What Is A Buy Stop Order And When Would You Use One?


A buy-stop order is a powerful tool in trading that allows investors to purchase a security at a pre-set price. This article explains the mechanics of buy-stop orders, their applications, and strategies for both protection and profit in trading.

A buy-stop order is a pivotal component of trading strategies, directing brokers to execute a purchase once a specified price level is reached. This order type applies to various assets like stocks, forex, and derivatives. When the designated price is hit, the buy stop transitions into a limit or market order, ready for execution at the next available price.

Basics of a buy-stop order

A buy-stop order is a strategic tool used by traders to automatically purchase a security once it reaches a specific price known as the stop price. Primarily, the buy-stop order acts as a safeguard, protecting against significant losses in short positions. At the same time, it allows traders to seize opportunities for profits when they anticipate upward movements in a security’s price. By setting the stop price above the current market value, investors are better poised to manage unexpected price jumps, effectively reducing potential risks.

Understanding the mechanics of buy-stop orders

The buy-stop order is conditional, meaning the order will not be executed until the security’s price hits or surpasses the preset stop price. Once triggered, the buy-stop order becomes a market order, directing the brokerage to buy the security at the best available price. However, it’s worth noting that due to market fluctuations, the execution price might slightly differ from the specified stop price.

Buy stop orders for risk management

One of the primary uses of buy-stop orders is in risk management, particularly for those involved in short selling. In short selling, traders borrow shares they believe will decline in value, aiming to buy them back later at a lower price for profit. However, if the stock’s price unexpectedly increases, the trader could incur significant losses. Here’s where buy-stop orders come into play. By placing a buy stop at a predefined stop price above their short position, traders can limit potential losses. If the stock price begins to surge, the order gets triggered, buying back the borrowed shares and covering the short position.

Buy stop orders for profitable breakouts

Beyond risk management, buy-stop orders can be instrumental for traders seeking to capitalize on anticipated price breakouts. In technical analysis, a breakout refers to when a security’s price moves beyond a defined support or resistance level with increased volume. Setting a buy stop slightly above the resistance level allows traders to catch the stock’s upward momentum as it breaks out. This strategy not only enables entry at a potentially profitable point but also can be combined with a stop-loss order to limit the downside.

Example of a buy-stop order

Imagine a scenario involving stock ABC, which has been trading within a range of $9 to $10. If a trader believes that the stock is on the brink of a breakout, they might set a buy-stop order at $10.20. Should the stock price ascend to $10.20 or higher, the buy-stop order is activated, converting into a market order. The system then proceeds to execute the purchase at the closest available price. Such orders prove beneficial for both jumping on bullish trends and for protective measures in short-selling scenarios.

Drawbacks and considerations

While buy-stop orders offer numerous advantages, they’re not without potential downsides. For instance, if the market is particularly volatile, a buy-stop order might execute at a significantly different price than expected. Additionally, the mere act of reaching the stop price doesn’t guarantee order execution, particularly in fast-moving markets or cases of limited stock availability. Therefore, traders should remain vigilant and adjust their strategies as market conditions evolve.

Buy-stop orders are a versatile and valuable tool for both seasoned traders and novices. By understanding their intricacies and potential drawbacks, investors can utilize them to bolster both their risk management strategies and profit-making potentials.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Strategic risk management
  • Profit from anticipated breakouts
  • Flexible application to various asset types
  • Potential for missed opportunities
  • Requires careful monitoring
  • May not guarantee execution at the desired price

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of a buy-stop order?

A buy-stop order serves the purpose of triggering a purchase when a specific price level is reached, allowing traders to capitalize on upward price movements or manage risks in short positions.

Can buy-stop orders be applied to various asset types?

Yes, buy-stop orders can be used for a wide range of assets, including stocks, forex, and derivatives, making them versatile tools in trading.

How does a buy-stop order differ from a limit order?

While a limit order sets a specific price at which a trader is willing to buy, a buy-stop order is only executed once the price reaches a pre-specified level, ensuring that the trade is initiated at an advantageous moment.

Are there risks associated with using buy-stop orders?

Yes, there are risks, such as the potential for missed opportunities if the price quickly surges past the set stop price. Traders should monitor their orders and be aware that execution may not always occur at the desired price.

How can I protect my position against losses using a buy-stop order?

Placing a buy-stop order above the opening price of a short position can protect against losses in case the price unexpectedly rises. This technique is often referred to as a stop-loss order.

Key takeaways

  • A buy-stop order triggers a purchase once a specific price is reached.
  • It is useful for both risk management and profiting from potential breakouts.
  • Traders can protect against losses in short positions and profit from upward movements.
  • Buy-stop orders can be applied to various assets, including stocks and forex.
View Article Sources
  1. Investor Tips – Nevada Secretary of State
  2. Types of Orders – Investor.gov
  3. A Comprehensive Guide to Buy Limit Orders: Definition, Pros & Cons, and Example – SuperMoney