Interactive brokers – traders reviews and trading platform overview

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Contents

Interactive Brokers Review

Sarah Horvath
Contributor, Benzinga

1 Minute Review

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a comprehensive trading platform that gives you access to a massive range of securities at affordable prices. With access to over 125 global markets, you can buy assets from all around the world from the comfort of your home or office. Options, futures, forex and fund trading are also available — and most traders won’t pay a commission on any purchase or sale. IBKR is geared primarily toward experienced investors. The platform offers limited assistance and can be a challenge for new users to become acclimated to. The broker’s tiered pricing strategy can also be frustrating for traders who focus on hourly or daily price movements.

Best For

  • Access to foreign markets
  • Comprehensive mobile app that makes trading simple
  • Wide range of available account types and tradable assets
  • Comprehensive, quick desktop platform
  • Mobile app mirrors full capabilities of desktop version
  • Access to massive range of tradable assets
  • Frustrating and confusing tiered pricing
  • Bloated website that makes finding information a challenge

Why Interactive Brokers Over Others?

What sets IBKR apart from other brokers? Let’s take a look at a few of the platform’s key features.

  • Access to a wide market range: Interactive Brokers allows you to buy and sell assets on over 125 unique markets. This makes it one of the easiest ways to buy and sell international stocks and funds.
  • Comprehensive mobile app: If you’re the type of trader who enjoys trading on a mobile format, you’ll appreciate Interactive Brokers’ full-optimized and responsive mobile platform.
  • Low margin rates: With an Interactive Brokers Pro account, you can access margin trading for as little as 1.39% APR. Even Interactive Brokers’ Lite account rate (a flat 3.59% no matter how much you borrow) is affordable.

Interactive Brokers Quick Summary

Tradable assets Stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, forex, options, futures, metals
Platform Comprehensive; widest range of tools available on IBKR Pro
Mobile app Fully operational, mirrors desktop web-trading platform
Account minimum $0
Available account types Taxable, traditional and Roth IRAs, additional options for business owners and corporate investors

Interactive Brokers Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums (5 Stars)

IBKR offers 2 unique account types: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. As the names suggest, IBKR Lite is aimed at lower-level traders and offers the lowest fees. IBKR Pro accounts pay slightly higher commissions but have access to a wider range of analysis and research tools that professionals can use to inform their trades.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay in commission when you use Interactive Brokers to trade.

Stocks and ETFs $0 for IBKR Lite accounts; $0.005 per shareFor IBKR Pro accounts with bulk discounts available
Options $0.15 to $0.65 per contract depending on your trading volume and IBKR account choice
Mutual funds Access to hundreds of free mutual funds; other funds $14.95 per trade or 3% of your purchase volume
Futures $0.15 to $0.85 depending on the asset you’re buying
Forex 0.08 to 0.20 base points plus trade value depending on your regular trading volume
Account minimum $0 for all accounts

IBKR also offers margin trading on both Lite and Pro accounts. Margin rates range from 1.39% APR to 3.59% APR depending on your trading volume and the type of account you have. Traders who use over $200 million of margin have access to the lowest margin rates. Any amount of money you borrow in margin accrues interest daily.

Interactive Brokers Usability (3.5 Stars)

IBKR has always been a top choice for professional brokers, but its new IBKR Lite accounts can appeal to new investors looking to test the waters of trading. However, IBKR still maintains its host of professional tools and charting software.

The Desktop Trader Workstation is now available to both Pro and Lite account holders. While Pro account holders will receive access to a wide range of indicators and software, Lite users also receive a full suite of trading tools. Quickly search for stocks, place orders and compare prices with only a few clicks. Price and trade information is updated quickly, and you can also customize your trade station to show you the stocks you trade most often or own the most of first.

While extensive and innovative, IBKR’s desktop trading platform can quickly become overwhelming for new traders.

Though IBKR’s desktop platform may be a dream to professional traders or those with market experience, there’s a steep learning curve for new traders to conquer. The platform includes very few in-app directions on how to operate it or use any of the wide range of charting tools. If you’re a new trader and you have the time to watch outside tutorials or play around with the system yourself, you may enjoy using IBKR as your first platform.

Interactive Brokers Education (4.5 Stars)

Outside of its trading platform, Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of educational tools and resources you can use to learn more about trading. Let’s take a look at a few of the free resources it offers to help you learn more about the markets.

  • Traders’ Academy: Traders’ Academy is IBKR’s fully online trading course. The course includes over 48 unique courses for traders of varying skill levels. Some course subjects include the U.S. municipal bond market, building a trading plan and understanding how to use leverage effectively. Each course is further broken down into a series of lessons, all of which you can access online 24-hours a day.
  • Webinars: Prefer to learn more about trading with a live format? Interactive Brokers also offers a selection of live webinars that you can follow along with online. If you can’t tune in while the webinar is going on, you can catch it later on IBKR’s “recorded lectures” section. Some examples of previous webinars the broker has held include “Volatility Strategies for a Volatile Market,” “TWS Option Chains” and “Russian Capital Markets – an Introduction.” As you can see, webinars do assume at least a basic understanding of the stock, options or forex markets — so you may want to begin your education with Traders’ Academy and move onto webinars once you feel comfortable.
  • Short videos: Looking for a quicker way to learn more about the technical aspects of your Interactive Brokers account? Flip over to the Short Videos tab, where you’ll have access to hundreds of step-by-step guides to using its desktop or mobile platform. Some video subjects include setting up a watchlist, using futures contracts effectively and entering the options market. Most videos range between 5–25 minutes long, so they’re a great resource if you’re short on time.

All of the educational resources are free, but you do need to be logged into your account to access them.

Interactive Brokers Customer Support (4 Stars)

IBKR offers clients a number of methods they can use to get in contact with customer service. Let’s take a look at them now.

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  • By phone: U.S. traders should call 877-442-2757. Customer service is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
  • Online chat: To access chat, follow the instructions laid out here. Online chat assistance is available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday for current and prospective clients.
  • Email: You can send an email request to IBKR by filling out an inquiry form here. Interactive Brokers aims to service all inquiries received by email within 24 hours.

At the time of publication, IBKR currently doesn’t offer a specific customer service line for those with hearing limitations.

Interactive Brokers Offerings (5 Stars)

One of Interactive Brokers’ biggest strengths is its massive range of affordable offerings. IBKR’s platform acts as a one-stop-shop for everything a trader could need to start investing in stocks, options, funds, forex, futures contracts and even precious metals.

Let’s take a closer look at the tradable assets currently available.

Interactive Brokers Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds (5 Stars)

Interactive Brokers offers trades full access to the U.S. stock market on both its Pro and Lite platforms. You can even access stocks listed on European and Asian stock exchanges to buy and sell foreign securities. Most traders will pay $0 on all of their commissions, but high-value Pro account holders may pay a fraction of 1 cent per share.

IBKR offers access to 98 commission-free ETFs for Pro traders, while Lite traders get to buy and sell ETFs completely commission-free. It also offers a respectable selection of over 4,000 commission-free mutual funds.

Interactive Brokers Forex (3 Stars)

IBKR offers U.S. traders who hold USD as their base currency the ability to trade 14 of the most commonly-held currencies. Like most forex brokers, IBKR charges a small percentage of your trade value in the form of a spread. This charge comes in addition to a small commission of 0.08 to 0.20 base points depending on the volume of currency you’re exchanging.

Interactive Brokers Options (5 Stars)

IBKR offers a massive range of options contracts for both the domestic and international markets. You’ll pay between $0.15 to $0.60 per contract depending on your account type and the value of the contract you’re making.

Interactive Brokers Futures (5 Stars)

Interactive Brokers offers futures contracts for the entire U.S. stock markets, as well as international options. You’ll pay just $0.15 to $0.85 depending on your account type and the volume of your purchase.

Interactive Brokers Mobile App (4.5 stars)

If you’re the type of trader who enjoys trading on-the-go, you’ll love IBKR’s comprehensive and responsive mobile app. The app mirrors the full functionality of the brokerage’s desktop trading site, allowing you to browse constantly-updating stock and market data and place buy and sell orders.

Let’s take a look at a few other unique factors that make this app a viable trading tool.

  • Mobile check deposit: Want to start trading with your check without waiting for your bank transfer? IBKR offers an instant mobile check deposit that allows you to deposit your paper checks directly to your brokerage account. Just snap a photo, enter the amount on your check, verify that you’re the one making the deposit by completing 2-factor authentication and IBKR will finish the deposit for you.
  • Integrated security features: Interactive Brokers’ IB Key feature allows you to access your device with a unique password and security key. If you prefer a deeper level of security, you can also enable 2-factor authentication, which requires a unique passcode every time you access your account.
  • Fit-to-mobile design: IBKR’s app is fully optimized for both Apple and Android platforms. If you rotate your screen, the design of the app flips to a more detailed horizontal design.

The Interactive Brokers app is downloadable for free.

How Interactive Brokers Compares (4 Stars)

Interactive Brokers is a comprehensive trading platform for intermediate and experienced traders. If you’re looking for the widest possible range of tradable assets, IBKR will be at the top of your list. With access to over 125 markets and a wide range of securities, it’s possible to build an incredibly diverse portfolio with just a few clicks. Affordable Pro accounts and a comprehensive mobile app make trading even simpler.

For new traders, IBKR’s platform can quickly become overwhelming. You’ll need a solid grasp of common trading tools before you open your platform if you want to trade effectively. Its website is also difficult to navigate — tons of information is available, but the clutter of the site can make finding the info you’re looking for a hassle. New and experienced traders may also be frustrated by its tiered pricing strategies, which make it difficult to quickly calculate what you’ll owe on a trade.

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Interactive Brokers Review

Interactive Brokers general information

USA

Founded in: 1977 year
Headquarters:
Offices in the country:
Minimum Deposit: 10000 $
Website: www.interactivebrokers.com
Website languages:
Execution model: MM
Deposit currency:
Support languages:
Regulated by:
Mobile trading: iOS, Android
Types of offered accounts:
Affiliate program: Not
  • Traders from the USA
  • API capabilities
  • OCO orders
  • Web-based platform
  • Guaranteed stop loss

Interactive Brokers Forex broker description

Interactive Brokers is a very big name when it comes to the forex trading sector. This forex broker has been a constant in the forex business for almost four decades and still going stronger. Interactive Brokers was established in 1977 and started operating in 1978. Ever since then, it has managed to stick its head u in becoming a credible giant in this trade.

From its headquarters in the United States of America, it has managed to spread its influence to many other countries worldwide. At the moment it has its offices in India, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. This growth strategy was in a bid to take its services near to its many clients who are found all over the world.

Trading Accounts

Owning a trading account with Interactive Brokers will allow you to execute trades on its many financial trading instruments as well as enjoy their unique trading conditions. To own an account you will need to sign up for one using your valid details.

Interactive Brokers has two account types that have been specially designed to meet the needs of its respective clients. These are the free trial account and the individual account.

The Free Trial Account

The free trial account is also referred to as the demo account. This account type is designed to meet the needs of novice traders who have little or no idea of the forex trading concept. This account is free to sign up for and provides a simulated environment where the trader will be able to perfect his or her trading skills. They are also provided with virtual funds to help in practice for trade executions. This account type can also be used for refresher lessons by those who have forgotten about the trading concepts.

The Individual Account

The individual account is the standard trading account that Interactive Brokers offers. It is suitable for both experienced professional traders and novice traders. The following are the many features of this account type.

  1. Minimum deposit is $10000.
  2. Allows for hedging and scalping.
  3. Has the market type of execution.
  4. Allows the use of the United States dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Great Britain pound and the Japanese yen among others as its base currency units.
  5. Has a minimum position size of 0.25.

About Interactive brokers and Security Of Funds

The company was formed to provide trading services for the then young financial sector in forex trading. With this in mind, it managed to draw scores of clients who wanted to know more about forex trading and even participate in it. Over the years it has managed to grow in leaps and bounds cementing its name as one of the most credible forex traders around.

It has invested heavily in qualified and dedicated personnel who help their many clients with any arising issues. They wok round the clock for these reasons and will occasionally offer advisory services to the clients more so on matters concerning trading.

Interactive Brokers has managed to expand its territories to many regions of the world. This is in order to take its services near its clients. This has been very beneficial as it has managed to bring it near many business hubs such as Hong Kong and London where it takes advantage of the busy financial nature of these places to source for more clients.

The company is credible and it has proof of this courtesy of the many licenses under its possession. These licenses have been granted by the regulatory bodies in the countries it runs its operations from. Among the major points of focus by these bodies is the safety of clients’ funds. This has prompted Interactive Brokers to come up with the following measures to maintain this safety.

  1. Use of credible banks to store such funds.
  2. Use of technologically sound encryption techniques to keep off cyber criminals.
  3. Use of segregated bank accounts to separate the company’s funds from clients’ funds.

The following are the licenses that Interactive Brokers has:

  1. A license from the United Kingdom’s financial conduct authority (FCA).
  2. A license from the Hong Kong securities and futures commission.
  3. A member of the investment industry regulatory organization of Canada ( IIROC)

Trading Conditions

Minimum Initial Deposit

The minimum initial deposit is $10000 which will serve as your initial base capital in trade execution.

Commissions

No commissions are charged at all.

Trading Platforms

Interactive Brokers has some of the best trading platforms that have been specially designed for its clients’ needs in a smooth trading process. These platforms are the desktop TWS, the IBKR mobile platform, and the IBKR webtrader platform.

The Desktop TWS Platform

The desktop TWS platform is a downloadable platform that is suitable for your desktop. Its features are:

  1. Easy to use interface.
  2. Lightweight software.
  3. Has advanced analytical tools.
  4. It is easily customizable.
  5. Real-time monitoring.
  6. Risk management.

The IBKR Mobile Platform

The IBKR mobile platform is a downloadable platform that will allow you to execute trades from your mobile phone. It has both versions for ios and Android operating systems. It comes with many features in analytical tools as well as advanced drawing tools. It is lightweight hence will not consume much of your device’s storage space.

The IBKR Webtrader Platform

The webtrader platform is the platform that will let you execute your trades from your browser. It is compatible with most browsers and is noted for its short loading durations. The webtrader platform is accessible by both the desktop and also your mobile device.

Promotions

The following are the promotions currently running on Interactive Brokers’ website.

  1. The refer your friend and earn a $200 bonus.

Withdrawals And Deposits

Interactive Brokers have very efficient and flexible transaction modes. This incorporates the use of credit and debit cards such as Visa and MasterCard. Bank transfers are also accepted. The transactions are instantaneous and will take a short time to reflect.

Briefly about Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is a credible broker with many years in the business that grants it a higher level of expertise. It is really appreciated and beloved by clients, evident by the Interactive Brokers’ customer comments and reviews. This is a recommendable broker for professional forex traders.

Interactive Brokers stock trading platform review

Interactive Brokers provides advanced trading tools on a highly professional platform suited to expert traders.

By Tamsin Oxford 21 February 2020

Our Verdict

If you want solid, dependable, professional and intelligent, then you’ve come to the right stock broker platform. Interactive Brokers is competitively priced, provides an advanced trading platform that easily holds a top spot in the market for usability and features, and has a long and varied list of investment products for you to choose from.

  • Lots of investment product variety to choose from
  • Lots of research
  • Advanced tools and support

Against

  • You’ll pay if you don’t play

Interactive Brokers: What you need to know

You can use Interactive Brokers in several ways as a stock trading platform. You can open a standard account that comes with its own features and capabilities, or you can open a Interactive Brokers Pro account that comes with plenty of extra bells and whistles but will charge you if you are inactive on the account for a certain period of time. This is a nasty sting in a tail that is, in every other respect, a budget-friendly platform. You don’t have to pay an account minimum and the fees are among the lowest on the market, but little hidden snips can leave you out of pocket if you don’t read the fine print.

Interactive Brokers: Tools and services

  • Advanced trading platforms
  • Well-designed tools
  • Frustrating website

Interactive Brokers has some nifty features and one of them is the ability to do a free trial using all their platforms, market data and research. It’s cool, as features go, as you can explore the platforms and the systems and product portfolios before you commit. This is a leap of faith for Interactive Brokers and it does make you feel like they are that confident in what they have to offer. Along with offering a free trial as a neat service, Interactive Brokers also offers you some cool tools and services that will help you refine your investments.

While you have to navigate around a clunky website with no home page for each section (frustrating if you just want a snapshot of the various products and services), you won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer. PortfolioAnalyst comes with your account and gives you the ability to monitor and administer your accounts and use the data to asses performance and investments. This is bolstered by Probability Lab, a tool that helps you with options by dealing with the math, some third-party integration tools, and IBot, their artificial intelligence tool designed to help you get the most from your portfolio.

The platforms from Interactive Brokers include the traditional Client Portal that lets you check your accounts, quotes, trades and orders, and the Desktop TWS which is an active trading platform for traders and investors who have multiple products and trades in play. It comes with some excellent features and is supported by the mobile app and IBKR WebTrader. The latter is only available to people who have the IBKR Pro accounts and want extra trading functionality.

Interactive Brokers: Trading options and Forex

  • Lengthy investment options
  • Fractional shares
Interactive Trader: Key specifications

Account minimum amount: None on both IBKR Pro and Lite
Commission fee: Dependent on account and location
Account fees: Monthly fee if you drop below a certain activity threshold on Pro
Investment products: Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Metals, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, EFPs, Hedge Funds, Robo Portfolios

Interactive Brokers has a lot of variety in its investment portfolio and plenty of ways to make the most from your investments. You may initially struggle with the platform in terms of working out which account is best for you – IBKR Pro or IBKR Lite – and which commission rates apply where. That said, you will find it worthwhile to wade through the mass of fees, charges and commissions because Interactive Brokers has a lot to offer.

It’s one of the few stock trading platforms to offer Forex – only TD Ameritrade has this option in our top seven – and it also has what it calls ‘Robo Portfolios’. These are portfolios developed by automated systems around your specific investment requirements and they won quite a few accolades In the Investopedia Robo-Advisor Awards 2020. Another nice slice of Interactive Brokers’ cake is that you can invest in fractional shares which is great for those of you who can’t afford the full price of a share in a company that you really want to be part of.

Interactive Brokers: Research, education and customer support

  • Traders’ Academy
  • Good customer reputation

Interactive Brokers has the very cool and absolutely useful Traders’ Academy that hands you 46 courses focused on investments, products, trading, portfolio management and financial planning. These courses are designed for users of all levels of expertise, to help refine investment strategies and get the most from the platform. This is not the only offering either, you will also appreciate trading calendars, insights and webinars.

When it comes to customer reviews, Interactive Brokers has one of the best scores at three stars with an average of 45% saying the platform is excellent and 26% saying it’s great. The overall consensus is that the portfolio management features, broad range of products and customer support make it stand out from the crowd.

Interactive Brokers: Verdict

Interactive Brokers has a complex website that could do with a bit of modernization to make navigation slightly less tedious, but it also offers a ton of features and value-added services that make it a leader in the market. The two different accounts of IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro are customized to suit entirely different trading styles, and the pricing structures are low enough to keep it competitive and aligned with other leaders in the market. An ideal fit for the more experienced trader who wants tools and technologies that help them customize their portfolio, and for the casual investor who wants reliable returns with solid advice and support.

Interactive Brokers Review 2020: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Interactive Brokers attracts active traders with low per-share pricing, an advanced trading platform, a large selection of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — and ridiculously low margin rates. Its new offering, IBKR Lite, offers commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs.

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

The bottom line: Active and casual traders alike will benefit from Interactive Brokers’ advanced execution, strong trading platforms and rock-bottom pricing.

Best Broker for Low-Cost Investing, Best Broker for Stock Trading Platform and Research

on Interactive Brokers’s website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers’s website

Account Minimum
Promotion

No promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Large investment selection.

Strong research and tools.

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

Website is difficult to navigate.

Inactivity fees on IBKR Pro.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Account Minimum
Account Minimum
Promotion

No promotion available at this time

Promotion

minimum trade cost

Best Online Brokers

Full Review

Interactive Brokers has long been a popular broker for advanced traders, but in 2020 the company launched a second tier of service — IBKR Lite — for more casual investors.

With IBKR Lite, you get unlimited free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds that are listed on U.S. exchanges. If you’re interested in trading other investments, including options, futures, mutual funds, fixed income and more, you can do that on 125 markets in 31 countries with a Lite account, but the trading costs will be the same as what IBKR Pro investors pay.

As the name implies, IBKR Pro is geared toward advanced traders. If that’s you, you’ll probably like the broker’s per-share pricing of $0.005 per share (the minimum is $1), advanced trading platform, unmatched range of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — and ridiculously low margin rates.

Both tiers of service have a $0 account minimum and offer fractional shares of stock. IBKR Lite has no account maintenance or inactivity fees. IBKR Pro charges an inactivity fee, though it’s possible to skirt that if you trade relatively frequently.

Interactive Brokers is best for:

Casual and advanced traders.

Research and data.

Interactive Brokers at a glance

Stock trading costs

• IBKR Lite: Unlimited free trades on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs.

• IBKR Pro: $0.005 per share; minimum $1 and maximum 1% of trade value; volume discount available.

IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro: No base commission; 65 cents per contract with $1 minimum. Volume discount available.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

• IBKR Pro: $10/month commission minimum for accounts with $100,000 or less, and a $20/month commission minimum for accounts with $2,000 or less.

Number of commission-free ETFs

• IBKR Lite: Unlimited commission-free trades on all available ETFs.

• IBKR Pro: 98 commission-free ETFs.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options. • Futures. • Forex. • Metals.

IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro customers get access to Client Portal trading platform and powerful Trader Workstation platform.

Advanced features mimic the desktop app.

Research and data

Extensive research offerings, both free and subscription-based.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

24-hour phone, email and chat support, available six days a week.

NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

$1,000 worth of commission credits for 1 million new customers who participate in IBKR’s simulated sports betting exchange.

Where Interactive Brokers shines

Low commissions: If you’re a casual investor, it’s hard to beat the free trades you’ll enjoy with IBKR Lite. But even advanced traders who opt for IBKR Pro will like the low stock and ETF commission structure at Interactive Brokers, which favors frequent, high-volume traders at just $0.005 per share. There’s a $1 minimum trade commission and a maximum of 1% of the total trade value, and exchange and regulatory fees are included. The broker also offers tiered pricing to lower rates even more: Investors who trade more than 300,000 shares a month can pay $0.002 or less per share, depending on trade volume, although exchange and regulatory fees are extra on this plan. Rates can go even lower for truly high-volume traders.

Options trading , too, is offered at competitive pricing, for both Pro and Lite customers, with a 65 cent charge per contract and no base, plus discounts for larger volumes. The minimum options trade commission is $1 per order.

Margin rates: Margin traders will also benefit from the low rates at Interactive Brokers. For IBKR Pro customers, the maximum margin rate is the benchmark rate plus 1.5% — and NerdWallet users get an extra 0.25 percentage point discount. For IBKR Lite, it’s the benchmark rate plus 2.5%. Those rates apply on balances up to $100,000; the rates drop at higher balances. The broker charges a blended rate based on the size of the margin loan, and has a calculator on its website to help investors quickly do the math based on their balance.

Interactive Brokers also offers an integrated cash management feature, which allows investors to borrow against their accounts with a debit Mastercard, also at low interest rates.

Fractional shares: The ability to purchase a portion of a company’s stock, rather than a full-priced share, makes it easier to invest in companies that have lofty share prices. That, in turn, makes it easier to maintain a diversified portfolio, especially for investors with smaller accounts. For example, rather than paying more than $260 for one share of Apple, you can divvy up that money among different companies.

Trading platform: The casual traders who find IBKR Lite appealing will find the Client Portal platform adequate for their trading needs. But both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro traders seeking something more powerful can now enjoy access to Interactive Brokers’ Desktop Trader Workstation, which is considered one of the best trading platforms available for advanced traders. (Until recently, only IBKR Pro traders had access to the advanced platform.)

The platform is fast and includes standard features such as real-time monitoring, alerts, watchlists and a customizable account dashboard. An options strategy lab lets you create and submit both simple and complex multileg options orders and compare up to five options strategies at one time.

Other tools include a volatility lab, advanced charting, heat maps of sector and stock symbol performance, paper trading and a mutual fund replicator, which helps users identify ETFs that replicate the performance of a selected mutual fund but offer lower fees. InteractiveBroker’s For You notifications offer customized alerts about events that could affect a trader’s investments.

Worth noting: Another broker we review, Zacks Trade , offers its customers access to white-labeled versions of Trader Workstation. Zacks Trade charges higher trade commissions, but offers clients free calls with support reps, who are licensed brokers. It’s an option worth considering for traders who want the power of Interactive Brokers’ trading platforms alongside a bit more personal support.

Mobile app: The IBKR mobile app, available to both Lite and Pro customers, is Trader Workstation on the go, with advanced trading shortcuts, over 50 data columns, option exercise and spread templates, news, research, charting and scanners. Users can create order presets, which prefill order tickets for fast entry. Presets set up on Trader Workstation are also available from the mobile app.

Research: Interactive Brokers provides access to a huge selection of research providers and news services, many for free, including Fundamentals Explorer, which offers fundamentals data from Thomson Reuters on over 30,000 companies, plus more than 5,500 analyst ratings, and reports and newswires from 82 companies. Other research providers available to all clients include Zacks Investment Research, Morningstar Equity Ownership, Market Realist, 24/7 Wall Street and Seeking Alpha. Over 100 additional providers are also available by subscription.

Investment selection: Interactive Brokers offers something for everyone here: Advanced traders will love the huge selection of products, from standard offerings of stocks, options and ETFs to precious metals, forex, warrants and futures. The retirement-investor set will be happy with the broker’s impressive list of no-transaction-fee mutual funds — over 4,300 in all — and respectable selection of 98 commission-free ETFs (and Lite customers get to trade all U.S.-listed ETFs commission-free).

Interactive Brokers also has a robo-advisor offering, which charges management fees ranging from 0.08% to 1.5%. The service offers about 70 portfolio options, and 41 of those portfolios require just $1,000 to get started. (The management fees and account minimums vary by portfolio.)

Where Interactive Brokers falls short

Interactive Brokers’ shortcomings are primarily due to the company’s focus on advanced traders:

Inactivity fees: Interactive Brokers caters to active traders, and that focus shows up in its inactivity fees for IBKR Pro customers. Accounts with balances of $100,000 or less must meet a minimum of $10 a month in trade commissions, or Interactive Brokers will charge the difference as a monthly fee. Accounts with an equity balance of $2,000 or less must meet minimum trade commissions of $20. IBKR Lite doesn’t charge inactivity fees.

There is a break here for clients 25 or younger, who have a minimum monthly trade commission of just $3.

» Don’t trade that much? View our best online brokers roundup

Website ease-of-use. Interactive Brokers provides a great deal of information on its website, but finding and interpreting the information you want isn’t always easy. For IBKR Pro customers, the various commission and fee structures can make it hard to quickly identify what your costs will be. Portions of the website are dedicated to institutional, broker and proprietary trading accounts, and that can be confusing.

Is Interactive Brokers right for you?

Interactive Brokers has always been a great choice for active traders, especially those who can move into the broker’s cheaper volume-pricing setup. Now, with the availability of free trades with IBKR Lite, even casual traders might find Interactive Brokers a strong contender. But beginner investors might prefer a broker that offers a bit more hand-holding and educational resources.

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