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Understanding Realized and Unrealized Gains/Losses: A Guide for Cryptocurrency Traders


The cryptocurrency market is known for its volatility, and traders are well aware of the potential profits and losses resulting from price fluctuations. However, these gains and losses can be categorized into two types: “realized gains/losses” and “unrealized gains/losses.” In this article, we will clarify these concepts and explain how they can be utilized in decision-making for cryptocurrency trading.

What are Realized Gains/Losses?

Realized gains or losses occur when a cryptocurrency trade is completed. Specifically, if you purchase a currency and then sell it later, the difference between the selling price and the purchase price is your realized gain or loss. These gains or losses are confirmed by actual transactions and directly affect your asset status.


  • If you buy Cryptocurrency A for $1,000 and sell it for $1,200, you will have a realized gain of $200.
  • Conversely, if you buy it for $1,000 and sell it for $800, you will have a realized loss of $200.

What are Unrealized Gains/Losses?

Unrealized gains or losses indicate the extent to which the price of a cryptocurrency you hold has fluctuated from its purchase price. These gains or losses are also called “paper gains/losses” because they have not been realized through actual trading. They change according to market price fluctuations but do not affect your real asset status.


  • If you buy Cryptocurrency A for $1,000 and the current market price is $1,200, you have an unrealized gain of $200.
  • However, if the market price drops to $800, you will have an unrealized loss of $200.

The Importance of Realized and Unrealized Gains/Losses

  1. Decision-making: Unrealized gains/losses are important for understanding the performance of your held assets. However, the final gains or losses are determined by realized gains/losses, so your trading strategy should be based on realized gains/losses.
  2. Risk management: Unrealized gains/losses show the impact of market fluctuations and are an important indicator for risk management. On the other hand, realized gains/losses reflect your actual asset status and are directly related to fund management.
  3. Psychological factors: Unrealized gains/losses can sometimes lead to emotional decisions. It is important to make objective judgments based on realized gains/losses.


In cryptocurrency trading, understanding realized and unrealized gains/losses is essential for effective investment strategies and risk management. By utilizing these indicators well based on your own trading plan, without being swayed by market fluctuations, you can navigate the crypto market more effectively.