Best Options Trading Platforms for May 2023 The Motley Fool

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With all this said, there are a few drawbacks to options trading you should know of. There will inevitably be situations where you suffer from time decay. And the closer you get to that date, the lower value your contract has.

spot price moves

You need to familiarize yourself with key terms, different types of contracts, and more. As we mentioned earlier, our previously linked introductory guide to stock options is a great starting point. There, you’ll learn the basics of options contracts and how they work. If you’re buying an options contract, you want it to be worth something as it approaches expiration.

If you want to speculate, smart money is moving slightly away from downside protection to capture more of the upside potential. Consider bull call spreads on stocks you like and perhaps even a synthetic long position in a recovery stock. Our dedicated Trader Service Team includes many former floor traders and Futures Specialists who share your passion for options trading.

Implied Volatility in Long Calls

Options trading is when you buy or sell an underlying asset at a pre-negotiated price by a certain future date. Options are complex financial instruments which can yield big profits — or big losses. Here’s what you need to know about how to trade options cautiously. Vega is the rate of change in an option’s theoretical value in response to a one-point change in implied volatility. Vega typically increases as implied volatility increases, because a more volatile stock has a greater chance of moving enough to end up in-the-money- before expiration. In relation to options, volatility is a measurement of the fluctuation in the market price of the underlying security.

As a starting point, consider a LEAPS call that is at least 20% of the stock price in-the-money. Whether you stick to buying and selling or also choose to exercise your options, there is an opportunity for versatility to increase profits and reduce loss. Except you’re not buying or selling the shares now, but are paying a premium for the ability to buy or sell in the future. Put option – Having a put option means you have the right to sell shares at the strike price by the expiration date. If you exercise your put option, the shares must be sold and you’ll collect the strike price for each. If you’re buying options, you should buy a call if you think prices will rise and buy a put if you think they will decrease.


Options trading is how investors can speculate on the future direction of the overall stock market or individual securities, like stocks or bonds. Options contracts give you the choice—but not the obligation—to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price by a specified date. The main disadvantage of options contracts is that they are complex and difficult to price. This is why options are often considered a more advanced investment vehicle, suitable only for experienced investors. In recent years, they have become increasingly popular among retail investors. Because of their capacity for outsized returns or losses, investors should make sure they fully understand the potential implications before entering into any options positions.


Brokerage firms screen potential options traders to assess their trading experience, their understanding of the risks and their financial preparedness. These details will be documented in an options trading agreement used to request approval from your prospective broker. Open interest refers to the number of outstanding contracts in a particular options market or an options contract.

  • You could exercise the option, buy shares at the stock price, immediately sell them at the higher stock price, and make a profit.
  • The “ask” price is the latest price offered by a market participant to sell a particular option.
  • However, there are very important differences in how they work.
  • The requirements for options trading may differ at each broker – and some brokers don’t offer it at all – so you’ll need to investigate what each requires, if you decide to enable that feature.

If you made a profitable trade, you can sell the option for a gain before expiration. If the option expires worthless, there’s nothing to be done. Calls give the contract holder the right to buy shares at the strike price. Puts give the contract holder the right to sell shares at the strike price.

Owning 100 physical shares at the current market price translates into $100,000 of total risk. However, a put option also gives you exposure to 100 shares, only for much less. A call option is a contract between a buyer and a seller to purchase a certain stock at a certain price up until a defined expiration date. The buyer of a call has the right, not the obligation, to exercise the call and purchase the stocks. On the other hand, the seller of the call has the obligation and not the right to deliver the stock if assigned by the buyer. Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors.

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For example, suppose a trader purchases a contract with 100 call options for a stock that’s currently trading at $10. The trader will recoup her costs when the stock’s price reaches $12. Before you can start trading options, you’ll have to prove you know what you’re doing.

  • When one party makes a profit, the other incurs a loss, and vice versa.
  • For example, a trader might hedge an existing bet made on the price increase of an underlying security by purchasing put options.
  • You can use put options to hedge your investments if you think stock prices are going to dive.
  • Used prudently, they can help you meet your investment objectives whether you’re looking to maximize the value of your portfolio , conserve its value, or generate additional income.

Plus, diversify into metals, energies, currencies and more. Tastywhat is grace period token has entered into a Marketing Agreement with tastylive (“Marketing Agent”) whereby tastytrade pays compensation to Marketing Agent to recommend tastytrade’s brokerage services. The existence of this Marketing Agreement should not be deemed as an endorsement or recommendation of Marketing Agent by tastytrade.

Here, we can think of using options like an insurance policy. Just as you insure your house or car, options can be used to insure your investments against a downturn. 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.

Buying a Call Option

Additionally, the platform is easy to use and offers access to more than just stock options trading. If you’re considering Robinhood, compare it to Webull as well. But if the market price skyrockets, you’ll have the opportunity to buy the shares at the lower strike price. When that happens, you can cash in by exercising your options or by selling your contract to another investor.

If the price remains well above the strike price through expiration, you’d keep the credit received up front as profit. You’d get to keep the premium of $500 without having to exchange 100 physical shares of the stock in this example. Conversely, the maximum potential loss is the premium paid to purchase the call options.

A short call: boosting income

Ignoring any brokerage commission or transaction fees, the trader’s portfolio will rise to $5,445, leaving the trader with a net dollar return of $495, or 10% on the capital invested. In a short put, the trader will write an option betting on a price increase and sell it to buyers. In this case, the maximum gains for a trader are limited to the premium amount collected.

In addition to writing for The Ascent and The Motley Fool, her work has also been featured regularly on MSN Money, CNBC, and USA Today. She also ghost writes textbooks, serves as a subject matter expert for online course design, and is a former college instructor. Compensation may impact the order of which offers appear on page, but our editorial opinions and ratings are not influenced by compensation. Trading psychology is a big part of being a successful option investor.

Remember, a delta of .80 means that if the stock rises $1, then in theory, the price of your option will rise $0.80. If delta is .90, then if the stock rises $1, in theory your options will rise $0.90, and so forth. The delta at each strike price will be displayed on Ally Invest’s Option Chains.

Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request. This is the price at which the owner of options can buy the underlying security when the option is exercised. For instance, XYZ 50 call options grants the owner the right to buy XYZ stock at $50, regardless of what the current market price is.

This is how the premium paid up front can be so low relative to buying/shorting shares outright in the market. Since your speculation was bullish or neutral, and the stock’s price fell below the strike price, you would have been incorrect on your directional assumption. Still though, you have the ability to obtain 100 shares of stock at a lower basis of $900 vs the $1,000 market price on trade entry, and you still keep the extrinsic value premium. Losses may still be realized though, so it’s important to be comfortable with risk on trade entry.

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Straddle refers to an options strategy in which an investor holds a position in both a call and put with the same strike price and expiration date. The market value of that home may have doubled to $800,000. But because the down payment locked in a predetermined price, the buyer pays $400,000.

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Traders expect the stock price to be below the strike price at expiration. If the stock finishes above the strike price, the owner must sell the stock to the call buyer at the strike price. Thereafter, the stock’s losses mean profits for the trader. But these profits are capped because the stock’s price cannot fall below zero. The losses are also capped because the trader can let the options expire worthless if prices move in the opposite direction. Therefore, the maximum losses that the trader will experience are limited to the premium amounts paid.

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If XYZ doesn’t rise above $55, Jane won’t exercise the option and will lose the $125 premium she paid. Imagine Jane wants to buy an option for XYZ, which is currently trading at $50. Jane believes that XYZ is going to increase in value, so she buys a call option with a strike price of $55. If you’re selling options, you should sell calls if you expect prices to fall, and sell puts if you expect them to rise. This will let you pocket the premium without worrying about the buyer exercising the contract. If the underlying asset remains steady or declines, you may decide to sell to recover at least part of your premium before the option expires worthless.

There’s an important point to note about the price you pay for options. Notice how buying one contract would cost $300, and this would grant the owner of the call options the right to buy 100 shares of XYZ Company at $50 a share. Options are what’s known as a derivative, meaning that they derive their value from another asset. Take stock options, where the price of a given stock dictates the value of the option contract. Nifty 50 options, for example, allow traders to speculate as to the future direction of this benchmark stock index, which is commonly understood as a stand-in for the entire Indian stock market.

In this sense, the call options provide the investor with a way to leverage their position by increasing their buying power. On the other hand, if that same investor already has exposure to that same company and wants to reduce that exposure, they could hedge their risk by selling put options against that company. Despite the prospect of unlimited losses, a short put can be a useful strategy if the trader is reasonably certain that the price will increase. The trader can buy back the option when its price is close to being in the money and generates income through the premium collected.

It offers some of the industry’s lowest costs for options trading, charging a commission only when opening a position. Its trading platform offers some of the best technologies designed by the team that pioneered retail options trading, making it an ideal choice for active traders. Caters to active traders with multiple options trading platforms, while also appealing to long-term investors with thousands of mutual funds and ETFs that can be traded commission-free. This is the last day the option contract is valid and is set by the writer of the options contract. If you don’t buy the stock by then, the option expires worthless and you lose the premium you paid. The seller of the option is obligated to sell the security to the buyer if the latter decides to exercise their option to make a purchase.

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