How to day trade futures contracts

So, you want to trade futures. You’ve heard about how much money you can make and finally decided to take the plunge. But what does it really mean when someone says you need a futures account? Is it just a different name for a regular brokerage account? In many ways, it is, but a lot more goes into having a futures account than people might initially think.

What are day trading futures contracts?

Day trading futures contracts are the funding of an account to execute the trades themselves. At its most basic level, trading in futures contracts is no different from trading stocks or other tradable products. Still, several important factors come along with these types of trades that may not be immediately obvious by watching CNBC.

The first thing you’ll need is a futures account. Like with stocks, this will be where you house the brokerage money that you use to buy contracts. You can open an account at any reputable broker. Still, it’s important to realise that this type of account has additional requirements not placed on regular accounts – mainly because you’re required to maintain more capital in these accounts than normal ones.

What strategies to use for day trading futures contracts

While there are specific strategies designed for longer-term holdings – like spread trades or diagonal calendar spreads – most people trying to make money off these markets will only hold the contracts overnight before selling them back at a loss (or profit). This means that not only do you need to have your capital available to buy and sell contracts, but you must have enough winnings from each individual trade so that if you set up an automatic camper account, it can make enough money in interest for you to cover the losses that will inevitably come along (especially at first) until your skills get better. So if you have $5k available in your futures account, be aware of what it means when someone says you need to day trade futures contracts with at least $20k worth of real capital.

Most brokers will offer demo accounts so you can test out their platform and see how things work before trading with any real money. A good idea might be to set up a demo account, such as the ones offered by Saxo markets, practise some strategies, then switch over to a live account only once you’re comfortable with the platform and confident of your trading skills. This way, not only are you minimising risk on initial trades but training yourself to become better at trades when you’re not facing the pressure of real money.

And finally comes execution. You have your platform, you know what kind of trade you want to make, and you understand precisely how much money it will take to do so. Now comes the hard part. Most day trading futures contracts only hold positions overnight, and quick reaction time is vital for buying or selling at an acceptable price. This means that you have to be just as fast on a mouse click as some of the best-automated traders out there – which is easier said than done if this isn’t something you’re used to doing all day long. So don’t get discouraged if things don’t go well at first – take comfort in knowing that even professional traders have had their share of difficult days.


Always remember that if you’re just starting out, it’s OKAY to lose money. Some people have gone broke trying to be the next big thing in day trading futures contracts, so don’t let them discourage you from trying something new. Just go into it with your eyes open, don’t make any stupid mistakes based on false information, and never stop learning how everything works because there is still a lot left for you to learn before making this type of market work for you.