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|Interactive Brokers Customer Support: Best Contact Methods at a Glance|
|1. Phone number: 1 (877) 442-2757 (live phone support is offered 24/6)|
2. Web site: https://www1.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=1560
3. Live chat: https://www1.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=1560&p=chat
4. Email: IBKR does not have a public customer service email address, but you can send a message to a customer service member here: https://www1.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=3869
5. Fax number: (312) 984-1017
6. FAQ (iBot): https://www1.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=1560&p=ibot
7. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ibkr
8. Reddit (unofficial user forum): https://www.reddit.com/r/interactivebrokers/
*Update* On Monday, December 7th, 2020, Interactive Brokers suffered a massive worldwide outage that prevented customers from accessing the platform for hours before and after the opening bell. Some customers on the East Coast of the US reported being locked out for the entire trading session through the closing bell. Customers reported extreme dissatisfaction with IBKR’s communication around this issue, since the outage was evident hours before the opening bell and any acknowledgement from the company’s social media accounts. It was an extremely disappointing episode for a brokerage platform that positions itself as a more professional option compared to Robinhood. While the company made a surface-level apology, no plan has been announced to compensate customers, many of whom claim to have lost thousands of dollars as a result of an inability to manage their open trades for nearly an entire day. Here is the Reddit thread with extensive customer comments on the situation.
Interactive Brokers is an extremely popular and fully-powered online broker. It can be an excellent option for those who want more trading and investing options available to them than offered by the likes of the Robinhood app. These options come at the expense of an overly welcoming user interface and a lot of (digital) hand holding that Robinhood specializes in. As a result, when you first encounter Interactive Brokers, you may have questions and need help from their customer service team.
One selling point of Interactive Brokers is in the huge variety of OTC stocks offered, many of which are not available on Robinhood. The large inventory of penny stocks and OTC shares to buy (and short) make IBKR a natural choice for those trying to emulate Tim Sykes and his rapid-fire day trading strategies.
Interactive Brokers also offers the ability to trade directly on more than 125 markets across 31 countries. This is the widest variety of international trading available at any major broker. In addition to international stocks, IBKR offers a wide selection of mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, futures, options and foreign currency trading.
Beyond the huge selection of securities to trade, IBKR wins fans with their extremely low margin rates and reasonable commissions on their IBKR Pro product. That’s right, if you’re coming over from Robinhood, you will have to get used to paying a commission on every buy and sell you make if you want to take advantage of the full range of professional features that the IBKR platform has to offer.
There is good news though: IBKR’s commissions are among the lowest in the industry at $0.005 per share. But wait, there’s even better news: Recently, Interactive Brokers launched a new tier of service called IBKR Lite, which places it in direct competition with Robinhood for casual and beginner traders. IBKR Lite offers commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs listed on US-based exchanges. We take a closer look at the two tiers of service below and what this means for IBKR clients customer service needs.
IBKR Lite and a Kinder, Gentler Interactive Brokers
The company that eventually became known as Interactive Brokers Group, the parent company of the online broker, was founded in 1978 by Thomas Peterffy. Interactive Brokers Inc. was founded in 1993 as a US broker-dealer. The company is now listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker: IBKR.
Throughout its existence and up until very recently, Interactive Brokers had a specific focus on attracting larger than average accounts from online trading customers and offering them lower fees than they could find elsewhere. There was a clear trade-off in this approach: Interactive Brokers wasn’t keen on attracting starter accounts of $10,000 or below. Through requirements like minimum account balances and inactivity fees (the latter of which persists for their IBKR Pro accounts)
There were many reports and complaints on trading forums about their customer service or lack thereof, stretching back through the years. One of the most common issues customers with lower balances mentioned was inattentive or non-existent customer support.
Interactive Brokers traditionally provided tiered service to customers based on how valuable they were to the broker. This meant if you were a little customer facing potentially inattentive service on the phone if the phone was even picked up at all.
This all changed in 2019 with the launch on IBKR Lite: a new service that seemed to compete with the popular Robinhood app that has attracted a new, younger generation to investing in stocks, ETFs and options. IBKR Lite copied some of the best features of Robinhood including commission-free trades on many mainstream investing products with no account minimums or inactivity fees, while still offering these new investors access to powerful trading tools that professional investors are accustomed to, such as their Trader Work Station (TWS).
The big question was as they IBKR rolled out the welcome mat for this group of new and often inexperienced investors, how would their customer support evolve to support their new customers? Read on to find out.
Common Customer Support Issues on IBKR
We took a scroll on the Reddit Interactive Brokers page to get a sense of the most common customer support issues that IBKR clients were running into. Here is a selection of the most common issues:
- Issues switching from IBKR Lite to IBKR Pro.
- How to access penny stocks.
- Bloomberg TV lag when playing through Interactive Brokers.
- Accidental short selling.
- Inability to trade options in foreign markets.
- Excess liquidity warning on options trade.
- Inability to access market data on multiple securities.
- How to access after hours trading on IBKR Lite.
- Lack of trading permissions when accessing some ETFs.
- Problems logging into customer portal.
- Problems executing trades.
- Trader Work Station not saving settings.
Compared to a similar list of queries when reviewing Robinhood’s customer service we notice the types of issues experienced by Interactive Brokers’ clients tend to be more sophisticated in nature and are more often related to advanced trading issues, technology issues with the more in-depth Trader Work Station (TWS) platform and quite a few international questions related to currency transfers (IBKR operates brokerage services in dozens of countries).
It’s also important to highlight that any broker will have a selection of customer service issues at any given time and face challenges as they digest new and inexperienced customer inquiries, many of which related to the customer’s own misunderstandings of basic rules and regulations rather than any specific issue with the broker itself.
How to Contact Interactive Brokers Support
When I had customer service questions early on in my Interactive Brokers experience I mainly relied on the chat feature in the customer service platform. Unless your query is extremely urgent we recommend taking advantage of the customer service chat which we found to be reasonably quick and effective.
Here is the recommended order in contacting Interactive Brokers customer support, with the urgency level in descending order:
- Try your question on iBot first – Interactive Brokers is known for being a technological leader and like Robinhood would mostly prefer that you contact them online. In order to encourage online interaction, IBKR has developed an iBot service that helps direct you to their relatively robust self-serve help pages and FAQs based on a question you ask. I found this process to be relatively straightforward and somewhat helpful, especially if my question related to issues such as trading permissions, market data access and queries related to settled cash in my account. In most of these queries the answers turned out to be related to government regulations that I was ignorant of and had nothing to do with glitches or problems with the broker platform itself. This explains why Interactive Brokers created such a system, to help avoid their live customer service team from being overwhelmed by basic queries and issues that they have no real ability to circumvent. We highly recommend making sure your question isn’t already answered in the help documentation through iBot before progressing on to sending IBKR a message.
- Send a message to customer support – There were a few times where I needed to seek out the help of a real-life customer service representative, however, so I sent a message from the online customer portal attempting to connect with a real representative. The experience was fine. My question was answered the next day by a foreign-based representative and he effectively answered my question.
- Call Interactive Brokers customer service line – You can call Interactive Brokers and expect to speak to a real, live representative (unlike Robinhood, which offers no live phone support) by calling 1 (877) 442-2757. The representative you speak with will likely be in a foreign location and reports vary widely on both the speed and quality of support. It’s clear that Interactive Brokers is still not investing too many capabilities in phone support, but they should be commended for offering it at all.
- Search Reddit – If you’re still having issues with your IBKR account that haven’t been resolved by their customer service directly, some times you can find an answer to a similar problem on Reddit. The forum is especially useful for tech related problems where users may have figured out a hack to solve their problem that is not on the customer service team’s radar.
If you are currently logged into the IBKR client portal on desktop, it’s relatively easy to find the support area.
Step 1: Click on the three horizontal line menu bar in the top left of your screen:
Step 2: Scroll down and select “Support” and then “Support Home” from the drop down selection on the sidebar menu on your left.
Step 3: You’ve now landed on the Interactive Brokers customer support page. The top half of the page features common support questions and encourages you to take advantage of their automated FAQ pages.
Step 4: Scroll down towards the bottom of the page and you will see options for the full suite of ways to interact with Interactive Brokers customer support:
If you’re on the IBKR mobile app, it’s even easier. Select the “More” option on the far bottom right part of the menu, and scroll all the way down to the last selection right above where you log out: “Help.” When you click on the “Help” option you will see a similar menu as above with various options allowing you to contact IBKR support, access FAQs and the user’s guide.
How Good is Interactive Brokers’ Customer Service?
It’s clear that Interactive Brokers has made strides with their customer service, especially since 2019, as they welcome a new generation of traders with IBKR Lite. The broker offers numerous ways to get in touch with them, including live phone support. It also offers a fairly robust and detailed help section through its AI-generated iBot platform which will likely answer a majority of questions that you run into.
Our personal experience has found the chat feature to connect with a customer service representative through the customer portal relatively quick and efficient, albeit no-frills. The turnaround time was less than 24 hours each time we used it. Both online and phone support generates a wide variety of complaints on Reddit, but it’s difficult to know how much of these shortcomings fall on IBKR itself.
In-depth reviews of IBKR from the likes of NerdWallet still rate Interactive Broker’s customer service relatively poorly, giving the broker only 2.5 out of 5 stars for its support in an otherwise glowing five-star overall review. This is partly a reflection of what a great value and overall experience the broker offers, even with a less than stellar customer service experience.
Due to its more powerful platform and complex user interface, it is much more likely that novice investors will run into occasional tech glitches or have questions on where to find something. As traders gain more experience and look to add professional market data and analytics tools to the mix, more questions and issues may arise. We hope that Interactive Brokers continues to enhance their customer service operations as it is one of the very best platforms that caters to both beginner (IBKR Lite) and advanced (IBKR Pro) traders.