What Happens When A Call Option Expires?

An expiration of a call option in the money means the trade is made at the strike prices while when it’s out of the money, it’s removed from your positions.

photo showing stock charts on a laptop
photo showing stock charts on a laptop

Commonly known as a “call”, a call option is an agreement that gives the options buyer rights to buy stock. An investor can also choose to buy any other financial asset within a defined time frame at a particular price. The buyer has authorization but not obligations to buy stock. Option buyers can engage the said option anytime before a defined expiration date.

The price of this stock is also referred to as the strike price. The option’s value is determined by the correlation between the market price and the options strike price. People may ask, what happens when call options expire? This article explains various choices you have and what to do as your options contracts approach their expiry dates.

Objectives Of A Call Option

There are three primary purposes of a call option for trading.

1.    Income Generation

Investors can exercise a covered call strategy to help them generate income through call options. Here, they own the underlying stock, and at the same time, they write up a call option. Meaning they give another person the right to purchase their stock. Investors collect the premium as they stay hopeful that the option will expire below the price strike. That is how this strategy streams in income. In case the stock prices rise, the trader’s profit potential becomes limited.

2.    Speculation

Investors can buy and sell various call options at the same time. This creates a call spread, thereby capping potential profit and potential losses. This is more cost-effective for the traders as the premium collected from the sale of one option gets to offset the premium paid for the other call option.

3.    Tax Management

Investors can change their portfolios without buying or selling underlying assets. Shareholders can use options to keep exposure of the underlying asset at a minimum without selling it. Methods for calculating tax liabilities differ by the same option strategy and the option holding period.

How Do Call Options Operate?

Options only last for a specific time frame. If the current market prices of stock rise more than the options strike price, then the holder of the options can put them in motion. They can buy at the strike price and sell at the higher market price to profit. Otherwise, if the market prices fail to spike above the strike prices in that time frame, the options become expired and worthless. 

What Happens At The Expiration Of Call Options?

When options expire, only two things are bound to take place. 

  1. The option expires in the money but still has some fundamental value
  2. The option expires out of money and becomes completely worthless. No shares get assigned as the position disappears from the trader’s account.

What Happens If My Call Option Expires In The Money?

When call options held by traders expire in the money, the stock is automatically bought on your behalf at the strike price. Traders can also make a sale of these shares at the market price of the underlying financial asset. This price will be higher than the actual strike price in which the assets were bought.

If the investor gets higher profits than the price they paid for the call option, then the buyers make more money.

In cases where a short call hits the expiry date while still in the money, it results in an assignment, then a short stock position follows. Then the seller keeps the short cal premiums. 

What Occurs if an Option Expires Out Of The Money?

If your option is out of the money and the call options exceed the stock price at expiry, it will expire and be worthless and disappear. This result is that there will be no commission charges and no position. Your broker automatically calls the trade and removes the expired options from your positions list. 

How Do Traders Use Call Options?

Various ways to call options can benefit investors in the trade market. Here are some of the ways they can use call options.

1.    Safeguarding Tool

Financial institutions like investment banks use call options as a safeguarding tool. Similar to insurance, cushioning helps to reduce the number of losses on the financial asset. This is in case of an unforeseen event. Traders utilize call options as a shield for short stock, or they can sell against any anticipated pullback in cases of a long stock portfolio.

2.    Prediction/ Speculation

Options holders can potentially benefit from profits that come from a rise in the price of a fundamental stock. This can happen as they pay a fraction of the cost of purchasing the actual stock. Options are a leverage instrument that offers potential profits and limited losses. Call options are high-risk investments due to their high leverage rates.

Can I Sell A Call Option Before It Expires?

Traders can choose to sell their options before they expire. This is because of time value, which can be described as the section of an option’s premium contributing to the remaining time until it expires. If you believe that selling will be profitable, then go ahead and sell before they expire.

Common Mistakes You Can Avoid While Trading Options

Due to the volatile nature of options trading, there are bound to be mistakes that traders can do that make them incur huge losses. Below are some tips you can use to stay safe and avoid losses regarding trading options.

1.   Ensure Your Trade Is Closed Before The Expiration Date. 

Always note that the closer the expiry date is, the faster options lose their value. So, remember to close your trade in record time and take your profits before the options hit an expiry date.

2.    Steer Clear From Your Broker’s Margin Call.

You will automatically get a margin call from your broker if there’s not enough money to pay for the stock in your account. To avoid this, close any open positions before the market closes on expiry. Otherwise, the stock will sell below the actual prices, and this loss will be deducted from your trading account.

3.    Do Not Use Options To Acquire Stock.

When you invest in call options while intending to own stock, it is counterproductive. If the call option expires in the money, you will end up paying more to purchase the stock than what you would have paid to buy the stock directly.

The Takeaway

A call option contract permits the holders to purchase different assets at a specific price but later. Investors must only sell options before they hit the expiry date if they are confident that it is profitable because they have the luxury of time value. It is necessary to note that different options must be engaged within a specified time frame.

photo showing a trader comparing stock charts on two computers
photo showing a trader comparing stock charts on two computers

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Good To Let A Call Option Reach Its Expiration Date?

As the expiry date approaches, options decrease in value. Therefore Investors must decide on their options contracts before they expire. Exercising options before the expiry date helps secure capital and avoid big losses. 

Is There A Specific Time Frame For Options To Expire?

On the day before expiry, option holders can engage their contracts upto 5:30 pm. But on the actual expiry date, options can only be valid until 11:59 am then they officially expire.

How Do You Define A Call Option?

A call option can be described as an agreement that permits holders to have the privilege but no responsibility to purchase an asset. They can also buy stock, financial securities, bonds, or commodities at a specific price within a defined time frame.

Joseph Andrew

I am an alumnus of the University of British Columbia who has spent more than eight years honing my writing and researching skills. Since 2013, I have been providing outstanding professional writing services for some financial newspapers. I am a thorough reader and researcher with a passion for creativity, and I love writing with accuracy and originality. I pay attention to every detail, and I believe in quality that brings the desired outcomes. My work is always original and adheres to scientific best practices without compromising on the quality and value to the reader.

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