Forex trading offers the potential for significant profits if you know when and how to take them. Profit-taking refers to closing out a profitable trade to secure your gains rather than letting the trade run and risk giving back those profits. Mastering profit-taking strategies and techniques is an essential skill for successful forex traders. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know to effectively take profits in the forex market.

Why Profit-Taking Matters in Forex

Taking profits is a vital part of any trading strategy. In the volatile forex market, no trade will keep going in your favor indefinitely. At some point, the trend will reverse and your unrealized profit will turn into a loss. Successful forex traders have disciplined profit-taking strategies to lock in their gains.

Failure to take profits at logical points can transform a winning trade into a loser. Traders often become greedy and emotional, hoping to squeeze every last pip out of a move. This leads to giving back hard-earned profits as the market inevitably turns. Establishing clear profit targets and sticking to them takes emotion out of trading and leads to consistent success.

Proper profit-taking also provides you with funds to reinvest in new opportunities. Realized gains can compound your account over time. Taking profits regularly prevents you from missing out on potentially more profitable trades in the future.

Defining Profit Targets in Forex

The first key to effective profit-taking is defining clear profit targets before entering a trade. Your profit target should reflect the logical endpoint of your trading edge.

For example, if you are trading a breakout above a resistance level, it makes sense to take profit near the next logical resistance area. You may also base targets on technical analysis like Fibonacci extensions.

Set profit targets at psychologically significant levels. In forex, this often means targets at round numbers like 1.3000 or 1.3500 rather than 1.3143 or 1.3467. The more traders that are aiming for the same target, the more likely the market will react there.

Take smaller profits on shorter-term trades like scalps, and allow winners to run for larger targets on daily or weekly swing trades. Give the market room to move in your favor on longer time frame trades.

Always use a favorable risk/reward ratio of at least 1:1. This means your potential profit should be at least as large as your potential loss on any trade. A 2:1 or 3:1 risk/reward ratio is even better for account growth over time.

Trailing Stops vs. Targets

Some traders prefer to use trailing stops rather than fixed profit targets. A trailing stop follows the market in the direction of your trade and continually resets to lock in more profit as the market moves favorably.

For example, if you buy EUR/USD at 1.1000 with a 50-pip trailing stop, the stop would initially be placed at 1.0950. If EUR/USD rises to 1.1050, the stop would trail up to 1.1000 and lock in 50 pips of profit.

The advantage of trailing stops is they allow you to capture larger gains in strongly trending markets. The downside is they require constant monitoring and active trade management.

It’s common to use a combination of trailing stops with partial fixed targets. For example, you may take partial profit at a fixed target then trail the remainder for a larger gain. Use the technique that fits best with your trading plan.

Technical vs. Fundamental Targets

There are two schools of thought when determining profit targets – technical analysis targets vs. fundamental analysis targets.

Technical traders focus solely on the price charts and indicators. They base targets on levels of support and resistance, chart patterns, Fibonacci levels and other technical tools.

Fundamental traders consider economic events, news, data releases and other forces driving supply and demand. They take profits when they believe the fundamental reason for the trade has fully played out.

Many traders combine both approaches. For example, you may buy a currency ahead of an interest rate decision because you expect a dovish surprise. You would take partial profits at the first technical resistance level after the announcement, then trail the remainder for a larger technical target.

Types of Profit-Taking Methods

There are several standard methods to take profits in forex trading. Here are some of the most common profit-taking techniques:

Partial Taking at Fixed Levels

Rather than exiting the entire position at one level, partial taking involves closing out parts of the position at different target levels.

For example, you may sell EUR/USD with targets at 1.1500, 1.1450 and 1.1400. You would close 1/3 of the position at each of those three levels as they are hit.

Partial taking helps you ride out extended trends while locking in some certain profits along the way. It combines the benefits of fixed targets and trailing stops.

Scaling Out Around a Level

This method involves distributing your profit taking at targets within a horizontal range, rather than at precise numbers.

For example, you may look to exit your long EUR/USD position anywhere between 1.1200 and 1.1250 rather than at an exact number.

Scaling out around a level allows you to take advantage of short-term volatility to get a better exit price. It avoids the risk of missing your target by a few pips that can happen with fixed targets.

Profitable Pattern Completion

Traders who enter on classical chart patterns often take profits once the expected pattern completion has fully played out.

For example, they may buy a double bottom reversal and take profit once price reaches the height of the pattern. Or they buy a triangle breakout and exit once the pullback to the breakout point completes.

Basing targets on chart patterns ties your profit-taking strategy directly to your entry technique. This creates a logical and consistent trading approach.

Momentum Divergence

Momentum indicators like MACD and RSI often diverge from price before major trend reversals. Watching for bearish divergences can help you time counter-trend profit taking.

For example, you may go long a rising EUR/USD price on a pullback. As the uptrend resumes, MACD forms lower highs as price makes higher highs. You would exit your long position on the divergence signal.

Divergence won’t pick exact reversal points, but often signals when upside momentum is slowing. Taking profits on divergences can protect open profits before reversals occur.

Fundamental News or Data Events

Fundamental traders exit profitable trades based on economic news, data releases, central bank decisions or other market-moving events.

For example, you may buy the US dollar ahead of a rate-hike announcement from the Federal Reserve. Once the hike occurs and the dollar spikes, you would take profit since the expected fundamental catalyst has passed.

Planning ahead and marking your calendar with major events and releases can help alert you to profit-taking opportunities based on changing fundamentals.

Volatility Expansion/Contraction

Increased volatility indicates a stronger trend, while decreasing volatility warns of waning momentum. Measuring volatility metrics can help identify turning points.

For example, a sharp increase in ATR (average true range) shows a rise in volatility. Taking partial profits after volatility spikes guards against reversals. As volatility contracts, it signals momentum is slowing and remaining profits can be taken off the table.

The most common volatility indicator is ATR, but options implied volatility, standard deviation and other metrics can also be used.

Moving Average Crossovers

Moving averages provide dynamic support and resistance levels. When price crosses back through a moving average, it often signals the trend is weakening or ready to reverse.

Taking partial or total profits when shorter moving averages (like the 20 or 50 SMA) cross the longer moving averages (such as the 100 or 200 SMA) can effectively capture swing turns.

Because moving averages lag price, the crossover occurs after the initial turn begins. Exiting on the crossover helps lock in open profits before giving back too much.

Paying Yourself

Developing a profit-taking mindset is an important mental shift for all traders. Get in the habit of paying yourself by closing out winners and realizing actual gains. Trading is ultimately about money in your account, not open P&L on the screen.

Taking even small profits consistently is very worthwhile. Compounding many 10 or 20 pip winners over time will grow an account faster than hoping for an occasional huge winner. Even the best trading edges only succeed perhaps 60% of the time. Take what the market gives you.

Over time, traders who regularly pay themselves and learn from both wins and losses accumulate the experience needed to excel. Proper profit-taking allows you to survive long enough to thrive.


Profit-taking is a crucial yet often misunderstood concept in forex trading. Exiting winning trades at logical points is equally as important as entering them. Develop a plan for taking profits that matches your strategy and apply it with discipline.

Mastering profit-taking ultimately comes down to emotional control. Overcoming greed and fear will allow you to realize profits rather than giving back hard-earned gains. Professional traders view profit-taking as a routine part of the job like any other. Train yourself to pay yourself first and the money will compound.

With the techniques explained in this guide, you now have an arsenal of profit-taking tools to begin implementing in your own trading. Remember to be flexible and adaptable since no single method will work every time. Strive to continually improve your profit-taking strategy as you gain experience in the forex market.