Roth IRA Options Trading [Full Overview]

Many financial advisors appreciate a Roth IRA funds as the best retirement plan. It follows the logic of investing money after-tax and then withdrawing the funds after retirement tax-free. As a result, the investors will have decades of compounding growth without paying even a cent in tax—no wonder why it is so popular.

Roth IRA Options Trading [Full Overview]
roth ira options trading

A Roth Ira eradicated one of the significant parts of the trading body, Tax. Just imagine if you are an experienced trader who typically gives 30-40% of their profits away through taxes yearly. That trader now can compound their account even faster by not having to pay such a large amount of taxes. However, there are some restrictions with trading in a retirement account you might want to be aware of, but the good news is most brokerages allow limited option trading privileges! So, if you are interested in trading options in your Roth IRA, keep reading! We will look at everything you need to know about it.

Qualifying for a ROTH IRA

A ROTH IRA does have qualification standards that need to be understood before beginning this journey. According to the 2022 limits, any couple making over $214,000 combined cannot utilize a ROTH IRA. If a couple makes under that amount they will be able to contribute $6,000-$7,000 depending on age. While this does not seem like much it is important to understand that the capital gains from this amount will be completely untaxed if the person waits until retirement to withdraw. That is the true advantage of this retirement account for those who can qualify.

qualifying for roth ira

Why Options?

If you are unfamiliar with options trading initially, you might not be as excited about this article. The truth is that options are hazardous for the average investor, so using them in your retirement accounts should be avoided. However, those who can profitably trade options understand their potential in a tax-free account like the ROTH ira.

Options allow for leverage on some of the safest investments like index funds and large-cap stocks. This type of leverage can allow one hundred times the return of buying the stock outright. This leverage is because each option represents 100 shares of stock. The only downside is that the trader or investor has to pay for this leverage in the form of daily time decay. They are holding an option that subjects the investor to consistent losses that can only be matched by the stock moving in the correct direction fast enough. While this risk can result in a retirement going to zero quickly, safer strategies are available to the trader to balance the risk and reward. These types of strategies will be discussed later in the article!

Role of Roth IRA in Options Trading

The new type of account makes the trader curious. An investor usually asks why he should use options in a Roth IRA? Unlike stocks, the options can devalue in options trading if the underlying security price does not match the fixed price. These aspects of the trading make the option extremely risky than the stock trading, bonds, and mutual funds that generally appear in Roth IRA.

Yes, options trades are indeed risky, but they become significantly safer in the case of Roth IRA accounts. Retirement accounts are safer. For example, put options are viable for fencing a stock to prevent short-term risks by securing the right to sale at a special price. Moreover, call options are also practiced to generate income if a trader agrees to sell the traditional stocks as IRA investors.

Trade Options in Roth Era

The IRS rules imply that many option trading strategies are out of bounds. However, here you can take an example, call credit, call debit, put credit, or debit spreads that are not functional in Roth IRAs trade options. It is because all of them involve margin trading.

Retirement investors are recommended to refrain from these advanced strategies even if they are allowed, as they are geared toward speculations rather than savings. However, the traditional IRAs investor can still buy and sell options.

The options strategies are directly associated with obtaining options trading level approval from the Roth IRAs. Most brokerages have four levels of options approval, while the last two require margin accounts and, because of this, cannot be used in a ROTH IRA. Levels one and two are the only option approval levels available to retirement accounts. These levels allow covered calls, cash-secured puts (level 1), and long options (level 2).

Limitations and Rights IRA options trading

Roth IRA options trading is relatively safe and recommended by experts, but it has some level that restricts the account from trading and other activities. Therefore, we have mentioned what you cannot do and what you are allowed to do. Let's explore

Don'ts of Roth IRA

Let's begin with what you cannot do in options trading in a retirement account. There are a few restrictions, including

Short selling

You sell the short when you sell the stock you do not own. The aim is to generate income if the stock drops the price. If unexpectedly the stock goes up in price, the short seller will lose money. If the shorted stock doubles, the trade can quickly lose their entire investment and money not owned. The trader would have to pay back the money owed to their broker on margin, and that is why this strategy is not permitted in the Roth IRA because this strategy requires a margin account.

Trading on margin

If you want to buy or sell options an asset, but you cannot buy or sell due to a cash shortage, you consider borrowing money from the brokerage firm to trade options; you are trading on a margin account. However, it contains the substantial risk of loss if your asset devalues or sells at a low price. Therefore, it is also not allowed in options trading through retirement accounts.

Selling naked

Selling naked means to sell an asset that is not covered by other assets. This is usually when traders sell a call option without having 100 shares as collateral or selling a put option without having the cash to purchase 100 shares. However, whichever form you want to practice, it is not allowed in Roth IRAs because these strategies require a margin account.

Dos of Individual retirement accounts

Fortunately, the restriction mentioned above does not impede you from utilizing level 1 and 2 options trading in your Roth IRAs. Here are three effective strategies you are allowed to exercise in Traditional IRA.

individual retirement account

Buying puts

This is the first shielding trading strategy utilized to defend a long stock position which can cause you a significant loss. It is known as a protective put. It involves buying a put option when you own the stock. Generally, it is OTM (out-of-the-money) put option because these options are typically cheaper and offer similar protection to ITM (in-the-money) put options.

This strategy is considered one of the beneficial option strategies because they increase in value as the price of stock decreases (hence protecting your portfolio when the stock loses value). Furthermore, since these options are bought as protection, most investors aren't worried if they lose all the value from these options. Therefore, this strategy offers the investor peace of mind during market volatility.

These options can also be exercised, allowing the trader to sell their stock at the specified strike price. This is not the most attractive strategy for investors because their option premium will be lost during the transaction.

Covered calls

This is an effective strategy similar to the protective put, as this option can offer some cushion if the stock trades sideways or falls. The beauty of this strategy is that you are selling an option and creating passive income on the stock being held. While protective puts can completely lose value for the investor, a covered call is a protection that can only give the investor profits.

The one downside for some investors is that if the price of stock increases and surpasses the call options fixed price, you will be obliged to sell your stock at that strike price. This means the investors get to sell their stock at a higher price than currently trading and keep the option premium. However, you can also try to buy back the call and then sell another call option at a higher price with an expiration that has some time. This is known as rolling out.

Many options traders utilize this to try to collect premiums with time. However, it would help if you were cautious that short options contracts can be assigned at any time till expiration without considering the ITM account. Assigned options mean that the investor will need to lose their shares of stock without warning.

Considering the example mentioned above, capital gains of buying the stock at $420, and you can sell about $440 strike calls for a $5 premium before the expiry date. If the stock price stays less than $440 before the expiry date, you will keep the premium and can do it all over again. However, if it rises above $440, the investor can repurchase the option for a potential loss or sell the stock at $440 and keep the $5 option premium.

Hence, the covered call strategy can restrict the upside profit potential of the stock position because the stock is likely to be called in the event of a significant price increase. Moreover, downside protection provided to the stock position is restricted to the option premium value.

Cash-Secured Puts

This is an effective strategy similar to the covered calls, as the investor is selling an option and capitalizing on the decay. The beauty of this strategy is that if the stock drops below the strike price shorted, the investor will be able to buy the stock for a discount and keep the option premium. Cash-secured puts can be extremely attractive when the investor has a lot of cash and needs to acquire more shares of stocks. This strategy will allow the investor to use that cash to create passive income until the options get assigned, and they are forced to grab the stocks at a discount.

The one downside for some investors is that if the stock price decreases dramatically past the strike price, the investor will own the stock immediately for a loss when the shares are assigned. However, you can also try to buy back the put and then sell another put option at a lower price with an expiration that has more time. This is known as rolling out.

They consider the example mentioned above capital gains of selling a put option with a strike price of $420 while the stock is currently trading at $440. If the stock price stays more than $420 before the expiry date, you will keep the premium and can do it all over again. However, if it falls below $420, the investor can repurchase the option for a potential loss or buy the stock at $420 and keep the option premium.

Buying Calls

Instead of buying stock, the investor can make a speculative bet that the stock will increase in value by a specified time. Using call options in this scenario allows the investor to make 10-100 times the returns of a traditional stock investment. Timing the market might seem impossible, but many traders spend their lives figuring out the trick, and if done correctly, leveraging these moments with options can be pretty lucrative. The key to protecting the trader's capital is to limit the trade size and avoid extremely short-term options.

LEAP Options

One of the most popular ways to use options in long-term accounts is with leap options. A leap option is defined as an option with more than one year till the expiration date. Typically the market increases in value by 7-10% on average every year, and by utilizing longer-term options, an investor can utilize leverage safely. In addition, leap options can increase 1,000-10,000% in certain markets for specific stocks. While these returns are not guaranteed, the best the trader can do is limit the amount of capital used for these speculative investments and make sure the expiration dates are at least one year away.

Best Brokerages for ROTH IRA Option Trading

Unfortunately, not many brokerages allow option trading in a retirement account but there are some available for those who want to further pursue. These brokerages will be listed below.

  1. TDAmeritrade

  2. Tastyworks

  3. eOption

  4. Interactive Brokers

Pros and cons of options trading in Roth IRAs


Trading in Iran is quite different from a taxable account. Here are some benefits of trading in a retirement account

Tax advantage

You will not have to pay taxes on your gains and profit in the IRA. Because contribution limits or contributors to Roth IRA have already received the tax advice, you will not have to pay anything even when your portfolio increases exponentially.


If you think a certain stock or entire value of economy is downgrading, you can buy an OTM put options contract to secure your current holding by hedging instead of selling the shares.

Catch up

If you have utilized your savings from retirement plans already and left with a bit of money at the time of retirement, begin trading options are a considerable way to increase your gains. It will facilitate you to reach your goal fast.


Certain strategies are restricted

As you know, margin trading is banned by the IRS, and investment strategies like short selling are not allowed.

Require permission

Many brokers allow trading options in retirement accounts, but they will allow only selected ones to do it. You need to take permission from the broker, so specific requirements must be met.

Bottom Line

Actually, the Roth IRAs are not generally designed for active trading. However, experienced traders can use stock trading options to fence the portfolios from devaluation, loss, or generated revenue. These tricks and techniques are beneficial in improving long-term risk.

Indeed, necessary measures should be taken so that options do not seem like a conjectural tool in these accounts. This way, the trader can prevent potentially costly consequences with IRS rules.

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