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Interactive Brokers

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:38 am
by damian

does anyone care to share an opinion with me? I am shopping for a new broker. My needs are pretty basic, end of day trading only. I was attracted to them by the ability to trade options on shares from the same account that I trade futures.

Feel free to email if you:
a) do not want to sound like a salesman in public,
b) do not want to be negative in public,
c) always wanted to email me but ubtil now never had an excuse (this option reserved for females only :wink: )

specs on IB

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 8:55 am
by edward kim
Hi Damian,

I was just about to start posting a sequence of threads of different firms that I have used when I saw your thread. I'm currently trading with Interactive Brokers, so I'll list everything down here:

1. I haven't seen anyone's commissions lower yet.

2. If you don't generate more than $30.00 commission in one month, they charge a $10.00 fee (free, if more than $30.00 which is usually not a problem.) I haven't put on any trades since May, and I don't think the monthly fee is a big deal while I wait.

3. I set up five tabbed screens to track al the free quotes and tradeables:
indexes: e-mini dow, s&p, nasdaq, hang seng, all ordinaries, AIG commodity index
bonds: e-mini and full 30, 10, 5, 2-year, eurodollar, agency
naturals: e-mini crude, natural gas, gold, silver, broad wool (Australia)
forex: globex and IDEAL spot for AUD, CAD, EUR, CHF, JPY, HKD, BP, MXP, NZD, Brazilian Real, Russian Ruble, South African Rand
stocks: regular, OneChicago and NQLX single-stock futures

4. Most other non-free quotes and access to foreign exchanges charge about five to ten dollars a month in there local currency. Spain, France, London, Switzerland, Germany, Italy.

5. The IB system shuts down approxmately for half an hour to one-and a half hours at approximately 830-930PM PST. You can't login to the platform at that time.

6. GLOBEX is not that liquid for the naturals and the bonds contracts at night, and sometimes there is no bid, nor offer, or BOTH! I haven't pinned down the liquid times exactly, but everything seems pretty active beginning around 530AM PST. The currency and index contracts see to always be pretty good: not that bad of a spread most of the time. The thing about IB and getting quotes from GLOBEX and A/C/E is that you can get quotes (if you know the symbols) for things like mini-beans, wheat and corn because they trade overnight electronically, but you can't place a transaction through IB to trade them. See how many quotes you can get to track everything in real-time.

7. Downloaded statements from the web: last 20 days, and last 22 monthly statements (I think.) You can also get daily emailed statements. You need to be careful and audit your statements: your account will be correct dollar-wise, but the statements sometimes show incorrect P/L's for the individual trades. They are trying to fix this, but who knows when it will get done.

8. People answering the phone are often curt. Be prepared to ask efficient questions. Only one guy I talked to is very patient, but he doesn't know as much as the other people there.

9. Make sure your pc has lots of memory. I have a very old pc, but it has 312MB RAM on it, and it works fine. The ideal is to have a very fast chip, xDSL or cable, and at least 512MB RAM. The IB platform uses a 1.4 JRE that works kind of funky sometimes - probably because of my pc specs.

10. Real-time account value and margin requirements are available in a drop down menu.

11. Transactions are pretty fast because it's direct-access.

12. Some of the margins are unusually low - I think it's like $475 for NZD, and $700 for AUD and CAD. They are definitely encouraging active trading.

13. If you trade a foreign futures contract (like the Hang Seng), some of your account will be converted into Hong Kong dollars to cover the margin. You have to be careful especially when you trade something like the Sydney All Ordinaries: you might get hit on the index AND the currency exchange rate.

14. During regular trading hours, your margin requirement usually gets cut in half, because the system doesn't distinguish between a day trader and an overnight holder of positions. Near the close, the margins pop back up to the normal initial and maintenance amounts.


I moved from Tradestation for several reasons:

$99.99 monthly "data" fee is overpriced.

Futures accounts are separate from equities (which is stupid)

Can only test one commodity or stock at a time (Since I was thinking about buying Veritrader because it was similar to my own system: after 20 months, it comes out to the same price.)

If you want to put on several positions on the same day, the system will only allow you place three opening transactions in a single day - even if they are DIFFERRENT stocks (I have different accounts, so some accounts have less than 25k in them and I am subject to the PDT rule.) I called them about this and complained, and they didn't know the rules. At IB, they go by the book: three day trades only if it's the same stock ticker, and SSFs are NOT included (I think.)

Commissions are higher at Tradestation than IB.

I'm pretty happy with IB, except that I can't trade the meats, the grains, and the softs. No heating oil, no forex crosses, no dairy, and no platinum. I'm thinking maybe Castle Trading might help there, so I'll start my next thread on this firm.



Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 9:32 am
by Dutchtrader

I have experience with IB for about a year now. I can't compare with other brokers but I am quite positive;
1. Very low commission :lol:
2. Very user friendly platform: Trader Workstation
3. My contact was always per email: sometimes a little late reaction ( after two days sometimes )
4. Very reliable, always ( during regular hours ) accesible.
5. You can't trade every commodity as Eck already mentioned.

Just some points...


Re: IB

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 10:17 am
by damian
Dutchtrader wrote:5. You can't trade every commodity as Eck already mentioned.
Good info there, thanks guys.

as for market access... huh? Silly me just assumed that they would certainly cover everything that my current (small) broker covers.... not so it appears. In fact, in terms of the old fashioned markets, my broker covers far more. It does appear that IB cover some other sources that I have not actually heard of. Might have to check them out for the hell of it. Market access pretty much rules these guys off the list.

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 11:13 am
by bloom
I am using IB and couldn't be happier..the best thing is that you can

trade almost all the major markets, with through one account and

interface. they are putting out nikkei and KOSPI futures out soon too..

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 5:38 pm
by edward kim
I put in a message for the grains to be added to their system. They will get back to me on the A/C/E grains, but they have already notified me that if something is strictly pit traded, they won't have it available: it must be electronic.

One more thing: checks that are deposited are not available for 10 days after they RECEIVE the check, not when you post a deposit notification via the web. They don't accept direct deposit, and the only way to get money there overnight is by wire transfer. And you thought banks were bad for witholding funds~

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 9:02 pm
by djb
I have an account with IB and its fine.Being in Australia, its actually cheaper for me to trade NYSE and NASDAQ than our local ASX !

Everything is electronic, including the wiring of money into and out of my account via the internet.I only trade EOD, and I use a free third party add-on called Autotrader that allows me to enter STOP-LIMIT buy/sell orders and then have it automatically enter a STOPLOSS order if I'm filled. I can trade while I'm asleep at night during the US market hours,it works well.I only use IB for trading US stocks/Options.I have the prices for the E-mini, Dow-mini etc, but I'm not interested in trading those futures markets.IB does'nt do the tradional 'pit' markets like the grains etc.

So for stocks/options they are good, with great commision rates.The software is JAVA based so, Windoze,MAC and *NIX users are catered for.


Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2003 6:06 am
by redbullpeter
Some breaking news.

Wealth-Lab Developer 3.0 integrates a trading interface with IB.

You can now leave your system on auto-pilot!


Interactive brokers

Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2003 9:04 pm
by JohnA
I've had a varied experience with IB, mostly good.

My bad experience is as follows. A few weeks ago I got closed-out on a position I'm 100% certain I didn't have an order for. I called and I got customer service , the answer I got was it came from your user id. I asked if they could research the trade and get me the IP address this way I could verify that it was my mistake. I was told no.

When I asked for his name he refused , when I asked to talk to someone else or his immediate superior I was told tough, this is the end of the line , I insisted and in a matter of 30 seconds this individual actually hung up on me. This is extremely disconcerting in my opinion.

I've found that it is impossible to escalate a problem beyond the customer service rep.

I still use them as they offer the lowest cost for executing a trade, but be very careful if you have an execution problem.

As others have pointed out IB only offers to execute trades that are traded on the electronic platforms of the US and overseas Futures exchanges. That means NYBOT is not available since its open cry, same for NYMEX except , Mini Crude & Gas through GLOBEX , CBOT grains (Corn, Soybeans, Wheat) only after the open cry session is over , but essential there is no liquidity.

So you keep you live broker for all non electronic traded futures, with regards to equities and options you have access to everything in the US. take a look at their website http:\\

Hope this help in your choice of broker.


Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2003 10:54 pm
by ForrestGump

I am told that sierracharts interfaces with IB data to provide intraday charting at a good all up cost.

I havnt tried it myself but just pass it on for what it's worth.


Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 1:19 am
by Kiwi
I use Sierracharts daily with IB data for discretionary trading.

Very inexpensive and potentially very flexible using either internal spreadsheets or dlls to drive systems or indicators. Lacks the testing orientation of tradestation though and their model is a little funny at times (for example you cant clone parallel lines so drawing channels is difficult).


Edit: Sierrachart line drawing functions have improved considerably since this post and are now entirely satisfactory.

OptionsXpress vs IB & CyberTrader

Posted: Sat Jun 12, 2004 1:37 pm
by JamesK
Thanks to the folks who described the pros & cons of IB, very useful stuff.

I was wondering if anyone can comment on/compare OptionsXpress vs IB & CyberTrader.

I am currently using Ameritrade (they are pretty bad and low-tech, especially for Options), in fact the only/best thing they have going for them is the Streamer which they got from Datek.

Anyway, I have done lots of research on OptionsXpress, and they offer some really great tools, and order types/combinations, e.g. being able to set stoploss orders on options based on the underlying stock's price, One Cancels Other & One Triggers Other orders, etc. The biggest problem with OX is that it's all html based, no java, etc. download available...

I want know how IB & CyberTrader compare to OX in terms of features & order sophistication , i.e. can you say do:
1. set stoploss orders on options based on the underlying stock's price
2. One Cancels Other & One Triggers Other orders


Posted: Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:07 am
by richard
consider thinkorswim.

I have not compared to OptionsXpress. I use IB and thinkorswim. I use IB mostly for futures and thinkorswim for options and stocks.

thinkorswim has the best software I have ever seen, free. It includes a great charting package with prophet charts license bundled in. Their ordering and execution is great and their support fantastic. I am continually impressed with their software and their constant improvements. I wish they handled futures also.

I couldn't recommend them more highly. As for IB, they are fine as long as you don't need much human help. They can be curt on the phone.

Re: Interactive brokers

Posted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:40 am
by Moritz Mechanicus
JohnA wrote: I've found that it is impossible to escalate a problem beyond the customer service rep.

Is there a difference in service and attitude between the American branch and the UK branche? Who has experience with both branches?

Posted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:25 am
by JamesK
richard wrote:consider thinkorswim.

thinkorswim has the best software I have ever seen, free.
Richard, thanks for your suggestion, I have now switched to thinkorswim for stocks and options.

IB experiences

Posted: Sun May 08, 2005 2:19 pm
by rschiller
I've been trading with them about 2 months now, a system that uses the QQQQ and a few NQ (nasdaq e-mini) trades. My experiences:

1. Commissions are low, especially for stock under 1000 share lots but if my system starts necesitating larger trades then it will be cheaper to go back to my E*Trade account or possibley Brown & Co.
2. If I was only trading e-minis this would be a great place to trade, especially at $2.60/contract
3. My system requires equal access to long and short on QQQQ, I asked specifically before opening an account that there would never be a problem shorting Qs and they were very specific in stating that woudl never be a problem. Friday they only partially filled a short saying that was all they had, only giving me 200 short. I covered the position about an hour later and about an hour after that went to short 300 which the system would not let me do. The inability to short is my biggest gripe and I may have to leave trading with them.
4. As others have pointed out, do not expect any hand-holding in customer service, they are all business.
5. The TWS (trader's work station) takes some time to load up and is complex, good if you need all that capability, which I don't. The web-trader is fast and simple but lacks one key feature which I need which is the ability to trade stock orders only during normal market hours. If you enter a trade at the web-trader it is applicable throughout the day inclucing before-market ec and the fills can be very hinky.
6. Wire them funds or send a cashiers check that conforms to their very specific requirements or else they will hold funds 10 business days upon receipt, which can be a long time
7. Though complex, they allow bracket and stop-loss orders to be placed with your initial order, which is very cool


Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:24 am
redbullpeter wrote:Some breaking news.

Wealth-Lab Developer 3.0 integrates a trading interface with IB.

You can now leave your system on auto-pilot!



Do you need additional software such as TradeBolt to achieve auto execution with IB using Wealth-Lab ? Can TradeStation 2000i do that without TradeBolt ?

many thanks......

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:22 pm
by mike168
On a slightly different issue. I have a "Universal Account" with IB. I noticed that the account balance is separated into two accounts - "Securities" & "Commodities", although I only trade futures. Does anyone knows whether in this case CFTC regulates both accounts? I'm concerned that nn a case such as the Refco collapse, futures accounts are protected but not the non-CFTC regulated accounts.

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:07 am
by TrendMonkey
I trade stocks through IB and they are certainly extremely cheap and their system seems stable and functional enough. They scare me a bit, though. I have a feeling one day I might have a problem, and I will get nowhere trying to resolve it. I feel this because of their ultra "curt" (as someone above put it) customer service staff. Also, they strike me as a firm of computer people who happen to sell trading systems, as opposed to trading people who happen to use computers. For these reasons, I use them and am fairly happy but I try to keep a minimum amount of money with them.

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:25 pm
by mike168
For those interested in this protection issue, this is IB's answer:

Customer securities accounts at Interactive Brokers are protected up to $30 million (including up to $1 million for cash). The market value of your stocks, options, warrants, debt, and cash -- denominated in all currencies -- is covered by this insurance. Futures, options on futures, and single stock futures are not covered, but available cash will be swept from your futures account to your securities account periodically to take advantage of insurance coverage as much as possible. As with all securities firms, this insurance provides protection against failure of a broker-dealer, not against loss of market value of securities.

This protection is provided by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and Lloyd’s of London insurers. SIPC provides the first $500,000 per customer (including up to $100,000 for cash). For customers who have received the full SIPC protection, the Lloyd’s policy provides up to an additional $29.5 million (including $900,000 for cash), subject to an aggregate limit of $150 million.
For the purpose of determining a customer account, accounts with like names and titles (e.g. Individual/John Smith and Individual/John Smith) are combined, but accounts with different titles are not (e.g. Individual/John Smith and IRA/John Smith).
SIPC is a non-profit, membership corporation funded by broker-dealers that are members of SIPC. For more information about SIPC and answers to frequently asked questions (such as how SIPC works, what is protected, how to file a claim, etc.), please refer to the following websites: