Understanding crypto futures trading is crucial in the crypto market because it offers increased liquidity, allows for price discovery, and provides investors with tools to manage risk.

This financial instrument appeals to traders looking to hedge against market volatility or speculate on price movements without owning the cryptocurrency.

This comprehensive guide aims to lay the groundwork for getting started with crypto futures. 

As you acquaint yourself with futures contracts, you’ll discover their unique features, such as leverage—allowing you to control a prominent position with a relatively small amount of capital—and how they can be settled in cash or by delivering the actual cryptocurrency upon contract expiration. 

What Is Future Trading In Crypto?

Crypto futures trading is a form of derivative trading that allows investors to speculate on the future price of cryptocurrencies without actually owning them.

Futures trading in the cryptocurrency world is a method where you agree to buy or sell a specific amount of crypto at a predetermined price on a future date, regardless of the market price.

History Of Crypto Futures Trading

Crypto Futures Trading Fees

Crypto futures trading began in the late 2010s as digital assets gained popularity.

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, set the stage for a more sophisticated trading ecosystem, including derivatives like futures contracts.

  • Bitcoin futures trading debuted on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) (now known as the Cboe Options Exchange) in late 2017.
  • Shortly after, futures contracts for bitcoin were also introduced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
  • While the Cboe product has been discontinued, CME’s futures have become a significant part of the crypto trading market.
  • As of February 16, the rolling 24-hour notional value of all futures contracts across major exchanges stood at $26.9 billion.

Definition Of Crypto Futures & its Basics

Just like traditional futures, crypto futures allow you to speculate on the future price of a cryptocurrency. By agreeing to buy or sell at a predetermined price on a specific future date, you potentially profit based on the price movement.

Here are the key components:

  • Contract: A standardized agreement between two parties to buy or sell an underlying asset (such as bitcoin) at a fixed price on a specified date. Crypto futures contracts come in two forms:
    • Physically settled: Involves actual delivery of the underlying asset.
    • Cash-settled: Transfers the corresponding cash position when the contract expires.
  • Expiration Date: The date when the futures contract must be settled. Traders can sell their contracts to other investors before this date.
  • Units per Contract: Defines the contract’s value regarding the underlying asset. For example:
    • CME bitcoin futures: 1 contract = 5 bitcoins (denominated in U.S. dollars).Deribit bitcoin futures: 1 contract = $10 worth of bitcoin.
  • Leverage: Exchanges allow users to borrow capital, increasing their trading size. Leverage rates vary across platforms.
  • Mark Price: The reference price used for margin calculations and liquidations.

Unique Aspects:

  • Decentralization: Unlike traditional markets, some crypto futures trading platforms are decentralized.
  • Accessibility: The crypto market operates 24/7, providing continuous access, whereas traditional markets have set trading hours.
  • Volatility: Cryptocurrencies are generally more volatile than traditional assets, which can lead to rapid gains or losses.

Crypto futures play a pivotal role in the digital asset market by providing:

  • Liquidity: They help maintain a fluid market, enabling traders to enter and exit positions quickly.
  • Price Discovery: They assist in determining the fair market price of cryptocurrencies.
  • Hedging: They offer a way to hedge against price fluctuations, which is vital in such a volatile market.

As cryptocurrency markets evolve, crypto futures have become integral for traders, investors, and the overall market’s infrastructure.

What Are Crypto Futures And How Do They Work?

what are crypto futures

Crypto futures are financial instruments called futures contracts, where two parties agree to buy or sell a cryptocurrency at a predetermined future date and price.

These contracts allow you to speculate on the future price of a cryptocurrency, providing a way to hedge against price volatility or to profit from price movements.

A crypto futures contract has several key components:

  • Expiration Date: The date on which the contract will settle.
  • Units Per Contract: The amount of the cryptocurrency that one futures contract represents.
  • Leverage: Allows you to trade more significant positions with less capital.

When you enter into a crypto futures contract, you’re essentially betting on what you believe the cryptocurrency’s price will be at a specific future date.

If you anticipate the price will rise, you could enter a long position, and conversely, if you expect it to fall, you could take a short position.

Example: Imagine entering into a Bitcoin futures contract with an expiration date in three months and is leveraged 10:1. You predict the price will go up. If one contract represents 1 BTC currently worth $40,000, and at the contract’s expiration, the cost of Bitcoin has risen to $50,000, you would profit $10,000 (minus any fees or commissions). However, if the price falls, you would incur a loss correspondingly.

Remember, leverage can amplify both profits and losses, so it is essential to exercise caution and use risk management strategies when engaging in futures trading.

Types Of Crypto Futures Contracts

Crypto futures contracts are agreements to buy or sell a specific amount of cryptocurrency at a predetermined price on a specified future date. These contracts can be categorized into two primary types:

  • Perpetual Futures Contracts: Unlike traditional futures, these do not have an expiry date, allowing you to hold a position for as long as you maintain the required margin.
    • Advantages:
      • Flexibility in positions
      • Often feature funding rates instead of expiry dates
    • Disadvantages:
      • Requires constant monitoring of funding rates
      • Can be liquidated if the maintenance margin isn’t met
  • Fixed-Term Futures Contracts: These contracts have a set expiration date, upon which the contract must be settled.
    • Advantages:
      • Provides a precise settlement date
      • Suitable for long-term strategies
    • Disadvantages:
      • Less flexibility compared to perpetual contracts
      • The settlement price can be different from the spot price at expiration

In the crypto futures market, participants have access to unique contract types like:

  • Inverse Futures: These are settled in the underlying cryptocurrency rather than a fiat currency.
    • Allows hedging against price movements
    • Traders must be cautious of the asset’s volatility
  • Quanto Futures: Quanto futures combine cryptocurrencies with other assets, like a crypto pair with gold.
    • Innovative way to trade based on different assets
    • It can introduce additional risk due to correlation with the non-crypto asset.

Each type of contract caters to various trading strategies and risk profiles. Before engaging with crypto futures contracts, you should evaluate your investment goals and risk tolerance.

Features of Crypto Futures

  • Price: Crypto futures allow investors to speculate on the future price of cryptocurrencies without directly owning them. Traders can bet on rising (going long) and falling (going short) prices.
  • Volume: Trading volume in crypto futures reflects the total number of contracts traded within a specific time frame. High volume indicates active market participation.
  • Open Interest: This represents the total number of outstanding futures contracts that have not yet been settled. It reflects market liquidity and investor interest.
  • Funding Rate: In perpetual swap contracts, the funding rate ensures that the contract price aligns with the spot price. It is periodically exchanged between long and short traders.
  • Basis: Also known as the futures basis, it measures the difference between futures and spot prices. A positive basis (contango) occurs when futures trade above the spot, while a negative basis (backwardation) occurs when futures trade below the spot.

Examples Of Crypto Futures

  • Bitcoin Futures: These allow investors to speculate on the future price of Bitcoin without directly owning it. Future Bitcoin contracts are available on platforms like CME and Deribit.
  • Ethereum Futures: Similar to Bitcoin futures, these contracts enable traders to bet on Ethereum’s future price movements. Various exchanges offer Ethereum futures trading.
  • Litecoin Futures: Litecoin futures contracts allow exposure to Litecoin’s price fluctuations. Traders can find these contracts on different platforms.
  • Polkadot Futures: Polkadot futures provide a way to trade Polkadot’s price without holding the actual asset. Look for them on crypto exchanges.
  • Chainlink Futures: Chainlink futures allow investors to speculate on Chainlink’s value. Check out exchanges that offer these contracts.
  • Uniswap Futures: Uniswap futures enable trading based on Uniswap’s price. Explore platforms that support Uniswap futures.

How Crypto Futures Trading Works And Differs From Spot Trading

futures vs spot

Crypto futures allow you to contractually buy or sell cryptocurrency assets at predetermined future dates and prices instead of spot trading, where you directly buy or sell assets at current market prices.

Futures trading can effectively hedge against market volatility and speculate on future price movements without holding the actual cryptocurrency.

Spot Trading vs. Futures Trading:

Aspect Spot Trading Futures Trading
Settlement Immediate ownership transfer Set future date (contract expiration)
Ownership Actual asset ownership No asset until the contract is filled/expires
Price Determination Current market price Agreed upon contract price
Leverage Typically not available Often high leverage (e.g., 10x)

Imagine you believe the Bitcoin (BTC) price will rise next month.

With BTC/USDT futures, you can go long with a 10x leverage; you’re essentially betting that BTC’s price will be higher at the contract’s expiration date.

In a hypothetical scenario, if you enter a long position on BTC valued at $40,000, you only need $4,000 in your account due to the 10x leverage.

If BTC rises to $44,000 by the end of the month, you’d make a significant profit on your initial $4,000 margin.

Conversely, if BTC’s price falls, you risk a proportionally amplified loss, potentially $4,000, if the price drops sufficiently.

Unlike spot trading, where you might purchase BTC and hold in the hope of appreciation, futures trading requires a strategic approach to price movement predictions, often involving a higher risk due to leverage.

Your potential gains or losses are based on future contract terms rather than the immediate market value of cryptocurrency.

Getting Started With Crypto Futures Trading

Before diving into crypto futures trading, you must set up an account with a reputable cryptocurrency exchange offering futures trading options. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Cryptocurrency Exchange: Select an exchange based on security, fees, and the range of futures contracts.
  2. Create an Account: Provide personal information and complete any required KYC (Know Your Customer) processes to verify your identity.
  3. Fund Your Account: Deposit cryptocurrency or fiat money as the exchange requires to begin trading.

Once your account is ready, get familiar with the trading platform:

  • Navigate the User Interface: Familiarize yourself with the layout and features of the exchange’s trading platform. Look for the section dedicated explicitly to futures trading.
  • Understand Trading Tools: Learn how to use tools provided by the platform, such as charts, order types (e.g., limit, market, stop orders), and leverage settings.
  • Practice with a Demo Account: If available, use a demo account to practice trading without risking your funds. This will help you understand market movements and how futures contracts work.

Remember, crypto futures trading is complex and carries risk. Start with small trades as you learn to manage leverage and exposure effectively.

Always continue educating yourself about market trends, risk management strategies, and new developments in the cryptocurrency futures space.

Crypto Futures Trading Strategies

When you approach crypto futures trading, starting with basic strategies is crucial.

Learning how to read market signals, which are hints and trends predicting the potential future movements of cryptocurrency prices, is essential.

Look into moving averages to understand the general market trend or Relative Strength Index (RSI) to gauge if an asset is overbought or oversold.

Develop the habit of setting a stop-loss order, automatically selling your position at a preset price to prevent significant losses.

This is a fundamental risk management tool. As you progress, include take-profit orders to lock in profits when the price reaches your target level.

Furthermore, educate yourself on technical analysis. This involves studying chart patterns and using statistical figures to predict future price movements.

Key market indicators such as volume, price patterns, and momentum indicators are precious in interpreting market sentiments.

  • Volume: Observing trading volumes provides insight into the strength of a price move.
  • Price Patterns: Familiarize yourself with common patterns like triangles, head and shoulders, and flags.
  • Momentum Indicators: Tools like the MACD help you understand the speed of price movements.

Lastly, prioritize risk management to protect your capital.

Determine how much of your capital you will risk on each trade, often suggested as no more than 1-2% per trade.

This means your trading capital won’t be significantly affected even if you face a few losses.

By strictly adhering to risk management practices, you preserve the longevity of your trading career.

Risks and challenges of Crypto Futures trading

When engaging in crypto futures trading, you must understand the potential risks and challenges that come with it:

  • Margin Requirements and Liquidation Risk: Crypto futures require you to maintain a certain margin. If your account balance falls below this margin due to market movements, your position may be liquidated, and you can incur significant losses.
  • Market Volatility and Unpredictability: The crypto market is known for its wild price swings. This volatility can result in substantial profits and losses if the market moves against your position.
  • Regulatory Uncertainty and Legal Issues: Cryptocurrency trading regulations are still evolving worldwide. You could face adverse impacts if the legal landscape changes unexpectedly in a way that affects futures trading.
  • Technical Glitches and Cyberattacks: Best crypto futures trading platforms can also suffer from technical issues or become cyberattack targets. These events can disrupt trading and potentially compromise your funds.
  • Human Errors and Emotional Biases: As a trader, you are susceptible to making mistakes or being influenced by emotions such as fear or greed. Such errors or biases can negatively affect your trading decisions.

By being aware of these risks and cautiously approaching the market, you can be better prepared to engage in crypto futures trading.

Legal And Regulatory Considerations

Legal And Regulatory Considerations

Awareness of the legal and regulatory environment is crucial when engaging in crypto futures trading. Different countries have varied regulations that can impact how you trade.

Regulatory Landscape: It’s essential to note that the regulatory framework for crypto futures is still evolving. For example, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) oversees these markets in the United States. As a trader, you should stay informed about the regulations in your jurisdiction.

Regulated Exchanges: Trading on regulated exchanges is critical for protecting your investments. They ensure market integrity and provide legal recourse in case of disputes. Look for exchanges that comply with the appropriate regulatory bodies in your country.

Tax Implications:

  • Profits or Losses: Any gains or losses from futures trading might be subject to taxation. This can vary widely based on your country’s tax laws.
  • Reporting: It is typically your responsibility to report trades for tax purposes.
  • Professional Advice: Consider consulting a tax professional to understand your obligations.

Remember, adhering to legal and regulatory standards is essential in minimizing risks and ensuring a smooth trading experience.

Future Trends And Developments In Crypto Futures Trading

The landscape of crypto futures trading is continually evolving, with new trends emerging.

You can expect increased integration of sophisticated A.I. trading bots to enhance strategic decision-making and execution speed.

These bots will likely become more accessible, making high-frequency trading strategies more prevalent among individual investors.

Technological Advancements:

  • Blockchain Enhancements: Expect improvements in underlying blockchain technology, leading to faster transaction times and reduced costs.
  • A.I. Integration: Increased use of A.I. for predictive analytics, risk assessment, and automated trading.

Predictions for Market Evolution:

  • Regulatory Changes: Anticipate more comprehensive regulations that could stabilize the market and potentially attract institutional investors.
  • Market Diversification: With an uptick in new products, such as options and leveraged tokens, your portfolio diversification options will expand.

Adoption and Innovation:

  • You might see a broader adoption of crypto futures as traditional financial institutions continue to explore digital assets.
  • Innovations in contract design could provide more tailored risk management tools for traders like you.

Remember, while the market is set to become more sophisticated, you’ll need to stay informed and agile to successfully navigate the dynamic environment of crypto futures trading.

Why Crypto Futures Trading?

Crypto futures trading has become famous for several reasons:

  • Leverage: Futures allow traders to leverage their positions, meaning they can control a more significant amount of the asset with less capital. This can amplify gains, but it also increases the risk of losses.
  • Hedging: Futures can be used to hedge against price fluctuations in the spot market. For example, if someone holds a significant amount of cryptocurrency, they can use futures contracts to lock in a sale price, protecting against potential downturns.
  • Speculation: Traders can speculate on cryptocurrencies’ future price movements without holding the underlying assets. This makes opening and closing positions easier and quicker in response to market movements.
  • Market Access: Futures markets often operate around the clock, providing continuous access to the crypto markets. This is particularly beneficial given the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, as it allows traders to respond to market movements at any time.
  • Price Discovery: Futures trading contributes to the price discovery process, helping to determine the future price expectations of an asset. This can add to the market’s overall liquidity and efficiency.
  • Diversification: Futures contracts offer investors and traders a way to diversify their portfolios. They can gain exposure to different cryptocurrencies without directly purchasing and storing them.
  • Regulation: In some jurisdictions, futures markets are regulated, offering protection and legitimacy that might not be present in the spot market for cryptocurrencies.



What are the advantages and disadvantages of crypto futures trading?


    • Leverage: Crypto futures allow traders to control more prominent positions with a smaller initial investment.
    • Hedging: Futures contracts help manage risk on underlying crypto assets.
    • Liquidity: Crypto futures markets tend to be more liquid than spot markets.
    • Profit Potential: Speculative traders can profit from upward and downward price movements.


    • Over-Leveraging: High leverage can lead to significant losses.
    • Market Volatility: Crypto markets can be highly volatile, affecting futures positions.
    • No Ownership: Traders don’t own the actual crypto asset, only the contract.

Is Crypto Futures Trading Halal or Haram in Islam?

Views vary among scholars. Some consider it halal (not gambling, not fixed interest), while others think it haram (similar to betting). Perpetual contracts are also debated, but some scholars consider them haram due to their zero-sum nature.

Is Crypto Futures Trading Profitable?

Yes, Crypto futures offer potential profitability due to leverage and price speculation. However, risk management is crucial, and losses can exceed the initial investment.

Is Crypto Futures Trading Legal in the U.S.?

Yes, crypto futures trading is legal in the U.S. You can trade Bitcoin futures on authorized exchanges like CME or specific brokers.

Can you trade crypto futures in the us?

Yes, you can trade crypto futures in the U.S. on regulated platforms that comply with CFTC regulations.

What are the benefits of Crypto Futures Trading?

Benefits include hedging against market volatility, potential for high returns, access to leverage, and the ability to go long or short to capitalize on market movements.

Where to Trade Crypto Futures and What are the Best Platforms?

  • MEXC: Low fees, a wide variety of cryptos.
  • Bybit: Beginner-friendly.
  • OKX: Safe for derivatives and margin trading.
  • Binance: Experienced traders.
  • Gate.io: High-leverage trading.
  • Bitget: Altcoin futures.
  • AEVO: Decentralized perpetual exchange.


Crypto futures trading offers you a versatile instrument with which to navigate the cryptocurrency markets.

By engaging in futures, you gain access to leverage, which can amplify your gains, though it also increases risk.

As a strategic tool, crypto futures facilitate long and short positions, potentially allowing you to profit from market movements in any direction.

This can be particularly advantageous in the crypto market, which is known for its swift and significant price fluctuations.

Futures also contribute to the market’s liquidity, making it easier for you to enter and exit positions.

Cryptocurrency futures are not without risks but are a powerful addition to your trading arsenal. 

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