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Credit Option Spreads

What is a credit spread? Investopedia says… "An options strategy where a high premium option is sold and a low premium option is bought on the same underlying security." OK I know that is very vague, so lets see if I can do better. It is a trading strategy in which you buy an out of the money option at a certain strike price and then you sell an out of the money option at a different strike price of the same month. As time goes on the options will decay in value and as long as the price of the stock does not go past the sold strike price at the end of expiration you will receive a full credit winning trade. For example,it is January and XYZ stock is currently at $54 and it looks as if it is bullish or will increase in price over the next month and you firmly believe that the stock will not go below $50. You would trade a Bull Put Credit Spread on a Feb expiration.

You would buy the Feb 45 put for $.25 and you would sell the Feb 50 put for $1. This leaves you with a credit of $.75 in your account or actually $75 per contract you trade.

The risk of the trade or the amount of money per contract you need in your account is $425 per contract. This gives you a return on investment of 17.5% in how ever many days till Feb expiration. Lets take it out like a real trade - It is January 13 and Febuary expiration is in 35 days. You place the trade for 5 contracts. So you now buy 5 FEB XYZ 45 PUTs for $.25 or $125 total and you sell 5 FEB XYZ 50 PUTs for $1.00 or $500 giving you a credit of $375 in your account. Now to back the trade up with collateral in case the trade goes wrong you need to have $2125 in your account for just this trade. If XYZ closes above $50 in 35 days you will have received $375 which is a 17.

6% gain. There is a break even price of $49.25 that if the stock closes at this number you will neither gain or lose money. If the stock closes between $49.25 and $45 you will lose some money and if it closes below $45 you will lose $2125. If you like the idea of knowing exactly what your profit will be, exactly when the trade is closed, and exactly how much money you will risk then credit option spread trading is for you. Your profit margins will be between 10 and 20% on each trade - on some of the aggressive credit spreads you can make over 50% - and there are techniques for changing your trade if it becomes a losing trade to help you recover some of the loss and in some cases even make it a winning trade again even though you were wrong on the direction of the movement of the stock.


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