I've used IB for FX for a few years now, mostly because I have other accounts with IB and wanted to dabble in FX. I trade spot EUR/USD exclusively, don't trade 6e at the moment but keep a chart open to compare with spot--nice to have access to futures via IB. I have no experience with other FX brokers so can't compare, but 2 of my sons do (Gain and FXCM) and the differences seem to be a matter of personal preference.
My experience with IB has been positive, given that I don't know what I may be missing with other brokers and that there are a few issues that bother some people. For example,
- IB's FX data is sampled (5 or 10 per second) rather than raw ticks
but this doesn't affect what I do. Probably as a consequence the feed does not drop due to excessive load during events when the market gets busy as I've heard it might with other brokers.
- IB resets/reboots its servers typically between 11 PM and midnight EST
every day. The impact on your 3rd party trading platform will vary but the reboot typically causes the standalone IB platform (TWS) to lose the connection, whereupon it will try to reconnect repeatedly until successful (can take minutes to hours in rare cases). Not sure what goes on between TWS and 3rd party platforms attached via the API during this time but Multicharts
may need to be restarted to restore connectivity and in my experience the event will result in NinjaTrader
database corruption more often than not.
- They do not officially offer historical tick data but Multicharts request and apparently receives tick data and manages to backfill tick charts one way or another (whereas NT apparently cannot).
- IB paces fulfillment of historical data requests according to strict rules (which I have yet to fathom), meaning the bandwidth is throttled and backfilling can take forever sometimes
- Resolution (tick size
) for EUR/USD is 0.5 pips
and spread is typically the same during peak hours. Pairs that are less frequently traded tend to have wider spreads.
- Commission based ($0.00002 per unit traded per order), minimum $2.50, meaning round trip will cost a minimum of $5.00
- Instead of lots
(e.g., 100,000 units / standard lot) IB uses order dollar amount. No maximum but minimum is $25,000 to $30,000 after leverage depending on your nationality (e.g., for EUR/USD right now minimum order about 30,000 / 1.2950 ~ 24000 units)
- Leverage is relatively low (< 30 x) compared to brokers who cater to smaller accounts (100 - 400 x) and who typically allow mini-lots (10,000 units)
- While there is a mostly undocumented kludge to get around it TWS wants to shut down every day. The shut down time is configurable and during the trading week I simply bump the time back and forth manually (e.g., between 11 AM and 11 PM) to force TWS to stay active with no apparent consequences. If you lose track of the time unfortunately you lose data and will need to backfill.