There are a lot of important decisions that need to be made while entering the forex market as a beginner. Some key decisions you need to make include the amount of capital you want to trade with, which currency pairs should be picked for trading, what strategy would work and how you plan to manage the risk based on calculations. Selecting the ideal time frame for trading is another crucial decision that you have to make before planning your trades. However, different timeframes can work well for forex trading and being a first-time trader you might be confused about choosing a suitable timeframe. 

If you are also confused, you can keep reading this article till the end to get some valuable insights about deciding your timeframe to trade forex in the best possible manner.  

Basics of Trading Timeframes

The term timeframe is easier to understand by referring to technical analysis, which forex traders commonly use to find ideal trading opportunities. Technical analysis is done by watching a price chart and interpreting the market scenario based on the pattern of price movements for the currency pair you have chosen for trading. Most forex traders prefer candlestick charts for an in-depth analysis, and timeframe is the duration which is depicted by a single candle on the chart. This is actually the length of a time period, which can be as short as one minute and as long as one month or more. 

The timeframe you choose to trade with also determines your trading style, which can be fast-paced or slow-paced. Those who make use of shorter timeframes follow strategies that work in the short term, and those who rely on longer timeframes will rely on medium-term or long-term strategies. We can think of a timeframe as the basis for devising your forex strategy after some backtesting on your chosen trading platform. If you are a beginner, you can select MT4, thanks to its simplistic UI. It is very easy to use this platform, plus you will get all the necessary trading tools as well. You will have to customise the trading system to work well within the preferred timeframe. Here is a good source to get more info on MT4. Those who trade within a short timeframe will only look at short-term trends, whereas traders working within a longer timeframe will be focused on long-term trends.   

Trading Timeframes and Trading Styles 

As I mentioned earlier, the trading timeframe that you choose also determines your trading style, and there are four primary types of trading styles that you can adopt in the forex market. 

  • Scalping

Scalping is a short-term trading style where the timeframe for trading is 1 to 15 minutes. It is a very popular strategy in the forex market as there are a lot of frequent price fluctuations happening in a short span of time. A scalper makes use of minute charts to conduct technical analysis and execute multiple trades within a few minutes. Scalping is aimed at making quick profits without holding onto any trade position. It is a fast-paced and intense trading style where you must enter and exit trades immediately. 

The position size would be smaller to mitigate the risk, and the profit potential of each trade would also be lower. Timing is the most important thing in scalping, and you need to ensure that the currency pair provides good enough liquidity for a fast trade equation. Hence, most scalpers stick to major pairs like EUR/USD as they have liquidity and volatility, which are needed for successful scalping.  

  • Day Trading

Day trading is another popular trading style in the forex market, and it is another short-term strategy that involves opening and closing trades on the same day without carrying forward any position for the following day. You must exit all your trades by the end of the day, and the timeframe for day trading is generally 15 minutes to one hour. A vast majority of traders prefer day trading over scalping, as it is less aggressive in comparison, and you still get to avoid the risk and cost of overnight trading.  

The number of trades you enter a day will be less than that of scalping, and the trade size will be bigger. The profit potential of a single trade will also be higher in day trading. This timeframe can be suitable for those intimidated by the 1-minute charts where you are supposed to make trading decisions quickly. Day trading is less stressful, and you can hold onto a trade for a longer duration while also making quick profits by the end of the day. 

  • Swing Trading

Swing trading is another popular forex trading style where the timeframe for analysis is 1 to 4-hour charts. The duration of trades can be a few days or weeks, depending on the trader’s preference. You will hold onto positions overnight and wait for a significant price swing before exiting the trade. Swing trading is more of a medium-term strategy, and you won’t be in a hurry to close the trades like you are in scalping or day trading. 

The number of trades you enter will be lesser, but swing trades diversify their risk by managing multiple positions simultaneously. Swing trading is also less time-consuming and less stressful in comparison to short-term trading styles and can be suitable for traders with busy schedules since you won’t have to watch the charts all day looking for trade setups. 

  • Position Trading

Position trading involves the use of the longest time frame, and you have a few options to consider based on the duration of your trades. Position trading is the closest to an investment-like trading style, as you will be holding onto a position for an extended period of time, ranging from several weeks to months or even years. The position size can be larger since you won’t be entering many trades, and it is also a form of passive trading. In holding a position for several days, you will also be charged swap fees, which could be positive or negative depending upon the currency pair you trade. 

The swap fee is mandatory for all traders except Muslim traders who can open an Islamic account and carry positions overnight without worrying about paying any swap fee since it is prohibited in Islam. This type of account is exclusively designed for Muslim traders because paying or receiving any kind of interest is haram or prohibited in their religion. If you are eligible for an Islamic account, then you should definitely try it out to understand how it works. 

Coming back to position trading, if you plan to close the trades within a few weeks, you can use daily charts for analysis. If your strategy involves keeping a position open for months, you need to use weekly charts, and if the trade goes on for a year or more, you need to analyse monthly charts. When you get into position trading, you need to consider the swap rate of the currency pairs you trade with, as it is a significant cost associated with position trading. 

Things to consider for selecting your Trading Style/Time Frame

  • Time schedule – Those who are planning to trade full-time or can afford to spare a good amount of time for trading can surely consider scalping and day trading with shorter timeframes. Trading shorter timeframes requires constant monitoring, which makes it time-consuming and hectic. And those who don’t have a flexible time schedule mostly go for swing or position trading with longer timeframes. 
  • Experience-  Those who choose shorter timeframes need more experience and skills to pull off their strategy with the fast-paced trading style. Some beginners choose scalping and day trading for quick profits, but experts often suggest starting with a longer timeframe to lessen the risk that comes with inexperience. 
  • Risk appetite – Trading with shorter timeframes results in higher risk due to the tight stop losses, leading to many stop-outs. Traders who don’t have a high-risk appetite may not be able to deal with the frequent losses in scalping and day trading. Hence, novice traders and those with a low tolerance for risk may find longer timeframes more suitable.   
  • Analysis- Those who want to devise strategies based on technical analysis trade shorter timeframes and follow trading styles like scalping and day trading. You need to conduct some fundamental analysis for trading longer timeframes as you need to get an idea about long-term trends that are influenced by economic data releases and events. 

Tips to Choose the perfect timeframe 

  • Choose a timeframe that fits your trading personality. For instance, scalping can be ideal for someone who is good at making quick decisions and has a lot of time to spend on trading. But if you want to take it slow and have enough patience to wait, swing trading or position trading would be ideal, and they also require less time. 
  • Use a Forex demo account to try out your strategy and skills with different timeframes; this way, you can find the most suitable time frame for yourself. 
  • Be disciplined and avoid switching between different timeframes because consistency is needed to master trading within a timeframe. 


To conclude, the timeframe you choose for forex trading will set the framework for your strategy and trading process. Trading at the right time allows you to trade right; hence, you must consider all the above-explained points while selecting your timeframe and trading style and devote enough time to master them.