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Last Updated on May 14, 2023 by Chin Yi Xuan

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a global broker that offers users access to different asset classes across 150 markets.

I’ve been an IBKR user for some time and in this review, let’s learn about IBKR, and if it is for you!

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Highlights of Interactive Brokers (IBKR)

  • Strong regulation background: IBKR is a global broker regulated in 10 countries including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
  • Trade multi-assets with just one account: In addition, IBKR users also gain access to a huge variety of products/instruments such as stocks, bonds, ETFs, FX, futures, and options at a highly competitive commission.
  • For who: IBKR is a no-brainer for investors looking to gain access to global markets at a low commission. However, IBKR’s downside (in my opinion) is a platform design and user experience that is not as beginner friendly as other investing platforms around.

Regulation and Safety

With financial scams on the rise globally, it is crucial to choose a broker that is well-regulated and reliable.

IBKR is one of the most reliable global brokers in the world as it is regulated by financial authorities in over 10 countries. Regulation by the major financial authorities in the world ensures that IBKR users’ interests are always protected.

Some of the key regulations that IBKR has obtained include:

  • US: Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
  • UK: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Australia: Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission
  • Singapore: Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

In addition, IBKR is a publicly-listed company in the US (NASDAQ: IBKR) with a strong presence globally. It handles over 2M client accounts worldwide.


4 reasons why IBKR is the best global broker

If you have been investing for a while, you should be familiar with Interactive Brokers (IBKR) among all other brokerages.

What exactly makes IBKR so well-known compared to other brokers in the market?

#1 IBKR offers a huge selection of markets + asset classes for new & seasoned investors

IBKR is truly a platform that accommodates the needs of beginners and experienced investors alike.

  • Multi-assets: Aside from the usual stocks, ETFs, and bonds, IBKR users will get access to instruments such as futures, forex, mutual funds, and options. With an IBKR account, you are almost certainly going to find an investment vehicle that suits your need.
  • Global market access: IBKR offers access to over 150 markets in 33 countries. Aside from the usual US market, you get access to markets in the UK, Europe, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and more with just one account.
IBKR offers global access to various markets.

A personal note as an IBKR user:

The global access that IBKR brings to the table for everyday investors like myself is truly valuable. It brings a lot of flexibility to investors with investing options outside of the US.

Example: As a non-US citizen that wants to invest in the S&P500, in order to avoid the 30% withholding tax that the US government charges on dividends, I have to opt for Ireland-domiciled S&P500 ETF listed in the London Stock Exchange (eg. CSPX, VUAA) instead of US-listed S&P500 ETFs (eg. VOO, SPY).

Since most brokers do not offer access to the UK stock market, IBKR comes in as a solid choice. 

#2 Highly competitive commission plans

On top of global market access, IBKR offers these markets at a highly competitive commission.

In my opinion, IBKR is the platform to go for investors looking for affordable access to the global market.

Refer to the next commission section of this article for more detailed elaboration.

#3 Fractional Trading

IBKR offers access to fractional shares in the US and European stock market, which is a rare feature among brokers.

Fractional trading allows investors to buy stocks at fraction of the price via smaller units. Hence, it makes owning expensive stocks much easier for everyday investors.

IBKR Fractional Trading
IBKR offers fractional trading which is rare among brokers.

#4 Beginner + advanced trading platforms

To accommodate different investors, IBKR offers several trading platforms for users to select from. 3 of the more commonly used IBKR platforms are:

  • Client Portal (web)

Client Portal is the desktop interface that all IBKR users will come across when they log in to their IBKR account.

Client Portal offers a straightforward and featureful interface for users to view their portfolios and execute simple buy and sell orders.

View your portfolio with ease on IBKR Client Portal

Investors that prefer a simple investing interface would find the Client Portal the most convenient way to navigate around IBKR.

Execute simple trades on IBKR Client Portal
  • IBKR Mobile

IBKR Mobile is the simplified mobile version of IBKR’s Client Portal. It makes it easy for users to trade on the go via their mobile devices.

IBKR mobile makes it easy for users to monitor their investments on the go.
  • IBKR Trader Workstation (TWS)

TWS is IBKR’s dedicated trading platform for a more in-depth customization and trading experience.

Traders that required more in-depth charting and a platform that is highly customizable could opt for TWS as their go-to platform.

IBKR Trader Workstation provides a customizable experience for seasoned traders.

IBKR Commission/Pricing for Stocks & ETFs

When it comes to commission, IBKR offers several commission plans – mainly Tiered or Fixed fees for non-US residents.

In other words, the commission you pay when you trade will differ based on the plans that you choose.

Let’s look at the commission plans for some of the familiar stock markets below:

US market:

Monthly Volume (shares)IBKR Pro – TieredIBKR Pro – FixedIBKR Lite (only for US residents)
≤ 300,000USD 0.0035USD 0.005USD 0.00
300,001 – 3,000,000USD 0.0020USD 0.005 USD 0.00 
3,000,001 – 20,000,000USD 0.0015USD 0.005 USD 0.00 
20,000,001 – 100,000,000USD 0.0010USD 0.005 USD 0.00 
> 100,000,000USD 0.0005USD 0.005USD 0.00 
Min. per orderUSD 0.35USD 1.00USD 0.00
Maximum per order1% of trade value1% of trade valueUSD 0.00
Additional 3rd party feesRegulatory fees, exchange fees, clearing fees, pass-through feesRegulatory feesRegulatory fees

Canada market (for CAD-denominated stocks/ETFs):

Monthly Volume (shares)TieredFixed
≤ 300,000CAD 0.008CAD 0.01
300,001 – 3,000,000CAD 0.005CAD 0.01 
3,000,001 – 20,000,000CAD 0.004CAD 0.01 
20,000,000CAD 0.003CAD 0.01 
Min. per orderCAD 1.00CAD 1.00
Maximum per order0.5% of trade value0.5% of trade value
Additional 3rd party feesRegulatory fees, exchange fees, clearing feesNone

p.s. Click HERE for IBKR’s commission on USD-denominated CAD stocks/ETFs.

UK (GBP-denominated stocks/ETFs):

Monthly Trade Value (EUR)TieredFixed – IB SmartRoutineFixed – Direct Routing
≤ 40,000,0000.05% of trade value0.05% of trade value0.10% of trade value
40,000,000.01 – 80,000,0000.03% of trade value0.05% of trade value0.10% of trade value 
80,000,000.01 – 400,000,0000.02% of trade value0.05% of trade value0.10% of trade value 
> 400,000,0000.015% of trade value0.05% of trade value 0.10% of trade value 
Min. per orderGBP 1.00GBP 3.00GBP 4.00
Additional 3rd party feesRegulatory, Exchange & clearing feeNoneNone

UK (for USD-denominated stocks/ETFs):

Monthly Trade Value (EUR)TieredFixed – IB SmartRoutingFixed – Direct Routing
≤ 50,000,0000.05% of trade value0.05% of trade value0.10% of trade value
50,000,000.01 – 100,000,0000.03% of trade value0.05% of trade value 0.10% of trade value 
100,000,000.01 – 500,000,0000.02% of trade value0.05% of trade value 0.10% of trade value 
> 500,000,0000.015% of trade value0.05% of trade value0.10% of trade value 
Min. per orderUSD 1.70USD 4.00USD 6.00
Additional 3rd party feesExchange & clearing feeNoneNone

Hong Kong (HKD-denominated stocks/ETFs):

Monthly Trade Value (HKD)TieredFixed
≤ 15,000,000Tier I – 0.05% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
15,000,000.01 – 300,000,000Tier II – 0.05% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
300,000,000.01 – 900,000,000Tier III – 0.03% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
900,000,000.01 – 2,000,000,000Tier IV – 0.02% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
> 2,000,000,000Tier V – 0.015% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
Min. per orderTier I – HKD 18.00

 Tier II – HKD 12.00

Tier III – HKD 8.00

Tier IV – HKD 6.00

Tier V – HKD 4.00

HKD 18.00
Maximum per order0.5% of trade value0.5% of trade value
Additional 3rd party feesRegulatory fees, exchange fees, clearing feesRegulatory Fees

p.s. Refer HERE for IBKR’s commission on China RMB-denominated stocks/ETFs listed in Hong Kong.

Singapore (SGD-denominated stocks/ETFs):

Monthly Trade Value (SGD)TieredFixed
≤ 2,500,000Tier I – 0.08% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value
2,500,000.01 – 50,000,000Tier II – 0.05% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value 
50,000,000.01 – 150,000,000Tier III – 0.03% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value 
> 150,000,000Tier IV – 0.02% of Trade Value0.08% of Trade Value 
Min. per orderTier I – SGD 2.50

 Tier II – SGD 1.60

Tier III – SGD 1.20

Tier IV – SGD 0.90

SGD 2.50
Additional 3rd party feesExchange feesNone

p.s. Refer HERE for IBKR’s commission on USD, GBP, HKD, and EUR-denominated stocks/ETFs listed in Singapore.

IBKR Commission for Futures, Options, Forex, CFD, Mutual Funds, and more

Aside from stocks, IBKR also offers access to instruments such as Futures, Options, Forex, CFD, Bonds, Mutual Funds, and more.

Feel free to view IBKR’s full list of commission below:


Which IBKR commission plan to choose?

As you can see, IBKR offers access to a lot of markets, alongside different plans, mainly Tiered and Fixed.

The question is, which IBKR fee structure should you choose?

In my opinion, IBKR’s Tiered plan makes the most sense for most investors. This is because it has a lower minimum commission per trade, and it gets cheaper as your trade value or trade volume increases.

While opening your IBKR account, you will be asked to select the kind of account (Tiered/Fixed) you are planning to open. But don’t worry, you can always change your account types once you open an account.


What I don’t like about IBKR

Despite all the good things about IBKR, it is not a perfect platform.

The irony is, IBKR’s biggest downside stems from its pursuit of offering every market and feature available in the investing world to the users.

As a result, it makes IBKR rather not beginner-friendly to navigate around. As a new IBKR user, it is easy to feel overwhelmed to use IBKR.

You will most likely need to google for guides on most things relating to IBKR (in order to do it right) – from account opening, funding & withdrawals, how to make a trade, and more.

The bright side?

Resources and guides around IBKR are plentiful on the internet so it is not the end of the world.

However, the fact that I have to google around for guides just to navigate around the IBKR platform is still annoying at times.


Is Interactive Brokers (IBKR) for you?

In my opinion. IBKR is the most featured-packed investing platform that the investing world can offer so far.

As such, it is more than fair to say that IBKR is created for all investors and traders – beginners to seasoned alike.

If I need to be more specific, here are 3 reasons why you should consider IBKR over other brokers:

  • You want to have affordable access to global markets aside from the usual US market offered by all other brokers. (eg. I get access to Ireland-domiciled ETFs on the London Stock Exchange via IBKR)
  • You want to invest in a reliable platform that has gone through the test of time.
  • You want to trade different instruments (eg. Forex, futures, options) aside from the usual stocks and ETFs offered by most of the other brokers.

How to open an Interactive Brokers (IBKR) account: A step-by-step guide

Before you open an account, you will need to create a username & password on IBKR.

Click the button below to start creating your username and password. Once done, you will need to verify your email address.

Once done, login to IBKR and begin your application.

Step 1: Personal Information

Select your account type (Individual) and key in your personal information.

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

You will also be required to key in your Tax Identification Number (TIN) [LHDN number if you are from Malaysia].

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Tips: Do not have a TIN?

If you are a student or do not have a TIN for some reason (eg. Housewife), click ‘Not Applicable’ and justify why you don’t have a TIN under ‘Other’ (eg. I am still a student).

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Next, select the base currency (USD) for your account.

This streamlines all the figures displayed in your IBKR account in USD. Don’t worry too much about this, as your IBKR account can hold other currencies and you can still trade in different currencies.

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Step 2: Configure your trading account.

Account type: Cash or Margin

In this step, you will be asked if you want to open a Cash or Margin account.

  • IBKR cash account: You will only be using your existing funds in IBKR to trade. Hence, you have to ensure that your funds cover the cost of the stocks and commission. A key downside is:
    • Trading limitation: You cannot trade products that require margin, such as futures. You also cannot day-trade US stocks.
  • IBKR margin account: You get access to margin and hence, can trade in margin (ie. loaned money). But it is not necessary to trade in margin even though you have a margin account. Upsides include access to more instruments and products and the ability to day-trade US stocks.

Personally, I opened a Margin account myself (even thought I do not trade with margin) as there are certain product/service limitations with a Cash account. (eg. You need a margin account to day-trade US stocks)

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Income & Worth, Investment Objectives, Trading Experience:

Your answer to these questions determines the kind of products/markets you will gain access to. Don’t worry this can still be updated once you open your trading account.

Select the assets/instruments that you’d like to invest in or trade. Whether you are eligible to trade these assets depends on your income, investment objectives, and experience:

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Step 3: Regulation and Tax

Confirm that you are not a public figure with any conflict of interest.

Then, decide if you want to opt-in for IBKR’s Stock Yield Enhancement Program which will pay you interest by loaning your shares to IBKR. This is optional.

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Then, confirm your tax residence and whether you qualify for treaty benefits with other countries based on the country of your residence.

Interactive Brokers Account Opening Guide

Step 4: Review and sign agreements

Step 5: Upload documents & fund your IBKR account

Funding your IBKR account

Refer HERE to a full guide on how to fund your IBKR account.

Step 6: You will receive an email once your account is approved.

For me, my IBKR account is approved within 1 working day.


Verdict – IBKR is the only global broker you need (to get used to)

As an investor and reviewer, I have tried and used many brokers in my investing journey.

Of all, it is not exaggerating to say that IBKR is the most complete global broker that the investing world has to offer to everyday investors right now.

With just one account, IBKR allows me access to almost all tradable instruments in the financial market at an affordable price.

If you can get used to its overwhelming features, IBKR is THE account you must have as an investor in the global market.


Disclaimer:

This review is purely based on my personal experience and is updated as of the time of writing.

This article may contain affiliate links that will earn the blog a small fee if you click on them. This comes at no extra cost to you as a reader.

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Chin Yi Xuan

Hi there! I am Yi Xuan. I am a writer, personal finance & REIT enthusiast, and a developing trader with the goal to become a full-time funded trader. Every week, I write about my personal learnings & discovery about life, money, and the market.

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