Explanation of calendar spreads in options trading

Are you looking to take advantage of the rewards and risks associated with options trading? If so, calendar spreads may be a good options strategy for you. A calendar spread, also known as a time or horizontal spread, involves simultaneously buying and selling options based on the same underlying asset but with different expiration dates. This bull or bear strategy can provide traders with a steady income while mitigating risk by taking advantage of shifts in implied volatility (IV).

This article will look at how calendar spreads work, their benefits and disadvantages, and tips for successful implementation. So please grab a cup of coffee, settle into your desk chair and join us in exploring everything there is to know about utilising calendar spreads in options trading.

How do calendar spreads work?

Calendar spreads are a type of options trading strategy that involves simultaneously purchasing and selling options within the same asset with different expiration dates. At the same time, they are typically used by experienced traders due to their complexity; it is possible to use them even if you’re new to the trading world.

In essence, when a calendar spread is created, the trader picks two different expiration dates for the same underlying asset so that one can be bought and the other sold at a specific price point. It allows for any increase or decrease in the underlying asset’s volatility without incurring much risk in the long run; any loss suffered from a decrease in value can be made up from an increase in time-value premium when settling each position on different dates.

Such an approach is attractive for minimising losses whilst finding new opportunities from volatile assets.

What are the benefits of calendar spreads?

Calendar spread trading offers several advantages over other strategies that may be employed to capitalise on the potential opportunities of options trading.

The first is that the risk associated with investing can be managed more effectively; since traders are buying and selling at different expiration dates, this strategy allows them to benefit from price shifts in both directions without taking on too much risk.

Another benefit of utilizing calendar spreads is the potential for steady income; since traders can take advantage of shifts in implied volatility (IV) and time-value premium, they can continue to do well even when the underlying asset remains relatively flat or fails to move in either direction.

Finally, calendar spreads also allow traders to capitalise on different market conditions; since the strategy involves selling options when volatility is high and buying them when it’s low, traders can benefit from both bearish and bullish trends. Saxo provides an excellent illustration of this concept in its guide for beginner traders.

What are some tips for successful implementation?

Regardless of your experience level, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals when utilising calendar spreads to ensure a successful trade.

The first tip is to make sure you are using appropriate expiration dates; for this strategy to be effective, the expiry dates must be far enough apart that any changes in implied volatility (IV) or time-value premium can be capitalised on.

The second is to ensure that you understand the underlying asset; since this strategy is based on buying and selling options based on the same underlying asset, traders need to have a good grasp of the asset in question to make informed decisions.

Finally, it’s essential to know the fees associated with each trade; since calendar spreads involve multiple contracts, they can incur significant trading costs; it is crucial to research brokerages in advance to find one that offers competitive prices.

What are the risks associated with calendar spreads?

Calendar spreads can be an effective tool for reducing risk and extracting opportunities from volatile assets. However, there are some risks associated with such a strategy that should be considered.

The first is the possibility of suffering losses if the underlying asset moves sharply in the opposite direction to what was expected; since traders are simultaneously buying and selling contracts on the same asset, any sharp movements in price can lead to a considerable loss.

In addition, there is also the risk of IV and time-value premium changing unexpectedly; since this strategy relies on these factors to generate returns, any sudden shifts in either could harm performance.

Finally, it’s essential to know the costs associated with such a strategy; as mentioned previously, calendar spreads involve multiple contracts, which can incur significant trading fees. Therefore, it is crucial to research in advance and find a broker who offers competitive rates.


Calendar spreads offer several advantages for traders looking to capitalize on the opportunities offered by options trading. The strategy allows traders to reduce risk and continue to do well even when the underlying asset remains flat or fails to move in either direction. Specific risks associated with calendar spreads should be considered, such as losses from sharp movements in the underlying asset and unexpected changes in IV and time-value premiums.

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