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Interactive Brokers review: Securities, research, and global investing options for active traders

Interactive Brokers logo on light blue Personal Finance Insider background.
Interactive Brokers offers low-cost trading for all types of investors. See how it works.

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  • Interactive Brokers is an online brokerage platform offering US-based and global trading.
  • The company’s two plans are IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. IBKR Lite has no commissions or trading fees.
  • Interactive Brokers is best for experienced, active traders who want a vast range of investments.
  • Click here to open an account with Interactive Brokers.
  • Check out Vanguard Personal Advisor Services® to get the investment advice you need to help build the life you want »

Overall rating

Feature Insider rating (out of 5)
Fees 4.50
Investment selection 5.00
Platform navigability 4.00
Customer service 5.00
Trustworthiness 5.00
Educational resources/research 5.00
Overall score 4.75

Is Interactive Brokers right for you?

Interactive Brokers pros Interactive Brokers cons
  • Low commissions and fees
  • International trading opportunities
  • Competitive trading platforms and tools
  • Several account types available
  • Thousands of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • Cryptocurrency investing available for bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and litecoin
  • Less active traders pay more for IBKR Pro
  • Website can be tricky to navigate

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Interactive Brokers may pique your interest if you’re an active trader looking to place regular trades on US-listed exchanges as well as international markets. It provides trading access to more than 135 markets in 33 countries around the world, allowing you to invest in stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, futures, bonds, and currencies.

Interactive Brokers also offers retirement accounts, cash management accounts, market research, mobile app access, and more.

Interactive Brokers currently manages more than $9.9 billion in equity capital, and it conducts more than 2.3 million trades per day, according to its website.

Interactive Brokers is available on iOS and Android devices.

Interactive Brokers
Editor’s rating 4.75 out of 5
Trading fees $0 for IBKR Lite; $0.0005 – $0.0035 per share (IBKR Pro)
Account minimum $0
Promotion None at this time.
Open Account

Not sure if Interactive Brokers is right for you? Keep reading to see how it stacks up against competitors.

How does Interactive Brokers compare?

interactive brokers logo

fidelity

vanguard_logo

Min. Investment

$0

Min. Investment

$0

Min. Investment

$0

Fees

$0 for IBKR Lite; IBKR Pro: $10/month for accounts with $100,000 or less, $20/month for accounts with $2,000 or less

Fees

0% (up to 0.35% for automated investment advice)

Fees

0% ($20 annual account service fee for brokerage accounts and IRAs; 0.15% or 0.30% for automated/managed accounts)

Investment choices

Stocks, options, futures, currencies, metals, bonds, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, mutual funds, hedge funds

Investment choices

Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, and bonds

Investment choices

Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, Vanguard ESG funds, cash options

Open an account Open an account Open an account

Interactive Brokers, Fidelity, and Vanguard all let you place commission-free trades on multiple investment types. The three brokerages also share the $0 minimum requirement for self-directed brokerage accounts, but fees vary for different account types.

For instance, fees for automated advice at Fidelity range from $0 (for balances below $10,000) to 0.35% (balances above $50,000). Advisory fees for Interactive Broker’s automated account range from 0.08% to 1.5%. Vanguard’s automated account, Vanguard Digital Advisor, has a 0.15% fee.

If you’re still interested in investing with Interactive Brokers, though, keep reading to learn more about how the brokerage works.

Ways to invest with Interactive Brokers

Self-directed brokerage accounts

Interactive Brokers gives you the choice of two brokerage plans: IBKR Lite or IBKR Pro. IBKR Lite offers commission-free trading for US-listed stocks and ETFs, and you can set up and maintain your account without any minimum opening deposits or inactivity fees. IBKR Lite also accepts individual, joint, IRA, and trust accounts.

IBKR Pro, on the other hand, is a better choice for the more active and sophisticated investors. This plan offers extra access to investment research, and it lets you use software like Interactive Brokers’ SmartRouting system. The broker’s SmartRouting system offers $0.47 per 100 shares price improvement versus the industry, according to its website. Interactive Broker’s SmartRouting system also aims to make sure your orders are executed at the best price and market possible.

Both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro provide access to Interactive Brokers’ Client Portal, IBKR Mobile, and Trader Workstation (TWS).

Automated trading

Interactive Brokers offers a robo-advisor – Interactive Advisors – that specializes in automated investment management. The platform offers more than 70 portfolios built with a mixture of stocks and ETFs.

Management fees for these portfolios range from 0.08% to 1.5%. Minimum investment sizes range from $100 to $50,000.

Cryptocurrencies

Launched on September 13, 2021, Interactive Brokers’ crypto services let you trade bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and litecoin. While many crypto platforms charge spread fees for transactions (e.g., eToro says its spread fees represent the difference between a crypto asset’s bid and offer price), Interactive Brokers only charges a low commission per $1,000 trade.

Spread fees can range up to 1% or higher, but Interactive Brokers’ commissions range from 0.12 – 0.18%. So if you were to trade $500 worth of ethereum, you’d pay between $0.60 and $0.90.

In order to be eligible for crypto trading, you’ll need to update your account’s permissions. Interactive Brokers says it typically approves trading permissions requests overnight.

Fractional shares

Interactive Brokers also lets you purchase portions of a company instead of paying for full shares. Fractional trading is available on both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro, and you can use the service to pick any available US stocks.

This brokerage doesn’t currently offer fractional shares for foreign exchanges, but you can trade US stocks in fractions as long as they’re listed on the following stock exchanges: NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, ARCA, or BATs. You can also trade certain OTC Pink US penny stocks.

Retirement accounts

Interactive Brokers offers traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, traditional rollover IRAs, traditional inherited IRAs, Roth inherited IRAs, and SEP IRAs.

IRAs are generally available in cash or margin form, and IRA margin accounts allow you to trade currency products.

Trading platforms

You can take advantage of multiple trading platforms at Interactive Brokers. These include its client portal, Trader Workstation, IBKR mobile apps, and IBKR APIs for institutional clients.

The company also has courses on investing, markets, and programming through its Trader Workstation (TWS) application.

Is Interactive Brokers trustworthy?

Interactive Brokers has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The BBB generally rates companies by using a grade scale range of A+ to F, so this shows that Interactive Brokers works well with its customers. The bureau says its ratings don’t guarantee that a business will be reliable or perform well; they simply provide a closer look into customer interaction.

However, these ratings aren’t the same for every investment app. Both Webull and Robinhood have received F ratings for racking up numerous customer complaints and failing to respond to them.

In August 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Interactive Brokers $11.5 million for failing to file suspicious activity reports for certain US microcap securities trades it executed. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also fined the app millions for failing to prevent money laundering.

Interactive Brokers has addressed and closed more than 80 complaints in the last three years, according to the BBB. The investment app closed more than 50 complaints in the last 12 months.

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