Derivatives and Options Trading: Definition, Types, and Differences

It is important for traders to minimize losses and risks to their invested money. So, different types of trading contracts have been developed to help with this.

This is where derivatives options trading come in. These complex financial tools give investors the power to manage their risks. They also help traders potentially profit from market movements.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between derivatives vs options by defining the two. We’ll also give trading options derivatives example scenarios so that you get a better understanding of the two.

What are Options?

When it comes to trading, there are several ways of accessing stocks to buy or sell. One of these is an options contract. Options allow a trader the right to sell or buy an asset at a predetermined price and before an expiration date.

Traders, though, aren’t obliged to fulfill this options contract.

The trader works with two types of options. The first is a call option. It gives the trader the ability to buy a stock at the predetermined price before the expiration date.

The other is a put option. With a pull option, a trader can sell an asset at a specified price before the contract expires.

What are Derivatives?

In trading, different assets, such as commodities, currencies, stocks, or bonds, have an underlying value. With this in mind, derivatives are contracts whose value “derives” from the value of the traded assets.

There are, however, different derivative contract types. Some are derivatives options, futures, forwards, and swaps. Details of how these work will be discussed later in this article.

The value of derivatives can fluctuate quickly. This makes them very risky and complex to deal with. Factors such as time decay, volatility, market trends, and more can contribute to price fluctuations.

Advantages of Options

Choosing options for your trading strategies has several benefits. These include:

  • Flexibility: As the name implies, options trading gives you options when it comes to opportunities to make money from trading. You can choose options contracts with varying validity periods and strike prices. So, you can adapt your trades based on your own market outlooks.
  • Less risk to your investment: The only money you’ll lose is the premium you paid for the option. So, if the markets move up, you can make a profit. But your losses will be minimized.
  • Low capital requirement: Compared to other forms of trading, like stocks or futures, you only need a small amount of capital to get started with options trading.

Advantages of Derivatives

Some benefits of using derivatives for trading include:

  • Hedging: You can use derivatives to hedge against the risks of price fluctuations of the asset you’re trading.
  • Leverage with a small investment: With a derivative, a trader is able to control many assets with minimal investment. This means there’s an increase in potential returns, but there’s also a minimum amount of money they could lose.
  • Diversified portfolio opportunities: Since you’ll have exposure to different asset types or markets, derivative trading is great for diversity. These asset types include currencies, commodities, or indices.
  • Cheaper to trade: There are lower transaction costs for derivatives trading. This is because you can trade these types of contracts without the need to physically transfer the assets.

What are the differences between options and derivatives?

To understand what derivatives options are, it’s important to know the differences between derivatives and options. Below we discuss the key differences to take note of.

To start, we’ll take a look at the definitions of obligation. Options are contracts that give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to trade an asset, as described earlier. Derivatives, on the other hand, require the holder to trade the asset.

So, with an option, you can choose not to trade, but with a derivative, you must trade the asset.

Then, regarding risk and reward, options are safer option if you’re looking to minimize losses. That’s because, with options, you only risk the premium you paid if the underlying asset isn’t sold. However, there’s a possibility for a big profit if the market moves in the right direction for you.

Derivatives such as futures, for example, offer both high risk and high reward. There’s the possibility of a big profit, but you might also suffer a loss since you’re obliged to complete the terms of the contract.

What are the 4 main types of derivatives?

As mentioned earlier, there are different types of derivatives. These include derivatives options and futures. Below, we discuss the four main types you should be aware of.

Derivatives Futures

Those looking at long-term investments can try derivatives futures trading. You’ll have to trade commodities such as agricultural products, gold, or oil at an exchange within the contract’s validity period.

Derivatives Options

Unlike futures, options give the contract holder the right, but not the obligation to trade an asset within the predetermined validity period. Call options and put options are traded at exchanges or over the counter (OTC)

Derivatives Swaps

When two traders exchange cash flows based on financial instruments such as interest rates. As an example, two parties might swap floating interest rate payments on a notional amount of principal.

Derivatives Forwards

Currency and commodity market traders use forwards in their trading strategies. These contracts work similarly to futures contracts, but they aren’t standardized.

What are examples of derivatives trading?

From betting on price performances to options contracts, below we give an options derivatives example for different types.

  • Commodity futures: Traders can bet on the future prices of commodities. For example, a futures contract on oil will mean the investor is better in whether the price of oil will rise in the future. If this price does go up, the trader will sell the futures contract to make a profit.
  • Forex forwards: To protect yourself from future currency fluctuations; you can buy a forex forwards derivatives contract. This contract allows you to trade currencies at a fixed exchange rate in the future.
  • Stock options: Investors have the opportunity to trade a stock at a specified price within an agreed-upon time frame. As an example, you can purchase a call option of stock X at a set price. So, if the price rises, you can exercise the option contract and buy the stock at the agreed-upon lower price. Then you can sell it at a higher price for a profit.


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