The Basics of Options

What is an option?

An option contract gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation to buy/sell an underlying asset at a predetermined price on or before a specified time. The option buyer acquires a right, while the option seller takes on an obligation. It is the buyer’s prerogative to exercise the acquired right. If and when the right is exercised, the seller has to honor it. The underlying asset for option contracts may be stocks, indices, commodity futures, currency or interest rates.

What are the types of options?

Broadly speaking, options can be classified as ‘call’ options and ‘put’ options. When you buy a ‘call’ option, on a stock, you acquire a right to buy the stock. And when you buy a ‘put’ option, you acquire a right to sell the stock. You can also sell a ‘call’ option, in which, you will acquire an obligation to deliver the stock. And when you sell a ‘put’ option, you acquire an obligation to buy the stock.

What is an option premium?

Option premium is the consideration paid upfront by the option holder (buyer of the option) to the option writer (seller of the option). The option holder gets the right to buy / sell the underlying.

What is the strike price or the exercise price of the option?

The right or obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset is always at a predetermined price known as the ‘strike price’ or ‘exercise price’, which is linked to the prevailing price of the underlying asset in the cash market. Usually, option contracts are available on the underlying asset on various strike prices (generally, five or more)-divided equally on either side of its spot price.

The right or obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset is always at a predetermined price known as the ‘strike price’ or ‘exercise price’, which is linked to the prevailing price of the underlying asset in the cash market. Usually, option contracts are available on the underlying asset on various strike prices (generally, five or more)-divided equally on either side of its spot price.

Please Read

As always, consult an investment professional before buying or selling options. Never invest in something you don’t understand. Be sure to always read an investment’s prospectus or disclosure statement carefully. If you can’t understand the investment and how it will help you make money, ask a trusted financial professional for help. If you are still confused, you should think twice about investing.

Prior to buying or selling an option, investors must read a copy of the Characteristics & Risks of Standardized Options, also known as the options disclosure document (ODD). It explains the characteristics and risks of exchange traded options. A copy of this document and supplements can be found here.

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