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What is Call Option and Put Option? – A Beginner’s Guide

Author Deepika Khude | Posted June 9, 2021

What is Call Option? What is Put Option?

Call option and Put option are the two main types of options available in the derivatives market. A Call option is used when you expect the prices to increase/rise. A Put option is used when you expect the prices to decrease/fall. 

Warren Buffett has described derivatives as weapons of mass destruction. Options, a type of derivatives, also falls under the category of weapons of mass destruction. 

But what if we told you that if used correctly, these weapons of mass destruction can become the tools for building infinite wealth and hedging portfolio risks? 

Sounds interesting right? 

But to create wealth using options, we first need to learn the basics of options. In this article, we will discuss the basics of options including what are call options, what are put options, call and put options examples and also simplify puts and calls for beginners. 

Let’s begin. 

What are Options? – Definition of Options

Options are derivative contracts which have no value of their own and derive their value from the value of the underlying asset. The underlying asset can be shares, currencies, commodities etc. 

An options contract gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset within a specified date (known as the expiration date) and at a specific price (known as the strike price). 

In options, the buyer of the option has the right of exercising the option or cancelling it. The loss for the option buyer is limited to the premium paid. 

For example, curd is a type of derivative as it has no value of its own. It derives its value from the value of the underlying asset i.e. milk. 

If you expect the price of milk to increase, then the price of curd will also automatically increase. 

To benefit from this, you can buy a call option of curd, as you expect the prices to rise. 

Types of Options in India 

The two main types of options are: 

  • Call Option
  • Put Option

What is a Call Option? 

A call option gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy the underlying asset at a particular price (strike price) on or before the expiration date. 

Watch our detailed video on Call Options Trading for Beginners:

What is a Put Option?

A put option gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying asset at a particular price (strike price) on or before the expiration date. 

Watch our detailed video on Put Options for Beginners

Call and Put Options for Beginners

Price of the underlying asset What to do
Expected to increase BUY Call Option or SELL Put Option
Expected to decrease BUY Put Option or SELL Call Option

Types of option contracts – Options contracts can be: 

US Option contracts: US options can be exercised at any point of time prior to the expiration date. 

European Option contracts: European options can be exercised only on the expiration date. 

Note: The options traded in the Indian stock markets are US options as they can squared-off any time prior to the expiration date. 

Basic terms relating to call and put options

  1. Strike Price: Strike price is the price at which buyers and sellers decide to buy or sell the underlying asset after a specified period. 
  2. Spot Price: Spot price is the current price of the underlying asset in the stock market.  
  3. Option Expiry: Options contracts expire on the last Thursday of the month. 
  4. Option Premium: Option premium is the non-refundable amount paid upfront by the option buyer to the option seller (also known as option writer). 
  5. Settlement: Option contracts are cash settled in India. 

Call Option Example

In the below screenshot, the current price of Reliance Industries on 7th December 2020 is Rs 1,953.15 and its Rs 2,000 call option expiring on 31st December 2020 is currently available at Rs 57.15. 1 lot of Reliance option contract is 505 shares. 

Reliance call Option

So, in the above call option example

Spot price – Rs 1,953.15

Strike price – Rs 2,000

Option premium – Rs 57.15

Expiry – 31st December 2020

Lot Size – 505 shares

When to buy the call option: If you expect the price of Reliance Industries to increase to Rs 2,000. 

When to exercise the call option: Once the share price of Reliance Industries rises to Rs 2,000 you have the option to exercise the call option and the seller is obligated to sell you 1 lot of reliance industries at Rs 2,000/share as you have paid him a premium of Rs 57.15, which binds him to the contract. 

When to cancel the call option: On the other hand, if Reliance industries does not cross Rs 2,000 before 31st December 2020, then you can cancel the contract. Your loss in that case is the Rs 57.15 paid as premium to the option writer. 

The reason for cancelling the contract is simple: Why will you buy Reliance shares at Rs 2,000 from the seller if you can buy it at a cheaper rate from the stock market? Hence you cancel the contract. 

Put Option Example: 

Reliance Put Option

So, in the above put option example

Spot price – Rs 1,953.15

Strike price – Rs 1,900

Option premium – Rs 46.30

Expiry – 31st December 2020

Lot Size – 505 shares

What is the Difference Between Call Option & Put Option? 

Parameters Call Option Put Option
Meaning Call option gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to Buy Put option gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to sell
Investor’s expectation A call option buyer believes the stock prices will rise / increase A put option buyer believes the stock prices will fall / decrease
Gains  For a call option buyer, the gains are unlimited For a put option buyer, the gains are limited as the stock prices will not become zero. 
Loss For a call option buyer, the loss is limited to the premium paid.  For a put option seller,  maximum loss is strike price minus premium
Reaction to dividend Calls lose value as the dividend date nears.  Puts increase in value close to the dividend dates. 

What Happens to Call Options on Expiry? – Buying Call Option

When you buy a call option, three things can happen on expiry: 

  • Market Price > Strike Price = In the Money call option = Gains / Profits
  • Market Price < Strike Price = Out of Money call option = Loss 
  • Market Price = Strike Price = At the Money call option = Break – Even (No profit no loss)

What Happens to Call Options on Expiry? – Selling Call Option

When you sell a call option, three things can happen on expiry: 

  • Market Price > Strike Price = In the Money call option = Loss
  • Market Price < Strike Price = Out of Money call option = Gains / Profits 
  • Market Price = Strike Price = At the Money call option = Profit in the form of premium. 

What Happens to Put Options on Expiry? – Buying Put Option

When you buy a put option, three things can happen on expiry: 

  • Market Price > Strike Price = Out of Money put option = Loss 
  • Market Price < Strike Price = In the Money put option = Gain / Profits 
  • Market Price = Strike Price = At the Money call option = Loss of premium paid. 

What Happens to Put Options on Expiry? – Selling Put Option

When you sell a put option, three things can happen on expiry: 

  • Market Price > Strike Price = Out of Money put option = Gains / Profits
  • Market Price < Strike Price = In the Money put option = Loss
  • Market Price = Strike Price = At the Money call option = Profit in the form of premium. 

Risk vs Reward – Call Option and Put Option

Call Buyer Call Seller Put Buyer Put Seller
Maximum Profit Unlimited Premium received Strike price minus  premium Premium received
Maximum Loss Premium Paid Unlimited Premium paid Strike price – premium
No Profit – No loss Strike price + premium Strike price + premium Strike price  – premium Strike price – premium
Ideal Action Exercise Expire Exercise Expire 

These are some of the basics of call and put options for beginners. But making money using call and put options requires extensive use of leverages. 

While traditional brokers shy away from providing high leverages, by opening a Samco Demat and trading account, you get access to Samco’s unique OptionPlus facility offering high leverages. 

So, open the best Demat and trading account for options trading in India today and get 100% brokerage cashback for all trades placed from the StockNote app.

By Deepika Khude

The author is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) with 5 years experience in Investment Advisory and Financial Planning. Her strength lies in simplifying complex financial concepts with real life stories and analogies. Her goal is to make common retail investors financially smart and independent.

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