Interactive Brokers

in Brokers / Forex, Equities, Futures & Options

Country: United States

Ranked #13 of 53 Brokers


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Oct 31, 2014

Not great for Australian Customers

I am new customer of IB from Australia... Was attracted by low fees ( it cheaper for me to trade ASX stock and option with IB in US than using an Australian broker)
However he experiences so far has been not that good
- 1) Staff not very helpful mainly US support staff ( Asian time zone staf is good but not knowledgable on soem US products)
They give stock standard answers rather than understanding the question
Had real difficulty gainging information on things like Singale Stock Futures most of staff had no idea
- 2) High data cost

The biggets problem for me as an Australian resdeint client is IB only allows CASH account no margin account
I feel like I have been treated like a person from an enemy teritory!
The reason they give is Australian regulations.. which is BS. it is hard to believe that a big broker like IB can't get Australina licence? other brokers like Options express alows Australian to trade everything

This restiricts me in 3 ways
A) Levergae
B) Can't do naked option writing
C) Can't trade Single Stock Futures
NOT HAPPY AT ALL thinking of pulling out

Member (1 review, 368 posts)

0 of 0 members found this review helpful.

Jun 16, 2014

IB maffia behaviour

IB has introduced an exposure fee. With only a weeks norice, they imposed a fee on many of their customers. This fee is on a daily basis and based on an extreem (unrealistic) (overnight) risk scenario (especially for index related products). This fee will easily tripple the cost as compared to the commissions. It is a daily fee, that easily amounts to 20 USD a day for an average account.

Member (1 review, 0 posts)

1 of 1 members found this review helpful.

Dec 11, 2013

Don't offer complete list of AIM LSE stocks

My issue with IB is they do not have a full range of AIM stocks listed on the LSE. This is a major issue if like me, you hold those stocks and wish to transfer them over to IB from your previous broker and trade them using IB.
The platform sounded OK but a nonstarter because of this.
Your broker must be able to trade the stocks you want to trade right? Why restrict the equities you can trade?
...and the stock I am referring to has decent liquidity ...although a small cap for London.
Why would an International Broker do this?
I note the other International broker also has the same issue.
They are both unworthy until they offer a more complete list of equities.

Member (1 review, 1 post)

1 of 2 members found this review helpful.

Nov 03, 2012

I have a SIPP with IB

Once you learn the platform via their webinars IB offer a great service.

Member (2 reviews, 24 posts)

2 of 3 members found this review helpful.

Oct 11, 2011

Be careful of margin policy swings

One of the heavily advertised key advanatges of IB is their "generous" margin policy both in terms of level & interest rates. However as many customers found out in September/October IB can change policy suddenly removing margin completely on 100s of "small cap" stocks and ETCs that had previously required only 15% maintenace margin. Initially they were also going to remove margin on many ETFs and preferred stocks but have...we hope ...changed their mind.

Trading on margin one of course expects to make margin calls due to the market movements but NOT due to seismic and sudden changes in the brokers own margin policy !! Better not to offer margin in the first place rather have a volatile policy.

New Member (2 reviews, 0 posts)

4 of 5 members found this review helpful.

Oct 06, 2011

Good overall for futures but one SERIOUS flaw

I'm a system futures trader and trade a variety of futures around the world. IB happens to be connected to so many exchanges BUT doesn't provide us any decent list of futures from each exchange to trade. For instance, IB is connected to Korea Futures Exchange and give us... only the Kospi 200 Futures. IB is connected to Sidney Futures Exchange, and give us... only the ASX 200. Come on IB, are you serious? We don't need another CFD-like-bucket-shop competitor, we need a SERIOUS professional CTA services. Sooner or later I'll have to change broker, not because IB isn't good overall, but just like Nokia these days, they're sleeping on the job.

Newbie (1 review, 0 posts)

3 of 7 members found this review helpful.

Oct 02, 2011

Insufficient for option traders

Critical features like OneCancelAll, not available for option spreads / combos. eg could be in a spread at 1.00 debit, and want to sell at 2.00 and simultaneously set a stop at 1.50, so whichever executes first, it cancels the other. Critical for anyone who cant be at his computer screen 24/7.

OCA feature, available for single legs only. Anyone with even a little experience in trading options, would trade spreads / combos, rather than single legs. Suggesting only inexperienced option traders use IB.

IB only allow one option chain to be opened at a time rather than multiple.

RAM hogging software, even with nothing extra open and can take ~+10mins to open after log in details entered.

Commissions should always be leg, esp considering there are expensive cancellation fees ~>$1 per leg for single leg trades, lack of available features and facilities to trader.

This is not criticsim for the sake of criticism, but we want IB to be one of the top brokers for option traders. Currently, its average at best.

New Member (1 review, 0 posts)

2 of 4 members found this review helpful.

Oct 02, 2011

Good or bad depends on what you are looking for.

I have been with IB since 1992. Most of the time I am not happy about this company. Then why do I still stay with IB? Because I use 4 brokers, IB is one of them. I use IB for scalping because of the low commission.

1. Fast execution.
2. Low commission.
3. Customizable hot keys/mouse.
4. Security device or pass code protection.

1. Lousy, unfriendly, arrogant CS staffs.
2. Over packed, confusing software TWS.
3. Very poor, related TWS documentation.
4. Cannot find help anywhere either from TWS software or web help.
5. TWS takes too long to start.
6. No one in IB cares about customers.

Newbie (1 review, 1 post)

4 of 5 members found this review helpful.

Feb 28, 2011

Best all-round futures broker for small UK professional trader

Overall 8/10 (9/10 if they get rid of 'cancellation charges')


Wide selection of products available to trade on global markets

Competitive commissions eg. $4.02 per RT for S&P Emini. You can get slightly little lower (I've seen $3.30 per RT) with some US based discount brokers , but IB still blows away the abysmal $7 per RT offered by MF Global / GNI Touch, or other rip-off brokers. Shop around!!

TWS (Trader Workstation) trading platform is free, and very reliable, not buggy - it has many features if you dig deep, and you can also use a different front end if TWS is not to your taste. It suits me fine.

Free-ish data feed...provided you do a minimum level of activity...though not a 'pure' data feed as IB filters data in 250 ms packets, this is still good enough for the naked eye given the time it takes for a human being to react! During busier periods when activity is high (non farm payroll release) this probably makes the IB data feed more reliable than a pure data feed. You can pay for a different (pure tick by tick) data feed if you prefer, such as eSignal, etc. I don't feel the need, though for backtesting, automated trading you'd want this.

Many front end platforms compatible with IB. Large community base.

Universal account - others have reviewed this feature...

Website has a lot of documentation to explain details, and there are
also regular webinars to explain software, product releases, etc.

Big, profitable company, listed on exchanges, so I feel safer keeping my money with IB than other brokers.


High cancellation charges in certain products (eg Eurex futures such as Bund, Bobl), whenever you amend/modify an order - this can double/triple your effective commission charges if you keep changing the price you are working! IB, please get rid of your stupid cancellation charges!!

Modest charting functionality - if you open too many charts it might slow or crash your PC. It's useable - I coped for two years - but I now pay monthly for dedicated charting offered by Sierra Chart and it complements IB TWS nicely.

Account statement is very detailed, but somewhat confusing (for me anyway!). Took me ages to work everything out in a spreadsheet.

TWS platform probably not too 'user friendly' for the inexperienced trader

Customer services had a bad reputation in the past, though I've personally had no problems, they have been helpful and polite. But IB is not into hand holding, so if you are a novice, probably better to look elsewhere and pay higher commissions for the better customer service.

Newbie (1 review, 3 posts)

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.

Jan 20, 2011

Best Broker for UK Based Futures Traders

I would agree with all the points in DTs review below (damn you beat me to it!) I'll therefore try to add some information that you may find useful if you're considering giving IB a try.

The Universal A/c is particularly useful if you want to trade instruments denominated in different currencies. You simply select a base currency on joining (which you can change at any stage if your an ace FX trader!) then trade any instrument you wish. When you first try to trade a new instrument you must enable the data feed for it through 'Account Management'. This is a simple enough process although some may incur a small monthly fee. Be aware that any profits/losses are accrued in the currency of your traded instrument and if there are losses IB will charge you interest when these are not in your base currency. As DT said the process for paying losses off is a bit 'fiddly', it has to be done through IBs own 'ideal' platform, however I have found Customer Services very helpful here as they will talk you through the procedure whilst you do it online. It is v difficult to actually clear your debt exactly as the price is moving around, but IB will normally waive a few pence/cents if you cant get it spot on.
Esignal users should not miss out on the CME Fee Waiver tie up with IB. Full details on the eSignal/Interactive Data website, but basically if you have a live IB account then sign up, log in in the required manner once a month and your CME Globex fees are waived. This includes CBOT/Nymex/Comex, but for any contract which is both electronic and pit traded, such as Gold GC and Oil CL you must use =1 after the symbol to receive the data.

IB has a reputation for poor CS yet I have always found it pretty good. It is useful to remember when talking to them that you may be conversing with someone in a different timezone to your own, which can lead to much confusion if you're refering to the timing of a trade!! I have also used 'Tech Support' both telephone and online, where they have always been knowledgable and helpful. If you are UK based and want to talk to the London office then you'll find the telephone number on the Interactive Brokers thread here on Trade2Win, they often answer questions here too.

IB s website may not be the best, but if you're prepared to put in a bit of time the tabs near the top of the home page contain huge amounts of information and will answer most questions.

IB has recently reduced some of it's commissions. ES/YM/NQ are now $4 a round turn, pretty competitive imo. Margin requirements are somewhat higher than many of the other US discount brokers. This may put some people off, whilst others may argue that it is a good thing!!

TWS (Trader Work Station) is not the most intuitive piece of software but just like the website if you take the trouble to learn it's features you may be pleasantly surprised. A good starting point is the TWS Guide, if you type this into the search bar on the IB home page then a comprehensive document is available to help you get started. In addition to this IB runs a number of Webinars every month to help in specific aspects of TWS. These can be found from the Education Tab,-Webinars. You dont need to wait for the next one as there are recordings of old ones available which you can play and repeat at your leisure.
TWS has a number of sub applications which are worth investigation. Spot Forex traders may like the look of 'FXTrader', if you prefer trading direct from a chart then there is 'ChartTrader'. If you prefer an order entry ladder type system then 'BookTrader' is available, but currently one click ordering is suspended due to a patent dispute with TT.
Through IBs API then other front ends such as Ninja/Zeroline can be used but my experience suggests TWS may have what you need, you just need to delve!!
TWS has some basic scanners, but also the ability to write your own parameters. I haven't tried but Stock traders may find this particularly useful.
Any of these facilities can be tested in a paper trading account, but remember you must ask for a 'paper' account otherwise they will only open a live account for you.

In summary I would say serious traders should give them a try, but minimum $10000 to open an account.

I would have given them a 9/10 but the loss of 'BookTrader's one click ordering is a particular disappointment to me so we'll call it 8!

Hope you found something useful!!

Member (1 review, 276 posts)

5 of 5 members found this review helpful.

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