Best Leverage For A Small Account ($10, $100, $200, $500, $1000)

This guide is going to be a full tutorial on how to choose the best leverage for beginners with a small account of $5, $10, $30, $50, $100, $200, $500, or $1000.

Have you ever opened a trade and wondered, how much margin should use when trading?

These are questions asked by most beginners that start with small accounts and when you look at the stats, most novice traders use too much credit for their own best.

This can result in catastrophe as a large position can be very difficult to handle and it only takes one bad position to throw away several hundreds of dollars.

In this guide

Best leverage for a small account: $5, $10, $30, $50, $100, $200, $500, and $1000

The best leverage for a small account of $5, $10, $30, $50, $100, $200, $500, or $1000 is between 1:2 to 1:200 leverage which depends on your experience as a trader, the strategy you are using, and the current market you are trading.

Most novice traders start with less than a couple of hundred dollars in their CFD leverage trading account.

In this section, I will explain how different ratios will affect a smaller account and how you can choose the most optimal buying power for your market.

Take a look at the table below and consider your risk tolerance when choosing your ratio. The account sizes are written to the left.

Low riskMedium riskHigh risk
$51:151:251:45
$101:151:201:40
$301:101:151:35
$501:101:121:30
$1001:81:101:25
$2001:51:81:20
$5001:31:61:15
$10001:21:41:12

As seen in this table, the smaller account size has a higher margin ratio which also means higher risk.

This is because the loss of capital is smaller relative to the other account sizes and As we increase the deposit in our trading account our ratio should thin out to avoid applying too many risks to our positions.

The reason why we don’t want to go over 1:50 margin is due to the added risk factor of account liquidation.

When you use more than 1:50 the liquidation price shrinks to only 2% and this is a pretty standard move in any financial market.

Should the stock you are trading fall by more than 2% overnight, your position will get liquidated and all your funds will be lost

Keep in mind that as you increase your buying power your fees are increased as well. Read our guide on leverage trading fees to learn more.

What is the best leverage level for beginners?

New traders who are not experienced with leveraged products are best off using a leverage between 1:2 and 1:10 while day trading.

Using more buying power than x10 your own money will only make things harder instead of increasing your profit margins.

This is because at higher ratios your liquidation price will get much tighter and it can be very difficult to control the ups and downs of the market without increasing the risk, especially if you are margin trading currency, stocks, or crypto.

Since risk management in leverage trading is the foundation of each trader I don’t recommend overstepping these levels.

Below are some helpful leverage guidelines to consider for beginners from 0 experience to a couple of years of experience.

  • 0-1 years = 1:2 – 1:5
  • 1-2 years = 1:6 – 1:15
  • 2-3 years = 1:16 – 1:25
  • 3-4 years = 1:26 – 1:35

Until you have gained sufficient knowledge and practice on how leverage works and how to execute a winning leverage trading strategy you are better off practicing at lower ratios to learn the game.

Most novice investors are first thrilled with the possibility of opening bigger positions until they see the effect it can have on their losses since they don’t what happens if you lose with a leveraged trade.

Things can start well, even for a swing trader who is riding a trend, until the market pulls back and erases all gains, and puts the trader in the read.

The best way to control losses, in the beginning, is by trading smaller and stepping up little by little.

If you are a beginner and want some extra tips, read our guide on leveraged trading tips, and for crypto traders read this guide on crypto leverage strategies.

When looking at currency trading vs crypto vs stocks I think the most optimal ratio is going to be found in cryptocurrency trading.

Here you have the option of leveraging your account up to 600x if you like while there is no risk of losing more than you own to your broker.

What is leverage ratio?

Leverage ratio is the amount of borrowed funds that your position consists of and the other part of your position is going to be your own margin capital. Depending on how much credit you want to use you will have a different ratio compared to your margin capital. For example, you might have a ratio of 1:2 which means that 50% of your open position consists of borrowed funds (credit) and 50% margin capital.

There are two parts to a leveraged position:

  • Leverage = The borrowed funds you receive from your broker
  • Margin = Your own trading capital

The ratio between margin and the borrowed capital is chosen before you open your position and this is done in the trading terminal. The most common ways of writing ratios are either x10 or 1:10 where the number 10 stands for how leveraged your position is. In this case, the position would be amplified up to 10 times.

best leverage for beginners

The blue area is your margin (collateral) and the black area is the credit.

How to choose leverage ratio in currency trading, Crypto, and Stocks

Choosing margin ratios in different asset classes such as currency, crypto, and stock trading is different since the account structure of each product looks a little bit different as well as the behavior of each market can be different.

Knowing how to choose the right position size and risk levels can make the difference between being blown out of the market and making steady gains.

Trading stocks with leverage is usually done on lower ratios. However, day traders will benefit more from increasing the ratio when a good opportunity arises.

Did you know that a cryptocurrency can fluctuate more than 25% in one single day and that on some brokerage accounts, you cannot regulate your credit?

These are some common difficulties that new investors face early on in their careers, so, in this section, I will shine some light on the big differences in each leveraged product and how you can make the best choices going forward.

The factor that ultimately decides your ratio is the volatility of the product you are trading. Since the currency market has one of the lowest levels of volatility the amount of borrowed capital offered is among the highest with up to 1:5000.

This is of course an incredible amount of risk but in normal cases, it is not uncommon to see traders use between 100x margin.

Currency trading

After reviewing plenty of currency brokers I’ve found out that some of them don’t let you choose your leverage. Instead, you control your risk simply by choosing a different position size.

This boggles me and I think you should be aware of this when choosing your market and broker.

Always when opening a currency account you should see that the broker lets you choose your ratio for each trade you open. If this is not a possibility I recommend that you keep looking.

Since the currency market on average has a monthly volatility of between 400-800 pips, the most optimal margin in currency trading is between 1:20 and 1:200.

Crypto

Leverage trading in crypto has become very popular and we can see that BYDFi, for example, which is a reputable crypto leverage trading platform in USA is ramping up the ratios for retail traders.

The main thing you should consider when opening a leveraged crypto account is whether you can choose between crossed and isolated margin.

Always choose isolated margin. The isolated margin means that your margin capital is bound to one position only and should this position get out of control and get liquidated, your total account balance will stay intact.

If you choose a crossed margin, one single position can access all your margin capital in your account and wipe out your whole portfolio.

The average monthly volatility in cryptocurrency is between 20-60%, the most optimal ratio is between 1:10 and 1:35.

Stocks

Leveraged stock trading is not as popular as in currency markets and cryptocurrency simply because the number of brokers that offer high leverage trading is very few.

Many governments have regulated this type of investing after realizing the high risks imposed on beginner traders. ETFs have become a very popular vehicle for stock investors and the rules for this type of product only allow for very low ratios to protect the end-users.

Since stocks have average monthly volatility of between 2% and 15%, the most optimal margin is between 1:20 and 1:45.

Examples of how different leverage ratios affect profits and losses

Let’s take a look at how different ratios affect the outcome of trades in both directions. You have probably heard or experienced a big loss or a big win while trading currencies or crypto but what are the real numbers?

I will list down some of the most common position sizes together with some popular ratios to show you have your trade might turn out.

Take a look at the first table below where we go through the positive effects of leverage. In this case, our positions will only have positive results.

The position size is written to the left and we are going to assume that all our trades make a 15% gain each time but at different ratios.

1:51:101:201:301:401:50
$5+$3.75+$7.50+$15.00+$22.50+$30.00+$37.50
$10+$7.50+$15.00+$30.00+$45.00+$60.00+$75.00
$30+$22.50+$45.00+$90.00+$135.00+$180.00+$225.00
$50+$37.50+$75.00+$150.00+$225.00+$300.00+$375.00
$100+$75.00+$150.00+$300.00+$450.00+$600.00+$750.00
$200+$150.00+$300.00+$600.00+$900.00+$1200.00+$1500.00
$500+$375.00+$750.00+$1500.00+$2250.00+$3000.00+$3750.00
$1000+$750.00+$1500.00+$3000.00+$4500.00+$6000.00+$7500.00

This is a very clear example of how bigger positions increase the gains and as soon as you go over 1:10 margin, a 15% profit will double your account. This example is not going to be your everyday trading but it illustrates what your top winners could look like.

In the example below, we are going to see how borrowed money affects a losing position. We are going to assume that we have a stop loss at -1,50% for each position size and see how the loss is affected by increasing the buying power.

1:51:101:201:301:401:50
$5-$1.25-$2.50-$5.00-$7.50-$10.00-$12.50
$10-$2.50-$5.00-$10.00-$15.00-$20.00-$25.00
$30-$7.50-$15.00-$30.00-$45.00-$60.00-$75.00
$50-$12.50-$25.00-$50.00-$75.00-$100.00-$125.00
$100-$25.00-$50.00-$100.00-$150.00-$200.00-$250.00
$200-$50.00-$100.00-$200.00-$300.00-$400.00-$500.00
$500-$125.00-$250.00-$500.00-$750.00-$1000.00-$1250.00
$1000-$250.00-$500.00-$1000.00-$1500.00-$2000.00-$2500.00

The effect is pretty obvious and we can see that at a ratio of 1:50, a loss of only -1,50% would mean a loss of -75% of your total account.

That is a high-risk strategy but if you keep your ratio below 1:10 it is much more manageable and you will stay in the game for longer.

How beginners benefit from leverage

  • Small account – This is probably one of the biggest reasons and I see many new traders struggling with an account of less than $600. This can be a hard reality for many traders and without sufficient funding, it’s difficult to make a living out of trading currency, digital assets, or stocks. When you enter the market with a larger position, the return on investment is far greater, and your profits ramp up quickly if you know how to trade. So, should a beginner with a small account use leverage? Yes, if you have a small account I think it’s wise to use low ratios and start small by increasing your position sizes gradually.
  • Diversify – This is an aspect that is overlooked by many retail investors and I think it’s worth shining some light on the fact that you can spread out to several markets as your position size increases. If you were able to trade one or possibly two markets before, you can now add another three to five markets to your strategy and spread out your risk among several asset classes at once. This is great risk management and also a great way to utilize your increased purchasing power.
  • Increased profits – Amplified profits is the main reason why traders seek out leverage and this is probably the most beneficial part of the whole idea with margin-based accounts. I have seen beginner traders turning a $600 account into a $20,000+ account in less than a year with the use of more buying power. This is not an easy task but it is possible. However, if you strive for these kinds of results you have to put in the work and learn how the game works, it is well worth the effort.

Why do brokers offer leverage to beginner traders in the first place?

The main reason is of course to make money but there are more benefits to the trader such as short-selling, more markets to trade, and it helps traders with a small account to trade larger size.

Most common risks of leverage

  • Unexpected losses – The other side of the increased profits is the increased and unexpected losses that this style of investing calls for. Many new traders fall into the trap of using high margin-ratios straight off the bat and get punished immediately by the market for being ruthless. On some occasions, novice investors might lose their whole stake simply by overleveraging their positions without knowing the risks attached to the situation. It is possible to have a $600 account getting blown up in a few minutes if the market turns sour at the wrong moment. Be careful and start small.
  • Liquidation – Should your trade get out of control on high leverage there is a high chance that you will get liquidated. Liquidation happens when your margin capital is not enough to support your losses. When liquidated, all your funds are lost and you are left with an empty account and a badly hurt self-confidence. This is the worst scenario for any trader and if you have worked hard to save up for your initial investment, or collateral, you should think twice about how much credit to choose the next time you get into the markets.
  • Increased fees – This is a big one. Many traders don’t know that your fees increase while trading on margin. Your fee is based on your position size and as you increase your bets, your commission increases as well. It’s not the same to open a position of $2000 at a 0.20% fee compared to opening a position of $10,000 at the same commission. The first position will only cost you $40 in commission while the second position has a fee of $200. Keep this in mind and aim to stay in the game for the long run. Read our guide on how leveraged trading affects fees to learn more.
  • Inexperience – The biggest risk to beginners is inexperience. This boils down to everything from how brokers are set up to how you manage your positions while at the same time calculating your margin capital. It is not easy in the beginning and it can take time to learn the ins and outs. My best advice for new traders with a small account is to start at low leverage and increase the stakes only after you succeed in locking in profits every month. At the same time as learning the craft, I recommend that you study hard and read our guides to gain experience along with practicing in live markets. Should you be scared of entering the live markets directly you can always demo trade before, this will let you trade without risk while practicing your strategies.

What other traders ask

What leverage ratio is good for a beginner?

As mentioned in this guide, a ratio of 1:2 to 1:10 is an optimal way to start as a beginner.

What should my account leverage be?

This depends on your overall risk tolerance. Some traders are keener on taking on more risk while others prefer to go slower. In this guide, I have recommended the best levels for low risk, medium risk, and high-risk traders.

Does leverage affect lot size?

Yes, it directly affects lot size by increasing the amount of capital you can use for each trade. The more you use the bigger the lot size becomes.

Does leverage increase spread?

No, it does not. It does not affect the spread of the market. It is the market participants or the in-house market maker that adjusts the spread of each asset class.

Is leverage good for the long term?

At low levels, it can be a good strategy to use when you find an opportunity with a skewed risk-reward ratio combined with a good fundamental analysis. However, over-trading with borrowed money can be a disastrous idea in the long term.

Conclusion

This guide is a beginner tutorial on how to choose leverage for beginners with a small account of $5, $10, $30, $50, $100, $200, $500, and $1000. New traders are best off using a leverage ratio of between 1:2 and 1:200 depending on your experience, the trading strategy being used, and the current market. This is because at higher levels the risk to the overall account will increase substantially and it will offset the potential reward.

The risk lies in the liquidation price which can get dangerously close to your position and this can cause a complete loss of capital.

To get a more in-depth view on this topic I recommend that you read through this guide at least one time and take notes on the most important topics. This will set you up for a better start in your journey to becoming an experienced trader. Remember that trading is a marathon, not a race.

Anton Palovaara
Anton Palovaara

Anton Palovaara is an expert leverage trader with decades of experience trading stocks and forex through proprietary software. After shifting over to leveraged crypto trading in derivatives and futures contracts he has become an influential figure in the cryptocurrency industry. Anton's trading strategies have helped numerous investors achieve significant returns on their crypto investments. With a keen eye for market trends and a deep understanding of technical analysis, Anton has developed a reputation as a shrewd trader who is not afraid to take calculated risks. He has a track record of predicting market movements accurately, and his insights are highly sought after by crypto traders and investors alike.

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