Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Denmark, Saxo Capital Markets (Saxo) offers a nearly unmatched spectrum of markets, trading instruments, and account types to investors. Well known in the Forex industry, Saxo also provides traders access to stocks, options, futures, CFDs, and ETFs. Saxo’s target client is probably a little different than Interactive brokers, but the breadth of markets and accounts is similar.
Founded by one of the original pioneers in the world of high-frequency trading, Interactive Brokers has a streamlined approach to brokerage services that focus on broad market access, low costs, and trade execution. Although Interactive Brokers usually stands out as the low-cost leader, there are other differences that may give Saxo an edge for some traders.
In our 2019 Best Online Brokers Awards, Interactive Brokers received awards for Best Overall Online Brokers, Best for Low Costs, Best for Options Trading, Best for Penny Stocks, Best for Day Trading, and Best for International Trading.
- Account Minimum: £1,500
- Fees: EUR/USD min. spread 0.6 pips
- Best for: Active traders and professionals
- Account Minimum: $0
- Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
While Interactive Broker’s desktop platform is difficult to learn and lacks many expected features, it is fast which is a plus for active traders. The PIN-protected mobile platform is available on Android and iOS, and is a slimmed-down version of the desktop software. Its simplicity avoids much of the annoying menu drilling from the desktop version, and configuration is easy. Ironically, charting is better on mobile than on the desktop version, with a variety of indicators and a clean interface. Unfortunately, logging into the mobile version shuts down the desktop automatically. This can frustrate at-home traders wanting to follow the market and trade positions while temporarily away from their computers.
Saxo’s trading platform comes in two flavors; SaxoTraderGO and SaxoTraderPRO. The pro version is very similar to the entry-level platform but with additional multi-screen functionality, market analysis, and automation. Saxo’s charts, news feeds, and analysis tools in the platform are far superior to Interactive Brokers in our opinion.
- Highly flexible and customizable platform
- Ability to back-test
- Prebuilt, professionally managed trading strategies
- Mobile includes all the same functionality that the desktop has
- Easy to navigate for both mobile and desktop
- Lightening fast trade execution
- Trade anywhere across PCs, web pages, and mobile apps
- IB Key technology for more security
Mobile and Emerging Tech
The SaxoGO experience is consistent from desktop to tablet to phone, which makes mobile trading a better experience compared to Interactive Brokers as well. Traders using SaxoPRO on the desktop can only use SaxoGO on mobile devices, but the look and feel are very similar and shouldn’t present a problem for investors who don’t rely on the advanced functionality when away from a PC.
- Consistent from desktop to tablet to phone
- SaxoPRO on desktop becomes SaxoGO on mobile
- Persistent trade button
- IBot is built into the mobile app
News and Education
Interactive Brokers offers a range of educational resources, including videos and tutorials, but lacks depth across subjects. There is content addressing some market topics in detail, but there are big gaps. For example, Interactive Brokers’ Traders’ Academy is intended to provide more detailed course material but has just two programs, TWS for Beginners and an Introduction to Options.
Saxo has invested heavily in education for traders in just about any market. Education includes learning how to use the trading platform and how to design portfolio or active investing strategies. The videos, lessons, quizzes, and webinars are organized very well into “Saxo Academy” where users can track their progress and focus on topics in which they are most interested.
- Saxo Academy includes lessons on portfolio construction
- Educational platform is well organized and intuitive
- Some educational resources, but no depth across topics
- Trader's University offers free webinars and courses
- Some video and interactive tutorials for users only
While both brokers allow the user to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, bonds, options, IPOs, government bonds, and Forex, Interactive Brokers is cheaper for the average investor on almost every front. For example, U.S. stock trades are only half a cent (or $0.005) per share while Saxo charges $.02 per share with a $10 minimum commission for their "classic" account holders. (Two other premium pricing structures are available.) The spread cost for EUR/USD spot at Saxo averaged 1 pip over the last month (as of August 2018) while Interactive Brokers was .8 pips, much closer to the industry average.
In addition, IBKR Lite clients pay no commission on U.S.-based equities, though they are restricted to the web-based Client Portal and IB's mobile apps. The usual commission schedule applies to all other trades. IB has not charged a base fee for options contracts; infrequent traders will pay $0.70 per contract.
Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of six months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on their platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting over 3,000 data points that we weighed into our star scoring system.
In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out a 320-point survey about all aspects of their platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of their platforms at our offices.
Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.