in our free newsletter.

Thousands benefit from our email every week.

🗓️

Updated: August 01, 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Laptop computer displaying logo of Interactive Brokers LLC (IB), an American multinational brokerage firm

Interactive Brokers review 2023

monticello / Shutterstock

🗓️

Updated: August 01, 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

3.3

Wise Reviews™

Commissions and fees - 4.5

Customer service - 4

Ease of use - 3

Tools and resources - 3.5

Investment options - 5

Accounts available - 3

Interactive Brokers is one of the most popular brokerage firms for active traders. And it's easy to see why. The company offers low trading fees and robust trading tools -- major assets to day traders and other DIY investors. Lower-volume traders will also appreciate that they can access commission-free trading through the IBKR Lite plan. However, we recommend that complete investing beginners look elsewhere.

3.3

Wise Reviews™

Interactive Brokers pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Commission-free trading for IBKR Lite users
  • Low margin rates
  • Robust trading tools
  • Wide variety of investment choices, including stocks, bonds, funds, futures, options and cryptocurrencies
  • International trading features
Cons

Cons

  • Complicated fee structure
  • Platform isn't user-friendly, especially for beginners
  • Lack of entry-level educational resources
  • Limited account types

Interactive Brokers features

Features
Details
Minimum investment
$0
Stock/ETF trades
$0
Options trades
$0.15-0.65
Mutual funds
17,000+ no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds
Investment types
Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Futures
Accounts types
Taxable, Joint, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Trusts
Broker assisted trade
$30
Virtual trades
Yes
Customer service
 Phone: M-F 24 hours; Live Chat: M-F 24 hours; Email

Who is Interactive Brokers for?

Interactive Brokers started as a trading platform designed for day traders and DIY investors. And it continues to serve those investors with the IBKR Pro plan. This plan offers robust trading tools and the IB SmartRouting tool, which helps investors time their orders to get the best price. IBKR Pro is also best for margin traders since IBKR Pro users have access to the lowest margin rates.

But Interactive Brokers now offers a second trading tier that's well-suited to more casual investors. With IBKR Lite, inventors get unlimited commission-free trading. However, this plan has higher margin rates and fewer features. So this account tier is best for inventors who don't plan to trade on margin and don't need all the robust trading tools that Interactive Brokers offers.

Both plans provide powerful tools designed for experienced traders. So it may be more intimidating than other popular brokerage firms for beginner investors. As a result, new inventors or those just learning the ropes may find that this isn't the right broker for them.

Read moreBest investment strategies (and how to choose the right one for you)

What makes Interactive Brokers great?

Many investors name Interactive Brokers as among their favorites. And it's easy to see why. Below we walk you through some of the features that make Interactive Brokers great.

Investment selection

One of the biggest selling points of Interactive Brokers is the wide variety of investment choices the broker offers. First, the platform offers the investments you'd expect to find with any major broker, including stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds.

In addition to those basic investments, Interactive Brokers also allows for more advanced trading strategies such as options, futures, forex and even hedge funds. Users also have access to international trading, including 150 exchanges in 33 countries worldwide.

Finally, cryptocurrency investors won't have to find a separate platform. You can buy and sell cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency futures at lower fees than at many of the most popular crypto exchanges.

Trading platforms

One of the major selling points of Interactive Brokers is the trading platforms they offer. Here are the available platforms:

  • Client portal: From the Interactive Brokers web application, you can place trades, check quotes, see your account balance and performance, and more.
  • Trader workstation: This is Interactive Brokers' flagship desktop platform designed for active traders, thanks to the available technical research and analysis tools.
  • IBKR mobile: All Interactive Brokers users can trade and monitor their investors directly from their iOS or Android device.
  • IBKR GlobalTrader: This platform allows users to trade global stocks, funds and cryptocurrencies from their mobile device.
  • IMPACT: Using this platform, users can find ESG investments and learn which companies and funds share their values.
  • IBKR APIs: The Interactive Brokers trading APIs allow users to build custom trading applications, access investments across the globe and use the IB SmartRouting tool.

Account tiers

We've already discussed the various trading tiers available on Interactive Brokers. Still, it's worth mentioning again because the tiers make this broker great for so many investors. Interactive Brokers was designed for DIY investors and day traders who want robust trading tools. And they can still get that with IBKR Pro. But now casual investors can also enjoy the platform thanks to the IBKR Lite account tier.

Commission and rates

Interactive Brokers is well known for its low trading fees. First, IBKR Lite users get unlimited commission-free trading on all stocks and ETFs listed on U.S. exchanges. And IBKR Pro users will pay just $0.005 (or less) per share on their trades, with a minimum commission of $1 (or less).

Interactive Brokers is also well known for its low margin rates. It's lower than rates at many of the other most popular margin-trading platforms. Margin rates decrease as the size of the margin loan increases. However, IBKR Lite users will pay a slightly higher rate.

What are Interactive Brokers' drawbacks?

We've talked about some of the biggest selling points of Interactive Brokers, but it's also important to discuss the features that aren't so great. Below we talk about a few of the major drawbacks of the platform.

User interface

There's no denying that Interactive Brokers offers a powerful trading platform. But it isn't exactly a user-friendly one, especially for beginner investors. It can be challenging to find the information and tools you need on the website. And even once you find them, you may not fully understand them unless you're an experienced investor.

For that reason, investors may prefer to start their investing journeys on a more straightforward platform and then pivot to Interactive Brokers when they're well-versed in investment tools.

Lack of basic-level educational resources

Interactive Brokers offers robust tools and resources for experienced investors and day traders but not so much for beginner investors.

The Traders' Academy is a free education resource for Interactive Brokers users. But newbie investors may find it too advanced and overwhelming. If you're just getting started, you may prefer another broker that tailors to investors who are still learning the ropes.

Account types

Compared with other popular brokerage firms, Interactive Brokers falls short in the variety of account types it offers. The platform provides basic individual and joint taxable brokerage accounts. You can also choose between a few different individual retirement accounts (IRAs), including traditional, Roth and SEP. Finally, Interactive Brokers offers both UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts.

However, you may notice that there are some account types missing from this list. For example, Interactive Brokers doesn't offer Solo 401(k)s, even though they're a popular retirement savings tool for self-employed individuals. You also won't have access to a SIMPLE IRA, banking accounts and other popular investment accounts.

Interactive Brokers pricing and fees

We've already talked a bit about the pricing and fees on Interactive Brokers, but we dive in a bit further in this section. For stocks and ETFs, Interactive Brokers offers commission-free trading for IBKR Lite users and commission fees of $0.005 (or less) per share — with a minimum of $1 (or less) — for IBKR Pro users. And Interactive Brokers offers an industry-leading list of 17,000+ no-transaction-fee (NFT) mutual funds.

For options contracts, IBKR Lite users will pay $0.65 per contract with a minimum of $1, while IBKR Pro users will pay rates ranging from $0.15 to $0.65 per contract, depending on the monthly volume, also with a minimum of $1.

Finally, Interactive Brokers charges all users the same fees for cryptocurrencies, regardless of account tier. For a monthly trade value below $100,000, you pay 0.18% per trade. For a monthly trade value up to $1 million, you pay 0.15% per trade. Finally, for a monthly trade value of more than $1 million, you pay just 0.12% per trade. All trades have a minimum fee of $1.75.

Read more: Investment fees matter

How to contact Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers makes it easy to get help when you need it. You can contact the company via email, phone or live chat. Live chat support is available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, with limited support hours on Sundays. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time, and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. U.S. users can call the following numbers for phone support:

  • 877-442-2757 (Toll-Free)
  • 312-542-6901 (Direct Dial)

It's worth noting that Interactive Brokers is an entirely online company. As a result, there are no physical branches or offices where you can speak to a customer service representative.

Best alternatives

Not sure that Interactive Brokers is the right for you? Here are a few similar stock brokers that may be worth exploring:

Highlights Ally Invest TD Ameritrade Robinhood
Rating 9/10 9/10 8.5/10
Min. Investment $0 $0 $0
Stock Trades $0/trade $0/trade $0/trade
Options Trades $0.50/contract $0.65/contract $0
Crypto Trades ❌ ❌ ✔️
Mutual Funds ✔️ ✔️ ❌
Virtual Trading ❌ ✔️ ✔️
Learn more Open account Open account Open account
Read reviews Ally Invest review TD Ameritrade review Robinhood review

Want even more options? Check out our full list of the top stock brokers for 2023

Bottom line

Interactive Brokers is one of the most popular brokerage firms for active traders. And it's easy to see why. The company offers low trading fees and robust trading tools — major assets to day traders and other DIY investors. And thanks to the various account tiers, casual investors can also enjoy the platform with an IBKR Lite plan.

However, the Interactive Brokers website is a bit cumbersome to navigate and lacks some of the basic-level educational resources you can find on other broker websites. Thus, it may not be the first choice for beginner investors or those who need a bit more assistance.

Further reading:

About our author

Erin Gobler
Erin Gobler, Freelance Contributor

Erin Gobler is a freelance personal finance based in Madison, Wisconsin. After seven years working in state politics, she left to pursue writing full-time. Now she writes about financial topics including mortgages, investing, and more for major publications like Fox Business and NextAdvisor. In addition to finance writing, Erin also provides financial coaching services where she works with individuals to help them reach their money goals.

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.