A contract that permits the owner of the option the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an underlying security at a specific price within a specific period is called a stock option. A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell something for a set price on a future date. So what is the difference between trading futures vs options?
Futures contracts represent a standardized deal to buy or sell some quantity of a commodity at a predetermined price at an agreed-upon date in the future. They differ from other forms of derivatives in that they allow for speculation on how prices will move and serve as hedging instruments when used correctly.
Futures contracts can be used as both speculative or hedging instruments. Still, the forwards cannot be purely speculative because no future date is specified (that information isn’t provided to the other party). That means that speculators take the risk of the price moving against them if they don’t exit their contract before expiration – something that doesn’t happen with options. Options contracts give the holder the right – but not the obligation – to buy (call option) or sell (put option) an asset at a specific price within a specific time frame.
If you think the value of an asset will move higher, buying a call option allows you to profit if it does and lose money if it doesn’t. If you think the price of an instrument will fall, buying a put gives you downside protection and limits your loss to what you paid for the option (the premium). Forwards and futures contracts allow one party to profit from rising prices while hedgers protect themselves from falling prices.
With futures contracts, there is a limit on how much your profit can be per trade. However, if you guess correctly – no matter what direction the market moves – you have unlimited profit potential within reason. Futures traders who are very successful at trading usually do so because they constantly monitor the markets and adjust their positions accordingly as they spot trends before others see them.
A stock option is a contract that gives the owner of the option the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an underlying security at a specific price within a specific period. A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell something for a set price on a future date.
Most people tend to benefit more from buying options vs futures contracts because of the limited risk involved with trading options. If prices increase dramatically over time, then put options (when purchased) will increase in value. If prices decrease dramatically over time, then call options (when purchased) will increase in value.
An important question you have to ask yourself is whether you think the price of your stock will go up or down to make an informed choice when buying options vs futures contracts. Suppose you believe that there is high volatility with large fluctuations in either direction when it comes to expiration. In that case, you may want to choose to buy and sell put and call options because there are no limits on how much you can make, but you are also risking losing your entire investment. You may think that the price will go up or down, but you do not know for sure which direction it will go.
So, the answer to the question of the difference between trading futures vs options is that with call and put options, there is limited risk involved. Still, you could potentially make unlimited profits (if prices move up or down), while with future contracts, there are limits on profits per trade, but you do not have any limit on losses either.
When trading futures online, do so through any online brokerage account. Reputable brokers such as Saxo Bank offers demo accounts for you to practice trading before spending your own money.