Getting Started with Forex Trading

Forex vs Crypto Trading: Key Differences Between Currencies and Digital Assets

For investors looking to trade assets and grow their portfolio, forex and cryptocurrency are two popular options. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between forex and crypto trading to understand. This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of each and what you need to know to decide which is better suited for your investment goals and trading style.


Forex and cryptocurrency trading have exploded in popularity in recent years. Both offer the potential for significant profits but also carry risks.

Forex involves speculating on currency pairs such as EUR/USD and GBP/USD. The forex market is the largest financial market in the world with over $6.6 trillion traded daily.

Cryptocurrency trading means speculating on the price of digital coins and tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The crypto market has grown rapidly with over 18,000 cryptocurrencies now listed.

So what are the main differences, and which is better? While both have advantages, forex and crypto trading vary considerably in how they work, risks and rewards, volatility, regulation, and more. Let’s break it down.

How Forex and Crypto Trading Work

First, understanding how each market works is key to evaluating their differences:

Forex Trading

The forex or foreign exchange market involves trading currencies in currency pairs. For example, the EUR/USD pair represents the euro and US dollar.

Forex trades 24 hours a day, 5 days a week across banks, brokers, and individuals worldwide. The forex market is decentralized with trading occurring through brokers, banks, and other providers.

Major currency pairs like EUR/USD and GBP/USD make up most forex trading volume. But over 50 currency pairs can be traded.

Forex trades are highly leveraged, with up to 1:500 leverage possible in some jurisdictions. This allows trading large currency values with a small account balance.

With forex, traders speculate on whether a currency will rise (go long) or fall (go short) against another currency. Profit comes from the difference when the trade is closed.

Crypto Trading

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are digital assets that use cryptography and operate on a decentralized blockchain network.

Over 18,000 cryptocurrencies now exist with varying functions. Major cryptos include Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and Tether.

Crypto trading occurs on centralized and decentralized exchanges. Trades match buyers with sellers directly with no intermediary “broker” involved.

Leverage is available but typically up to 1:10 rather than the higher levels seen in forex. Margin trading is also popular.

Crypto traders buy cryptos when they believe the price will rise or short them if they think it will fall. Profit, and loss come from closing the trade.

Unlike forex, some cryptocurrencies have a finite supply adding scarcity value. And ownership is anonymous rather than linked to real-world identities.

So while forex involves speculating between currency pairs, crypto trading means speculating on the changing values of individual digital coins and tokens.

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Key Differences Between Forex and Crypto Trading

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some of the biggest differences:

Market Size and Volume

One major difference is the size and volume traded:

  • Forex is by far the largest market in the world with over $6.6 trillion traded daily on average. This makes it very liquid.
  • The cryptocurrency market is smaller at $2 billion traded daily. But crypto volume has increased rapidly.

The huge forex market provides constant opportunities and liquidity for traders. The smaller crypto market can see wider price swings and gaps in liquidity. But crypto continues growing quickly.

Volatility and Price Swings

Volatility refers to how rapidly asset prices change. Here’s how they compare:

  • Forex majors like EUR/USD traditionally have low volatility of 1% or less daily change. Price movements are gradual.
  • Cryptocurrencies can have extreme volatility of 5-10%+ daily price changes in either direction. Sudden spikes occur.

So forex trading generally provides slow and steady gains. Crypto trading offers huge price swing potential but also rapid losses when volatile.

Trading Times

Trading sessions also differ:

  • Forex trades 24 hours during the work week with trading centered in major city time zones like London and New York.
  • Major crypto trading occurs 24/7 as blockchain networks operate continuously without downtime.

The non-stop crypto market allows trading any time. With forex, trading outside of peak sessions can see lower liquidity and spreads widen.


Leverage also varies significantly:

  • Forex brokers offer very high leverage like 1:500. This provides huge exposure with a small account balance.
  • Crypto leverage is typically 1:10 or lower. Margin trading allows similar exposure. But leverage levels are reduced.

Forex potentially provides more bang for your buck with massive leveraged exposure. But such high leverage magnifies risks majorly.


The main market participants also differ:

  • Forex traders are predominantly banks and institutional investors along with a growing retail sector.
  • Crypto traders range from large investors to small retail traders and hobbyists. The field is open to anyone.

The forex “big boys” are large established players. Crypto attracts everyone from Wall Street to small enthusiasts.


Regulation between the markets also varies:

  • Forex brokers are required to follow know your customer (KYC) laws and register with regulatory bodies like the NFA, FCA, and ASIC.
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges have far less regulation. Some regions like the EU are implementing more requirements.

Forex brokers offer trader protection through regulation. But crypto exchanges remain largely unregulated in many regions.

Market Accessibility

Accessing each market differs as well:

  • Forex trading requires a forex trading account at a brokerage. An initial deposit of $100+ is typical to open an account.
  • To trade crypto you need a crypto wallet and exchange account. Some Bitcoin exchanges have no minimum deposit.

Opening a crypto trading account is fast and simple. Forex accounts require more steps including identity verification.

So while forex necessitates opening a specific trading account, crypto just needs a basic wallet and exchange which anyone can easily obtain.

Pros and Cons of Forex and Crypto Trading

Now let’s examine the advantages and drawbacks of each market:

Forex Trading Pros

  • Massive daily trading volume provides constant opportunities
  • Low volatility and gradual price movements reduce risk
  • High regulation increases trader protection
  • Extreme leverage allows managing large positions with limited capital
  • Broad analyst coverage provides trading ideas and education

Forex Trading Cons

  • Only able to trade during the week at peak times due to limited volume
  • High leverage can lead to magnified losses if not careful
  • Manipulation risk from large institutions involved
  • Limited profit potential from gradual price moves
  • Complex trading platforms require an extended learning curve

Crypto Trading Pros

  • Trades 24/7 with no downtime provides constant opportunities
  • Potential for massive short-term gains from volatile swings
  • Low barriers to entry allow anyone to participate
  • No close down on weekends and holidays
  • Innovative projects provide unique profit opportunities

Crypto Trading Cons

  • High volatility results in frequent and rapid losses
  • Lack of regulation leaves traders vulnerable to risks
  • Exchanges susceptible to hacks and security threats
  • Many fraudulent crypto projects exist
  • Tax rules are complex and unclear in many regions

So forex provides measured gains in a highly regulated environment. Crypto offers huge profit potential but with added volatility and risks.

Ideal Trader Profiles: Forex vs Crypto

Based on their differences, forex and crypto tend to appeal to different types of traders:

Forex Trader Profile

  • Seeks steady, low risk income rather than huge gains
  • Values strong regulation to protect their capital
  • Wants to leverage large positions with small accounts
  • Can trade during major market hours only
  • Prefers gradual price moves over highly volatile swings

Crypto Trader Profile

  • Seeks big returns from volatile price spikes
  • Doesn’t mind risking capital for large gains
  • Excited by innovations like blockchain and DeFi
  • Can trade 24/7 which fits their schedule
  • Doesn’t mind rapidly changing technology and markets

So conservative traders wanting measured gains fit forex trading well. Aggressive traders seeking huge profits in a high risk, high reward environment may prefer crypto trading.

Should You Trade Forex, Crypto, or Both?

Should you trade forex, crypto, or both? Here are some tips:

  • Analyze your risk tolerance and profit goals to decide which approach fits best
  • Crypto trading is higher risk but has greater profit potential from volatility
  • Forex provides more consistent gains but less likelihood of huge returns
  • Combining forex and crypto provides diversity but requires learning two new skills
  • Try paper trading both first to understand your preferences and aptitude
  • Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose, especially with crypto

In general, those wanting steady income in a regulated market may prefer forex trading. Traders excited by crypto’s huge profit potential may want to focus on digital currencies. Or you can trade both to diversify.

Getting Started With Forex and Crypto Trading

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know to begin forex and crypto trading:

Getting Started With Forex Trading

Follow these steps to begin forex trading:

  • Research brokers and choose one with strong regulation, fair fees and an easy-to-use platform
  • Open a forex trading account with a broker by providing personal info and making a minimum deposit
  • Download the broker’s trading platform and practice with a demo account to build experience
  • Analyze forex charts, trends and volatility to identify trading opportunities
  • Open and monitor forex trades based on your strategy, setting stop losses
  • Avoid excess leverage and keep risks small when first starting out

With practice, research and responsible risk management, you can succeed with forex trading long-term.

Getting Started With Crypto Trading

Follow these steps to get started trading cryptocurrency:

  • Choose a beginner-friendly exchange like Coinbase or Gemini to set up an account
  • Obtain a crypto wallet to store any coins off the exchange for security
  • Start small by buying a major cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum
  • Transfer coins between the exchange and wallet to understand how transactions work
  • Research crypto news and price charts to spot opportunities to diversify into altcoins
  • Develop a crypto trading strategy with clear profit goals, stop losses and risk management

Take time to learn about blockchain, major projects and safely using exchanges and wallets. Losses can happen rapidly with crypto.

Key Takeaways: Forex vs Crypto Trading

Let’s recap the key differences:

  • Forex offers stable income from gradual currency pair movements in a huge, regulated market. Crypto provides huge profit potential but with added volatility and risks.
  • Forex trades $6.6 trillion daily, dwarfing the $2 billion daily crypto market. But crypto is expanding rapidly.
  • Forex leverage can be 1:500 vs 1:10 or less for crypto. This allows bigger forex trades but also raises risks.
  • Forex has limited trading hours and quiet weekends. Crypto trades 24/7 as blockchain networks operate constantly.
  • Forex appeals to conservative traders seeking slow, steady gains in a regulated environment. Crypto resonates with aggressive traders willing to risk losses.
  • Forex necessitates opening a brokerage account. Crypto just needs a basic wallet and exchange account to begin.

So evaluate whether the measured approach of forex or the high risk, high reward potential of crypto aligns better with your investment objectives and risk tolerance. Or diversify by combining both markets.


While forex and crypto trading share similarities like buying and selling assets, they vary significantly in areas like volatility, regulation, market hours and more.

Evaluate your personal financial goals and risk appetite. Analyze the differences outlined here. And select the market that provides the best fit for the investment returns you seek.

With proper education, developing effective trading strategies, and managing risks, you can thrive in either forex or cryptocurrency markets. Or combine both to diversify your portfolio.

By understanding the key distinctions between forex vs crypto trading, you can decide which approach is right for you.

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George James

George was born on March 15, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois. From a young age, George was fascinated by international finance and the foreign exchange (forex) market. He studied Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago, graduating in 2017. After college, George worked at a hedge fund as a junior analyst, gaining first-hand experience analyzing currency markets. He eventually realized his true passion was educating novice traders on how to profit in forex. In 2020, George started his blog "Forex Trading for the Beginners" to share forex trading tips, strategies, and insights with beginner traders. His engaging writing style and ability to explain complex forex concepts in simple terms quickly gained him a large readership. Over the next decade, George's blog grew into one of the most popular resources for new forex traders worldwide. He expanded his content into training courses and video tutorials. John also became an influential figure on social media, with over 5000 Twitter followers and 3000 YouTube subscribers. George's trading advice emphasizes risk management, developing a trading plan, and avoiding common beginner mistakes. He also frequently collaborates with other successful forex traders to provide readers with a variety of perspectives and strategies. Now based in New York City, George continues to operate "Forex Trading for the Beginners" as a full-time endeavor. George takes pride in helping newcomers avoid losses and achieve forex trading success.

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