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.

Top 10 Things To Know About VIX Options


VIX options use the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) as its underlying asset. VIX options were the first exchange-traded options that allowed investors to trade the market volatility. VIX options can be used as a hedge against sudden market decline, but also as speculation on future moves in volatility.

Here are 10 important things about VIX options.

  1. VIX options settle in cash and trade in the  European style. European style options cannot be exercised until expiration. The options can be opened or closed anytime before expiration. You don’t need to worry about ending up with an unwanted position in VIX after expiration. If your VIX options expire In-The-Money (ITM), you get a cash payout. The payout is the difference between the strike price and the VRO quotation on the expiration day (basically the amount the option is ITM). For example, the payout would be $2.50 if the strike price of your call option strike was $15 and the VRO was $17.50. 
     
  2. Expiration Days: VIX options do not expire on the same days as equity options. The Expiration Date (usually a Wednesday) will be identified explicitly in the expiration date of the product. If that Wednesday is a market holiday, the Expiration Date will be on the next business day. On the expiration Wednesday the only SPX options used in the VIX calculation are the ones that expire in 30 days. Last Trading Day for VIX options is the business day prior to the Expiration Date of each contract expiration. When the Last Trading Day is moved because of a Cboe holiday, the Last Trading Day for an expiring VIX option contract will be the day immediately preceding the last regularly scheduled trading day.
     
  3. The exercise-settlement value for VIX options (Ticker: VRO) is a Special Opening Quotation (SOQ) of VIX calculated from the sequence of opening prices during regular trading hours for SPX of the options used to calculate the index on the settlement date. The opening price for any series in which there is no trade shall be the average of that option's bid price and ask price as determined at the opening of trading. Click here for Settlement Information for VIX options. For example:

    image.png
    Table courtesy of projectoption.com. 
     
  4. Contract Expirations: Up to six 6 weekly expirations and up to 12 standard (monthly) expirations in VIX options may be listed. The 6 weekly expirations shall be for the nearest weekly expirations from the actual listing date and standard (monthly) expirations in VIX options are not counted as part of the maximum six weekly expirations permitted for VIX options. Like the VIX monthlys, VIX weeklys usually expire on Wednesdays.
     

  5. VIX Options Trading Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Central time (Chicago time). Extended hours are 2:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Central time (Chicago time). CBOE extended trading hours for VIX options in 2015. The ability to trade popular VIX options after the close of the market provides traders with a useful alternative, especially from overseas market participants looking to gain exposure to the U.S. market and equity market volatility. VIX options are among of the most actively traded contracts the options market has to offer.

    Image result for vix options
     

  6. VIX options are based on a VIX futures, not the spot index ($VIX) quote. Therefore VIX options prices are based on the VIX futures prices rather than the current cash VIX index. To understand the price action in VIX options, look at VIX futures. This can lead to unusual pricing of some VIX strategies. For example, VIX calendars can trade at negative values. This is something that can never happen with equity options.
     

  7. Hedging with VIX options: VIX can be used as a hedging tool because VIX it has a strong negative correlation to the SPX – and is generally about four times more volatile. For this reason, traders many times would buy of out of the money calls on the VIX as a relatively inexpensive way to hedge long portfolio positions. Similar hedges can be constructed using VIX futures or the VIX ETNs.
     

  8. VIX is a mean-reverting index. Many times, spikes in the VIX do not last and usually drop back to moderate levels soon after. So, unless the expiration date is very near, the market will take into account the mean-reverting nature of the VIX when estimating the forward VIX. Hence, VIX calls are many times heavily discounted whenever the VIX spikes.

    Image result for VIX is a mean-reverting index
     

  9. VIX options time sensitivity: VIX Index is the most sensitive to volatility changes, while VIX futures with further settlement dates are less sensitive. As a result, longer-term options on the VIX are less sensitive to changes implied volatility. For example, between September 2nd and October 10th 2008, the following movements occurred in each volatility product:
     

    Product

    Sep. 02 - Oct. 10 Change

    VIX Index

    +218%

    October VIX Future

    +148%

    November VIX Future

    +67%

    December VIX Future

    +47%

    Table courtesy of projectoption.com. 

    So, while trading long-term options on the VIX might give you more time to be right, volatility will need to experience much more significant fluctuations for your positions to profit.
     

  10. Option Greeks for VIX options (e.g. Implied Volatility, Delta, Gamma, Theta) shown by most brokers are wrong. Options chains are usually based on the VIX index as the underlying security for the options. In reality the appropriate volatility future contract is the underlying. For example, August VIX options are based on August VIX futures, not VIX spot.

Related articles:

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

  • Probability and Option Risk

    A lot is said about probability of profitable outcomes in option trades, but do we truly understand what probability is or how it works? Options traders can become better informed and even wiser by looking a step beyond the well-known conclusions.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 349 views
  • Using ORATS in Anchor Testing

    The purpose of the below piece is to demonstrate how Lorntine Capital uses ORATS (Options Research and Technology Services) in our own backtesting. Note: ORATS does not pay me for writing this but has requested that if we like the software, we assist in promoting it.

    By cwelsh,

    • 1 comment
    • 401 views
  • Calculating the Probability of Option Payoff

    A calculation of “breakeven” as well as maximum profit or loss, sets up a single system for modeling and comparing one option to another. But it might also require traders to adopt an unrealistic assumption about outcomes based on best-case or worst-care scenario.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 448 views
  • Realistic Expectations: Using History as A Guide

    One of the biggest challenges I come across with the typical investor is maintaining realistic expectations and being able to properly understand the tradeoffs between risk and return. We all want high returns with low risk and there’s no limit to the efforts we’ll make to find it.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 464 views
  • CAPM As an Alternative Option Pricing Model

    Options traders endlessly debate the merits of the Black-Scholes pricing model. Some swear by it and others don’t even try to use it. Given the many profound flaws in the model, it is not an accurate tool for developing a sense of where price is likely to move in the future. But there are alternatives.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 626 views
  • Option Payoff Probability

    Options traders must, naturally, be concerned with the likelihood of payoff for a strategy. Ironically, one of the most often cited statistics about profit and loss is simply incorrect. That statistic is captured in the headline of a story posted online “Trading Options: Data Shows That 75% or More of Options Expire Worthless.”

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 722 views
  • 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
    • 714 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
    • 816 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
    • 1,650 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
    • 794 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


Thanks for the article Kim. It is very educational.

So when VIX options expire ITM, they get a cash payout on expiration. What happens if the option is OTM at expiration?

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob,

When VIX option expires OTM, nothing happens. You basically lose any premium you paid for it. The option will have zero value. It is just removed from your account.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank for the insights @Kim

How liquid are VIX options? What is the chance to get filled around the mid? I can see that options are in nickel increments. So if bid/ask is 1.00/1.05, can you get filled at 1.03?

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually trade VIX spreads, and with spreads, it is very common to get filled around the mid. Those options are among the most liquid, almost as liquid as SPY options. Volume and OI are huge on all expirations.

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