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Interactive Brokers Review UK

Tobi Opeyemi Amure
Reviewed by:
Interactive Brokers review UK

Interactive Brokers is closing in on 2,000,000 users worldwide and has an average rating of 4.5 stars on Google Playstore. And with a seemingly excellent track record, you might be tempted to give this platform a go.

In this review, I’ll show you every angle of the Interactive Brokers platform, so you can make an informed decision on whether it’s worth your time, attention, and money. 

Throughout this review, I’ll analyse the platform’s core features, rating them on a qualitative points-based scale. These points then translate into star ratings. For more information on how we test view here.

This article was reviewed by Tobi Opeyemi Amure, a trading expert and writer at InvestopediaInvesting.com, and Trading.biz.

Overall Rating – 4.5 stars

Overall, I give Interactive Brokers a rating of 4.5 stars, based on an overall score of 74.4 and an average of 82.6%.

Interactive Brokers has an excellent offering of markets. The fees are also low, and the platform is easy to use. 

However, the onboarding process, customer support, and fee structure do let Interactive Brokers down significantly, and for many will severely subtract from the otherwise excellent user experience. 

CategoryPointsStar ratings
Fees84
Safety9.55
Onboarding7.23
Deposit & withdrawal methods7.43
Markets9.75
Tools8.54.5
Investment & trading platform8.54.5
Education8.64.5
Customer service73

Pros

  • Offering of markets and assets is unmatched.
  • The trading platform is easy to use.
  • Fees are relatively low.
  • Extremely safe to use.

Cons

  • Onboarding can be a nightmare.
  • The fee structure is confusing.
  • Customer service needs improving.

Fees – 4 stars

Interactive Brokers’ fees are generally pretty low. However, the fee structure is very confusing.

Trading Fees

Currently, UK users are charged £3 per trade up to the value of £6,000. For trades over this threshold, the fee drops to 0.05% of the trade value.

Investment Trust trades cost £4.95 per trade. However, this doesn’t apply to around 8,000 mutual funds which can be traded for free. 

Bond trading fees are structured as a percentage of the entire trade. Currently, any trade up to the value of £10,000 will incur a 0.1% charge, and anything over £10,000 will incur a 0.025% charge.

Non-Trading Fees

Interactive Brokers’ non-trading fees are very low, and there are scenarios in which you won’t pay a single non-trading fee.

This is because the platform doesn’t have an inactivity fee. Likewise, deposits are completely free to make, and you receive one free withdrawal each month.

Pros

  • Low non-trading fees.
  • Competitive trading fees.

Cons

  • The fee structure is difficult to understand.

Safety – 5 stars

Interactive Brokers is an incredibly safe platform, and you can trade and invest your money without any risk of fraud.

For one, the company is regulated by both the SEC in the US and the FCA in the UK. This is a hallmark of security, as the FCA ensures that all dealings in the UK are conducted honestly and fairly. UK users are protected up to £85,000 when trading CFDs and non-US stock index options/futures.

Interactive Brokers also offers UK users negative bank balance protection for CFD trades. This means that you’ll only ever be at risk of losing the money you put in, and your account will never be in a negative state. 

Finally, Interactive Brokers is a public company, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. This means that all the company’s records are available publicly. 

Beyond this, Interactive Brokers was founded over four decades ago and has consistently displayed financial stability and prosperity, even during the 2008 recession. 

The only safety concern with Interactive Brokers is that, in 2020, the company was fined $38 million for failing to monitor hundreds of millions of potentially fraudulent wire transfers. However, this has since been resolved and the company’s record is otherwise crystal clear.

Pros

  • Negative balance protection.
  • Listed on the US NASDAQ exchange.
  • Regulated by the SEC and FCA.

Cons

  • Received a $38 million fine in 2020. 

Onboarding – 3 stars

Interactive Brokers onboarding process.

Interactive Brokers’ onboarding is much more complex than other platforms. Verification is also pretty slow.

Account Opening

When it comes to opening an Interactive Brokers account, there are two different options available. Firstly, you can go through the IB website and set up an account there. However, the process is extremely long, requiring pages of your information to complete.

Instead, I went for the second option, opening an account via the IBKR Global Trader app. This requires much less information, but you will need to go through further sets of questions to access certain features.

To open an account, you first need to choose the right account type. There are a few different types, but I went for the ‘Individuals’ account, which is the most popular.

After selecting this, I was also prompted to choose between a cash, portfolio Margin, or Reg T Margin account. Here, I went for the cash account, as this is best suited to the majority of traders.

As a UK client, I did not get the option between the pro and lite account types, so the last step was to upload a couple of documents for verification.

Verification

To verify your account, you need to provide proof of identity and proof of address. 

To verify your identity, you can upload one of the following documents:

  • UK passport.
  • UK driver’s licence.
  • National ID card.

Then to verify your address, you can upload any of these documents:

  • A bank statement.
  • A driver’s license.
  • A credit card statement.
  • A utility bill.

Uploading these documents was very simple. However, receiving verification took much longer than I expected.

I didn’t receive an email until 2 business days after my account opening. Compared to other trading platforms, this is very poor. 

Pros 

  • Plenty of account types to choose from.
  • IBKR Global Trader app makes onboarding much easier. 

Cons

  • Verification took a while.
  • Not the most user-friendly experience.

Deposit & Withdrawal Methods – 3 stars

Compared to competitors, the deposit and withdrawal methods for Interactive Brokers are limited and expensive.

Funds on Interactive Brokers.

Deposits

You can deposit money into your account at any time. Deposits are also free to make and can be made via direct bank transfer or wire.

However, debit/credit card deposits are not available to UK users. This is one of the most popular deposit methods in the UK, and I could feel its absence during my time using Interactive Brokers.

Furthermore, deposits can take a few business days to reach your account, which is significantly slower than competitors, which will often process your deposit on the same day.

Withdrawals

Likewise, you can only withdraw via bank transfer, which is a very limited and slow option. On the plus side, you do receive one free withdrawal per month. Any further withdrawals will cost you £7.

Pros

  • Deposits are free to make.
  • One free withdrawal per month.

Cons

  • Deposits and withdrawals are slow to make.

Markets – 5 stars

Interactive Brokers offers a truly exceptional array of assets for users to trade and invest with.

There’s even an option to invest in an actively managed portfolio.

Interactive Brokers markets available.

Stocks and ETFs

Interactive Brokers offers a simply staggering array of stocks and ETFs to trade.

There are over 90 different stock markets and 13,000 ETFs to choose from, which is nearly double that of competitors such as Saxo.

Fractional share investing is an option, and penny stocks are also available to trade. 

Bonds

Unlike several platforms in the UK, Interactive Brokers does offer bond trading.

There are over 41,000 different bonds to choose from, which again is far more than other trading platforms in the UK. 

Futures

Interactive Brokers supports Futures trading. There are 32 markets to choose from, including major, more stable markets, and more volatile minor options.

CFDs

While not offered worldwide, the UK is one of the countries permitted to trade CFDs through Interactive Brokers. The selection is fairly average, with 8,500 Stock CFDs and 13 Stock Index CFDs to choose from. 

Options

Options trading is surprisingly good with Interactive Brokers. Currently, there are 34 markets to trade with, including smaller, riskier markets like the KSE.

Cryptocurrency

Interactive Brokers users can trade Bitcoin thanks to a partnership with Paxos and Zero Hash. Though the market isn’t extensive, you can trade Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as Bitcoin cash and some smaller alt-coins.

However, it’s very rare to see a UK trading platform even offer crypto trading, so the mere option to trade crypto, though limited, is still very impressive. 

Asset Management 

Aside from the extensive array of markets to choose from, Interactive Brokers also gives users the option of copying a professional trader’s portfolio and automatically making trades as they do so.

There are plenty of different portfolios to choose from, meaning you can find the right investment for your goals and desired risk exposure. 

Pros 

  • All asset classes are offered.
  • Extensive range of stocks and ETFs.
  • Great range of bonds.
  • Asset management service offered.

Cons

  • CFD range could be better. 

Tools – 4.5 stars

Interactive Brokers contains pretty much every research tool you could think of.

However, the layout of these tools is extremely confusing, taking away from an otherwise perfect experience.

Charting Tools

The charting tools available on Interactive Brokers are very extensive. There are over 155 technical indicators available to UK users. You can also annotate, modify, and edit charts for personal use. 

However, when I used the platform, I did find the charting tools quite clunky and tricky to use. 

News Feed

One of the best tools to use on Interactive Brokers is the News Feed. This gives you access to major economic updates in real-time, helping you to better plan out your trades. 

You’ll also have access to several economic calendars, which inform you of the potential economic impact of certain events.

However, it is hard to read, especially if you’ve never used an economic calendar before.

IBKR Traders' Insight section.

Trading Ideas

Trading Ideas are provided by Interactive Brokers, and they are pretty flawless. Should you opt-in, you will receive personalised email recommendations concerning the assets you hold, and from my experience at least, they’ve been fairly accurate.

Fundamental Data

Interactive Brokers also offers fundamental data, and it’s overall much more extensive than competitors.

For instance, income statements, a dividend calendar, and ESG scores are provided for every asset, which can help you make much better-informed trades.

Other Tools

Beyond these fundamentals, Interactive Brokers offers users a variety of more niche tools to use.

Some of the best include:

  • Mutual Fund Search Tools: Allows users to filter mutual funds by country, fund family, and commission structure.
  • PortfolioAnalyst: Helps users to analyse their complete financial portfolio, so they can better monitor performance. 
  • Investors’ Marketplace: A network for IB users to discuss trading ideas and strategies.
  • Stock and ETF Benchmark tools: Allows users to compare their stocks to others in the market. 

Pros

  • All major research tools are available.
  • Excellent for experienced traders.

Cons

  • Not very user-friendly.
  • Could be overwhelming for new traders.

Investment and Trading Platform – 4.5 stars

Overall, Interactive Brokers offers an excellent investment and trading platform.

However, there are one or two flaws that do take away from the overall experience.

Interactive Brokers has both a web version and a mobile app that’s compatible with Apple and Android devices. 

Interactive Brokers trading interface.

Web Version

I loved the way that the web version looked, and it was very easy to understand. Everything was laid out sensibly, and the search function was easy to use and helped me to find the assets I wanted to trade. 

The web version offers price alert notifications, which can be customised to your preferences. It’s not quite as good as a platform like IG, but for most people, it will suffice. 

Security is also excellent on the web version, with IB opting for a two-step login system, consisting of a password and mobile authentication key. 

Mobile App

The mobile app carries the same feeling as the web version, using the same layout and colour scheme.

However, I found the mobile version’s search function a little more accurate, which was a pleasant surprise. 

Security is also great, and you can use biometrics for quicker log-ins.

The only thing that’s missing from the mobile app is price alert notifications. This is a fundamental feature for most traders, and considering that the web version has notifications, it’s a little odd why the mobile app doesn’t.

Nevertheless, the mobile app is still great on the whole, and unlike many other platforms, keeps the functionality of the web version.

Making a Trade

Making a trade on Interactive Brokers.

Making a trade on Interactive Brokers is nice and straightforward. You can make a trade on any page via the ‘Trade’ button in the top right-hand corner. Alternatively, you can make a buy order via the Trade tab in the main navigation bar.

When you click on an asset, you’ll be presented with a snapshot of key information including a visual graph, to help you make a more informed trade. 

When you do make a trade, you’ll be able to choose from several different order types, including limit, stop, and market.

Additionally, you can also make use of time order limits such as GTC and Day. This functionality allows you to customise your trade to your exact preferences, which I found very useful. 

My Experience

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time using Interactive Brokers. I found both the web version and mobile app easy and intuitive to use but did gravitate towards the mobile version as I preferred the overall layout.

Interactive Brokers is also perfectly suited to day trading. This is because trades are incredibly quick to make, and there are also a staggering number of assets available to trade with.

However, it’s also worth noting that most people who day trade lose money, and even a platform like Interactive Brokers isn’t going to change this.

However, there were one or two features that could be improved. For one, the charting tools were much more difficult to use than I expected. The mobile app would also benefit from price alerts and notifications.

Finally, the web app suffers from the occasional glitch/crash, which can become incredibly annoying. Hopefully, these kinds of issues will be fixed soon. 

Pros 

  • User-friendly layout.
  • Great for day trading.
  • The search function is good.

Cons

  • Price alerts missing from the mobile app.
  • Charting tools are difficult to use.
  • The web version glitches occasionally.

Education – 4.5 stars

The educational content provided by Interactive Brokers is extensive, informative, and extremely practical.

However, it has been designed for US users, so some tutorials aren’t as useful for UK investors.

Educational Content 

Interactive Brokers offers an extensive array of educational resources for users and is more extensive than the top competition.

For starters, all users have access to IB’s ‘Trader’s Academy’, which is packed with financial courses and videos for traders of all levels.

You’ll also have access to the company’s trading insights, which are real-time suggestions on whether you should buy or sell certain assets.

Interactive Brokers' Trading Academy.

On top of this, you can learn more in-depth trading techniques through webinars and the IBKR podcast. There’s even a glossary available to help you understand trading’s technical jargon.

The only real critique of the educational resources is that they are geared toward US users, so some tutorials and videos don’t readily apply to UK traders.

However, on the whole, most of the content is universal. 

Platform Tutorial

Aside from the general trading content, Interactive Brokers also offers a full tutorial on how to use the platform. This is very extensive and addresses the critique that the platform is too confusing to understand. 

Demo Account

Finally, to put your knowledge to the test, Interactive Brokers offers all users a free demo trading account. When you open up your demo account, you will start with $1 million, and conduct trades as normal, without having to put any of your own money at risk. 

Pros

  • A demo account is available.
  • Extensive educational content.
  • Platform tutorial offered.

Cons

  • Content is geared toward US users.

Customer Service – 3 stars

Interactive Brokers has three ways for users to contact customer support, these being through a live chat, via email, or over the phone.

On the whole, the support does feel underwhelming due to extremely slow response times.

IBKR contact information.

Live Chat

I found the live chat feature to be disappointing on the whole. The main reason for my disappointment was the extended waiting times.

It took me several minutes to connect with an agent, by which time I could have probably resolved the issue by myself.

However, when I did connect, the agent was very helpful and admittedly did answer my question quickly and sufficiently. 

Email

The story was very similar for email support. When I emailed them, it took a whole business day to get a response, which felt very frustrating considering that platforms such as Trading 212 often reply within an hour or two.

However, when I did get a reply, it was detailed enough to resolve my issue the first time, and thankfully I didn’t have to go through a chain of responses.

Phone

Phone support was surprisingly much better. I connected to an assistant virtually immediately and had my issue resolved very quickly.

However, Interactive Broker’s phone call waiting time is slightly below the market average.

Pros

  • Plenty of ways to contact customer support.
  • Answers are mostly helpful.

Cons

  • Extremely slow response times.
  • Competitors do it better.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, Interactive Brokers is a very solid UK trading platform. Its offering of assets and web platform are its biggest selling points. However, if you’re looking for a platform with excellent customer service, pain-free onboarding, and a simple fee structure, you may want to look elsewhere.

FAQs

Is Interactive Brokers legal in the UK?

Interactive Brokers is legal in the UK, as it is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Its regulated products are also covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, customers are advised to read relevant risk warnings, as certain financial products may not be suitable for all investors.

Is Interactive Brokers good for beginners?

Interactive Brokers may not be the most suitable choice for beginners due to its complex trading platform and extensive range of features designed for experienced traders. It offers advanced trading tools and a wide array of investment options that might be overwhelming for new investors. However, its low fees and comprehensive resources can be beneficial for those willing to navigate its learning curve.

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Will Fenton is the founder of Sterling Savvy. He is a personal finance expert and writes about trading, investing, budgeting, and other financial topics.

Along with his education in Economics & Finance, he has experience working in the financial services industry in London working for one of the UK’s leading financial companies, “a trustworthy and respected provider of news, education and market analysis for the everyday investor”.

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