Overview of Fees

Clients and as well as prospective clients are encouraged to review our website where fees are outlined in detail. An overview of the most common fees is provided below:

 

1. Commissions - vary by product type and listing exchange and whether you elect a bundled (all in) or unbundled plan. In the case of US stocks, for example, we charge $0.005 per share with a minimum per trade of $1.00.


2. Interest - interest is charged on margin debit balances and IB uses internationally recognized benchmarks on overnight deposits as a basis for determining interest rates. We then apply a spread around the benchmark interest rate (“BM”) in tiers, such that larger cash balances receive increasingly better rates, to determine an effective rate.  For example, in the case of USD denominated loans, the benchmark rate is the Fed Funds effective rate and a spread of 1.5% is added to the benchmark for balances up to $100,000.  In addition, individuals who short stock should be aware of special fees expressed in terms of daily interest where the stock borrowed to cover the short stock sale is considered 'hard-to-borrow'. 

 3. Exchange Fees - again vary by product type and exchange. For example, in the case of US securities options, certain exchanges charge a fee for removing liquidity (market order or marketable limit order) and provide payments for orders which add liquidity (limit order). In addition, many exchanges charge fees for orders which are canceled or modified.



4. Market Data - you are not required to subscribe to market data through IB but if you do you may incur a monthly fee which is dependent upon the vendor exchange and their subscription offering. We provide a Market Data Assistant tool which assists in selecting the appropriate market data subscription service available based upon the product you wish to trade. To access, log into Account Management click on the Support section and then the Market Data Assistant link.



5. Minimum Monthly Activity Fee - as we cater to active traders we require accounts to generate a minimum in commissions each month or be charged the difference as an activity fee. The minimum is $10 per month for accounts maintaining a balance above $2,000 and $20 per month for accounts whose equity has fallen below $2,000.



6. Miscellaneous - IB allows for one free withdrawal per month and charges a fee for each subsequent withdrawal. In addition, there are certain pass-through fees for trade bust requests, options and futures exercise & assignments and ADR custodian fees.



For additional information, we recommend visiting our website at ww.interactivebrokers.com and selecting any of the options from the Pricing menu option.

 

Equity & Index Option Position Limits

Overview: 

Equity option exchanges define position limits for designated equity options classes.  These limits define position quantity limitations in terms of the equivalent number of underlying shares (described below) which cannot be exceeded at any time on either the bullish or bearish side of the market.  Account positions in excess of defined position limits may be subject to trade restriction or liquidation at any time without prior notification.

Background: 

Position limits are defined on regulatory websites and may change periodically.  Some contracts also have near-term limit requirements (near-term position limits are applied to the side of the market for those contracts that are in the closest expiring month issued).  Traders are responsible for monitoring their positions as well as the defined limit quantities to ensure compliance.  The following information defines how position limits are calculated;

 

Option position limits are determined as follows:

  • Bullish market direction -- long call & short put positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.
  • Bearish market direction -- long put & short call positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.

The following examples, using the 25,000 option contract limit, illustrate the operation of position limits:

  • Customer A, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be short 25,000 XYZ calls, since long and short positions in the same class of options (i.e., in calls only or in puts only) are on opposite sides of the market and are not aggregated
  • Customer B, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be long 25,000 XYZ puts. Rule 4.11 does not require the aggregation of long call and long put (or short call and short put) positions, since they are on opposite sides of the market.
  • Customer C, who is long 20,000 XYZ calls, may not at the same time be short more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies to the aggregate position of long calls and short puts in options covering the same underlying security. Similarly, if Customer C is also short 20,000 XYZ calls, he may not at the same time have a long position of more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies separately to the aggregation of short call and long put positions in options covering the same underlying security.

 

Notifications and restrictions:

 

IB will send notifications to customers regarding the option position limits at the following times:

  • When a client exceeds 85% of the allowed limit IB will send a notification indicating this threshold has been exceeded
  • When a client exceeds 95% of the allowed limit IB will place the account in closing only. This state will be maintained until the account falls below 85% of the allowed limit. New orders placed that would increase the position will be rejected.

 

Notes:

Position limits are set on the long and short side of the market separately (and not netted out).
Traders can use an underlying stock position as a "hedge" if they are over the limit on the long or short side (index options are reviewed on a case by case basis for purposes of determining which securities constitute a hedge).
Position information is aggregated across related accounts and accounts under common control.

 

Definition of related accounts:

IB considers related accounts to be any account in which an individual may be viewed as having influence over trading decisions. This includes, but is not limited to, aggregating an advisor sub-account with the advisor's account (and accounts under common control), joint accounts with individual accounts for the joint parties and organization accounts (where an individual is listed as an officer or trader) with other accounts for that individual.

 

Position limit exceptions:

Regulations permit clients to exceed a position limit if the positions under common control are hedged positions as specified by the relevant exchange. In general the hedges permitted by the US regulators that are recognized in the IB system include outright stock position hedges, conversions, reverse conversions and box spreads. Currently collar and reverse collar strategies are not supported hedges in the IB system. For more detail about the permissible hedge exemptions refer to the rules of the self regulatory organization for the relevant product.

OCC posts position limits defined by the option exchanges.   They can be found here.
http://www.optionsclearing.com/webapps/position-limits

Priority or Professional Customer Orders

In the 4th quarter of 2009, certain U.S. option exchanges (CBOE, ISE) implemented rules which serve to distinguish orders originating from a group of public customers deemed to be "Professional" (i.e., persons or entities having access to information and/or technology which enables them to trade in a manner as a broker dealer) as opposed to retail.  In accordance with these rules, any customer account which is not a broker dealer and which places more than 390 listed option orders (whether executed or not) on a daily average across all option exchanges in a given month for its own beneficial account(s) will be classified as Professional. Since the original implementation by CBOE and ISE, most other U.S. options exchanges have similarly implemented rules to distinguish orders as "Professional" in origin.

Orders submitted on behalf of Professional customers to these option exchanges will be treated the same as broker dealers for purposes of execution priority and will be subject to a per contract transaction fee ranging from rebates of ($0.65) to a charge of $1.12 (depending upon the class of options). 

Brokers are required to conduct a review on a calendar quarter basis to identify those customers who have exceeded the 390 order threshold for any month in that quarter and who are to be designated as Professional for the next calendar quarter. Note that for purposes of this rule, spread orders are considered a single order, rather than each leg of the spread as an individual order. Customers impacted by these rules will be notified by IB.  In addition, IB's Smart order router is designed to take these new exchange fees into consideration when making routing decisions.

For additional details, please see the following links:

ISE Regulatory Circular 2009-179

CBOE Regulatory Circular RG09-148

How are the closing prices for U.S. listed securities options determined?

The prices which IB uses to mark U.S. listed securities options as of the close of business each day (both TWS and statements) originate from the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).  As the sole clearinghouse for these option products, OCC generates a closing price for each option contract in order to calculate the margin required of its members on whose behalf it clears transactions (e.g., IB) and also to supply the risk arrays used by brokers carrying portfolio margin accounts.

Its important to note that the prices generated by OCC are edited and therefore may not reflect the closing price as disseminated by any of its participant exchanges.  They are edited primarily due to the fact that there is no consolidated quote provided for options, most of which are multiply listed and fungible across all seven exchanges (i.e., there may be seven different prices to choose from each day).  As a result, OCC creates a single price as of the close which is theoretically consistent across all exchanges and reviewed to ensure that there are no arbitrage conditions across strikes or time. 

In creating prices, OCC will start by taking the mid-point of the highest bid and lowest ask price across all listing exchanges, determining the implied volatility and then smoothing that implied volatility curve (for a given option class, type and expiration) through an iterative process which, in turn, adjusts the option mark prices.  There are also rules enforced to cap volatility for certain deep in and deep out-of-the-money options. The resultant edited price is extended out to six decimal places.  Due to the operational overhead of computing edited prices for the complete universe of option series, this process is performed only once per day as of the market close.

Options Regulatory Fee (ORF)

The ORF is an exchange fee which OCC collects from its clearing members, including IBKR. Its stated purpose is to assist in offsetting exchange costs relating to the supervision and regulation of the options market (e.g., routine surveillance, investigations, and policy, rule-making, interpretive and enforcement activities). The fee was initiated by the CBOE in mid-2009, by each of the BOX, ISE and PHLX in January 2010, by AMEX and ARCA in May 2011, by Nasdaq in January 2012, by C2 in August 2012, by Miami in January 2013, by ISE GEMINI in August 2013, by BATS in February 2015, by Nasdaq BX in February 2016, by BATS EDGX in February 2017, by PEARL in February 2017 and by MERCURY and EMERALD in February 2019. It is currently assessed to customer orders at a rate of $0.0388 per U.S. exchange listed option contract with the rate per exchange as follows: 

EXCHANGE ORF
AMEX $0.0055
ARCA $0.0055
BATS $0.0002
BOX $0.0038
CBOE $0.0045
C2 $0.0012
EDGX $0.0001
EMERALD $0.0006

ISE

$0.0020

GEMINI $0.0018
MERCURY $0.0004
MIAX $0.0029

NOM

$0.0020
NASDAQBX $0.0005
PEARL $0.0028
PHLX

$0.0050

Total $0.0388


Note that the ORF is assessed on all trades, both buys and sells, in addition to the IBKR commission charge as well as any existing exchange fees (e.g., liquidity removal) and will be reflected on the Activity Statement as a Regulatory Fee.

Overview of Accumulate / Distribute Algorithm

Overview: 

Accumulate/Distribute is a sophisticated trading algorithm which allows one to buy or sell large orders by splitting the trade into multiple orders with the goal of reducing visibility and market impact.

When to Use
This order type is geared towards traders of large position blocks as well as high frequency traders and is intended to run unattended while logged into the TWS.
 
How to Locate
The Accumulate/Distribute algorithm can be accessed from the TraderWorkstation by selecting the Trading and then Accumulate/Distribute menu options at the top of the page or it can be added to the trading tool bar menu by clicking on the Add More Buttons icon.
 
Order Set Up
Once the trader has defined the instrument and action (buy or sell), the following parameters are to be specified:
 
  1. Total Quantity – defines the aggregate order size (e.g., shares, contracts);
  2. Trade Increment – defines the unit (e.g., shares, contracts) size for each component order;
  3. Time Increment – defines the period of time (seconds, minutes or hours) between the submission of a component order and the submission of the following order;
  4. Order Type – may select from market, limit or relative. A market order will be executed at the ask price and should only be used where, for example, a stock is highly liquid with significant bid-ask sizes. Limit and Relative order types require that the trader specify additional order relationships and the choices are numerous. The execution price, for example, may be specified as being relative to a fixed value, bid, ask or last price, VWAP, moving average or last trade. These choices may be increased or decreased by an offset factor and multiple conditions may be established. For example, one may wish to create a relative order type to match the bid price plus an offset factor of $0.01 and to ensure that they don’t lift the ask if the spread is $0.01, add a condition that the bid be no less that $0.02 beneath the ask price.
  5. How to Operate – if the trader does not check the box titled “Wait for current order to fill before submitting next order” then orders which do not meet the price conditions will continue to accumulate in accordance with the established time increment, the unexecuted orders will be aggregated into one or more potentially sizable orders at the exchange. If this box is checked, then the more restrictive the buying conditions, the greater the likelihood that the algorithm will fall behind its schedule of buying or selling at every ‘X’ interval.  If this box is checked the trader may then check the box titled “Catch up in time”. When that box has been checked and should the algorithm fall behind, the next orders will be placed immediately after their predecessor fills until such time the algorithm has caught up.
  6. Randomization – check boxes are provided to allow for a +/- 20% randomization in the time increment and a +/- 55% randomization in the trade increment. Accordingly, in the case of a 30 second time increment, this would allow for randomization of between 24 and 36 seconds between orders and in the case of a 500 share trade increment, this would allow for randomization of between 200 and 800 shares (rounded to the nearest round lot) per order. Randomization serves to minimize the likelihood of others detecting your order.
  7. RTH – a check box is provided which will allow the order to be filled outside of regular trading hours.
  8. Take up Offer Size – if a limit or relative order type is selected, the trader may input an order size which if bid (in the case of a sell order) or offered (in the case of a buy order) the trader would be willing to take in its entirety, up to the remaining portion of the total order quantity (satisfies the price conditions).
Managing the Trade
The Accumulate/Distribute algorithm also allows for conditions to be established which, if not met, will cause the algorithm to either stop permanently or resume when the conditions are again satisfied. These include the following:
 
  1. Price Range - traders may specify a price range outside of which they do not want to buy the stock;
  2. News – the trader may stop the algorithm for some period of time if there is news on the stock, for example;
  3. Position - traders may stop the algorithm based upon their position in the stock; For example, a trader running multiple algorithms one to buy the stock and another to sell in an attempt to trade the stock back and forth for a profit may decide to suspend one side if the position becomes substantially imbalanced;
  4. Stock Path – a trader, for example, may wish to suspend the algorithm if a given moving average, say the 10-minute VWAP is not at least as high as another average, say the 50-day moving average. This feature enables you to set up algorithms to trade chart points even when you are not looking at the chart at that moment;
  5. Stock Path for Multiple Symbols – this condition is similar to the last except that it calls for two symbols. Here you can put in any symbol and compare some data point regarding that symbol (e.g., 10-minute VWAP, etc.) to the same or a different data point regarding the second symbol. These comparative conditions can apply to different symbols or to the same symbol.   For example, you could specify that you want to buy a certain stock only if it has been in a continuous uptrend. So in addition to the 10-minute VWAP being higher than the 50-day moving average, you would also like the 10-day moving average to be higher than the 30-day moving average on this stock.
Other Considerations
Acceptable inputs for this algorithm include:
  1. Products – any product offered by IB (stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, futures, Forex) other than mutual funds;
  2. Order Type – market, limit or relative.

IMPORTANT NOTE

This algo will only operate when the trader is logged into the TWS.  If the trader has been logged out prior to the algo completing (either by user action or by the automated nightly restart), a message will appear upon the next log in which will allow for re-activation of the algo.

Overview of the Scale Trader Algorithm

Overview: 

The ScaleTrader is a sophisticated trading algorithm which allows one to enter a large quantity order that is executed in a series of increments or components, with each component being executed at a progressively better price.

When to Use
The use of this algorithm is well suited to situations where a stock is trading at or near the bottom of a trading range and the trader is looking to average down, buying into a declining market. Alternatively, it may be used on the opposite side when the trader is looking to sell into the top of the trading range, perhaps scaling out of a long position. In either situation, the Scale Trader algorithm also allows the trader to scalp the market, submitting opposite profit taking orders against the original order.
 
How to Locate
The Scale Trader can be accessed from the TraderWorkstation by selecting the Trading and then Scale Trader menu options at the top of the page or it can be added to the trading toolbar menu by clicking on the Add More Buttons icon.
 
Order Set Up
Once the trader has defined the instrument and action (buy or sell), five parameters will need to be specified. Traders will also need to define the order type and time in force. These five parameters for a stock purchase (sale) would be as follows:
 
  1. Total Order Size (TOS) – the total number of shares the trader is willing to purchase (sell) as the price falls (increases);
  2. Initial Component Size (ICS) – the number of shares to be purchased (sold) at the Starting Price;
  3. Subsequent Component Size (SCS) – the additional number of shares to be purchased (sold) at each Price Increment (at successively lower prices in the case of a purchase and higher in the case of a sale). If a SCS is not entered, the ICS will be used for all component orders.
  4. Starting Price (SP) – the price at which you are willing to purchase (sell) the Initial Component Size
  5. Price Increment (PI) – in the case of a purchase (sale), this is the decrease (increase) in price at which each successive component order is to be executed.
Based upon the inputs provided to those parameters, the Scale Trader application will calculate a Top Price (TP) and a Bottom Price (BP) which, depending upon the buy or sell action selected, will either determine the price at which the last order will be executed (BP for purchases and TP for sales) or be relevant only if the same scale is used to close or restore the size of the position (TP for purchases and BP for sales). Adjustments made to either of these two factors will be reflected in the PI and their calculations are as follows:
 
  1. TP = (((ICS/SCS) -1) * PI) + SP
  2. BP = SP – (((TOS - ICS)/SCS) * PI
Note that once a product symbol has been entered a price chart will be displayed to assist in specifying the parameters. The algorithm will not be activated until the Transmit button has been clicked and once transmitted will run indefinitely until stopped or changed or it encounters conditions where it stops. It's important to note that this particular algo will continue to run even if the trader is not logged in to the TWS.
 
Example
Assume a GTC limit order is entered into the Scale Trader to buy 1,000 shares of hypothetical stock ABC having a NBBO of $19.95 - $20.00 at a starting price of $20.00 with 500 more shares purchased at every $0.05 down, resulting in a maximum position of 4,000 shares. The five parameters for this order would be as follows:
 
  1. TOS = 4,000;
  2. ICS = 1,000;
  3. SCS = 500;
  4. SP = $20.00
  5. PI = $0.05
This order would be then be scaled into 7 components consisting of one at 1,000 and 6 at 500 each. The first component is submitted at $20.00 and after it fills the next component (500) would be submitted at $0.05 lower. That order would wait until marketable and once it has been filled the next component will be submitted. This pattern continues until all components have been filled or the order has been cancelled.
 
Managing the Trade
  1. Profit taking orders – the Scale Trader may be set to send an offsetting order to take advantage of periodic price surges or if the trader has reached a specified profit objective. This feature may be enabled by checking the box titled “Create profit taking order” and specifying the Profit Offset. Using the example above and a Profit Offset of $1.00, once the ICS was filled at $20.00 and an SCS submitted at $19.95, two profit orders would also be submitted, one for 500 shares at $21.00 and another for 500 shares at $21.05. It should be noted that profit orders are scaled to the SCS regardless of the size of the ICS and that if the ICS > SCS then the profit order price is determined using the PI along with the Profit Offset. 
  2. Restore size after taking profit – if using the profit taking orders feature, the trader can enable the repurchase of shares sold at a profit at the price they were originally bought at by checking the box titled “Restore size after taking profit”. This feature remains active whenever the price is within the range of TP + Profit Offset and BP. Using the example above, if order to sell 500 shares at $21.00 was executed this fill quantity would be put back into the original order at $20.00 and the order submitted at $19.95 would be cancelled.
  3. Restart Scale Trader & Restart Scale Trader with Filled Component Size – these features allow traders using the profit taking order and restore size features to restart the algorithm if stopped, helping to resume the order starting from the point at which the scaled sequence left off.
  4. Auto Price Adjustment – selecting this check box allows for an increase or decrease in the starting price automatically at stated time intervals (e.g., increase $0.01 every hour)
  5. Scale Trader Page – provides a view of the real-time status of scale orders, including filled and total quantity, filled, remaining, and total value, and the percent filled for each scale. Accessible via the Page and then Create Scale Trader Page menu options.
  6. View Scale Progress - right-click on the scale order line and select View Scale Progress. This will open a window displaying the complete scale price ladder, the Open/Filled component list for the parent scale order, and the Open/Filled component list for the child profit orders.
Other Considerations
Acceptable inputs for this algorithm include:
  1. Products – any product offered by IB other than mutual funds (e.g., stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, futures, Forex);
  2. Order Type - limit or relative (relative not offered for combination orders)
  3. Time in Force – Day, Good-til-Cancel or Day-til-Cancel. May also specify if order is allowed to be filled outside of regular trading hours, if executions may be routed and executed during pre-open session and whether to ignore opening auction.

 

Special risk relating to offsets between options and futures

Account holders hedging or offsetting the risk of futures contracts with option contracts are encouraged to pay particular attention to a potential scenario whereby a change in the underlying price may subject the account to a forced liquidation even if the account remains in margin compliance.  This scenario is driven by a fundamental difference in which gains and losses are recognized in futures contracts vs. options contracts coupled with IB's requirement that the commodity segment of one's account maintain a positive cash balance at all times. 

Gains and losses in a futures contract, by design, are settled in cash and IB updates the account holder's cash balance through the TWS on a real-time basis for any changes in the futures contract price.  An option contract is also marked-to-the-market on a real-time basis but this change in value represents an unrealized (i.e., non-cash) profit or loss with the actual cash proceeds not reflected in the account until such time the contract is either sold, exercised or expires.

To illustrate this scenario, assume, for example, at time 'X' a hypothetical portfolio consisting of a credit cash balance of $6,850, 2 short Sep ES futures contracts, 2 Long Sep ES $1,000 strike call options on the futures contract marked at $31.50 each, with the cash index at $1,006.  Also assume that at time 'X+1' the cash index increases by 100 points or approximately 10%.  A snapshot of the account equity and margin balances for each date is reflected in the table below.

Portfolio Time 'X' Time 'X+1' Change
Cash $6,850 ($3,150) ($10,000)
2 Long Sep ES $1,000 Calls* $3,150 $10,300 $7,150
2 Short Sep ES Futures* - - -
Total Equity $10,000 $7,150 ($2,850)
Margin Requirement $2,712 $666 ($2,046)
Margin Excess $7,288 $6,484 ($804)

*Note: the contract multiplier for the ES future and option is 50.

As reflected in the table above, the projected effect of this market move would be to decrease the cash balance to a deficit level based upon the mark-to-market or variation on the futures contracts of $10,000 (100 * 50 * 2). While the effect of this upon equity would be largely offset by a $7,150 increase in the market value of the long calls, the unrealized gain on the options has no effect upon cash until such time they are either sold, exercised or expire.  In this instance, IB would act to liquidate positions in an amount sufficient to eliminate the cash deficit while maintaining margin compliance and attempting to preserve the greatest level of account equity.

While hypothetical in nature, this sample portfolio is intended to be illustrative of the liquidity risk associated with any portfolio containing futures and long options where the funding of any variation on the futures position must be supported by available cash or buying power from the securities segment of the account and not unrealized option gains.

Assets eligible to be transferred through ACATS

Instruments handled by the ACATS system include the following asset classes: equities, options, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, mutual funds and cash. It should be noted; however, that ACATS eligibility does not guarantee that any given security will transfer as each receiving broker maintains its own requirements as to which asset classes as well as securities within a particular asset class it will accept.

Account holders are encouraged to use the Contract Search link on IB’s homepage to assess transfer eligibility prior to initiating a full account transfer request.  In the case of mutual funds, please click here for a list of fund families and funds offered by IB.

ACATS Rejections - Most Common Causes

The rejection of an ACATS transfer request is typically initiated by action of the delivering broker once that broker has had an opportunity to review the request and confirm the details of the account to be transferred.  In the case of certain rejection notices (i.e., categories 1-5 and 10 below), the ACATS process affords the receiving broker (IB) a 24-hour window within which revised information may be transmitted and after which time the transfer request will require resubmission by the client.  During this 24-hour window, IB will attempt to contact the transferring client in an effort to reconcile any discrepancies causing the initial rejection notice. Rejections generally fall into the following categories:

 
Rejections by the Delivering Broker:
  1. Social Security Number/Tax ID Mismatch - the client taxpayer identification number as provided by the receiving broker does not agree with that of the delivering broker’s records. 
  1. Account Title Mismatch - the client account title as provided by the receiving broker does not agree with that of the delivering broker’s records. 
  1. Documentation Needed – the delivering broker requires additional account documentation in order to process a transfer request (e.g., death or marriage legal documents). 
  1. Account Flat – account holds no transferable assets. 
  1. Invalid Account Number – the client account number as provided by the receiving broker is not on delivering member’s books. 
  1. Duplicate – delivering broker is already in receipt of a transfer request involving the same receiving broker and client account..
  1. Account in Distribution or Transfer – another ACATS transfer or other distribution of account assets directly to client is already underway. 
  1. Client Rescinded – client has submitted written request to cancel transfer request. 
  1. Missing Authorization Signature – transfer request requires an additional client and/or custodian signature.

 

Rejections by the Receiving Broker: 

10. Credit Violation - the result of the transfer if effected would be to place the account in margin deficit and subject to forced liquidation.

Glossary terms: 
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