Spot vs Margin Crypto Trading: What You Need to Know

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When it comes to trading in the crypto markets, there are two main types of trading available: spot and margin. Spot trades involve the immediate purchase or sale of a security at its current market price. Margin trades, on the other hand, involve borrowing money from an exchange to buy or sell securities. Both have their advantages and disadvantages that traders must consider before deciding which type of trade best suits their needs.

How Margin Trading works

Margin trading allows traders to leverage borrowed funds in an attempt to magnify their potential gains. Through a competent use of margin, traders have the opportunity to multiply returns on their initial investments, often ranging from two to ten times.

A more measured use of margin can be employed as a hedge investment within a portfolio configuration to protect against volatile market conditions.

All these endeavors should always occur strictly with the utilization of stop-limit orders, which are tools designed to guard against potentially ruinous losses.

Initiating a margin trade requires one to commit some collateral as this serves to secure the loan of shares and/or leverage from other stock market participants. For instance, if an investor wished to open a margin trade at a leverage ratio of 10:1 for $10,000, they would need to set aside $1,000 as collateral. It is important to remember that assets serving as margin for the loan are still subject to market volatility so the returns on investments may fluctuate tremendously.

Common margin trading terminologies:

Margin liquidation risk

In extreme market volatility, the value of collateral can drop so quickly and significantly that it does not cover the debt incurred during the margin trade. This leads to a liquidation of positions and a potentially heavy loss for the trader.

Liquidation is initiated when the account’s margin balance falls below the maintenance margin threshold. This is typically set at 50% of the trader’s original margin requirement. As a result, if an investor opened a 10:1 leverage for $10,000 and their collateral value dropped to $6,500 then their positions would be liquidated as this is lower than the 50% maintenance threshold.

Margin call

A margin call is a notification from the broker to the trader that their collateral value has dropped below the maintenance threshold. This serves as an alert for the investor to either add an additional margin to cover the loan or close their positions altogether. It is important to note that a margin call is not equivalent to the liquidation of positions and investors have the opportunity to adjust their trades accordingly.

Margin requirement

The margin requirement is the proportion of collateral needed to open a margin trade. This value can range from 5% up to 50% or more, depending on the broker’s policy and the market conditions for that particular security.


Collateral is any asset that is used to secure the loan of funds for a margin trade. Collateral typically comes in the form of cash or crypto, although other assets may be accepted depending on the broker’s requirements.

How Spot trading works

Spot trades do not involve leverage and are executed according to current market prices. This means that the amount of crypto one buys or sells will be determined by trading capital. Spot trades are simple and straightforward but may not provide the same returns as margin trades due to their non-leveraged nature.


Leverage is a tool used in margin trading to magnify potential returns. This is achieved by using borrowed funds from other stock market participants, typically at a ratio of 2:1 or higher.


Gearing refers to the ratio of debt to equity when trading. This is an important term to note in margin trading as it indicates how much-borrowed funds one has compared to their own capital. For example, a 2:1 gearing means that two dollars of loaned money are used for every one dollar of personal capital. Higher gearing ratios can lead to greater returns but also incur a higher level of risk.

How Spot Trading works

Spot trading is the most common form of trading, especially in crypto assets, and is considered a basic form of investment. It refers to the direct purchase or sale of an asset such as a commodity, stock, bond, or currency. When spot trading cryptos, buyers are able to purchase digital tokens almost instantly from other market participants who own exchanges like Binance which facilitate traders through offering bid-offer prices. These loans can then be used for buying and selling the selected cryptocurrencies; when this process is concluded the buyer has direct ownership over their newly attained tokens. It is important to note that price fluctuation does occur since its largely dependent on supply and demand ratios.

Sharia law compliance

Spot trading is a permissible form of investment under Sharia law, as long as it does not involve speculation or selling debt. Exchanging one tangible asset for another is allowed by Islamic law since spot trades are done without the use of leverage. This means that all assets exchanged must be owned and transferred in their physical forms which are known as ‘bai’ al-dayn. It is also important to note that spot trades must be completed in a single trade, with no delay between the completion of the sale and purchase of the assets being exchanged. This requirement helps to prevent any form of premeditated speculation or riba (interest).

Advantages and disadvantages of Spot Trading

The primary advantage of spot trading is that it offers a streamlined and cost-effective way to enter the cryptocurrency markets. It is also much quicker than margin trading as traders are able to purchase digital assets almost instantly from other market participants, which makes it an attractive option for those who need speedy access to funds.

On the other hand, spot trading can be quite risky since prices can swing significantly in relatively short periods of time due to sudden shifts in supply and demand ratios. This means that traders must remain vigilant when monitoring their investments, as unexpected losses may occur due to market volatility.

Advantages and disadvantages of Margin Trading

The primary advantage of margin trading is that it offers the potential for greater profits. This is because leverage ratios can be increased, allowing traders to hold larger amounts of their chosen asset than they otherwise would have been able to with their own capital. This makes margin trading an attractive option for experienced traders who are looking to maximize their return on investment.

However, it also carries a higher degree of risk as traders are subject to both market volatility and interest rates when entering into any loan agreement with a lender. Furthermore, if positions become liquidated due to a sharp drop in asset prices, investors may incur substantial losses. As such, it is important for all margin traders to manage and monitor their investments carefully in order to avoid any nasty surprises.

Platforms that offer Spot and Margin crypto trading

There are a number of platforms that offer spot and margin trading services for both crypto and traditional assets. Some of the most popular ones include Coinbase, Binance, BitMEX, Deribit, Bybit, and Kraken.

Each platform offers different features such as leverage ratios depending on the particular asset being traded. It is important to research each platform thoroughly before committing to trade in order to ensure it meets one’s trading needs.

These platforms may require certain KYC documents in order to open an account or deposit funds; it is essential that all traders abide by these regulations in order to remain compliant with applicable laws.


Spot and margin trading are two of the most popular forms of cryptocurrency investment, each offering its own benefits and risks. Spot trading is generally considered to be less risky than margin trading, as it does not involve any loan agreements or leverage ratios; however, traders still need to remain vigilant in order to take advantage of any potential price fluctuations.

Margin trading offers a way for experienced traders to maximize their return on investment with larger positions; however, it also carries higher degrees of risk due to market volatility and interest rates.

It is important for all crypto investors to carefully research and compare platforms before committing to trade in order to choose the right one that meets their individual requirements.


What documents may be required by platforms offering spot and margin crypto trading?

Depending on the particular platform, certain KYC documents may be required in order to open an account or deposit funds; these include identification documents.

Is margin trading riskier than spot trading?

Yes – margin trading carries a higher degree of risk due to market volatility and interest rates.

Is there any specific advice that traders should follow when engaging in spot or margin crypto trading?

You should always remain vigilant and monitor your investments closely in order to take advantage of any potential price fluctuations.

Is it possible to open a margin account without using leverage?

No – in order to open a margin account, traders must agree to use leverage in order to trade on margin.

What is the difference between a spot and a futures market?

A spot market is a market where assets are traded for immediate delivery, whereas a futures market is a market where assets are traded for delivery at a later date.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Alden Baldwin

Journalist, Writer, Editor, Researcher, and Strategic Media Manager:With over 10 years of experience in the digital, print and public relations industries, he has been working with the mantra, Creativity, Quality and Punctuality. In his waning years promises to build a a self sustaining institute that provides free education. He is working towards funding his own startup.As a technical and language editor, he has worked with multiple top cryptocurrency publications such as DailyCoin, Inside Bitcoins, Urbanlink Magazine, Crypto Unit News and several others.He has edited over 50,000+ articles, journals, scripts, copies, sales campaign headlines, biographies, newsletters, cover letters, product descriptions, landing pages, business plans, SOPs, e-books, and several other kinds of content.

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