Strike Price: What is it and How to Pick the Right Option?

Written By:
March 22, 2024

The strike price is a fundamental element to the evolving financial markets, especially for options. In essence, they work as the pre-determined price for an underlying asset at which it can be bought or sold. It is a fundamental concept that plays a crucial role in determining the profitability and risk associated with options contracts.

Determining the right strike price and finding the right strategy for options can help really boost the profitability of the options.  

What is Strike Price?

The Strike Price, also known as the exercise price, is the price at which the buyer of an options contract can buy or sell the underlying asset. It is the price at which the option holder has the right to exercise the contract.  

The Strike Price is a key component in options trading as it influences the profitability of the trade. The relationship between the Strike Price and the option premium is vital, as it directly impacts the cost of the option. A simple way to view a strike price is it sets the benchmark that allows holders to calculate profitability of a trade.  

Types of Strike Price

The three main types of Strike Prices in options trading are At-the-Money (ATM), In-the-Money (ITM), and Out-of-the-Money (OTM).

1. At-the-Money (ATM): An At-the-Money Strike Price is where the underlying asset's price is equal to the Strike Price. In this scenario, the option holder has the choice to exercise the option at a price that is very close to the current market price of the underlying asset. ATM options are considered neutral in terms of moneyness, as they are neither profitable nor unprofitable at the time of expiration.

2. In-the-Money (ITM): In-the-Money options have intrinsic value because their Strike Prices are favorable compared to the market price of the underlying asset. For call options, ITM options have Strike Prices lower than the market price, allowing the holder to buy the asset at a discount. Conversely, for put options, ITM options have Strike Prices higher than the market price, enabling the holder to sell the asset at a premium.

3. Out-of-the-Money (OTM): Out-of-the-Money options do not possess intrinsic value; instead, they rely solely on extrinsic value or time value. OTM options have Strike Prices that are not advantageous compared to the current market price of the underlying asset. Call options with Strike Prices higher than the market price and put options with Strike Prices lower than the market price fall into the OTM category. These options need significant market movement to become profitable before expiration.

The importance of Strike Price in Options Trading

The strike price holds significant importance within an options contract, which comprises two main types: puts and calls. For put options, the strike price gives the holder the right to sell the underlying asset at the price set. Similarly, for call options, the holders get the right to buy the underlying asset at the strike price.  

Examples of Strike Price- Put and Call Options

The strike price and current price determines if an option is “in-the-money", “out-of-money" or at par. For example, if a put option’s strike price is greater than the current market price for the asset, then the put is considered to be in the money.  

Whereas, for call options, if the market price is higher than the strike price of the option, it is then considered to be in the money. Hence, buying a call option is a bullish strategy, as investors are of the opinion that the price will rise- their end goal is to have an option that is “in the money.”

Factors affecting the Strike Price

The three factors influencing the selection of a Strike Price in options trading are market conditions, volatility, and the time to expiration.

1. Market Conditions: Market conditions play a crucial role in determining the optimal Strike Price for an options contract. Different strategies are employed based on whether the market is bullish, bearish, or neutral. The prevailing market sentiment influences the choice of Strike Price, with traders adjusting their positions accordingly to capitalize on market movements.

2. Volatility: Volatility is another key factor that impacts the selection of a Strike Price. Higher volatility leads to wider ranges of Strike Prices as the potential price movements of the underlying asset increase. Traders consider volatility levels to determine the appropriate Strike Price that aligns with their risk tolerance and profit objectives.

3. Time to Expiration: The time remaining until the option expires is a critical consideration when choosing a Strike Price. Traders must select a Strike Price that allows sufficient time for the anticipated price movement to occur. The relationship between the Strike Price and the time to expiration affects the premium of the option and the potential profitability of the trade.

How to Pick the Right Strike Price?

To pick the right strike price in options trading, start by defining your trading objective and risk tolerance. The steps to pick the right strike price are:

1. Establish Your Trading Objective: Define your trading objective, whether it is capital appreciation, income generation, or hedging an existing position. Your primary goal will guide your choice of strike price.

2. Analyze the Underlying Asset: Conduct thorough research, including fundamental and technical analysis, to develop an outlook on the asset's future price movement. Assess factors like financial performance, industry trends, and price patterns.

3. Consider Risk: Evaluate your risk appetite and confidence in your market view. Different strike prices offer varying risk-reward profiles, so understanding your risk tolerance is crucial in selecting the right strike price.

4. Evaluate Available Strike Prices: Depending on the stock being traded, there may be various strike prices to choose from. Consider the liquidity of the options, as liquid options offer tighter bid-ask spreads and more favorable trading conditions.


Options and option trading has gained popularity in recent years due to their ease and the ability to grant the right, but not leaving holders obligated to the strike price. The strike, or exercise, price becomes vital to succeed in options trading. Influenced by markets, time to expiration and volatility, the strike price can be a great weapon to be profitable in the financial world if understood well. Through analysis and understanding, strike price can enhance a trader’s ability to make informed decisions and do well in the ever-evolving business landscape.  

FAQs on Strike Price

1. What is determining Strike Price important?

The importance of the strike price to assess profitability truly cannot be overstated as it directly correlates to the losses or profits for holders. The aim remains to select a strike price that allows buyers or sellers to create a profit through exercising. Therefore, understanding strike prices, how to set them and choosing the right strategy becomes vital.

2. Can Strike price be changed?

The strike price is stated in the options contract and cannot be changed during the period of the contract. For options, it is not necessary to exercise them- which makes them more attractive than the actual stock.

3. What role does the strike price play in put and call options?

Strike price also allows us to better understand the variation between put and call options. For call options, the exercise price gives the holder the right to buy the asset at that price, but for put options, it gives them the right to sell at the price. In fact, the strike price plays a vital role in understanding put-call ratio, that can give us great insights about market sentiments.

4. How is strike price determined?

The strike price in options trading is typically determined by the exchanges and is preset for each options contract. It is the price at which the underlying asset can be bought or sold when the option is exercised. Strike prices are often set in increments, with standard intervals like $2.50 or $1, depending on the stock's trading volume.  

5. Is strike price also called exercise price?

Yes, strike price and exercise price are interchangeable terms referring to the same concept in options trading. The strike price is the predetermined price at which the underlying security can be bought (for call options) or sold (for put options) when the option is exercised. It is a critical component of an options contract that impacts its value and determines whether the option is profitable at expiration.

6. Strike Price vs Stock Price

The strike price and stock price are distinct but interconnected concepts in options trading. The strike price is the fixed price at which an options contract can be exercised, while the stock price refers to the current market price of the underlying asset. The relationship between the strike price and stock price determines whether an option is in-the-money, at-the-money, or out-of-the-money.

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