Interactive Brokers has been operating since 1978 and in that time has firmly established itself as one of the best online stock trading brokers. Playing host to over $8.2 billion in equity capital, Interactive Brokers conducts its business on over 135 market destinations worldwide, with the group and its affiliates executing over 1,746,000 trades per day.
The business is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, and has over 1,850 employees in its offices around the world. Delivering on its promise to "Compete on price, speed, size, diversity of global products and advanced trading tools", Interactive Brokers is also recognized in our rundown of the best forex brokers.
Interactive Brokers review: The basics
Account minimum amount: None on both IBKR Pro and Lite
Commission fee: Dependent on account and location
Account fees: Monthly fee if you drop below a certain activity threshold on Pro
Investment products: Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Metals, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, EFPs, Hedge Funds, Robo Portfolios
Interactive Brokers offers up two main stock trading options. You can open a standard account that comes with its own features and capabilities, or there's the Interactive Brokers Pro account, which comes with even more bells and whistles - the main consideration here is that the Pro account will still need to be paid for, even if you're inactive on the account for a certain period of time. In all other aspects, however, the platform is budget-friendly - there's no account minimum and the fees are among the lowest on the market, although there are sometimes little hidden snips which can add up if you don’t read the fine print.
Interactive Brokers review: Tools and services
- Advanced trading platforms
- Well-designed tools
- Website can be frustrating
Interactive Brokers has some nifty features, including the option of a free trial using all their platforms, market data and research. It’s extremely useful, as features go, as you can explore the platforms and the systems and product portfolios before you commit. This is a leap of faith for Interactive Brokers, but also suggests they are supremely confident in what they have to offer.
There are some great tools and services that will help you refine your investments too, and while the website may benefit from some slightly better signposting, you won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer. This includes PortfolioAnalyst, which provides data to aid in the monitoring and administration of your accounts, and Probability Lab, a tool that helps you think about options without the complicated maths.
The platforms from Interactive Brokers include the traditional Client Portal that lets you check your accounts, quotes, trades and orders, and the Desktop TWS, which is an active trading platform for traders and investors who have multiple products and trades in play. It comes with some excellent features and is supported by the mobile app and IBKR WebTrader. The latter is only available to people who have the IBKR Pro accounts and want extra trading functionality.
Interactive Brokers review: Trading options and Forex
- Lengthy investment options
- Fractional shares
Interactive Brokers has a lot of variety in its investment portfolio and plenty of ways to make the most from your investments. You may initially struggle with the platform in terms of working out which account is best for you – IBKR Pro or IBKR Lite – and which commission rates apply where. That said, you will find it worthwhile to wade through the mass of fees, charges and commissions because Interactive Brokers has a lot to offer.
It’s also one of the few stock trading platforms to offer Forex – TD Ameritrade is the only other option in our shortlist – but it stacks up extremely well here too. If you're a high volume trader, in particular, then the pricing is extremely competitive, although you'll need a $10,000 deposit to get started. More than 90 technical indicators are available to help you track currency pair performance, while you can monitor performance alongside a particular index too.
Among the other features on offer is ‘Robo Portfolios’ - these are portfolios developed by automated systems around your specific investment requirements - and the ability to invest in fractional shares, a great option if you who can’t afford the full price of a share in a company that you really want to be part of.
Interactive Brokers review: Service and support
- Traders’ Academy courses
- Good customer reviews
If you're thirsty to improve your stock trading knowledge, Interactive Brokers' Traders’ Academy section currently offers 49 courses focused on investments, products, trading, portfolio management and financial planning, and so forth. These courses are designed for users of all levels of expertise, to help refine investment strategies and get the most from the platform. Supplementing this are the immensely useful trading calendars, insights and webinars.
When it comes to customer reviews, Interactive Brokers enjoys an extremely decent three stars on Trustpilot, with 60% of reviewers rating the platform as either excellent or great. The overall consensus is that the portfolio management features, broad range of products and customer support make it stand out from the crowd.
Should you use Interactive Brokers?
Interactive Brokers offers a ton of online stock trading features and value-added services that make it a leader in the market. The two different accounts of IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro are customized to suit entirely different trading styles, and the pricing structures are low enough to keep it competitive and aligned with other leaders in the market. The forex trading option is top-notch too, and comes with fees that compare extremely favorably to other forex brokers in the market today. All-in-all, Interactive Brokers is an ideal fit for the more experienced trader looking for the more advanced tools and technologies to help them customize their portfolio, and for the casual investor, who wants reliable returns with solid advice and support.