expand/collapse risk warning

CFDs come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should understand how CFDs work and consider if you can take the risk of losing your money.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

Trading Terms

Swap in trading: what are they and how do they work?

Swap in trading image: Two hands holding money against a blue background, representing a financial transaction involving cash flows exchange.

Are you a trader looking to shake up your risk management strategy? Swaps might just be the solution for you. But what actually are swaps in trading, and how do they work?

Swaps can seem complicated at first, but with this guide, we'll break down all the pieces of information traders need to understand these essential tools and incorporate them into their trading strategies. From getting acquainted with the basics of swaps to becoming knowledgeable on different types of swap contracts - you’ll have an accurate overview of what this tool is capable of and how it can help financial markets get more efficient. Get ready for a deep dive – let's begin!

What is a swap in trading: definition

A swap in trading is a unique agreement between two parties to exchange cash flows based on an underlying asset or index. The terms of the swap agreement usually specify the frequency and the amount of the cash flows to be exchanged, as well as the underlying financial instrument or reference rate used to calculate the cash flows.

Swaps can vary in complexity depending on how the agreement is structured, but ultimately one party will agree to receive or pay out a series of predetermined cash flows over time, depending on the performance of the underlying asset or index. As a result, swaps provide investors with increased financial flexibility and access to sophisticated trading strategies.

Ready to embark on your CFD trading journey?

Don't wait, explore our in-depth guide today!

Explore more

Types of swaps in finance

In finance, there are a multitude of different types of swaps, each offering a unique approach when it comes to accessing new resources or reducing risk.

  • Interest rate swaps provide an opportunity to fix long-term borrowing costs and reduce overall market fluctuations, while debt-equity swaps allow companies to obtain additional liquidity by converting outstanding debt into equity.
  • Currency swaps involve exchanging cash flows in different currencies, usually to manage currency risk for international businesses or investors.
  • Commodity swaps also represent a great tool for managing the volatility of certain goods prices
  • Credit default swaps involve exchanging cash flows based on the occurrence of a credit event, such as a default or bankruptcy, for a particular reference entity, such as a company or sovereign government.
  • Total return swaps involve exchanging the total return on a financial asset, such as a stock or bond, between two parties.
  • Equity swaps involve exchanging cash flows based on the performance of a stock index or a specific stock.

Of course, one must always consider both the pros and cons before taking any action. Varying restrictions, high transaction costs and complex legal aspects are a few of the downsides of using these trading methods.

How to execute a swap in trading? A step-by-step guide

Identifying the parties involved
The parties involved in the swap are typically a buyer and a seller. The buyer agrees to receive a cash flow stream based on a certain reference rate or financial instrument, while the seller agrees to pay a cash flow stream based on the same reference rate or financial instrument.
Negotiating the terms
The parties must negotiate the specific terms of the swap, including the notional amount, the frequency of the cash flows, the underlying reference rate or financial instrument, and any other relevant details. These terms are typically set out in a swap agreement.
Executing the swap agreement
Once the parties have agreed to the terms, they sign the swap agreement and exchange any necessary collateral.
Tracking the cash flows
Over the life of the swap, the parties must track the cash flows and ensure that they are being paid and received according to the terms of the swap agreement.
Settling the swap
At the end of the swap term, the parties settle the swap by exchanging the final cash flows based on the terms of the swap agreement.

Swaps can be executed over-the-counter (OTC) or on organized exchanges. OTC swaps are typically customized to meet the specific needs of the parties, while exchange-traded swaps are standardized contracts that can be easily traded on the exchange.

Common pitfalls to avoid when doing swaps in trading

Swap trading can be profitable if done thoughtfully, but it is important to note the potential pitfalls that could cause costly mistakes.

One of the most common missteps to avoid when swapping in trading is not properly assessing whether one of the pairs involved is overvalued or undervalued; an ungrounded decision may lead to a lop-sided ratio and an unfavourable outcome.

Additionally, another false move when trading swaps is not factoring in unexpected outside influences; think economic trends and inflation rates, since these have the potential to significantly impact swap valuations. Being aware of what impacts your trade will help you make more informed decisions when executing swaps.

Are swaps regulated?

Investors are usually curious if swaps are regulated in the financial market, and the answer to this is a resounding yes. To limit risk, regulatory bodies such as CySEC set forth a framework of rules and guidelines that have to be met in order for a swap to take place.

In adhering to their regulations, these organizations ensure the safety of both known and unknown parties involved in the trading process, protecting them from possible fraud or scams stemming from unregulated swaps.

Although there is usually an element of risk in any sort of financial transaction, with an understanding of the regulations put into place by institutions such as CySEC, investors can rest assured knowing that any potential losses associated with swaps have been minimized.


To sum up, swaps are financial instruments used in trading to exchange cash flows between two parties based on a reference rate or financial instrument. There are various types of swaps, including interest rate swaps, currency swaps, commodity swaps, credit default swaps, total return swaps, and equity swaps.

Swaps are used to manage financial risks, such as interest rate risk or currency risk, and also used for speculation or investment purposes. It is important to understand swaps and their various types, as they are complex financial instruments that require a high level of expertise and knowledge of financial markets. Understanding swaps can help investors and traders manage financial risks and make informed investment decisions.

Best CFD broker for day trading

Speculate on the price movement of 1200+ CFD instruments including 60+ cryptos, stocks, commodities, forex & more with Skilling, 2023 global award winning CFD broker.

  • Fast execution
  • Reliability
  • Low cost

Learn more


1. What is a swap in trading?

A swap in trading is a derivative contract through which two parties exchange financial instruments, often to hedge risks or gain exposure to different types of assets or markets.

2. What are the types of swaps in finance?

The most common types of swaps are interest rate swaps, currency swaps, commodity swaps, and credit default swaps. Each serves different purposes and involves different kinds of assets.

3. How do you execute a swap in trading?

Executing a swap involves entering into an agreement with another party where the terms of the swap are clearly defined, such as the type of swap, the assets involved, and the duration of the swap.

4. Why are swaps used in trading?

Swaps are used to manage risk, speculate on future market movements, or change the type or duration of exposure without having to buy or sell the underlying asset.

5. Are swaps risky?

Like any financial instrument, swaps carry risk. The primary risk is that the other party will not fulfill their obligations under the contract. Other risks include market, liquidity, and legal risks.

6. How are swaps valued?

Swaps are usually valued at net present value (NPV). This involves calculating the present value of the expected future cash flows of the swap.

7. Can anyone trade swaps?

While theoretically anyone can trade swaps, in practice, they are mainly used by financial institutions and large corporations due to their complexity and the high level of risk management required.

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.