What is Margin Trading? Definition, Risk & Advantages | My Espresso

What is Margin?

We all know how investing in stocks and other assets can be a great way to generate wealth over time. But what if you want to make money more quickly? Or what if you want to speculate on the direction of the market? This is where margin trading comes in.

Published on 20 December 2022

Margin trading allows you to trade with borrowed money, which can help you increase your potential profits – but it also comes with risks. In this guide, we'll take a look at what is margin trading, how it works, and some of the things you need to be aware of before getting started.

Let's begin.

What is Margin Trading?

Before you learn about margin trading, you must know what is margin. Margin is the money borrowed from a broker to purchase an asset. It is the difference between the total value of securities and the loan amount. Margin trading is a type of investing that allows you to borrow money from your broker to purchase stocks.

This can be a great way to increase your purchasing power and make more money on investment opportunities. However, it's important to understand the risks involved in margin trading before you get started. There are two main types of risks to consider:

The first is the risk that you will not be able to repay the loan and will end up owing your broker money. This can happen if the stock price falls, and you are unable to sell the stock for enough to cover the loan.

The second is the risk of a margin call. Now you may be wondering why a margin call is not safe. This happens when the value of your stocks falls below a certain level and your broker requires you to deposit more money or sell some of your stocks in order to cover their losses.

How Does Margin Trading Work?

Knowing what is margin trading is one thing, but understanding how it works is quite another. When you margin trade, you essentially borrow money from a broker to purchase an asset. Margin trading allows you to buy more shares than you would normally be able to, giving you the opportunity to amplify your gains – but it also amplifies your losses.


The amount of money that you can borrow is determined by the margin ratio set by your broker. For example, if the margin ratio is 50%, that means you can borrow up to 50% of the total value of the trade. So if you wanted to buy $10,000 worth of shares, you would only need to front $5,000 – the other $5,000 would be borrowed from your broker.

How to Avoid Margin Calls?

Most investors are aware of the risks associated with margin trading, but many don't know how to avoid the dreaded margin call. Here are a few tips:

1. Know your investment strategy and stick to it

When you're buying stocks on margin, you're essentially borrowing money from your broker to finance your purchase. This can be a risky proposition if the stock price falls sharply, as you may be required to pay back the loan plus interest charges.

2. Keep a close eye on your account balance

Your broker will require you to maintain a certain level of equity in your account, known as the "maintenance margin." If your account falls below this level, you'll receive a margin call and will be required to deposit additional funds or sell some of your positions.

3. Use stop-loss orders

A stop-loss order is an order to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. This can help limit your losses if the stock price falls sharply.

4. Review your account regularly

It's important to keep track of your margin account balance and the value of your securities on a regular basis. This will help you avoid any surprises down the road.

5. Know when to call it quits

There's no shame in admitting that margin trading isn't for you. If you're not comfortable with the risks, don't be afraid to close out your account and move on to other investment strategies.

Advantages of Margin Trading

  • It offers investors the opportunity to buy more assets than they would be able to normally.
  • In many cases, it allows investors to get into a position that they wouldn’t have been able to without the extra leverage.
  • Margin trading can provide a way to hedge against other investments. If an investor owns a stock that they think will go down in value, they can open a short position using margin.

The Bottom Line

As per the margin definition, margin is the amount of money required to open a position, maintain that position, and close it. When you trade on margin, your broker will lend you money to help you open a position. The loan provides extra buying power, or leverage, which can help you trade larger positions than you could with your own capital alone. We hope that you're clear about what is margin and how it works.

Chandresh Khona
Team Espresso

We care that you succeed

Bringing readers the latest happenings from the world of Trading and Investments specifically and Finance in general.