Hi there and welcome to this article on credit spreads. In a few words I’d like to express the risk involved in this type of option spread just in case you are new to trading options. The reason I would like to bring this up now is because I have had many phone calls from option traders who lost huge chunks of their trading portfolios in October of 2008. Some traders lost up to 80% of their trading capital using this strategy, and the reason is because although this trade has a 90% probability, the risk and the stress involved is not often addressed correctly.
The first spread learned by most beginning option traders is the credit spread. It’s a very simple strategy, but what many beginning option traders do not know is that this particular strategy can be very dangerous. There are many courses on the internet that teach this strategy, but the reason is not because it’s a great strategy, but rather, it’s simple, and it’s easy to sell. What I mean to say is that teaching credit spreads to beginning option traders is simply a great business but the fact is, many option traders who only trade credit spreads lose a lot of money each year. Not only do they lose a lot of money, but it’s also a very stressful way to live. Let me explain why. [youtube:hc5zbA70-38;Trading [link:Option Credit Spreads];http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc5zbA70-38&feature=related]
It’s well known that an option trader can enter into a credit spread with a 90% probability that he will make money on the trade. That is well known. That is the popular belief, especially amongst beginning option traders. This is true, but do not ignore the other side of the picture. Even though you have a 90% probability to make a profit on the trade, you must consider what goes on while the trade is in play. People don’t talk about the level of stress involved.
Salesman don’t tell you how far behind you can be on a credit spread in just a few days if the trade goes against you. Salesmen don’t talk about how you can lose 90% of your trading capital the very first monthly trade credit spreads. Salesmen don’t tell you this stress related but this particular option trade. They don’t tell you that you won’t be able to sleep at night.
Those who tell you that credit spreads are non-directional trades are not telling you the whole truth. It’s true that a credit spread can make money in any direction, but the direction cannot be very far. Also, if the trade goes the wrong way from the beginning, you will be in a very dangerous position, and you will be way behind on the trade. If you are trading short-term credit spreads, you often times find yourself standing at the edge of a cliff and very close to losing all of your trading capital.
Finally I would like to say that credit spreads can be used effectively in an options portfolio. Normally however, the credit spread should be combined with another options strategy. This will limit a risk and increase your return potential each month. There is a place for credit spreads in my portfolio, but if you are thinking of doing them alone as a standalone strategy, then I encourage you to think again.