Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is America’s largest electronic trading platform and a staple among both retail and professional traders alike.
You can trade just about anything on IBKR—stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options, bonds, foreign exchange, futures, and more. Indeed, IBKR is one of the best investment apps, in our eyes, thanks in part to its excellent selection of investment options.
Interactive Brokers actually delivers multiple investing platforms and apps, but its primary and best-known offering is Trader Workstation (TWS), which the company debuted back in 1995. TWS is a highly customizable, high-horsepower platform that delivers a wide range of functions and features, which we’ll discuss in more detail later on.
IBKR also boasts more than 2 million client accounts, and there are dozens of good reasons why. But depending on your brokerage needs, it might not necessarily be the best solution for you.
Let’s discuss IBKR’s Trader Workstation—as well as some of the most popular Interactive Brokers alternatives. We’ll talk about where IBKR excels (and where it falls short), and explain when and why other alternative brokerages and investing apps might make more sense.
What Is Interactive Brokers?
Interactive Brokers, founded in 1978, is one of the largest U.S. electronic trading platforms, offering traders access to stocks, bonds, funds, options, cryptocurrencies, forex trading, futures trading and more.
IB’s Trader Workstation (TWS) is Interactive Brokers’ flagship online stock trading account—a trading platform with roots back to 1995. But since then, the company has launched a number of other Interactive Brokers account options, including:
- IBKR Mobile: A powerful mobile platform for iOS and Android that allows people to trade on the go
- IBKR GlobalTrader: A simplified app for iOS and Android that targets global traders, allowing deposits in up to 23 different currencies
- Client Portal: A lighter web-based platform allowing clients to manage their account, evaluate performance, and read market news with minimal stock trading tools
- IBKR EventTrader: A web-based platform allowing investors to trade “event” contracts (yes-or-no questions like “Will the S&P 500 Index close above 3,900 today?”)
- IBKR Impact: A mobile app that helps investors select holdings most in line with their values.
But Workstation remains the workhorse. The platform supports investments across 150 global markets, and offers a wide variety of features and trading tools, including real-time monitoring, risk management tools, paper trading—all packaged under a heavily customizable layout tailored to amateur and professional traders alike.
While TWS users can still select the original view, they can build their own bespoke view through Mosaic. Functions such as stock monitoring, order entry, charts, and more appear as “tiles,” sized and arranged however you want them, and you can save custom layouts designed for one or more monitors.
Trader Workstation also lets investors use advanced trading tools to perform the following actions:
- Create example watchlists
- Use preset scans or build your own
- Create real-time trading alerts using price, time, margin, and volume
- Access more than 100 order types and algorithms to execute better trades
- Read breaking news from Reuters, Dow Jones, and other financial news outlets
- Access to third-party investment research and free stock reports from Morningstar, Zacks, and other firms
Interactive Brokers offers two primary online trading platforms—IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro—and both have no account minimums and zero maintenance fees. They also provide investors with access to many of the same features, including the Client Portal, Trader Workstation, and IBKR Mobile platforms; advanced order types; fractional shares of U.S. and European stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs); paper trading; and Risk Navigator, which evaluates your risk in single positions or across your entire portfolio.
IBKR Lite is most suitable for beginner and intermediate investors, offering unlimited commission-free U.S.-listed stock and ETF trading, and fixed pricing for non-U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, mutual funds, options, and futures.
IBKR Pro, meanwhile, is meant for advanced investors and active traders interested in a robust trading platform with global trading access. While it does charge commissions on even U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, it provides better execution for trades via its IB SmartRouting, which seeks out the best available prices for stocks and options across exchanges and dark pools—possibly resulting in lower spreads that offset the commissions you pay and making the option a smart trading platform to consider for high-volume traders. It also offers better margin rates than Lite, though both platforms’ rates are among the best on offer.
Pro also offers some features not available on IBKR Lite, including higher interest paid on idle cash balances, lower interest charged on margin loans, backtesting, and access to IBKR APIs, which allow you to build your own custom trading applications and even develop commercial trading software—features often used by hedge funds, Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and proprietary trading firms.
Why Consider Interactive Brokers Alternatives?
Given all of the features we just listed for Interactive Brokers, why would an investor choose anything else?
One of the biggest weaknesses we observed in both our own in-house evaluations and app store reviews was a buggy mobile-app experience. If you want to trade on the go, you might run into some frustrating hiccups. (Conversely, its other mobile apps offer better user experiences but don’t have nearly the functionality.)
IBKR’s desktop app is aces—easily one of the best from a functionality standpoint, and a mainstay among advanced and professional traders. But it can be overwhelming to novice investors.
Along the same lines, in many cases, IBKR is almost too much brokerage account for some people. Many people prefer a streamlined experience with just a few basic investment options on offer—and IBKR is quite the opposite of that. Below, we cover the top Interactive Brokers Alternatives worth your consideration.
Interactive Brokers Alternatives—Our Top Picks
Commission-free trading. Robinhood Gold: $5/mo., free 30-day trial.
Best Interactive Brokers Alternatives for Online Trading
1. TradeStation Select (Best Interactive Brokers Alternative for Advanced Traders)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Advanced traders, options and futures traders, active stock traders
- Platforms: Desktop app (Windows), web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
TradeStation Select and IBKR are frequently spoken in the same breath. They’re both extremely powerful platforms beloved by advanced and professional traders, and they’re frequently horse-raced against one another.
TradeStation not only includes a full-featured desktop app and a robust web trading platform, but also a highly rated stock trading app—one leg up on Interactive Brokers.
Much like every other online discount broker found on this list, this free stock trading app helps traders avoid commissions. Specifically, TradeStation offers zero commissions on stocks, exchange-traded funds, options, futures, micro futures, and futures options. It also functions as a direct access trading platform, meaning it connects traders directly with market makers or specialists on the trading floor like the New York Stock Exchange, further helping to lower spreads and the costs of your trades.
But the reason traders opt for TradeStation isn’t just the cost—well, lack of it—but its advanced trading features and services.
What makes TradeStation different?
TradeStation is one of the most high-powered stock trading platforms on this list. That’s because opening a TradeStation brokerage account provides you with free access to the TradeStation Analytics platform, which includes advanced trading tools such as:
- Matrix: TradeStation packs market depth, advanced order entry, and order tracking all in a single window, then combines it with one-click trading and extremely fast order execution. TradeStation calls it the “Swiss Army Knife of trading tools,” and it’s an apt description.
- RadarScreen: Identify trading opportunities with RadarScreen, a real-time screener that can monitor as many as 1,000 tickers. You can also use RadarScreen to rank those stocks based on your own custom criteria, or based on more than 180 preset (but customizable) fundamental and technical indicators.
- OptionStation Pro: This app provides a more visually appealing, and easier-to-understand, method of exploring the options markets. You can build option chains, model options positions with 3D graphics, and quickly place your trades.
- EasyLanguage: Want to take your trading to the next level? Create your own trading tools, indicators, even applications, with this trading-focused programming language—a language TradeStation already uses in every one of its indicators, strategies, and user functions.
(Note: Even if you don’t use TradeStation as your trading platform, you can still access TradeStation Analytics for $99 per month if you’re a non-professional trader, or $199 per month if you’re a professional trader.)
Other trading features include a simulated trading mode that allows you to test out trading plans without putting your funds at risk, backtesting, and customizable charting.
A passive feature of note is the Fully Paid Stock Lending Program. Through the program, you can allow TradeStation to lend out fully paid or excess margin securities, and in exchange, they’ll pay you a portion of the interest TS earns each day.
TradeStation is one of the best stock trading apps for advanced traders, but even experts might need a hand every now and then—and less experienced traders very well might need assistance. Fortunately, TS offers personalized support from the company’s brokerage professionals.
While TradeStation is commission-free, it’s hardly cost-free. For instance, all stock options trades still require a 60-cent contract fee. Futures trades are charged $1.50 per contract per side, micro futures trades are charged 50 cents per contract per side, and futures options are charged $1.50 per contract per side. Crypto trades have tiered pricing depending on volume size (unless made within a TradeStation IRA, which has just one pricing tier regardless of size). Margin rates, currently in the double digits, are high compared to peers. And mutual fund fees are a steep $14.95 per trade—no big deal for traders, who likely would avoid them anyways, but a hurdle for anyone looking to buy and hold mutual funds in their TS account.
Also, TradeStation falls short of IBKR in one pivotal area: fundamental research. TradeStation has a wealth of technical data, but Interactive Brokers has the edge as it pertains to fundamental data and tools.
And let’s be clear: Like with IBKR, beginning traders could be overwhelmed by this service, which caters to extremely active and experienced traders who use the trading platform primarily for its research tools and advanced trading tools.
Regardless, TradeStation’s top-of-class trading tools (and a wide variety of ways to access them) makes it one of the best stock trading platforms for advanced traders on this list. Intermediate users should be able to make plenty of hay on this platform, too. So if you’re interested, visit TradeStation to sign up for an account or get more information.
2. Robinhood (Best Interactive Brokers Alternative for Beginners)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Beginner traders
- Platforms: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
Robinhood is a pioneer of commission-free trading, jumping into the investing public’s consciousness in 2013 when they rolled out commission-free stock and ETF trades. They remain a standout option for cost-minded investors thanks to their continued $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options, as well as for its fractional trading, which allows people to invest with as little as $1.
More importantly, though, Robinhood has evolved from a bare-bones app appealing to mostly beginner investors to a fuller-featured trading platform suitable for a wider range of experience levels.
For instance, Robinhood now offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs via Robinhood Retirement. Functionally, it comes up short compared to many other IRA providers because of its investment options. It offers just stocks and ETFs; like with its brokerage account, mutual funds aren’t available. Options aren’t currently available, though Robinhood has explicitly stated that options will be made available soon.
However, Robinhood Retirement still stands out from the pack because it’s the only IRA provider that offers matching funds. If you open up an IRA with Robinhood Retirement, Robinhood will match 1% of any IRA transfers, 401(k) rollovers, and annual contributions to your account—and 3% if you pay for the Robinhood Gold service ($5 per month)—typically almost immediately after you make your contribution. Better still: Any matches made on annual contributions don’t count toward your contribution limit.
(Friendly message from your WealthUp tax expert: The reason the IRA match doesn’t count toward your annual IRA contribution limit is because Robinhood treats it as interest income in your IRA.)
You can choose your IRA investments yourself, but Robinhood’s Portfolio Builder can also provide you with a custom recommended portfolio made up of five to eight ETFs.
Robinhood has long catered to younger investors with its gamified interface and growing library of educational content. But over the years, it has added a boatload of other features for new and experienced investors alike. Advanced Charts, for instance, provides simple and customizable charts with a variety of technical features. Robinhood’s Options Strategy Builder simplifies the options-trading process by helping you build a strategy based on what you expect your target stock or ETF will do in the future. Robinhood also offers 24/7 commission-free cryptocurrency trading with Robinhood Crypto (though you’ll still have to pay a spread), allows extended-hours trading, and lets users earn interest through stock lending.
Robinhood Gold, which I mentioned above, is a monthly subscription service that offers several more features mostly geared toward advanced traders. Benefits include Level II market data provided by Nasdaq, a lower charged rate on margin investing than regular accounts, higher interest on uninvested brokerage cash via the cash sweep program, and bigger Instant Deposits.
If you want to keep your banking and investing close together, you can also add a Robinhood spending account. This FDIC-insured account includes a Robinhood Cash Card issued by Sutton Bank—however, if you don’t want this physical debit card, you do have the option of having a virtual debit card only. The Cash Card is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, and also provides you with access to fee-free withdrawals from more than 90,000 ATMs. The card allows you to round-up purchases and invest the money into your brokerage or crypto account.
3. E*Trade (Best IBKR Alternative for Intermediate Investors + Traders)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Intermediate investors
- Platforms: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
E*Trade is perhaps a better Interactive Brokers alternative for intermediate investors and traders—especially those who are looking for a more intuitive interface from the onset.
E*Trade has long been seen as a leading stock investment app for retail investors. E*Trade provides investors access to educational resources that assist you with conducting investment research and analysis and diversifying your portfolio.
Like most of the best stock investing apps, E*Trade offers zero-commission stock, ETF, and options trading. It also has a leg up on some platforms by offering $0-commissions on trades of mutual funds. Options still incur a 50- to 65-cent contract fee, however.
E*Trade has two platforms, both of which are free, and both of which have web and mobile versions:
Power E*Trade is a trading platform designated for more intermediate-to-advanced traders. Features include:
- Advanced charting that includes intraday and historical options; more than 100 studies; over 100 drawing tools; and the ability to automatically identify technical patterns
- Snapshot Analysis, which lays out risk-reward probabilities in your options trading
- Powerful stock and trade scanner; use preset filters or customize as you wish
- Paper trading to test out strategies without putting your money at risk
- Ability to design exit strategies
Like with the Power E*Trade web platform, the Power E*Trade app is a more powerful version of its basic counterpart. This app allows you to use preset scans, work with interactive charts, place complex options trades, and more.
The “basic” E*Trade web platform might be more suitable for beginning-to-intermediate traders and investors, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on features.
E*Trade’s main web platform includes everything you need to keep up to date on your portfolio, including real-time quotes, charts, market commentary, and stock news. The latter includes free access to research tools and reports from companies like Thomson Reuters and TipRanks research. Meanwhile, you’ll have ample tools at your disposal, including stock, mutual fund, bond, and ETF screeners; trade optimizers; backtesters; and more.
E*Trade also touts its educational resources, which includes articles, videos, and classes, as well as monthly webinars and live events. But we will note that its educational content is difficult to sort through.
Visit E*Trade to learn more or sign up today.
4. Webull (Ideal for Intermediate Investors + Traders)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Self-directed investors and intermediate traders
- Platforms: Desktop app (Windows, macOS, Linux), web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
Webull is another ideal IBKR alternative for intermediate investors and traders.
Webull first hit the investing world in 2018 and made a splash by offering free stock trading, as well as commission-free trading of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options. And since then, it has become one of the best stock apps for intermediate traders and investors, though many of its features are helpful to beginners as well.
For one, Webull remains friendly to wallet-conscious traders today. It costs nothing to open a Webull account. Stocks, ETFs, and options still trade without transaction fees. Many options have $0 contract fees. And Webull has no deposit minimums. On top of that, it offers fractional shares, which allows investors to start buying for as little as $1. So beginners working with small dollar amounts can still easily diversify across numerous investments.
Newer investors can also learn trading skills through the courses in Webull’s education center, and even practice their skills via Webull’s paper trading service.
And Webull is available across just about every platform, allowing you to research, trade, and track your stocks on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
Why choose Webull to trade stocks?
Webull provides investors with several useful features and tools, including:
- Customizable screeners for both stocks and ETFs
- Preset lists–including Top Gainers, Top Losers, Most Active, and Best-Performing Industries—investors can use to identify opportunities
- Voice commands: Simply speak to buy, sell, or look up information about a ticker
- “Big Button Mode”: Populates giant buttons on your screen that allow you to quickly make trades with just a push.
- Charting tools
- Free real-time stock quotes and stock alerts
We’ll point out that while Webull allows for many types of commission-free trades, other costs will still apply to a few transactions. For instance, a 55-cent contract fee applies to certain options trades. And Webull doesn’t directly charge fees for trading cryptocurrencies; however, it does build a 1-percentage-point markup into the price of cryptocurrency when you buy or sell crypto.
One particularly noteworthy shortcoming for investors is that you can’t buy mutual funds on Webull. Yes, ETFs offer a wide array of diversified strategies, but the mutual fund world offers some cheap index funds and many successful actively managed strategies.
Regardless, Webull remains one of the best, and most cost-friendly, trading platforms you can come across. And on top of all the free features mentioned above, Webull also runs frequent promotions that allow investors to collect free stocks.
5. eToro (Best IBKR Alternative for CopyTrading)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Beginner traders
- Platforms: Desktop app (Windows, macOS), web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
Most trading apps keep you in one place: Your account. But eToro wants to change that.
eToro has made investing social by giving you the chance to engage with other traders, creating a social trading network designed to share ideas on the publicly traded markets. You can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and options commission-free, and you can also get exposure to cryptocurrencies. (In non-U.S. markets, you can also trade currencies, as well as contracts-for-difference, or CFDs.)
eToro is known for its CopyTrader service—a novel product that allows you to copy the trades of experienced investors automatically. No more guesswork on making trades yourself; you simply follow the leader and let the app handle the legwork for you. While this might not interest advanced traders, it’s an appealing feature for beginners looking to replicate the performance of popular traders on the platform. (Editor’s Note: Even though this can make for a fun trading experience, you should still be fully aware of the risks entailed through this feature—namely, the potential for losses.)
Of course, you don’t have to copy anyone—you can trade on your own ideas. This intuitive investing app began with a strong crypto focus, but you can now make self-directed trades across a host of other assets.
In addition to offering access to thousands of stocks and hundreds of ETFs, it also allows you to invest directly in dozens of cryptocurrencies—a much larger selection than the mere four cryptos you can trade through IBKR. When you trade crypto with the platform, you’ll encounter an industry-standard spread of 1%. Of particular interest to options traders, eToro charges no options contract fees in the U.S. Investors can also use the app to understand environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores through their user-friendly “traffic light” color scheme: green means the company is a leader in its sector, yellow indicates average, and red means the company scores poorly relative to sector competitors.
Lastly, if you’d like to invest based on a specific theme or strategy, eToro offers Smart Portfolios. These are fully allocated, balanced portfolios, investing in various market segments, that are backed by professional research and various risk management rules. You only need $500 to participate in Smart Portfolios, and you pay no management fees.
And for people interested in testing the waters without opening their wallet at the start, eToro offers a free Demo Account that comes with $100,000 in virtual money to test your trade ideas.
Opening an account is quick and simple to do. Simply visit eToro’s website to open and fund an account. From there, you get access to their commission-free trading platform for stocks, ETFs, options, forex and crypto.
Which Firms Are the Best Interactive Brokers Alternatives?
Like we mentioned above, the best Interactive Brokers alternatives will depend on what you’re looking for in a brokerage account or trading platform.
TradeStation Select, for instance, is excellent for the same type of crowd that typically invests with IBKR but also wants a smoother mobile experience. However, intermediate traders might be more comfortable with the likes of Webull or eToro, while beginners might prefer the simplicity and user experience offered by Robinhood.
Should I Use an Interactive Brokers Competitor?
Ultimately, the answer to this dovetails with our guidance for choosing any brokerage account: Determine which features are most important to you, and select the platform that offers you most (or ideally all) of those features.
Interactive Brokers provides a wide range of trading features, so chances are, if you plan on trading frequently, and/or you need plenty of technical tools and trade-idea generators—and you don’t plan on heavily trading from a mobile app—IBKR is a top-rate choice. But if you’re more of a beginner trader, or more of a long-term investor, you’re likely to find a more ideal combination of features elsewhere.
What Stock Services Make Sense for Traders Who Use IBKR or Interactive Brokers Alternatives?
1. Trade Ideas
- Available: Sign up here
Trade Ideas employs an artificial intelligence-powered assistant named Holly. This AI becomes your virtual research analyst who never sleeps and instead sifts through technicals, fundamentals, social media, earnings, and more to pick stocks as real-time trade recommendations.
Holly stays busy, too. She runs over 1 million simulated trades each night and morning before the stock market opens, with more than 70 proprietary algorithms to find you the highest-probability, most risk-appropriate opportunities.
This trading information website doesn’t stop there, though. You can test these trade ideas in a live simulated trading room. This allows you to demo the stock picking service’s ideas without risking your own money.
The powerful service allows you to access real-time streaming trading ideas on simultaneous charts to learn how to trade into risk-reward balanced trades. You can invest and learn at the same time.
Where Trade Ideas excels
Where Trade Ideas excels is not only giving you the data and ideas you haven’t seen elsewhere, but also teaching you how to manage your money.
As the stock market evolves, Trade Ideas’ software adjusts levels and the trading plan to match. The best part? You can learn how to do all of this without risking your principal through a real-time simulated trading environment.
After you’ve grown comfortable with the service, you can choose to go live with the trade ideas and start investing real money by connecting directly through a brokerage like Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, and E*Trade.
Additionally, the service provides alert services. You can receive price alerts through Trade Ideas’ Standard and Premium services, as well as by subscribing to the company’s Strength Alerts newsletter. This gives you five new trade ideas in your inbox from the company’s model portfolio every Monday. Trade Ideas also has a free Trade of the Week newsletter highlighting a stock pick TI has identified for subscribers.
How does Trade Ideas find stock picks?
Trade Ideas’ technology uses a different scan each week to find unusual trade activity. For example, they may detect high short interest in a stock or industry, which often leads to short squeezes, such as what happened with GameStop.
Real people curate scan results before any recommendations come available through the service. You’ll also learn how the service picked the trade, why they believe it will perform well, and how to find similar trades on your own.
The service carries a hefty price tag, with the Standard subscription starting at $999 per year. For the full Holly experience, you’ll need to upgrade to their $1,999 Premium plan.
Consider starting your Trade Ideas subscription with no contract involved. Cancel anytime.
Related: Best Investing Apps for Teens
- Available: Sign up here
TradingView is a useful investment research software for stock traders who rely on technical analysis.
The stock research app provides stock charts with real-time data and personally selected indicators including moving averages, Relative Strength Index (RSI), Bollinger Bands, and more.
TradingView also provides a powerful stock screener that can help you research stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), closed-end funds (CEFs), foreign exchange (forex), cryptocurrencies, and more. The screener comes with pre-built data sets, with fundamental sets including the likes of Overview, Performance, and Dividends, and even technical sets such as Oscillators and Trend-Following. TradingView also pre-built screens, such as Large-Cap, High-Dividend, Most Volatile, even Largest Employers.
This investment research service works well for traders looking to gain an edge on the stock market by utilizing the 50-plus data feeds and exchanges offered on the platform.
3. TrendSpider (Best for Refining Trading Strategies)
- Available: Sign up here
- Best for: Traders of all experience levels looking to trade more efficiently
- Platforms: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
TrendSpider offers a comprehensive platform for traders to create, backtest, and refine trading strategies, scan and analyze the market, and time trades with precision. With its advanced tools and features, TrendSpider is designed to make trading more efficient for both novice and experienced traders.
Among the platform’s powerful tools:
- Robust technical charting and pattern recognition features, such as native multi-timeframe analysis, automatic trendlines, and Smart Checklists
- Raindrop Charts®, which provide a new way to visualize market data, focusing on trading volume at each price level
- Alternative data offerings including information on options flow, analyst actions, market breadth, insider trades, and more
- Data Flow, which enables real-time tracking of market data for all symbols, including analyst estimates, earnings, news, and unusual options flow
- Strategy Tester, which allows users to quickly develop and test trading strategies without any coding required; users can configure entry and exit rules and explore the performance of their strategies directly on the price chart
- Backtesting capabilities for technical, non-technical, and event-based strategies; once a winning strategy is identified, users can deploy it as a trading bot with just one click
Of particular note for traders is TrendSpider’s Scanner feature, which allows you to instantly test any strategy on any market and search for ideal trading opportunities. The stock scanner supports searching through watchlists, indexes, and more than 700 smart lists. Users can mix and match conditions and timeframes, allowing them to express any view in a single scan. The platform also provides a range of pre-made scanners to help users get started.
TrendSpider’s mobile app ensures traders are always connected to their charts and scanners, while the Chrome extension allows users to access real-time charts while browsing the web. The platform also offers extensive educational resources through TrendSpider University and detailed documentation for its features.
The platform also supports integration with external systems using webhooks, enabling traders to build custom alerts and bots that interact with social media channels, private chat servers, email, or order routers connected to brokerage accounts. TrendSpider’s SignalStack service can turn any signal or alert on TrendSpider into a live order in a trader’s account.
Learn more about the platform’s capabilities or sign up for TrendSpider today.