CHF to USD (at SQ)

how would you convert a million CHF to USD to invest it in a number of ETFs (multi-currency account being held at Swissquote)?

a) directly buy the ETFs
b) convert CHF to USD first
c) same as b) but contact SQ for best possible rate
d) transfer CHF to a low-rates broker, convert, transfer back
e) some other way

and yes, it’s just about the currency conversion, i know there are lower-cost brokers :slight_smile:

thanks for your inputs


Transfer to Interactive Brokers.
This will be the winner, both for FX exchange and trading commissions.


For 1M pass through they definitely won’t be happy if you open an account just for cheap FX conversion.

Edit: if you want to go through a low cost broker like IB (which will prob reduce fees by 3-5k), at least do your ETFs buys there and close/transfer the positions after some time (eg 6 months)


We don’t think, we know :rofl:

Currency exchange fees at Swissquote when requested by phone based on an inquiry a year ago (for major currencies):

Amount Fee
0-50k 0.95%
50k-100k 0.5%
100k-250k 0.38%
250k-500k 0.25%
>500k 0.15%

Even higher tiers than 500k might exist. Via web or mobile app it’s always 0.95%, as far as I can tell.

Have you already checked whether any of the ETFs are also traded in CHF at SIX?


And for this you have to keep them at a US broker

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No, there is no need for that. Any broker that is an IRS qualified intermediary is equally tax efficient. Swissquote included. Swiss brokers have to withhold an additional 15% of gross dividends on behalf of Switzerland. However, you get a credit for that after filing your taxes, of course (and independent of your tax rate).


At a 0.15% fee, I’d exchange at Swissquote (if you intend to buy the shares through them as well).

I suppose they don’t have an additional spread on top of that, do they?

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1500 vs. 20 chf commission for FX exchange only?

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Negligible as a one-time cost, when you invest in ETFs anyway.

When your ETF yields an average of 6% and you’re out of the market for an additional 1% of a year (3.5 days) due to the delay in external currency conversion, you’re already looking at an additional opportunity cost of 0.01 * 0.06 * CHF 1’000’000 = 600 CHF. Before taxes. Theoretically.

And if you don’t already have a low-cost brokerage account (say at IBKR) in good standing and with substantial turnover, I am wondering how smooth the plan of

  1. open new account
  2. transfer in
  3. convert
  4. immediately transfer out again

…is going to work on a whole million of Francs. On a newly opened account.


If it is a million, maybe it’s worth calling Swissquote up ahead and see if you can negotiate special terms?


Transfer to IBKR and buy ETFs there :wink:


Have you considered a position transfer of a part of your current IBKR portfolio to Swissquote and then continue investing new money at IBKR?


So you want to invest at another broker. That other broker doesn’t accept position transfers from IBKR or why is this not a viable approach?

Buy us domiciled on IB and transfer to Schwab?

Pretty sure they won’t care much, doesn’t look like currency conversion and you’re investing in securities paying IB commission.