Definition and Use of Market Orders

Definition and Use of Market Orders

When it comes to buying or selling a financial asset, there are two types of orders: market orders and limit orders. Market orders are a quick and easy way to execute a trade at the best price available at the time of purchase or sale. However, the price may differ from what you were expecting due to slippage. This is because market orders are matched with the best available price on the order book, which may not be the price you were hoping for.

On the other hand, limit orders allow you to specify the exact price you want to buy or sell an asset for. The order will only be executed if the asset reaches your specified price or better.

Market orders are often preferred due to their simplicity, speed, efficiency, and high probability of being filled. However, there are some drawbacks. For instance, there is a risk of slippage, and you need to be present to execute the order. In contrast, limit orders provide more control over the execution price but may not be filled if the asset's price does not reach your specified price.


Trading involves more than just deciding whether to buy or sell an asset. There are different types of orders to consider when trading financial assets such as cryptocurrencies, stocks, and forex. Market orders are one of the simplest types of orders and are often used by beginners. However, there are other types of orders, such as Fill or Kill orders and stop-limits.

Market orders allow traders to buy or sell an asset at the current market price. They are executed immediately and provide the trader with the best available price. Market orders are easy to use and are often the preferred choice for beginners. They are especially useful when the trader wants to enter or exit a position quickly.

Definition of Market Orders

If you need to buy or sell an asset immediately at the best available price, a market order is a way to go. It requires liquidity to be filled and is executed based on the limit orders already on the order book. Market orders are perfect for those who want to enter or exit a position quickly.

For instance, let's say you want to buy BTC as soon as possible, but the price is rising rapidly. You're willing to accept the market's price as long as you can buy BTC instantly. In this case, you would place a market order on your chosen exchange.

Market orders are easy to use and offer quick execution at the current market price. However, they do come with the risk of slippage, which occurs when the price of the asset moves between the time you place the order and the time it is executed.

Market Order Execution

Market orders are executed instantly at the current market price, unlike limit orders that are placed on the order book. In a trade, there are two sides: the maker and the taker. When you place a market order, you are taking the price set by someone else. For instance, when you place a purchase market order, an exchange will match it to the lowest ask price on the order book. Conversely, a sell market order will be matched with the highest bid price on the order book.

It is important to note that market orders require an exchange to have liquidity on the order book to meet the instant demand. This means that as a market taker, you'll pay higher fees when you place a market order as it removes liquidity from the exchange. Therefore, market orders can be more expensive than limit orders, but they are faster and easier to execute.

Order Types: Market vs. Limit

Limit orders are set at a specific price or better to buy or sell a certain amount of a financial asset. When placing a limit order, you can choose between partial or total filling. If you opt for total filling and the exchange can't fill your order, it won't execute it.

Market orders are executed using existing limit orders, so they can't be executed unless there is liquidity available in the order book. Limit orders offer a good alternative for those who don't want to take the market price when trading or investing. With limit orders, you can plan your trades without having to actively trade. This allows you to execute trades even when you are not actively monitoring the market.

Order Type

Purchases Asset



Set in Advance

Market OrderAt the market priceImmediatelyNot set, based on existing limit ordersManual
Limit OrderAt a set price or betterOnly at the limit order’s price or betterSet in advanceCan be set in advance

Aside from their basic differences, market orders, and limit orders, each has unique advantages when it comes to trading activities and goals. Here are some scenarios where limit orders may be more suitable:

  • High volatility: If the price of an asset is highly volatile, placing a market order can result in unexpected outcomes. The price may change rapidly between the time you create the order and when it executes. This can lead to a loss for arbitragers. However, a limit order will ensure that you get the price you want or better, minimizing the risk of loss.
  • Low liquidity: In cases where an asset has low liquidity, using a market order can result in slippage. This occurs when there are not enough market makers on the order book to easily fill your order at the current market price. As a result, you may end up with a lower sell price or higher purchase price than expected. A limit order, however, will not fill if slippage causes the price to fall outside of your specified limit.
  • Pre-existing strategy: Limit orders can be placed ahead of time and require no interaction from you to begin filling. This means your trading strategies can still be executed even when you're not actively trading. On the other hand, market orders require immediate action and cannot be executed in advance.

Market Order Usage

Market orders are ideal for situations where getting an order filled is more crucial than obtaining a specific price, and when time is of the essence. It's important to keep in mind that using a market order comes with a higher cost due to slippage. Market orders are particularly useful in scenarios where a stop-limit order was not executed, and you need to act fast.

However, if you're familiar with cryptocurrency trading and wish to purchase altcoins with Bitcoin, a market order might not be the best option. A limit order is a more suitable choice in this case since it allows you to purchase at a specified price or better.

For trading highly liquid assets with a narrow bid-ask spread, a market order will generally obtain a price close to or at the expected spot price. However, trading assets with a larger spread can result in significant slippage, so it's best to exercise caution when using market orders.

Pros of Market Order

A market order can offer several advantages depending on the trading situation:

  • Market orders are a straightforward option, particularly when trading highly liquid assets such as Bitcoin or ETH with large market capitalizations.
  • Market orders allow you to purchase or sell the full quantity of an asset you want quickly and easily. This is especially useful if you need to close out all of your positions or open a new one in a hurry.
  • Market orders are the fastest way to execute a trade, which can be essential if you are under time pressure to complete a transaction, such as just before market closing.

Cons of Market Order

When considering a market order, it's important to keep in mind that although it can be fast, it may not give you much control. Here are two main disadvantages to keep in mind:

  • Slippage can be high in low-volume assets. If there isn't enough volume in the order book, you may end up paying more or receiving less than expected. The lack of volume means you'll have to move up or down through the orders placed.
  • You cannot plan trades. You won't always be available to trade when you want to, and you may miss out on opportunities or make the wrong trades when you're not there. For this reason, it's often better to use a limit order or stop-limit order to plan.


When buying or selling financial assets, market orders are the most straightforward option available. They allow for immediate market entry and exit, making them ideal for time-sensitive situations. However, using a market order will result in a loss of control compared to other types of orders. Therefore, it's important to consider your specific circumstances and determine whether a market order or a different order type is more appropriate.

Market Order
Limit Order