Are Options Always 100 Shares?

Options are a popular way to buy or sell shares of different companies and other financial instruments. If you buy an option, you’ll have the opportunity to buy or sell shares at a certain price for a set period, but there’s no obligation to do so. However, if you’re looking to buy options, do you always have to buy them in increments of 100 shares?

Options are always 100 shares in the United States trading markets. There are few exceptions, but you’ll only find them if you’re looking in niche markets at an advanced trading level. Options are always 100 shares because they’re quick to buy and sell, though their listed price is per share.

So why are options always 100 shares, and what are the exceptions that apply to this norm? To learn more about buying options, why options are always 100 shares, and for some resources to help you learn about options trading, keep reading.

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Why Are Options Always 100 Shares?

Options are always 100 shares because it makes it easy for traders to buy them without constantly checking how many shares are in each option. Trading can be a fast-paced activity, and having all options be 100 shares makes buying and selling them easy. 

When options are for sale, the price listed is per share, but they’re still always sold in groups of 100. That means when you exercise your option, you’ll have to buy or sell 100 shares simultaneously. There are no exceptions to this, which could be a downside of options for some people and traders.

There is one benefit, though. Once you exercise your option to buy, you can either sell your shares, keep them, or do both. Keeping or selling your shares is beneficial because you can sell your shares for a profit, keep the shares hoping that they’ll increase in price, or do both so you can hopefully profit now and later.

There are very few exceptions to options being sold in 100 shares since the count of 100 shares per option contract makes calculations easy. Any exceptions to the 100 share options are in a smaller option of 10 shares or a much larger option of 1,000 shares. It’s difficult to find these options since they’re rare, but you can hunt them down in niche markets or on advanced trading sites.

For more information on the few exceptions to options being 100 shares, watch this quick, informative video from Option Alpha on YouTube:

What if I Can’t Buy Or Sell 100 Shares of My Option?

Since options are bought and sold in increments of 100, you must buy or sell 100 shares when you exercise your option. But what happens if you can’t afford to buy 100 shares, or if you don’t have 100 shares to sell?

If you can’t buy or sell your shares, you simply don’t have to exercise your option. Not exercising your option means that you don’t buy or sell shares, and your option will ultimately expire. The only downside to letting your option expire is that you’ll wind up losing the money you spent buying the option.

On the other hand, you can always buy multiple options and buy or sell more than 100 shares. You’ll still need to buy or sell in multiples of 100, but you aren’t limited to only 100 shares if you can buy more than one option.

Since you’re not limited to buying a single option, and you can buy or sell as many shares as you would like (in increments of 100), you can profit a lot more than you would lose if you don’t exercise your option. 

When you don’t exercise an option, the loss will only be the amount that you paid for the option, but the profit could essentially be limitless since stock prices can increase quickly.

Options are great since you’re under no obligation to buy or sell shares when you purchase them, hence the name. However, you won’t get any money back from what you paid for your option if you don’t exercise it. Remember that you’re always obligated to buy or sell 100 shares when you exercise your options.

History of 100 Share Options

Shares of options became standardized in 1973 when one option became equal to one hundred shares of stock. If you wanted to find an option that had fewer than one hundred shares, you had to look elsewhere, and it was difficult. 

Before 1973, you could purchase shares of options in any increment you wanted, starting at one share. This was not great for the market since option buyers had to be matched with option sellers, and the more versatility in the number of shares, the harder it was to match buyers and sellers. 

Things to Reminders When Trading Options

When you’re buying options, there are a few things to remember. You’ll be buying the option for 100 shares, but the price you see an option listed at is per share. That means you’ll need to multiply the price by 100 to get the total price you’ll pay to exercise your option. 

Additionally, different options allow you to buy and sell shares. A call option allows you to buy stocks at a certain price for a certain period, and a put option allows you to sell your shares at a certain price for a certain period. Be sure to buy the proper option depending on what you’re looking to do with your stocks.

If you can’t buy or sell all 100 shares, or the stock price goes in the wrong direction for your option to help you make money, you’ll need to take a loss. However, the loss of letting your option expire will be less than exercising your option and losing money, so sometimes it’s best to take a small loss and let the option expire.

Finally, options can make you money in the stock market, but you can also lose money quickly if you don’t buy the right options or use your options properly. 

Make sure you educate yourself on options and trading before spending too much money. Options should never make up your entire portfolio; you should balance the risk with other investments.

How To Learn More About Options?

If you want to learn more about buying options and grow as a trader, reading books is the best way to learn. The following books are suitable for options traders of all levels. 

All of the following books are available on Amazon:

  • Trading Options for Dummies by Joe Duarte: This book is perfect for beginners who want to start buying options but have no experience doing so. The book breaks down everything you need to know before you begin trading options in your portfolio, as well as other things you must learn as a new trader.
  • The Options Playbook 2nd Edition by Brian Overby: This book is for “bears, bulls, all-stars, rookies, and everyone in-between,” making it the perfect book for anyone looking to increase their options knowledge. The book will have everything you need to know about buying options in one place.
  • Options Trading Crash Course by Frank Richmond: This book has a big promise for beginners: making money with trading very quickly! The Options Trading Crash Course is a good book for beginners with no knowledge of trading options but ready to trade right away.

Author’s Recommendations: Top Trading and Investment Resources To Consider

Before concluding this article, I wanted to share few trading and investment resources that I have vetted, with the help of 50+ consistently profitable traders, for you. I am confident that you will greatly benefit in your trading journey by considering one or more of these resources.


Options are sold in 100 shares apart from a few exceptions in advanced trading markets and niches. When you exercise your option to buy or sell shares, you must buy or sell 100 shares. If you can’t or don’t want to buy or sell 100 shares, you must let your option expire, and you’ll lose any money you spent on the option. 

You can buy multiple options if you want to buy or sell more than 100 shares, but you’ll still need to buy or sell in 100 share increments when you exercise the options.

BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget to check out my latest article – ‘Exploring Social Trading: Community, Profit, and Collaboration. I surveyed 1500+ traders to identify the impact social trading can have on your trading performance, and shared all my findings in this article. No matter where you are in your trading journey today, I am confident that you will find this article helpful!

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    1. How to trade options: First steps for beginners. (2016, November 17). NerdWallet.
    2. Investor bulletin: An introduction to options. (2015, March 18).
    3. Options. (n.d.). A vibrant market is at its best when it works for everyone. |
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    Navdeep Singh

    Navdeep has been an avid trader/investor for the last 10 years and loves to share what he has learned about trading and investments here on TradeVeda. When not managing his personal portfolio or writing for TradeVeda, Navdeep loves to go outdoors on long hikes.

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