Early Exercise

DEFINITION of 'Early Exercise'

The exercise of an option prior to its expiration date. Early exercise is only possible with American-style option contracts, which can be exercised at any time up to expiration, as opposed to European options, for which early exercise is not possible as they can only be exercised on the expiration date. Early exercise of a call option enables the call option buyer to purchase the underlying security at the strike price before expiration, while early exercise of a put option enables the put option buyer to sell the underlying security at the strike price before expiration.

BREAKING DOWN 'Early Exercise'

While early exercise is generally not advisable, because the time value inherent in the option premium is lost upon doing so, there are certain circumstances under which early exercise may be advantageous. For example, an investor may choose to exercise a call option that is deeply in-the-money (such an option will have negligible time value) just before the ex-dividend date of the underlying stock. This will enable the investor to capture the dividend paid by the underlying stock, which should more than offset the marginal time value lost due to early exercise.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I change my strike price once the trade has been placed already?

    Learn how the strike prices for call and put options work, and understand how different types of options can be exercised ... Read Answer >>
  2. What happens when an option expires in money? Do I have to sell the option to make ...

  3. When holding an option through expiration date, are you automatically paid any profits, ...

    Holding an option through the expiration date without selling does not automatically guarantee you profits, but it might ... Read Answer >>
  4. After exercising a put option, can I still hold my option contract in order to sell ...

    Once a put option contract has been exercised, that contract does not exist anymore. A put option grants you the right to ... Read Answer >>
  5. Can an option be exercised on the expiration date?

    The use of options has increased dramatically over the years as a way to profit from or hedge against the volatile movements ... Read Answer >>
  6. How is a put option exercised?

    A put option is a contract that gives the option holder the right, but not obligation, to sell a set amount of shares (1 ... Read Answer >>
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