How Does Leverage Affect Losses In Trading? Complete Guide

There are so many questions on the topic of how leverage affects losses in forex, crypto, and stocks.

What happens when you lose on a trade on margin, do you have to pay back the credit when you lose, can I lose all my money or more when using leverage, and can you go negative or be in debt?

Before you start trading with leverage you should know all about how losses work when applying margin because they do behave differently.

Without proper risk management in leverage trading, you might suffer larger losses than planned, and if you are truly ruthless you might lose your entire account.

To understand the concept of losing with borrowed funding better, see this guide:

While that is true it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen to you as long as you understand losses and learn how to anticipate them.

Losses are one of the biggest differences when you look at the difference between spot and leverage markets and it is your job as a trader to control them.

The best traders today are making small fortunes in margin-traded markets simply because they follow great strategies and know how to control their losses.

I’ve listed the most frequently asked questions about losses and trading with credit. Browse your question to find the answer below.

What happens when you lose money on leverage?

When you lose money with borrowed funding you only lose your margin capital which acts as risk capital which is the money you have deposited in your account.

Your margin capital is what supports your open positions and takes all the losses.

If you have deposited $500 in your account then you can withstand losses of up to $500 no matter what ratio you use.

The first thing you need to know about losing when trading with credit is that the losses are proportional to your position size and not to the ratio you choose.

When you lose -1.50% on a position size of $25.000 with margin you lose the same amount as you would without credit, the loss is still going to be $375.

For example, if you have deposited $250 in your account and you use 100x leverage to trade $25.000 the effect on your loss will be the same as if you would deposit the full $25.000 in your account and start trading.

Now, what happens to traders when they lose is that they lose money faster due to high exposure to the market with low margin capital.

The losses feel bigger because a large position size loses more money per tick than a position in the spot market.

The losses that incur on your account are held open until you close out the position.

This means that until you have exited the position you haven’t lost anything, only on paper.

The open loss is later realized when you close the trade and the money is taken from your margin capital.

The calculation is made by your broker and the money is withdrawn from your balance instantly.

In high margin trading, your losses increase further and it becomes more important for the trader to manage the risk associated with leverage trading.

How much can you lose in leverage trading?

The amount of money that you can lose with leverage is proportional to your initial investment but in some rare cases, you can lose more money than you have deposited if you choose a malicious off-shore broker.

Those who trade on a regulated and reputable broker, crypto exchange, options platform, or stock broker will only lose the money that they have initially invested in a worst-case scenario.

Even though you choose 200x credit, you can’t lose more than you have deposited which would qualify as a liquidation.

However, your overall position size is what ultimately causes you to lose, and also how fast you lose your money.

A larger position will lose money faster than a smaller position simply because every price point is worth more money.

For example, if you lose 2% on a $500 trade your total loss is $10 while a 2% loss on a $50.000 trade is $1000.

This can be controlled with your ratio and as you can see, the more borrowed funds you use, the faster you lose your money.

Can you go negative in leverage trading?

Yes, you can go negative when trading with margin if your broker doesn’t have negative balance protection.

This only affects some types of asset classes such as Forex, Commodities, and Stocks, whereas crypto exchanges have built-in negative balance protection to prevent further losses than what a trader can handle.

A negative balance happens when you borrow money on your margin balance and suffer losses that are larger than your initial deposit.

Let’s say that you make a deposit of $1000 and use a ratio of 1:50 leverage to trade stocks.

If you open a position worth $50.000 and the market falls 3% in a short period, here is what happens.

A 3% loss on a position size worth $50.000 is -$1500.

Since you only deposited $1000 you are now negative -$500.

Keep this in mind when choosing ratios for $1000.

This can only happen if your broker doesn’t have negative balance protection.

You should always avoid trading with a broker that doesn’t offer this type of protection since you can never know how the market will react and we all make mistakes.

If you go negative it is your responsibility to pay back the money to the broker.

Can you go into debt with your leverage broker?

Yes, you can go into debt with your broker if you choose one that doesn’t have negative balance protection or government regulation such as SEC or FCA and you take on more losses than your margin capital can support.

If you sign up with a broker that allows for a negative balance to occur you can go into debt.

All it takes for you is to lose more money than you initially deposited.

This is easily done if you overleverage and lose big.

Unfortunately, this still happens to many traders each year and it’s something that I hope will sooner or later disappear as a problem due to tighter regulations and requirements.

For example, all crypto exchanges have a built-in system that prevents any trader from reaching a negative balance.

The trading platform takes care of this itself and the worst thing that can happen is that you suffer a full liquidation from leverage.

If you make a deposit of $300 and your overall losses mount up to -$1500 on any given trade you will go into debt and owe the brokerage $1200.

When this happens I recommend that you contact the broker to see how you can resolve this immediately and follow instructions to not get in further trouble.

You should not get discouraged from trading if this happens, it’s just a mistake, and you can still win back the losses you have paid.

This time keep in mind that if you leverage trade forex, choose a reputable high leverage forex broker.

When leverage trading can you lose more than 100%?

Losing more than 100% is possible when using margin-traded contracts, however, it all depends on the trading platform you choose.

If the platform doesn’t support negative balance protection your account balance might go below 0%.

When this happens your account balance will show a negative number.

If you open a large leveraged position and the market turns against you it is possible to lose more than 100% if you are not properly protecting your risk.

This can happen to beginners who are not careful and have poor risk management.

This is very rare but if you are unlucky with the choice of broker and the market throws you off guard it can happen.

Make sure that you always stick to a negative balance protection broker that is regulated by your local government.

Most of the popular brokers will keep you out of problems but it is always wise to look up the platform you are thinking of joining.

Most operators will flag on their home page that they have negative balance protection but if you can’t find it make a quick Google search or ask the support staff in the live chat.

Do you lose more money with leverage?

Yes, you do lose more money with borrowed money since you are capable of entering the market with much more capital while only investing a fraction of your own money as a margin.

The ratio itself doesn’t make you lose more money but when you use it to open big positions then you can incur larger losses than you are used to.

What would be a normal 4% loss for a $400 account size will not be the same when you add a 75x margin to the mix.

An account of $400 with a ratio of 1:75 means that you can enter the market with a position size worth $30.000.

That 4% drawback would initially translate into a loss of only -$16 but with 1:75 it has now grown to a loss of -$1200.

This drawback would liquidate your entire account if you had not added a protective stop.

In this example, it is clear that credit makes you lose more money and the true story is that you lose more money faster.

This is because a large position shows a bigger loss for each point of drawback.

A drop of 15 points or 15 pips with a $400 position is nothing compared to a 15 pips loss with a $30.000 trade.

Keep this in mind when you are trading and always choose a good leverage ratio for a micro account.

What happens if you lose money on crypto leverage?

When you lose money in crypto trading the loss is directly proportional to your full position size and the bigger the position is the bigger the drawback becomes.

For example, if your initial investment is $500 and you use a ratio of 50x, your total loss will be calculated on the maximum position size which would be $25.000.

Let’s say that you lose -1.50% on your next trade.

The loss is calculated on the full position size of $25.000 and not your margin balance of $500.

In this case, the total loss would be $25.000 x 0.015% = -$375.

A crypto leverage trading exchange that offers leverage is usually great at protecting the trader and there is no way for a crypto trader to see a negative balance in his account.

This is not the case though with other leverage products such as forex, stocks, and derivatives.

If you lose money on a crypto trade you simply take the total loss in percentage and subtract the total loss from your account balance.

The ratio used is the most important thing when it comes to losing money.

A higher ratio does mean higher risk and you should be aware of how to manage your risk properly before you start.

How do you calculate a loss?

When calculating a loss on a leveraged trade you take the total position size and subtract the loss in percentage or points.

For example, if you open a trade worth $25.000 and take a -1.20% loss you lose $300.

Here is the calculation:

$25.000 x 0.0120% = $300.

When the loss is realized it will be taken from your margin capital, not from the borrowed capital you have used.

Let’s say that you deposited $2500, you use a ratio of 1:10 to open a position worth $25.000 and lose -1.20%.

The total loss is $300 as shown in the example above and this money will be taken from your initial deposit of $2500.

The money you have left in your account is now $2200.

Using a crypto leverage calculator will help you understand how much money goes into each trade so you can plan and reduce potential losses.

The result from the calculation will show you the amount of money you need to deposit as margin capital which will also be your risk capital.

Can you lose all your money in leverage trading?

It is possible to lose all your money in margin trading if you are not using proper risk management.

Since the beginning, traders who borrowed money have been liquidated and lost all their money, even professional traders on Wall Street.

When your open position suffers a loss that is close to the amount of the initial deposit your broker will first send you a margin call telling you that you are running out of cash.

Pro tip: Use our margin call calculator to see the exact price where your position will trigger a margin call.

If the position proceeds to lose more money, you will run out of margin and you will lose all your money.

Trading with credit is a high-risk game and every trader that joins a leveraged broker should know how to protect their downside.

Since it’s possible to open trades that are larger than your first investment, you run the risk of losing all your money if you are not careful.

To prevent losing all your cash I recommend that you read our tips for leveraged traders and implement all the risk mitigation strategies listed.

Is it possible to lose more than you invest with leverage?

Yes, you can lose more than you invest when speculating with leveraged contracts but only happens when you choose a shady broker without negative balance protection.

Since forex trading and other products let us trade with more money than we have initially deposited the losses are greater than normal.

A big position will generate big losses if the market turns against us and if you don’t stop out the position before it hits 0% margin, you can lose more money than you have invested.

In this case, you will go into debt with your operator and you need to resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Contact the support team and make sure that you handle the matter with care to avoid further conflicts.

This is a worst-case scenario that should not happen if you choose a reputable broker that operates under government regulation.

How 1:100 leverage affect losses

When trading with 1:100 credit your losses will be 100 times larger than what they would be if you traded in the spot market.

The effect 100x has on a position can be described with a simple example.

Below is a trade that loses -0.80% with and without a 100x ratio.

The trader has made an initial deposit of $800 and will maximize the position size.

-0.80% (1:1)-0.80% (1:100)

How 1:500 leverage affect losses

At a leverage ratio of 1:500 the losses will multiply by 500 times.

A normal loss of $15 will become 500 bigger and this can result in very large losses for the trader.

See below how a loss of -0.50% affects a trader’s balance when using ratios like 0x and 500x.

We will assume that the trader has made an initial deposit of $2000.

-0.50% (1:1)-0.80% (1:500)

How 1:1000 leverage affect losses

At a ratio of 1:1000 a loss will affect the account very heavily since it will increase by 1000 times.

Your standard loss of $2 will be worth $2000 which in many cases will instantly liquidate the trader.

Below is an example to show you how a loss of -0.20% would affect a trader’s account at 0x and 1000x ratios.

We will assume that the trader has made an initial investment of $500

-0.20% (1:1)-0.20% (1:1000)

Do you have to pay back leverage when you lose?

When you lose on a trade you do not need to pay back the credit since the loss does not affect your margin ratio.

Instead, when you lose, your margin balance will cover the loss and all the borrowed funds you have used for the position will be returned to your broker.

The borrowed money you receive from your trading platform is not affected by any loss.

The only thing you need to worry about when losing money on a position is to have enough margin balance in your account to cover the loss.

Your margin balance is the initial deposit that you made when you registered with the broker.

All profits and losses will be deducted or added to your margin balance when you close out each position.

Final words

This is a complete guide on how leverage affects losses in trading forex, crypto, and stocks. The concept of losing money with borrowed money can sometimes be tricky to understand but when you learn how to separate the borrowed money from your margin capital it all makes more sense.

After reading this article you should have gained a good understanding of:

  • How leverage affects losses
  • How you can calculate your own losses
  • What happens during a market loss
  • How much you can lose with margin

As always, it is not the ratio you choose that controls your losses, instead, it is the position size that you choose that will ultimately cause the losses.

You can trade 500x more money in a small position size and risk less while at the same time, you can trade 50x and risk more. Make sure you know how to control your risk before you enter the market.

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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