Forex scalping has developed a reputation as a quick and easy way to make small profits in the forex market. But is it right for you?
Scalping involves making dozens or even hundreds of trades per day, trying to profit off small price movements. The strategy takes advantage of volatile currency pairs and leverage to amplify profits.
While scalping seems simple in theory, it requires an extremely disciplined, patient trader to execute successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about forex scalping, including:
What Is Forex Scalping?
Forex scalping is a trading style that specializes in profiting off small price changes in volatile currency pairs. Scalpers open and close multiple positions throughout the day, holding them for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
The basic goal is to accumulate small wins that add up over time. A scalper may only make 5-10 pips per trade, but they aim to rack up 50+ trades per day. With leverage of 50:1, those little profits can quickly compound.
Scalpers rely on their instincts and technical analysis versus in-depth fundamental analysis. They utilize ultra-short time frames like the 1-minute or 5-minute charts to evaluate potential trades.
Advanced scalpers even use tick charts to monitor price changes by the second. This allows them to react instantaneously to even the smallest movements.
Some key characteristics of forex scalping include:
- Hundreds of trades per day – Scalpers open and close positions rapidly, shooting for quantity over size. One extreme form called “picoscalping” involves hundreds of 2-5 second trades per day.
- Small profit targets – Each trade may only aim for 5-10 pips in profit. Scalpers accumulate gains through sheer volume.
- High leverage – Leverage allows scalpers to maximize profits from small movements. 50:1 leverage or higher is common.
- Advanced tools – Scalpers may use Level II pricing, direct market access (DMA), and automation to obtain real-time data and enter orders faster.
- Cut losses quickly – Scalpers exit losing trades fast, often within just a few pips. They don’t let losses accumulate.
- Discipline is key – Scalping requires tremendous focus and discipline. Straying from your strategy can quickly lead to major losses.
Now that we’ve defined forex scalping, let’s look at the pros and cons of this trading style.
The Pros and Cons of Forex Scalping
Here are the main advantages and drawbacks of scalping in forex:
Pros of Scalping
- Profit from volatility – Scalpers capitalize on volatile trading conditions where prices fluctuate rapidly. News events and volatile pairs like GBP/USD are ideal.
- Smaller risk per trade – With tight stops, the risk on each scalping trade is relatively small. Losses on a single trade won’t significantly impact the overall results.
- Profit compounding – By closing winning trades quickly, profits start compounding as the trading account balance grows.
- High number of opportunities – The high-volume scalping strategy provides dozens of potential trades per day. There’s almost always a trade setting up with the right pairs.
- Immediate realization of profits – Scalpers close positions within minutes or seconds after entry, realizing profits quickly. Positions aren’t left to move against you.
- Can be automated – Scalping systems can be automated to systematically filter signals and execute trades. This removes emotion and inconsistency.
Cons of Scalping
- Requires intense focus – Scalpers must watch screens continuously, which can be mentally exhausting. Just a few minutes of distraction can lead to missed trades or losses.
- ** susceptible to slippage and spreads** – Entering and exiting many trades amplifies the impact of spreads and slippage. Even a 1 pip difference can be significant across hundreds of trades.
- Increased commission costs – For traders working with a conventional broker, commissions also eat into profits substantially given the high volume of trades.
- Over-trading danger – Impatient scalpers face temptation to over-trade, veering from their strategy. This almost always results in losses.
- Potential for losses – Despite small stops on each trade, scalping strategies can still suffer large losses overall if trades repeatedly move against the trader.
- Not ideal for beginners – Scalping requires specialized skills and discipline. For inexperienced traders, swing trading or positional trading are better options to start.
Now that you understand the ins and outs of forex scalping, let’s look at what you’ll need to scalp successfully.
Requirements for Effective Forex Scalping
While scalping looks easy on the surface, it carries significant risks if you dive in unprepared. Follow these best practices to scalp forex successfully:
Choose a Reliable, Low-Cost Broker
The right broker provides fast execution, tight spreads, and commission structures suitable for high-volume trading. Consider brokers like Forex.com, Pepperstone, and FP Markets which offer ECN accounts with low, tiered commissions averaging under $3.50 per 100,000 traded.
Avoid restrictive brokers charging round-turn commissions over $10 per 100,000 or adding markups to spreads. Slippage and spreads will already diminish your margins significantly.
Look for brokers offering direct market access (DMA) or Level II pricing feeds for lightning-fast order execution. For hands-free scalping, brokers like CMC Markets even offer automated trading tools and virtual private servers (VPS) to run your algorithmic systems 24/7.
Utilize Advanced Trading Platforms
Scalping requires a robust, customizable trading platform with advanced features and little to no latency. MetaTrader 4/5 remains the gold standard for retail forex trading, offered by most brokers.
Look for platforms that allow you to set rapid-fire hotkeys for opening/closing trades and placing orders. You’ll also want tick charts, Level II pricing, and one-click trading capabilities.
If using MT4/5, enhance the experience with add-ons like the Enhanced Trade Terminal for single-click trading. TradingView also provides free browser-based charts with a full technical toolkit for analysis.
For automated trading, utilize MT4/5 Expert Advisors (EAs) or connect APIs like FIX to run your systems directly on VPS infrastructure.
Choose Volatile Currency Pairs
Volatility is a scalper’s best friend! Target pairs with frequent price swings to profit from rapid fluctuations. Ideal volatile pairs include:
Top 6 Forex EA & Indicator
Based on regulation, award recognition, mainstream credibility, and overwhelmingly positive client feedback, these six products stand out for their sterling reputations:
|1.||Forex EA||Gold Miner Pro FX Scalper EA||$879.99||MT4||Learn More|
|2.||Forex EA||FXCore100 EA [UPDATED]||$7.99||MT4||Learn More|
|3.||Forex Indicator||Golden Deer Holy Grail Indicator||$689.99||MT4||Learn More|
|4.||Windows VPS||Forex VPS||$29.99||MT4||Learn More|
|5.||Forex Course||Forex Trend Trading Course||$999.99||MT4||Learn More|
|6.||Forex Copy Trade||Forex Fund Management||$500||MT4||Learn More|
- GBP/USD – The British pound frequently oscillates versus the safe-haven USD.
- EUR/USD – With high daily range and volume, the world’s most-traded currency pair trends and fluctuates often.
- GBP/JPY – Spikes in GBP/JPY volatility provide scalping opportunities.
- USD/CHF – Interest rate differentials lead to regular oscillations as funds flow between the dollar and Swiss franc.
- EUR/GBP – Brexit headlines spur volatility in this euro-sterling cross rate.
Always check a pair’s average daily range and know when it’s most active. For most pairs, the London session (3 AM to 12 PM EST) provides optimal volatility and liquidity to scalp small profits consistently.
Utilize Chart Patterns and Indicators
While scalpers react in real-time to price changes, they also utilize chart patterns and indicators to identify trades with high probability.
Use patterns like flags, triangles, channels, and double tops/bottoms over short time frames to enter as price breaks out. Oscillators like stochastic and RSI help overbought/oversold levels to trade reversals.
Favor momentum indicators like MACD and moving averages to trade breakouts in the overall trend direction. ADX and Bollinger Bands also indicate whether prices are trending nicely or consolidating.
Match indicators to your strategy. For example, a breakout trader would focus more on patterns and trend direction tools like the 200-period moving average.
Define Your Trading Rules and Risk Management
Success in scalping requires a defined trading plan with clear rules on:
- Entry and exit signals
- Position size and risk per trade
- Profit targets
- Loss limits before stopping trading
- Hours of the day to trade
- Maximum daily loss to tolerate before stopping
Stick rigidly to these rules in real-time trading. They prevent you from over-trading and blowing up your account.
Many scalpers risk just 1-2% of capital per trade, allowing 50-100 trades daily with a $10,000 account. This ensures one losing trade won’t significantly hurt the account, but profits can still compound over time.
Set stop losses at a reasonable distance based on volatility, such as 20 pips. Trail stops to lock in profits when able.
Cultivate a Disciplined Mindset
Scalping requires tremendous focus and discipline. It’s imperative you cultivate the proper trader mindset, focusing on:
- Patience – Don’t over-trade when setups don’t materialize. Wait for high probability trades.
- Decisiveness – Act instantly on signals; hesitation leads to missed profit opportunities.
- Consistency – Follow your trading plan precisely each day, without exception.
- Objectivity – Remove all emotion from your trades. Make each decision analytically.
- Attention to detail – Monitor positions proactively. Stay alert to protect profits and cut losses based on targets.
With the right mindset, scalping can be very profitable. But without discipline, it leads quickly to losses and frustration.
Developing a Scalping Strategy
Let’s examine two sample scalping strategies to demonstrate how to develop structured, rule-based approaches.
You can either follow strategies like these precisely or use them as templates to design your own systems:
1. Momentum Breakout Scalping Strategy
This straightforward strategy trades breakouts from channels and ranges for quick profits. We’ll scalp the EUR/USD, adding trend direction filters.
- Trade sessions with highest volatility only (8 AM – 12 PM EST)
- Identify horizontal channel support and resistance lines on EUR/USD 5-minute chart
- Buy near support when stochastic RSI crosses above 30, indicating oversold momentum shift
- Sell near resistance when stochastic RSI crosses below 70, indicating overbought conditions
- Place stop loss 2 pips below support or above resistance
- Target 5-10 pips profit
- Trail stop once price moves 3 pips in profit’s favor
- Maximum 3 trades per session if losses hit -50 pips
Risk: 1% of account per trade
This strategy scales in and out of trends as momentum shifts. The stochastic RSI identifies oversold and overbought levels to anticipate reversals.
2. News Scalping Strategy
For this strategy, we’ll scalp fluctuations around high-impact news events, focusing on GBP/USD and EUR/USD.
- Review Forexfactory calendar to identify upcoming news for GBP/USD and EUR/USD
- Open 1-minute GBP/USD or EUR/USD chart 15 minutes before news release
- No trade until 1 minute before announcement
- Buy or sell market execution, risking 5 pips, if volatility expands before news
- Close half position immediately after announcement
- Trail remaining position by 20 pips
- Maximum 6 trades per day, stop trading if 50 pips lost
Risk: 1.5% of account per trade
This strategy aims to profit from the volatility spike around news events as the market prices in the announcement. We scalp the market’s reaction, trailing stops to exit.
These are just examples. Adapt these strategies or create your own coded, specific rules that match your risk tolerance and personality. Automated scalping takes this to another level, coding entire systems into EAs.
Now, let’s address some frequently asked questions about this trading approach:
FAQs About Forex Scalping
Let’s review some common questions about scalping:
Is scalping illegal?
No, scalping is legal as long as rules and regulations are followed. There are no laws explicitly banning the practice. Brokers may prohibit excessive scalping under their terms and conditions, so review policies closely.
Is scalping haram?
Opinions diverge on whether scalping aligns with Islamic law. Some argue short durations conflict with principles of risk-sharing. Others contend that all forex trading violates Islam. Consult scholars to determine if scalping complies with your interpretation.
Is scalping gambling?
Not necessarily. While poor risk management can make it gambling, a structured approach analyzing probabilities and managing risk makes scalping a strategic form of trading. Scalpers rely on analytics and discipline to earn reliable profits.
Is scalping easy?
Absolutely not! Scalping demands intense focus over hours, substantial knowledge of technical analysis, strict risk management, and trading psychology. Lacking those, scalping is extremely difficult and usually unprofitable for beginners. It’s best suited for experienced traders.
Is scalping profitable?
Scalping can be highly profitable thanks to sheer quantity. A trader making just 5 pips per trade can earn 25 pips per day across five trades, translating to $50 daily with a $100,000 account leveraged 50:1. Consistency and discipline are mandatory.
Is scalping better than swing trading?
Neither is inherently better. Scalping provides more opportunities to profit from volatility in a single day. Swing trading involves fewer trades with wider stops. Choose the strategy matching your personality and schedule. Both require analytics and risk management.
Key Takeaways on Scalping Forex
Here are the major points we’ve covered about forex scalping:
- Scalping aims to profit from many small trades throughout the day, compounding tiny gains from volatility
- It demands intense focus, iron discipline, specialized skills, and reasonable leverage to maximize limited margins
- Choose a suitable broker and platform providing tight spreads, fast execution, and ideal commissions
- Target very liquid, volatile pairs and capitalize on daily fluctuations and trends
- Use indicators and chart patterns to hack into momentum and enter trades with conviction
- Follow a defined strategy religiously by managing risk, setting stops, and exiting both winners and losers per your rules
- Cultivate the proper psychology, focusing on decisiveness, objectivity, and consistency
- While challenging, scalping offers tremendous potential to experienced traders able to execute trades systematically and remain disciplined
If properly implemented, forex scalping provides a fast-paced yet rewarding style to profit from the world’s largest financial market. Master the nuances, and persistent profits await.
Hopefully this guide provides a comprehensive overview of forex scalping and its potentials. Please leave a comment below with any additional questions!
Top 10 Reputable Forex Brokers
Based on regulation, award recognition, mainstream credibility, and overwhelmingly positive client feedback, these ten brokers stand out for their sterling reputations:
|No||Broker||Regulation||Min. Deposit||Platforms||Account Types||Offer||Open New Account|
|1.||RoboForex||FSC Belize||$10||MT4, MT5, RTrader||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||Welcome Bonus $30||Open RoboForex Account|
|2.||AvaTrade||ASIC, FSCA||$100||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||Top Forex Broker||Open AvaTrade Account|
|3.||Exness||FCA, CySEC||$1||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||Free VPS||Open Exness Account|
|4.||XM||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$5||MT4, MT5||Standard, Micro, Zero Spread||20% Deposit Bonus||Open XM Account|
|5.||ICMarkets||Seychelles FSA||$200||MT4, MT5, CTrader||Standard, Zero Spread||Best Paypal Broker||Open ICMarkets Account|
|6.||XBTFX||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$10||MT4, MT5||Standard, Zero Spread||Best USA Broker||Open XBTFX Account|
|7.||FXTM||FSC Mauritius||$10||MT4, MT5||Standard, Micro, Zero Spread||Welcome Bonus $50||Open FXTM Account|
|8.||FBS||ASIC, CySEC, FCA||$5||MT4, MT5||Standard, Cent, Zero Spread||100% Deposit Bonus||Open FBS Account|
|9.||Binance||DASP||$10||Binance Platforms||N/A||Best Crypto Broker||Open Binance Account|
|10.||TradingView||Unregulated||Free||TradingView||N/A||Best Trading Platform||Open TradingView Account|