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Interactive Brokers Broker Review

Editor Editor:  Chris Cammack Updated: April 30, 2024
Author Author:  Alison Heyerdahl

Last Updated On April 30, 2024

Alison Heyerdahl
Broker Score
4.31 4.31 / 5
Rated #18 of 80 Recommended Brokers
🏦  Min. DepositUSD 1
🛡️  Regulated By
💵  Trading Cost 
USD 5.40
⚖️  Max. Leverage50:1
💹  Copy Trading
🖥️  Platforms
💱  Instruments 
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Starting spread EUR/USD 0.1 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 50:1. Trader Workstation and IBKR trading platforms supported. Interactive Brokers is regulated by the FCA, CFTC, ASIC, MAS, and the IIROC.

Last Updated On April 30, 2024

Alison Heyerdahl

75-90% of retail traders lose money trading Forex and CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs and leveraged trading work and if you can afford the high risk of losing your money. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products we review. Please read our advertising disclosure. By using this website, you agree to our Terms of Service.

Our verdict on Interactive Brokers

Founded in 1977 and listed on the NASDAQ, Interactive Brokers is one of the best-regulated brokers in the industry. Ideal for sophisticated, active traders, Interactive Brokers is in a league of its own with the astounding number of assets on its books and its feature-rich platforms. However, its website, complicated account structure, and unusual trading rules may leave less experienced South African traders reeling. 

Interactive Brokers’ world-class research, trading tools, and education will leave traders of all experience levels satisfied, and consistent with its excellent reputation, Interactive Brokers’ trading costs are some of the lowest in the industry. Spreads start at 0.1 pips (EUR/USD) in exchange for a round turn commission of 4.4 USD.  

However, because South African traders will be trading under the Interactive Brokers’ subsidiary based in Connecticut, USA, they will only be able to open a margin day trading account if they deposit more than 25,000 USD. Another complaint traders may have is that it does not offer third-party platforms like MT4 and MT5, and traders can only fund their accounts by bank transfer.

🏦  Min. DepositUSD 1
🛡️  Regulated By
💵  Trading Cost 
USD 5.40
⚖️  Max. Leverage50:1
💹  Copy Trading
🖥️  Platforms
💱  Instruments 

Overall Summary

Trust Rating
111115/ 5
Trading Conditions
111115/ 5
Trading Platforms
111104/ 5
Deposit & Withdrawal
100001/ 5
Education & Research
111115/ 5
Assets Available
111115/ 5
Customer Service
111104/ 5
Beginner Friendly
Excellent
Welcome Bonus

Account Information

Base Currencies
AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, SGD, CAD
Number of FX Pairs
115
Crypto Pairs
4
Copy Trading
Hedging Allowed
Scalping Allowed
Islamic Account

Trading Conditions

Account Name
IBKR pro
Trading Desk
Commission
4.4 USD / lot
EUR/USD
0.10 pips
GBP/USD
0.40 pips
USD/JPY
0.20 pips
Negative Balance Protection

Company Details

Company Name
Interactive Brokers U.K. Limited
Founded
1977
Website Language
English
Support Language
English
Office Locations
USA, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Luxembourg

Pros

  • Well regulated
  • Low minimum deposit
  • Tight spreads
  • Wide range of assets

Cons

  • Complicated website
  • No MT4
  • MT5
  • or cTrader

Interactive Brokers’ Overall Rating

Founded in 1977 and NASDAQ-listed, Interactive Brokers stands out with its extensive asset offerings across 135 markets and sophisticated platforms, ideal for active, advanced traders. The broker boasts exceptionally tight spreads, starting at 0.1 pips for EUR/USD with a low commission of 4.4 USD. It offers a range of account types, including a low-cost option with no minimum deposit unless you want to engage in margin trading, which requires a substantial USD 25,000. The maximum leverage offered is 50:1, adhering to stringent regulatory standards. Interactive Brokers ensures security with negative balance protection and a robust regulatory framework across multiple jurisdictions. However, its platform does not support popular third-party tools like MT4/MT5, and funding options are limited to bank transfers. Despite these limitations, with its low trading costs and comprehensive research, FxScouts gives Interactive Brokers a high rating of 4.31 out of 5.


Is Interactive Brokers Safe?

With oversight from nine major regulators, Interactive Brokers is a member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and a constituent of the S&P 400, making it one of the most trustworthy brokers in operation. 

Regulation: South Africans will be trading under the subsidiary, Interactive Brokers LLC, a member of NYSEFINRASIPC and regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a top-tier regulator.

Safety Features: The CFTC requires Interactive Brokers to provide negative balance protection for all clients and to keep its operational funds segregated from client accounts. It also prevents Interactive Brokers from offering leverage higher than 50:1 on Forex majors.  We were also impressed to find that it has 7.4 billion USD in excess regulatory capital, making it unlikely that the company will be liquidated.

Interactive Brokers' Liquidity

Additionally, to be a Pattern Day Trader, a minimum deposit of USD 25,000 (or the non-USD equivalent) is required by regulation. If you open a margin account with less than USD 25,000, you will be limited to 4-day trades in a rolling 5-day span.

Company Details:

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Group Regulators
Trading Desk
Website
Year Founded
Office Locations
Additional Fees
FCA
CFTC
ASIC
IIROC
MAS
SFC
ECN/DMA
1977
USA, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Luxembourg
No

We confirmed each of the licences and regulations on the regulator’s online register. See below for details of Interactive Brokers’ CFTC-regulated entity:

Interactive Brokers CFTC

Interactive Brokers’ Financial Instruments

Interactive Brokers has the industry’s largest selection of asset classes, including 135 markets across 33 countries in 24 base currencies. However, traders should be aware that only Forex, indices, and equities are available as leveraged products.

Although Interactive Brokers provides such an impressive range of assets for trading, South African traders should be aware that only Forex, indices, and equities are available as leveraged products (and will be described below).

Full List of Instruments:

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Financial Instrument
Number of Assets
Leverage
Bonds
1,065,000
Unleveraged
Cryptocurrencies
4
Unleveraged
Stock CFDs
7,100
20:1
ETFs
13,000
Unleveraged
Forex
115
50:1
Futures
32
Unleveraged
Indices
13
20:1
Shares
1,000,000
Unleveraged
 

  • Forex pairs: Interactive Brokers offers over 115 Forex pairs to trade, a much broader offering than other brokers.
  • Indices: Interactive Brokers offers CFDs on various international indices, including the NASDAQ, S&P500, FTSE100, DAX30, and the Nikkei. This is a similar range of indices compared to other brokers. 
  • Equities: With over 7,100 equities for trading, Interactive Brokers offers a broader range of equities for CFD trading compared to other large international brokers. 
  • Cryptocurrencies: Interactive Brokers offers 4 cryptos for trading, but these are available through a partnership with Paxos and include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. Traders should be aware that they will be purchasing the underlying asset. 

Account Types

Interactive Brokers offers 16 different account types, including three types for individual retail traders. We were also pleased to find that its trading fees are lower than other similar brokers.

Trading Fees: Interactive Brokers’ Individual Account requires no minimum deposit requirement unless trading freely with margin, in which case traders have to deposit a minimum of 25,000 USD. Spreads start at 0.1 pips (EUR/USD), which is exceptionally tight for the industry, and a low round turn commission of 4.4 USD is charged. 

Note that commissions are based on total trading volume. See below for more details:

Interactive Brokers Forex Commissions

Account Trading Costs:

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Trading account
Min. Deposit
Min. Spread EUR/USD
Commission
Trading Cost (USD)
IBKR pro
USD 0
0.10
4.42 USD/ lot
5.4 USD

Overall, Interactive Brokers’ Individual Account is one of the lowest-cost accounts in the industry, but traders should be aware of the high minimum deposit required to open a margin account and be able to place more than four trades in a five-day period.

Deposits and Withdrawals

We were disappointed to find that Interactive Brokers only allows traders to fund accounts via bank wire transfer. This is a distinct weakness of the broker because many other brokers offer several payment methods for deposits and withdrawals. 

In line with Anti-Money Laundering policies, deposits and withdrawals at Interactive Brokers cannot be made to/from third-party accounts, and all non-profit funds are returned to the original deposit source. 

Accepted Currencies: When we opened our account at Interactive Brokers, we were given the choice of more than 19 base currencies, but unfortunately, not ZAR. This is disappointing for South African traders who will likely have bank accounts denominated in ZAR and will have to pay currency conversion fees on both deposits and withdrawals.

Interactive Brokers Base Currencies

Deposits and Withdrawals: Interactive Brokers deposits are free of charge, but neither credit/debit cards nor electronic wallets are available. This is disappointing because bank wire transfers are generally the most expensive fund management method. Withdrawals are processed within 48 hours but may take up to 5 days to reach your account, depending on your bank. 

Interactive Brokers Funding methods

See below for more details:

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Funding Method
Base Currency
Deposit Fees
Withdrawal Fees
Processing Time
ACH
USD, EUR, GBP
None
None
Local Bank Transfer within 48 hours.
Bank Transfer
USD, EUR, GBP, ZAR
None
The first withdrawal in a month is free, and there after a fee of 200 ZAR will apply.
Local Bank Transfer within 24 hours, International Bank Transfers up to 5 days.

Traders should also be aware that their funds are subject to a withdrawal hold and are only available for withdrawal three days after their deposit. 

Interactive Brokers’ Mobile Trading Platform

The IBKR mobile trading app provides traders with a superior on-the-go trading experience.

IBKR Trading App

The IBKR app is available on both Android and iOS and integrates seamlessly with Interactive Brokers’ flagship platform, Trader Workstation (TWS).

IBKR Features: Interactive Brokers’ primary mobile app for forex and CFD trading is known as IBKR and is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and for Android devices on Google Play. The app is rich in features, many of which mirror what’s available on the web platform.  It allows you to place orders, set price alerts, and view live prices. It also allows you to manage your account, deposit and withdraw funds, view educational videos and market analysis materials, and contact customer support.  

Interactive Brokers Mobile Trading Interactive Brokers Mobile Trading

Although the app has a sophisticated dashboard, it is not as user-friendly as the mobile apps at other brokers. For example, searching and adding symbols to your watchlist is difficult. 

Charts: We were also pleased to find that the IBKR mobile app features excellent charting abilities, and allows trading directly on the charts. There are 127 available indicators, and we were pleased to find that indicators automatically sync with the TWS desktop platform.

Interactive Brokers Mobile Trading

Other Trading Platforms

Interactive Brokers offers two in-house trading platforms – the Client Portal and Trader Workstation. This may be off-putting for traders who are used to industry-standard platforms like MT4 and MT5.

Having won many awards, Interactive Brokers has successfully built several trading platforms that are intuitive, powerful, and fast.

Many other brokers offer support for third-party platforms such as Metatrader 4 and Metatrader 5, which is an advantage for forex traders who want to take their customised versions of the platform with them should they choose to migrate to another broker. However, the benefits of Interactive Brokers’ trading platforms are numerous. 

We tested both platforms on a Mac OS system:

Trader Workstation (TWS)

Developed in-house, Trader Workstation (TWS) is one of the most innovative platforms available at any broker. It is highly customisable, features algorithmic trading, and has over 100 order types. TWS also provides multiple watchlists, customised market scanners, and premium newswire and analyst research subscriptions from third-party providers such as Reuters, Dow Jones, Morningstar, and Zacks. Lastly, the platform features excellent risk management tools, which will be discussed in the trading tools section. The only drawback to an otherwise overwhelmingly good offering is the platform’s complexity, making it less accessible to beginner traders.

Interactive Brokers TWS

Client Portal

Interactive Brokers also offers a web-based platform, which is easy to access and suitable for most retail traders. While it is not as comprehensive as the TWS, it is packed with excellent trading features, including advanced charting, research, education, plenty of order types, and more. We found that it was easier to use and set up than TWS.

Inetractive Brokers Client Portal

Platform Overview 

Scroll for more detailsPreviousNext
Broker
Platform Choice
Copy Trading
Platforms
Interactive Brokers
111104/ 5
Clientportal
Trader Workstation
IBKRmobile
IG
11110.54.5/ 5
L2 Dealer
ProRealTime
Pepperstone
111115/ 5
TradingView

Opening an Account at Interactive Brokers

We found it slightly complicated to open an account at Interactive Brokers. Once registration is complete, verification takes around two days, which is longer than other similar brokers. 

All South African residents are eligible to open an account at Interactive Brokers.

How to open an account at interactive Broker:

  1. New traders will have to click on the “Open Account” button at the top of the page, where they will be directed to register an account.    
  2. Traders must then register a username and password with their associated email address. 
    Interactive Brokers Account Opening
  3. Next, traders have to check their email and confirm their email addresses.
  4. Traders will then be directed to fill in their personal information, including contact information, personal information, identification, employment status, source of wealth, base currency, and security questions.
  5. The next step involves configuring your trading account, detailing your trading experience and your financial status. 
  6. Traders then have to choose what type of account they want to open and what financial instruments they would like to trade.
  7. Once this step is complete, traders must send support documentation to complete the KYC process. These include:
    1. Proof of Identification – Interactive Traders accepts all government-issued identification documents such as passports, national ID cards, driving licenses, or other government-issued IDs. 
    2. Proof of Address – Proof of residence/address document must be issued in the account holder’s name within the last 6 months. It must contain a trader’s full name, current residential address, issue date, and issuing authority. 
  8. We advise that you read Interactive Traders’ risk disclosure, customer agreement, and terms of business before you start trading. 

Research and Trading Tools

With over 220 services from 86 news and research providers, Interactive Brokers offers the industry’s widest array of research tools. 

Research: Interactive Brokers offers research from over 86 news and research providers, including 21 Forex-focused sources. Most third-party research can be found directly on the Trader Workstation (TWS) platform and the Client Portal. Research sources include the likes of:

  • 24/7 Wall Street
  • AccessWire
  • Benzinga Pro News
  • Benzinga Crypto News
  • Briefing.com
  • China Perspective
  • China Investment Insight
  • Dow Jones North American Briefing
  • IBKR Market Signals
  • IBKR Quant Blog
  • IBKR Traders’ Insight
  • Insider Insights
  • Market Realist
  • Morningstar Insider Trade Log
  • Seeking Alpha
  • StreetInsider.com Top News and Analyst Actions
  • TalkMarkets
  • The Motley Fool
  • Thomson Reuters Global Financial Market News
  • TipRanks Market News
  • Refinitiv Briefs
  • Refinitiv Transactions
  • Zacks Investment Research Newswire.

Interactive Traders' Research

Daily News: Impressively, Interactive Brokers also provides a Trader’s Insight blog, created in-house, covering daily market movements, including relevant news, in addition to a regular market commentary presented in video format.

Interactive Brokers Daily News

Video Content: Interactive Brokers also provides a wealth of video/audio content, including Bloomberg Television, Trader’s Insight daily video updates, and a live podcast. The content is comprehensive, in-depth, and high quality. 

Economic Calendar: Interactive Brokers’ Economic Calendar provides a good selection of fundamental data. It also offers a feature that allows traders to gauge historical volatility and trends.

Trading Tools Overview:

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Broker
Economic Calendar
Autochartist
Trading Central
Trading View
Free VPS
Interactive Brokers
IG
Pepperstone
 

Education

Interactive Brokers offers one of the industry’s largest selections of educational materials. 

Interactive Brokers provides multiple educational resources in many different formats, including videos, courses, webinars, a glossary, and a demo account. Although the main focus of Interactive Brokers’ educational offering is share trading, it is slowly growing its Forex and CFD sections. 

Trader’s Academy: The Trader’s Academy is an online resource that covers all the financial market sectors. It features a structured, rigorous curriculum for traders of all experience levels. There are also various Forex courses that track your progress, and it provides quizzes. 

Interactive Brokers Academy

Webinars:  Interactive Brokers offers free trading webinars offered by third-party financial services companies and research providers across the globe.

Interactive Brokers Webinars

Demo Account: When you set up your account, you are given the option to open a Paper Trading Account or a demo account. The Paper Account comes loaded with USD 1,000,000 in virtual money, where you can experiment with the platforms and trade under real market conditions.

Education Comparison:

Scroll for more detailsPreviousNext
Broker
Beginner Course
Advanced Course
Well Structured Education
Education Quality
Webinars
Interactive Brokers
High
IG
High
Pepperstone
Medium

Customer Service

We found that Interactive Broker’s customer service is excellent compared to other similar brokers.

Customer support is available 24/6 via many different channels:

  • Toll-free telephone support
  • Call-back services for those who want to hang up, but don’t want to lose their place in the line
  • Live chat with a customer support agent (from the website or within the platform)
  • Email
  • Chatbot that answers many questions and directs clients to the relevant FAQ answer.

For the purposes of the review, we tested the live chat service and email. Our email was answered within a couple of hours, and the answer was relevant and to the point. We found the live chat agents were polite and responsive and could answer all our questions. We were impressed at how knowledgeable the customer support agents were.

Safety and Industry Recognition

Regulation: Founded in 1977, Interactive Brokers has a corporate structure composed of multiple regulated entities that operate in different regions across the world, including Canada, America, Japan, the UK, Hungary, Singapore, Ireland, India, Hong Kong, and Luxembourg. It is also listed on the NASDAQ (as IBKR).

See below for more details: 

  • Interactive Brokers LLC is a member NYSE – FINRA – SIPC – and regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
  • Interactive Brokers U.K. Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA register entry number 208159.
  • Interactive Brokers Canada Inc. is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.
  • Interactive Brokers Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI, reference number C423427), registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO, registration number 657406), and is a member of the Irish Investor Compensation Scheme (ICS).
  • Interactive Brokers Central Europe Zrt is licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Bank) under no. H-EN-III-623/2020.
  • Interactive Brokers Hong Kong Limited is regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is a member of the SEHK and the HKFE.
  • Interactive Brokers Singapore Pte. Limited is licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Licence No. CMS100917).
  • Interactive Brokers Australia Pty. Limited is licensed and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (AFSL: 453554) and is a participant of ASX, ASX 24, and Chi-X Australia.

Industry Recognition: Besides being regulated by several national authorities, Interactive Brokers has received widespread industry recognition for its innovations.  Recent awards include:

  • Best Online Broker 2022 (Barron’s)
  • Winner of the 2021 Global Fintech Awards (Benzinga)
  • Top Hedge Fund Prime Broker 2021 (Preqin)
  • Winner 2021 Stock/Futures/Forex Brokerage (Reader’s Choice Awards)

Evaluation Method

We value transparency and openness in the way we review the partners. To bring transparency to the forefront, we have published our review process. Central to that process is the evaluation of the broker’s reliability, platform offering, and the trading conditions offered to clients, summarised in this review. Each one of these is graded on 200+ metrics across seven areas of interest, and an overall score is calculated and assigned to the broker according to the diagram below:

XM Scores

Interactive Brokers’ Risk Statement

Trading Forex is risky, and each broker must detail how risky the trading of Forex CFDs is to clients. Interactive Brokers would like you to know that: The risk of loss in online trading of stocks, options, futures, currencies, foreign equities, and fixed Income can be substantial.

Final Word

Interactive Brokers is one of the world’s largest and most reputable brokers, and for good reason. It offers a huge array of financial instruments and feature-rich trading platforms, including its award-winning desktop platform, Trader Workstation. It also offers an astounding library of research and trading tools alongside an excellent education section. 

Traders will also be pleased to find that Interactive Brokers’ Forex trading costs are low, with spreads that start at 0.1 pips (EUR/USD) in exchange for a commission of between 1.6 – 4.4 USD (round turn) depending on the volume traded. 

One major drawback for South African traders considering Interactive Brokers is that because they are onboarded through Interactive Brokers’ CFTC-regulated entity, they will have to make a substantial deposit (of 25,000 USD) to open a margin account and place more than four trades in five days.

Editorial Team

 

Chris Cammack
Head of Content

Chris joined the company in 2019 after ten years experience in research, editorial and design for political and financial publications. His background has given him a deep knowledge of international financial markets and the geopolitics that affects them. Chris has a keen eye for editing and a voracious appetite for financial and political current affairs. He ensures that our content across all sites meets the standards of quality and transparency that our readers expect.

 

Alison Heyerdahl
Senior Financial Writer

Alison joined the team as a writer in 2021. She is the Senior Editor for FXScouts.  She has a medical degree with a focus on physiotherapy and a bachelor’s in psychology. However, her interest in forex trading and her love for writing led her to switch careers. She has a passion for Forex trading and over a decade of editorial experience researching Forex and the financial services industry, producing high-quality content. She hosts a weekly podcast, “Let’s Talk Forex,” alongside her colleague, Chris, and has produced over 100 Forex educational videos for the FXScouts YouTube channel. She also writes weekly technical analyses and has tested and reviewed over 100 Forex brokers.

 

Ida Hermansen
Financial Writer

Ida joined our team as a financial writer in 2023. She has a degree in Digital Marketing and a background in content writing and SEO. In addition to her marketing and writing skills, Ida also has an interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. Her interest in crypto trading led to a wider fascination with Forex technical analysis and price movement. She continues to develop her skills and knowledge in Forex trading and keeps a close eye on which Forex brokers offer the best trading environments for new traders.

 

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AlertAccepts South African Clients. Starting spread EUR/USD 0.1 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 50:1. Trader Workstation and IBKR trading platforms supported. Interactive Brokers is regulated by the FCA, CFTC, ASIC, MAS, and the IIROC.
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Broker Score
4.31 4.31  / 5
Rated #18 of 80 Recommended Brokers
Site Icon Data provided by FxScouts

Interactive Brokers Financial Regulation

Regulator License
Regulator License

Interactive Brokers Trading Cost Comparison

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