Interactive Brokers: 2024 Comprehensive Review

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Interactive Broker: Top-tier brokerage for worldwide equity, options, and futures.

With its advanced trading platform and diverse investment options in over 150 global markets, Interactive Brokers has long been a favorite with professional and high-volume traders. But it’s also a great choice for beginners and less-active traders thanks to the new lighter version of its desktop trading platform, GlobalTrader app, and commission-free pricing model. 

All this combined with Interactive Brokers’ impressive array of research and educational offerings makes it one of the best options for every type of trader.

About IBKR: 

Interactive Brokers was founded 47 years ago by Thomas Peterffy, who remains its chairman today. It conducts business in over 150 markets worldwide, executing nearly 2.5 million trades per day and has $14.7 billion in equity capital. 

IBKR is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut and has offices in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Hungary, India, China Japan, Singapore, and Australia. IBKR is regulated by the SEC, FINRA, NYSE, FCA and other regulatory agencies around the world.

Pros
Powerful and highly customizable trading platform
Unrivaled number of investment options and markets
Low commissions and fees, including commission-free pricing plan
Cons
Not the most beginner-friendly option (flagship platform)
Lack of advanced functionality in the IBKR Mobile app
Complex, tiered pricing for Pro users makes it hard to know what actual costs will be
Investment Options & Markets
99 %
Commissions and fees
95 %
Trading Platform
90 %
Tools & Resources
95 %
Accounts & Security
99 %
Mobile Trading App
90 %
Fast facts
$0 Account Minimum
ETF/stock commissions: $0 for Lite, $0.0005 to $0.005 for Pro
Options: $0.25 to $0.65 per contract
Futures: $0.25 to $0.85 per contract
Mutual funds: $14.95 (trade over 19,000 funds with $0 transaction fees)
Trade in: 150+ markets in 34 countries and 27 currencies
NewTrading’s Rating: 95%
WARNING

Trading exposes you to the risk of losing more than your initial investment and incurring financial liability. Trading is suitable only for well-informed, sophisticated clients able to understand how the products being traded work and having the financial ability to bear the aforementioned risk.

Transactions involving foreign exchange instruments (FOREX) and contracts for difference (CFD) are highly speculative and extremely complex. As such, they are subject to a high level of risk due to leverage. Please keep in mind that CDF trading is banned in the US.

Information published on the NewTrading.io website is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as offering investment advice or as an enticement to trade financial instruments.

Our take

Interactive Brokers has been a leader in the online brokerage space for decades. Their flagship pro platform, IBKR Trader Workstation (TWS) is among the best in the world, packed with sophisticated trading tools like algorithmic trading, Risk Navigator, and Market Scanner. And it earns high marks for order execution with 100% of S&P 500 and non-S&P index stocks selling at or better than the National Best Bid and Offer price. 

While Interactive earned its reputation with professional and advanced traders, the company has worked to broaden its appeal to beginners and casual investors. IBKR Desktop is a lighter version of TWS designed to get new traders up and running quickly and confidently without compromising on features and functionality. The new GlobalTrader app is intuitive and packed with powerful, innovative, and easy-to-use features.

That said, Interactive Brokers doesn’t have the same warm, user-friendly experience of some full-service brokers like Fidelity, for example. The TWS platform and mobile app experience can be intimidating for less sophisticated traders and investors, although the newer offerings are more accessible.

Finally, while the zero-commission pricing plan is a welcome option for some traders, it does come at a potential cost. Interactive Brokers makes money on payment for order flow (PFOF) on trades from customers who choose the commission-free plan. This could result in worse execution prices. PFOF isn’t an issue for Pro clients, however. Their orders are executed with IB SmartRouting, their proprietary order-routing algorithm that continuously searches for the best prices at the time of order and seeks to immediately execute it.

Interactive Brokers, a Quick Overview

Minimum deposit
$0
No minimum funding requirement and no account minimum to keep an account open
Type of accountsInteractive Brokers has account types for just about every situation, including custodial, IRAs, small business, and family office
The steep learning curve for TWS, multiple platform options for all levels of traders and investorsBest-in-class access to assets and markets; note it does not offer IPOs or OTC stocks on its lite platform
Commissions & Fees
95%
Among the lowest fees available, tiered pricing with multiple breakpoints can be confusing.
Trading Platform 
90%
Steep learning curve for TWS, multiple platform options for all levels of traders and investors
Mobile App
90%
Multiple versions for advanced and beginner traders, including the Impact app for values-based investing
Trading Tools & Resources
95%
Comprehensive offerings including PortfolioAnalyst that allows users to link accounts across multiple brokers to analyze performance
Paper Trading account
Yes
Available on desktop platform and mobile app
Advisor servicesMost negative ratings were related to customer service and technical support.
Customer Reviews
3.4/5 on Trustpilot
Most negative ratings were related to customer service and technical support.

Interactive Brokers Trading Tools & Resources

Interactive Brokers offers a powerful suite of trading tools and resources, including advanced market scanners, robust charting capabilities, and the beginner-friendly IBKR Desktop app

Market Scanners/Stock Screeners

Source : Interactive Brokers YouTube Channel: Getting Started with Mosaic Market Scanners

The TWS market scanner is a standout with multiple filters and hundreds of fundamental and technical indicators. The screen list can be used to generate an order ticket or turned into a dynamic watch list. Screeners are available for both Pro and Lite clients. 

Of note, there are also ETF, mutual fund, options, and bond screeners on the TWS platform.

The new IBKR Desktop app features a MultiSort screener that blends your chosen factors into a single score and then searches the universe of over 70,000 securities and delivers a ranked list that best matches your strategy. It’s a much easier lift than the scanners on TWS and very beginner-friendly.

Charting

Charting is robust and dynamic, with over 90 indicators, 80 drawing tools, and nearly limitless customization options. Trades can be initiated from charts with current orders displayed directly on the chart. Compared to most online brokers, Interactive’s charts are best in class.

Analysis & Technology

Seasoned traders can find something for every trading strategy and market, including futures, options, and FX. 

Two notable features stand out, however. The first is the Discover tool in TWS and the IBKR mobile app. Discover contains a Featured Ideas tab that lets traders generate ideas based on their preferred sectors and styles and backtest them against historical data.

Source: Interactive Brokers YouTube Channel : Discover Tool – Trading Central Featured Ideas

The second is PortfolioAnalyst, a powerful tool for measuring and benchmarking performance and analyzing risk. It’s free for Pro and Lite customers and even connects with external accounts to give users a 360-degree view of their cash and holdings.

Interactive Brokers YouTube Channel : PortfolioAnalyst Reports

Order Types

Pro customers have access to more than 100 order types including third-party algorithmic orders. Lite customers have a wide range of order types to choose from, as well.

Source Interactive Brokers YouTube Channel: Adaptive Stop Limit Algo

Newsfeeds & Third-Party Research

Interactive Brokers offers access to dozens of market research and news providers, some of which are even available with demo accounts. Some are free, and others require a subscription, usually with a free trial period. Several news and research bundles are also available at special rates. Newsfeeds flow seamlessly into TWS.

Interactive Brokers YouTube Channel: Getting Started with the News Panel

Education

The site offers comprehensive educational resources, including Traders Academy, a free online course covering every aspect of trading and investing suitable for beginners and intermediate traders. There is also a blog, plus webinars and podcasts for expert insight and market commentary. 

Interactive Brokers Commissions and Fees

Interactive Brokers has among the lowest fees of all brokers reviewed. They have two pricing plans, Pro and Lite, which use a variety of fixed and tiered commissions and fees, detailed below. 

ProLite
Stocks and ETFsTiered: $0.0005 to $0.035/share
Fixed: $0.005/share
$0 for no-transaction-fee ETFs
$0 (unlimited trades)
Options$0.15 to $0.65/contract$0.65/contract
Futures$0.25 to $0.85/contract$0.85/contract
Crypto0.12% to 0.18% of trade value; minimum of $1.75 with a maximum of 1% of trade value0.12% to 0.18% of trade value; minimum of $1.75 with a maximum of 1% of trade value
Mutual funds (excluding $0 transaction fee funds)Lesser of 3% of trade value or $14.95Lesser of 3% of trade value or $14.95

Of note, Interactive Brokers has the best margin rates of any broker reviewed. Margin rates for Pro clients ranged from 0.5% to 1.5% over benchmark, while Lite customers paid just 2.5% over benchmark. 

Customers are allowed one free withdrawal per month. After that, fees are $10 for a wire transfer, $4 for a check, and $1 for ACH.

Interactive Brokers trading platform

IBKR has two trading platforms and a full-featured web app. 

Trader Workstation (TWS) is its flagship platform and it’s specifically designed for active advanced and institutional traders. Because it’s highly customizable, setup and onboarding can be overwhelming for less sophisticated traders and investors. Once it’s configured to your trading style and preferences, it’s extremely powerful and efficient. 

TWS Mosaic offers a more intuitive UI with access to advanced trading, order management, charting, and analysis tools in a single customizable workspace. 

The platform includes a robust trading simulator and a paper trading account. Only a few features from TWS are missing from the sim account. In addition, there are several risk assessment and management tools including the Risk Navigator, the Model Navigator, and Option Analytics. 

Risk Navigator courtesy of IKBR

IBKR Desktop is a new offering with a whole new UI framework. It’s geared toward beginner and intermediate traders, although even advanced users will find more than adequate functionality. The platform combines new technology like MultiSort, an innovative stock screener, with popular features from the TWS (Fundamentals Explorer, Option Analysis, and customizable watchlists, to name a few). 

Desktop is currently available in beta with periodic new releases. It doesn’t support all account types, but it gets high marks for usability and design, especially compared to TWS. 

Finally, the IBKR Client Portal is a web app that offers tools and features to manage trading accounts from anywhere. It’s also geared to beginner and intermediate users, although again, it has a robust feature set including access to quotes, advanced charting, and performance metrics. 

Note that the platforms include an integrated AI-driven IBot, also available in the mobile app. IBot understands natural language—no training required—and can be used to make trades (“buy 100 shares of Apple at $212”), handle queries (“help me with a quote”), find information (“how do I fund my account?”), and search the IBKR website. It’s a nifty add-on that we found ourselves using more than we expected.

What we like:

  • Best-in-class market scanners and research tools
  • Advanced charting and chart indicators on both TWS and Desktop platforms
  • Access to over 100 order types including algos

Interactive Brokers Mobile Apps

As with the desktop platforms, Interactive Brokers has two mobile app versions: one geared toward professional and active advanced traders and the other more suited to beginner and intermediate investors. There’s also an ESG trading app geared toward casual investors.

IBKR Mobile is essentially a mobile version of TWS with access to most of the powerful trading tools, quotes, and research available on the desktop platform. It also has mobile check deposit for streamlined account funding. 

IBKR GlobalTrader is a slimmed down version but with an exceptionally easy to use interface and plenty of features for beginner and intermediate traders. What makes this app a standout is that it includes a robust sim account to get you up and trading in a simulated environment in about a minute. From there, it’s easy to open an account and start trading with real money. 

Don’t let the beginner-friendly features fool you, though. GlobalTrader lets you trade 90 global stock markets plus options and cryptocurrency. You can also trade fractional shares, investing as little as $1. The GlobalTrader stock scanner makes finding stocks fast and easy and the swap function lets you exchange stock you have for stock you want with a single tap. 

Overall, the GlobalTrader app is one of the best designed apps we’ve reviewed and has a well-rounded feature set making it suitable for all but the most sophisticated traders. 

GlobalTrader Swap courtesy of IKBR

The IKBR Impact app is a streamlined offering targeted at ESG investors. It makes it easy to build a portfolio built around your value preferences. The Impact app follows the Lite pricing plan with unlimited commission-free trades. You can also buy fractional shares for as little as $1. 

What we like:

  • The GlobalTrader stock scanner makes it easy to find stocks that match your trading strategy with just a few taps
  • Support for fractional shares
  • Robust demo account that lets you start trading in a simulated environment in about a minute

Interactive Brokers Customer Reviews

Here’s what traders are saying about Interactive Brokers on Trustpilot: 

“For an active trader, especially an option trader IB is 99.5% hands down the best platform, considering overall costs, -esp margin costs.” 

“Interactive Brokers is to traders what Disneyland is to little kids: A playground for the imagination. IB’s Educational tools open the door to a vast domain of learning opportunity. IB’s Trader Workstation opens the door to a vast domain of trading opportunity. You can inexpensively trade anything on any market in the world: stocks, options, bonds, futures, currency. It’s the best platform out there.”

“Very strong platform, efficient, reasonable cost, good market access, good client service. I’m a finance professional and would recommend this from what I’ve seen thus far.”

“After 1 year with IBKR, my expectations as a great broker are matched, but at the same time support tickets are completely ignored for months, even after calling them a few times.”

“The low fees are always enticing, but it’s the platform that is just so user-friendly! The way I trade, I need these tools. They reduce the stress I often have! Also, I feel like I am part of a global family on here! Thanks, guys!”

Final Word

Interactive Brokers counts among the best digital brokers for active advanced traders. Few can compare with the breadth of offerings; the fees and commissions are among the lowest of any brokers we’ve reviewed. The TWS platform has tools and technology to support every trading style and strategy. And their order execution metrics are unsurpassed. 

However, the biggest surprise is the new GlobalTrader app. Interactive Brokers made a real effort to broaden their appeal to beginner traders and casual investors, and based on our review, it’s been a success. The GlobalTrader app is easy to use, intuitive, and powerful enough to satisfy even more experienced traders without sacrificing simplicity. The innovative tools and full-featured sim account make it easy for anyone to gain confidence in the market. The new IBKR Desktop platform is another step in the right direction, although it’s not quite ready for prime time. 

Overall, Interactive Brokers is a top choice for active traders, and it’s definitely worth a look for those with less experience in the market.

FAQ

Is Interactive Brokers reliable? 

Interactive Brokers is a reliable broker with 47 years of continuous operation. It was founded 47 years ago by Thomas Peterffy, who remains its chairman today. It’s one of the premier securities firms, with $14.7 billion in equity capital. It conducts business in over 150 markets worldwide, executing nearly 2.5 million trades per day. 
Interactive Brokers is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut and has 2,950 employees in its offices in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Hungary, India, China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Japan, Singapore, and Australia. IBKR is regulated by the SEC, FINRA, NYSE, FCA and other regulatory agencies around the world.

author
Sheila Olson

Sheila has been a key figure in health IT, collaborating with innovators in healthcare since the 1990s. Her expertise extends to writing on healthcare trends, public policy, and biotech innovations for industry publications. Her deep understanding of healthcare significantly informs her investment strategies, particularly in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.