Interactive Brokers Review
Interactive Brokers is a discount broker (1) (2) with a proprietary online trading system (12). It was founded more than forty years ago and has licenses from many regulators (3), not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom (5). It has several decades disclosing all its financial statements to the public (6) and to the federal agencies (7) (11) that are in the jurisdiction of the financial regulatory activities in the United States (4), such as FINRA (9) and SEC (10), and other countries as well (8).
According to our editorial review, this is currently the best broker overall that we can identify and it is also the best one for futures and for day trading.
It is regulated by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States and in the United Kingdom by the FCA that is the Financial Conduct Authority.
Pros And Cons Of Interactive Brokers
The biggest advantage of Interactive Brokers is that it has the largest availability of products in their portfolio and a very wide number of markets range. It has a plethora of tools to perform research, it has a lot of educational resources, and as we anticipated above it is regulated by a good number of financial authorities worldwide.
A big pro is the IB Key available through IBKR Mobile. This two-step authentication that we have in Interactive Brokers is very good in comparison to other logins that incredibly offer only one step authentication availability.
There are some cons anyway, and there we have to consider that the desktop trading platform is very complex even more than the one of Tastyworks, that we regarded as one of the most complex to use.
There is a negative side in Interactive Brokers, that we do not see very often in brokerage services, which are the inactivity fees. The fee is that you must pay $10 each month of inactivity fee if you have not generated at least ten dollars in commissions.
Also, I find another con, that is that opening of an account is a cumbersome process and it is not so smooth as in other companies that we have reviewed already like Webull, Tastyworks, Robinhood, and Firstrade among others. The deposit and the withdrawal of funds are only performed via bank transfer.
Interactive Brokers is recommendable if you are an advanced trader, but not if you are a beginner. In this review, we will go in detail through all the pros and cons that we just mentioned, and you will understand why this platform is suitable for very mature and advanced traders and not for beginners for whom I will recommend other options.
I will also explain what you should be doing if you are a beginner, and you want anyway to start your trading path with Interactive Brokers.
Structure of fees
When we discuss the fees of a certain broker in our reviews, we always utilize the same analysis so you can compare these features and attributes among all the available brokers.
In regard to fees, we talk about direct fees and indirect fees.
The direct fees let’s call them better the “direct trading fees”, are the ones that you have to pay related to a specific operation. The most typical example is the commissions: when you pay a commission for each operation that you perform. But there are also financing rates, like when you operate with margin. Also, you have spread and also in some cases conversion fees. Conversion fees that are charged in the cases that the transactional activity requires a currency conversion.
The indirect trading fees, on the other hand, are the ones whose charge is unrelated to any specific trading operation. These are, for example, the fees for inactivity, like if you have your account dormant for some time. We also include among the indirect trading fees the monthly or annual maintenance fees, the fees for relative inactivity if you do not operate enough with your account, and do not generate enough commissions.
Deposit fees that are charged to you when you fund your account, and also a good example of these indirect trading fees are withdrawal fees: these withdrawal fees are independent of a trading operation, and you are obliged to pay them when you transfer money from your broker cash account to your bank or financial institution.
So now, with this distinction, let’s discuss the fees for Interactive Brokers in separate paragraphs according to the classes of assets that they handle. So, let’s go.
Interactive Brokers direct trading fees
The segmentation of fees in Interactive Brokers
Since 2020, the clients that are United States residents can select a new plan whose name is IBKR LITE. These American clients may trade ETFs and United States stocks without being obliged to perform the payment of a Commission and without inactivity fees in case that their account is dormant for some time.
We will discuss later, briefly, this plan that has two versions the pro (IBKR PRO) and the light (IBKR LITE). It is very convenient for US customers because they can be saving a lot of money in commissions and trading fees.
In general, outside this relatively new plan that started to roll out in 2020, the customers can choose Interactive Brokers between a price plan that is by tiers or by fixed rate. Let’s see both of them:
- Price plan segmented by tiers: The price plan organized by tiers, will charge you a fee according to the volume of trades that you perform on a monthly basis. If you trade more, if you perform more trading operations, your rates will be marginally lower. Nevertheless, there are other fees typically clearing, fees related to the regulatory administrative authorities, that have a legal source, and could be eventually be charged separately anyway.
- Price plan by a fixed quantity: The other price plan will be charging the customer of Interactive Brokers who select this option: a fixed quantity per share or per contract. This is there plan that we have tested in this review.
ETF and stock trading fees.
There is a stock trading fee with Interactive Brokers that depends on the volume. These fees are the same for stocks or for ETF’s.
We have compared these fees with two close competitors. These competitors are Saxo Bank and Degiro.
In Interactive Brokers, if you trade stocks or ETFs for, for example, $2000, you will be obliged to pay the following commissions.
- For American stock, these are stocks listed in the United States, the Commission from Interactive Brokers for this $2000 trade will be $1. It will be $0.60 with Degiro and $10.00 with Saxo Bank.
- For German stocks, you have to pay a commission of $4.40. This is much lower than the closest competitors Saxo Bank and Degiro. In Saxo Bank, this Commission is $11. In Degiro, instead, this Commission will be $5.60.
- For British stocks, the commission of the same operation of a trade of $2000, is $7.20. In Saxo Bank, this is $9.70 while with Degiro it is $2.50.
Trading on margin with Interactive Brokers
When you perform trading operations on a short sale or margin, you are always obliged to pay a rate. This is an interest, actually a rate, called financing rate. This is not what we would call a commission: It is an interest rate for a loan.
On margin operations, the broker is lending you money that you do not have in your account, to complete an operation. So it is like you take a loan from your broker for a reduced amount of time. For this loan, as expected, you have to pay an interest.
We can say that the financing rates are not high when we work with Interactive Brokers. Let’s see.
The following rates are the financing rates that apply to Interactive Brokers customers for operations performed with options stocks and futures.
The margin rate in American dollars is 3.4%. For operations in British pounds is 1.5%. Also, 1.5% is the margin rate for operations in Euros.
These rates provided are the average rates because they depend, they fluctuate, according to your debit balance.
The fees for forex operations are high with Interactive Brokers. The highest ones come up are for the very popular currency pair EUR-USD. Here the benchmark fee for a $20,000 30: 1 long position maintained during a week is 17,90 dollars.
For the currency pair GBP-USD (British pounds and US dollars), the benchmark fee is $13.60. And for the currency pair Euros and Swiss francs (EUR-CHF), it is much lower $ 7.10. These are similar to the ones offered by Saxo Bank who is a brokerage service that has a very similar profile with Interactive Brokers, and this is why we chose them for the comparison. Here we are not considering Degiro as a competitor as we normally would have done, because Degiro does not work with Forex, therefore obviously we cannot know the benchmark fee for any currency pair.
Also, with the Forex fees, these commissions may vary according to your amount of trading volume. The commission will be much lower if you perform more operations.
For mutual funds, Interactive Brokers has a commission of $15 if you purchased mutual funds for $2000. This commission is higher than the one in Degiro that is 10.30 dollars. In the case of mutual funds, the big winner here is Saxo Bank that does not have any commission for operations with mutual funds.
Fees for operations with bonds
For most of the asset classes, Interactive Brokers has low fees. Commissions for operating with government bonds are not the exception to that rule. For a commission on an operation with $10,000 in government bonds, we have a commission of $5 when it is with United States Treasury bonds. The commission goes to $10 when these government bonds are bonds of the European Union.
If you are going to operate with government bonds, then Interactive Brokers may be the option for you because Saxo Bank, which also operates with bonds of the European Union and United States Treasury bonds, has very high commissions of $88.00.
Fees for operating with options
Let’s take for example a commission of ten contracts of stock index options of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain. For stock index options of the United States, the commission in Interactive Brokers is $7.00. This is much better than the $40 for the same operation and quantity of contracts in Saxo Bank, which is $40. For stock index options of Germany, the commission in Interactive Brokers is 12 .10 dollars while in Saxo Bank it is $44.
Finally, for stock index options of the United Kingdom, the commission in Interactive Brokers is $20.40, whereas it is also here much higher in Saxo Bank that encompasses 36 dollars.
Fees for operations with futures
Operating with futures also has lower fees in Interactive Brokers. Let’s take an example of an operation with stock index futures of exactly ten contracts.
For stock index futures of Germany, you will be paying a commission of $22.00 with Interactive Brokers. This is much more than Degiro, where you must pay for the same operation for the same ten contracts, the sum of $9.90. In Saxo Bank, for the same quantity of German stock index futures, the commission will raise to 44 dollars.
In the case of stock index futures of the United Kingdom, the commission for these ten contracts will be $20.40. Much higher is in Saxo Bank and in Degiro, The commission for the same operation: $36 in Saxo Bank and $29.20 with $0.20 in Degiro.
In regards to stock index futures of the United States, here is where Interactive Brokers really excels. This is because their commissions are $8.50 only while Saxo Bank is $40. Only Degiro can have a lower commission for stock index futures of the US because they will charge you for the same ten contracts operation only $6.50 of direct trading commission.
Let me tell you first, that in case that you have doubts or want to enhance your knowledge about cryptocurrencies and trading of cryptocurrencies, we have an article that is a good introduction to crypto, that we invite you to read.
In Interactive Brokers, you can perform trading operations with currencies through exchange-traded notes (ETNs) and futures.
For Bitcoin and ether ETNs, their availability is in the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Interactive Brokers will charge you a fee that is very low when you trade on this Stock Exchange. It will charge you 49 Swedish crowns or 0.05% of the operation.
As we said, you can also perform trading operations with Bitcoin futures. These are done in the Chicago Board Options Exchange CBOE. Here the commissions are $5 per Bitcoin futures contract.
Indirect Trading Fees in Interactive Brokers
Now we are going to discuss the non-direct or indirect trading fees. This will take us less work than the previous listings of direct trading fees. The reason is that Interactive Brokers has a very long list of assets classes whose trading fees we needed to discuss with you.
So, we will start now with the indirect trading fees that are those trading fees that are unrelated to any specific trading operation.
There is a negative side in Interactive Brokers, that we do not see very often in brokerage services, which are the inactivity fees. The fee is that you must pay $10 each month of inactivity fee if you have not generated at least ten dollars in commissions. Thus, this is more than a dormant account fee. This is a fee that you are required to pay if you did not generate these ten dollars in commissions for Interactive Brokers. This is not common, and we see that in the majority of brokers there is no inactivity fee.
Only in some rare cases, we see inactivity fees for legal entities, like in Webull. But with Webull it is only for legal entities after having the account dormant for many years. But this is not common and this inactivity fees I understand they are high.
On the other hand, you do not have to pay anything to open the account, no monthly maintenance fee, and no deposit fee.
If you perform withdrawals, the first withdrawal that you perform in the month is free of commissions. However, if you perform more withdrawals during that month, these subsequent withdrawals will make you incur the obligation of paying a fee. Therefore, I would suggest that you organize yourself in a way that you only have to perform only one withdrawal in a month, so you avoid paying any kind of fee.
Asset Management Interactive Brokers Service
This broker provides a service that we want to see more often in brokers. It is a service called Interactive Advisors from Interactive Brokers. It is not easy to qualify for this service, but it is almost like a robo-advisor.
This is a good alternative for you if you want to delegate a bit of the management of your investment. Thus, if you really do not desire to perform the management of your portfolio investments on your own or just simply you need to gain gradually more confidence, more trust in yourself in investment operations, this is a way to go.
This asset management service costs a plus from the standard brokerage commissions that you have to pay in Interactive Brokers. This means that you have the ordinary commissions and additionally, you will have the cost of this asset management service. So how much does this asset management service cost?
There is a minimum investment amount that is $5000. You can only access the asset management service with an investment of a minimum of $5000. These are the minimum funds necessary to compromise in the investment through the funding of your account, to become eligible for the asset management service. It is not a commission.
The payment for this asset management service is an annual fee that ranges from 0.08 % to 1.5 %. It is tiered by the volume of deposited funds. This means that for those $5000 of the minimum amount you will have to pay 1.5 %.
Therefore, as a summary, using the asset management service you are obliged to the payment of the standard brokerage commission plus a maximum of 1.5% as an annual management fee.
This interactive advisor sounds very interesting. You have to answer in a form a couple of questions and the algorithm will use your answers to envisage a portfolio. The other way to work with this interactive advisor is to choose from a selection of many portfolios that are managed by internal Interactive Brokers portfolio managers.
Opening Of An account In Interactive Brokers
I found that the online application form of Interactive Brokers is somewhat cumbersome and long. It is not streamlined like the online registration processes that we reviewed in some other brokers such as Webull, Tastyworks, Firstrade, and Robinhood, to put some examples. The verification took around 4 days (it takes 3-4 days according to them).
The advantages of opening an account with Interactive Brokers is that the process is fully digital. This is now the standard in the industry.
Another advantage is that you do not have any minimum deposit when you sign in.
There are some other account types that do require a minimum deposit but in general, we see that this minimum deposit is not required.
Among the cons that we found opening an account with Interactive Brokers is that the user experience is very bad it takes a lot of time and it is not so streamlined like with other competitors. But the pros are that the process is fully online, and no minimum deposit is required at registration
Eligibility To Open An Account With Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers has the widest range possible in subjects that are eligible to open an account and operate with them.
They allow customers from practically every country to open an account. There are a few exceptions, like North Korea, but in practice also countries with civil unrest such as Venezuela, are eligible to become customers with Interactive Brokers.
About the minimum deposit, we already said that there is no minimum deposit for cash accounts. As you know there is normally a minimum deposit if you want to trade on short sale or on margin. This minimum deposit for trading on margin is $2000. This minimum deposit of two thousand dollars is because you are going to request a loan from the broker when you operate on margin. Therefore, in order to do that, you have to deposit funds for this quantity.
Account types that can be opened in Interactive Brokers
There are many types of accounts that can be opened with Interactive Brokers. Even if you are a foreigner you can open many account types. However, some of these account types are reserved only for customers that are residents in the United States. This is because for legal reasons they can only be available to clients of the United States because they correspond to the application of American regulations.
This is the list of account types that can be opened in Interactive Brokers
- Advisor account: this account is for an individual person who performs the management of the account in the interest and on behalf of his client, in terms of handling his investments and in terms of administration of the account.
- Friends and family account: This account type is suitable for a group of up to 15 individuals.
- UGMA / UTMA: This account type, that normally not all the brokers have, are just for clients that are minors. They are available exclusively for clients that are residents in the United States. UGMA is Uniform Gift to Minors Act and UTMA is Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. These are custodial accounts.
- Individual retirement accounts: these are the IRA accounts, and are for retirement accounts of individuals. They apply only to residents of the United States because they correspond to the accomplishment of the subsection 401-K of the Internal Revenue Code. As this legislation is federal legislation of the United States, it cannot be applied to foreign residents as they are outside its territorial jurisdiction. If a foreign resident wants to operate with European retirement accounts, Interactive Brokers does not offer them any account type for this.
- Trusts: the subject responsible for this account is a trustee.
- Joint account: This is the typical account that is owned and utilized by two individuals.
- Account for individuals: This popular account type is the most common one, and it is utilized by a single individual on his own behalf and on his own interest.
Comparison of IBKR LITE AND IBKR PRO
See table ………
The process of opening an account in Interactive Brokers
Opening an account in Interactive Brokers is completely a digital process. This is like with the majority of brokers, but unluckily it is very cumbersome and quite long and difficult with this broker.
You complete the online registration form. Then the complete process to verify your new account took me three days.
Going through all the steps, in total there are five steps in the registration: it takes about 60 minutes. The real problem is that suddenly the screen refreshes and everything you entered on that page, probably five or six rows of information, are lost. You have to input them again. This happened to me twice during the registration that encompasses six screens. Thus, after I filled all the screen, I had to come back again to complete it because suddenly the screen refreshed. This is quite frustrating considering that in companies like Robinhood or Firstrade, the online application form takes just a few minutes to be completed.
As usual with brokers, and this is not different from Interactive Brokers, you have to introduce personal information. They ask you questions about how much experience do you have performing trade operations.
In order to fulfill compliance regulations and know your customer principle (KYC), you are asked many questions so that you are identified in the system completely.
For this, you must upload a scanned copy of an identity card, a passport, or a license for driving vehicles.
Furthermore, we were asked for documentation in order to prove the actual physical residence address. Here you also must upload a document that in your consideration may prove the address of your physical residence. It could be a statement for utilities like an utility bill. It could be also the address that is stated in the driver´s license, some countries do this, some not. Also, it can be a bank statement where your address appears. This is all regulatory information, so they will ask you even for a self-certification of tax residency, investment objectives, and investment experience.
Regarding funding, in Interactive Brokers you do not need to fund your account with a minimum deposit. This is valid for cash accounts, whereas for margin accounts you must provide funds for $2000. To do this you have to associate your bank or financial institution with the newly created Interactive Brokers account.
You will be informed via email when the process is completed. It takes between two and three business days, but some customers in the comments of this article wrote as you can see below that the process took for them only two business days.
Deposit and withdrawal of funds
The process to deposit funds transferring money from your bank or your financial institution to the Interactive Brokers account, and the process to withdraw funds from your Interactive Brokers account and transferring them to your financial institution is easy.
As pros, we can identify that there are many currencies to work with. With this, it is much better than other companies like Webull that only work with United States dollars. There is no fee or commission when you perform a deposit to fund your Interactive Brokers account. You have one withdrawal per month free of charge as well.
As for the cons, we have one. Withdrawals for foreign residents can only be done through bank transfers.
Let’s go into this process and cons of the deposit and withdrawal process in Interactive Brokers with a little bit more detail.
Regarding currencies that can be used, you can work with currently 20 currencies. This is a huge advantage because in many of the United States brokers you can only work with dollars. And we said that this is a problem for people who utilize other currencies because of the currency conversion rate that they have to pay later on.
So that is not a problem in Interactive Brokers because if you are not a US resident, you can easily use Euros, Swiss francs, British pounds, and many other currencies including the Mexican peso.
If we compare it with the competitors, the first comparison that we can easily do is with Saxo Bank where you also have 20 currencies to work with. Degiro has nine currencies to work with and this is a lot too. However, on the other hand, we have companies like Tastyworks, Webull, or Robinhood, where you can only use United States dollars. We know that this limitation is a problem because the customer later must pay a fee to convert these United States dollars (USD) into the currency of his bank account.
For this common issue, we already explained several times a solution. To avoid paying these fees for each currency conversion, we always suggested to our readers that they should open an account in what is called a digital bank. For this you have TransferWise and Revolut. We like both: they offer accounts in different currencies and they include very low exchange rates and bank transfers. Some of these bank transfers are free and some are very cheap.
With these two digital banks, you can operate with a broker in United States dollars having an account in TransferWise or Revolut also in dollars. Therefore, you will be transferring from your bank or financial institution to Revolut or TransferWise paying very little exchange rates or nothing (according to your plan) in these digital banks. You can open accounts in them simply online.
We have two articles about these digital banks that we recommend you read. However, for Interactive Brokers, they have so many international currencies, that you might not need them in this case.
Fees to fund the account through a deposit
To perform a deposit of funds into your Interactive Brokers account, it is completely free of any commissions. However, there are not many options to execute these deposits because there is no electronic wallet, debit card, or credit card that can be used. Only wire transfers.
If you are a resident of the United States, nevertheless, there are more possibilities for you. Because you can do a bill payment, you can pay by check, or through an ACH (Automated Clearing House).
A wire transfer may take up to four days to be acknowledged into your Interactive Brokers account. The same goes for an ACH. In practice, both are visible after two business days.
I see quite limited the options to fund your Interactive Brokers account. Saxo bank accepts credit cards and debit cards. Degiro does not accept credit cards but they accept electronic wallets. Therefore, as Interactive Brokers will only accept mainly ACH automated clearinghouse transfers and wire transfers, I see this as a limitation in comparison to the closest competitors.
Withdrawals are free in Interactive Brokers but only the first withdrawal of the month will be free of commission. For further withdrawals within that month, there is a fee. Therefore, it is recommended that you organize your withdrawals so you only need to perform once per month, thus, avoiding to pay these fees.
Withdrawals, in Interactive Brokers, can only be completed through ACH, checks or wire transfers. Like in the deposits that we discussed in the paragraph above, Interactive Brokers does not support withdrawal processes with electronic wallets. We have to say that for the withdrawals this is also in line with what Degiro and Saxo bank are offering: withdrawals limited to two ACH, checks, or wire transfers. It is the same in all brokers.
And what happens if for whatever reason you need to do a second withdrawal during the month? There are fees that are $10, 8 Euros, 7 British pounds, or 12 Canadian dollars. The withdrawal fee depends of course, on the currency of the account.
How much time does it take to withdraw money from Interactive Brokers?
For me, it took three business days until the quantities of the withdrawal appeared in my Revolut account that I picked as my banking account. The website informs us that the process can take four days.
How can you withdraw your money from Interactive Brokers?
The process for the withdrawal of your money in the Interactive Brokers account is simple.
The first step is to go to your dashboard, to what is called the Client Portal and then go to “Transfer and Pay “and then go to “Transfer Funds”.
As soon as you select your account, you go to the tab called “Withdraw Funds”. There you will select the methodology for the withdrawal process, for example, ACH, check, wire transfers. This is if you are a United States resident. only bank transfer is allowed if you are a foreign resident.
Complete the quantity that you want to withdraw, and press “Submit” so the withdrawal process can begin in the background.
The system will inform you if this withdrawal will be subject to a fee or not. The first withdrawal of the month will be free, so if this is the case, this example that we are giving to you would be a withdrawal-free of any charge, free of any commission.
You have in your dashboard an option to select called “View Transaction History”. Here you can monitor the status of the transfer recently executed and others that are still ongoing and completed statuses. The transfer is done immediately, but you will not see it immediately in your account of the bank. As we said this may take something about two days.
ACH should be taking more time than wire transfers but in practice, when we do these withdrawals, we notice that they are visible in our accounts in about two days since we ordered the transfer, just like wire transfers.
User Experience In the Interactive Brokers Trading Platform
Interactive Brokers has the three environments that we like to have in a broker. They have a web environment, they have a mobile application, and they have a desktop platform.
We like to have the three available because they satisfy different customers, different profiles of users, and different necessities.
Sometimes you would like to work with all the fully-fledged real estate workspace that the desktop platform can bring to you. Sometimes you want to work with the web environment and do not have to install the client of the program. Likewise, it is good to have a mobile application because you may want to just follow up with an asset, you want to know the status of an ongoing withdrawal, you just want to read a notification coming from an alert that you have set up in the platform, or you want to follow up how an asset is positioning today through the creation of a watchlist.
Now let’s go to each of these platforms and we will analyze them with more detail. This is the same process we normally follow with all the brokers. It is very useful so we can make comparisons later on.
Web trading platform
Using the Interactive Brokers platform in the web is fine and I had a good experience. It is available in many languages: for example, all the Western European languages are available and some other languages like Chinese Japanese and Slovakian.
In the web environment the design is very minimalistic, but nevertheless, contains all the features that you would reasonably expect and easy to find. You will see market updates, another small window with a watchlist of your favorite assets, top news in short snippets, and the top portfolio positions. However, I looked for ways to customize this web platform and I did not find any. There is no way to customize this web environment in order to, for example, remove a panel that you do not need, and you are not interested to see.
The login system is very safe because it has a two-step protocol of authentication. The second step is fulfilled through an electronic message to the cell phone number that you declared when you completed your online application form and when you registered to Interactive Brokers.
You have also a way to login called IB Key available through IBKR Mobile. This two-step authentication that we have in Interactive Brokers is very good in comparison to other logins that incredibly offer only one step authentication availability. I refer to what we saw in Tastyworks and Webull, to select just two of the many examples available.
When I test the user experience in any of these platform environments, I like to go to the search functionality and always test in the same way.
I go to the search box and I type the name of an asset. And while I am typing this name slowly, the matching names should be appearing as a suggestion for me to select. This is exactly what happens in the web environment of the trading platform of Interactive Brokers. As soon as I started to type, for example, the letter “A” assets like Apple and Applied Materials appeared rapidly as suggestions for me.
Once I select the asset that I am interested, I should be having immediately available the options for order management: buy order or sell order.
All this is excellently accomplished in this web trading platform from Interactive Brokers. I select the asset, I can choose the quantity, the order type, establish a limit price, preview the future order, and submit the order with a few clicks and very smoothly.
Which are the order types that I have available with Interactive Brokers?
- Trailing stop
- Trailing stop limit
- Market on close
- Limit on close
- Stop limit
There are also some other order types available in the menu of the platform of Interactive Brokers. However, those are order types that are only present in the desktop trading platform, that we will discuss later below.
If you do not know about these order types, I will suggest you read my article about order types. It is very important that you are familiar with all the order types and that you become very good at order management. Some of the brokers will offer you a lot of order types available like here Interactive Brokers, and others, like Tastyworks. However, with disregard of any platform you choose, you have to be very good at order management and understand the goal behind each of them and the order limits too.
Talking about order limits, you can set up also in Interactive Brokers platform some order time limits
- Market on open
- Limit on open
- Good Till Cancelled (GTC)
- Immediate or cancel
You cannot set up alarms or any kind of notifications. There is the possibility to set up a kind of alert within their internal embedded chat. However, this is not satisfactory for the majority of the requirements of the investors. It would be preferable to have a customary notification system, wherein the investor can set up an alert that is communicated later to you when there is a relevant related event occurring.
The mobile trading platform in Interactive Brokers.
The mobile platform is an application that you can download in the iTunes market available for Apple iOS and also is available for Android. As I have an Apple iPhone, I do this kind of tests normally with an Apple iOS application.
As pros, we can mention that it has a good quantity of types of orders that can be created and executed from the cell phone. The search functionality is as good as you can expect, and it has a two-step protocol authentication for more security on your login.
There are no cons of this mobile trading platform from Interactive Brokers. I would say that some other mobile platforms are easier to use, like the one in Robinhood or Webull, but it is fine anyway as Interactive Brokers is oriented to experienced traders.
The screen seems to be more cluttered than other screens that are more minimalistic but also are so minimalistic because they have fewer functionalities. Experienced investors will love the mobile application from Interactive Brokers.
Finally, in a mobile application, we have the possibility to set up a two-step login protocol, that we always prefer rather than one step login. The first step is to put your user and password, and the second step is that you will receive a code in your cell phone that has to be introduced inside the login form.
Furthermore, if you have an iPhone, you can utilize another kind of authentication that is the biometric one. I have not tested this one. For me, the two-step login suffices for login security requirements.
Search functionality in the mobile application
In regard to their search functionality, also in the mobile application, I performed the same test that I normally do. I search for an asset and it must appear quickly as a suggestion on the screen. Then I choose it. After it is selected, I have to be able to perform the order management lifecycle completely from that screen or in not more than two subsequent screens without too much hassle.
Order placement in the cell phone application was as easy as in the web application. A good point there for Interactive Brokers. Furthermore, the quantity of order types is the same as we enlisted above regarding the web application trading platform. The screen has information about fundamental data some news for that company and technical indicators in a chart that you can work with very easily. Of course, the buttons for buy and sell are also present and when you press them you are transferred to another panel that is the order management panel.
This means, that in the cell phone application, you have two screens. One screen, to select the asset that you will utilize for the trading operation. Once it is selected and you request to go forward, a second screen comes up where you will execute finally the order. Navigating in two screens for a cell phone application is fine, I do not see any problem with that.
Again here, I could not set up any alert or request any kind of notification.
New functionality called IBot
In the cell phone application, there is a functionality called IBot, this is a chatbot that can be used to get some short information, quite basic, and also closing an order.
I found that this chatbot does not understand many comments. Just some basic ones like “Applied Materials price” “sell 2 Applied Materials shares”. Likewise, you can request some fundamental data, P/E radios, displaying a chart for a certain time period or others like dividend yields. In my case, nevertheless, I found that it is not very good at understanding these voice commands.
Probably it was my only experience or maybe it is that this chatbot is new and is still under development. However, once it understands the commands, the information displayed is very accurate and is exactly what you have requested. This can save you a lot of time in following an asset, obtaining information from charts, company fundamentals, or even closing or executing an order.
Desktop trading platform from Interactive Brokers
I did not have a good experience with the desktop trading platform from Interactive Brokers. I found the dashboard completely cluttered, the design is not clean, and it is difficult to use the search functionality in order to find your asset to utilize in the trading operation.
On the good side, the pros of operating with the desktop trading platform from Interactive Brokers is that it has more options in terms of types of orders then the web application and then the mobile application. Also, a pro is that the workspace for the desktop trading platform offers many customization possibilities.
The desktop platform is called Trader Workstation. It is true to say that you have every single feature that you would like to have.
it has many languages, but two languages that are missing: Slovakian and Dutch. Otherwise, it has the same good variety of languages as the other options.
In regard to the look and feel, as I said I did not like it, I found it cramped and difficult to use. With that said, it is true that for the experienced and professional user, this is the dashboard that offers this profile of investors the best possibilities for customization and for setting his own templates. It is even more complex than the one from Tastyworks, which is already a complex dashboard.
It has the possibility to set up a two-step login authentication protocol. It is the same as in the web application. This is something we like always to have.
I tested also here of course, the search functionality. Therefore, I go to the search box, I start to type the first letters of the asset, and I should be having some proposals to select. But, in this case, when I start to type, I begin to see derivative products that I am not interested in because I am just looking for the stock. So, I find structured products, derivative products but the real stock is “hiding” among a large list of products. Therefore, it is difficult to find the stock listed on the principal stock exchange where you want to operate.
in regard to the options of choosing different order types, the desktop platform from Interactive Brokers offers different additional types that are interesting to mention.
- Day ´till canceled (DTC)
- Fill or kill (FOK)
- Immediate or cancel (IOC)
- Limit on open (LOO)
- Market on open (MOO)
- Good till date (GTD)
- Good till canceled (GTC)
Possibility to set up notifications
Just as in the web application, it is possible to set up alerts and notifications. You have to go to the menu and there you go to an option called “Configuration panel”.
Once inside this “Configuration panel”, you go to “Setup Alert”, and you have to choose which alert you require to create. It could be a status of the ongoing trades where it communicates to you when the trade is completed. The alert can be the results of the day if you had profits or losses, any change in the price of an asset, and so on. Then you have to select through which channel you want to receive these alerts and these notifications. And here you choose typically to email or SMS.
Market range and availability of products
it is true to say that Interactive Brokers offers you the widest range of market comma and the largest product portfolio that is possible to offer. None of the brokerage services that we have reviewed so far, provides you more options in term of market range and in the availability of product portfolio.
Therefore, they offer you cryptocurrencies, CFD, futures, bonds, options, funds, Forex, ETFs and stocks.
If we want to compare it with the competition, the only one that offers arrange that is so why does this one is Saxo Bank. Degiro also has this large product portfolio availability, only that Degiro does not work with Forex, but anyway they offer practically the same quantity of product portfolio for you to operate.
Likewise, Interactive Brokers is the company that offers you the largest quantity of stock exchanges available. I counted 142 stock exchanges worldwide. Moreover, they offer an extra service called Interactive Advisors, where they perform an asset management service that helps you to automatize your operations and has some functionalities of social trading as well.
Now let’s see in detail the product portfolio that is used to operate in Interactive Brokers.
Stocks and ETF’s
We have many reviews of different brokers. From all of those, we would recommend a few that we find are suitable for beginners and intermediate investors so you do not have to read more than twenty reviews: Robinhood, Tastyworks, Firstrade, Interactive Brokers, and Webull.