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What is swing trading?

Learn more about swing trading, a strategy used by active investors to make short-term gains.

Swing trading is an active type of short-term investing. Swing traders use technical analysis to anticipate stock movement and trade based on these predictions with the ultimate goal of realizing capital gains. Unlike day trading, a swing investor purchases stocks on the market and holds them for a few days or weeks.

What is swing trading?

Swing trading is an active, short-term form of investing. It is the opposite of passive investing, which involves purchasing and holding assets for long-term profit. Swing trading stocks requires a risk-reward analysis to determine point of entry, stop loss and exit points that will result in capital gains.

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Low margin rates
  • Access to international stock exchanges
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Best for Low Fees

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CA & US trading
  • $1,200 cash reward or $1,200 Apple gift card
  • Low transaction fees
  • Easy-to-use app

Best for Beginners

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Easy to use app
  • Easy-to-use platform
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  • Student and young investor discounts

Swing trading vs day trading

Swing trading and day trading share a lot of similarities. For example, they both involve a strategy and technical analysis, and both are active investing methods. However, there are several differences to consider too. The main difference is the frequency of trades. Let’s explore swing trading vs day trading in the table below.

Swing tradingDay trading
FrequencyMultiple trades per weekMultiple trades per day
CostsLowerHigher
Return periodLongerShorter
Time commitmentPeriodicConstant attention
Trading platform needsCan use a brokerage accountNeed up-to-the-minute trading software

Keep in mind that many active investors participate in both day trading and swing trading simultaneously. By using both tactics, you may be able to diversify your profits further. However, neither strategy is for beginners.

Pros and cons of swing trading

Pros

  • Less of a time commitment than day trading.
  • You can use a regular brokerage account.
  • You can earn an income from short-term gains if you’re skilled at swing trading.
  • Active investment strategy that can help diversify your portfolio when combined with passive strategies.

Cons

  • Swing traders can miss out on long-term gains by focusing solely on short-term gains.
  • More strategy is required than passive investing. Swing trading requires a solid strategy in order to determine what and when to buy and sell.
  • Weekend and overnight market risk.

Swing trading strategies

In general, active trading requires some kind of strategy. Your strategy may evolve over time as you become more skilled, but it’s important to start somewhere. Swing trading usually involves technical analysis to employ your strategy. Below are commonly used swing trading strategies to look into further.

  • Using support and resistance triggers
  • Assessing moving averages to identify bullish or bearish crossover points
  • Contrarian investing (or “fading”)
  • Using daily and 60 minute charts

Start swing trading with these online brokers

1 - 6 of 6
Name Product Finder Rating Available Asset Types Stock Trading Fee Account Fee Signup Offer Table description
Interactive Brokers
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.2 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Index Funds, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
min $1.00, max 0.5%
$0
N/A
Winner for Best Overall Broker in the Finder Stock Trading Platform Awards.
Moomoo Financial Canada
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.9 / 5
Stocks, Options, ETFs
$0.014/stock
$0
Get up to $1,200 or a $1,200 Apple gift card
Trade US stocks for up to 90% less and access free real time stock quotes and level 2 market data. T&C's Apply.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.7 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs
$6.95
$0 if conditions met, or $100
100 free trades + up to $4,500 cash back
An easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools to help you trade with confidence.
RBC Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.8 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $9.95
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
N/A
Enjoy no minimum trading activity requirements and pay just $9.95 per trade or $6.95 if making 150 trades per quarter.
Questrade
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.9 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95 - $9.95
$0
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio to take out some of the guesswork.
Qtrade Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.6 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
Get up to a $150 sign-up bonus. Use code OFFER2024. Ends October 31, 2024.
Low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options.
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Bottom line

Swing trading is an active form of investing that yields profits over a short period of time. If you’re ready to try swing trading, be sure to spend time gathering knowledge and developing a strategy. For those who don’t have the means to participate in swing trading, consider long-term investing instead.

Frequently asked questions

Written by

Veronica Ott

Veronica Ott was a writer at Finder. She's written for numerous finance and business websites including Loans Canada, Borrowell and Fresh Start Finance. She previously worked as a professional chartered accountant in the private equity and advertising industries. See full profile

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