Interactive Brokers was founded more than 46 years ago. The US-based company is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut.
In this Interactive Brokers review, one of the largest brokers in the world, we will introduce you to the most important aspects regarding regulation and safety, markets and products, commissions and fees, and others.
Interactive Brokers: what is it and how does it work?
Interactive Brokers‘ history began more than 46 years ago, in 1977, when it was founded by its current CEO, Thomas Peterffy. Since then, the company has grown considerably in both business and reputation, being one of the most prestigious and respected brokers in the world.
Over the years, the company has consolidated its equity capital massively, now exceeding $12.2 billion. It has more than 2,850 employees in offices distributed throughout the world, specifically in the USA (headquarters), Canada, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore.
In addition to this, the company went public in 2007. Since then, it’s been listed on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker IBKR.
Being a publicly listed broker, its regular financial reports are available, providing extra information about the company’s affairs and financial health. Here is the share price performance since its public listing:
Main features of Interactive Brokers UK
Here is a quick overview of the main features of Interactive Brokers UK:
|Regulations||IBKR is regulated by the SEC for the US, by the FCA for the UK and by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) for Western Europe|
|Guarantee||Up to £85,000 (FSCS)|
|Products||Stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, forex, bonds, options, futures, CFDs, commodities|
|Markets||More than 150 global markets|
|Account types||4 (demo, retail, professional, Islamic)|
|Buy/Sell Commission (US stocks)||Minimum $0.0035/share|
|Buy/Sell Commission (European stocks)||0.05% (minimum €1.25)|
|Withdrawal fee||Free (one withdrawal per month)|
|Platforms||Global Trader, Client portal, IBRK Mobile, Trader Workstation, and IBKR API|
Website contact form
|2023 Promotion||4.58% return on cash balances|
Is Interactive Brokers safe?
In the next sections, we will assess Interactive Brokers‘ safety, its regulatory status, and whether there is any investor protection in case of bankruptcy.
Is Interactive Brokers regulated?
As discussed above, Interactive Brokers is a company with an extensive international presence. Consequently, Interactive Brokers is regulated by different agencies around the world and must follow the local laws in each country or territory. Some of the most notable license providers are the SEC, FINRA, NYSE, and FCA.
It is worth highlighting the SEC in the US and the FCA in the UK since they are two of the most stringent regulatory agencies in the world. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Interactive Brokers meets high security requirements as it is regulated by many demanding agencies.
Moreover, as mentioned before, the company is listed on the stock exchange, which means that there is greater regulatory pressure on the company, such as having to make its financial reports public.
Is Interactive Brokers reliable? | Guarantee fund
In the unlikely case of bankruptcy, clients’ funds are protected by variable amounts of funds, depending on where they reside. For example, in the United Kingdom, the products offered by Interactive Brokers are protected by the FSCS for up to £85,000 per client.
Thus, the regulation and coverage in case of bankruptcy of interactive brokers for each of the markets in which it operates are defined in the following table:
|Regulator||Country||Coverage Fund / Account|
of Ireland (CBI)
|Western EU Countries||Up to €20,000|
|FSCS||United Kingdom||Up to £85,000|
|SIPC||USA||Up to $500,000|
(cash limit $250,000)
|Central Bank of Hungary (MNB)||Central and Eastern|
|Up to €100,000€|
|IIROC||Canada||Up to CAD 1,000,000|
Interactive Brokers products: stocks, ETFs, futures, options
Interactive Brokers‘ product offering is well-thought-out and is possibly one of the brokers with the largest product catalogue. This feature is a great competitive advantage thanks to the flexibility it offers its traders and investors. The offering includes the following products, and all can be traded from the same platform:
- Stocks (including fractional shares)
- Investment funds
Fractional shares at IBKR are one of the new products launched recently. You can invest in fractional ETFs, US and European stocks and build a balanced portfolio on any budget. All you have to do is choose a stock or ETF and decide how much you want to invest.
If you want to invest in ETFs, have a look at our article on the best UK brokers to buy ETFs.
Interactive Brokers markets
Interactive Brokers is not only a complete broker in terms of products, but also markets, so it offers investment alternatives in several countries, currencies, and sectors.
In total, it gives you the possibility of executing orders in more than 150 markets, 33 countries and 23 currencies.
Types of Interactive Brokers accounts: Cash, Margin and Portfolio Margin
First of all, it should be noted that Interactive Brokers offers individual investors the choice between individual accounts or joint accounts. The individual account can have only one holder, while the joint account has two holders.
The Cash account is the most limited one you can open with Interactive Brokers, but also the one with the fewest requirements. As with all brokers, you must be over 18 years old to open it.
Its main feature is that all transactions are made with the cash available in the investor’s account. You cannot use leverage, or borrow funds, so you will not be able to short-sell assets.
Options transactions are also very limited and you cannot trade futures. In addition, there is a settlement period, so after selling shares, you cannot trade with that amount until the settlement period is over. In the UK, the settlement period is usually 2 days.
One of the most important changes in 2021 was the elimination of inactivity fees for all holders of Interactive Brokers accounts. In addition, Interactive Brokers eliminated the minimum funding of its account a few years ago and simplified the trading of European securities on the main European exchanges this year.
Reg T account
The Reg T account offers you more possibilities than the cash account, but it also has more requirements, such as being 21 years old and having a minimum deposit of $2,000.
With this account, an investor can borrow against the value of the assets in the account to open new buy positions or make short sales.
Portfolio Margin account
The Portfolio Margin account works the same as the Reg T Account, but the leverage limit is higher, allowing riskier trades with higher potential returns. This account does require a fairly large initial capital of $100,000. With this account, no custody fees are charged and interest is paid on the uninvested cash held in the account.
Interactive Brokers demo account
This online broker has one of the best demo accounts on the market. With this type of account, you can start trading and familiarise yourself with the financial markets without risking your capital.
How to open an account with Interactive Brokers in the UK?
Opening an account with Interactive Brokers UK is a quick process, you just have to follow these simple steps:
- Visit the Interactive Brokers website.
- Click on “Open Account” in the top menu and select “Start Application”.
- Fill out the application form with your personal and financial details.
- Provide the required documents, such as a copy of your ID and proof of residence.
- Complete the account verification process.
- Once verified, your account will be opened and you can start trading.
Interactive Brokers UK: fees
Interactive Brokers has a straightforward pricing plan. Overall, you can opt for fixed or tiered prices, whose fees decrease with trading volume. In the tables below, you will find the fixed fees of the most popular products.
The commissions for stocks in the main world markets are the following:
|Market||Fixed commission||Minimum per order||Maximum per order|
|United States||0,005 per share||$1||1% of the traded value|
|United Kingdom||0,05% of the traded value||£3||N/A|
|Canada||CAD 0,01 per share||CAD 1||0,5% of the traded value|
|France||0,05% of the traded value||€3||N/A|
|Germany||0,05% of the traded value||€3||N/A|
|Spain||0,05% of the traded value||€3||N/A|
|Australia||0,08% of the traded value||AUD 6||N/A|
|Hong Kong||0,08% of the traded value||HKD 18||N/A|
Regarding forex commissions, Interactive Brokers charges a single commission based on volume. The commission is expressed in basis points (pips), where one basis point is 0.0001. Forex also incurs spread fees, which are variable and start at 1/10 of a pip.
The higher the trading volume, the lower the commission. Here are some of the main currency pairs:
|Less than $1,000,000||0.20 pips||$2|
|Between $1,000,000 and|
|From $2,000,000 to|
|More than $5,000,000||0.08 pips||$1|
If you are looking to trade forex, don’t miss our best forex brokers article.
Mutual funds commissions
The mutual fund market provides access to more than 48,000 mutual funds, which includes more than 17,000 free transaction funds. The free mutual fund search tool, which is available to both customers and non-customers, allows investors to filter mutual funds by several categories, such as fund type, fund family, fees charged and country of origin.
The commission for most of the other funds is $4.95 per transaction. There is a fixed rate of 0.1% of trade value for European mutual funds and a minimum of €4 per trade.
|No-Transaction-Fee U.S. Mutual Funds||0%||N/A||N/A|
|Euronext Fixed Price Structure||0.1% of market value||€4||€29.00|
Interactive Brokers’ bond market offers a fully transparent universe of over 1 million bonds worldwide and provides low-cost direct market access to a wide range of corporate, municipal, and government bonds, among others.
Investors can use Interactive Brokers’ bond search tool to filter by maturity, yield, and quality. The bond search tool is available for free on IBKR’s website and is accessible to both clients and non-clients.
|US Corporate||≤ $10,000||0.10%||$1||$250 or 1% of the trade value, whichever is lower|
|US Treasuries||≤ $1,000,000||0.002%||$5||N/A|
|United Kingdom||≤ £10,000||0.10%||N/A||N/A|
|Hong Kong Government||≤ HKD 15,000,000||0.08%||HKD 18||N/A|
Have a look at our round-up of the best fixed income brokers.
The commissions for trading options are as follows:
|Market||Options on Stocks||Minimum Commission|
|Hong Kong||0.2% + variable fee||HKD 18|
|France||€1.50 per contract||€1.50 per contract|
|United States||$0.65 per contract (less than 10,000 contracts per month)||1$ per contract|
|Canada||CAD 1,25 per contract (less than 10,000 contracts per month)||CAD 1,5|
|Australia||AUD 2 per contract||AUD 2|
For more recommendations, check out the best brokers for options trading.
The commissions on futures are the following:
|Market||Contract Commission||Minimum per order|
|Canada||CAD 2.40||CAD 2.40|
|Spain and Italy||€3||N/A|
|Hong Kong||HDK 20||HDK 20|
As with other products above, CFDs follow a volume-tiered pricing structure. The table below contains CFDs commissions on stocks, although there are multiple options when it comes to commission-free brokers:
|US Stocks||Less than $300,000||$0.005||$1|
|European Stocks||Less than €10,000,000||0.05%||£3|
|Australian Stocks||Less than AUD 10,000,000||0.05%||AUD 5|
|Japanese Stocks||JPY 9,000,000||0.03%||JPY 100|
|CFDs on US500 Index||N/A||0.005%||$1|
Other fees and charges
Finally, let’s see what fees Interactive Brokers charges for opening an account, depositing, withdrawing money or custody:
|Account opening fee||No|
Overall, Interactive Brokers does not charge a commission for any of these services. However, it should be noted that there is a limit of one free withdrawal per month, and all subsequent ones are charged £10.
Interactive Brokers platform
Interactive Brokers has a very wide range of trading platforms, ideal for traders of all experience levels and strategies. In short, Interactive Brokers offers platforms that are powerful enough for professional investors but designed for everyone.
In addition to Trader Workstation and IBKR Mobile, IB offers access to the Client Portal, a web-based platform developed as a single destination to check quotes and place trades, view account balances, reports and more. It has recently introduced the IBKR GlobalTrader and IMPACT Apps.
Before evaluating them, it should be noted that for most investors, these platforms may have a steep learning curve if you are inexperienced, so you may require time to learn how to use them. In any case, let’s take a look at all the platforms.
Trader Workstation Platform (TWS)
The Trader Workstation platform is IBKR’s flagship desktop platform. It is designed for active traders and investors who trade multiple products and require accuracy and flexibility.
Without a doubt, this complex trading platform abounds in features and tools. Check out this thorough review of the Trader Workstation platform.
Client Portal Platform
The Client Portal serves as a single control panel to verify quotes and place trades, view account balances, losses and gains and key performance metrics, financing, reports and more.
IBKR Mobile Platform
This smartphone platform allows you to easily operate and control IBKR accounts on the go from iOS or Android devices (tablet or smartphone).
It is perfect for investors who are always on the move and want remote access to all the information instantly, along with the possibility of trading wherever they are. With IBKR Mobile, you can also trade options.
The GlobalTrader platform offers smooth access to stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs via any iOS or Android device.
Impact is a mobile application focused on ESG that makes it easier for investors to put their money where their heart is.
The IMPACT application helps investors align their portfolios with companies that share their values. Investors can use the application to understand how a company supports the environment or society, read about their business practices, and build a socially responsible portfolio.
The Interactive Brokers API is an application programming interface (API) that allows developers to access Interactive Brokers’ online brokerage services. With the API, developers can create custom programs and applications to automate trading tasks, such as tracking positions, entering orders and managing risk. The API also allows for integration with other third-party platforms and applications.
IBRK Campus Platform
Although it is not a platform to trade financial assets, the IBRK Academy for Investors is also noteworthy, where you can join up to 61 different courses on investment and finance.
In addition, IBRK Academy offers plenty of free content through:
- IBKR Webinars
- IBKR Insight
- IBKR Radio Podcast
- IBKR Quant
- IBKR Trading Lab
Check out the best trading platforms comparison if you want to find the right one for your needs.
Real-time data with Interactive Brokers
All users receive free delayed data available from exchanges. To access real-time data with Interactive Brokers, you will have to pay a monthly fee depending on the chosen geographical market and product. For example, LSE International Top of Book is £4.25 per month, while LSE UK Top of Book is £5 per month.
Interactive Brokers services
Interactive Brokers offers a wide variety of services. It is perhaps the most complex broker on the market when it comes to analysis tools, market research, charting tools, and more.
Surely its star tool is the Portfolio Analyst, which allows you to consult your consolidated financial statements, and personalised reports on the portfolio returns, compare your performance with other assets or benchmarks (such as a stock index), and even customise those benchmarks.
Deposit and withdraw funds from Interactive Brokers
Depositing or withdrawing funds from an Interactive Brokers account is not only free of charge but is also an easy process. You can open a GBP account to get started, but it has more than 20 base currencies, including:
- Australian Dollar
- Hong Kong Dollar
- Norwegian Krone
- Swiss Franc
The account can be directly opened in any of the available currencies. This means that any deposits in those currencies are free of charge as there is no exchange fee.
Interactive Brokers customer service in the UK
The customer service at Interactive Brokers is quick and available via several channels. On the one hand, the Interactive Brokers website provides a thorough FAQ page that explores the most common questions and issues. The resourceful section guides visitors through topics related to creating an account, withdrawals, deposits, demo accounts, tax forms, and more.
Next, you can also contact Interactive Brokers by phone, website form, or live chat, according to your preference:
- Office in the United Kingdom: ✅
- Phone: ✅
- Inquiry form on website: ✅
- Live chat ✅
Customer service by phone
Interactive Brokers has customer service by phone 24 hours a day, the number is free: 00800-42-27653.
Customer service by chat
Interactive Brokers customer service is available via live chat, where you can request any type of available information, apart from passwords or other private data. The chat is available only for Interactive Brokers’ clients. The live chat is perhaps the quickest method to contact the support team if you are experiencing any issues.
Customer service via e-mail
Finally, Interactive Brokers further provides assistance via e-mail. You can complete an online form on the website stating your issues or inquiries, and the team will reach out to you via e-mail. However, this method may take the longest to receive the help you need, so it’s best to use it only if your inquiries are not urgent.
Interactive Brokers promotion
Perhaps one of the most shining features of Interactive Brokers right now is its promotion. As the interest rates have increased dramatically this year, many brokers, including IB, have decided to act as banks and offer interest payments on cash balances.
Interactive Brokers now offers a high interest rate of 4.58% on available cash balances.
Taxation with Interactive Brokers
When dealing with brokers for the first time, many people have one main question – How to declare my broker’s investment portfolio for tax purposes?
Thankfully, IBKR makes it easy for you by putting together all the tax forms you need. You can view and download the relevant documents by accessing Performance and Reports in your Client Portal, then navigate to the Tax Forms area to see the tax forms available for your account. Based on your activity, you can then report your capital gains, losses, and other income to the relevant authority.
Interactive Brokers reviews
Interactive Brokers‘ reviews tend to be mixed but overall positive among investors. Its many training resources and access to many types of markets and products make it one of the top brokers preferred by American and European investors alike.
However, it is true that the level of difficulty regarding the use of so many products and platforms, especially as a beginner, makes it quite indigestible when it comes to starting out. Yet, this feature alone makes it a highly prized broker among professionals.
On Trustpilot.com, one of the most popular sites where people write reviews and rate various services, we can find several reviews about Interactive Brokers.
On the one hand, there is a high number of 5-star ratings of IBKR – up to 44% of users think it is very good. On the other hand, more than 20% of users would not use its services again.
In any case, the community rated it an average of 3.9 stars based on a total of more than 2,250 reviews.
On the other hand, if we go to Google Play, the mobile phone app enjoys a much higher rating:
In this case, out of a total of more than 14,000 reviews, the average score of 4.6 suggests the IBKR mobile phone app is high-performing.
Related articles & recommendations
Find out how Interactive Brokers compares with some of the most popular brokers:
- Interactive Brokers vs DEGIRO
- Interactive Brokers vs eToro
- IG vs Interactive Brokers
- Interactive Brokers vs XTB
If you are not convinced that Interactive Brokers is the best broker for your needs, check out the following articles:
Our opinion of Interactive Brokers UK: review
Overall, Interactive Brokers is one of the best brokers in the world, and security, low commissions and portfolio analysis services stand out. Even so, it is not a perfect broker, none is. Some of the main deterrents may be the high requirements necessary to open margin accounts.
However, this could be considered an extra security measure to ensure that beginner traders don’t stand to lose more than they can afford due to a lack of experience in the markets. Also, the stringent requirements attract many master traders, also lured in by the complex products and platforms suitable for crafting complex strategies.
Another great benefit is the high interest of 4.58% paid on cash balances, albeit this also targets professional traders because you need to have an account with a net asset value (NAV) of at least $100,000 to be eligible for interest payments.
In addition, regarding awards, Interactive Brokers has received many accolades. For example, Barron’s classified Interactive Brokers as the best online broker five years in a row on March 25, 2022.
Similarly, in the Rankia Awards 2019, users of Rankia chose Interactive Brokers as the best broker for futures and options for the second consecutive year, after winning this same award in 2018. Will it have the same luck in the Rankia Awards this year? We will see, but the future seems bright.
Pros and cons of Interactive Brokers
In short, here’s a summary of this broker’s main pros and cons:
|Pros of IBKR||Cons of IBKR|
|✅ Regulated by the SEC, FCA and the Central Bank of Ireland||❌ May seem quite complex for beginners|
|✅ Access to a large number of products and markets||❌ It is not the cheapest broker for retail traders|
|✅ Multiple base currencies, including GBP||❌ Interest on cash balances only for $100,000 and up|
|✅ Many trading platforms available|
|✅ Broker for professionals|
How much money do you need to open an Interactive Brokers account?
Interactive Brokers does not require any minimum deposit, so you can start your journey with any amount of money. It has also introduced the option to buy fractional shares and ETFs, ideal for creating a diversified portfolio with a small initial investment.
Is Interactive Brokers suitable for beginners?
Interactive Brokers is one of the few brokers on the market with a huge offering of products, platforms, and many tools and features. Although it may seem overwhelming, beginners may want to open a demo account first and get some experience in the markets before trading with real money.
Are Interactive Brokers fees high?
Interactive Brokers has a variable fee structure which depends mostly on your trading volume, chosen products, and markets. In general, the more trades you place, the lower the fees.