Weekly options are designed for traders looking to profit from short-term moves in the underlying stock. Unlike traditional monthly options, weekly options offer traders the ability to "customize" their expiration date -- meaning options buyers don't need to pay for any more time premium than they absolutely need.
Weekly options series are listed on Thursdays, and the contracts expire on Fridays. However, weekly options are not offered during the same week as the regularly scheduled monthly options expiration.
These short-term contracts were first introduced by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) in 2005, and there were only four weekly index options available. Today, the list of available weekly options has expanded to include dozens of popular stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Weekly contracts are not listed on every optionable stock, but the roster of available tickers is subject to change in response to market demand.
There are several benefits to trading weekly options. For option buyers, the ill effects of time decay are minimized by the contracts' brief life spans. So, if you're a short-term trader whose typical holding period is measured in days, weekly options can be a cost-effective choice for targeting quick stock moves.
Option sellers can also find some reasons to play weekly contracts. Many premium-selling strategies already have a short-term focus, which leaves the underlying stock less time to move against you. Plus, since time decay accelerates as expiration draws closer, your weekly options will quickly lose value over the course of their brief shelf life.
Additionally, weekly options can be used as a low-cost hedge for stock positions when there's a specific event-related risk on the horizon -- for example, a quarterly earnings report. Rather than purchasing a month or more of time value to hedge your shares, a weekly option lets you get away with shelling out for just a few days' worth.
Weekly options also offer an attractive vehicle to speculate around specific events. If you'd like to try your hand at a high-risk, high-reward pre-earnings trade, weekly options might be a more compelling alternative than their monthly counterparts to capitalize on a quick pop (or drop) in the underlying stock.
Initially, only one weekly options series was offered at a time. However, CBOE and C2 now have the ability to list up to five consecutive weekly options series for stocks, ETFs, ETNs, and indexes. As a result, it's possible to buy weeklies with just as much time value as a traditional monthly option. Traders should be aware of this when considering a potential trade with weeklies, and should carefully consider implied and historical volatility levels to avoid overpaying for extrinsic value.