Should you use IB Fixed or Tiered pricing in 2022?

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Investing

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

Until recently, I thought Interactive Brokers Tiered pricing was always better for most investors. But after doing some more simulations, this may not be the case!

So, I made more tests to see exactly when we should use Fixed or Tiered pricing. This article shows the differences between these two pricing structures and whether you should use Fixed or Tiered pricing.

Interactive Brokers Pricing

My top pick
Interactive Brokers
5.0
No custody fees

Everything 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

Interactive Brokers is the broker I am using and recommending. It is a great broker with very affordable prices and excellent execution.

Contrary to many brokers, Interactive Brokers (IB) has two different pricing models:

  • Fixed pricing
  • Tiered pricing

And many people are asking me whether they should use fixed or tiered pricing. So, let’s compare these two in detail and find out!

Fixed pricing is the simplest model, you pay a fixed percentage fee, with a minimum and maximum, and that is generally it. This model is common with most brokers.

Tiered pricing, on the other hand, is made of several sub fees:

  • Regulatory fees
  • Exchange Fees
  • Trading fees
  • Clearing fees

Some of these fees are per share, while others are flat, and still, others are based on the total value. And tiered pricing is very different from one exchange to the other.

So the main difference between those two is that fixed pricing is very simple and predictable, while tiered pricing is complex and changes heavily from one exchange to the other.

The price they will pay for each transaction matters most to each investor. So, we will compare Fixed and Tiered pricing schemes for several stock exchanges.

I selected several stock exchanges: the Swiss Stock Exchange (SIX), the European Stock Exchange (Euronext Paris), and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). These are the most used stock exchanges for a Swiss or European investor.

In some cases, there are some slight differences between buying stocks and ETFs. When this happens, the following results will use the ETF pricing.

Swiss Stock Exchange (SIX)

Let’s start with operations on the Swiss Stock Exchange and see if fixed or tiered pricing differs.

With fixed pricing, you will pay 0.05% of the trade value on SIX, with a minimum of 5 CHF and no maximum.

With tiered pricing, you will pay 0.05% of the trade value on SIX, with a minimum of 1.50 CHF and a maximum of 49 CHF. On top of that, you will pay a trade reporting fee of 1 CHF and a clearing fee of 0.38 CHF. Finally, you will pay an exchange fee of 0.015% of the trade value plus  1.50 CHF. 

You will pay even lower fees with tiered pricing if you have a substantial monthly volume. Indeed, starting from 50 million EUR monthly volume, the fees are going down, and several thresholds exist. But we will ignore that because this does not concern most people.

So, let’s see the total fees for a few order sizes:

Buy on SIX - Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered
Buy on SIX – Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered

These results are pretty interesting. We can see that for small operations, the tiered pricing is slightly cheaper than fixed pricing. But once we reach 5000 CHF orders, fixed pricing becomes cheaper. And as order sizes increase, the gap between both pricing schemes increases.

So, to buy on SIX, you should use tiered pricing for small operations and fixed pricing once you start doing large options.

European Stock Exchange (Euronext)

Next, let’s look at the Euronext Paris stock exchange, one of the most used stock exchanges for European investors.

With fixed pricing, you will pay 0.05% of the trade value on Euronext Paris, with a minimum of 3 EUR and no maximum.

With tiered pricing, you will pay 0.05% of the trade value on SIX, with a minimum of 1.25 EUR and a maximum of 29 EUR. After that, you have to pay exchange fees of 0.006% of the trade value, with a minimum of 0.75 EUR and no maximum. You also have to pay a clearing fee of 0.10 EUR.

Once again, let’s see the total fees for a few order sizes:

Buy on Euronext Paris - Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered
Buy on Euronext Paris – Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered

These results are very interesting. Below 5000 EUR, the tiered pricing is cheaper than the fixed pricing. Indeed, the tiered pricing minimum is smaller. Then, between 5000 and 50’000 EUR, fixed pricing is slightly more affordable. Finally, for 100’000 EUR, tiered pricing is cheaper again. Indeed, there is a maximum for the commissions, while fixed pricing has no maximum for the commissions.

So, to buy on Euronext Paris, you should start using tiered pricing for small operations, Fixed pricing for medium operations, and, once again, tiered pricing for large operations.

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Finally, we should look at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the stock exchange of the best ETFs available.

Interestingly, the commissions on NYSE are expressed per share. For this, I will assume that we buy an ETF with shares worth 100 USD. So, if we buy 1000 USD, we buy ten shares.

Also interesting, this time, the fees are different between buying and selling. So, let’s first cover the buying fees.

With fixed pricing, you will pay 0.005 USD per share, with a minimum fee of 1 USD and a maximum fee of 1% of the trade value.

With tiered pricing, you will pay 0.0035 USD per share on NYSE, with a minimum fee of 0.35 USD and a maximum fee of 1% of the trade value. Additionally, you have to pay a clearing fee of 0.0002 per share. You will also pay an NYSE exchange fee of 0.001 per share. Finally, you will pay some pass-through fees. For NYSE, these pass-through fees are 0.000175 times the total of the other fees.

Putting it together, this gives us these fees for buying on NYSE:

Buy on NYSE - Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered
Buy on NYSE – Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered

Interesting, Interactive Brokers tiered pricing is cheaper for all these transactions. For small operations, tiered pricing is almost three times cheaper. However, it is worth mentioning that both pricing models are extremely cheap for US ETFs.

For sale operations, there are two additional regulatory fees:

  1. The SEC regulatory fee of 0.0000229 per share
  2. The FINRA regulatory fee of 0.00013 per share, with a maximum of 6.49 USD

These two regulatory fees apply to both fixed and tiered pricing. So, this will not change which model is cheaper, but it is still interesting to realize the prices.

So, let’s see how this translates to selling on NYSE:

Sell on NYSE - Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered
Sell on NYSE – Interactive Brokers Fixed or Tiered

As expected, the tiered pricing is still cheaper than the fixed pricing. However, the selling fees are weighing heavily on large operations that are now several times more expensive.

For most passive investors, it should not be an issue to have more expensive sales. Indeed, we should buy more often than we sell.

For a small conclusion on US stock exchanges: Tiered pricing is cheaper than fixed pricing to buy US ETFs on NYSE.

Conclusion

My top pick
Interactive Brokers
5.0
No custody fees

Everything 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

We can see that neither fixed nor tiered pricing is always the cheapest option. It depends on which stock exchange you use and on the size of your transactions.

If you are mainly buying US ETFs, you should use tiered pricing that is cheaper. If you do small operations, tiered pricing is also great. For medium to large operations on Swiss and European stock exchanges, fixed pricing is excellent.

There is one more thing we need to mention: both fixed and tiered pricing models are very affordable. Interactive Brokers has excellent pricing! Given these results, I plan to keep tiered pricing because I mostly use US ETFs.

What about you? Are you using Fixed or Tiered pricing?

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. In 2019, he is 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.

6 thoughts on “Should you use IB Fixed or Tiered pricing in 2022?”

  1. I’m with IB since 2018 and have asked myself this question many times.

    So far, I used only tiered pricing.

    I cannot follow your calculations for SIX. Just last week, I bought a Swiss ETF on SIX for CHF 6,500. Fee: CHF 3.27.

    Two days later I bought the same ETF for CHF 6,400. Fee: CHF 6.40. Second transaction was executed in two parts, which apparently increased the fee. I find this quite irritating since I have no control over how IB executes my order.

    What is your experience in ‘real life’? If your order gets executed in two parts, do you pay the CHF 5 under the fixed pricing model twice?

    1. Hi,

      Interesting, I will need to check the numbers out again.

      But I have never seen the same situation you show. My prices are about 6.50, more than 3. Depending on the app you use, you may be able to tell IB to only execute the order as a single lot.

      I am only using the tiered pricing, so I don’t know if this can happen with fixed. But I am guessing the system is more or less the same.

      In any case, the best way to save money on trading fees is to trade once a month :)

  2. Would your conclusion apply to stocks bought on the New York Exchange as well or is it only applicable to ETFS?

    Thanks

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