Forex trading comes with inherent risks due to the volatility of currency pairs. Traders are always looking for ways to maximize profits while minimizing losses. This is where OCO orders can help by allowing forex traders to define two concurrent take-profit and stop-loss orders.

Also known as “one cancels the other”, OCO orders provide an effective risk management technique in the unpredictable forex market. This comprehensive guide will explain what OCO orders are, how they work, their benefits, and tips for using them successfully as part of your broader forex trading strategy.

What Are OCO Orders in Forex Trading?

OCO orders stand for “one-cancels-the-other” orders. They allow forex traders to place two orders simultaneously – a limit order to take profit and a stop-loss order to limit potential losses.

With OCO orders, if one of the orders is executed, the other order is automatically cancelled. This helps lock in gains and control risks with just one order ticket.

For example, you go long on the EUR/USD at 1.1250 with an OCO order. You set a take-profit limit order at 1.1300 and a stop-loss order at 1.1200. If the EUR/USD reaches 1.1300, the take-profit order executes and the stop-loss is cancelled. If price drops to 1.1200 instead, the stop-loss triggers and take-profit order is cancelled.

OCO orders give traders the flexibility to account for volatility and define upside targets and downside protection on a single trade. They are commonly used by forex day traders and scalpers given the short-term nature of those strategies. But longer-term investors also utilize OCO orders to hedge risks on swing trades or breakouts.

How Do OCO Orders Work in Forex Trading?

OCO orders allow placing two contingent orders that give instructions to either take profit or cut losses on the same currency pair. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how OCO orders work:

  • Step 1: Determine entry price, take profit level, and stop loss level based on your trading plan and analysis. For example, buy EUR/USD at 1.1200, take profit at 1.1250, and stop loss at 1.1180.
  • Step 2: Place a “one cancels the other” order that includes both a limit order to take profits and a stop-loss order to limit losses.
  • Step 3: If the take profit order executes as price rises to 1.1250, the stop loss is automatically cancelled. Your profit is locked in.
  • Step 4: If the price instead drops to your stop loss level at 1.1180, the stop loss triggers and the take profit order is cancelled. Your loss is capped as defined.
  • Step 5: If neither order executes, both remain active until you modify or cancel the OCO order. For example, you may want to adjust stop loss to breakeven after price moves favorably.

One major advantage of OCO orders is it accomplishes two critical risk management tasks with just one order ticket. You do not have to manually cancel the other order after one execution. The brokerage platform handles this automatically.

Benefits of Using OCO Orders

OCO orders provide several notable benefits for forex traders who incorporate them as part of an active risk management approach:

Lock in Profits

Take profit orders allow forex traders to lock in gains when the market moves favorably. OCOs guarantee those profits are secured once that upper limit is hit, giving traders peace of mind in fast-moving currency markets.

Limit Losses

Stop loss orders define the maximum acceptable loss on any single trade. OCOs provide downside protection so traders do not have to monitor the market constantly to exit positions before losses escalate.

Requires Only One Order Ticket

Placing both take profit and stop loss with a single OCO order is far more efficient than using separate orders. This simplifies the order management process.

Automatic Execution of One Order

The automatic cancellation of the other order with an OCO removes human error and emotion from the exit process. You do not have to remember to manually cancel the opposing order after the first trigger.

Customizable to Any Trading Strategy

OCO orders can be adapted to fit any trading timeframe or style. Short-term scalpers can use tight OCO ranges while swing traders benefit from wider levels to accommodate market swings.

Available on All Major Platforms

OCO orders are widely available from all retail forex brokers. The order type has become an industry-standard tool.

By leveraging OCO orders, active forex traders gain greater control over profit targets and loss limits within a single order ticket. This supports prudent risk management across diverse trading strategies.

Tips for Using OCO Orders Effectively

While OCO orders offer notable advantages, they still require effective implementation as part of a disciplined approach. Here are some tips to use OCOs successfully:

  • Set stop loss levels based on volatility and your risk tolerance – not arbitrarily. Factor wider stops for volatile pairs.
  • Use take profit levels that make sense based on technical analysis or chart patterns. Avoid overly ambitious targets.
  • Adjust stop loss levels to breakeven or lock in some profits as the market moves favorably after entry. Trailing stops can also automate this process.
  • For volatile news events, consider widening stops and limits to account for larger potential swings. Or avoid new trades altogether.
  • Modify OCO orders instead of cancelling both legs if you want to adjust stops or limits mid-trade. This retains some protection.
  • Use OCOs to hedge risks on trades based on fundamental analysis, not just technical triggers. Macro events can swiftly impact pricing.
  • Consider stagger multiple OCOs across longer-term trades to take partial profits and retain upside exposure.
  • Be aware of and prepare for order slippage that may prevent stops or limits from filling at intended levels when volatility spikes.

OCO orders enable prudent risk management provided they align with a structured trading plan backed by robust analysis. Use them strategically in conjunction with other risk tools.


One cancels the other orders provide an efficient way for forex traders to execute a take profit and stop loss order in one line. This unique order type helps lock in gains while limiting downside risk without requiring constant order management.

In the fast-paced forex market with high leverage, OCO orders give traders peace of mind. By automating the exit process when either order triggers, OCOs remove emotion-driven mistakes and indecision from trade management.

Both short-term and long-term traders can incorporate OCO orders as part of their broader risk management approach. However, OCOs should still align with a trading strategy backed by in-depth technical and fundamental analysis.

By leveraging OCO orders appropriately, forex traders can actively define and manage risk on individual trades based on market conditions. This supports the primary goal of maximizing profits while minimizing losses using proven risk management tactics in a volatile market.