- Large selection of securities to trade
- Crypto trading available
- Extensive research tools (both free and paid)
- Different trading platforms for traders of varying experience levels
- Desktop app designed more for experienced traders
- No attractive sign-up bonuses unlike platforms like Moomoo or Tiger
- Slightly higher fees than Moomoo and Tiger Brokers
- Zero-commission trading only available to U.S. investors
U.S.-based Interactive Brokers is one of the largest electronic trading platforms worldwide. Even though they only set up shop in Singapore in 2020, they’ve got a long-established reputation in the global trading space.
But with so many other low-cost brokers in town recently, is it still worth choosing IBKR over other brokers? What does it have to offer?
Today, we’ll be pitting IBKR against other platforms so you can decide for yourself.
- What is Interactive Brokers?
- Is it safe and reliable?
- Ease of signing up and funding
- Fees, commissions, and account minimums
- Availability of real-time data
- User experience on the platform
- For whom is Interactive Brokers best
What is Interactive Brokers?
Founded in 1993, Interactive Brokers is a platform under the Interactive Brokers Group. It’s also publicly listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker IBKR.
On top of a wide selection of tradeable assets, they offer low margin rates and per share pricing. In other words, with IBKR you get access to many markets and can borrow money cheaply to grow your portfolio.
Compared with other low-cost brokers like Moomoo and Tiger, IBKR stands out as the largest trading platform by volume. They boast over 1.5 million client accounts and 2.5 million trades daily, so don’t worry — IBKR is here to stay.
How Safe and Reliable is IBKR?
This is where IBKR’s size and longstanding reputation sets them apart. They’ve got a strong capital position and automated risk controls in place to protect clients from large trading losses.
Client assets are held in segregated accounts apart from IBKR’s own assets, so they’ll be returned to clients in the (unlikely) event that IBKR goes bankrupt.
And like every brokerage in Singapore, IBKR is MAS-regulated. They are also members of NYSE, FINRA, and SIPC, if you’re worried about your US investments going bust. In the unlikely event that IBKR collapses, your US stock purchases are covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”) up to a maximum of $500,000.
You can read more about IBKR’s measures to protect the investors on their platform here.
How Easy Is It to Sign Up?
Anyone above the age of 18 can open a cash account with IBKR.
If you’re looking to open a margin financing account, you’ll have to be at least 21 years of age. This is because margin investing allows you to borrow money from IBKR and take on more leverage, making it riskier for both you and IBKR. The eligibility criteria is stricter to balance that risk.
For Anyone Who Isn’t a US Citizen
All you need to do is create a username and password, then enter your email and the country. Thereafter, follow the remaining system prompts (you can save time with SingPass MyInfo) and you’ll be done with the first half of your account opening.
IBKR’s compliance team will review your application and conduct their due diligence checks. Once your account has been approved, you can proceed with funding it!
Documents you may want to prepare beforehand include:
- Proof of identity and date of birth (any document with your name, birthday, photo, and identification number)
- Proof of address (e.g. Utility bill, bank statement, driver’s licence)
Ease of Funding
To make things simple for both IBKR and Singaporean investors, you can only wire transfer when funding your SGD account in IBKR.
Also note that you can initiate fund transfers through the mobile app but not withdraw funds. (You’ll have to do fund withdrawals through your desktop browser instead.)
If you have a local bank account, the easiest way to fund your IBKR account is to do a FAST transfer. You can do this in just two steps:
- Go to your banking website (or app) and initiate a FAST transfer to the account number IBKR has assigned to you. Always make sure you indicate your IBKR brokerage account number in the Reference field.
- Create a deposit notification on IBKR. This is technically optional, but IBKR recommends that you do it just in case. Include the payment reference from the bank in the Comments field to ensure proper routing of your funds.
From there, it’s up to your bank how long it takes to transfer funds. Most users report seeing the funds reflected in their IBKR accounts anywhere from a few hours to 4 business days.
IBKR’s Fees & Commissions
You may have heard about IBKR’s unlimited, commission-free trading of US stocks and ETFs.
Sadly, that offer — otherwise known as the IBKR Lite — only applies to US retail investors, advisors, and brokers.
If you’re none of the above, you can only open an IBKR Pro account:
|Minimum Balance Required||$0|
|Withdrawal Fees||One free withdrawal request per calendar month. Any subsequent SGD withdrawal requests will incur the following fees: |
Wire Transfer: $15
|CDP Transfer Fees||Inbound & Outbound Position Transfer: S$10.70 per transfer counter|
Depending on the markets you want to trade, you’ll incur different commission fees. Here’s a sampling of the costs (full list here):
|Singapore||All products||0.08% of trade value (minimum S$2.50 per order)|
|Hong Kong||SEHK stocks||0.08% of trade value (minimum HK$18 per order)|
|Japan||All products||0.08% of trade value (minimum JPY80 per order)|
|US||Stocks, ETFs, warrants||US$0.005 per share (minimum US$1 per order)|
|Australia||All products||0.08% of trade value (minimum AU$6 per order)|
|Fee Type||IBKR Pro||Moomoo||Tiger Brokers|
|Singapore Stock Commission Fees||0.08% of trade value (minimum S$2.50 per order)||0.03% of trade value (minimum S$0.99 per order)||0.04% of trade value|
|US Stock Commission Fees||US$0.005 per share (minimum US$1 per order)||US$0.0049 per share (minimum US$0.99 per order)||USD 0.005/share (minimum USD0.99 per order)|
|Hong Kong Stock Commission Fees||0.08% of trade value (minimum HK$18 per order)||0.03% of trade value (minimum HK$3 per order)||0.03% of trade value (minimum HKD7 per order)|
From this snapshot, IBKR is not the lowest cost broker in Singapore. However, prices do not deviate much and are still relatively competitive.
Markets Available on IBKR Pro vs Moomoo vs Tiger Brokers
|IBKR Pro||Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Bonds, and Funds in 135 markets across 33 countries.|
|Moomoo||US, HK, and SG stocks. U.S. stock options, Futures, ADRs, Exchange Traded Fund (ETFs), and REITs.|
|Tiger Brokers||SG stocks, ETFs, REITs, and DLCs. US stocks and ETFs. HK and AUS stocks. China A-shares.|
Here, Interactive Brokers has by far the largest selection of markets and tradeable asset types. That’s not surprising considering IBKR has a better-established presence worldwide compared to Moomoo and Tiger.
Access to Real-time Data
Real-time data is important especially if you’re a day trader: you need an accurate snapshot of prices to make good buying and selling decisions.
But if you’re a longer-term investor using a dollar-cost averaging strategy, real-time data isn’t as important.
By default, all IBKR users have free access to delayed market data for all available exchanges. It’s a time lag of about 10-20 minutes, which won’t make much of a difference if you’re trading small volumes with no leverage.
If you have your heart set on real-time streaming of market data though, you can subscribe to it based on the exchanges you wish to trade.
What’s the IBKR User Experience Like?
IBKR has various platforms to accommodate different types of traders. More experienced traders may prefer to work with the Desktop Trader Workstation with all of its advanced analytics tools and features:
Otherwise, newer or more casual traders would find the Client Portal platform less intimidating. You can trade the same asset classes on any platform.
The Client Portal platform runs fast and comes with a customisable account dashboard. Investors who are interested in ESG can also check out the free impact dashboard on the Trader Workstation, Client Portal, and mobile apps:
Other than that, IBKR also hosts extensive learning resources for users new to the platform. You’ll find onboarding and tutorial videos, financial news, research on various securities, and so on.
In short: IBKR’s trading platforms are a great long-term place for investors despite the initial learning curve. It’s worth spending some time to familiarise yourself with the platform at the start, as it’s a small trade-off compared with the large selection of securities and low costs in the long run.
Whom is IBKR Best For?
We’d recommend IBKR for:
- Active traders who tend to trade in larger volumes, enabling them to take advantage of IBKR’s lower commissions under the tiered pricing model
- Institutional or professional traders
- Investors looking to diversify their global portfolio beyond the few select exchanges that other low-cost brokers offer
That said, although IBKR does have educational content for newer traders, the professional image portrayed may still scare off a few less-experienced investors. If you’d prefer a friendlier interface, we’d suggest checking out a platform like Moomoo instead.