Interactive Brokers Review 2021: Can IB Compete Against The Competition?

In-depth Interactive Brokers Review: IB Have Stiff Competition on Commissions, Platforms, Tools & Execution. Is it Time for You to Change Broker?

Interactive Brokers Review
  • Trades & Commissions
  • Trading Platform
  • Margin Costs
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Global Market Access & Trading Vehicles
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Interactive Brokers Summary

Interactive Brokers: Good for Active Investors and Day Traders, seeking the low trading costs, direct market access for fast execution and best in class margin costs. Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers.

Not only are they a long-established company, it is also big. It has a very complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market. Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange and even futures and commodities. Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge and as you will see, this is the case for IB.


  • Low Commissions
  • Good Platforms MT4 + VPS
  • All Markets & Vehicles
  • Direct Market Access (DMA)
  • Large Established Broker
  • Trustpilot Stars ★★★★


  • Less than perfect Customer Satisfaction
  • Min Balance for Forex is $500K


Visit Interactive Brokers

The selection of tools available on the IB platform is mind-blowing, offering everything from Algo-Trading to Portfolio Management; if you want it all, Interactive Brokers is the choice for you.

Interactive Brokers - USA Online Discount Broker Review

Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers.  Not only are they a long-established company, but they are also significant in terms of market capitalization and financial stability.

IB has a complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market.

This includes Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange, and even futures and commodities; they also claim any market anytime.

Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge, not so with Interactive Brokers.

Interactive Brokers IB ReviewLiberated Stock Trader Review Winner

One of the industry’s lowest commissions on Stock Trades at $1- (or $0 in the USA) and great commissions on Options demonstrate competitiveness.  They also have the lowest margin interest rate in the review, in fact, probably in the industry.

When it comes to the trading platform, there are no additional costs, which are a breath of fresh air as Web Trader, TWS, and many more are all free.

Interactive Brokers caters to the more professional investor, or at least those with a minimum account balance of $10,000.  Also, you will need to have a balance of $100,000 to be able to trade Forex.

Another huge bonus is that IB manages to throw into the package Zacks and Morning Star research for free, including real-time news.

IB manages to span the divide between Day Traders and Long-Term investors, and that is not easy.  If you plan to span those worlds, also IB is a natural choice.

Round 1 – Stock Brokers Commissions ComparisonStock Brokerage Commissions

Commissions are not the be-all and end-all, but low commissions do help to reduce slippage, especially if you are an active investor or trader.

Some Brokers offer a flat fee regardless of how many shares are traded.  Some offer an optional “per share” commission structure, which can be beneficial for smaller traders.

Trading & Commissions

When it comes to the low trading costs, then Interactive Brokers does well but not perfect.  With a stock trading fee of $1 and even a per-share trading fee of $0.005, you have the flexibility and low slippage, especially if you are an active trader.

IB Trading Commissions Comparison

Interactive Brokers cannot compare to the industry leaders in terms of fees and commissions

Commissions & FeesFirstradeTD AmeritradeE*TradeInteractive Brokers
Online Stock Orders$0$0$0$0.005 per share or $0 for U.S. Customers
Online Option Orders$0$0 + $0.65/Contract$0 + $0.65/Contract$1 + $0.25/Contract
Online Mutual Fund Trades$0$49.99$49.99$0
Broker-assisted Stock$19.95$25$25$25
& Options Trades(+$0.50/contract)(+$0.65/contract)(+$0.65/contract)(+$0.65/contract)
Minimum Initial Deposit$0$0$500$10,000

Table 1: IB Commissions vs. Competitors

Interactive Brokers does offer commission-free ETF’s but only 28 of them.  However, the commissions are all other ETFs are so low it may not matter, as they charge only $1- per trade.

IB Margin Commissions vs. Competition

The margin account interest rates are also the very best, at only 2.2% to 3%.  This makes IB the leader for financing and margin commissions.

Online Options orders have zero commission, while the significant competitors still charge $0.65 per contract.  Firstrade also has the largest selection of free to trade ETFs and Mutual Funds.

Margin BalanceFirstradeTD AmeritradeFidelityE*TradeInteractive Brokers
$1,000,000 +5.00%7.75%5.00%7.00%4.35%
$500,000 ~ $999,9995.60%8.25%5.25%8.00%4.35%
$250,000 ~ $499,9997.50%8.25%7.58%8.50%4.35%
$100,000 ~ $249,9997.75%8.50%7.83%9.00%4.35%
$50,000 ~ $99,9998.25%8.75%7.88%9.50%4.35%
$25,000 ~ $49,9998.75%9.75%8.83%10.00%4.35%
$10,000 ~ $24,9999.00%10.00%9.33%10.25%4.35%
$0 ~ $9,9999.25%10.25%9.33%10.50%4.35%


The icing on the cake is that with IB, you will also get paid on your account cash balance up to 1.4%.  Most other Brokers offer 0% and a maximum of 0.25%.  So if you maintain an ample cash holding, Interactive Brokers makes a lot of sense.

IB Options Fees Comparison

Interactive Brokers vs. Firstrade vs. Fidelity vs. TDA vs. E-Trade vs. Schwab

CommissionsFirstradeInteractive BrokersFidelityTD AmeritradeE*TradeCharles Schwab
Online Stock Orders$0$0$4.95$0$0$0
Online Option Orders$0$1 + $0.25/Contract$0 + $0.65/Contract$0 + $0.65/Contract$0 + $0.65/Contract$0 + $0.65/Contract

Table 2: Stock Trades & Options Trade Fees

As you can see, when it comes to commissions and fees, Firstrade is an industry leader.

IB Trading Platform ComparisonStock Broker Trading Platforms

How do you find the in-play stocks, have high volatility and are in a strong trend?  This is the job of the trading platform.

You need your trading platform to be fast, intuitive, and powerful.  In this section, we rate the brokers on their choice of trading platform.

Interactive Brokers has a genuinely outstanding trading platform based on Trader Workstation (TWS).  It is free to download and use as a client, and it is the single place to be able to trade any and every one of the vehicles on offer from IB.  It caters to everything Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Bonds, Mutual Funds & ETF’s.

Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation TWS
Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation TWS

Not only that, there are a vast number of advanced add-on tools that plug into TWS, such as:

  • ChartTrader – for trading directly from charts.
  • Continuous Futures – for commodity futures scanning and analysis.
  • DepthTrader – for in-depth analysis of market liquidity
  • OptionTrader – more in-depth Options Analysis with specific Options strategies
  • ProbabilityLab – to test the Probability Distribution of a particular trade

In total, there are 27 different advanced trading tools to suit every possible approach to the market.

Video of IB Trader Workstation

Customer Support & Research ComparisonBrokers Customer Service Review

In this round, we compare:

  • Customer Support – We want to see all three options of Email, Messaging, and Phone.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score – how many complaints or bad reviews within the last year on Twitter or TrustPilot (jump to methodology)
  • Research & Ideas – what services are provided free of charge to help you research a particular stock or sector.  Stand-alone research services can be costly, so free with an account is a big bonus.
  • News – Is a real-time news service available for free or an additionally paid to upgrade

The table is results are sorted in order of:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Rating: ★★★★★ People actively praising the broker & Zero Negative Reviews. ★★★★ 4 is Zero Negative Reviews
  2. Research & Trade Ideas: Quality of the integrated and Zero Cost Research Sources

Customer Support & Research Winner

Interactive Brokers IB Review

Interactive Brokers offers by far the best free services in the area of research.  Here is a snapshot of some of the services you will get for free.

  • IB Market Signals
  • IB Traders Insight
  • Morningstar equity ownership
  • Thomson Reuters (in 10 languages), stock reports, news, fundamentals
  • Zacks Investment Research
  • Real-time News Streaming

In terms of customer service, they offer the full package of telephone, chat & email contact, so no issues there.

We could not find any evidence of negative tweets or reviews, so IB has a very good customer satisfaction score, particularly since they have by far the largest Twitter following of 233,000 people.

The only reason they are lower on the list of winners is that they do not have a history of people raving about their services.  Perhaps the more professional investors trading with IB are not focussing on praising them on Twitter but traders making profits in the markets.

In any case, IB is a very high-quality company with the very best research included for free in your account.

Brokerage Regulation & Account MinimumStock Brokers Financial Regulations

Is the company well established, well funded, and well regulated?  This is the main object of this round of comparisons.

Any US-based Broker should be a member of the following institutions.

Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) Membership.

FINRA is a nonprofit organization established to protect investors and ensure that the members are complying with the law and the Securities and Exchange Commission rules.  They audit all members regularly.

Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) Membership.

The SIPC is there to protect and hopefully recover any money lost if a Brokerage firm fails.  Although Broker failure is rare, it can happen, and SIPC membership ensures that your account is protected up to $500,000.


Interactive Brokers has all the protection required in the U.S.A, they are fully registered in the FINRA Database and have SIPC insurance.

Account minimums with Interactive Brokers are higher than with their competitors, as they are squarely going after clients with larger investment portfolios, higher net worth individuals, or professional money managers.  The account minimum of $10,000 for regular trading and $100,000 for Foreign Exchange Trading will be a barrier to new investors.

IB Review Summary

Interactive Brokers: Good for Active Investors and Day Traders, seeking low trading costs, direct market access for fast execution, and best-in-class margin costs. Interactive Brokers (IB) is the grandfather of online discount brokers.

Not only are they a long-established company, but it is also big. It has a very complete set of services, enabling you to trade practically anything on any market. Stocks, Options, ETF’s, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Foreign Exchange, and even futures and commodities. Usually, when a company is well established and large, it loses its competitive edge, and as you have seen, this is the case for IB.

Interactive Brokers Stock Broker Master Table (Searchable)

Here you can find the table containing all the data in one place.  Use the search box to filter on a particular item you are looking to compare.  For example, type “forex” or “margin,” and you will get only the relevant rows to compare.

BrokerageInteractive Brokers IB Review
ResultReview Winner
Great for:Active Investors & Day Traders seeking lowest commissions
Likes★ Industry Leading Low Commissions
★ Great Trading Platform
★ Direct Market Access
★ All Markets & Vehicles
★ Lowest Margin Rates
Dislike✘ Less than perfect Customer Satisfaction
Trades & Commissions
Direct Market Access DMA
Stock Trading
Stock Trading Fees$1.00
Per Share Trading Fees$0.005
Stock Trading Fees (Max)1% of Trade
Options Trading Fees$1.00
Leverage Available
ETF Trades
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)$1.00
Number of Commission Free ETF's28
Mutual Funds$1.00
Bond Purchase
Bonds$1 + Net Yield
Forex Trading
Foreign Exchange (fx) Commission $ per 1,000$2.00
Margin Account Interest Charges2.2% to 3%
Margin Costs Rating★★★★★
Trades & Commissions Score★★★★★
Trading Platform
Software ProviderInteractive Brokers
Trading Platform CostFree
Web SoftwareWebTrader Free
Desktop SoftwareDesktop TWS - Free
Mobile SoftwareFree
LII Quotes
Indicators / Studies
Streaming Charts
Profit / Loss Graphs
Probability Calculators
Options Chains
Trading Platform Score★★★★★
Customer Support & Research
Customer Support (Phone & Live Chat)
Customer Satisfaction Score*★★★★
Research & Trade Ideas✔Zacks + MorningStar Free
Customer Support & Research Score★★★★
Account & Company Details
Available for U.S. Citizens
Account Minimum$10,000
FINRA Member
SIPC Insurance - Assets
Regulated BySEC

Do you want more Stock Broker Reviews?

Read our Review of the Best US Online Stock Brokers Comparison, or our Best Penny Stock Brokers or Best Brokers In-Depth Review

Notes on the Review

Customer Satisfaction Score (Star Ratings)

The customer satisfaction score was compiled using the following methodology.

The Twitter Accounts of the Brokers were scanned back for one year for any negative feedback from customers.  Also, TrustPilot UK and USA were reviewed, and any negative comments counted against the broker.  These two sources of information were combined to provide the star rating you see below.

★★★★★ – No Complaints & Positive Recommendations  (1 year)
★★★★ – No Complaints  (1 year)
★★★ – < 10 Complaints (1 year)
★★ – 10 to 20 Complaints (1 year)
★ – > 20 Complaints (1 year)

Partnerships & Special Bonus

How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash - eBook & Video Training
How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash - eBook & Video Training

Liberated Stock Trader has partnerships with most of the service providers in this review.  This means if you find the review useful and purchase any of the services mentioned we will receive a small payment which goes towards funding the research and work we do. 

As a thank you for using our reviews and purchasing any of the services mentioned we would like to offer you a special bonus of the highly rated Liberated Stock Trader "How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash" eBook and Video Course worth $29.-.  Simply contact us specifying which service you signed up for and we will send you your gift.

Review Methodology

Over 200 data points were collected during this review.  Brokers change services, terms, and commissions regularly.  If you represent a Brokerage House or are a client and you spot an inaccuracy, please leave a comment or contact us here, and we will endeavor to correct it.


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