Interactive Broker EU (IBKR) is one of the largest brokerages in the world that has existed since 1977. They execute almost two million trades per day, offer platforms for desktop and mobile, and provide access to a gigantic range of markets, including stocks, ETFs, futures, options, and much more at very low fees, all from a single investment account.
Interactive Broker EU has eliminated the €10 monthly inactivity fee for all accounts, including European clients, starting July 1, 2021. This means you will no longer be charged for not maintaining a minimum balance or transaction activity.
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Interactive Brokers was already one of the most affordable brokers despite the fee, but now it just got a whole lot more interesting.
European investors on community sites like Reddit often recommend Interactive Broker EU as the most trusted broker. As someone who has done research on and tested numerous trading platforms over the years, I’m going to share my own review of Interactive Brokers and explain why I think it’s an excellent choice for experienced investors but perhaps not so much for complete novices.
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I’ll try to give you the full rundown so you can decide for yourself if IB is worth your time, money, and trust or not. Interactive Broker EU is among the best brokerages you can get in Europe, but it’s not necessarily suitable for everyone.
Broker IBKR’s main benefits are allowing investors to trade thousands of real or derived products on their diverse web and mobile platforms, with 20 available currencies and access to 135 exchanges across the globe. On the other hand, this might be too much for new investors.
Fees on IB are incredibly low across all asset classes. Moreover, IB recently removed their obsolete €10 monthly inactivity fee. Prior to this change, you would be charged €10 if your account was valued below €100.000 or if you traded less frequently.
With the new €0 monthly fee, IB is ideal for larger accounts and investors of all sizes. For anyone who wants a first-rate quality broker with a great reputation, long history of safety, and worldwide availability, IB is a clear winner.
Based on my experience, here are the key points to keep in mind about Interactive Broker EU:
- Interactive Brokers is one of the world’s largest online brokers that can be used to invest and trade across gigantic range markets with very low fees.
- The company has been around for more than 40 years, has survived multiple global recessions, is listed on NASDAQ, has public financials, and boasts yearly revenue of nearly $2 billion.
- European investors can apply for an account on Interactive Broker EU, although some restrictions may apply. They accept applications from most nationalities (see full list below).
- Interactive Broker EU is regulated by 11 top-tier financial authorities across the globe, including four European ones, the UK’s FCA, CSSF in Luxembourg, the CBI in Ireland, and Hungary’s MNB.
- Getting used to IB’s trading platforms requires patience as these are not immediately intuitive. Hobby investors should use the Client Portal and IBKR Mobile, while pros may opt for the Trader Workstation.
That’s my review of Interactive Brokers in a nutshell. If you want to know IB in depth, keep on reading.
What is Interactive Broker EU?
Interactive Broker EU is an American online stock broker headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Founded in 1977, the broker is one of the oldest platforms around. The platform is now home to over 981,000 investors from over 200 countries.
With an IB account, you’ll be able to trade almost any type of product, from stocks and ETFs to leveraged instruments like futures and options. Altogether, you’ll be able to trade on 135 worldwide exchanges in 33 countries.
Interactive Brokers is available throughout most of Europe. Here is a complete list of eligible European countries:
- Aland Islands
- Channel Islands and Jersey
- Czech Republic
- Faeroe Islands
- Isle of Man
- Republic of Moldova
- San Marino
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- United Kingdom
How to open an account with Interactive Broker EU in Europe
Opening an account with Interactive Broker EU is relatively easy, but a time-consuming process. You will be asked a series of questions that take around 30 minutes to complete. Below I have listed the three main steps required to get started on IBKR:
1. Start the application
Jump over to the https://www.interactivebrokers.com website and hit “Open Account” to start the application. You’ll need to select a memorable username, as you’ll be using it, later on, to log in together with your password. Confirm your email address by clicking the link that was sent to your inbox.
2. Provide information
Now comes a lengthy 4-step know-your-customer process involving several questions. Your questionnaire may look a little different from mine depending on your residency and the type of account you’re opening.
On the first screen, you will need to share the following details:
- Customer/account type: individual (only you) or Joint (shared account, e.g. with your spouse or someone else).
- Contact information: full name, address, phone number, etc.
- Personal information: date of birth, tax residency, tax number, etc.
- Source of wealth: declare in percentages the origin of your funds
Under “Base currency”, you can choose between multiple currencies, including EUR, GBP, CHF, and so on. Selecting a standard currency for your profile under this step will not prevent you from funding your account with different currencies later on.
The next screen is called “Regulatory”. Here you first need to choose which type of account you want to open. You can select between the Cash or Margin account:
- The Cash account is probably the type of account most new investors will open. With a cash account, you can only invest money that you actually have available.
- The Margin account, on the other hand, will enable you to invest with borrowed funds, or let your cash balance go into occasional overdraft. In that way, it’s more flexible and suitable if you plan to do both investing and trading. If you want access to leveraged products, you will most likely need a margin account. The annual interest rate charged is only around 1.5% for USD and EUR.
Don’t worry too much about what you choose, as you can also change your account type later on. You can read up on the differences between cash and margin accounts here.
IB will then ask you some questions about your financial situation and trading experience, including:
- Net worth and income
- Investment experience
- Overall objectives
You have to the different types of products you would want to invest in. You also need to declare how many years of experience you have with each instrument. For buy-and-hold investors, selecting stocks and bonds will be enough.
In the final steps, IB will ask you to read and accept a series of agreements and terms in order to open your account.
You also need to provide proof of your residency and identity.
At this stage, you also have the option to fund your IB account.
Submit your application and wait for the approval.
3. Fund your Interactive Broker EU Account
If everything went well, your application should be approved within two weeks’ time. The only step left now is to active your account. To do this, you need to make a bank transfer from an account held in your name.
Click on the burger menu in the top-left corner and select “Transfer and pay” and “Transfer funds”. Follow the instructions on the screen closely. You will be required to select a currency and amount.
Click “Create a deposit” and copy the payment details. Remember to include the message shown under “Payment reference” when initiating the transfer. Usually, there’s an area called “Reference” or “Text” in your bank’s interface where you can do this.
Forex Platforms and Tools
Interactive Brokers offers a number of trading platforms for regular investors and professional traders alike.
In this review, I want to highlight the platforms that are geared towards everyday users. These are the web application, the Client Portal, and the app for Android and iOS, the IBKR Mobile. I would recommend that you stay clear of the Trader Workstation – it’s only meant for professionals.
The Client Portal or is an Interactive Broker EU beginner-friendly web platform. This is the easiest place for investors to buy and sell simple products like stocks and index funds.
The Client Portal is structured to present a clear overview of your portfolio on the front page, along with other key performance indicators, such as gains and losses. To give your dashboard a personal touch, you can also add or remove widgets that provide additional information.
From the top menu, you can search among thousands of assets by entering the company name, symbol, ISIN code, or similar. Each product page contains key metrics, a company description, and of course some pretty performance charts. You can also trade by clicking the “Trade” button which will let you create a buy or sell order directly.
Since there are thousands of products to choose from and these sometimes look very similar, always remember to double-check you are dealing with the right investment, currency, and using the right exchange.
Broker IBKR Mobile Trading App
If you prefer to trade on the go, you can download the IBKR Mobile app. The mobile platform is slightly more complicated than the Client Portal but provides all the features you need to stay on top of your investments.
Essential features include a portfolio overview, P&L (profit-and-loss) analysis, order placements, watchlists, alerts, and research tools like asset data and news.
Is Interactive Broker EU safe?
Interactive Brokers is one of the safest brokerage firms around. The company has existed for almost half a century, is regulated by several top-tier financial authorities, has impressive financials, and provides numerous technical safety measures to protect your account. Moreover, its mother company is publicly traded on Nasdaq, meaning all financial statements are published online for everyone to review.
Interactive Broker EU Regulation
To legally do business in multiple jurisdictions, Interactive Brokers serves its clients from a number of locally regulated entities around the world. In Europe, IB operates the following licensed bodies:
- Interactive Brokers U.K. Limited (IBUK) is regulated by the financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- Interactive Brokers Luxembourg SARL (IBLUX) is regulated by theCommission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF)
- Interactive Brokers Ireland Limited (IBIE) is regulated by theCentral Bank of Ireland (CBI)
- Interactive Brokers Central Europe Zrt. (IBCE) is regulated by the Central Bank of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Bank)
From what could be gathered online, European clients of IB are assigned to these as follows (some countries are missing from the list):
- IBUK: UK
- IBIE: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lichtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
- IBLUX: Luxembourg
- IBCE: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
To sum up, Interactive Brokers is an excellent fit for European investors of all shapes and size, but their trading platform may be more suitable for those with some years of experience behind the back.
You will have access to thousands of instruments at low cost through the user-friendly Client Portal and mobile app, including individual stocks and popular passive products like low-cost ETFs, which altogether makes it easy to build and maintain a diversified portfolio.
At the same time, Interactive Broker EU is also great for traders with high-risk tolerance and for those looking to utilize the broker’s ridiculously low-interest margin loans.
If you execute multiple orders per month and you are comfortable with advanced order types, you will appreciate the low commissions, Interactive Broker EU professional platforms, and low margin loan interest rates.
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