SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

The Risks of Weekly Credit Spreads


There are hundreds of options trading "gurus" promising you all kinds of ridiculous returns like "5% per week". What most traders don't realize are the risks that come with those returns. I would like to share with you an email I got from one of those options "gurus".

Quote

Short term weekly options trading remains a tough road in 2016 as the weekly market volatility is whipping around weekly option traders. Case in point, our newsletter experienced a losing trade last week as bulls hammered markets higher. The loss was unfortunate but what really stood out to us were the reactions and sheer surprise of some traders.

 

Below is a copy of what we sent to our members over the weekend to remind them of just how aggressive (and volatile) weekly options trading can be:

 

Last week's loss stings, of course. The market ground higher all day Friday eating further into the expiring call spread. What was worse was that prudent adjustments for the trade were nonexistent.

 

Our weekly credit spreads are highly exposed to Gamma (the option greek) and the latest trade was a textbook example of it. As SPY ground higher debits to adjust exceeded $0.10 to simply the move the trade out a week and up $0.50. Doing so would have resulted in the new adjusted trade still being well in the money. We have been bitten before by that bug (paying to adjust higher while not actually reducing the risk to the new adjusted trade) before in March 2016 and did not want to repeat that experience.

 

The issue with weekly credit spreads is that everybody likes the fast pace weekly profits of weekly credit spreads until they take a loss. The weekly credit spread game is that there are many, many small profits and the losses are ALWAYS larger than the gains. That is how it works. That is risk curve of weekly credit spreads.

 

Although, when a loss occurs, retail traders become flabbergasted. The biggest misstep most retail traders make is underestimating the aggressiveness of our newsletter (and weekly credit spreads in general) due to its years of fairly smooth profits.

 

Retail traders are lulled into a false sense of security with weekly credit spreads forgetting that along with extreme profits (>4% per week and >100% per year) comes a healthy dose of risk. Look at it from another view: If large profits like that were easily available at low risk wouldn't everybody be producing them? Mutual funds and the like?

 

Weekly credit spreads are very volatile and aggressive; despite how their ease and consistency can lull you into a sense of safety. Think about, you don’t make >4% PER WEEK by not taking risk.

 

The real success and consistency over the long term in selling options is using expirations further out. 

 

 

I appreciate the email. Those are very wise words. Too bad this email came after three devastating losses the newsletter experienced in 2016 (150%, 78% and 69% losses before commissions).

image.png
image.png
image.png

Unfortunately, it looks like they didn't really learn any lessons from those losses. The newsletter members already booked two more devastating losses of 96% and 89% in the first five months of 2017. 

image.png

Definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

 

From the FAQs of this newsletter:
 

Quote

 

Q: How much money can I lose?

 

A: You can lose $100 per spread traded, less whatever we received as a credit when we entered the trade. We do everything we can to prevent large losses and have yet to have greater than a -15% loss on any trade. Statistically and as experienced in our Track Record, losses should not occur very often.

 

 

 


As we mentioned here: Often times you'll find this in a credit spread newsletter where the big loss just hasn't happened yet (it will).

 

Here is the problem with weekly credit spreads: most of the time, they will do fine, but if the market really does go south the position will be in trouble well before the short options go in-the-money. If the market drop is fast and severe (e.g., flash crash) there will be nothing you can do - the trades will be blown out with no way to recover, your entire investment will be gone. 

 

We warned about those "easy gains" several times. This is what we wrote in Can You Really Make 10% Per Month With Iron Condors? article:

 

Here are some mistakes that people do when trading Iron Condors and/or credit spreads:

  • Opening the trade too close to expiration. There is nothing wrong with trading weekly Iron Condors - as long as you understand the risks and handle those trades as semi-speculative trades with very small allocation.
  • Holding the trade till expiration. The gamma risk is just too high.
  • Allocating too much capital to Iron Condors.
  • Trying to leg in to the trade by timing the market. It might work for some time, but if the market goes against you, the loss can be brutal and there is no another side of the condor to offset the loss.

Unfortunately, many options gurus present those strategies as safe and conservative. Nothing can be further from the truth. As mentioned (correctly) in the above email, weekly credit spreads are very volatile and aggressive. You should allocate only small portion of your options account to those trades.

 

Related articles:

 

Want to learn how we reduce our risk?

 

Start Your Free Trial

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) For Cash Flow Planning

    Financial planners can usually give generic advice that will be appropriate for the majority of Americans, and that’s the goal of this article. If we can get the fundamentals of cash-flow planning right (where to put your money after you earn it and pay your taxes and bills), we’re 80% of the way towards maximizing our financial situation.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 252 views
  • Are You Breaking Even? Or Losing?

    Among the good reasons to trade options is the need to meet or surpass your breakeven yield. This is the yield you need just to preserve your purchasing power; and it higher than most people think. In fact, most people relying on moderate to conservative yields from stocks, mutual funds, real estate and savings accounts might be earning well below this breakeven level.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 280 views
  • Buy When You Have the Money, Sell When You Need the Money

    Money can be quite an emotional topic for many of us. Emotions can enhance our experiences and relationships in many ways, but they can act as mental roadblocks especially when trying to make wise financial decisions. One of the most common emotional roadblocks I come across when working with individuals is an unwillingness to invest idle cash to meet long-term goals.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 629 views
  • Strategy Selection vs. Risk Management

    "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." Everett McKinley Dirksen. Let’s begin with the bottom line: When I talk to anyone about the concept of choosing an option strategy (or two) to adopt for trading, I stress that the strategy should have certain characteristics.

    By Mark Wolfinger,

    • 0 comments
    • 317 views
  • Blending Anchor Strategy

    Anchor and Leveraged Anchor investors frequently ask why the strategy only trades SPY and SPY options rather than individual stocks, other indexes or commodities. We avoid individual stocks because of tracking and divergence issues.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 411 views
  • Fundamental Volatility and Stock Prices

    Every options trader must wonder whether any connection will be found between the company's fundamentals and stock prices (and in turn, option valuation as well). Because options are derived from stock price behavior, the analysis of stock movement is crucial to selecting options wisely; and that relies on volatility in the reported profit and loss over several years.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 437 views
  • Bullish Short Strangles

    A bullish short strangle sounds like a complicated strategy, but it’s really quite simple for those familiar with option terminology. A short put is combined with a short call to where the position starts with some amount of positive delta overall. This distinguishes itself from a delta neutral strangle, where both the short put and short call are sold at the same delta.

    By Jesse,

    • 5 comments
    • 693 views
  • Eight Mistakes Every Forex Trader Should Avoid

    The forex market is currently the largest financial market in the world and, due to its highly liquid nature and low barriers to entry, is only expected to grow. Becoming a forex trader requires minimal effort and with a decent internet connection, a laptop or computer, and some spare money to invest, you can start in no time.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 510 views
  • Put/Call Parity - Two Definitions

    Put/call parity is a term options traders use to mean one of two things. The simplest definition and the one most applicable to most options traders compares the similarity in the bid/ask spread and the net debit or credit resulting from this.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 560 views
  • Put Selling: Strike Selection Considerations

    When selling puts, such as we do in our Steady Momentum PutWrite strategy, there are many questions a trader must answer: What expiration should I use? What strike should I sell? Should I choose that strike based on delta or percentage out of the money?

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 592 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


Guest David

Posted

Kim,

Great article. 

Unfortunately I tried too many services that implemented those risky strategies. Booking Alpha, Avant Options, Bullogic and more. Most of them are out of business after devastating losses. Those weekly spreads can work well for a while, but one big loss erases months of gains. You don't get how risky they are until it happens to you.

Thank you for all the great education you provide! 

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs