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Averaging over 1 million trades per business day, Interactive Brokers is one of the largest and most popular online discount brokerages in the world. Because their commissions are so attractive for active traders, IB tends to attract a professional trading clientele.
For example, if you’re a professional trader averaging over 100,000 monthly options contracts, IB charges just $0.15 per contract with no ticket charge. Granted, 100,000 contracts is on the high end of the volume spectrum, but nonetheless IB offers pricing that other brokerages simply do not.
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At the most basic level, Interactive Brokers caters specifically towards serious, full-time traders and institutional money managers, but they are a horrible broker.
Standard options trades start at $0.70 per contract and decrease based on monthly volume.
Futures and futures options start at $0.85 per contract and decrease based on monthly volume.
Without question, IB offers some of the cheapest options and futures commissions rates in the entire industry. Please note, however, that Interactive Brokers auto-liquidates options positions. For example, if the margin requirement exceeds the available buying power in an IB account at the end of a trading day, some or all of the position will be automatically liquidated by IB’s risk algorithms. This is very common with short option positions.
Interactive Brokers offers several capable trading platforms. Trader Workstation is their downloadable platform that serves the needs of most traders. If you prefer to trade on a web-based platform, Interactive Brokers offers a robust online platform that offers almost all the same capabilities of the downloadable platform.
Although the platforms that IB offers are free, the trading data is not. Standard level II and full depth of book data is around $10 per month. OPRA options data is also extra. Other brokerages, like Ally Invest, TradeStation, and TD Ameritrade for example, offer trading data for free. Many believe the reason IB is able to charge such cheap commissions is because they charge market data and inactivity fees.