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Automate your investments with Interactive Brokers in 2024

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Interactive Brokers recently introduced a new feature to automate your investments: Recurring investments. Many people have been waiting for this feature for a long time.

Indeed, many people want to automate their investments as much as possible. And this was not possible before with Interactive Brokers. But now everything changed. You can entirely automate your investments!

So, we will see exactly how to automate your investments with Interactive Brokers and what that means.

IBKR Recurring Investments

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Until recently, you had to make all trades by hand with Interactive Brokers (IB). I do not think this is a big deal since I make all my trades directly on the interface, and it is only a few minutes a month. However, many people want an extra level of automation.

As of December 2022, automated investments are now possible. Indeed, IB introduced a new feature called Recurring Investments. This feature lets the user configure some investments that happen at regular intervals.

For instance, you could configure IB to invest 5000 USD in Vanguard Total World ETF (VT) monthly and 1000 CHF in Nestlé every two months.

You can use this feature with US and European stocks and ETFs. However, you can only use this feature on stocks that allow fractional trading. Indeed, the IBKR Recurring Investments feature is based on fractional trading.

Fractional trading allows users to buy a fraction of a share instead of a full share. This is important for the recurring investments feature to work. So, you must first get permission to trade fractional stocks (in your account settings) before using recurring investments.

For your automated investment, you can select different schedules, and IB will choose the proper day based on your start date and schedule. Currently, it is possible to use these schedules:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Biweekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Semiannually
  • Annually

The monthly recurring investment will make the most sense for most European people. In the US, people are paid twice a month, so a biweekly frequency makes sense.

Similar orders from all customers using this feature will be grouped and executed. This is done through Volume-Weighted Average Price (VWAP) orders. This is a special order type on IB. It is not important to know the details, but it is essential to know that All users with recurring investments in the same stock or ETF on the same day receive the same average price.

If the order starts on a day when the market is closed, the order will start the next open day.

It is also interesting to know that if you do not have the currency necessary for the trade, IB will convert the currency automatically. The documentation is not entirely clear as to how this will be performed. But I trust IB will use a similar kind of order on the Forex market and that execution will be suitable.

IB has two pricing schemes, Fixed and Tiered. Recurring investments should use the same scheme you have chosen for your manual operations. So, overall, fees will be extremely cheap and similar to what you are used to paying on your standard investments.

It is important to note that the fees on the fractional part of the share will be pricier than on the full part. If buy 1.2 shares, the fees on the 1 share will be standard but the fees on the 0.2 shares will be higher because there is a minimum of 1% for some shares (at least European shares). For large operations, this will not make a difference. But if you are trading a few shares, and especially for less than one full share, this may become pricier.

So, without further ado, here is how to automate your investments with IB.

Automate your investments with IB

If you already have an account, you can start automating your investments now. If you do not, you must first create an Interactive Brokers account.

Access the Recurring Investments feature from the menu
Access the Recurring Investments feature from the menu

Now that we know everything we need, it is time to learn how to automate your investments with IB! The new feature is available from the menu under Trade.

Before you automate your investments, the Recurring Investments should be empty
Before you automate your investments, the Recurring Investments should be empty

If that is your first use of this feature, you should arrive on a mostly empty page. Otherwise, you will see a list of your current recurring investments. From there, you can click the “Create Recurring Investment” button, and you will be able to create your first recurring investment.

Search the investment you want to automate
Search the investment you want to automate

First, you must search for the investment you want to automate. For instance, if you want to automate your investments in VT, you can put VT in Symbol and press Search. This is simple.

On the next screen, you can configure your recurring investment. First, you will need to select the start and end date. You can set them very far apart if you want to keep that recurring investments for a long time. In my example, I have set up one year.

Then, you can choose the amount. You cannot select the currency because this is fixed based on the asset you have selected in the previous step. If you had picked a Swiss share like UBS, you would have seen CHF on the second screen.

Finally, you can choose the interval. In my example, I have selected monthly, but you can choose whatever you want.

Once you are ready, press Continue, and you will get an overview of the investment before finalization.

Overview of your new automated investment
Overview of your new automated investment

On this, you will get some disclosure information. You should read it at least once on your first recurring investment. Then, on the right part, you will get a summary of your automated investment.

For instance, for my example, we can see a monthly investment of 1000 USD in VT. Over one year, this will cost me 12’000 USD.

You should double-check all this data. Once you have checked everything, press “Save Investment,” and your recurring investment will become active.

Congratulations, you have automated your investments in VT!
Congratulations, you have automated your investments in VT!

Your recurring investment is now active! By this time, you have successfully automated your investments on IB! On the next screen, you can see the new active recurring investment.

All your automated investments in one place
All your automated investments in one place

From here, you can update your recurring investments if you want. And you can start adding more if your portfolio has more than one position.

And this is already the end of the process. The process is very simple and was made to help you automate your investments in the simplest way possible.

Automate your deposits with IB

If you want to automate your investments, you must also automate your deposits. Fortunately, automating your deposits with IB for a long time has been possible.

 

Access Transfer Funds from the Menu
Access Transfer Funds from the Menu

First, you can access the proper view from the menu Transfer & Pay and then Transfer Funds.

Choose Make a deposit
Choose Make a deposit

Then, you can choose “Make a Deposit”, as you would normally do a standard (non-recurring) deposit.

Choose a deposit method
Choose a deposit method

Then, you will need to choose a deposit method. Here, I only have my Migros bank account as a source. If you have not set up one, read my guide on investing with IB. It will help you.

Automate your deposits on IB
Automate your deposits on IB

Finally, this view is where you can set up the deposit as recurring. Just check the box “Make this a recurring transaction?” and your deposit will be set to recurring. You can then choose the frequency, start date, and end date, similar to automated investments.

Once you have configured everything, you can click on “Get Transfer Instructions” and this will take you to a confirmation page.

You must confirm your recurring deposit with your password and second authentication factor. Make sure you double-check the information before your click on Save.

Transfer instructions on your recurring deposit
Transfer instructions on your recurring deposit

Congratulations, you have now successfully set up an automated deposit on IB. You only have to automate it on your bank side, ensuring you are using the proper information in the message so that IB can identify you.

With these two parts (automated investments and recurring deposits), you can fully automate your investments!

Conclusion

The best broker
Interactive Brokers
5.0
No custody fees

The broker you need to buy stocks and ETFs reliably and at extremely affordable prices. Trade U.S. stocks for as little as 0.5 USD!

Pros:
  • Extremely affordable
  • Wide range of investing instruments
Invest your money Read My Review

It is now possible to automate your investments with Interactive Brokers! Many investors will be delighted with this feature. I have often been asked whether automated investments were possible, and now I can finally answer yes!

I do not intend to automate my investments. I do not think this is useful, since this makes people too complacent. Nevertheless, it is much better to automate your investments than not invest! And I know that many people disagree with me. Therefore, if this feature helps you invest, it is a great feature!

What about you? What do you think about this feature?

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Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. Since 2019, he has been saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

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85 thoughts on “Automate your investments with Interactive Brokers in 2024”

  1. Hello Baptiste,

    From a fee perspective, what would be the minimum amount you could automatically invest per month in US ETFs if you already have the currency in USD? How would it be if it the currency is in CHF and need to be converted? Regards

    1. Hi Marco,

      I don’t understand your question. There is no minimum as long as you are doing fractional trading. You could invest 1 USD in VOO for instance. It would not be efficient, but possible.

      1. Hi Baptiste,

        My question was more like at what amount it makes sense to setup an automatical invest, considering the fees. For example, you have 3 ETFs and only 1000K CHF per month available. Would it be better to do it montly or every 3 to 5 months? As you said you can invest 1 USD in VOO but it would not be efficent. I am using at the moment the Tiered Fee System.

      2. It’s difficult to say exactly how much is the sweet spot. For a US ETF, anything about 100 USD makes sense because it would only cost about 0.35 USD.
        For a CH ETF, I would say we have to wait until at least 250 CHF (and even there it’s not cheap at around 4 CHF). 500 CHF is getting better.

  2. “It is essential to note that recurring investments use the fixed pricing scheme of IB.”

    Could you please provide a source for this statement? I see many users on Reddit stating that they are charged their normal tiered pricing commission when doing recurring investments.

    1. I can’t find it anymore. I remember seeing that in their FAQ for recurring investment, but it’s not there anymore. I will amend this part of the article, thanks!

      1. In that case, if tiered pricing works for recurring investments, then there is another issue to take into account: for European shares, under tiered pricing, IBKR charges 1% commission on the fractional part of the trade. This suddenly makes recurring investments and fractional shares trading under tiered pricing a lot less attractive…

      2. Hi David,

        It’s a big issue unless you buy very few shares. On a 29 share operation, it’s not bad but it’s really bad on a 0.9 share operation.

      3. Indeed. However, people who use fractional shares are often the ones who make small contributions, so that 1% on the fractional part can take a toll.

  3. One question regarding dividend payments. There is also a feature at IBKR to automatically invest received dividends. Do you recommend to do that?

    1. Hi OW

      It’s really up to you. This feature is really convenient. However, it has two drawbacks:
      * It only works for US stocks
      * It will make a transaction for each dividend, costing 0.35 USD. If you receive relatively high dividends, this is cheap. But on a small dividend, this may be inefficient.

  4. Hi! Thanks for explaining this cool possibility!
    I have a questions regarding investing on multiple ETF. For example, you suggest that a good strategy is to have 20% on Swiss stock and 80% on US stock. Now, if I want to invest 2k every month, do you suggest me to invest 1.6k on US and 400 on CH every month or invest the full 2k 4 times in US and the one time in CH?

    Thanks very much!

    1. Hi Enrico

      If you want to automate, I think investing in both ETFs each month makes sense. However, it is not very cheap for a Swiss ETF to buy few shares.
      Ideally, you would want to invest 2k 4 times in US and then one time in CH. But I don’t think you can achieve that with the periods offered by IB.

      1. Thanks for the explanation! Maybe then a good solution is to automate each month the US stock (1.6k) and then do manually the CH one (2k) every 5 month…?

        Thanks for your valuable opinion!

      2. It could be a good solution, but in that case, you may consider whether it’s actually worth it to automate if you can’t automate everything.

  5. How do you automate if you also need to change currencies – i.e. I want to DCA (or CHCA as it were) into the market, so I wire the money monthly in CHF and need to convert it to USD to invest into a US domiciled ETF. Can this be entirely automated or do I need to convert currency manually and adapt the USD value of my recurring investment each time depending on FX variance?

    1. As indicated in the article, the conversion can be done automatically. But then, you have to allow for some margin since the number of shares will vary from one month to the other.

  6. Hi Baptiste, will Interactive Brokers automatically take the recurring deposit amount from your bank or will you have to setup a standing order with your bank?

    1. Interactive Brokers cannot take any money out of your bank directly!

      You will have to setup a standing order in your bank (and a standing deposit on IBKR) to automate your investments.

  7. Hi, thanks for this article. The minimum amount to buy in recurring investment is $10. Does this mean that customer have to pay $1 to IBKR for buying fractional share worth $10?

  8. I just noticed the answer to my question (what happens if not enough money is in my account) is already answered in the post.

    “You must have sufficient available cash in your account on the scheduled purchase date to pay for the investment in full, including commission. If there is insufficient cash in your account at the time of a scheduled investment, your recurring investment will not be executed. Your recurring investment will be canceled automatically if there is insufficient cash in your account on two scheduled purchase dates. You should consider establishing a recurring deposit to ensure your recurring investment is executed.”

    If you moderate this by hand, no need to answer this question and the next one.
    Sorry for wasting your time and not reading carefully enough : ).

    Have a nice day.

  9. Hi,
    Since I am buying US ETF’s but my deposit is in CHF I am never sure how much money exactly is available (after conversion).
    Assuming I have a monthly interval, If I do not have enough money what happens then? I assume it simply skips this month and does not invest anything, but next month it tries again, correct?
    Or does it do something weird, like go negative or disable the automatic investment altogether?

    P.s.
    Thank you very much that you take the time out of your day to write those great blogs. They made me start investing and it is imo the single best resource for swiss investors : D.

    1. Hi Tim,

      If you have a cash account, it will not go negative, it should only skip it indeed. If you have a margin account, it will likely go negative.
      If you want to avoid this, add a margin of safety to your orders, like 5%.

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