What is Options Trading?

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  • 04 Dec 2023
What are Options and What is Options Trading?

Key Takeaways

  • With options trading, you can buy or sell stocks, ETFs, etc., at a specific price within a specific time frame. Additionally, this type of trading gives buyers the option not to buy the security at a specified price or date.

  • Option trading strategies include long call options, short call options, long put options, short put options, long straddle options, and short straddle options.

  • The three main options trading scenarios are In-the-Money, At-the-Money, and Out-of-the-Money.

  • The advantages of options trading include leverage, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, Options Strategies, and hedging.

  • In the stock market, there are two types of options: call and put. The term "call option" refers to an option to buy a stock, and the term "put option" refers to an option to sell a stock.

Options trading is a form of investment that involves the buying and selling of financial contracts called options. Options give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a predetermined price within a specific timeframe.

Call options give the holder the right to buy the underlying asset, while put options give the holder the right to sell the underlying asset. Traders can profit from options trading by speculating on the direction of the underlying asset's price movement or by using options as a risk management tool to hedge their existing positions.

Options trading involves various factors such as strike price, expiration date, and option premium, which is the cost of the option contract. It requires an understanding of market dynamics, risk management, and the use of different options trading strategies to maximize potential returns. The right to buy a security is known as ‘Call’, while the right to sell is called ‘Put’.

They can be used as:

  • Leverage: Options trading helps you profit from changes in share prices without putting down the full price of the share. You get control over the shares without buying them outright.

  • Hedging: They can also be used to protect you from fluctuations in the price of a share and let you buy or sell the shares at a predetermined price for a specified period of time. One of the integral parts of hedging yourself against market fluctuations is to do financial planning. Here’s what Financial planning is and why it is important.

Though they have their advantages, options trading is more complex than trading in regular shares. It calls for a good understanding of trading and investment practices as well as constant monitoring of market fluctuations to protect against losses.

Options trading offers several advantages, including:

  1. Leverage: One of the main advantages of trading options is leverage. Trades in options only require a premium payment, not the entire transaction value. As a result, traders can take on high-value positions with a low capital requirement.

  2. Cost Effectiveness: Options allow traders to use less capital and earn a profit. There is a much higher return on investment than in other investment avenues. Due to the modest premium amount, options have a high-cost efficiency.

  3. Risk Involved: The risk associated with options is relatively lower than that of futures or cash markets. Options carry a risk of loss equal to the premium paid. However, writing or selling options may carry more risk than purchasing an underlying asset.

  4. Options Strategies: Options trading also offers the possibility of profiting in both rising and falling markets. There may be times when you are unsure about the direction in which the price will move, but you expect a significant shift in price. It is common for quarterly results, budgets, and changes in top management to cause uncertainty. By combining options, a trader can create a strategy that generates gains regardless of the direction of the underlying asset's price.

  5. Flexible Tool: Options offer more investment options and are flexible tools. Aside from the price movement, investors can also gain from time and volatility movements.

  6. Hedging: Using options reduces the risk associated with current holdings and acts as a hedging tool. Traders can virtually eliminate any risk associated with trade by combining options.

Options trading involves buying and selling financial contracts called options. Call options give the holder the right to buy the underlying asset at a predetermined price, while put option give the holder the right to sell the underlying asset at a predetermined price. Traders can profit from options trading based on the movement of the underlying asset, and the profitability depends on factors such as the strike price and market volatility.

The following are the strategies in options trading:

A long call options strategy involves buying call options on a stock or asset. This gives the right but not an obligation to buy an asset at a predetermined price.

In a short call option strategy, an investor sells call options on something they don't own. If the buyer exercises the contract, they are obligated to sell the asset at the strike price.

Long put options involve purchasing a put option on a particular asset. The investor uses this strategy when the asset price drops significantly.

A short put options strategy involves selling put options on an asset you don't own. The investor uses this strategy when they think the asset's price will stay the same or rise.

It involves simultaneously buying a call option and a put option with the same strike price and expiration date on the same asset. This strategy is used when an investor expects significant price movement.

Short straddle options trading strategy involves selling both calls and put options with the same strike price and expiration date on the same asset.

The following are the key participants in the options market.

  1. Option Buyer: The trader who purchases the right to exercise his option on the seller/writer by paying the premium.

  2. Option Writer/Seller: The trader who gets the option premium. So, in case the buyer exercises the option the seller must sell or purchase the asset.

  3. Call Option: A call option gives its holder the choice, but not the obligation to purchase an asset before a specific date at a predetermined price.

  4. Select Option: A put option gives its holder the choice, but not the obligation to sell the asset at a predetermined price before a specific date.

When you are trading in the derivatives segment, you will come across many terms that may seem alien. Here are some Options-related jargons you should know about.

To know about the jargons related to Futures, click here.

  1. Premium: Option premium is the amount that an option buyer must pay the option seller.

  2. Date of Expiration: The expiry date is the particular date specified in an option contract. It is also called the exercise date.

  3. Strike Price: The strike price is the amount at which the contract is entered. It is often referred to as the exercise price.

  4. Stocks Options: The underlying asset of these options is a stock. The holder of the contract is entitled to purchase or sell the underlying shares at the predetermined price. In India the American method of settlement is authorised for these options.

  5. Index Options: These are the options when the underlying asset is an index. In India European-style settlement is allowed. Bank Nifty options and Nifty options are a few popular examples.

  6. Strike Price Intervals: These are the different strike prices at which an options contract can be traded. These are determined by the exchange on which the assets are traded.

There are typically at least 11 strike prices declared for every type of option in a given month - 5 prices above the spot price, 5 prices below the spot price and one price equivalent to the spot price.

Following strike parameter is currently applicable for options contracts on all individual securities in NSE Derivative segment:

Profitability Scenario in Options

Profitability scenarios in options trading include:

Underlying Closing Price Strike Price Interval No. of Strikes Provided In the money- At the money- Out of the money No. of additional strikes which may be enabled intraday in either direction
Less than or equal to Rs.50
> Rs.50 to = Rs.100
> Rs.100 to = Rs.250
> Rs.250 to = Rs.500
> Rs.500 to = Rs.1000
> Rs.1000

The number of contracts provided in options on index is based on the range in previous day’s closing value of the underlying index and applicable as per the following table:

Index Level Strike Interval Scheme of Strike to be introduced
upto 2000
>2001 upto 4000
>4001 upto 6000
  1. Expiration Date: A future date on or before which the options contract can be executed. Options contracts have three different durations you can pick from:
  • Near month (1 month)
  • Middle Month (2 months)
  • Far Month (3 months)

Please note that long terms options are available for Nifty index. Futures & Options contracts typically expire on the last Thursday of the respective months, post which they are considered void.

  1. The American Option: American options can be exercised at any time up to its expiry date.

  2. The European Choice: You can exercise the European options only on its expiry date.

  3. Lot Size: Lot size refers to a fixed number of units of the underlying asset that form part of a single F&O contract. The standard lot size is different for each stock and is decided by the exchange on which the stock is traded. E.g. options contracts for Reliance Industries have a lot size of 250 shares per contract.

  4. Open Interest: Open Interest refers to the total number of outstanding positions on a particular options contract across all participants in the market at any given point of time. Open Interest becomes nil past the expiration date for a particular contract.

Let us understand with an example: If trader A buys 100 Nifty options from trader B where both traders A and B are entering the market for the first time, the open interest would be 100 futures or two contract.

The next day, Trader A sells her contract to Trader C. This does not change the open interest, as a reduction in A’s open position is offset by an increase in C’s open position for this particular asset. Now, if trader A buys 100 more Nifty Futures from another trader D, the open interest in the Nifty Futures contract would become 200 futures or 4 contracts

Profitability scenarios in options trading include:

  • In-the-Money Option

ITM options lead to positive cash flows for the holder if they are exercised immediately.

In the case of a call option on the index, if the current index value is greater than the strike price (spot price > strike price), the option is said to be in-the-money.

  • At-the-Money Option

An ATM option is one that provides zero cash flow (no profit/no loss) if it is exercised immediately.

As an example, if the current index value equals the strike price (spot price = strike price), then the option is ATM.

  • Out-of-the-Money Option

When a contract is out of the money (OTM), it would result in a negative cash flow if exercised immediately.

It is called an out-of-the-money option if the index value is lower than the strike price (spot price <strike price).


Options are flexible financial instruments. So, options trading offers traders plenty of opportunities in all kinds of markets. Even though options are risky, traders can choose low-risk basic strategies. Investors avoiding risk can also use options to boost overall profits from their investments. However, before making an investment, it is crucial to assess the risk. Traders should be patient and have a thorough understanding of the share market and various securities. In addition, always make an appropriate strategy before investing in options.

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FAQs on What is Option Trading?

An option to buy a stock is called a call option, and an option to sell a stock is called a put option.

Call and Put are the two types of options in the stock market.

In India, options trading was started on June 4, 2001.

The prerequisites for trading options in India include having a Demat and Trading account with a registered brokerage, completing the KYC process, and being at least 18 years of age and financially eligible. Having sufficient margins, understanding risk, and obtaining approval for options trading is essential. To stay on top of market trends, it is recommended that you seek professional advice.

An Option gives you the right but not the obligation to buy or sell stocks, ETFs, etc. at a specific price within a specific date.

Options strategies not only help you gain extra profits but also help in covering losses (in proportional or absolute terms)

While it is a little more complex than stock trading, options trading can help you make relatively larger profits if the price of the security goes up.

Open an online trading account with Kotak Securities. Place an order with your broker, specifying the details of the contract, expiry month, contract size, and so on. Hand over the margin money to the broker, who will then get in touch with the exchange. The exchange will find you a seller (if you are a buyer) or a buyer (if you are a seller).

The suitability of options trading versus stocks depends on individual preferences and risk tolerance. Options trading offers different strategies and the potential for higher returns but also carries higher risks compared to traditional stock trading.

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