Futures contracts can be an effective and efficient risk management or trading tool. Their performance is basically two-dimensional, either you are up money or down depending on the entry price point and whether the market is up or down versus your position.

But with options on futures there are more dimensions, or forces, acting on the price or premium of the option.

There are metrics to measure each of these different forces impacts on the premium of an option. These metrics are often referred to by their Greek letter, and collectively known as “the Greeks.” 


Delta and gamma measure the effect of price movement of the underlying on the option premium. As we demonstrated in previous videos, both are dynamic as to the option being out-the-money (OTM), at-the-money (ATM), or in-the-money (ITM).

Now we will investigate the effects of time on an option. The Greek that measures an option’s sensitivity to time is theta. Theta is usually expressed as a negative number. Be careful to always make sure what time is referenced in the model you are using.

For example, if the value of an option is 7.50 and the option has a theta of .02. After one day, the option’s value will be 7.48, 2 days 7.46. etc.

Theta is highest for at-the-money (ATM) options and lower the further out-the-money or in-the-money the option is. The absolute value of theta of an option that is at- or near-the-money rises as the option approaches expiration. Theta for an option that is deep in- or out- the-money falls as the option approaches expiration. 

In the prior example, theta was a constant value of .02 for all three days. In reality, the theta loss increases as the option approaches expiration. 


In March, a September option will have a daily time decay of .02. By August, the daily decay will increase to .06 and the option more quickly decays.

Time decay is not linear, and moreover, for ATM strikes decay continually accelerates into option expiration. 

Test your knowledge


Did you know that CME Institute classes can fulfill CFA and GARP continuing education requirements? Every CME Institute course can be self-reported in your CFA online CE tracker and select classes can be used for GARP credits. See which of our classes qualify for GARP credits here.

What did you think of this course?

To help us improve our education materials, please provide your feedback.

Extend your learning

Put your knowledge into practice with the Trading Simulator

Get hands on experience with the latest Trading Challenge

CME Group is the world’s leading derivatives marketplace. The company is comprised of four Designated Contract Markets (DCMs). 
Further information on each exchange's rules and product listings can be found by clicking on the links to CME, CBOT, NYMEX and COMEX.

© 2024 CME Group Inc. All rights reserved.