Trading crypto profitably means mastering the art of timing. According to a recent survey, 78% of crypto traders saw higher returns after optimizing their trading sessions and time frame strategies.
Savvy traders use specific time frames to match their style. Scalpers use 1-minute charts to ride volatility spikes. Swing traders prefer 4-hour or daily charts to track emerging trends. Long-term investors look at weekly or monthly charts to define the overarching market direction. Selecting the right time frame reduces noise and highlights the most profitable signals for your strategy.
Crypto volatility also fluctuates by the hour. Volumes surge around major market opens and closes, like when Wall Street starts trading. Economists found crypto returns peak between 8-11 AM and 4-8 PM Eastern time. Avoid low volatility periods like lunchtime to maximize gains. Timeframes and trading sessions are the double helix of crypto DNA. Master them, and unlock your full profit potential.
This article by Finestel will take an in-depth look at recommending optimal time frames tailored to different crypto trading styles from day trading to long-term investing. As well as examining the typical daily market sessions that display the highest volatility and trading volume activity.
Best Time Frames for Crypto Day Trading
Active day traders in the crypto markets will use very short time frame charts down to 1-minute candles to capitalize on short-term intraday volatility and price fluctuations. The most popular intraday time frames and their pros and cons include:
The 1-minute time frame provides the most detailed and granular view of real-time up-to-the-second price activity. This ultra short time frame is best suited for extremely short-term scalping strategies that seek to capitalize on quick bursts of momentum and volatility spikes triggered by breaking news announcements or sudden surges in trading volume.
The 1-minute chart allows traders to identify such opportunities as they develop in real-time and attempt to precisely time trade entries and exits to capture small gains. However, the considerable noise and abundance of false signals often seen in 1-minute charts means traders must be extremely disciplined, using tight stops and avoiding overtrading on every perceived signal. Intense focus and constant monitoring of positions are required to use 1-minute charts profitably.
The 5-minute time frame smooths out some of the noise, chaos, and false signals inherent in 1-minute crypto charts while still providing reasonably high resolution of short-term intraday price swings. This makes 5-minute charts an excellent compromise between noise reduction and retaining enough sensitivity to capture actionable price movements.
The 5-minute chart is a great option for short-term day trading strategies based on momentum, breakouts, and reversals across small to medium-timeframe trades lasting anywhere from 30 minutes up to several hours.
15-minute candlestick charts further reduce the noise and whipsaws compared to lower time frame crypto charts while still allowing traders to capture potentially profitable shorter term swing trades and intraday moves in either direction. The slightly longer 15-minute time frame compresses some of the insignificant price fluctuations, making it easier for day traders to identify meaningful support and resistance levels as well as overall emerging trend direction.
15-minute charts can be useful to traders who seek to combine elements of both scalping and short-term news based trading or trend following strategies into one approach. This time frame is widely considered ideal for active day trading across a wide range of strategies, from momentum trades to intraday range and breakout approaches.
Best Trading Times and Volatile Sessions for Crypto Day Traders
In addition to selecting the most appropriate intraday time frame, savvy crypto day traders also aim to focus their effort and attention to capitalize on the daily market sessions which typically display the highest volatility and trading volume.
Morning (8 AM to 11 AM Eastern Time)
The morning trading session just after the 8 AM Eastern market open is often one of the most volatile and active trading periods of the day in crypto markets. This is due to pent-up buying and selling demand in reaction to news events and fundamental developments that occurred overnight while certain regional markets were offline. Significant overnight price moves can reverse course quickly once a new daily session commences. Intraday trends also tend to establish direction in the morning and develop momentum.
This combination of higher volatility and frequent trending price action creates plenty of opportunities for short-term day traders to capture gains from strategies like scalping and momentum trading.
Afternoon (11 AM to 2 PM Eastern Time)
In contrast, the midday trading session between approximately 11 AM to 2 PM Eastern Time generally tends to have lower intraday volatility and more choppy sideways price action, lacking a clear directional bias. There are still select short-term scalping opportunities at times during this session but the reduced overall trading volume across major markets makes substantial momentum-driven price swings in either direction much less likely compared to other periods of the day. Many active traders thus choose to have reduced activity in the afternoon session.
Evening (4 PM to 8 PM Eastern Time)
As the daily trading candle nears its close, volatility has historically picked up once again in crypto markets on many days as intraday trend moves extend further and day traders aim to square up positions before the daily reset. Speculators and short-term traders also react to breaking news headlines that emerge later in the day, contributing to bigger price swings.
The evening session often sees significant breakouts and trending trading opportunities develop as daily directional moves extend further. This creates prime conditions again for active day traders entering positions aligned with the emerging short-term trend direction.
Best Time Frames for Swing Trading Crypto Assets
While ultra short time frames work best for active day trading, swing traders in crypto markets favor higher time frame charts to spot emerging trends and tradeable swings and gain better context while smoothing out excessive lower timeframe noise. Some of the most commonly utilized time frames for swing trading cryptocurrencies include:
The 4-hour time frame provides a balanced and insightful view into developing trends and potential swing trade setups while helping time entries. 4-hour candles smooth out much of the random intraday noise and insignificant wiggles inherent in lower time frame charts. Yet the 4-hour window is still short enough to allow reasonable precision in planning swing trade executions and managing positions.
The 4-hour chart is a great option for swing trading strategies across all market conditions, from ranging markets to solid trends. It provides enough context to discern the forest from the trees.
For many active swing traders in crypto markets, the daily time frame ends up becoming the primary chart and lens through which they analyze trades and make decisions. Daily candles completely smooth out all the intraday noise, chaos, and emotionally-driven price spikes while revealing the true underlying price trend and momentum. The daily chart provides ideal clarity for spotting tradeable swings in directions that align well with the prevailing trend.
It is the optimal time frame for confirming overall trend direction as well as planning viable entries and exits on swing trades intended to last anywhere from several days to multiple weeks in duration before exiting for profit.
While swing traders will not use weekly charts for timing specific entries and exits accurately, checking the weekly time frame can provide critical insights into overarching market conditions, structure, and multi-week trend direction.
Monitoring weekly charts helps assess whether current market sentiment and momentum remain favorable for the trade or if warning signs of a broader trend reversal might be developing. The weekly is less actionable for pinpoint execution but essential for maximizing profit extraction on extended swing trades lasting multiple weeks or months.
Choosing the Right Crypto Trading Time Frame
When first determining what time frame intervals to incorporate into your crypto trading plan, it is wise to select candlestick durations that align logically with your overall style, goals, and preferred timeframe:
|Goal||Trading Style||Suggested Time Frames|
|Short-term profits||Day trading, scalping||1-min, 5-min, 15-min|
|Medium-term trends||Swing trading||4-hour, daily|
|Long-term positions||Investing||Daily, weekly, monthly|
Experimentation can fine-tune your personal preferences within those ranges to discover the optimal fit. Many traders also monitor a confluence of time frames at varying degrees of detail to improve decision making and verify high probability trade setups.
Matching your selected time frame and candlestick interval to your specific crypto trading style is absolutely crucial for success. While swing traders and investors favor higher time frames, short-duration charts are necessary for active intraday traders. Analyzing the markets across multiple time frames can greatly improve insight into emerging opportunities and help confirm the highest probability trades.
Additionally, being aware of peak volatility sessions that typically see surging trading volumes aids traders in optimizing their market exposure during the time periods most prone to producing winning trades. By combining the optimal set of time frames with purposeful trading targeted during high-activity volatile sessions, crypto traders can significantly enhance their chances for consistently extracting gains.