research were produced.

While encouraged, broker participation was optional. Each broker had the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile and provide executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting.

All data submitted by brokers is hand-checked for accuracy. Ultimately, our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than 1% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

Forex Risk Disclaimer

“There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses.” Learn more.

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