What Is a Fraption?

A fraption is a type of option that gives the option holder the opportunity to enter into a forward rate agreement with predetermined conditions and within a certain amount of time. Forward rate agreements are contracts that pre-determine the interest rate to be paid on a future date. An FRA is an agreement to exchange an interest rate commitment on a notional amount. Like vanilla options, fraptions have an expiry date. Buyers use fraptions to protect against interest rate changes at the cost of a premium.

A fraption is also known as an "interest rate guarantee."

Key Takeaways

  • A fraption is a type of option that gives the option holder the opportunity to enter into a forward rate agreement with predetermined conditions and within a certain amount of time.
  • Fraptions are drafted over-the-counter, making them highly customizable. Terms include the notional amount of the forward, the expiry of the options portion of the fraption, the premium on the option, and the settlement date, maturity date, and rates of the forward.
  • Fraptions are used by corporations and institutions to manage interest rate risk; fraptions are also known as "interest rate guarantees."

How Fraptions Work

Fraptions give the holder the right to enter into a forward rate agreement if they so choose. Like vanilla options, a fraption offers rights but is not an obligation to the buyer.

The buyer pays a premium for the fraption in order to lock in the interest rate. If the fraption is not exercised (turned into a forward rate agreement) because interest rates remain relatively stable or even drop, the buyer loses the premium but is not obligated to enter into the forward rate agreement.

If the buyer chooses to exercise the option, they will enter into the forward rate agreement per the terms of the fraption. Fraptions are traded over-the-counter, allowing the two parties involved in the transaction to specify the exact terms they want. Terms include the notional amount of the forward, the expiry of the options portion of the fraption, the premium on the option, and the settlement date, maturity date, and rates of the forward. If both parties agree, the fraption is created.

Once the forward rate agreement is in place, the options portion of the transaction ceases to exist. The seller of the fraption keeps the premium paid and the forward takes the option's place as an obligation to both parties.

Using a Fraption

Fraptions are primarily used by corporations and institutions to manage interest rate risk. The buyer of the fraption and forward rate agreement typically wants to protect against a rise in interest rates. Thus, the buyer of the forward pays a fixed interest rate on a notional amount of money.

Meanwhile, the seller of the fraption and the forward rate agreement wants to protect against a decline in interest rates. The seller pays a floating interest rate, typically linked to LIBOR.

The notional amount of the forward, say $1 million, is not exchanged between the two parties. Rather, only the monetary difference created by the two interest rates is exchanged on the effective date of the forward.

Because forward rate agreements don't require an exchange of the notional amount between the two parties, they are considered "off-balance-sheet" agreements, meaning the corporations don't need to report the agreement on their balance sheet.