Futures and Options Contracts: A Guide for Indian Investors

In the realm of finance, derivatives are instrumental financial instruments whose value is derived from underlying assets. Among these, futures and options contracts have carved a significant niche in the Indian investment landscape. These financial tools offer distinctive avenues and tactics for investors. In this all-encompassing guide, we delve into futures and options contracts, explore their variances, and elucidate how Indian investors can wield them adeptly.

Understanding Futures and Options Contracts

Futures Contracts

A futures contract signifies a binding pact between two parties, obliging the buyer to purchase or the seller to sell a predetermined quantity of an underlying asset, be it stocks, commodities, or currencies, at an agreed-upon price set for a future date. This contract binds both parties to execute the transaction when the contract matures.

Options Contracts

Options offer investors the right, without the compulsion, to procure (call option) or vend (put option) an underlying asset at a prearranged price known as the strike price. This execution can transpire on or prior to an appointed expiration date. Unlike futures contracts, options extend flexibility to holders, who can choose whether to act upon the contract or not.

Benefits of Engaging in Futures and Options Contracts in India

1. Risk Mitigation

Futures and options contracts emerge as potent instruments for mitigating risks associated with fluctuations in the value of underlying assets. They provide a safeguard against unfavorable market movements, thereby shielding your investments.

2. Leverage

These derivatives offer leverage, permitting you to command a more substantial market position with a relatively modest upfront investment. This amplifies both prospective profits and losses.

3. Diversification

Futures and options contracts open doors to diversify your investment portfolio, extending beyond traditional stocks and bonds. This diversification can potentially augment overall returns.

Deciphering the Disparities Between Futures and Options Contracts

Rights and Commitments

Futures contracts involve commitments for both transacting parties, binding them to fulfill their obligations as stipulated in the contract.

Options contracts grant the holder the right to procure (call) or vend (put) the underlying asset but do not mandate such action.

Contract Expiry

Futures contracts carry a fixed maturity date, necessitating the execution of the agreed transaction on or before the due date.

Options contracts proffer adaptability, permitting the holder to invoke their rights at any juncture until the contract reaches its expiration date.

Financial Obligations

Futures traders are mandated to uphold a margin account, serving as collateral against prospective losses.

Options traders are required to remit a premium for the contract, signifying its cost. This premium constitutes the maximum conceivable loss for the option holder.

Navigating Futures and Options Contracts in India

Step 1: Launch a Demat and Trading Account

To commence trading in futures and options contracts within India, you must set up a Demat (Dematerialized) account to hold securities and a trading account to enact transactions. These accounts can be established through accredited brokerage firms.

Step 2: Activate Futures and Options Trading

Following the establishment of your accounts, activate futures and options trading by specifying your favoured segments, such as NSE (National Stock Exchange), Futures and Options or commodities. It is imperative to ensure compliance with the income-proof prerequisites mandated by your broker.

Step 3: Fund Your Account

Deposit funds into your trading account to satisfy margin requisites and premium payments if you intend to trade options.

Step 4: Inaugurate Trading

Embark on your trading journey by cherry-picking futures or options contracts that align with your investment objectives. You can initiate positions grounded on your market analysis and predictions.

Assessing Eligibility for Futures and Options Contracts Investment in India

Futures and options trading proves apt for investors equipped with a robust comprehension of market dynamics and at ease with the associated risks linked to derivatives. These contracts necessitate a discerning analysis and speculation concerning the movements of underlying assets.


Hedgers employ futures and options contracts to buffer themselves against the turbulence of prices, notably in the commodities market, which is susceptible to substantial price oscillations. Their goal is to ensure returns on their investments by prognosticating market trends.


Speculators are traders who wager on the future price shifts of underlying assets. They don’t seek price stability; instead, they accept calculated risks to harness market fluctuations. Speculators frequently employ futures and options contracts to gain exposure to potentially substantial returns.

Categories of Futures and Options Contracts in India

Types of Futures Contracts

  • Index Futures: These contracts are tethered to stock market indices like Nifty and Sensex, providing exposure to the broad market performance.
  • Stock Futures: Stock futures empower traders to buy or sell a stipulated quantity of individual company stocks at a predetermined price.
  • Currency Futures: Currency futures entail acquiring or disposing of a specified sum of a currency at a forthcoming date.
  • Commodity Futures: These contracts are linked to commodities such as gold, oil, and agricultural produce.

Types of Options Contracts

  • Call Options: Call options confer upon the holder the right to acquire the underlying asset at a predetermined strike price before the contract reaches its expiration date.
  • Put Options: Put options bestow upon the holder the right to sell the underlying asset at a prearranged strike price prior to the contract’s expiration.


This comprehensive guide illuminates the world of futures and options contracts, furnishing Indian investors with valuable knowledge and practical insights to proficiently navigate the intricate realm of derivatives. Whether you stand as a hedger aspiring to shield your investments from market fluctuations or a speculator seeking the allure of potential rewards, comprehending these financial instruments stands as a pivotal milestone in your investment journey. Begin trading wisely and explore the multitude of opportunities that futures and options contracts offer within the Indian investment landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are futures and options contracts?

Futures and options are financial derivatives tied to an underlying asset. Futures obligate both parties to trade the asset at a future date and price, while options give the buyer the right, not obligation, to trade, with the buyer paying a premium. 

What is an example of a future and option contract?

A futures contract example is trading 100 units of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) at Rs. 2,500 per share on December 31, 2023. This contract represents a total value of Rs. 2,50,000 and is traded on the National Stock Exchange (NSE). An options contract example is a call option on the Nifty 50 index, granting the right to buy 75 units of the index at 18,000 on December 31, 2023, with a premium of Rs. 500 per unit. This contract represents a total value of Rs. 13,50,000 and is traded on the NSE.

Which is better, the option or the future?

The choice between options and futures depends on factors like risk tolerance, market outlook, and available capital. Futures offer higher liquidity and leverage and involve greater risk and margin requirements. Options offer lower risk and flexibility but entail higher transaction costs and time decay.


Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks; read all the related documents carefully before investing.