Crypto Market Order: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research August 31, 2023

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  • A cryptocurrency market order is a type of trade wherein a buyer or seller purchases or sells an asset at the best available price in the market
  • Market orders in the cryptocurrency market prioritize immediacy over price, allowing for quick buying or selling of digital assets
  • Market orders can be subject to "slippage," in which the execution price may differ slightly from the current market price due to changes in market conditions and liquidity
  • Market orders are advantageous for time-sensitive trades and guarantee execution, but offer little control over the execution price and can incur higher transaction costs


A cryptocurrency market order is a type of trade wherein a buyer or seller purchases or sells an asset at the best available price in the market. Market orders are both timely and effective, as they prioritize speed and guaranteed execution. However, the volatility of the cryptocurrency market means that traders utilizing market orders are at risk of sacrificing favorable prices in the event of sudden and/or drastic fluctuations.

A Brief History

Market orders originated in traditional stock markets, where traders would buy or sell shares at the prevailing market price. With electronic trading, market orders became even more prevalent, offering a convenient and efficient way to execute transactions.

In the context of cryptocurrency, market orders have gained popularity due to the decentralized nature of digital assets. Cryptocurrency exchanges act as intermediaries, matching buyers and sellers to execute market orders quickly, taking advantage of real-time price movements.

Market Order: Everything to Know

Executing a market order is a straightforward process. To buy a specific cryptocurrency, a trader enters the desired quantity, after which the exchange matches the order with the best available sell orders and executes the trade at the market price. Similarly, when selling a cryptocurrency, the exchange matches the order with the best available buy orders and executes the trade at the prevailing market price.

One characteristic of market orders is "slippage," which occurs when the execution price differs slightly from the current market price due to changes in market conditions and available liquidity. In highly volatile markets or low liquidity, slippage can be more pronounced, resulting in a larger deviation from the expected execution price.

Market orders are useful when traders prioritize speed over price precision. They are commonly used when entering or exiting a position quickly, regardless of the specific price. For example, if a trader expects a rapid price increase, they may place a market order to buy the asset immediately, ensuring that they do not miss out on potential gains.

However, market orders carry risks, primarily related to price volatility and slippage. In highly volatile markets, the price of a cryptocurrency can fluctuate significantly within a short period. If a market order coincides with such volatility, the trader may buy or sell the asset at a less favorable price than anticipated. Therefore, it is important to consider market conditions and potential slippage when using market orders.

Getting Started

To understand market orders, it is also important to know about the "order book." In cryptocurrency exchanges, the order book is a record of all open buy and sell orders for a specific digital asset. It shows the current market demand and supply, helping traders analyze the market and make informed decisions.

When a trader places a market order, it essentially tells the exchange to execute the order immediately at the best available price in the order book. Unlike "limit orders," which allow traders to set a specific price, market orders prioritize speed over price control. They aim to fill orders quickly, even if it means accepting a slightly different price than what the user initially viewed.

To further illustrate how market orders work, the following example may be helpful: Suppose a trader wishes to buy 1 BTC using a market order. The exchange's order book shows the current lowest asking price as $50,000. When the trader submits the market order, it will match with existing sell orders in the book, starting from the lowest asking price. If there are enough sellers willing to sell at or below $50,000, the trader's market order will be executed, and they will own 1 BTC.

Unique Aspects

Market orders have distinct features that set them apart from other order types. One important aspect is that market orders guarantee execution but not a specific price. Because they prioritize speed, market orders can be subject to price slippage, which refers to the difference between the expected and actual executed price due to market volatility and liquidity.

Another aspect to consider is the depth of the order book. The depth represents the number of buy and sell orders at different price levels. When the order book has high liquidity, meaning there are many orders at various prices, market orders are more likely to be executed at prices close to the current market price. However, if the order book has low liquidity, market orders may result in larger price deviations due to a limited number of available orders.

It is also worth noting that market orders can impact the market itself. When a large market order is placed, it can quickly consume available orders at current price levels, potentially causing the price to move unfavorably. This is known as "slippage impact" or "market impact." Traders who want to avoid these effects may consider using other order types, such as limit orders or stop-limit orders, which offer more control over the execution price.


  • Instant Execution - Market orders provide immediate execution at the best available price, allowing quick entry or exit from a position.
  • Liquidity - Market orders work well in highly liquid markets where there are enough buyers and sellers to match the order efficiently.
  • Simplicity - Market orders are easy to understand and execute, making them accessible to all types of traders.
  • Guaranteed Execution - Market orders ensure that an order is executed as long as there is sufficient liquidity, preventing missed opportunities in fast-moving markets.
  • Time-Sensitive Trades - Market orders are ideal for taking advantage of short-term price movements, allowing quick capture of potential profits or minimizing losses.


  • Price Uncertainty - Market orders offer little control over the execution price, resulting in possible slippage when the executed price differs from the expected price.
  • Higher Costs - Market orders may incur higher transaction costs, especially for high-frequency trading or accessing advanced order routing options.
  • Vulnerability to Market Manipulation - In less liquid markets, market orders can be more susceptible to manipulation, leading to unfavorable execution prices.
  • Lack of Price Control - Unlike limit orders, market orders do not provide control over the execution price, potentially resulting in less favorable prices.
  • Risk of Large Slippage - Market orders can experience significant slippage during high volatility or low liquidity, impacting costs and profits.