Day Vs GTC: Your Ultimate Guide to Trading Orders

The selection of your trading order type can greatly influence the results of your investment. In the trading world, we often switch back and forth between Day and Good-Till-Cancelled (GTC) orders – these are two common yet often muddled types of trading orders.

Understanding the order vs gtc order definitions, and strategic uses of them including limit and market orders, is essential to optimizing our trades and potentially increasing our investment returns.

So, let’s unravel the complexities of Day vs GTC orders, their limit and market prices, and examine how these two distinct order types can make or break your trading strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Day orders are valid only for the trading day and automatically cancelled if not executed.
  • GTC orders and stop orders remain active until cancelled or executed, demonstrating the usefulness of these orders because they can choose the side of your trade.
  • Day orders, used for quick moves on stocks based on daily market conditions, can also be asked to choose between limit prices to make sure you’re on the profitable side.
  • GTC orders are ideal when waiting for a specific price for a stock.

Understanding the Basics of Day and GTC Orders in Trading

Day Vs GTC featuring a Daytime stock exchange vs. moonlit trading desk, symbolizing Day and GTC orders.

In the world of stock trading, a Day Order is one type of trading order that a trader might use. When we place a Day Order, remain active for the current trading day, it’s only valid for that duration. If the order isn’t executed before the market closes, it’s automatically cancelled.

On the other hand, a GTC (Good Till Cancelled) Order or a limit buy order, both handled by the broker, are quite different. This type of trading order, where the order will fill, remains active until you decide to cancel it or the order is filled. It could stay open for days, weeks, even months.

We can place a GTC Order, which could stay open for 30 to 90 days and not have to worry about it expiring at the end of the day. It’s ideal when we’ve a specific limit price in mind for a stock and we’re willing to wait until the market reaches that price by placing a sell order.

How and When to Use a Day Order in Trading

Trader at desk, sunrise, highlighting a Day Order on screen.

Day orders, where an order will fill, are for executing a trade within a single trading day. It’s a favorite tool among both day traders and swing traders, thanks to its simplicity and brevity. Use a day order if you feel that the market conditions are right for trading stocks and if the trading day promises potential profit opportunities.

Given the volatile nature of markets, brokerages offer a day order as an effective way to maintain control when buying or selling a stock or option.

Here’s a brief rundown on how to use day orders:

  1. Monitor the market: Keep an eye on market trends and price fluctuations. Only place a day order as part of your strategy when you’ve bought a stock and the conditions look favorable, and consider it may only be active for the current day.
  2. Place the order: Input the details of your desired trade, including the type of security, number of shares, and price limit. Remember to select ‘Day Order’ before submitting.
  3. Manage your trade: Keep monitoring your trade throughout the day. If your order doesn’t execute by market close, take into account that it will automatically expire and someone needs to take the other side of your trade.

There are risks associated with day orders. For instance, rapid market fluctuations could lead to your order not getting filled, or worse, leading to losses. It’s vital to stay vigilant and proactive in your trading strategy, making adjustments whenever necessary to suit the market conditions.

How and When to Use a GTC Order in Trading

Trader, desk, split screen with sunrise and calendar, 'BUY' on GTC side.

If you’re an investor who prefers waiting for a specific price point, and are not in a rush to buy or sell, a Good Till Cancelled (GTC) order is ideal. Some may accept gtc orders as an alternative to day orders. We place it at a specific price and it remains active until we cancel it, or the trade is executed.


  • Allows investors to set a specific price for their trades.
  • The order remains active until it’s cancelled or executed.
  • Ideal for investors who aren’t in a hurry to buy or sell.


  • If the current stock price never reaches the specific price point, the GTC and sell limit order won’t fill, and thus not getting executed.

Comparing Day Order vs GTC Order: Which is Better for Your Trading Strategy?

Chess boards, one in daylight, one under moonlight, symbolizing trading orders.

When deciding between Day and GTC orders for our trading strategy, we need to consider several key factors, including market conditions and advice from experienced traders. Understanding the type of order like day order vs good till canceled (GTC) order definitions is the first step in making an informed decision.

The difference between day orders vs GTC orders can significantly impact our trading outcomes. Day orders are more suitable for fast, volatile markets where we want to seize short-term opportunities and where the order might get executed at the intended market price. On the other hand, GTC orders are ideal for longer-term strategies, where we’re willing to wait internally for the market price to reach our desired level.

However, we must also consider the risks of GTC orders. Staying open for longer periods exposes us to more market volatility which can affect the market price of your orders.

What is the Difference Between Day Trading and GTC (Good ‘Til Canceled) Orders?

Day trading involves buying and selling stocks within the same trading day, while GTC (Good ‘Til Canceled) orders remain in effect until they are either executed or canceled. Some brokerage platforms, like Robinhood, have day trade restrictions that limit the number of day trades a user can make within a certain time period.

Avoiding Common Missteps When Using Day and GTC Orders

Maze with 'Day Orders' and 'GTC Orders' lanes, leading to 'Successful Trading' trophy.

A common misstep when we place day orders isn’t monitoring the market closely, as the order might fill over the course of that day. Day orders get cancelled if they’re not executed by the end of the trading day. If you’re not attentive, you might miss favorable market movements. To avoid canceled or failed orders, keep an eye on the market and be ready to place a new order if necessary.

A pitfall with GTC orders is forgetting about them. GTC orders remain active until they’re executed or cancelled by you. If forgotten, they could lead to unintended trades when market conditions change. Regularly review your GTC orders and their limit prices to ensure they’re still in line with your trading strategy.

Managing risks associated with both order types, ‘Day Orders’ where the order might fill during the day and ‘GTC orders’, which are open longer, is crucial. A common mistake is not using stop loss orders or limit orders to limit potential losses. Whether you want to buy using day or GTC orders, it’s advisable to set a stop loss order or a limit order at a price point that you’re comfortable with to ensure you’re dealing with the market maker effectively. This helps to protect your capital from significant market downturns.


To include, both Day and GTC orders—including limit and market orders which are used if you want to take the other side of your trade—offer unique advantages that can uplift your trading strategy with a quality brokerage.

It’s essential to know when to use each order type, whether it’s a market order or a limit order, for maximum gains. Day orders are ideal for short-term strategies, while GTC orders work best for longer-term positions.

Avoiding common slips, such as not setting the order properly or neglecting market conditions, can optimize your trading success.

Remember, the right choice ultimately depends on your individual trading goals and risk tolerance; you may also be asked to choose between different types of orders because you can choose to take the other side of a trade.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a day order and a good till canceled (GTC) order?

A day order is only active for the current trading day, while a GTC order remains in effect until it is either filled or cancelled. It’s possible to receive a fill on either side of your trade.

When should I use day orders instead of GTC orders?

Day orders are suitable for traders who want their orders to be active for the current trading session only, whereas GTC orders are more appropriate for longer-term trading strategies.

Can I cancel a day order?

Yes, day orders can be canceled at any time before they are executed, as they are valid only for the duration of the current trading day.

What are the risks associated with GTC orders?

GTC orders carry the risk of being active for an extended period, potentially leading to the order being filled at a less favorable price than anticipated, especially in volatile market conditions.

What are the differences between day orders and GTC orders in terms of order types?

Brokerages offer a day order vs GTC order: Day orders are active for the specific trading day, and GTC orders remain effective until they fill or are canceled, providing different time frames for the execution of such orders.

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