What are Option Spreads?




If we want to use full power and flexibility of options trading, we must spend time in learning what are Option Spreads.  

If you are buying a call or a put option, what you are doing is, you are trading in a single contract or we can say single ‘leg’. But if you are trading in multiple contracts or multiple ‘legs’ which are related to each other, it can be termed as a spread. So buying a call option and as well as selling a call option is one kind of spread. Similarly, buying a call option and buying a put option can be another kind of spread.

Although spread trading seems to be pretty simple in concept, but it becomes more complex in practice as we need to take care of market movements and its implications on overall spread profit and loss. One might think that how is it possible to make profit or loss when simultaneously we are buying and selling a call, since both will behave in similar fashion with move in the market. Yes, you are right but the trick lies in choosing different strike prices.

So according to your view of market, different kinds of spreads can be created. The benefit of creating a spread vis a vis a naked buying and selling of call and put is that it reduces your risk, considerably. And in trading options, if we are able to manage risk, we can be sure of profits. So to understand spread, we have different classifications. The most simple classification of a spread can be based on the option premium involved.

With this classification, the spreads can be classified as :-

  1. Credit Spreads – Credit spreads are spreads which will give credit to your account in terms of premium. For example, if you are selling a call  and selling a put, premium of both call and put will be credited to your account and hence this is known as a credit spread. Please bear in mind that for selling a call and a put you will require margin money in your account, which obviously will get blocked. But in terms of premium of call and put, you are getting credit and hence this is known as credit spread.

 

  1. Debit Spreads – As the name suggests, if you create a position which is taking money from your account (in terms of premium), it will be a debit spread. For example – if you are buying a call and buying a put, you need to pay the premiums of both call and put to the market and hence the money will flow out from your account and hence it is known as debit spread.

 

Things cannot be simpler than this. So, what are the different situations in which we create credit spreads or debit spreads. Or what kind of credit and debit spreads are there. Yes, its surly a next logical question but needs more explanation before we jump into any kind of conclusive statement.




We need to understand another classification of spreads to get the whole concept in. As per this, again we can have two kinds of spreads :-

 

  1. Vertical Spreads – In case you are taking two positions of call (or put) in the same month for an underlying, it is known as vertical spread. For example – you may buy an 8000 call and sell a 7900 call of Nifty creating a vertical gap between the positions. Since you will be selling and buying both the strikes at different prices, it will give a play to gain or lose money according to the movement in the market. Similar positions can be made on put side also. Again, a vertical spread can be a debit or a credit spread depending on the strike prices chosen. (more on this in next post).

 

  1. Horizontal Spread – In case we are taking two position in different expires, it creates a horizontal spread. For example, if we sell 8000 call of Nifty for May month and buy 8000 call of Nifty for June month, we have created a spread with limited profit and limited loss. This kind of spread is termed as calendar spread or horizontal spread. Again, as in case of vertical spread, horizontal spread can also be a net debit or net credit spread depending on the strike prices selected for creating the spread.

 

More on spreads and benefit of trading in spreads, various kinds of spreads possible and what all we need to look at, while creating spreads will be shared in our next post. Hope you enjoy reading it. If yes, please share you’re your views. That gives us encouragement to share more.




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