Binary options let traders profit from price fluctuations in multiple global markets, but it’s important to understand the risks and rewards of these controversial and often-misunderstood financial instruments. Binary options bear little resemblance to traditional options, featuring different payouts, fees, and risks, as well as a unique liquidity structure and investment process.
If you want to start trading binary options full-time, a detailed understanding of their origins will help. Binary or ‘digital’ options have been around for decades. Originally though, it was only large institutions and the fabulously wealthy that had access. However, 2008 saw the US Securities and Exchange Commission open the floodgates by allowing binary options to be traded through an exchange.
The internet and technology have since given the whole world access to these ‘digital’ options. As it stands, with low barriers to entry for savvy day traders and a simple to understand preposition, the demand for these digital trades will only increase.
There are a number of different option types to choose from. The most popular types are listed in the brief glossary below.
- Up/Down (High/Low) – The most simple and prevalent binary option. Will the price be higher or lower than the current price when the expiry time comes?
- In/Out (Range or Boundary) – A ‘high’ and ‘low’ figure will be set. You are then making a determination as to whether the price will finish within or outside of these boundaries.
- Touch/No Touch – Levels will be set that are either higher or lower than the current price. You then enter a position as to whether the price will ‘touch’ these levels between the time of trade and expiry. Payout will come as soon as the touch takes place.
- Ladder – These are similar to up/down trades. However, instead of using the current price, the ladder will have pre-determined levels that are staggered up or down. These normally demand a substantial price move. The flip side of this is returns will frequently exceed 100%. Although it is worth noting, both sides of a trade are not always available.
Another important component of binary options is expiry times. This is when the trade will end and the point that determines whether you have won or lost. These times can range from 30 seconds and 1 minute (turbos) to a full day (end of day), and even up to a whole year.
As an intraday trader though, you will be more concerned with trading 5 and 30-minute binary options. Opt for binaries with 1 minute expiry times though and you have the ability to make a high number of trades in a single day.
Despite the somewhat negative reputation, the reality is binary options are legal. The majority of companies operate fairly. Opinions have been split because there are some out there that operate scams.
Regulation in certain regions has meant binaries have been withdrawn from the retail market. In the EU for example. But professional traders can still use them. In regions such as India and Australia, binary are legal – but traders should make sure they use a reputable broker, and read our section below on avoiding scams.
Scams & Frauds
The binary reputation has suffered from dishonest marketing and cybercrime. Too many unregulated brokers promise quick cash, whilst operating frauds. Regulators are on the case and this concern should soon be alleviated.
Binaries themselves are perfectly legitimate, but steer clear of ‘instant money’ promises, brokers that cold call, and celebrity endorsements, plus any claims that you can ‘start trading binary options for free’.
So it isn’t a question good or bad, it’s simply a question of being alert to the dangers and knowing what to look out for. If you’re unsure about a broker, ask the question in a live trading room to check they’re properly regulated.
Although in some ways similar, there remain some crucial differences between binary options and CFDs. With CFDs, you have potentially unlimited risk. If the price of the asset moves significantly, the value of the trade can grow very large, very quickly – for better or worse.
Whereas binary options work slightly differently. Whilst you are still investing without owning the asset in question, the gain and loss rate is fixed. With a call option, it doesn’t matter if the price rockets, you retain the same percentage as if it rose by just a couple of pips.
Likewise, if the price sinks to zero, you’ll only lose what you put in. So, to define the difference – with binary options you get fixed risk.
Having said that, just as if it was binary options versus forex trading, you are restrained in your profit potential.
If you want to profit trading binary options, you need to first understand both their pros and cons. You need to make sure binary options will suit your trading style, risk tolerance, and capital requirements.
There is a whole host of attractive benefits to trading with binary options. The greatest advantages have been outlined below.
- Simplicity – Because you are making a determination on only one factor, direction, your bet is straightforward. The price can only go up or down. You also don’t need to concern yourself with when the trade will end, the expiry time takes care of that. Whereas in other markets, you may need a system to limit your losses, such as a stop-loss.
- Fixed risk – Trade stocks, gold, and crude oil and you’ve got a vast number of factors to contend with, from slippage and margin to news events and price re-quotes. With binaries, your risk is kept to a minimum with far fewer parameters.
- Trade control – Because you know what you may make or lose before you enter the trade, you have greater control from the start. Trade in stocks, for example, and you have no guarantee that your trade will make the entry price.
- Profit potential – Compared to other trading, the returns in binaries are extremely attractive. Some brokerages promise payouts of up to 90% on a single trade. If you’re looking to make simple trades with large profit potential, binaries could well be worth a look in.
- Choice – Rather than being constrained to a specific market, e.g. cryptocurrency or stocks, binary options gift traders the opportunity to trade instruments across virtually all markets, allowing you start currency, indices, and bonds trading if you so wish.
- Accessibility – In the binary options game, it’s always the best trading hours somewhere on the globe. So, you can login at night, or on the weekends and join the groups of avid traders attempting to turn daily profits. Real-time charts are available for every market so if you’ve got the time you can invest 24 hours a day.
Whilst there are plenty of reasons to delve into trading on binary options, there remain several downsides worth highlighting:
- Reduced trading odds – Whilst you can benefit from trades that offer in excess of 80% payouts, these are often when the expiry date is some time away from the trade date. If the odds of your binary trade succeeding are extremely high you may have to make do with reduced payout odds.
- Limited trading tools – Whilst most brokerages offer advanced charting and analysis capabilities, trading tools for binary traders often fall short of the mark. Fortunately, there are other online sources for these graphs and tools, plus brokers are working swiftly to increase their offerings.
- Price of losing – Your odds are tilted in favour of losing trades. Approximately for every 70% profit, the corresponding loss of the same trade would result in an 85% loss. This means you need a win percentage of at least 55% to break-even.
- Risk management – Unlike other markets, brokers often set a trading floor, with minimum accounts a trader needs to enter the market. This means losing capital can happen with ease. Whilst a stocks broker may permit you to open an account with $250, trading micro-lots, most binary brokers won’t allow $50 trades. So, even with $250 in your account, just five trades that don’t go your way could see you sink into the red.
Trading binary options for beginners is straightforward. Simply follow the steps outlined below.
Step 1 – Find a broker
This is one of the most important decisions you will make. You need a broker that meets all your requirements and who will enhance your trade performance. But with so many options out there, how do you know what to look for?
If you’re high-frequency binary trading each day, the commission fees and costs will quickly rack up. You want to maximise your profits so look for brokers with a competitive and transparent fee structure, and remember, different asset classes pay out different amounts.
One point worth investigating is rules around minimum deposits. Whilst some brokers will offer binary options trading with no minimum deposit, many will expect a deposit of close to $50, and some $100. A broker offering low minimum deposits is ideal if you’re strapped for cash. Trading binary with JC and GCI are good choices if you’re looking for low deposits.
Some brokers will specialise in certain assets. If you’re set on crude oil, it may be worth finding a broker that’s geared towards those binaries. You may benefit from relevant news feeds and the most prudent option choices available. Trading binary stocks with 212, for example, is ideal for those interested in stocks.
With scams out there it’s important you check your broker is properly regulated by the relevant financial body, e.g. FCA, CySec, CFTC. Trading with 247 Binary Options, IQ option, and Binary.com are all safe bets.
Binary options platforms are your gateway to the market and where you’ll spend many hours a day. There are now many online trading platforms, so, make sure it’s easy to use and offers all the charts, patterns and tools you need to make smart and accurate trade decisions. For example, will you be trading binary options with candlesticks or more obscure charts?
Both Keystone and Nadex offer strong binary options trading platforms, as does MT4. Before you buy, conduct a thorough trading platform comparison and check reviews.
Any problem could cost you time, and as an intraday trader, time can cost you serious cash. So, check the broker offers reliable support. Some brokers will offer 24/7 customer support through calls, live chat, and in a number of languages. Binary options trading with Etrade and 24 Option are smart moves if you want top quality support.
A growing number of people use mobile devices and tablets to enhance their trading experience. However, software for trading binary options varies hugely. So, it’s worth checking whether your broker offers cross-platform capabilities. Also, check the charting tools you need will work on your iOS or Android device. Binary options trading with IQ Option, for example, offers fantastic trading apps.
Many brokers will sweeten the deal with some useful add-ons. Some may offer free trading plans, courses, and lessons. So, find out first if they offer free courses online to enhance your trading performance. Some brokers will also offer free binary trading trials so you can try before you buy.
You could also benefit from trading bonuses, tips, the best strategy and trading signals reviews, plus free, practice demo accounts. Not to mention some brokers allow for binary options trading using Paypal. However, don’t be put off by no binary options trading deposit bonus, these can be a sign of potential scams.
For newbies, getting to grips with a demo account first is a sensible idea. Funded with simulated money, you can try numerous assets and options. It’s the perfect place to make mistakes and learn before you put real capital on the line. In addition, you’ll find most free binary options demo accounts require no deposit, so you can start practicing whilst you save that initial capital.
There is no universal best broker, it truly depends on your individual needs. Some brokers offer minimum trades of just a couple of pounds, whilst others require hundreds or even thousands. The solution – do your homework first.
For more guidance on making the right choice, see our brokers page.
Step 2 – Choose An Instrument/Market
You can trade binaries in pretty much everything, including stocks, forex, indices, and commodities. You can bet on anything from the price of natural gas, to the stock price of Google. Opt for an asset you have a good understanding of, that offers promising returns.
Step 3 – Decide On An Expiry Time
As a short-term trader, you’ll probably be more interested in 30 seconds, 1 minute and end of day expiry times. You need to balance binary options trading volume with price movement. Whilst the more trades you make means greater profit potential, it’s better to make fewer and more accurate trades. Also, find a time that compliments your trading style.
Step 4 – Decide On Size
In the binary options game, size does matter. The greater your investment the greater the possible profit. On the flip side, remember the entirety of your investment is on the line. You need an effective money management system that will enable you to make sufficient trades whilst still protecting you from blowing all your capital.
Step 5 – Choose An Option
You will have any number of the options outlined above to choose from. Think carefully about how confident you are in your determination. Consider factors that will jeopardise your investment, and select an option that gives you the best chance of succeeding. Don’t automatically select a ladder trade because you want huge returns, consider which options are the relatively safe bets.
Once you’ve made that decision, check and confirm your trade. Then you can sit back and wait for the trade payout.
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