Stop Order: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research August 31, 2023

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  • A cryptocurrency stop order is a trading instruction to buy or sell a digital asset when its price reaches a specified level, intended to limit potential losses or lock in gains
  • Stop orders are a useful tool in cryptocurrency trading that allow traders to automatically buy or sell their cryptocurrencies at specific price levels
  • There are two main types of stop orders: Stop-loss orders and stop-limit orders, which provide different levels of control over the execution price
  • Stop orders offer advantages such as risk management, convenience and the ability to capitalize on price movements, but they are also subject to market volatility


Stop orders in cryptocurrency trading are used to buy or sell assets when they reach a specific price. When the stop price is hit, the order turns into a market order, executing at the best available rate. They serve as a risk management tool, helping traders limit losses or lock in profits. However, due to market volatility, the final execution price may differ from the set stop price. It's essential to understand platform-specific variations and potential risks before using stop orders.

A Brief History

Stop orders have long been used in traditional financial markets and were naturally adopted in the cryptocurrency space. In traditional finance, stop orders were initially used to protect investors from significant losses by triggering a sell order when a specified price level was reached. This helped manage portfolios and limited downside risk.

With the rise of cryptocurrency exchanges, stop orders quickly made their way into digital assets. Traders recognized the need for a similar risk management tool in the highly volatile cryptocurrency markets. The ability to automate buying and selling decisions based on predetermined price levels provided greater control and reduced the need for constant price monitoring.

What is a Stop Order?

A stop order, also called a stop-loss order, instructs a cryptocurrency exchange to execute a trade once a specified price level (stop price) is reached or surpassed. It is primarily used to limit potential losses or secure profits.

There are two main types of stop orders: Stop-loss orders and stop-limit orders. A stop-loss order triggers a market order to sell a specified quantity of a cryptocurrency when the stop price is reached. It aims to protect traders from further price declines by ensuring a prompt exit.

A stop-limit order combines features of a stop order and a limit order. When the stop price is reached, a limit order is placed instead of a market order. The limit order specifies the execution price. This provides more control over the price but introduces the risk of non-execution if the market moves too quickly.

To illustrate, suppose a trader wants to limit potential losses on a cryptocurrency. They can set a stop-loss order slightly below the current market price. If the price reaches or falls below the stop price, the stop-loss order triggers, and the exchange automatically executes a market sell order to exit the position.

A stop-limit order in cryptocurrency trading, for example, is activated once the asset reaches a specified stop price, after which it becomes a limit order to buy or sell at a predetermined limit price or better. This provides more control over execution price but with the risk that the order might not be filled if the market doesn't reach the limit price.

Getting Started

Cryptocurrency trading involves buying and selling digital assets for profit. Traders use cryptocurrency exchanges as platforms for trading. These exchanges provide access to cryptocurrencies and offer trading tools and features. One such feature is the stop order.

A stop order, also known as a stop-loss order, is an instruction to buy or sell a cryptocurrency when its price reaches a specified level called the stop price. The purpose is to limit losses or secure profits by initiating a trade when the market moves in a certain direction.

When setting up a stop order, traders determine two crucial parameters: the stop price and the limit price. The stop price triggers the order, while the limit price specifies the minimum execution price. These parameters attempt to allow traders to control execution price and protect against unfavorable market movements.

Unique Aspects

Stop orders have unique aspects that make them valuable in cryptocurrency trading. They can be used for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. A buy stop order is placed above the current market price, while a sell stop order is placed below it. This flexibility allows traders to adapt to different market conditions and capitalize on price movements in either direction.

Stop orders automate trades when specified conditions are met. This eliminates the need for constant market monitoring and benefits traders who cannot actively trade throughout the day.

Stop orders also serve as risk management tools. Traders can set predefined exit points, limiting potential losses in volatile markets with rapid price fluctuations.

Stop orders can be combined with other strategies to enhance trading efficiency. Trailing stop orders automatically adjust the stop price as the market moves favorably. This locks in profits while allowing the trade to grow if the market continues in the same direction.


  • Risk management: Stop orders help mitigate risk by executing trades when a specified price level is reached. Traders can limit losses or secure profits by exiting positions at predetermined prices.
  • Convenience: Traders can set stop orders and let the exchange automatically execute trades, saving time and effort. They can participate in the market without constantly watching price movements.
  • Emotional control: Stop orders remove emotions from trading decisions. Traders stick to their predetermined strategy by setting clear entry and exit points, avoiding hasty decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.
  • Capitalizing on price movements: Stop orders enable traders to automatically buy or sell when the market reaches a certain price level. This helps capture profits or enter new positions without constant monitoring.
  • Flexibility: Traders can choose between market orders or limit orders based on their strategy and preferences. Market orders execute at the best available price, while limit orders execute at a specific price or better. This customization caters to individual needs.


  • Market volatility: Stop orders are susceptible to rapid price fluctuations in volatile markets. They may be executed at prices significantly different from the specified level (known as "slippage"), resulting in unexpected losses or missed opportunities.
  • False breakouts: Stop orders can lead to unnecessary trades when prices briefly move beyond support or resistance levels but quickly reverse. Traders should consider market conditions and use additional indicators to confirm price movements.
  • Dependence on exchange reliability: Stop orders rely on the exchange's reliability and performance. Technical issues or system failures could prevent correct or timely execution. Traders should be aware of these risks and consider alternative risk management strategies.
  • Platform Variations: Not all cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms support all types of stop orders, so it's essential to familiarize oneself with the tools available on a chosen platform.
  • Overcomplicated trading strategy: Placing multiple stop orders at different price levels can complicate trade management and cause confusion or conflicting positions. Traders should assess risk tolerance and objectives before using stop orders extensively.
  • Price manipulation: Cryptocurrency markets can be prone to price manipulation. Relying solely on stop orders may expose traders to potential manipulation, as large orders can trigger artificial price movements. Traders should stay informed and cautious when setting stop orders.