Forex Trading

What is Leverage in Forex? Definition & Examples

Posted on 06.05.2021

what is leverage forex

If there is an unforeseen flash crash or extremely volatile event, and the market gaps dozens of pips at once, overleveraged forex traders can sustain heavy losses. The initial margin required by each broker can vary, depending on the size of the trade. If an investor buys $100,000 worth of EUR/USD, they might be required to hold $1,000 in the account as margin. Leverage is the lifeblood of the forex industry for retail and day traders, which is why it is essential that you know exactly what leverage is and how it works. With that in mind, read on for a complete and comprehensive guide on leverage in forex trading.

what is leverage forex

If you don’t, some or all open positions will be closed by the broker at the market price. Margin is usually expressed as a percentage of the full amount of the position. When trading forex, trades are typically liquidated and closed in real-time during a margin call.

The Risks of High Leverage

When trading stocks on the stock market, you may have more time to send in additional funds. When trading forex, your ability to use a margin account is the same whether you go long or short to open a trade. When trading stocks, there are different rules that govern the use of margin accounts when opening short positions.

It’s important that forex traders learn how to manage leverage and employ risk management strategies to mitigate forex losses. Although the ability to earn significant profits by using leverage is substantial, leverage can also work against investors. For example, if the currency underlying one of your trades moves in the opposite direction of what you believed would happen, leverage will greatly amplify the potential losses.

If you invested £1000 worth of your own money without any leverage and GBP/USD moved 100 pips to 1.4000, your profit would only be a few pounds. Leverage is something that exists in all realms of trading and investment, including in stocks and equities. When a leveraged trade is closed, the margin funds are freed up to be used again (except in the rare cases where margin funds have been lost entirely or are at risk – more on that later). While this money is still yours, you can’t touch it until your broker gives it back to you either when you manually close your current positions or when a position is automatically closed by your broker. The brokers that offer the highest leverage are typically unregulated and/or based in high-risk jurisdictions that offer little to no oversight or consumer protections.

  1. This is particularly relevant in the case of forex trading, where high degrees of leverage are the norm.
  2. Even small swings in an exchange rate can swiftly turn into significant losses.
  3. These stops are also important because they help reduce the emotion of trading and allow individuals to pull themselves away from their trading desks without emotion.
  4. An industry veteran, Joey obtains and verifies data, conducts research, and analyzes and validates our content.
  5. In practice, margin accounts allow forex traders to borrow funds from their broker to buy assets and control investment positions.

In forex jargon, the market “gaps” when the price of a given currency pair abruptly moves up or down with little trading occurring in between. There is no single, correct answer as to the appropriate amount of leverage to use when trading forex. There are a number of factors that can vary depending on each trader’s individual trading goals and financial situation. As we have covered, trading with leverage comes with its own risks and rewards, making it the ultimate double-edged sword.

More Forex Guides

At this point, your broker will issue a margin call, meaning that they are asking you to deposit more money into your account to cover potential losses. If you do not do this, your broker will liquidate your portfolio at current market prices and close all of your positions. Forex trading by retail investors has grown significantly in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of online trading platforms and the availability of cheap credit.

The term “leverage” is used to describe when traders borrow funds in order to open trading positions. This £1000, which you instruct your broker to take from your forex account and put into GBP/EUR, is your margin. Trading on margin, as they call it, is trading with a leverage deposit in a manner such as this. Let’s say you want to invest in GBP/USD, which is currently trading at 1.3900, in the hopes that the price of GBP will increase and you will be able to sell for a profit.

Head on over to the final chapter in this educational series to see my tips for getting started as a forex trader. The account balance (the margin) deposited by the trader becomes a form of collateral for the borrowed funds. Data disclosed by the largest foreign exchange brokerages as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act indicates that a majority of retail forex customers lose money.

Example Using Maximum Leverage

Based on the margin required by your broker, you can calculate the maximum leverage you can wield with your trading account. Though beginners can benefit from the use of a standalone online leverage calculator, most forex traders use the tools that are available directly within their broker’s trading platform. Each margin account has its own individual margin requirements that must be met before you can use leverage.

It is therefore essential to be able to strike the right leverage balance that will allow you to pursue worthwhile gains while minimizing your potential losses to a manageable level. It is therefore important to do your research and find a broker that offers leverage levels that you are comfortable with. The amount of leverage you choose will determine the trade sizes you are dealing with, as well as the amount of risk and potential profit you are exposed to. Remember, over-leveraging is one of the most dangerous things you can do as a forex trader. Although using huge amounts of leverage can potentially mean massive profits, it can equally mean massive, unrecoverable losses in just a few seconds. If a margin call occurs, your broker will ask you to deposit more money in your account.

Joey Shadeck is the Content Strategist and Research Analyst for He holds dual degrees in Finance and Marketing from Oakland University, and has been an active trader and investor for close to ten years. An industry veteran, Joey obtains and verifies data, conducts research, and analyzes and validates our content. Typically, a liquidation call would be able to close you out of your position in time to limit your losses in the event that the market quickly moves against you. That said, some events – such as market gaps – can put your entire balance at risk.

By selecting a 1% margin, you are opening a position worth 100 times as much as the amount of cash you are depositing. Selecting the right forex leverage level depends on a trader’s experience, risk tolerance, and comfort when operating in the global currency markets. New traders should familiarize themselves with the terminology and remain conservative as they learn how to trade and build experience. Using trailing stops, keeping positions small, and limiting the amount of capital for each position is a good start to learning the proper way to manage leverage.

Let’s break down exactly what the costs and benefits of leverage trading actually are, to help you make more informed forex decisions. The difference of JPY 400,000 is your net loss, which at an exchange rate of 87, works out to USD 4,597.70. Aside from “margin requirement“, you will probably see other “margin” terms in your trading platform. Margin is the amount of money needed as a “good faith deposit” to open a position with your broker.