Interactive Brokers Review

Top Rated For

Our Take

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is one of the world’s leading trading platforms. The company has historically catered to institutional and high-volume traders, and IBKR continues to meet the needs of these customers, earning our top choice for best broker for advanced traders, international trading, algorithmic trading, and risk management, cash management, among other categories. 

However, it has also been impressive to see IBKR’s commitment to newer and less sophisticated investors and traders. IBKR now has a commission-free pricing model and has continued to enhance its IBKR Lite platform while developing both a mobile IBKR Global Trader platform and a new IBKR Desktop application, all of which are specifically designed to cater to this group of traders. In addition to the new platforms, IBKR has also been improving its educational content while designing features to make it easier for average traders and investors. IBKR now has an impressive array of offerings to meet the needs of all investor types.


Interactive Brokers (IBKR), headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, and founded by chairman Thomas Peterffy in 1977, was one of the first adopters of technology for financial markets and continues to excel in bringing trading tools and technology to the markets. IBKR is a publicly traded company, with $14.1 billion in equity capital, more than 2.56 million client accounts, and more than 2,900 global employees. IBKR is unrivaled in the breadth of markets and financial instruments available to trade on its platforms.

Pros & Cons


  • Unequaled breadth of available trading markets

  • Very competitive commission and margin rates

  • Excellent trade execution

  • Multiple trading tools

  • Commission-free option


  • Can be intimidating to learn

  • Commission schedules can be complex

  • Commission-free option requires sacrifice

  • Limited access to IPOs and OTC stocks

Pros Explained 

  • Unequaled breadth of available trading markets: No brokerage company comes close to providing access to the number of markets across the world, and the number of trading vehicles, as IBKR does. IBKR’s platform offers access to 150 market centers across 34 countries and 27 currencies, and offers equity, ETFs, mutual funds, debt, futures, foreign exchange, cryptocurrency, and other trading markets, all on a single trading platform.
  • Very competitive commission and margin rates: IBKR has low commission rates, scaled based on monthly trading volume, for its institutional and more active customers. IBKR also has competitive margin rates, which are adjusted lower as account size increases. 
  • Excellent trade execution: IBKR has developed sophisticated order routing technology and allows customers on its IBKR Pro platform to route their own orders to maximize trade execution.
  • Multiple trading tools: IBKR offers a wide range of tools to help traders, including stock screeners, the ability to trade directly from charts, sophisticated order routing, options analyzers, and easy order entry tools. IBKR customers also have access to fundamental and technical indicators that can be incorporated into advanced order functionality.
  • Commission-free option: IBKR, to cater to non-institutional traders and be competitive with offerings from other online brokers, now offers an IBKR Lite platform to offer commission-free stock and ETF trading. 

Cons Explained 

  • Can be intimidating to learn: Beginners and less sophisticated traders can find the high-powered IBKR Pro platform overwhelming and intimidating because of all its bells and whistles. In response, IBKR has recently launched its IBKR Desktop, which is a simpler-to-use platform.
  • Commission schedules can be complex: IBKR has low commissions for high-volume traders, but unlike many brokerage firms with straightforward pricing, such as a flat rate for options trades, IBKR lowers commission rates using breakpoints based on monthly trading volume. This can make it difficult for traders to forecast their trading costs.
  • Commission-free option requires sacrifice: IBKR Lite is a commission-free trading platform for equity and ETF trading, but the model requires the user to give up control of order routing in exchange for not paying commissions. The IBKR Lite model utilizes a payment for order flow (PFOF) model that allows IBKR to generate revenue through control over the order routing of these customers’ trades.
  • Limited access to IPOs and OTC stocks: IBKR is not an underwriter, so it does not usually get allocations of initial public offerings (IPOs). Also, over-the-counter (OTC) stock trading is not as economical at IBKR as it is on other platforms.


IBKR has made efforts to improve the usability of its platforms for all of its customers, and it is having success. It is not as cumbersome as in the past to open an account, and it can be done without funding. Customers still need to provide information for the know your client (KYC) rules required of brokers. Since traders may choose to transact in multiple markets, there may be some additional forms to fill out, such as options and margin agreements. IBKR has a client portal that can be accessed from either the desktop or web-based application (via a computer or mobile device).

IBKR has multiple desktop and mobile platforms to suit client needs, and two of the company’s newer platforms are very positive steps for helping IBKR’s beginner and less experienced traders use the power of IBKR’s technology. The properly chosen platform should greatly reduce feelings of intimidation that newer traders have previously felt with IBKR’s Trader Workstation (TWS). All of the platforms do a good job of integrating all of the markets and tools, so users can navigate to news, analytics, charting, and trading across all asset classes and markets on a single platform.

Importantly, the company launched a new desktop platform on Feb. 28, 2024, called IBKR Desktop. It was designed with user input with the goal of combining strong tools with an easy-to-use interface for beginner and intermediate traders. Further, IBKR launched a new mobile application, also geared towards less experienced traders, called IBKR GlobalTrader in March of 2022. IBKR GlobalTrader provides a simple interface that allows users to trade equities, ETFs, and options across the world.

Trade Experience

IBKR offers users multiple platforms, and with the launch of the IBKR Desktop platform in February 2024 and IBKR Global Trader in March 2022, it has an excellent mix of platforms to deliver its impressive trading technologies to a wide range of traders with different needs. Platforms at IBKR are as follows:

Desktop Applications

  • IBKR Trader Workstation (TWS): This is IBKR’s top-end platform. It has all the features for sophisticated high-volume and institutional traders and money managers, including order routing and other special tools. TWS can be customized by the user.
  • IBKR Desktop: This is a fully functioning desktop platform that was designed using input from beginner and intermediate-level traders who want a robust platform, but don’t need access to all markets and tools.
  • IBKR Client Portal: This is a web browser-based portal, accessible via desktop or mobile platforms, that lets users trade, as well as manage their accounts, print reports, and see account analytics. This interface, which the user can customize, launches automatically when account management is selected from either of the desktop platforms, and it can also be accessed from the IBKR website. Only one sign-in is required to access the client portal, and it can be customized by the user.

Mobile Applications

  • IBKR Mobile: This is the IBKR mobile platform that is closest to TWS, offering access to the full range of tradable markets available on TWS.
  • IBKR GlobalTrader: This is a streamlined app designed for traders focusing on stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. It has an easy-to-use design that is less intimidating than IBKR Mobile.
  • IBKR Client Portal: This is the same as the desktop experience, but is accessible via mobile devices.

Other IBKR Platforms

  • IBKR APIs: IBKR provides an application protocol interface (API) that provides users with multiple IBKR and third-party applications, such as an easy-to-use Excel API or advanced strength FIX API.
  • IBKR EventTrader: This is a specialized application for one specific asset class available through the IBKR platform. These trades are outcomes of specific questions that have a yes or no answer.
  • IBKR IMPACT: This is an app available for iOS or Android that allows users to set criteria which then lets them identify and invest in companies that share their values, such as for environment, social, or governance (ESG) or other socially positive criteria.

Investopedia’s latest Sentiment Survey revealed that investor optimism about equity returns over the next six months has reached a 12-month high, with 33% of respondents expecting higher returns during that period. 46% said they have more risk in their portfolios than last year, while 10% noted cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are becoming a larger part of their selection.

Range of Offerings

Compared to other online brokers, it is incredible how many markets around the world and specific trading vehicles are available for trading at IBKR. Here is a breakdown:

  • U.S. Equities and ETFs long and short, with more than 17,000 U.S. traded stocks available to borrow
  • Options traded globally on more than 30 market centers
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including more than 150 ETFs with no transaction fees if held for at least 30 days
  • Over-the-counter bulletin board (OTCBB), commonly referred to as “pink sheets” or “penny stocks” (IBKR Lite customers are subject to fixed fee pricing for OTCBB stocks)
  • Futures and options on futures
  • Precious metals: Spot trading in gold and silver
  • Mutual funds: More than 48,000 funds available from more than 550 fund families, with more than 19,000 funds available with no fees
  • International exchanges: 150 market centers across 34 countries and 27 currencies
  • Foreign exchange trading in 24 currencies and more than 100 currency pairs
  • Cryptocurrency trading, where traders can hold the assets, for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin
  • Debt instruments including corporate, municipal, treasury, CDs, and international issues
  • CME event contracts (IBKR EventTrader app only)
  • Robo trading

Order Types

IBKR offers traders a very wide range of order types, with IBKR Pro (TWS) customers having the ability to incorporate many order types and algorithms. They can also utilize fundamental and/or technical indicators as part of their orders. Even the other platforms, that don’t have that level of granularity, offer customers significant flexibility to place orders for entering and managing trades. For the more advanced platforms, traders can transact options strategies with up to six legs.

Order types available on IBKR platforms have some variation between the different platforms. IBKR has a very full array of order types but does not make them all available on the IBKR Desktop and IBKR Global Trader app to keep that platform simpler to use. This is done by design so that the more basic platforms do not overwhelm the user, who can always choose to step up their platform to TWS or IBKR Mobile if they want the additional functionality. 

Order types are as follows:

  • Buy and sell orders, including limit, market and stop orders, including limit stops are available on all platforms, but IBKR Desktop and IBKR GlobalTrader do not currently support trailing stops that are available on TWS, IBKR Mobile, and the web-based Client Portal. IBKR Desktop does support special stops, however, such as market if touched. 
  • Conditional orders, including OTO, or one triggers the other orders; OCO, or one cancels the other orders; and OTT, or one triggers two orders, are all available on TWS, IBKR Mobile, and the Client Portal. 
  • Trailing stops, which are not available on IBKR Desktop.     
  • Options orders, including the ability to automatically set up multi-leg options strategies, are available on the platforms geared towards advanced users.

Trading Technology

IBKR has some of the best technology in the brokerage industry. It was one of the first companies to incorporate computer technology into its platforms, and it continues to stay on top of the innovation curve. Examples of IBKR’s strong trading technology include its order routing system, which finds the most cost-effective way to execute each leg of a transaction in a way that maximizes value for the customer. Customers on IBKR Pro also have the ability to control the routing of their own orders. 

Other trading technology available at IBKR includes support for fractional share trading, the ability to choose tax lots, and tax loss harvesting, which allows account holders to maximize the value of potential tax losses and gains in their accounts while being mindful of how wash sales rules will impact tax harvesting. Additional advanced trading tools at IBKR include the ability to stage orders, automated and algorithmic trading strategies, a probability lab for looking at options in a less mathematically intense way, and Scale Trader, which helps execute large volume orders in a way that minimizes the impact of deteriorating prices. There are also options and foreign exchange interfaces for optimizing your trading. IBKR also offers paper trading, but one feature not present on IBKR is the ability to back-test trading strategies.


Interactive Brokers has more than one commission schedule for U.S. equity and ETF trading. The company offers two different commission fee structures: IBKR Pro Tiered and IBKR Pro Fixed. The tiered plan charges different commission rates as monthly trading volume increases, and the fixed plan is a fixed commission of $0.005 per share. IBKR Pro customers can also trade certain no-transaction-fee ETFs on the platform without paying a commission. IBKR also has tiered and fixed commission schedules for Canadian and Mexican stocks.

The other plan for U.S. equities and ETFs, for U.S. residents only, is called IBKR Lite, and this plan mirrors other brokerage companies’ commission-free models. With IBKR Lite, the trader gives up the right to route their own trades, allowing IBKR to provide execution and generate payment for order flow revenue in lieu of customer commissions. Other trading vehicles at IBKR are priced the same for all customers.

Here is a breakdown of costs at IBKR:

  • U.S. Stocks and ETFs – IBKR Lite: No commissions, but still need to pay regulatory fees
  • U.S. Stocks and ETFs – IBKR Pro Fixed: Fixed commission of $0.005, with a minimum commission of $0.35 and a maximum commission of 1% of trade value. These customers also pay regulatory fees.
  • U.S. Stocks and ETFs – IBKR Pro Tiered: Commission schedule ranges from $0.0035/share up to 300,000 shares traded per month; then $0.0020 up to 3 million shares traded; $0.0015 to 20 million shares; $0.0010 up to 100 million shares; then just $0.0005/share. IBKR Pro Tiered customers also pay regulatory, exchange, clearing, and pass-through fees. The minimum commission per trade is $0.35, and the maximum commission per order is 1% of the trade value.
  • U.S. Options – IBKR Lite: Fixed rate of $0.65/contract, with a minimum commission of $1 per order
  • U.S. Options – IBKR Pro: Tiered pricing structure that also adjusts based on the cost of the option, plus exchange, clearing, regulatory, and transaction fees. For monthly trading volume of less than 10,000 option contracts, the rate is $0.25/share for options with a premium less than $0.05; then $0.50/contract for options priced from $0.05 to $0.10/contract; and $0.65/contract if the premium is $0.10 or higher. The next tier for U.S. options trading is between 10,000 and 50,000 contracts traded, where the commission is $0.25/contract if the premium is less than $0.05, and $0.50 if the premium is more than $0.05. After this, the commission is $0.25/contract up to 100,000 contracts traded, and $0.15/contract after 100,000 contracts have been traded.   
  • Futures and Options on Futures Contracts (standard contracts): Priced on either a fixed or tiered commission schedule. The fixed schedule is $0.85/contract, plus exchange and regulatory fees, while the tiered commission schedule starts at $0.85/contract if fewer than 1,000 contracts are traded; then $0.65/contract up to 10,000 contracts; $0.45/contract to 20,000 contracts traded; and $0.25 after 20,000 contracts.  
  • Futures and Options on Futures Contracts (E-micro contracts): Contract breakpoints are at 1,000, 10,000, and 20,000, with corresponding commission rates of $0.25, $0.20, $0.15, and $0.10 per contract, respectively.
  • Futures and Options on Futures Contracts (CME cryptocurrency futures and futures options): There are tiered and fixed commission rate options, and rates vary by contract and cryptocurrency, with rates as follows: Bitcoin: standard futures and options on futures have a $5/contract commission; Bitcoin micro futures are $2.25 per contract; and Bitcoin micro futures options cost $1.25/contract. Ethereum charges are $3/contract for standard contracts; $0.20/contract for Ethereum micro contracts; and $0.10 for Ethereum micro futures and options.
  • Event Contracts (traded on the CME): The commission is $0.10/contract for the tiered and the fixed option, with tiered customers paying overnight position fees in addition to exchange and regulatory fees. 
  • Spot Currencies: Breakpoints are $1 billion; $2 billion; and $5 billion in USD notional value traded. The corresponding commission rates are determined by multiplying the trade value by the commission rates, which are 0.20 basis points (bp); 0.15 bp; 0.10 bp; and 0.08 bp, respectively.
  • Cryptocurrency: If monthly trading value is less than 100,000, 0.18% times the trade value. The commission rate reduces to 0.15% time trade value for trading volume from 100,000 to 1,000,000, then to 0.12% For all tier levels, there is a minimum commission per order of $1.75, and a maximum commission of 1% of trade value.
  • Spot Gold (London): Orders below $500,000 pay a commission of 1.5 bp times the trade value. The commission is 1 bp from $500,000 to $1 million, and 0.7 bp for trades in excess of $1 million. The minimum per order is $2 for tier 1 trades. 
  • Spot Silver (London): Orders below $250,000 pay a commission of 3 bp times the trade value. The commission is 2 bps from $250,000 to $500,000 and 0.7 bp for trades in excess of $500,000. The minimum per order is $2 for tier 1 trades. The pricing page also lists the storage and transportation costs associated with physical metals trading.
  • Bonds (Corporate & CDs): Commission is 10 bps times face value for the first $10,000, then 2.5 bps for any additional face value of bonds. For the first $10,000 in face value, the minimum commission is $1, and the maximum is the lesser of % of trade value.
  • Bonds (Municipal): Commission is 5 bps times face value for the first $10,000, then 1.25 bps for any additional face value of bonds. For the first $10,000 in face value, the minimum commission is $1, and the maximum is the lesser of 1% of trade value.
  • Bonds (U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds): Commission is 0.2 bps times face value for the first $1 million, then 0.01 bps for any additional face value of bonds. There is a minimum commission of $5 for the first $1 million in face value and $5 for additional face value.
  • Mutual Funds: There are no transaction fees for thousands of funds on the IBKR platform. IBKR’s transaction fee for other mutual funds is the lesser of 3% times the trade value, or $14.95, per transaction.
  • Trade Desk broker-assisted trading: For U.S. equities, options, futures, and futures options. The commission for stocks and ETFs is $0.01/share, with a minimum commission of $100, plus exchange, clearing, and regulatory fees. For options on U.S. equities, the commission is $0.95/contract, with a minimum commission of $95, plus exchange, clearing, regulatory, and transaction fees. The rate for futures is $3.00/contract, with a $300 minimum, and futures options cost $1/contract with a minimum per-order commission of $300.
  • Margin Rates: Based on a tiered system, with account size breakpoints at less than $100,000; up to $1 million; to $50 million; to $200 million, and greater than $200 million. Corresponding margin rates for these tiers on IBKR Pro are 6.83%; 6.33%; 6.98%; 5.83%; and 5.83% again. The same breakpoints are used for IBKR Lite margin calculations, but currently, the margin rate for all IBKR Lite customers is 7.83%, regardless of account size. This is 2.5% over IBKR’s base rate. The IBKR Pro margin rate spread narrows as account size grows larger. The current IBKR base margin rate is currently 5.33%. This means margin rates decline for larger accounts with IBKR Pro, not on IBKR Lite.
  • Interest paid on cash: This is not a cost, but it illustrates that IBKR’s interest rate is very fair, at 4.83% for IBKR Pro accounts with at least $10,000 (just 0.5% less than IBKR’s base rate). IBKR Lite accounts with $10,000 or more in cash receive 3.83% on their cash, which is 1.5% below the base rate. These are generous interest rates for idle cash, considering some brokers don’t pay anything to customers who have excess cash in their accounts. IBKR’s rate is fantastic when compared to the less than 0.01% currently offered at E*Trade and 0.45% at Schwab.
  • IBKR does not charge inactivity, minimum balance, or account closing fees.

How This Broker Makes Money From You and For You

IBKR generates income in many ways, but its primary revenue stream is from commissions paid by traders on their trading. Although IBKR offers customers low commissions, the large volume of trading through its platform still generates substantial commission revenue. IBKR also generates revenue through payment for order flow related to the orders it executes from its non-commission-paying IBKR Lite customers.

Interest income is also an important revenue generator for IBKR. The interest income for IBKR comes from two primary sources. One is the difference between the margin lending rates the customer pays and the rate at which they borrow funds. IBKR also pays interest to customers on excess cash balances in accounts, but IBKR does not pay interest to customers on the first $10,000 if the account has a balance of less than $100,000, and lower balance accounts also receive lower interest rates from IBKR.

IBKR also helps generate additional income for its customers through sharing revenue generated from securities lending, where IBKR uses customer securities for securities lending operations. This entails IBKR using, with permission, a customer’s stocks for the purpose of lending them to a short seller. IBKR shares the revenue generated from securities lending with the account owner that lent IBKR the securities.

The remaining ways IBKR helps customers make money is through price improvement through efficient order routing, as well as through portfolio margining, which may allow a user to lower their margin rate because of a portfolio’s overall risk.

Account and Research Amenities

As a well-established leader in providing technology tools and solutions for top traders, IBKR delivers to its customers when it comes to offering multiple account and research amenities traders and investors may want to incorporate into their analysis and trading.

Stock and ETF Screener

IBKR has a very robust stock and ETF screener, especially the one on IBKR Pro. There are multiple filters that can be used to identify stocks that meet your criteria from hundreds of different fundamental and technical indicators. IBKR’s stock screeners can be customized and saved for later use, the screener results can be turned into a watch list, and you can generate an order ticket directly from the stock screen list. Customers not using IBKR Pro can use the stock screener available on the Client Portal, but this is not in the same league as the screener on TWS.

Mutual Fund Screener

IBKR has a mutual fund screener. As with the stock screener, the TWS version is the most robust, but there is also a mutual fund screener on the Client Portal that allows you to look for funds with criteria such as if there are commissions charged, specific fund families, as well as fund type, such as alternatives, balanced, bond, commodity, equity, mixed investments, and money markets.

Options Screener

The options screener can help traders identify potential options trades based on their criteria, which could include specific sectors, or quantitative measurements related to implied volatility, open interest, trading volume, or other traits the trader can define.

Fixed Income Screener 

IBKR’s Bond Search Tool allows users to find specific bonds by CUSIP, or by category, such as global corporate bonds, U.S. CDs, U.S. Treasuries, and non-sovereign bonds. Further filtering is available for industry, country of issuer, and for high-yield or investment-grade securities.

Tools and Calculators

IBKR offers multiple tools and calculators for traders to identify opportunities and manage positions. The options analysis tools help traders identify which option best fits their market viewpoint.


IBKR offers robust charting on its platforms, even though it can be challenging to use charting on small-screen mobile devices. However, users can view charts that, unlike many other online brokerage platforms, are dynamic and support the drawing of multiple studies and indicators. In addition, traders can initiate trades directly from charts, and current orders, such as limit or stop loss orders, will be displayed on charts. IBKR charting, especially on their mobile platform, is better than most online broker offerings.

Trading Idea Generators

IBKR has technology that can take your market expectations and suggest specific trading ideas. Users can choose sectors and other criteria for a trade, and the idea generator will look for potential trading opportunities.


There are dozens of different news sources available on IBKR. Some of these services are free, while others, such as Dow Jones News, require payment to access their services. In some instances, such as news site Benzinga, some content is free, and other information is behind a paywall. In many instances, you can get free trials for the different services offered. The site also contains content that shares market insights, research, newsletters, and other information. Some of the content is bundled, so there are opportunities to find a package that may meet your needs.

Third-Party Research

IBKR does not provide any proprietary research on the markets to its customers. Instead, the company has a platform with hundreds of research reports and other content available. Like the news on IBKR, there are many possibilities. There is a helpful page that has news, research, and analysis content, which has sorting buttons for research, news, events, and alternative data; third-party tools; and the ability to view free and bundled services. Under “research” on this page, you can further sort content by fundamental, technical, ratings, macro research, quantitative, events, and media.

Cash Management

IBKR is not a bank and does not offer checking accounts or bill-payment services. However, in addition to paying a nice interest rate to customers with cash balances in excess of $10,000, IBKR has a cash sweep offering for IBKR Pro users that takes cash in excess of $250,000 and invests it in various banks in a way that ensures all principal is protected because deposits are spread out over multiple accounts at multiple banks, with each deposit being for less than $250,000 to ensure all principal is FDIC-insured.

Fractional Dividend Reinvestment Plan

Although IBKR has a dividend reinvestment program, it does not invest fractional dividends. Instead, full shares will be purchased with dividends, with the cash from fractional remainders returned to the account.

Portfolio Analysis

IBKR has developed advanced tools for portfolio analysis that allow investors to see the entire performance of their portfolio, including assets not held at IBKR. PortfolioAnalyst is a free service that allows reporting and historical aggregation. PortfolioAnalyst has 250,000 active users in 27 currencies. PortfolioAnalyst lets investors link their checking, investment, savings, credit cards, mortgage, and student loans to help them better understand their personal financial situation. The data is used to create helpful analytics such as portfolio returns and risk information, reviews of asset classes and geographical distribution, and even a consolidated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rating of your portfolio. This powerful software, which also has a retirement planner feature, is available for free.


As mentioned earlier in this article, providing educational offerings for customers is important to Interactive Brokers, and the company has put a lot of effort into creating resources for its users. Traders can sign up for one of the newsletters available on the Trader’s Academy, which has courses and content for beginner, intermediate, and advanced traders about how to use IBKR platforms and about markets and how to trade them. Coinciding with the launch of IBKR Desktop in February 2024, IBKR developed a free IBKR Desktop Trading Course which features 10 lessons on how traders can use the platform. Additional content in the education section includes financial courses (Trader’s Academy); quant articles, finance webinars, market podcasts, a student trading lab, and a trader’s glossary. Since the IBKR Desktop platform is geared towards traders who don’t need all of the power of IBKR Pro (TWS), this further shows IBKR’s commitment to growing the ranks of its non-professional trading customers.

Customer Service

IBKR provides customer service by email, live chat, and 24/7 phone support. In addition, the company has developed an AI-powered IBot, available throughout the IBKR platform infrastructure, that can often answer user questions by bringing users to online resources. Customers also have access to an extensive FAQ page. Brokers are available to help with trades for a premium cost.

In the past, IBKR has not been particularly good regarding phone wait times, but the company is trying to improve in this area. This is important if IBKR continues to bring in less sophisticated customers who may not be as self-sufficient as high-volume institutional traders, so the company will likely continue making investments to improve its customer service delivery.

Security and Reliability

IBKR’s authentication system and security exceed those in place at other brokers. IBKR utilizes two-factor authentication and biometric security, as well as unique codes the user controls. Further, IBKR’s real-time risk management system includes protective liquidations of customer positions to protect other clients’ capital. Another reassuring feature is that IBKR does not make proprietary bets, so it is much less likely to have a catastrophic blowup that negatively impacts customer accounts. IBKR also segregates the amount of cash and securities owned by clients daily, with an additional buffer of cash. IBKR was the first broker-dealer approved by FINRA to calculate and apply this reserve method daily, where the industry standard is weekly or monthly. Also, while SIPC protects accounts for up to $500,000 (with a cash sublimit of $250,000), IBKR also has supplemental insurance with Lloyd’s of London. Finally, there have been no significant data breaches at IBKR in the past four years, rounding out a positive report on IBKR’s security and reliability.


IBKR maintains multiple platforms and supports trading a wide range of products and services around the world. Its business is complex and there is a great deal of information and a steep learning curve to fully understand all of its technology and tools. But the firm is transparent about its products and services and the various costs and commissions associated with them. The company shows the commissions for each product and fully discloses how it makes money through payment for order flow on accounts using IBKR Lite, where stocks and ETFs can be traded commission-free. IBKR even clearly lists the various exchange, clearing, and pass-through fee schedules. There have, however, been some regulatory issues reported over the past few years, including:

  • IBKR was charged a $3.5 million penalty in December 2023 from FINRA related to multiple alleged violations of the rules related to supervision and execution. Part of the complaint included the potential that its routing logic for IBKR Lite accounts resulted in a lack of best execution for clients, but FINRA’s order stated that remedial steps had already been taken by IBKR to address those issues.
  • IBKR, in October 2023, agreed to pay $35 million in penalties to the SEC and $20 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for problems related to improper recordkeeping. As part of the settlement, IBKR also agreed to retain independent compliance consultants. 
  • These penalties followed a $15 million fine IBKR received from FINRA in August 2020 for problems with the company’s anti-money laundering (AML) program over a five-year period.

Available Account Types

IBKR offers a wide selection of account types that should fit just about any situation. Individual, joint, UGMA/UTMA, and retirement accounts are all available at IBKR. Retirement account types that can be opened at IBKR include traditional IRA, traditional rollover; traditional inherited, Roth IRA, Roth IRA inherited, simplified employee pension (SEP), and Savings Investment Match Plan for Employees (Simple IRA).

Beyond these account types, IBKR also offers multiple other account types, including for non-professional advisors, family offices, small businesses, advisors, money managers, Broker & Futures Commission Merchants (FCM), proprietary trading groups, hedge fund and mutual funds, compliance officers, administrators, and institutional hedge fund investors.

The Bottom Line

Interactive Brokers has been one of the leading brokerage firms for institutional and high-volume traders for decades. Its low (or no) commission and margin rates, along with its unbeatable reach to different markets around the world and the different types of trading vehicles that can be traded on a single platform in real time, are staggering. Also, IBKR’s trading technology and tools are all top class, and clients can access news, third-party research, and IBKR-built tools, such as screeners and reports, interactive charting with drawing tools, and the ability to trade any and all of these markets on a single platform with a safe single sign-on. This is impressive, and why IBKR has been our top choice for best online brokers for professionals for many years now.

Adding to its impressive platform and technology capabilities is IBKR’s strong commitment to improving the IBKR experience for beginners and intermediate traders and investors. In addition to delivering new desktop and mobile platforms geared towards a less sophisticated trader, it has also backed up its commitment to lower-volume traders by creating educational tools to help people better understand markets, how to trade, and how to use the IBKR platform efficiently. It seems IBKR is now an excellent choice for traders at any level.

Compare Interactive Brokers to Similar Online Brokers

Broker Star Rating Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Per Contract Options Max Option Legs Number of No-Load Mutual Funds Fractional Share Trading of Stocks New Spot Bitcoin ETFs
Fidelity Investments 4.8 $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 4 3396 Yes Yes
Charles Schwab 4.7 $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 4 14,900 Yes Yes
Interactive Brokers 4.6 $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 6 19,000+ Yes Yes

What Is Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers, a publicly traded company, is one of the earliest online brokerage platforms. It has been known as one of the most popular online brokers for sophisticated, high volume, and institutional traders because of the tremendous breadth of the markets around the world that it makes available to its customers, as well as having a very strong trading technology platform that allows investors to identify opportunities and manage positions with precision.

Is Interactive Brokers Right for You?

IBKR has been and continues to be the platform of choice for sophisticated and high-volume traders who want total control over their order routing, the ability to execute and manage trades with precision, and strong analytical tools. Today, however, following IBKR’s significant investment in platforms to support newer and less-seasoned traders, IBKR has complemented its market position by adding a strong set of platforms and interfaces to meet the needs of this other class of traders and investors. This makes IBKR a viable option for nearly anyone looking to open an online trading account. Those planning to trade on margin will likely find IBKR’s margin rates very attractive relative to other platforms.

How We Picked the Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms

Providing readers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of online brokers and trading platforms is a top priority for Investopedia. We combined our industry research, subject matter expertise, and investor survey data to guide the research and weightings for our 2024 online broker awards. To collect the data, we sent a digital survey with 110 questions to each of the 26 companies we included in our rubric. Additionally, our team of researchers verified the survey responses and collected any missing data points through online research and conversations with each company directly. The data collection process spanned from Feb. 19 to March 19, 2024.

We then developed a proprietary model that scored each company to rate its performance across 11 major categories and 89 criteria to find the best online brokers and trading platforms. The score for each company’s overall star rating is a weighted average of the criteria in the following categories:

Additionally, during our 2024 research, many of the companies we reviewed gave us live demonstrations of their platforms and services via video conferencing methods and also granted our team of expert writers and editors access to live accounts so they could perform hands-on testing.

Through this all-encompassing data collection and review process, Investopedia has provided you with an unbiased and thorough review of the top online brokers and trading platforms.

Learn more about how we review online brokers.

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The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.

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