Interactive Brokers introduces automatic currency conversion


New member
IBKR sent a mail today (haven't found the info online yet), that from tomorrow, they will enable automatic currency conversion for cash accounts if they put an order where they do have enough money but not in the needed currency.

As far as I understand, this is can be quite convenient, as it automizes the step of first exchanging CHF to USD (e.g. to buy VT). It however only makes sense if it is one big order and not many small orders, as otherwise the 2$ conversion fee hits hard.

What are your thoughts about this?

Here the text from the announcement email:
Dear Client,

We are writing to inform you of an important change in our trading policies that will take effect after US market close on April 18, 2024. At IBKR, we strive to provide our clients with a seamless and efficient trading experience, and this update is designed to enhance your trading experience further.

Effective after US market close on April 18, 2024, IBKR will no longer require clients with cash (or IRA) accounts to have cash in the trading currency of the stock they are purchasing in order to place their stock order.

Under the new policy, clients can have the necessary amount of cash in any IBKR-supported currency (e.g., a US stock trade can be executed versus a EUR cash balance), and IBKR will coordinate the necessary forex trade in the amount required to settle the trade on your behalf.

For example, if you wish to purchase a US stock and you only hold a EUR cash balance, IBKR will execute the stock trade against your EUR balance. After you place your US stock trade order, we will execute a EUR/USD forex trade to convert the necessary amount of your EUR balance to USD to settle the stock trade.

The automatic currency conversion required to settle your stock trade will be performed by IBKR using a conversion rate that is determined based on the prevailing foreign exchange market rates at the time of execution. However, please note that the conversion rate applied by IBKR may be adjusted from the standard market rate to account for any differences between the settlement cycle for your stock trade and the typical settlement cycle for that currency pair. This rate adjustment allows IBKR to manage the associated risk and costs.

The specific costs and charges applied by IBKR for these automatic currency conversion trades are transparently outlined on the Commission and Fees page of our website. We encourage you to review this information to understand the applicable rates and fees for your trades fully. This change will streamline the trading process for our clients, eliminating the need for pre-trade currency conversions and ensuring a more convenient and hassle-free trading experience. Clients preferring to avoid the new functionality should maintain a sufficient balance settled in their account of the trading currency of the stock they are purchasing.

I think it's a double-edged sword as you pointed out. If you do a single operation per month, it will be fine. But if you do several, you will pay more in fees. I am not sure whether I will recommend it or not.