Interactive Brokers pro vs lite

IBKR Pro vs Lite in 2024


Interactive Brokers Lite vs Pro cost and fees: are they the same? Differences between IBKR Lite and Pro pricing plans for online stock and options trading.


IBKR Lite vs IBKR Pro


If you have a U.S.-based brokerage account with Interactive Brokers, it is either a Pro or Lite account. Because it’s possible to choose either pricing plan, it’s important to know the differences between these two programs to make an informed decision.


Account Features


Many traders think that the difference between IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro is just commissions. The two programs do differ in their commission schedules, but there are many more differences between these two account systems.

For example, an IBKR Pro account can start trading at 4:00 am, EST, on the major American securities exchanges. The pre-market session for Lite customers doesn’t begin until 7:00 am. Also, Pro customers (with eligible account types) can use the firm’s FDIC-sweep program for uninvested cash. Lite customers are not eligible for this service.


interactive brokers lite vs pro


Eligibility


Any account can sign up for Pro. Not all accounts can sign up for Lite, though. Institutional accounts, for example, can only enroll in the Pro plan. And Lite plans are only for U.S.-based accounts.


IBKR Pro vs Lite Trading Technology


Lite and Pro accounts get to use the same trading tools with two exceptions: APIs and IB SmartRoutingSM. Only Pro accounts can use application programming interfaces and IB’s proprietary smart-routing technology.

Interactive Brokers’ flagship desktop trading system Trader Workstation is available to both Lite and Pro customers.


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IBKR Pro vs Lite Interest Rates


Lite and Pro accounts earn and pay different interest rates on balances of U.S. dollars. For uninvested cash, Pro accounts earn the benchmark rate minus 0.5%, (right now, the net rate is 4.83%) on balances above $10,000. Below that level, there is no interest earned. Lite customers have the same two tiers with the interest rate at benchmark minus 1.5% (for a net result of 3.83% currently). Similar schedules exist for other currencies.


ibkr pro vs lite


Lite customers also pay more in margin rates. Right now, the Lite margin rate is a flat 7.83% across all balance tiers. Pro accounts get a stepped schedule that begins at 6.83% and drops to 5.83%. Generally, the Lite plan is benchmark plus 2.5%, while the Pro tiered system is benchmark plus 1.5% to 0.5%.


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IBKR Pro vs Lite Commissions


The perception that IBKR Lite differs from IBKR Pro in commissions is definitely true, at least in some cases. The most notable difference is the cost to trade U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs. Lite customers pay nothing, while Pro customers do have to pay commissions on these trades. Pro clients can choose between fixed or tiered pricing:

Fixed:

0.5¢ per share with a $1 minimum commission and 1% maximum.

Tiered:

As the name suggests, the tiered commission schedule charges different commissions based on an account’s monthly trade volume. The trading fee ranges from 0.35¢ to 0.05¢ per share with a $0.35 minimum commission (and 1% maximum).


ibkr lite vs pro


All three commission schedules (Lite, Pro-Tiered, and Pro-Fixed) pass regulatory fees onto the client. The Pro-Tiered schedule also transmits to the customer exchange fees, clearing fees, and other pass-through fees.

Some asset classes have the same commission on either pricing plan. Currencies and fixed-income securities fall into this category. Other assets, like futures and options, can be traded on either fixed or tiered pricing on the Pro schedule but only on fixed pricing on the Lite system.


What Doesn’t Change


Both IBKR Pro and Lite accounts get to participate in the broker-dealer’s stock yield enhancement program. There is no minimum account value or initial deposit requirement for either plan, and Interactive Brokers charges no recurring fees, such as inactivity or annual charges, for either setup. Market-data subscriptions are also the same price for either program.


Switching Between Lite and Pro


Accounts eligible for Lite can switch between the two plans at will. To make a change, simply log into the website and go to account settings (found under the head-and-shoulders icon in the upper-right corner) and scroll down to the Account Configuration section. Here, there is a link to change the pricing plan.


IBKR Lite vs Pro: Judgment


Although IBKR Lite may initially sound like the better deal due to zero-commission trading, accounts that use margin and/or have large free-cash balances may actually get a better value by adopting the Pro pricing plan.


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Updated on 12/27/2023.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.