What is Options Trading?

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Important legal information about the email you will be sending. By using this service, you agree to input your real email address and only how to do option trading it to people you know. It is a violation of law in some jurisdictions to falsely identify yourself in an email. All information you provide will be used by Fidelity solely for the purpose of sending the email on your behalf. The subject line of the email you send will be "Fidelity.

There's a lot to learn when it comes to trading options, but we have the tools to help give you the confidence to put together a strategy.

When you're ready to start, you can add options trading to your accounts. An option is a contract between a buyer and a seller. When you buy an option, you have a contract that gives you the right not the obligation to purchase or sell an underlying security, such as a stock, at a set price within a specific time frame.

When you sell an option, you are obligated to buy or sell the underlying security if the buyer exercises his or her option. If the option isn't exercised or assigned by the expiration date, the contract expires. Visit our Learning Center to find several courses on options trading.

You may want to start with our introduction to options video. There are different ways to trade options, resulting in various types of options strategies. Each strategy bears different risks and has a range of approval how to do option trading.

Before you place your order, you'll need to complete an options application, have an options agreement on file, and be approved for the how to do option trading option level for the strategy you wish to trade. The options application asks for a snapshot of your current financial situation so be ready to provide your:.

We'll let you know which option level you're approved to trade—either by email in 1 to 2 days or by U. Mail in 3 to 5 days—based on your delivery preferences. Or call us after 48 hours atand we can provide you with your approval information. You'll need sufficient cash or margin buying power in your account before placing an order.

Options trading strategies involve varying degrees of risk and complexity. Not all strategies are suitable for all investors. There are five levels of options trading approval, and the approval requirements are greater for each additional level since there's more risk for you and Fidelity. Your financial situation, trading experience, and investment objectives are taken into consideration for approval.

An Options Agreement is part of the Options Application. To trade options on margin, you need a Margin Agreement on file with Fidelity.

After you log in how to do option trading Fidelity, you can review the Margin and Options Log In Required page to see if you have an agreement. If you do not have a Margin Agreement, you must either add margin or use cash. Typically, how to do option trading options are traded according to a particular multi-leg options trading strategy. With a call option, the buyer has the right to buy shares how to do option trading the underlying security at a specified price for a specified time period.

With a put option, the buyer has the right to sell shares of the underlying security at a specified price for a specified period of time. Margin trading entails greater risk, including, but not limited to, risk of loss and incurrence of margin interest debt, and is not suitable for all investors. Please assess your financial circumstances and risk tolerance before trading on margin. There are additional costs associated with option strategies that call for multiple purchases and sales of options, such as spreads, straddles, and collars, as compared with a single option trade.

Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request. Skip to Main Content. Send to Separate multiple email addresses with commas Please enter a valid how to do option trading address.

Your email address Please enter a valid email address. How to Add Options Trading to Your Account There's a lot to learn when it comes to trading options, but we have the how to do option trading to help give you the confidence to put together a strategy. What do I need to know? The options application asks for a snapshot of your current financial situation so be ready to provide your: What to expect We'll let you know which option level you're approved to trade—either by email in 1 to 2 days or by U.

Expand all Collapse all. What are option levels? The option trades allowed for each of the five options trading levels: Level 1 is a covered call writing of equity options.

Note that customers who are approved to trade option spreads in retirement accounts are considered approved for Level 2. Level 3 includes Levels 1 and 2, plus equity spreads and covered put writing.

Level 4 includes Levels 1, 2, and 3, plus uncovered naked writing of equity options and uncovered writing of straddles or combinations on equities. Level 5 includes Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus uncovered writing of index options, uncovered writing of straddles or combinations on indexes, and index spreads. A new options application and a Spreads Agreement must be submitted at the same time and approved prior to placing any spread transaction. Please enter a valid ZIP code.

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When most people think of investment, they think of buying stocks on the stock market, and many are probably completely unaware of terms like options trading.

Buying stocks and holding on to them with a view to making long term gains is after all, one of the more common investment strategies.

It's also a perfectly sensible to way invest, providing you have some idea about which stocks you should be buying or use a broker that can offer you advice and guidance on such matters.

These days, many investors are choosing to use a more active investment style in order to try and make more immediate returns. Thanks to the range of online brokers that enable investors to make transactions on the stock exchanges with just a few clicks of their mouse, it's relatively straightforward for investors to be more active if they wish to. There are many people that trade online on either a part time or a full time basis; buying and selling regularly to try and take advantage of shorter term price fluctuations and often holding on to their purchases for just a few weeks or days, or even just a couple of hours.

There are plenty of financial instruments that can be actively traded. Options, in particular have proved to be very popular among traders and options trading is becoming more and more common. On this page we have provided some useful information on what is involved in options trading and how it works. In very simple terms options trading involves buying and selling options contracts on the public exchanges and, broadly speaking, it's very similar to stock trading.

Whereas stock traders aim to make profits through buying stocks and selling them at a higher price, options traders can make profits through buying options contracts and selling them at a higher price.

Also, in the same way that stock traders can take a short position on stock that they believe will go down in value, options traders can do the same with options contracts.

In practice however, this form of trading is far more versatile than stock trading. For one thing, the fact that options contracts can be based on wide variety of underlying securities means that there is plenty of scope when it comes to deciding how and where to invest.

Traders can use options to speculate on the price movement of individual stocks, indices, foreign currencies, and commodities among other things and this obviously presents far more opportunities for potential profits.

The real versatility, though, is in the various options types that can be traded and the range of different orders that can be placed. When trading stocks you basically have two main ways of making money, through taking either a long position or a short position on a specific stock. If you expected a particular stock to go up in value, then you would take a long position by buying that stock with a view to selling it later at a higher price.

If you expected a particular stock to go down in value, then you would take a short position by short selling that stock with a hope to buying it back later at a lower price.

In options trading, there's more choice in the way trades can be executed and many more ways to make money. It should be made clear that options trading is a much more complicated subject than stock trading and the whole concept of what is involved can seem very daunting to beginners. There is certainly a lot you should learn before you actually get started and invest your money. With that being said, however, most of the fundamentals aren't actually that difficult to comprehend.

Once you have grasped the basics, it becomes much easier to understand exactly what options trading is all about. Buying an options contract is in practice no different to buying stock. You are basically taking a long position on that option, expecting it to go up in value. You can buy options contracts by simply choosing exactly what you wish to buy and how many, and then placing a buy to open order with a broker.

This order was named as such because you are opening a position through buying options. If your options do go up in value, then you can either sell them or exercise your option depending on what suits you best. We provide more information on selling and exercising options later. One of the big advantages of options contracts is that you can buy them in situations when you expect the underlying asset to go up in value and also in situations when you expect the underlying asset to go down.

If you were expecting an underlying asset to go up in value, then you would buy call options, which gives you the right to buy the underlying asset at a fixed price.

If you were expecting an underlying asset to go down in value, then you would buy put options, which gives you the right to sell the underlying asset at a fixed price. This is just one example of the flexibility on these contracts; there are several more. If you have previously opened a short position on options contracts by writing them, then you can also buy those contracts back to close that position. To close a position by buying contracts you would place a buy to close order with your broker.

There are basically two ways in which you can sell options contracts. First, if you have previously bought contracts and wish to realize your profits, or cut your losses, then you would sell them by placing a sell to close order.

The order is named as such because you are closing your position by selling options contracts. You would usually use that order if the options you owned had gone up in value and you wanted to take your profits at that point, or if the options you owned had fallen in value and you wanted to exit your position before incurring any other losses. The other way you can sell options is by opening a short position and short selling them. This is also known as writing options, because the process actually involves you writing new contracts to be sold in the market.

When you do this you are taking on the obligation in the contract i. Writing options is done by using the sell to open order, and you would receive a payment at the time of placing such an order. This is generally riskier than trading through buying and then selling, but there are profits to be made if you know what you are doing. You would usually place such an order if you believed the relevant underlying security would not move in such a way that the holder would be able to exercise their option for a profit.

For example, if you believed that a particular stock was going to either remain static or fall in value, then you could choose to write and sell call options based on that stock. You would be liable to potential losses if the stock did go up in value, but if it failed to do so by the time the options expired you would keep the payment you received for writing them. Options traders tend to make their profits through the buying, selling, and writing of options rather than ever actually exercising them.

However, depending on the strategies you are using and the reasons you have bought certain contracts, there may be occasions when you choose to exercise your options to buy or sell the underlying security. The simple fact that you can potentially make money out of exercising as well as buying and selling them further serves to illustrate just how much flexibility and versatility this form of trading offers.

What really makes trading options such an interesting way to invest is the ability to create options spreads. You can certainly make money trading by buying options and then selling them if you make a profit, but it's the spreads that are the seriously powerful tools in trading. A spread is quite simply when you enter a position on two or more options contracts based on the same underlying security; for example, buying options on a specific stock and also writing contracts on the same stock.

There are many different types of spreads that you can create, and they can be used for many different reasons. Most commonly, they are used to either limit the risk involved with taking a position or reducing the financial outlay required with taking a position. Most options trading strategies involve the use of spreads. Some strategies can be very complicated, but there are also a number of fairly basic strategies that are easy to understand.

You can read more about all the different types of spreads here. There are actually a number of benefits this form of trading offers, plus the versatility that we have referred to above. It's continuing to grow in popularity, not just with professional traders but also with more casual traders as well. To find out just what it is that makes it so appealing, please read the next page in this section — Why Trade Options? What is Options Trading? Section Contents Quick Links.

What Does Options Trading Involve? Below we explain in more detail all the various processes involved. Buying Options Buying an options contract is in practice no different to buying stock. Exercising Options Options traders tend to make their profits through the buying, selling, and writing of options rather than ever actually exercising them.

Options Spreads What really makes trading options such an interesting way to invest is the ability to create options spreads. Benefits of Trading Options There are actually a number of benefits this form of trading offers, plus the versatility that we have referred to above. Read Review Visit Broker.