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If you bought bitcoin on April 1, here's how much richer you'd be

Money logo Money 5/1/2018 Brad Tuttle
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After a brutal start to the year for cryptocurrency investors, bitcoin bounced back big time in April.

As of April 1, each unit of bitcoin was selling for $6,816, roughly one-third of the value that bitcoin hit at its peak (near $20,000) last December. At the end of April, though, bitcoin was worth roughly $9,300. That’s an increase of 36% during the month. In other words, if you bought $1,000 worth of bitcoin at the start of April, you’d be $360 richer right now. (All of the bitcoin values in this story come from the cryptocurrency info site Coindesk.)

When is the best time to buy bitcoin in general? Well, it’s impossible to predict the future performance of any investment, and cryptocurrencies are especially volatile and unpredictable. So figuring out exactly when to buy and sell bitcoin is essentially a guessing game.

Still, it’s interesting to look back at the extraordinary fluctuations in bitcoin prices over the last half-year, when it’s been up nearly 50% over the course of one month, down close to 40% in another.

What was the best recent month for buying bitcoin? We were curious about which period would have been best (and worst) for a theoretical short-term investor who scooped up some bitcoin at the beginning of the month and unloaded it by month’s end. Here are the numbers:

November 1: $6,750

November 30: $9,916

Increase: 47%

December 1: $10,859

December 31: $13,860

Increase: 28%

January 1: $13,412

January 31: $10,166

Decrease: 32%

February 1: $9,052

February 28: $10,309

Increase: 14%

March 1: $10,907

March 31: $6,926

Decrease: 36%

April 1: $6,816

April 30: ~$9,300

Increase: 36%

As you can see, November 2017 was the best time in the last six months for a theoretical investor to buy and sell bitcoin over one month’s time. If you’d invested $10,000 in bitcoin at the beginning of last November, you would have been up $4,700 by the end of the month.

On the flip side, January and March were both stinkers for bitcoin, when the cryptocurrency’s value declined 32% and 36%, respectively.

Even though the data above reveals some of bitcoin’s steep ups and downs, they don’t show the even wilder price fluctuations within some of the months. For example, over a two-day stretch (December 5 to 7), bitcoin soared from $11,696 to $16,858. That’s an increase of 44% — over just two days!

Coindesk data indicates that bitcoin closed at its all-time highest price on December 16, when each unit was worth a whopping $19,343. If you’d invested at the start of that month, when bitcoin was worth $10,859, you would have been up 78% at the point.

As for the worst times to buy bitcoin, those have come in abundance lately as well. For example, on Feb. 3, bitcoin was trading at $9,224. By Feb. 5, it was down to $6,914, for a two-day decline of 25%.

Investors would have been in even worse shape if they’d purchased bitcoin a few days earlier. As of Jan. 28, bitcoin was worth $11,694. When it hit that $6,914 low on February 5, that represented a decline of 40% in a little over a week.

If you were a longer-term investor in bitcoin — holding on to the investment for, say, a full year before selling — 2017 would have been an awesome time to do it. Bitcoin was trading at a mere $985 on January 1, 2017, and was up to $13,860 on New Year’s Eve. That’s a return on investment of 1,307%.

And if you’d bought at the start of 2017 and somehow managed to time the market perfectly and sold at the record high on Dec. 16 — when bitcoin was at $19,343 — your return would have been an insane 1,863%. In other words, if you bought $10,000 worth of bitcoin on Jan. 1, 2017, and sold on Dec. 16, your gross profit would have been close to $190,000.

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