Options Trading Center

In finance, an option is a contract which gives the buyer (the owner or holder of the option) the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price on a specified date, depending on the form of the option.

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Your Education Snapshot:

All investors should know how to trade options and have a portion of their portfolio set aside for option trades. Not only do options provide great opportunities for leveraged plays; they can also.

Keeping these four scenarios straight is crucial: Here is the important distinction between holders and writers:. Don't worry if this seems confusing — the important thing to know that there are these 4 fundamental scenarios to be aware of. This is the price a stock price must go above for calls or go below for puts before a position can be exercised for a profit. The index had to fall below on or before expiration to be exercised for a profit.

Listed options have fixed strike prices and expiration dates. Each listed option represents shares of stock known as 1 contract. ABC April 50 Call. ABC April 50 Put. The amount by which an option is in-the-money is also referred to as its intrinsic value. The Call is out-of-the-money and also has no intrinsic value. The Put is out-of-the-money and also has no intrinsic value.

The Call is at-the-money and also has no intrinsic value. The Put is at-the-money and also has no intrinsic value. Remember, the total cost the price of an option contract is called the premium.

This price is determined by a few factors, including:. Many companies use stock options as a way to attract and to keep talented employees, especially management. They are similar to regular stock options in that the holder has the right but not the obligation to purchase company stock. The employee stock option contract, however, exists only between the holder and the company. It typically cannot be exchanged with anybody else.

A listed option however, is a contract between two parties that is completely unrelated to the company and can be traded freely. Call and Put Options Options Basics: How Options Work Options Basics: Types of Options Options Basics: Options Spreads Options Basics: Options Risks Options Basics: Call and Put Options Think of a call option as a down-payment for a future purpose.

See below another excerpt from my Options for Beginners course where I introduce the concept of put options: These examples demonstrate some very important points: Buying and Selling Calls and Puts: Four Cardinal Coordinates Buying a stock gives you a long position. Here is the important distinction between holders and writers: Call holders and put holders buyers are not obligated to buy or sell.

They have the choice to exercise their rights. This limits the risk of buyers of options to only the premium spent. This means that a seller may be required to make good on a promise to buy or sell. It also implies that option sellers have exposure to more, and in some cases unlimited , risks. This means writers can lose much more than the price of the options premium. Options Terminology To really understand options, you need to know the options market terminology.

A put option is in-the-money when the share price is below the strike price. This price is determined by a few factors, including: Find out four simple ways to profit from call and put options strategies. Brokerage firms screen potential options traders to assess their trading experience, their understanding of the risks in options and their financial preparedness. Before you can start trading options, a broker will determine which trading level to assign to you.

Based on your answers, the broker assigns you an initial trading level typically 1 to 4, though a fifth level is becoming more common that is your key to placing certain types of options trades. Screening should go both ways. The broker you choose to trade options with is your most important investing partner. Finding the broker that offers the tools, research, guidance and support you need is especially important for investors who are new to options trading.

For more information on the best options brokers, read our detailed roundup to compares costs, minimums and other features. Or answer a few questions and get a recommendation of which ones are best for you. In order to place the trade, you must make three strategic choices:. This determines what type of options contract you take on. A call option is a contract that gives you the right, but not the obligation, to buy a stock at a predetermined price called the strike price within a certain time period.

A put option gives you the right, but not the obligation, to sell shares at a stated price before the contract expires. If the stock does indeed rise above the strike price, your option is in the money. If the stock drops below the strike price, your option is in the money. Option quotes, technically called option chains, contain a range of available strike prices. The price you pay for an option has two components: The price you pay for an option, called the premium, has two components: Intrinsic value is the difference between the strike price and the share price, if the stock price is above the strike.

Time value is whatever is left, and factors in how volatile the stock is, the time to expiration and interest rates, among other elements. Every options contract has an expiration date that indicates the last day you can exercise the option. Your choices are limited to the ones offered when you call up an option chain. Expiration dates can range from days to months to years. Daily and weekly options tend to be the riskiest and are reserved for seasoned option traders.

For long-term investors, monthly and yearly expiration dates are preferable. Longer expirations give the stock more time to move and time for your investment thesis to play out. A longer expiration is also useful because the option can retain time value, even if the stock trades below the strike price. If a trade has gone against them, they can usually still sell any time value remaining on the option — and this is more likely if the option contract is longer. Options trading can be complicated.

That education can come in many forms, including:. How to open a brokerage account.