Interactive Brokers Review: An In-Depth Look for UK Traders

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Interactive Brokers has been a significant player in the brokerage world since its establishment over 46 years ago. Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, the company has expanded globally, boasting offices in multiple countries including the United Kingdom.

In this detailed review, we’ll explore the critical elements that UK traders should consider, including regulation and safety, the range of markets and products, as well as the company’s structure of commissions and fees.

Interactive Brokers UK: Overview and Functionality

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1977 by current CEO Thomas Peterffy. Over the years, the firm has built a strong reputation and is now recognized as one of the most prestigious brokers worldwide.

The company has significantly grown its equity, now exceeding $12.2 billion, and employs over 2,850 people globally, with its services reaching from the USA to the UK and beyond.

The broker became a public entity in 2007 and is listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker IBKR. This listing assures transparency, allowing investors to access regular financial reports that provide insights into the company’s financial health and operations.

Markets

Europe, USA

Regulated by the SEC, FCA and the Central Bank of Ireland

Low fees and excellent price execution

Free trading platforms and tools - powerful enough for professional traders but designed for everyone

Key Features of Interactive Brokers UK

Here is a quick overview of the main features of Interactive Brokers UK:

FeaturesExplanation
RegulationsIBKR is regulated by the SEC in the US, the FCA in the UK, and the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) in the European Union.
Investor ProtectionCoverage up to £85,000 under the FSCS.
ProductsA diverse range includes stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, forex, and more across over 150 global markets.
MarketsMore than 150 global markets
Account types4 (demo, retail, professional, Islamic)
Minimum deposit£0
Buy/Sell Commission (US stocks)Minimum $0.0035/share
Buy/Sell Commission (European stocks)0.05% (minimum €1.25)
Withdrawal feeFree (one withdrawal per month)
Inactivity fee£0
PlatformsGlobal Trader, Client portal, IBRK Mobile, Trader Workstation, and IBKR API
ContactLive chat
Phone: 00800-42-27653
Website contact form
English supportYes
Learn more about IBKR here 👉

Interactive Brokers: Evaluating Safety and Regulatory Compliance for UK Investors

The robust regulatory framework surrounding Interactive Brokers extends to protection schemes for investors, which are essential in the unlikely event of bankruptcy. In the UK, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects investments up to £85,000 per client, offering a significant safety net.

Interactive Brokers | Regulatory Framework and Compliance

Interactive Brokers is regulated by several of the world’s most stringent regulatory bodies. In the United States, it is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), while in the UK, it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). These agencies ensure that Interactive Brokers adheres to strict financial and ethical standards, providing significant security reassurances for its clients.

The presence of Interactive Brokers on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker IBKR further elevates its transparency and accountability. Being publicly listed mandates the broker to disclose financial information regularly, ensuring continuous regulatory scrutiny and fostering trust among investors.

Interactive Brokers | Investor Protection in Case of Bankruptcy

The robust regulatory framework surrounding Interactive Brokers extends to protection schemes for investors, which are essential in the unlikely event of bankruptcy. In the UK, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects investments up to £85,000 per client, offering a significant safety net.

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:

RegulatorCountryCoverage Fund / Account
Central Bank
of Ireland (CBI)
Western EU CountriesUp to €20,000
FSCSUnited KingdomUp to £85,000
SIPCUSAUp to $500,000
(cash limit $250,000)
ASICAustraliaNo protection
Central Bank of Hungary (MNB)Central and Eastern
Europe
Up to €100,000€
IIROCCanadaUp to CAD 1,000,000

Exploring Interactive Brokers’ Extensive Product Range for UK Investors

Interactive Brokers boasts one of the most comprehensive product offerings in the brokerage industry, making it a standout choice for traders and investors seeking versatility and depth in their investment options. This diversity is a significant competitive advantage, providing flexibility that caters to a wide array of investment strategies and needs.

IBKR UK Product Catalogue

Interactive Brokers offers a broad range of financial products, all accessible through a single, integrated platform. This inclusivity ensures that investors can manage a diverse portfolio without needing multiple accounts or platforms, simplifying the investment process. Here’s a closer look at what Interactive Brokers has to offer:

  • Stocks (including fractional shares): Trade in a wide range of global stocks, including the option to buy fractional shares, which is particularly beneficial for UK investors looking to invest in high-value stocks without committing to a full share.
  • Investment Funds: Access to different investment funds, providing opportunities for portfolio diversification and risk management.
  • ETFs: A wide array of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including sector-specific, commodity, and international ETFs, are tailored to meet different investment goals and strategies.
  • Futures: Trade on future contracts across commodities, indices, and more, suitable for those looking to hedge other investments or speculate based on future price movements.
  • Bonds: A robust selection of government and corporate bonds, offering a reliable income stream and safety in volatile markets.
  • Options: Flexibility with options trading, allowing investors to leverage their positions or hedge against potential losses.
  • Forex: Trade on the global forex market with competitive spreads and access to major and exotic currency pairs.
  • Commodities: Opportunities to invest in physical goods such as gold, oil, and agricultural products, which can diversify investment strategies and hedge against inflation.
  • CFDs are contract-for-differentials products for traders who prefer to speculate on price movements without owning the underlying asset.

The Innovation of Fractional Shares at IBKR

One of Interactive Brokers’ recent innovations is the introduction of fractional share trading. This feature allows investors, especially from the UK, to purchase fractions of ETFs and US and European stocks, enabling the building of balanced and diversified portfolios even with limited capital. It’s an excellent way for new investors to gain exposure to higher-priced stocks and ETFs at a fraction of the cost.

Interactive Brokers Available Markets

Interactive Brokers offers an impressive scope of market access that few other brokers can match. Here are the key features of its global market reach:

  • Over 150 Markets: UK investors can execute trades across more than 150 markets, providing a vast range of trading opportunities in equities, bonds, futures, and more.
  • 33 Countries: The ability to trade in 33 countries enables investors to diversify their portfolios internationally, reducing risk by spreading investments across different economic regions.
  • 23 Currencies: Trading in 23 different currencies not only enhances flexibility but also allows UK traders to take advantage of currency fluctuations and exchange rate differentials.

Interactive Brokers Account Types

Interactive Brokers provides a variety of account types designed to cater to the diverse needs of individual investors, whether they’re trading individually or jointly. Below, we break down the specifics of each account type available, including Cash, Reg T Margin, Portfolio Margin, and the Demo account, focusing on their features and requirements to help UK investors make informed decisions.

IBKR Cash Account

The Cash Account is the most basic type of account you can open with Interactive Brokers. It’s ideal for investors who prefer simplicity and are cautious about taking on debt:

  • Transaction Basis: Trades are executed using the available funds in the account. There’s no leverage available, meaning you cannot borrow funds or engage in short selling.
  • Trading Limitations: Options trading is restricted, and futures trading is not permitted. This could influence investment strategies, particularly for those looking to engage in more sophisticated trades.
  • Settlement Period: After selling shares, the funds from the transaction will not be available for trading until after the settlement period, which typically lasts 2 days in the UK.

IBKR Reg T Margin Account

A step up in terms of flexibility and potential for higher returns, the Reg T Margin Account allows more experienced traders to leverage their investments:

  • Age and Deposit Requirements: Investors must be at least 21 years old and deposit a minimum of $2,000.
  • Leverage: This account type allows investors to borrow against the value of the securities in their account to open new positions or engage in short sales.

IBKR Portfolio Margin Account

For investors looking for even greater leverage and the ability to undertake riskier trades, the Portfolio Margin Account offers advanced features:

  • Capital Requirement: A significant initial investment of $100,000 is needed to open this type of account.
  • Enhanced Leverage: Provides higher leverage limits, enabling the execution of more aggressive trading strategies.
  • Additional Benefits: No custody fees are charged, and interest is paid on uninvested cash balances within the account.

Interactive Brokers Demo Account

Interactive Brokers also offers one of the best Demo Accounts in the industry, ideal for both new and experienced traders who wish to test strategies without financial risk:

  • Simulation: This account simulates real-market conditions, allowing traders to practice and refine their trading techniques.
  • Tools and Features: Provide access to a real account’s trading tools and features, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience.

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:

  1. Visit the Interactive Brokers website.
  2. Click on “Open Account” in the top menu and select “Start Application”.
  3. Fill out the application form with your personal and financial details.
  4. Provide the required documents, such as a copy of your ID and proof of residence.
  5. Complete the account verification process.
  6. Once verified, your account will be opened and you can start trading.

Interactive Brokers UK: Trading Fees

Interactive Brokers has a straightforward pricing plan. 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.

Stock/Shares Fees

The trading fees on stocks in the main world markets are the following:

MarketFixed commissionMinimum per orderMaximum per order
United States0,005 per share$11% of the traded value
United Kingdom0,05% of the traded value£3N/A
CanadaCAD 0,01 per shareCAD 10,5% of the traded value
France0,05% of the traded value€3N/A
Germany0,05% of the traded value€3N/A
Spain0,05% of the traded value€3N/A
Australia0,08% of the traded valueAUD 6N/A
Hong Kong0,08% of the traded valueHKD 18N/A

Forex commissions

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 variable spread fees, which start at 1/10 of a pip.

The higher the trading volume, the lower the commission. Here are some of the main currency pairs:

Amount traded
each month
CommissionMinimum commission
Less than $1,000,0000.20 pips$2
Between $1,000,000 and
$2,000,000
0.15 pips$1.5
From $2,000,000 to
$5,000,000
0.10 pips$1.25
More than $5,000,0000.08 pips$1

Mutual funds Fees

The mutual fund market provides access to more than 48,000 mutual funds, including 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 Funds0%N/AN/A
Euronext Fixed Price Structure0.1% of market value€4€29.00
Other funds€4.95N/AN/A

Bonds & Fixed Income Trading Fees

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 filter by maturity, yield, and quality by using Interactive Brokers’ bond search tool. The bond search tool is available for free on IBKR’s website and is accessible to both clients and non-clients.

US Corporate≤ $10,0000.10% $1$250 or 1% of the trade value, whichever is lower
US Treasuries≤ $1,000,0000.002%$5N/A
United Kingdom≤ £10,0000.10%N/AN/A
Hong Kong Government ≤ HKD 15,000,0000.08%HKD 18N/A

Markets

Europe, USA

Regulated by the SEC, FCA and the Central Bank of Ireland

Low fees and excellent price execution

Free trading platforms and tools - powerful enough for professional traders but designed for everyone

Options Trading Fees

The commissions for trading options are as follows:

MarketOptions on StocksMinimum Commission
United Kingdom£1.70/contract£1.70/contract
Spain€0.90/contract€4.50
Germany€1.70/contract€1.70/contract
Hong Kong0.2% + variable feeHKD 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
CanadaCAD 1,25 per contract (less than 10,000 contracts per month)CAD 1,5
AustraliaAUD 2 per contractAUD 2

Futures Trading Fees

The commissions on futures are the following:

MarketContract CommissionMinimum per order
United Kingdom£1.70£1.70
United States$0.85N/A
CanadaCAD 2.40CAD 2.40
France €2.00N/A
AustraliaAUD 5N/A
Spain and Italy€3N/A
Hong KongHDK 20HDK 20

CFDs Trading Fees

As with other products above, CFDs follow a volume-tiered pricing structure. The table below contains CFDs commissions on stocks:

CFDsTraded AmountCommissionMinimum
US StocksLess than $300,000$0.005$1
European StocksLess than €10,000,0000.05%£3
Australian StocksLess than AUD 10,000,0000.05%AUD 5
Japanese StocksJPY 9,000,0000.03%JPY 100
CFDs on US500 IndexN/A0.005%$1

Additional Fees and Charges

Finally, let’s see what fees Interactive Brokers charges for opening an account, depositing, withdrawing money or custody:

Other costs
Account opening feeNo
Custody feeNo
Deposit feeNo
Withdrawal feeNo*

Overall, Interactive Brokers does not charge a commission for 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 ISAs and JISAs UK

Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited (IBUK) offers two main types of ISAs designed to provide tax-free growth on investments for UK residents:

Types of ISAs Offered by IBKRUK

  1. Stocks and Shares ISA:
    • Description: This ISA allows investment in different instruments such as stocks, shares, and funds. It is suitable for adult investors who are UK residents aged 18 and over.
    • Key Features: It is not flexible. Withdrawals count against the annual ISA allowance if re-deposited within the same tax year. Margin trading is not allowed; only cash transactions are permitted.
    • Tax Allowance (2024/2025): £20,000 per person per tax year.
  2. Junior Stocks and Shares ISA (JISA):
    • Description: Designed for children under 18, this account allows parents or guardians to invest on behalf of their children. The funds grow tax-free until the child turns 18, when the account becomes an adult ISA.
    • Key Features: Withdrawals are generally prohibited until the child turns 18, except under exceptional circumstances such as terminal illness. The ISA automatically converts to an adult ISA when the child turns 18.
    • Tax Allowance (2024/2025): £9,000 per child per tax year.

Transfers ISA Account

  • Inward Transfers: Full account transfers from other ISA managers are accepted.
  • Outward Transfers: Must be requested through the receiving ISA provider.

Regulation and Safety

Interactive Brokers is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and approved by HMRC to act as an ISA manager. Client assets are kept separate from IBUK’s resources, ensuring protection in case of insolvency. Eligible claims are covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000 per client.

FeatureStocks and Shares ISAJunior Stocks and Shares ISA
EligibilityUK residents aged 18+UK residents under 18
Annual Allowance (2024/2025)£20,000£9,000
Monthly Activity Fee£3£1
Withdrawal FeeOne free per month, £7 for additionalOne free per month, £7 for additional
Investment OptionsShares, Securities, UCITS, ADRs, ADSsShares, Securities, UCITS, ADRs, ADSs
RegulationFCA and HMRC approvedFCA and HMRC approved
FlexibilityNot FlexibleNot applicable until the child turns 18
TransfersFull account transfers onlyFull account transfers only
Interactive Brokers ISAs and JISAs UK information overview

Interactive Brokers Trading Platform

Interactive Brokers has a 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.

Apart from Trader Workstation and IBKR Mobile, IB provides access to the Client Portal, a web-based platform designed to serve as a one-stop destination for checking quotes, placing trades, viewing account balances, reporting, and more. Additionally, IB 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.

Trading Platform TWS

This complex trading platform is abounding 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 for verifying quotes and placing trades, viewing account balances, losses and gains, 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.

Example of Interactive brokers mobile platform

GlobalTrader

The GlobalTrader platform offers smooth access to stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs via iOS or Android devices.

IMPACT

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.

IBKR API

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

Interactive Brokers UK: Real-time Quotes

All users have 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 indexes), and even customise those benchmarks.

Markets

Europe, USA

Regulated by the SEC, FCA and the Central Bank of Ireland

Low fees and excellent price execution

Free trading platforms and tools - powerful enough for professional traders but designed for everyone

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:

  • Euro
  • Dollar
  • 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

Interactive Brokers’ customer service is quick and available through 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: 
    • Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, Floor 12, London EC3M 3BY, United Kingdom
  • Phone: 
  • Inquiry form on the 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.

Taxes with Interactive Brokers UK

When dealing with brokers for the first time, many people have one main question: How do I declare my broker’s investment portfolio to the Tax Authorities?

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. You can then report your capital gains, losses, and other income to the relevant authority based on your activity.

Interactive Brokers Ratings

Interactive Brokersreviews 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, the level of difficulty involved in using so many products and platforms, especially for beginners, makes it, more suitable for 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:

Trustpilot Interactive Brokers

In this case, out of more than 14,000 reviews, the average score of 4.6 suggests that the IBKR mobile phone app is highly performing.

Related articles & recommendations

Find out how Interactive Brokers compares with some of the most popular brokers:

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

Interactive Brokers is renowned globally for its security, low commissions, and advanced portfolio analysis services. Although not perfect, its stringent requirements for opening margin accounts provide an extra layer of security, helping to prevent beginner traders from taking excessive risks.

Key Highlights IBKR UK:

  • Security and Low Commissions: A strong reputation for safeguarding client assets and offering some of the lowest commission rates in the industry.
  • High Interest on Cash Balances: Earn up to 4.58% interest on cash balances, though this is primarily for accounts with a net asset value (NAV) of at least $100,000.
  • Awards and Recognition:
    • Named the best online broker by Barron’s for five consecutive years as of March 25, 2022.
    • Voted the best broker for futures and options in the Rankia Awards for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019).

Interactive Brokers appeals to professional traders with its complex products and sophisticated platforms, making it ideal for implementing complex trading strategies. Despite the high entry barriers, the benefits for professional traders are significant, making it a top choice for many.

Pros and cons of Interactive Brokers

In short, here’s a summary of this broker’s main pros and cons:

Pros of IBKRCons 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

FAQ

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.

Markets

Europe, USA

Regulated by the SEC, FCA and the Central Bank of Ireland

Low fees and excellent price execution

Free trading platforms and tools - powerful enough for professional traders but designed for everyone

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