Guide to Leverage in Options Trading

By Dan Miller · December 15, 2022 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.

Guide to Leverage in Options Trading

Options leverage is a core concept of options trading. For a given capital outlay, investing in options will increase your potential returns compared with investing in the underlying stock. However, options leverage works both ways by also increasing the potential losses.

Options leverage is inherent to options trading and allows you to use call or put options to earn the returns on a specific amount of stock (usually 100 shares per contract) with less money than purchasing the stock outright.

What Is Leverage?

Leverage applies to a variety of different financial products. The leverage example most familiar to people is the purchase of a home.

If you’re looking to buy a new home valued at $400,000, one approach would be to pay $400,000 upfront in cash. A more common approach would be to put 20% down ($80,000) and get a mortgage for the $320,000 balance.

Continuing with our house example, let’s say your house appreciates in value to $500,000. If you paid all cash, you get a return of $100,000 or 25% of your initial investment of $400,000. But through the use of a mortgage, you get the same return of $100,000 but on a lower initial investment of $80,000, a return of 125%.

Using a mortgage leverages your cash to potentially get higher returns.

How Leverage Works in Options Trading

Using options leverage works much the same way. No matter which strategies for trading options you use, you may increase the leverage of your investment by using options.

💡 Recommended: How to Trade Options

Example of Leverage in Options

For example; an investor wants to invest in stock ABC currently trading at $50 per share. There is also an at-the-money option with a strike price of $50 trading at $5. They can choose to buy 100 shares at $50 each for a capital outlay of $5,000. Or, using options leverage, they can purchase an options contract at $500 ($5 times 100 shares per option contract).

Some time later the ABC stock trades at $60 per share. If you purchased 100 shares, your shares would now be worth $6,000, an increase of $1,000 and a 20% return on your initial outlay of $5,000.

An investor in the options strategy could see their options triple in price to $15. The options contract would now be worth $1,500, also an increase of $1,000 but on the much smaller initial outlay of $500 for a return of 200%.

In addition, the options investor would still have the opportunity to invest the $4,500 from the original capital as they saw fit. That includes investing the additional capital in ABC stock, buying more ABC options, or pursuing other investments entirely.

Pros and Cons of Leverage in Options

Here are a few of the pros and cons of using leverage in options trading:



Potentially higher percentage of return Risk of losing your entire investment
Options can allow you to hedge an existing position against unfavorable movement You can lose money if you are wrong on any one of the direction, timing or magnitude of the stock’s move, even if you are right on the other two
Flexibility to make money with a variety of different strategies Options typically have less liquidity than stocks

Calculating Leverage

The options leverage example above presents the options price movement from $5 to $15 without explaining what drove the price change. Generally, the price of an option is driven by asset volatility, time to expiration, and asset price. Those factors drive the delta Greek of an option which tells an investor how much the option price will change relative to a change in the underlying stock price.

One way to calculate the amount of leverage that you get with a particular option is to take the option’s delta value, multiply it by the stock’s price and divide it by the price of the option. This calculation is usually represented by the Greek letter lambda.

The Takeaway

Options can be a way to increase your returns, but with those higher potential returns comes higher potential risk. Before trading options, make sure you understand the risks and rewards of your position, and set up an exit plan.

If you’re ready to try your hand at options trading, SoFi can help. You can trade options from the SoFi mobile app or through the web platform. And if you have any questions come up along the way, SoFi offers educational resources about options to learn more.

Trade options with low fees through SoFi.


How much leverage can you get with options?

In theory you can have nearly unlimited leverage with options, if you buy an option with a very low cost. However, the cheaper the option contract that you purchase, the higher the risk that it will expire worthless.

How is option leverage calculated?

To calculate the amount of leverage that you will get with a particular option contract, first determine the option’s delta value. Then multiply that by the stock’s price and divide it by the price of the option to get the leverage or lambda of the option.

Do call options use leverage?

Yes, using call options is one way to use leverage to invest in the stock market. When you buy a call option, you can control 100 shares of stock for a much lower price than purchasing those 100 shares outright.

Photo credit: iStock/shapecharge

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

SoFi Invest®


SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA ( Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.

Investing in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) involves substantial risk, including the risk of loss. Further, there are a variety of risk factors to consider when investing in an IPO, including but not limited to, unproven management, significant debt, and lack of operating history. For a comprehensive discussion of these risks please refer to SoFi Securities’ IPO Risk Disclosure Statement. IPOs offered through SoFi Securities are not a recommendation and investors should carefully read the offering prospectus to determine whether an offering is consistent with their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and financial situation.

New offerings generally have high demand and there are a limited number of shares available for distribution to participants. Many customers may not be allocated shares and share allocations may be significantly smaller than the shares requested in the customer’s initial offer (Indication of Interest). For SoFi’s allocation procedures please refer to IPO Allocation Procedures.

*Borrow at 12%. Utilizing a margin loan is generally considered more appropriate for experienced investors as there are additional costs and risks associated. It is possible to lose more than your initial investment when using margin. Please see for detailed disclosure information.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender