Other than speculation, options can also be bought as a means to insure potential losses for an existing position in the underlying. To hedge a long underlying position, a protective put can be purchased. Similarly, to protect a short underlying position, a protective call strategy can be used.
In-the-money covered call options are sold when the investor has a neutral to slightly bearish outlook towards the underlying security as their higher premiums provide greater downside protection.
This is a covered call strategy where the moderately bullish investor sells out-of-the-money calls against a holding of the underlying shares. The OTM covered call is a popular strategy as the investor gets to collect premium while being able to enjoy capital gains (albeit limited) if the underlying stock rallies.
Out-of-the-money options are cheaper to buy than in-the-money options but they are also more likely to expire worthless.
For call options, this means that the higher the strike price, the cheaper the option. Similarly, put options with lower strike prices are therefore less expensive to purchase.
However, the size of the premium alone does not tell us the whole story. In fact, at-the-money options can be considered the most expensive even though their premiums are lower than in-the-money options. This is because their time value is highest and time value is the part of the premium that will waste away as the expiration date approaches.
The straddle is an unlimited profit, limited risk option trading strategy that is employed when the options trader believes that the price of the underlying asset will make a strong move in either direction in the near future. It can be constructed by buying an equal number of at-the-money call and put options with the same expiration date.
Like the straddle, the strangle is also a strategy that has limited risk and unlimited profit potential. The difference between the two strategies is that out-of-the-money options are purchased to construct the strangle, lowering the cost to establish the position but at the same time, a much larger move in the price of the underlying is required for the strategy to be profitable.