In order to trade cryptocurrencies, you’ll need to learn the basics of how they work and where you can trade them. So let’s get started! This page and our educational crypto guides will teach you how to get started trading crypto.
Compare the best platforms for crypto trading
If you’ve already absorbed the key lessons necessary to trade crypto, see the table below. We recommend the below services to trade any cryptocurrency, take a look and make sure they meet your needs. If you need more time to research or just want to learn more, keep reading.
If you want to trade cryptocurrencies, it’s important to get the basics. Here’s the questions it’s important to answer before you start out.
What do I need to trade cryptocurrency?
You’ll need a basic knowledge of both online trading and the crypto market first. That includes understanding bid and ask prices, and figuring out if the current price of the cryptocurrency you want to buy makes sense.
You’ll want to find an online platform on which you can make your crypto trades. Let’s take a look at some of your options.
- Exchange – A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform that enables you to trade crypto as Bitcoin in exchange for other currencies, be it fiat currency or other cryptocurrencies. Exchanges are recommended for more advanced traders, though, as they’re not always easy for beginners to navigate.
- Broker account – A broker account is any account you can open which allows you to facilitate investments, be that holding shares or actively trading cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple and more. There are many variations with minor differences. However, the most important thing to know is: A CFD (contract for difference) broker allows you to trade cryptocurrency assets without actually owning them. This means that you can trade cryptos like Bitcoin, but you wouldn’t be able to withdraw and spend the bitcoin. Rather, you’d withdraw profits in your local currency. Learn how to open an account here.
- Wallet – A crypto wallet is a digital device, program, or service which stores the keys used to receive, spend, and track ownership of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Having your own wallet provides a more secure platform for your Bitcoin than just leaving it in the custody of an exchange. If you’re trading a significant amount of Bitcoin, this level of extra security can be a worthwhile purchase.
Should I trade cryptocurrency?
This one’s up to you, what we’re here to do is give you all the information so you can make sound choices as to your own investments. Trading crypto can be a profitable venture when done right, but like any form of investing it comes with a degree of risk. We suggest reading this page and our crypto guides in order to educate yourself, and then using a demo account on a broker can be a useful way to see if crypto trading is for you.
What is the best way to trade crypto for a beginner?
If you’re a beginner in the crypto space who wants to make money trading crypto, using a CFD broker (compare the best here) means you won’t have to go through the process of buying and holding actual coins. This is because CFDs allow you to trade cryptocurrency assets against the value of cryptocurrencies without literally buying them.
Essentially, CFD trading enables you to own a contract related to the value of the cryptocurrency in question, which can then be cashed out for the new value of the coins after the market has moved up or down. This means you don’t need to worry too much about learning about cryptocurrency wallets or all the different pairs you’ll find on an exchange. Later on, you can always move onto trading on a crypto exchange, especially if you want to trade different cryptocurrencies for each other and/or hold a variety of cryptos at once.
When using a CFD platform to trade crypto, you’ll usually have the option to trade with leverage – but be careful of this. Trading with leverage means that you can make large trades while only staking a small percentage of the overall trade amount. The size of that leverage can be relatively small (such as 2x or 5x the size of your stake) or much larger (up to 100x the size of your own stake, or more), depending on the platform you use to trade.
Leveraged trading can maximise profits, which makes it a viable option for more experienced investors. The problem is that leveraged crypto trading can also quickly produce huge losses, particularly in volatile markets such as cryptocurrencies. For this reason, we don’t recommend that beginner investors trade with leverage.
How to trade cryptocurrency using a broker
There are many cryptocurrency brokers that offer platforms you can use to trade various crypto assets, with some of the most important variables to consider when choosing a platform being the security offered and fees charged.
You’ll find links to some of the best crypto brokers above, and here’s how trading with a cryptocurrency broker works:
1. Open an account with your crypto broker
Signing up with a crypto broker is a fast and easy process. First, choose a broker that offers a secure platform, low transaction costs, and narrow price spreads. You’ll need to provide some contact and security information to confirm your account, similar to when you open other kinds of online accounts. Then, select the cryptocurrency you want to trade.
2. Deposit funds into your account
You’ll need to add money to your account in order to begin trading. There are several different methods you can use to deposit funds, and the options available will depend on the broker you choose. Some of these methods can include linking to a debit card or credit card, linking to your bank account and then using bank transfers, or using PayPal. Once your payment method has been set up, you’ll be ready to trade.
3. Plan your crypto trading strategy
Picking and sticking to a sound cryptocurrency trading strategy will help you stay disciplined in your trading. Here are the four most common methods for trading crypto:
- Day trading. This is when you open and close a crypto position in the span of one trading day. In this case you’re aiming for the quickest gain possible, albeit not necessarily the largest. Successful day trades can occur in a matter of hours, or even minutes.
- Swing trading. This is also a short-term trading strategy, albeit with a slightly longer timeframe than day trading. When swing trading crypto, you’re holding for somewhere between one day to a few days, in an effort to profit from price changes, otherwise known as swings. CFD brokers will usually charge overnight fees for leaving positions open across multiple days, though.
- Scalping. This is an intricate crypto trading technique that seeks to capitalise on small market inefficiencies, producing lots of small gains. Two common approaches to scalping are arbitrage and spread scalping. Arbitrage entails finding a discrepancy between the bid and ask spread of two different brokers, and taking advantage of that discrepancy. Spread scalping is the same idea, but with the same broker. Some crypto brokers ban this practice, so make sure your broker allows it if you’re considering this approach.
- Automated trading. This is a way to trade cryptocurrency through computer-generated algorithms, rather than with your own hands. Technical indicators and statistical arbitrage drive automated crypto trading. This is also known as robot trading, and it is worth noting that it’s good to be careful of these platforms, as not all are legitimate.
Each of these strategies offers certain advantages to crypto traders. Consider how short you want your trading time horizon to be and whether you want to place your own crypto trades or have a machine do it when deciding which trading method to use. If you’d rather buy and hold crypto, that falls more under the category of investing than trading, and can be a profitable venture in its own right if done correctly.
4. Place your first trade
You’ve done your research, picked a trading platform, deposited money into your account, and selected your preferred method for trading cryptocurrencies. You’re now ready to make your first trade.
That was easy, what should I do next?
Congratulations, you’ve made your first trade! We recommend continuing to learn more about trading strategies, risk management, and other key principles, to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve. It is also advisable to keep up-to-date with all the latest cryptocurrency news, as crypto markets are often very reactive to new information and move fast.
We do not recommend trading crypto on an exchange until you have more experience, as they can create an environment that can be more challenging to navigate, harder to make deposits, and require a steeper learning curve. That said, if you’d like to give exchange trading a shot, keep reading and we’ll take you through what you need to know.
How to trade cryptocurrency using an exchange
If you’re looking to buy and trade coins, you can do so on a crypto exchange. That’s a different approach than with CFDs, where you don’t own the actual cryptocurrency being traded. There are numerous different types of exchanges, with the biggest ones letting you trade a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, and smaller ones allowing you to purchase a limited range of cryptos instantly with fiat currency. Here’s what you need to know when planning on trading crypto through an exchange:
1. Decide which exchange you want to use
Which exchange you plan to use can depend on a number of factors. Those include the strength of the exchange’s reputation, how low that exchange’s fees are, and the breadth of choices available to crypto traders. For instance, some exchanges aim for simplicity, allowing you to buy just a few cryptocurrencies using fiat currency. Others will offer a huge range of trading options, including trading a wide variety of crypto pairs. Figure out whether your crypto-trading goals are simple or more varied when picking an exchange.
2. Set up an account
Once you’ve chosen an exchange that suits your goals, the next step is to set up an account. You’ll need to provide contact information, verify your identity, and set up a method of deposit. We discuss the different deposit methods you can use below.
3. Select which cryptos you want to hold and trade
If you’re planning to trade popular cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple/XRP you’ll find them on any exchange. If you’re considering a different cryptocurrency, you’ll want to check with the exchange you’re considering before signing up, since some exchanges only offer a limited number of cryptocurrencies for trade. When you trade crypto, you do so in pairs, such as trading Bitcoin with Ripple (BTC/XRP), Bitcoin with the U.S. dollar (BTC/USD) or Ethereum with the British pound (ETH/GBP).
4. Place your trade
Once you’ve selected the market and cryptocurrency you wish to trade, it’s time to place your trade. Here are some of your trading options:
- Buy order. This is simply when you buy some number of crypto units, such as buying one Bitcoin at a price of around $7,000 (as of mid-April 2020).
- Sell order. This is the flip side of a buy order, where you’re either cashing in your crypto trade to make a profit, or to cut your losses.
- Put/call. When trading crypto options, you can bet on price either going up (call) or down (put). Here, you’re purchasing a contract which gives you the option (but not the obligation) to buy or sell crypto at a specified price by a specified date.
- Market order. This is when you want to buy a crypto immediately at the current market rate determined by trading activity on the exchange.
- Limit order. This is when you want to buy crypto, but you’re only willing to pay up to a certain price, known as a limit. You set a limit at which the exchange is instructed not to buy any more coins for you.
- Stop-loss order. This is when you buy a cryptocurrency, then put in an order to limit the size of your loss. So for instance, if you buy Bitcoin at $7,000 and put in a stop-loss order at $6,300, your goal is to limit the size of your loss to no more than 10%, in the event that Bitcoin falls in price. The exchange will automatically sell your coins if the price of Bitcoin falls to $6,300.
5. Receive your coins
You’ve now bought the Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, or other cryptocurrency you’ve been seeking. If you plan to store your coins on the exchange you’re trading on, then you don’t need to do anything else.
6. (Optional) transfer your coins to a separate wallet
In general, if you’re not planning on trading your coins in the near future, it is advisable from a security standpoint to transfer your coins to a separate personal wallet.
Which exchange should I use to trade cryptocurrencies?
We’re here to help you decide! Check out the table below to see the most reputable exchanges around for trading cryptocurrency.