Today I want to talk about CapTrader, an introducing broker to Interactive Brokers, and my own experience since I made the switch.
CapTrader enables you to have a fully-featured Interactive Brokers account without any monthly inactivity fees that Interactive Brokers normally charges.
Update: On July 1st 2021, Interactive Brokers removed all inactivity fees! That means you can now sign up directly with Interactive Brokers, without the need of using an introducing broker like CapTrader to get rid of monthly fees. I left the rest of the post unchanged.
In case you’re wondering what the heck Interactive Brokers is, I don’t blame you. They’re one of the best known and most reputable international brokerage firms in the world, founded all the way back in 1977. They’re also listed on the stock exchange.
In my opinion, they are an excellent alternative or addition to Degiro for buying stocks and ETFs, especially since Degiro isn’t available in every country.
I also want to use this post as a bit of an update regarding my own Interactive Brokers account, as I recently moved it from TradeStation to CapTrader and I received plenty of questions about it. If you’re in the same situation, I’ll show you how you can easily switch as well.
Last but not least, since many of you are probably new to Interactive Brokers, I also want to show you how investing works on the platform. So at the end of the video, I’ll show you how I invest 1.000€ into my favorite ETF, the Vanguard FTSE All-World.
TradeStation Global: Here’s What Happened
Last year I recorded this video, where I showed you that I was using TradeStation as an introducing broker to get access to Interactive Brokers without paying monthly fees.
However, I recently received an e-mail mentioning that TradeStation was going to introduce monthly fees for European residents starting in March.
If you also have an account on TradeStation, maybe because you watched my video about them, here’s what happened:
- TradeStation has a license for the UK & some other countries, but due to Brexit the UK license is not valid for European residents anymore.
- Meanwhile, internally on Interactive Brokers, all European residents were moved from IB UK to IB Ireland or IB Hungary (if you’re based in Eastern Europe) for regulatory reasons after Brexit.
- As a result, TradeStation is now basically disconnected from its own European clients and doesn’t earn any part of the trading fees any more, which are now entirely managed by Interactive Brokers.
- Well, that was their entire business model and how they were able to offer the accounts without the monthly 10$ inactivity fee you normally get with an Interactive Brokers account.
So the subscription fee that they announced was more or less a last resort to still earn something from their European clients. From what I heard, they’ve been trying until the last second to find another solution to still be able to manage their clients without monthly fees, which is also why the whole thing was announced with such short notice.
Alright, I hope now you understand the situation. I’m guessing you probably don’t want to pay for that subscription. Here is how you make sure it is removed:
- Log in to your account on Interactive Brokers
- Click on user settings
- Research subscriptions
- Make sure the subscription is removed.
However, after doing that, you might still be charged a monthly inactivity fee by Interactive Brokers itself.
CapTrader: The Solution For European Investors
If you’re anything like me, you likely want to avoid extra costs whenever possible, so that you have more money to invest.
I spent plenty of time looking for alternatives to TradeStation over the past few weeks. Ultimately, I found one that I’m very happy with, CapTrader.
CapTrader is another introducing broker to Interactive Brokers. They were founded in 1997 and are based, licensed and regulated in Germany.
Interactive Brokers Without Monthly Fees
Update: On July 1st 2021, Interactive Brokers removed all inactivity fees! That means you can now sign up directly to Interactive Brokers, without the need of using an introducing broker like CapTrader to get rid of monthly fees.
The most important part for most of you is probably that they still allow us European investors to have an Interactive Brokers account without paying any monthly inactivity fees, as they are licensed in Europe. They also have very low fees for buying and selling ETFs and stocks. I’ll go into more detail on their trading fees later in the article, when I show you how to buy an ETF via the Interactive Brokers web interface. However, one thing you need to know is that there is a minimum deposit for opening an account via CapTrader, 2.000€. Of course we can use and invest that money straight away, for example into ETFs using Interactive Brokers. CapTrader’s support is also excellent, which is great since Interactive Brokers itself is a bit lacking in that department.
Interactive Brokers Tutorial: How To Buy An ETF
For this section, I’m making the assumption that you already have an Interactive Brokers account and that you want to know how investing works on the platform.
Let me preface this by mentioning that I’m a simple long-term investor and not a professional trader. As a result, I haven’t played around with any of the more specialized trading tools that are available. I just use the Interactive Brokers website for my needs, that’s it.
What I can tell you is that I usually place my orders at a time when the markets are open, typically Monday – Friday, 9AM – 6PM CET. This way I ensure that I’m paying market price and not buying at a small premium when there is less liquidity.
The 3 tools I use to buy an ETF or stock via this broker:
- JustETF to find the ETF I want to buy and its ticker
- The Interactive Brokers web interface
- TradingView to double-check market prices
Buying The Vanguard FTSE All-World ETF (VWCE)
It’s a lot easier for me to show you this part on video, so here is me investing close to 1.000€ into my favorite ETF, the Vanguard FTSE All-World (VWCE) on Interactive Brokers (jump to 5:07 minutes):
Alright, at this point you should know how you can buy ETFs or stocks with minimal fees using CapTrader and Interactive Brokers.
Speaking about the trading fees, let’s have a closer look.
When you use the IB web interface like I did in the video, your orders are routed via Interactive Brokers smart routing system (NBBO) by default.
The integrated smart routing feature always tries to find you the lowest available price for your ETF or stock on all available exchanges when you place an order. The web interface also shows you your estimated fees before you place an order, so there should be no surprises.
I paid 2€ in commissions (fees) for an order close to 1.000€.
My order was executed on the German Gettex exchange, which has the same fee model as a few other available exchanges. You can see the full list on CapTrader’s website. Gettex was added recently, I was informed that the list will be updated soon to reflect that.
For my order, the fee was 0,1% of the amount I invested, with a minimum of 2€.
That means I could have also placed an order of 2.000€ and I would have paid the same 2€ fee, as that is exactly 0,1%.
A 5.000€ order on the other hand would have been 5€ in fees (-> 0,1%) for example.
If for whatever reason, you want to use a specific exchange instead of the integrated smart routing system, then you can do that by using the other free available tools for your account, like Trader Workstation (TWS). I haven’t tried those myself yet.
CapTrader vs. Degiro
There are 4 more things you might be curious to know about CapTrader (Interactive Brokers), especially if you’re coming from Degiro:
- Like Degiro, the brokerage account is free of monthly charges and inactivity fees
- There are no dividend fees
- No yearly exchange connectivity fees
- There is no share lending by default. You can activate it manually if you want to, and get 50% of whatever interest is earned from lending out your shares against collateral.
Also, if you receive a lot of dividends in USD on Interactive Brokers and you want to convert them to EUR, here is a bonus tip:
- You can either convert USD to EUR directly on IB and pay a small exchange fee
- Or you can send the USD from IB to a free Revolut bank account and convert them there without conversion fees. I already tried this last month and it works!
Conclusion: Great Degiro Alternative
In summary, all I can say is that I’m very happy that I found CapTrader and that I was able to move my Interactive Brokers account there.
Update: On July 1st 2021, Interactive Brokers removed all inactivity fees! That means you can now sign up directly with Interactive Brokers, without the need of using an introducing broker like CapTrader to get rid of monthly fees. I have since delinked my account from CapTrader and am using IBKR without CapTrader as a “middle-man”.
I think Interactive Brokers is an excellent alternative or addition to Degiro, especially since Degiro isn’t available in many countries.
I can easily recommend Interactive Brokers to any investor that is looking for a reliable, low-cost broker to buy ETFs or stocks.
You just need a minimum of 2.000€ in capital, in order to open your account. You can then of course invest that money according to your own investment strategy on Interactive Brokers.
Admittedly, the Interactive Brokers interface is not the most beginner friendly, but I hope I was able to at least show you how to buy ETFs using your account and to provide you with a bit of extra information.
Just so you don’t get me wrong, I’m still keeping my Degiro account as well. I like having several brokerage accounts running in my name and to have the option to choose were I place my next order.
If you’re based in Austria or Germany, make sure you also check out my list of local brokers. We have quite complicated tax laws compared to many other European countries. As a result, choosing a local broker that takes care of everything for you, could make your life easier.
That’s it! I hope you’ll like the broker as much as I do!
If you found this article helpful and you’d like to support me, you can get your own brokerage account on Interactive Brokers using this link.
- My Investment Tools
A list containing all my investments in P2P Lending, the brokerage accounts I use to buy ETFs, my speculative investments in Bitcoin and my free bank accounts. It even includes the tools I use for blogging and YouTube.
- P2P Bonus Offers
A collection of all the best, currently available bonus and cashback offers in the P2P lending space. Regularly updated.
Disclaimer: Investing involves risks of losses. You should always do your own research before investing into anything. Also, some of the links are affiliate links, which help support me, the website & YouTube channel. I only link to services I use myself, none of them are sponsored.
First of all, thanks for all your tips’n’tricks. You’ve been a great reference on the web and trustworthy guy, hope you can continue like that.
I saw your video about CapTrader (and TradeStationGlobal by consequence). I’ve around €1000 in TSG and I definitely don’t want to pay the subscription fee. Just one question though: what was the process for you to cancel your TSG account? I mean, did you closed all your positions first? Have you delink your account?
What have you done after those 4 bullet points you mentioned where you said to log in into Interactive Brokers and make sure the subscription is removed? I don’t want any more “business” with TradeStation, could you give some more insight please?
Thank you Samuel! I explained it in more detail in this video, did you see it? You might still be able to switch to CapTrader with a balance of >1.000€ as well, to avoid monthly inactivity fees on IB. I would send them an e-mail at email@example.com and ask if you can transfer your account. There is no need to close the account or sell anything. If it works, they should send you a PDF to fill out as well as some instructions, so that you can move the account over to them and keep it free of monthly fees. That’s what I did as well.
Hi Angelo, didn’t saw the video before. Now it’s totally clear for me, will try to do that. Thanks for all the insight.
Great, glad to hear that! My pleasure Samuel!
Terrible service from them and i wouldn’t recommend.
I wanted to switch from IBKR or Degiro to them when i saw your video for inactivity fees. After long delay to answers questions for transfer. I made an application and to my surprised it got rejected. Reason : “No reasons will be given for this”
Never had problems with all 4 other brokers i’m using. Just wasted my time and refusing to give a motive for rejection. Just Terrible.
Sorry to hear that. I would imagine your account was too small (less than 1.000-2.000€) at the time of your request. That would not make it worth it for them to take you on from a business perspective vs. their fixed costs (eg. IB inactivity fees).
I recently opened up an Interactive Brokers account. Today, I got email from IB that says:
We have decided to eliminate our monthly inactivity fee so there are no impediments to maintaining an account with IBKR. Effective July 1, 2021, you will no longer be charged USD 10 for not maintaining a minimum balance or transaction activity.
And as I understand the commission fees are still lower in IB, it seems to be a better option over Captrader.
That is awesome news, thanks for letting me know Aivo! You’re right, I just noticed the change on IBKR’s website!
You should remove reference to CapTrader, it’s a trap.
They will refuse to delink your account. Once you joined, there is no more way to get an account with IB directly or with any other IBroker. To get out, you have to close the account with them and than wait another 6 month cool-down period before you can re-apply for a new account with IB again.
Currently in the process of switching to an non-IB broker to sit out the 6 months and want avoid warn about.. think twice before siging up with them.
Cannot recommend any company with such kind of “if you leave, I ban you” pratice
Hey Matthias, I relinked all CapTrader links a while ago, to clarify an introducing broker like them is not needed any more to use Interactive Brokers without monthly fees.
That can’t be true, you can definitely delink your account from CapTrader (then you’re directly with IB only), me and many other investors have done just that. What I can imagine is that there is a “lock” period for up to 6 months after signing up through them. But then you can still change it to a “normal” IB-only account afterwards, and CapTrader’s fees aren’t that much worse for those few months.
Here are all the steps that are needed and that worked for me:
Fill out this form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org together with a copy of your ID/passport and ask them to delink your account from CapTrader.
– IB Account Number is the one starting with U….
– IB Account Title is your full name
– At the bottom: Put your signature under Signature of Primary Acct Holder, your full name again under Print Name and the current date next to it.
Hope this helps. Please let me know how it went – it worked for me back in July.
While this might be true if you have intially signed up with IB, you cannot leave if you have signed up directly with them. They simply will reject to unlink the account, while IB refers to that they are bound to the contract and cannot/will not do anyting.
Here is what happened https://github.com/stoqey/ib/discussions/137
As of now, CapTrader simply stopped responsing.
IB closed the case and replied with:
Please be advised that we require a consent from your IBroker confirming their acceptance for IBKR to proceed with the approval of your standalone account, without which we cannot proceed.
Please be advised that there will be a cool off period for 6 months from the day of closure of your account with Ibroker.
Please contact your IBroker and ask them to send us a web ticket confirming their acceptance for IB to proceed with the approval of your standalone account.
As said, I got a new broker already and I’m done those guys, just want to warn about signing up with them.
I initially signed up via TradeStation Global, then transferred to CapTrader and then disconnected my account from them. It’s possible that my account was treated differently (no lock-up period) for that reason.
Well that really sucks if that’s the case. I’m surprised noone else has notified me of a problem like this – I sent a few people the guide via email on how to get their accounts delinked.
Would this also be an option?
1. Open a new account directly on Interactive Brokers. CapTrader has no authority over IB, they can’t stop you from opening another account.
2. Transfer your shares over from the CapTrader account to the new IB account.
Here is a thread on Reddit where someone did that.
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly with all the details by the way, hopefully this workaround fixes the problem. Keep me updated please!
I have already contacted IB, they will do nothing to help me out, but ban me 6 months after my accounts are closed.
From what I understand it really depends on where you signed up initially. If you did with IB or any other IBroker you are fine. If you signed up with CapTrader, you are trapped. They neither unlink accounts signed up with them, nor approve any additional account request with IB directly.
Think it is also the reason why some users on redit where able to leave, while others had to workarround (like moving into an account of family member for the 6 month period).
Yes it sucks.. never seen a company doing such shady practice of blocking their (ex-)customers on 3rd parties
For the records and to give you (and everyone that might stumble over this post) the full story, from start to end:
1) I wanted an additional account with IBKR directly (didn’t even wanted to close my investing
account with CapTrader at the first place, for the commission it won’t make much of a difference, as you said).
2) I submitted an account application for IBKR
2) IBKR sends a request for approval to CapTrader.
3) CapTrader sends this email to me (sorry for German, will translate):
“Wir haben eine Mitteilung erhalten bezüglich Ihres Kontoeröffnungsantrags bei Interactive Brokers. Aufgrund von Vereinbarungen zwischen Interactive Brokers und seinem Introducing Broker CapTrader ist ein Wechsel von CapTrader zu Interactive Brokers nur nach der Kontoschließung bei CapTrader und einer Wartefrist von 6 Monaten bis Neueröffnung möglich.
Interactive Brokers gliedert das Kundengeschäft an sogenannte Introducing Broker aus, da die Kernkompetenz von Interactive Brokers die Handelsabwicklung und Bereitstellung der IT-Infrastruktur und weniger der Kundendienst ist.
Da Sie allerdings aber bisher aktiv gehandelt haben, können wir Ihnen bei den Ordergebühren entgegenkommen.”
In short: they haven been informed that I want to open an account with IBKR directly and they will not allow me to do this. I can only change to IBKR after closing with them and waiting for 6 months, but since I’m active trader, they offer to talk about cheaper commissions.
Obviously, after such an email, I will not talk about commissions but find out how to I can get out of this asap.
4) I replied, asking CapTrader if there is any possibility they would approve the new account request, or unlink my existing account, since after that I email I leave them, no matter what (they can be suckers, make it hard and ban me 6months, or be nice and let me go). That was end of CapTrader support for me. No more response since than.
5) In parallel I asked IB if this 6 months ban actually is true and what I could do get out of that CapTrader lock-in.
They replies with:
“Please be advised that we require a consent from your IBroker confirming their acceptance for IBKR to proceed with the approval of your standalone account, without which we cannot proceed.
Please be advised that there will be a cool off period for 6 months from the day of closure of your account with Ibroker.
Please contact your IBroker and ask them to send us a web ticket confirming their acceptance for IB to proceed with the approval of your standalone account.”
So sound like the end of story.
CapTrader decided to be sucker and IBKR cannot / will not help.
there is still an advantage for opening an account at Captrader.
If you are from some central European countries (EU-member states), IB will open an accunt for you at IBCE (Hungary subsidiary) and you cannot choose IBIE (IB Ireland). There is a huge difference in my opinion between IBCE and IBIE. But Captrader opens all accounts for EU residents at IBIE (Ireland).
I will now open an account at Captrader, but I am afraid to delink it, because they could switch it from IBIE to IBCE? Your opinion?
that’s good to know, thank you for sharing that info! I kinda wish it was still possible to open an account with IBUK as well, but those damn EU regulations…
If you’re not sure if they’ll keep you at IBIE, you could ask CapTrader via email. I’d be surprised about them moving customers between entities though, the IBUK transfer was a one-time thing due to EU laws.