Mastering the art of day trading: strategies, tips, and mistakes to avoid

Stanislav Bernukhov

Senior Trading Specialist at Exness

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This is not investment advice. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Your capital is at risk, please trade responsibly.


Whether you’re a seasoned trader or just starting crypto, this is for you. In this guide, we tackle some trading styles and strategies that fall under the day trading category, with a specific focus on cryptocurrencies. We also go over some of the advantages and challenges of intraday trading crypto.

What is day trading?

Before we dive deeper into this topic, let’s define the term. What is day trading? Day trading is the practice of buying and selling securities, such as stocks, currency pairs, commodities, or cryptocurrencies, within the same trading day, to avoid overnight exposure to market risks.

Day trading style for crypto no.1: Scalping

The fastest-moving day trading style is scalping, which pursues profiting from small price movements.

Scalping goes as far back as the old trading pits when deals were made by ‘open outcry.’ Traders in the pit were scalpers, taking the opposite side of floor brokers, who executed their clients' positions. That’s why scalpers were also called ‘market makers.’

Nowadays, a scalper is a regular screen trader who employs aggressive leverage and makes quick trades, either trying to ride short-term momentum or spot price reversals near support or resistance levels. Usually, a scalper holds trades between several seconds and several minutes.

Cryptocurrencies are known for their relative volatility compared to other asset classes. Still, it’s not always the case: for example, in the summer of 2023, volatility for Bitcoin was at a historical low, and the market was not very active. Here’s when scalping comes into play: it may allow a trader to work even in low-volatile environments, as scalpers don’t seek huge profits and may get away with a small profit of several pips.

Example: Since the bull run for BTC in November 2023, Scalpers can take advantage of plenty of small rotational moves. However, past performance should not be relied upon for future trading decisions without current market analysis.

Pros and cons of scalping in crypto

Advantages of scalping

  • Scalping might be the fastest way to grow the account if done properly;
  • As the turnover of scalpers is high compared to other trader types, they make more trades, and potentially, more profits;
  • Scalpers don’t carry overnight risk: that is especially important in crypto, which can suddenly plummet during the night;
  • Scalpers only work when they are in front of the screen, so they don’t need to hold positions and fall prey to sudden volatility.

Disadvantages of scalping

  • It requires much focus and concentration;
  • It generates bigger than usual trading costs (in the form of spread). Crypto markets may generate higher than usual costs, as cryptocurrencies’ expected volatility is relatively higher compared to fiat money markets. That’s why market makers in crypto usually keep larger spreads for BTC, ETH, and similar assets;
  • The average scalper needs to achieve a high hit rate to keep afloat;
  • Mistakes are more costly for a scalper than for any other trader: as the profit potential of a scalper is limited, the number of successful trades always needs to be high for the scalper.

Scalping is a style usually recommended for more seasoned traders since it entails high turnover and higher costs – and necessitates a close eye on price movements while trades are open. Whether you are trading cryptos or any other asset classes at Exness, we recommend trying it out first, on a demo account or Standard Cent account.

Day trading style for crypto no.2: Active day trading

Active day trading is, generally, a less active trading style than scalping and usually means from just one day trade up to a limited number of trades per day.

You may use this trading style during rallies for BTCUSD, ETHUSD or other crypto assets, as they might produce substantial breakouts and give a good profit/loss ratio for your trades.

Note: the capability of the price to make big moves within one day is limited. Extremely big days happen rarely, so a trader must be very careful picking trades, as the amount of ‘noise’ in the price action and intensity of rotation around certain price levels may be high. Still, there might be ‘big days’ with abnormal volatility: they occur during ‘bull runs’ or ‘panic sells’.

Nevertheless, timing is key for any successful day trader when buying and selling crypto. It’s not enough to just carefully predict the destination of the price: it’s also critical to enter the position with the lowest risk possible and place a relatively tight protective stop-loss.

That is why, day trading usually looks more like a day job, rather than a relaxed laptop pastime on a couch near the seashore. Still, you, as a trader, can work from anywhere in the world, if you have a reliable internet connection and can focus on the financial markets.

Day trading strategies for trading crypto

The different Day trading strategies that day traders in the cryptocurrency market use depend on their trading style. For example, if you, as a day trader, seek one good day trade per day, you may try to find potential pivot and reversal points within that day. Let’s look at this type of trading more closely.

Day trading strategy no.1: capturing pivot points

Potential pivot points may occur at the strong support or resistance areas, as shown in the example below: BTCUSD had approached the 29700 level, the intermediate-term low from 7 July. After testing this level, buying activity has returned to the markets, enabling a day trader to ride the pullback. The nuance here was that the mentioned price action occurred late in the day for the European timezone, meaning that fewer traders would be near their screens during the event.

Example of a pullback, which a day trader would use for building a long position.

Day trading strategy no.2: momentum day trading crypto

Riding the momentum is as old as the market itself. While it might be reasonable to try to 'buy low' and 'sell high', successful day traders who practice momentum trading focus on buying what is 'already high' to sell it 'even higher'. The attractiveness of momentum trading is that it might give a day trader a relatively fast profit, as the accelerating momentum pushes the price quickly with increasing volumes.

Day trading strategy no.3: trading breakouts in the crypto markets

A breakout is a rapid price move that pushes the price beyond the boundaries of some consolidation or a chart formation, or through the trendline of a correctional trend. Below is an example of a breakout that occurred in BTCUSD in July 2023:

Example: Breakout of BTCUSD on 23 July 2023. After the rapid breakout, the price reversed and closed below the opening price.

In this particular example, it’s visible that the breakout was fast, though it also ended quickly. However, as a day trader, this may have been an excellent opportunity for a long day trade, since you could have placed a short stop-loss and gained fast and decent profit within a day. Not all breakouts lead to a solid continuation. For that reason, crypto markets need to be within a ‘bull run’ phase. However, for a day trader, short intraday moves might still provide decent profit/loss ratios.

Day trading strategy no.4: trend-following day trades in crypto

In the realm of intraday trend-following trading applied to crypto markets, we focus on swift and volatile price movements, lasting only a couple of days, rather than long-term or medium-term trends that span weeks or even months. These longer trends for buying and selling securities fall under different strategy types, such as swing and position trading. A savvy day trader spotting such a short-term trend could use their strategy for day trading to work in sync with this trend over several consecutive days until it ends.

Contrary to this approach, swing traders and position traders frequently aim to 'buy the dip', expecting the initiation of a new swing in the trend's direction. Day traders, on the other hand, prefer to capitalize on the momentum with a touch of trend-following trading in their strategy. This method is commonly used by successful day traders to navigate the fast-paced crypto market.

Let’s look at the example below involving BTCUSD:

Example: The trend in BTCUSD in October 2023. Price pulls back to the moving average (50) and gives a trader a location for long entry.

As the trend started in October 2023, the price made several short-term breakouts, after which it had pulled back to the moving average with a parameter of 50 on the 60-minute chart. This is an arbitrary parameter, provided for indicative purposes, but that’s the principle that might be used not only on small time frames but also on daily charts: active trends make temporary pullbacks to the dynamic support. In this example, this support is represented by the moving average indicator. A day trader in crypto markets may use such points to their advantage, building trades in the direction of a trend.

Of course, not every trend in crypto leads to continuation. But, if identified correctly, a trend gives you a clear direction, and you have to focus on its timing and execution.

Challenges of crypto day trading

Each trading style comes with challenges, and so does day trading.

On the one hand, day traders attempt to not hold positions overnight, for peace of mind. Crypto day trading might force a trader to confront intraday volatility, which could lead to a frustrating outcome. Large liquidations and price pumps are quite usual for crypto markets, even for Bitcoin. Altcoins may produce much greater volatility than BTCUSD on both sides of a price action.

It might be hard to wait for a good trading setup for several hours, then once you enter a trade, you suddenly see the price erasing all the day trading profits in a couple of minutes. This can happen, for example, as a result of unexpected financial news or other relative publications. Though, sometimes crypto markets don’t need any financial news to initiate a move. The latter can be the result of some rumors on social media, which happen around crypto all the time, and can have a similar impact.

Traders should be aware of feelings of frustration and disappointment that could push them to make ‘revenge trades’, and eventually lead to overtrading.

Overtrading in day trading

Overtrading involves making more trades than necessary. It might be the result of chaotic emotional trades, or trades that might be described as ‘systemic’, though they might not fit into current trading conditions.

If we build trading statistics and compare performance to the number of trades, overtrading basically means making lots of trades with a negative outcome. If we include increased trading costs associated with crypto, overtrading the instrument becomes a serious issue for day traders.

The classical overtrading pattern looks like this: the increased quantity of trades is associated with losing money extensively, which is a direct result of overtrading. If you recognize yourself in this picture, you are not alone. A lot of day traders face the same issue.

Source: Private research of some traders’ trading performance through the service

How to avoid overtrading

Most professional day traders in crypto markets use dynamic risk management. In other words, they might reduce their volume if they are losing money within a particular day until they recover confidence and start making winning trades again. It’s not trading behavior specific to crypto traders: professional traders across all markets tend to do this.

Some day traders operate only within certain time periods and limit their number of trades. That won’t work for scalpers, as a scalper needs to continue trading, but dynamic risk management would definitely help.

However, no matter what trading style one uses, scalping or active day trading, it’s important to avoid accumulating too much stress, to prevent burnout .

The rule of thumb here is to take a break, reduce your trading size for a while, or even temporarily switch to a cent or a demo account, to regain confidence. The markets will still be there tomorrow, and it’s important to preserve your capital and emotional health. Don’t day trade too much. Focus on the quality of your trades, not the quantity.

What crypto instruments to choose for day trading

Another important aspect of day trading in crypto is choosing the right instrument.

Day traders rarely operate successfully between multiple markets and multiple screens. It’s better to take one or a maximum of two instruments, and focus only on what’s happening with them.

Bitcoin and Ether are best candidates for that, as they have enough market volatility and liquidity to avoid slippages and increased spreads. That’s particularly important, as less liquid crypto instruments may result in slippages and increased spreads.

Pick your instruments carefully, and take your temperament and risk tolerance into consideration to avoid unnecessary stress and burnout. See the full list of available crypto pairs provided by Exness.

Day Trading vs long-term trading – which is right for you?

As you may already know, there is no foolproof strategy or trading style. Every trade comes with a certain amount of risk. That’s why knowing which trading style fits your way of life and goals is the first step, and choosing the right broker is the second.

Day trading requires commitment and consistent focus, whereas most long-term trading styles such as position trading and even swing trading can fit into a busier lifestyle with less available screen time.

Frequently asked questions

The best technical analysis tools for day trading are essential for successful traders to make informed decisions. Momentum traders often rely on these tools to observe price moves and predict future asset prices within the same day.

Main technical analysis tools

Key technical indicators often used to day trade include moving averages, relative strength index (RSI) , moving average convergence divergence (MACD), and volume indicator.

These technical indicators help traders identify potential buy and sell points, giving them an edge to identify a potential winning trade. For instance, moving averages can help recognize trending markets, RSI can indicate overbought or oversold conditions, and volume indicator can show the level of interest or activity in a market.

If needed, a trader could use those indicators simultaneously. Below is an example of a long trade based on RSI in the direction of the trend, identified with moving averages.

The trend for ETHUSD in November 2023 was up, as indicated by two moving averages, though the timing was not perfect. The RSI indicator helped to improve timing and enter at a much better price after the pullback.

Where to find these technical tools

Online brokers often provide technical analysis tools, but traders may also use standalone charting platforms. Traders use these tools to determine their entry and exit points before the market closes, ensuring they don't hold positions overnight. In the crypto markets, there are no closing prices per se, as this market operates around the clock, though there are more and less active trading sessions.

Hence, understanding and correctly using these tools could potentially lead to successful day trading strategies.

Fundamental analysis does play a role in day trading, although its significance varies among day traders. Day traders use online brokers offering brokerage services to buy and sell crypto and other financial instruments throughout the day, often relying on short-term market reaction to news and events to determine their trades.

Research event and industry conditions

While some day traders might focus more on technical analysis, others might incorporate fundamental research into their trading strategies. This type of analysis involves evaluating a company’s financial health, industry conditions, and market trends, among other factors. For example, day traders may use this type of analysis to assess an earnings report, predicting how the market will respond to it.

In the crypto markets, fundamental analysis is not so easy, but traders sometimes use on-chain analysis, trying to trace large capital movements between wallets and exchanges. Also, crypto markets have some correlation with stocks, which is why crypto traders could benefit from knowing the direction of movement of major stock indices.

Fundamental analysis can help to mitigate risk

It's important to note that day trading is inherently risky. Many day traders lose money, especially those who are new to the trading world or who do not implement strategies to reduce risk. Therefore, using fundamental research alone may not be enough for successful day trading.

A momentum trader, for instance, might use fundamental research to identify a company that has just released a strong earnings report and is likely to see increased trading volume and potentially higher prices as a result. They might then day trade that company's stock, attempting to capitalize on the market’s reaction to the positive earnings report.

In the crypto markets, momentum traders can support their technical views with in-depth analysis of the underlying coin, news, and other narratives.

For example, in 2023, traders have been paying much attention to the progress of a lawsuit between Ripple and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The positive development of this case for Ripple created an enormous breakout with a 100% gain for XRP throughout a single day. Of course, from now on, crypto traders do their best to track such events.

While fundamental analysis can provide valuable insights, day traders should also consider other factors and strategies to mitigate risk and potentially enhance profits.

Day traders need to understand that in day trading there are significant financial risks involved. In order not to lose money, day traders must practice sound risk management strategies.

Stop-loss orders

One key strategy involves setting a stop-loss order, which indicates a predetermined amount of risk that a trader is willing to accept with each trade. The stop-loss order triggers a sell when a share falls to a certain price, preventing day traders from losing more money. It is also vital for day traders to limit the number of stocks they buy and sell in a day. Concentrating on a few select stocks for the day trade can help minimize risk and increase focus.


While diversification is more a tool for investors, day traders can apply it too. For example, an important risk management strategy for day traders is not to put all their money in a single day trade. Alternatively, it makes more sense to have at least several assets on the watchlist, to choose between those with the best risk/reward opportunities.

Manage emotions

Letting emotions control their trading actions can lead to significant losses for traders. Striving to make a profit with every trade can lure day traders into making desperate buys and sells, that could cause them to lose money. Therefore, it's crucial for a day trader to maintain a steady mind and a clear strategy, enabling them to make informed buy and sell decisions to prevent unnecessary losses.

Yes, you can definitely use day trading in the context of range trading. The trading range, which is identified by observing chart patterns, serves as the primary tool, helping traders identify potential buying and selling points. This approach uses the concept that prices often move between highs and lows to create a range.

This method can be applied to crypto and other assets, offering numerous opportunities for day traders. However, it's important to note that financial risk is inherently involved in any strategy. Thus, it is essential for traders to understand chart patterns within the trading range and develop risk management tactics to mitigate potential losses.

Want to start day trading crypto?

Day trading crypto can present numerous opportunities for experienced and novice traders alike. The strategies discussed, such as scalping and active day trading, offer different ways to navigate the market. However, it's essential to understand the challenges, such as overtrading, and the need to choose the right instruments and broker. Day trading crypto is a dynamic short-term investment strategy that demands constant attention to market shifts, but can yield substantial rewards for those who master its nuances. Always remember, a well-informed trader is a successful trader.

How to choose the right broker

When choosing the right broker, it is best to choose one with multiple licenses, several years’ experience in the markets, favorable and transparent fees, spreads, and commissions – and a few other beneficial features. For instance, at Exness we offer some unique benefits, unmatched by other brokers, that provide security to our clients. These include margin calls, VPS servers for fast and reliable execution, instant deposits and withdrawals, low spreads, and stopout and negative balance protection, as well as swap-free trading in certain regions.

To find out more about which trading account is right for you, your goals, and your strategy, have a look at our various types of accounts.


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This is not investment advice. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Your capital is at risk, please trade responsibly.