What Does “Buy to Open” Mean? Overview, 8 Facts & Example

You must open a position in order to invest in stocks or options. Whether short or long, this position symbolizes the beginning of your investment. As the price of a security fluctuates, your investment will expand or contract compared to its initial position. 

The precise term for initiating a trade is “buy to open.” To open a position, whether it’s a stock or an option, you must buy in. This entails the exchange of capital for the possibility of future earnings.

Here is all you need to know about “buy to open” and more infomation about it.

What Does “Buy to Open” Mean?

An investor who places a “buy to open” order on an options contract effectively acquires ownership of the contract. This is one approach for opening a position in options, the reverse being “sell to open”.

By purchasing to open, the investor establishes a long position on the underlying instrument and may exercise the contract’s option if the price of the underlying instrument hits the striking price.

Importantly, a “buy to open” order may include either the option to purchase the underlying asset, known as a call option, or the option to sell it, known as a put option.

Options enable investors to bet on the price movement of specific assets, such as stocks, without actually acquiring physical possession of those assets. The language associated with options might be difficult to comprehend for beginner investors.

For an opening position, an investor can either buy to open, which is a long position, or sell to open, which is a short position. An investor can employ a variety of strategies when trading options, but for an opening position, he or she can only buy to open, which is a long position, or sell to open, which is a short position.

When investors decide to purchase at the opening, they must pick between two sorts of choices. A call option grants the holder the right to purchase the underlying asset at the strike price at some time before the options contract expires. A put option, in contrast, confers the right to sell the underlying asset in the future.

What Does "Buy to Open" Mean?

Those who desire to purchase to open may experience some uncertainty due to the existence of put options. Even if the investor has acquired the option, he or she hopes that the asset’s price will fall so that a profit may be made. It is essential to recognize that purchasing a put option represents a long position.

When an investor sells to open, he or she assumes short positions by selling call or put options to long-term investors.

Once an individual agrees to buy to open, there are essentially three possible outcomes. If the price of the underlying asset does not reach the striking price before the contract expires, the contract is void and the premium paid to purchase the option is forfeited.

When the strike price is achieved, the investor may exercise the option and purchase the specified quantity of the underlying asset. The investor might close out the deal by selling the property, a technique known as “sell to close.”

How Does Buying To Open Work?

Purchasing to open grants you ownership of a derivative. When you submit a buy to open order for put options, for instance, you are purchasing put options that offer you the right to sell shares at a certain price.

What Does "Buy to Open" Mean?

You are considered to be opening a position when you acquire contracts that put you in a position to profit from fluctuations in the underlying security.

Once a post is vacant, it will ultimately be necessary to fill it. A position in options ends automatically when the contract expires. Additionally, you have the option to close the position.

Additionally, investors can close their investment by placing a sell to close order. This results in the sale of their derivatives contracts to a third party, who can then decide what to do with them. If the contract’s value has grown, selling to close can provide a profit.

Understanding Buy to Open Orders

The language for buying and selling options is not as easy as it is for stock trading. Options traders must pick between “buy to open,” “buy to close,” “sell to open,” and “sell to close” instead of just placing a buy or sell order as they would for equities.

A buy-to-open position may signal to market participants that the trader initiating the order has a bias or opinion about the market. This is especially true for large orders. However, this is not necessarily the case. In actuality, option traders commonly participate in spreading or hedging operations in which a purchase to open may negate existing positions.

Stock Considerations

The phrase “buy to open” may also be applied to stocks. When an investor decides to develop a new position in a certain stock, the initial purchase is referred to as a buy to open since it opens the position.

What Does "Buy to Open" Mean?

By opening the position, the stock is added to the portfolio as a holding. The position stays active until all shares are sold and the position is closed. This is known as selling to close since the position is closed. The sale of a partial holding entails the sale of some, but not all, shares. A position is deemed closed when there are no more shares of a certain stock in a portfolio.

When covering a short-sell position, buy-to-close orders are also utilized. A short-sale position is closed by purchasing the borrowed shares back on the open market. Buy-to-close order refers to the final transaction required to completely close out a position.

This transaction eliminates the risk entirely. In order to benefit from the difference between the short-sell price and the buy-to-close price, it is intended to repurchase the shares at a lower price.

In instances where the share price swings dramatically upward, a short-seller may be required to close at a loss by purchasing shares. As a result of a margin call, the broker may execute a forced liquidation in the worst-case situation.

Due to the shortage, the broker would then need the customer to deposit funds into the margin account. Due to inadequate account equity, this would trigger a buy-to-cover order to exit the position at a loss.

Buy to Open vs. Buy to Close

If an investor want to profit from a price movement of the underlying securities by purchasing a call or a put, the investor must purchase to open. Buying to open establishes a long options position that affords a speculator the opportunity to generate a massive profit with no risk.

In contrast, if the security does not move in the desired direction within a certain period of time, the option will lose all of its value due to time decay.

What Does "Buy to Open" Mean?

Due to time decay, option sellers have an edge over purchasers, although they may still purchase to close their holdings. When an investor sells options, he or she remains bound by the options’ terms until their expiration date. However, fluctuations in the price of the underlying security might enable options sellers to realize the majority of their gains considerably sooner or push them to limit their losses.

Suppose a person sells at-the-money options on a year-long contract, and after three months, the underlying stock appreciates by 10 percent. The seller of options can purchase to close and collect the majority of the gains immediately. If the stock price falls 10% after three months, the option seller will have to pay extra to settle the position and minimize possible losses.

Example of Buy to Open

Suppose a trader believes that the price of XYZ stock would increase from $40 to $60 during the following year, based on study. A trader might purchase to establish a call position in XYZ. The strike price may be $50, with an expiration date around one year away.

Buy To Open vs. Sell To Open

Buy to Open

  • You need money to purchase derivatives
  • Potentially unlimited profit
  • Losses limited to the premium paid

Sell to Open

  • Can sell derivatives without needing cash to buy them
  • Profit limited to the collected premium
  • Potentially unlimited losses

Buying to open is the act of acquiring a derivative in order to open a position. Investors can also sell derivatives contracts. Selling to open refers to beginning a position by selling a derivative as opposed to purchasing one.

What Does "Buy to Open" Mean?

To purchase options, investors must have sufficient funds to cover the premiums. In contrast, selling an option does not necessitate a cash outlay. However, when an investor sells a derivative, he or she merely receives a premium payment and might lose a substantial amount if the underlying stock goes considerably in the opposite direction.

What It Means for Individual Investors

If you are an investor interested in employing derivatives, it is safer to purchase them than to sell them. When purchasing options, your risk is restricted, so you do not need to worry about abruptly draining your account by selling a losing option.

This indicates that the majority of option users should primarily open positions with buy-to-open orders rather than sell-to-open orders.


Brokerages use the term “buy to open” to refer to the formation of a fresh (opening) long call or put position in options. A new options investor who wishes to purchase a call or put should buy to open.

A buy-to-open order notifies market participants that the trader is opening a new position as opposed to liquidating an existing one. The sell-to-close order is used to close a position established using a buy-to-open order.

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