Options Premium: The Key to Profitable Trading

Options trading is like a thrilling roller coaster ride. It’s packed with ups and downs, twists and turns, and requires a bit of courage, a dash of strategy, and a good understanding of the mechanics. One of these key mechanics is the concept of “options premium.” But what is it? Why is it important? How can you use it to your advantage? Let’s dive in and uncover the answers.

Understanding Options Premium

At its heart, the options premium is the price you pay when you buy an option, or the money you receive when you sell one. It’s like the ticket price for the roller coaster – you need to buy the ticket (pay the premium) to get on the ride (enter the trade).

The Components of Options Premium

Options premium isn’t a random number. It’s calculated based on several factors:

  1. Intrinsic Value: This is the immediate profitability of an option. It’s the difference between the stock’s current price and the option’s strike price.
  2. Time Value: This reflects the remaining time until the option expires. The more time left, the higher the premium.
  3. Volatility: This refers to the stock’s price fluctuations. The more volatile the stock, the higher the premium.

The Role of Options Premium in Trading

The options premium plays a crucial role in your trading strategy. Understanding its components can help you make more informed decisions and potentially increase your profits. Let’s look at a few examples.

Options Premium in Action

Let’s say you buy a call option for Company X with a strike price of $50. The current stock price is $52, and the option premium is $3. Here, the intrinsic value is $2 ($52 – $50), and the time value is $1 ($3 – $2).

How Options Premium Influences Your Trading Decisions

Understanding options premium can influence your trading decisions in several ways. It can help you determine the profitability of an option, assess the risk associated with it, and devise your trading strategy accordingly.

Digging Deeper: Intrinsic Value and Time Value

The two main components of options premium – intrinsic value and time value – deserve a closer look. Let’s break them down to understand how they influence the options premium.

Intrinsic Value: The Here and Now

Intrinsic value is all about what’s happening right now. It’s the difference between the current price of the underlying asset (like a stock) and the strike price of the option. If you have a call option (which gives you the right to buy the stock), and the stock’s current price is higher than the option’s strike price, then the option has intrinsic value. On the other hand, if you have a put option (which gives you the right to sell the stock), and the stock’s price is lower than the option’s strike price, then the option has intrinsic value.

For example, if you have a call option for Company X with a strike price of $50, and Company X’s stock is currently trading at $55, then the intrinsic value of the option is $5. That’s because if you were to exercise the option (buy the stock at the strike price), you could immediately sell it at the current market price and make a $5 profit.

Time Value: The Future is Uncertain

Time value, on the other hand, is all about the future. It represents the potential for the option to gain intrinsic value before it expires. The more time left until the option’s expiration date, the greater its time value. That’s because the underlying stock has more time to move in a favorable direction.

Going back to our example, let’s say the options premium for our Company X call option is $7. We already determined that the intrinsic value is $5, so that means the time value is $2 ($7 premium – $5 intrinsic value).

How Volatility Impacts Options Premium

The third component of options premium is volatility, which is a measure of how much the price of the underlying stock is expected to move. The more volatile the stock, the higher the premium.

Why? Because increased volatility means there’s a greater chance the option will have intrinsic value by the time it expires. In other words, a volatile stock has a higher likelihood of moving in a direction that benefits the option holder.

Adjusting Your Strategy with Options Premium

Understanding the components of options premium can help you adjust your trading strategy.

For instance, if you’re considering buying an option, you’ll want to look at its intrinsic value. If it’s high, that means the option is already profitable, and it might be a good buy. However, if the intrinsic value is low or non-existent, but the premium is high, that means you’re paying mostly for time value and volatility. In that case, you might decide to look for an option with a better risk/reward ratio.

Conversely, if you’re considering selling an option, a high premium might make the option attractive to sell. Just remember that selling an option comes with its own set of risks, including the potential for unlimited losses.


Understanding options premium is a crucial part of mastering options trading. It’s the price you pay for the possibility of a profitable trade. By understanding its components – intrinsic value, time value, and volatility – you can make more informed trading decisions and increase your chances of success.

Options trading can be complex, but don’t let that discourage you. With knowledge and practice, you can learn to navigate the ups and downs and enjoy the ride. So buckle up, keep learning, and let the understanding of options premium guide your trading journey. Happy trading!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I pay premium for options?

Yes, when you buy an option, you are required to pay the options premium. This is the cost associated with purchasing the option contract, much like a fee for the potential of a profitable trade in the future.

What is the premium for a call option?

The premium for a call option refers to the price you pay to acquire the contract. This includes the intrinsic value (if present), time value, and volatility value of the option.

What is an options time premium?

Options time premium, also known as extrinsic value, symbolizes the potential for the option to acquire intrinsic value before its expiration. The more time there is until the option’s expiration date, the higher its time value.

How does option premium work?

Option premium is the price you pay to procure an option contract. Several factors determine this price, including the option’s intrinsic value, time value, and the volatility of the underlying asset. The premium is paid upfront when you buy an option. If you sell an option, you receive the premium.

Is an options premium times 100?

Yes, typically an option contract represents 100 shares of the underlying asset. Hence, the actual cost of an options contract is the premium times 100.

Why is Option Premium so high?

An option premium can be high due to various factors. It could be because the underlying asset is highly volatile, i.e., it has large price swings. Additionally, high demand for the option can also elevate the premium. Finally, the more time until the option expires, the higher the premium, as there’s more chance the option will turn profitable.

Who pays the premium in a call option?

The buyer of the call option pays the premium. The premium is then received by the seller (or writer) of the call option.

Who must pay the premium in an option?

The buyer of an option contract is the one responsible for paying the premium. Conversely, the seller or writer of the option contract is the one who receives the premium.

Do I lose my premium if I exercise a call option?

When you exercise a call option, the premium you initially paid to buy the option is not refunded. This cost, associated with the purchase of the option, is retained by the seller.

What happens if option premium becomes zero?

If an option premium becomes zero, it signifies that the option is worthless. This typically occurs when the option is out-of-the-money and approaches its expiration date.

Can I withdraw option premium?

As a seller or writer of an option, you receive the premium upfront when the option is sold. This amount is typically credited to your trading account and can be used or withdrawn in accordance with your brokerage’s policies.

Why do most people lose money in options?

Options trading can be risky and requires an understanding of the market. Individuals can lose money if the price of the underlying asset doesn’t move in the direction they predicted, or if it doesn’t move enough to cover the cost of the premium.

Is it better to sell puts or calls?

Whether selling puts or calls is better largely depends on your market outlook and risk tolerance. Selling puts can be a viable strategy if you believe the underlying stock will rise or remain stable, while selling calls can be beneficial if you anticipate the stock will fall or stay the same.

Why do people make so much money on options?

Options can potentially yield high returns because they provide leverage. This means you can control a substantial amount of shares for a relatively small cost (the premium). If the stock moves in the direction you predicted, you can make a significant profit. However, it’s essential to remember that options also carry significant risks so traders should proceed with caution.

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