The SPX Options vs. SPY Options Debate: Which Should I Trade?

Oct 29, 2023 By Triston Martin

Investing in S&P 500 options is a common technique to profit from the index. Options trading on SPX and SPY are two of the most common ways traders use this index. SPX options are based on the index, whereas SPY options are based on an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that follows the index.

What are SPX Options?

The S&P 500 index is used as the basis for SPX options. Many advantages that other options don't have to make them a popular strategy to trade the stock market. Since European-style possibilities cannot be exercised before their expiration date, SPX options are not available for purchase until the expiration date.

In this way, traders have more time to judge their positions and do not have to engage in early exercise. Furthermore, because SPX options don't have a dividend yield, your gains and losses won't be affected by such payments.

What SPY Options are?

The SPY ETF, which follows the S&P 500 index, provides the basis for SPY options. You should be aware of several significant distinctions between these and SPX options. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, SPY options are American-style options, which means that they can be exercised at any moment before expiration. If you need to get out of a position early, this flexibility can be helpful. It would help to consider the dividend yield of SPY options while trading these contracts.

What Is the Distinction Between SPX and SPY Options?

You should be aware of some important distinctions between the SPX and SPY options. The most significant difference is between European-style SPX options and American-style SPY options. When it comes to SPX options, you can only exercise them after they expire, but SPY options can be exercised at any time before expiration.

The dividend yield on SPY options is higher than on SPX options. To sum it all up, SPY Options are physically settled, meaning that when you close out your position, you will either get or owe shares. If you need to sell your options early, this might complicate matters.


Option holders often do not get dividends. On the other hand, SPY pays out a dividend every quarter, making it a better investment overall. In-the-money (ITM) call options can be exercised to collect bonuses if they are in the money. Before the ex-dividend date, you must either execute your SPY options or own shares and put a call (called a covered call option).

Trading Methods

The European and American trading styles are two distinct ways of doing business. There is a difference between European-style options and American-type options when exercising them before the expiration date. When a trader buys SPY options, they are American-style contracts that may be executed at any moment (before they expire).


The settlement price is established every third Friday based on the opening prices of the companies in the index. The expiry cycle's final closing price is used to calculate this price. Expiration Friday sees all trading in SPY options come to an end.


Shares are used to settle SPY options. Your options will allow you to acquire (or sell) EFT shares. You will get money in your brokerage account if you execute SPX options and are rewarded with a profit.


In addition, the value of an SPX option is ten times greater than that of a SPY option. The SPX finished at 2,789.82 points, and the SPY closed at $278.20.23 on April 9th, 2020, as an illustration.

One SPX option with the same strike price and expiration date costs about ten times more than one SPY option. As a result, one SPX point was worth $100.4. SPX was at 2,660, and SPY was trading at $266. If you have a $100 SPX option, you may buy $266,000 worth of the underlying asset by exercising it.

Which One Is Best For You?

There are no SPX shares to purchase or sell since SPX's assets do not trade. Trades can be made on the S&P 500's price changes by using options. The price of SPX is determined as though it were an absolute index.

In other words, it has precisely the same amount of shares in every one of the 500 companies. As a result, futures contracts and options based on the SPX are traded, even if the index itself does not. Because of this, SPX option settlements are always made in cash.

The Verdict

Discrepancies between American and European style options, as well as the SPY vs. SPX option differences, are the two most important ones. This may make a big impact when it comes to deciding what to do with your options. When it comes to how much money you have available to invest, the price differential (and settlement) is critical.

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