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What Type of Trading Is Most Profitable?

Tobi Opeyemi Amure
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What Type of Trading Is Most Profitable?

Navigating the world of trading can be an overwhelming endeavor, filled with various strategies, markets, and trading styles.

The ultimate question on everyone’s mind is: “What type of trading is most profitable?”

Whether you’re a day trader scrutinising minute-by-minute fluctuations or a long-term investor eyeing decade-long trends, profitability varies based on several factors, including your expertise, risk tolerance, and market conditions.

This article aims to explore various types of trading—such as day trading, swing trading, and long-term investing—to determine which is most likely to deliver the highest returns.

We’ll delve into statistical data, expert insights, and key considerations that can help you tailor a trading approach that aligns with your financial goals and risk appetite.

Buckle up as we embark on this informative journey to uncover the most profitable trading type for you.

Different Types of Trading

The world of trading offers a myriad of strategies and styles, each with its own set of rules, risks, and rewards.

Understanding these various types can help you decide which approach best suits your lifestyle, risk tolerance, and financial objectives.

Here are some of the most common types of trading:

Day Trading

Timeframe: Within the same trading day
Characteristics: High-frequency trading, requires constant monitoring
Risk: High
Profitability: Moderate to high, depending on skill

Day traders buy and sell financial instruments within the same trading day, often exiting positions before the market closes. This type of trading requires a deep understanding of market indicators and a lot of time to monitor real-time data.

Swing Trading

Timeframe: Days to weeks
Characteristics: Short-term, aims to capture the ‘swing’ in asset prices
Risk: Moderate
Profitability: Moderate

Swing traders look to capitalise on price “swings” in a financial instrument. They usually hold positions for several days or weeks, aiming to profit from short-term upward or downward market shifts.

Position Trading

Timeframe: Weeks to months
Characteristics: Relies on fundamental and technical analysis
Risk: Moderate
Profitability: Moderate to high

Position traders take a longer-term approach, holding positions for weeks or even months. They often rely on fundamental analysis, although technical indicators can also play a significant role.


Timeframe: Seconds to minutes
Characteristics: Extremely short-term, exploits small price gaps
Risk: High
Profitability: Low to moderate

Scalpers seek to profit from tiny price differences through the quick purchase and sale of assets. They make numerous trades within a single day, often holding positions for just a few seconds or minutes.

Momentum Trading

Timeframe: Minutes to days
Characteristics: Follows market trends
Risk: Moderate
Profitability: Moderate

Momentum traders look for assets that are moving significantly in one direction and try to jump on the bandwagon. This strategy can work over the short or medium term and often involves careful tracking of market news and trends.

High-Frequency Trading (HFT)

Timeframe: Milliseconds to seconds
Characteristics: Executed by algorithms, exploits tiny inefficiencies
Risk: Specialised and high
Profitability: High, but requires advanced technology

High-frequency trading involves executing thousands of orders within milliseconds, often leveraging complex algorithms and high-speed data feeds.

Long-Term Investing

Timeframe: Years to decades
Characteristics: Long-term growth focus, uses fundamental analysis
Risk: Low to moderate
Profitability: Moderate to high

Long-term investing involves buying and holding assets for several years or even decades. This type of trading is usually characterised by lower risk and is more suited for risk-averse individuals.

Options and Derivatives Trading

Timeframe: Varies
Characteristics: Trading contracts rather than the underlying asset
Risk: Can be high
Profitability: High if done correctly

Options and derivatives traders don’t buy or sell the asset itself but trade contracts that derive their value from the underlying asset. This allows for a variety of strategies that can profit in any market direction but often involves higher risk.

Each trading type has its pros and cons, and what may be profitable for one person might not be for another.

Your risk tolerance, investment goals, time commitment, and skill level will help determine which type of trading is most suitable for you.

What Type of Trading Is Most Profitable?

The quest to identify the most profitable trading style is akin to finding the Holy Grail of the financial markets.

It’s important to acknowledge upfront that profitability can be a subjective measure, contingent on a variety of factors including skill level, risk tolerance, market conditions, and even a little bit of luck.

However, we can still make some general observations about profitability across different types of trading.

High-Risk, High-Reward: Day Trading and Scalping

For those with a high-risk tolerance and the time to monitor markets closely, day trading and scalping offer the potential for significant profits.

These strategies require meticulous planning, quick decision-making, and a solid understanding of market indicators. That said, they are also the most time-consuming and can lead to significant losses if not managed carefully.

Moderate Risks: Swing and Momentum Trading

Swing and momentum trading strike a middle ground between risk and reward. These types require a moderate level of market expertise and offer moderate profitability.

They allow traders to capitalise on short-term market trends without the intense time commitment of day trading.

Long-term Consistency: Position Trading and Long-Term Investing

For those looking for lower risk and perhaps a less stressful trading experience, position trading and long-term investing are more suitable options.

They offer more consistent, albeit often slower, returns over time. Long-term investing, especially in diversified portfolios, has historically proven to yield positive returns and is generally the least risky form of trading.

Specialised Fields: High-Frequency and Options Trading

High-Frequency Trading (HFT) and Options Trading are specialised fields that often require advanced technology or specialised knowledge.

HFT, dominated by institutional traders, leverages algorithmic trades executed in milliseconds and can be highly profitable.

Options trading allows for strategic maneuvers that can profit from any market conditions but require a deep understanding of both the asset and derivatives markets.

The Skill Factor

It’s crucial to note that no trading style is profitable unless executed with skill. All forms of trading require a certain level of expertise, discipline, and sometimes, instinct. Thus, education and experience play a substantial role in determining profitability.

The Final Verdict

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Each trading type can be profitable depending on your individual circumstances.

Those who are new to trading might find long-term investing to be the least risky way to generate consistent returns.

Meanwhile, seasoned traders might find day trading or even high-frequency trading to be more lucrative.

The key takeaway is to choose a trading type that aligns with your lifestyle, risk tolerance, and financial goals. Continuous learning and adaptation are critical components of profitability in any form of trading.

Which Trading Is Most Profitable for Beginners?

Determining the most profitable trading style for beginners hinges on several factors, such as risk tolerance, time commitment, and starting capital.

However, given the complexities and rapid pace of certain trading styles, some methods are generally more suitable for newcomers.

Long-Term Investing

For those who are new to trading, long-term investing is often considered the most beginner-friendly option.

This approach requires less frequent trading decisions and relies on long-term financial and economic trends, providing the luxury of time to correct mistakes.

Long-term investing typically involves lower transaction costs due to less frequent trading, and it allows for the benefits of compounding to take effect.

In the long run, historically speaking, markets have generally trended upward, making this a less risky option for beginners.

Swing Trading

Swing trading could be a middle-of-the-road approach for those who want more action than long-term investing but aren’t ready for the intensity of day trading.

It involves holding onto assets for days to weeks to capitalise on expected upward or downward market shifts. While it’s not as fast-paced as day trading, it still requires a good understanding of both technical and fundamental analysis.

With a moderate level of risk, swing trading allows beginners to learn about market trends without the pressure of needing to make quick decisions.

Position Trading

Position trading is another option that leans toward the less risky end of the spectrum. This style involves holding trades for several weeks or even months, based on long-term trend analyses.

It combines aspects of both technical and fundamental analysis but doesn’t require the split-second decision-making skills that day trading and scalping demand.

Avoid High-Risk Strategies Initially

Day trading, scalping, and high-frequency trading generally require a deep understanding of the markets and quick decision-making skills, making them less suitable for beginners.

These styles are also more capital-intensive and come with higher transaction costs. Options trading, although lucrative when done correctly, involves complexities that may be overwhelming for a newcomer.

Caution and Education

No matter which style a beginner chooses, it’s crucial to start with a solid educational foundation. Many online platforms offer demo accounts where you can practice trading with virtual money.

Books, online courses, and tutorials can provide valuable insights into the world of trading.

Final Thoughts

Determining the most profitable type of trading is a complex endeavor that depends on a multitude of factors, including your level of expertise, risk tolerance, and the amount of time you can dedicate to trading.

From slower-paced, lower-risk long-term investing to the high-stakes world of day trading and high-frequency trading, each style offers its own set of challenges and rewards.

The key to achieving profitability in trading lies not just in picking the right type of trading but also in continuous learning, diligent risk management, and adapting to ever-changing market conditions.

Regardless of your trading style, a solid educational foundation and a well-thought-out strategy are essential for success.


What type of trading is most profitable?

The most profitable type of trading varies depending on individual skill level, risk tolerance, and market conditions. For beginners, long-term investing is often recommended due to its lower risk and historical tendency for consistent returns over time. Experienced traders may find higher profitability in day trading or high-frequency trading, although these methods come with increased risk and require more expertise.

Which trading is best for earning money?

The “best” trading style for earning money depends on various factors including your risk tolerance, time commitment, and expertise. For beginners, long-term investing is often considered safer and historically offers consistent returns. More experienced traders may opt for day trading or swing trading, which have the potential for higher profits but come with higher risks and require more skill.

What type of trading makes the most money the fastest?

High-frequency trading and day trading have the potential to generate profits quickly due to the high volume and rapid turnover of trades. However, these methods also come with significant risks and require substantial expertise and technology infrastructure. It’s important to note that faster returns generally equate to higher risks.

Most profitable type of day trading?

The profitability of day trading styles can vary widely based on skill, market conditions, and strategy. However, momentum trading, which capitalises on strong price movements within the trading day, is often cited as one of the more profitable approaches. Keep in mind that while momentum trading offers the potential for significant gains, it also carries high risks and requires a thorough understanding of market indicators.

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Will Fenton is the founder of Sterling Savvy. He is a personal finance expert and writes about trading, investing, budgeting, and other financial topics.

Along with his education in Economics & Finance, he has experience working in the financial services industry in London working for one of the UK’s leading financial companies, “a trustworthy and respected provider of news, education and market analysis for the everyday investor”.

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