How to convert CHF to USD in IB

Hello guys,
in my understanding, I need to have USD in my IB balance in order to buy products that are valued in this currency. Can someone explain me a safe way to convert CHF to USD inside IB?

I am worried to do the wrong thing as I am new to IB and I don’t want to risk to “spent” any money that I don’t own.

In Webtrader go to the Forex Tab
search for CHF.USD
input the amount of CHF you have (minus 2-3 CHF for fees) and click SELL.
This way you’ll sell CHF and get USD.

Thank you very much! So let’s say I have 100 CHF in balance and I select to sell 100 CHF (not knowing this fees thing). Would the order still be placed or would I get an unsufficient funds error?

For example:

My balance
100 CHF

I sell 100 CHF and IB covers me 102 CHF (including fees), but I don’t have this additional 2 CHF. So what would happen?

If you have a cash account, it might not execute the trade, I’m not 100% sure.

If you have a margin account, you’ll land with -2 CHF balance, but enough USD to compensate so your margin will be untouched.

Where can I check if I have a margin account? Do I need to manually request it? I hope so… :slight_smile:

In IB Client Portal. Account settings or User settings.

I think Margin is default at account setup.

You decide which account you want to have when you open it. I would be surprised if margin was the default, but anyway, it’s your choice! Also your choice is the reference currency. Generally, you will want to keep a few bucks on the saldo of your base currency. My base currency is USD, so I always SELL all my CHF, in order not to have any CHF.

But if your base currency is CHF, you will probably want to leave a few bucks there for fees. So don’t sell all your CHF, easy.

1 Like

Ok cool! Thanks for the tips @glina and @Bojack
I actually had a Cash account and I will follow your advice to always keep some CHF for fees!

Is there any benefit from running IB account in USD? I had to change it back from USD to CHF, because I only wired CHF first. Now that I have exchanged the first amount, I’m wondering if USD or CHF make more sense.

I guess for tax declarations it might be easier to have a CHF base currency, but only as long as you have some cash in there.

My logic is: all the instruments that I will hold there (VT, VTI, VXUS, you name it) are in USD. So I need USD to buy them. They will also pay out dividends in USD. It just seems easier to track everything in USD. Once retired, I will withdraw maybe PLN, maybe EUR, who knows.

I don’t think your base currency makes a difference when it comes to taxes.


Since you’ve mentioned it. Did you deposit or withdraw PLN on IB? Do they have a Polish account? Any unexpected costs along the way?

They do have a Polish (PLN) account.
I have done a deposit, just to test it. Arrived well, no problems at all.

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