Crypto Paper Trading: Apps and Tips to Make a Safe Start

Last Updated: 25 October, 2023
5 min read

hands with crayons crypto paper trading in practice

So you’re pumped about jumping into the crypto trading scene, right? Before you even think about going all-in with a real trading strategy, you’ve got a chance to practice without losing actual cash.

The secret sauce? It’s called paper trading.

Imagine crypto paper trading as the sandbox mode in a video game, but for crypto. No real money involved. You can experiment, make trades, and see the outcomes without any risk.

Ready to level up your skills? In this all-you-need-to-know guide, we’ll break down the A to Z of paper trading in the crypto market:

  • Benefits of paper trading crypto
  • How paper trading works
  • Finding a crypto paper trading platform
  • Strategies to use for practice trading
  • Tips for making the most of demo trading

Let’s get started!

How Paper Trading Cryptocurrency Works

Paper trading essentially mimics real cryptocurrency trading, but instead of actual funds, you trade with virtual money. Here are the key things to know:

  • You’re given virtual funds to “purchase” cryptocurrencies and build a portfolio. $100,000 is a typical starting balance but this can vary.
  • You place buy and sell orders as if trading on a live exchange. You see current market prices and can use real-time charts.
  • Gains and losses from your virtual trades are reflected in your virtual equity. But no real money is exchanged.
  • Positions can be held long-term or closed out quickly to practice day trading. You decide when to open and close trades.
  • You can practice various order types like market orders, limit orders, and stop loss orders.
  • Technical indicators, chart patterns, risk management techniques, and other strategies can all be tested with zero financial risk.
  • Detailed trade histories and account statements are provided tracking your paper trading performance.

The goal is to make the experience as similar to real trading as possible. While nothing can fully replicate having real capital at stake, paper trading gets you very close.

Benefits of Paper Trading Cryptocurrency

Here are some of the main benefits of using paper trading to practice cryptocurrency trading:

  • Test strategies in a risk-free environment – Practice trading allows you to experiment with different order types, technical indicators, risk management techniques, and more without worrying about losing money. This builds confidence and experience before trading with real capital.
  • Learn how crypto markets work – Paper trading is a great way for beginners to understand market dynamics like volatility, liquidity, spreads, and how news impacts prices without putting money at risk.
  • Get familiar with trading platforms – Each crypto exchange has a unique interface and features. With paper trading, you can take your time learning a platform’s order types, charts, and settings so you’re comfortable when it’s time to trade for real.
  • Analyze and improve trading skills – Make trades as if using real money and then review your paper trading performance. Identify mistakes and areas for improvement. Track your progress over time as your skills develop.
  • Practice trading psychology – Trading with virtual funds allows you to experience the emotions of trading and get a feel for executing your plan consistently without greed or fear influencing decisions. This psychological preparation is invaluable.
  • Backtest trading systems – Use historical market data to test the viability of your crypto trading strategy through paper trading. Tweak it until the strategy is profitable before risking real capital.

The risk-free nature of paper trading means you can gain practical experience and confidence without the consequences of novice mistakes. It’s always advisable to start here before transitioning to live trading.

Best Crypto Paper Trading Apps

Many cryptocurrency exchanges offer demo trading modes using their live market data:

  • Libertex – Test trading strategies with a wide selection of virtual coins. Use leverage trading in a simulated environment.
  • Bybit – Practice trading perpetual BTC, ETH, EOS, and XRP contracts with up to 200x leverage risk-free.
  • eToro – This top regulated platform provides a demo balance for trading simulation.
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  • Demo account
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Trading Simulator Software

These downloadable programs offer more customization for paper trading cryptocurrencies:

  • TradingView – Offers a Paper Trading feature with its charting and analysis platform. Backtest strategies and make simulated trades based on live or historical data.
  • Zenbot – This open source program lets you paper trade automatically based on your custom strategy settings and supports multiple exchanges.
  • Gekko – An open source trading bot for paper trading BTC and simulating other crypto trades.

The advantage of software simulators is the ability to backtest and automate your trading strategies. But the user interface may not match real crypto exchange platforms.

Paper Trading Strategies to Practice

Once you’ve selected a paper trading platform, it’s time to start developing and testing trading strategies:

Day trading

  • Open and close positions within the same 24-hour trading session.
  • Try to profit from short-term price movements and volatility.
  • Practice identifying chart patterns and momentum indicators for entry and exit signals.
  • Use stop losses and maintain discipline around your risk parameters.

Trend following

  • Paper trade trends using moving averages, breakouts, and pullbacks for timing.
  • Ride larger trend waves in an asset’s price over weeks or months.
  • Manage positions size to limit risk and let profits run.

Range trading

  • Identify support and resistance levels that form a range.
  • Buy near support and sell near resistance to capture range-bound movement.
  • Use bounce plays, breakouts, and break downs. Position size is key.

News-based trading

  • Make paper trades around major crypto news events like exchange listings, regulation, institutional adoption, etc.
  • Analyze the impact on prices and volatility.
  • Account for quick spread widening and liquidity shifts around news.

Algorithmic trading

  • Program a trading strategy with technical indicators and order logic.
  • Paper trade it 24/7 to assess performance. Tweak over time.
  • Effective with automation and backtesting.

Test strategies over an extended period capturing different market conditions. Track performance metrics like profit factor, win rate, risk/reward ratio, max drawdown, etc. to evaluate what works.

Tips for Success with Crypto Paper Trading

To get the most out of paper trading cryptocurrencies, keep these tips in mind:

  • Start with small position sizes – Even with virtual money, start small and only increase position sizes as you gain experience. This will prepare you for minimizing risk with real capital.
  • Set stop losses on every trade – Develop the habit of using stop losses to limit downside. This is critical risk management that’s easy to ignore without actual losses on the line.
  • Trade actively – Don’t just open a few demo positions. Execute daily trades consistently to build skills and get comfortable with the platforms.
  • Vary market conditions – Paper trade in different market environments like high volatility, low liquidity, and periods of consolidation to prepare for real-world trading.
  • Track detailed records – Log your simulated trades with notes on your reasoning, things you learned, and performance stats. Review regularly.
  • Have a plan for transitions – Paper trading is temporary. Have a solid plan for when to stop, review progress, fund your live account, and begin trading small real positions.

With consistent, structured practice using these tips, paper trading can rapidly accelerate your learning curve. In 3-6 months you can gain several years of equivalent experience before going live.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s review some common questions about simulated cryptocurrency trading:

How long should you paper trade before going live?

It depends on your consistency and progress, but 3-6 months is recommended to refine your process and gain experience before risking real capital. Some traders paper trade for years.

Does paper trading have real time order matching?

Most platforms offer real-time market data for pricing, but execution simulation varies. Few fully replicate exchange order matching engines. Assume some slippage as a realism check.

Can you connect paper trading accounts to live exchanges?

Some platforms allow linking paper and real accounts for an easier transition to live trading. But many keep demo and live environments separate due to technical and legal limitations.

What’s the difference between paper trading and backtesting?

Backtesting uses historical data to simulate past trades. Paper trading executes simulated trades in real-time based on current market conditions. Both are useful practice techniques.

Is paper trading completely free?

Most platforms offer free unlimited crypto paper trading. Some limit features or provide paid upgrades, but you can find quality free options. It’s a cost effective way to learn.

The Bottom Line

Paper trading is an excellent risk-free way to learn cryptocurrency trading, test strategies, build skills, and prepare for the live markets. Signing up for a demo crypto account is quick, easy, and free.

Use the practice period consistently to establish good habits around analysis, record keeping, risk management, and maintaining a trading plan. Paper trading leads to practical experience without costly novice mistakes.

While paper trading has limitations in fully mirroring the pressures of real trading, the training benefits outweigh any cons. Take advantage of paper trading to jumpstart your crypto trading career the smart way.

Gianluca Lombardi

Gianluca is the editor-in-chief of this site. A finance graduate, he is an active trader who has tested all trading platforms and knows all their secrets. Technology is his passion; he spends much of his free time in the metaverse. Gianluca loves learning new things, researching, discussing and writing about technology, especially when it comes to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.