Cash Settled Options

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What does Settled Cash mean?

Settled Cash is the term given to the proceeds of the sale of an instrument / product on the platform that has gone through the 5 business (working) day settlement period and is available for withdrawal.

For a detailed explanation on unsettled cash and the settlement period, please visit our What is unsettled cash? FAQ article

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In respect of FSRs, EasyEquities acts as principal to a contract for difference issued to the investor, where the investor will have a contractual claim against EasyEquities to the economic benefits and risks associated with share ownership (price movements and dividends) without having ownership rights in the underlying share. Fractional share rights (FSRs) which are issued through a contract for difference, are an over the counter derivative. Unlike whole shares, FSRs do not carry any voting rights. As the investor makes further investments in FSRs and ultimately ends up with a whole share, the contract for difference is closed out and ownership whole share is delivered to the investor.

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Options Settlement

Options Settlement – Definition

Options Settlement is the process by which the obligations between the holder and writer of an options contract are resolved after the contract is exercised.

Options Settlement – Introduction

Options settlement happens when an options contract is exercised, whether voluntarily or automatically. Settlement is when the holder and the writer of the contract “settle their score” so as to speak. It is the process by which the terms stated in the options contract are carried out by both parties and one party pays the other party either for the underlying asset or for profits owing, depending on the settlement style.

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This tutorial shall explore in more detail what Options Settlement is, the different styles of options settlement as well as what really happens when settlement happens.

What Is Options Settlement In The First Place?

Settlement in options trading is the process where the terms of an options contract are resolved between the holder and the writer. In options trading, the holder is the one who owns an options contract and a writer is the person who sold the holder that options contract. Settlement in call options contracts involve the holders of the options contracts paying the writers for the underlying asset at the strike price. Settlement in put options contracts involves the holder of the options contract selling the underlying asset to the writer at the strike price. After settlement, the options contract will cease to exist and all obligations between the holder and the writer would be resolved.

Settlement can happen under 2 circumstances; Voluntary exercise by the holder or automatic exercise upon expiration.

The holder of an American Style Option could choose to voluntarily exercise their options anytime prior to expiration. Once that happens, settlement takes place between the holder and the writer and the options contract is resolved.

Upon expiration of an options contract, whether American Style or European Style, it is automatically exercised if it is in the money on expiration day. Once that happens, settlement takes place between the holder and the writer and the options contract is resolved.

Options Settlement Styles

There are two main ways in which options are settled in options trading; Physical Settlement and Cash Settlement.

Cash settlement involves only settling the profit/loss in cash between the holder and the writer without the transfer of any actual assets, just like settling a bet.

Physical settlement involves the transfer of the actual underlying asset between the holder and the writer as described above and is the most common type of settlement method. In fact, all stock options that are publicly traded in the US are Options Settlement where you actually get the stocks if you exercise a call options and actually get to sell your stocks if you exercise a put option. In fact, due to this characteristic, almost all physically settled options are American Style Options which you get to exercise at anytime prior to expiration.

Here’s an example of what happens in a Options Settlement settlement:

Options Settlement Example:
AAPL is trading at $210. You bought one contract of AAPL’s call options at the strike price of $210 for $230.

AAPL rallies to $240 and you decided to exercise your options in order to buy and hold AAPL shares for long term investment at the price of $210. Upon exercise, the call options cease to exist and your account is credited with 100 shares of AAPL stock bought at $210.

Options Settlement – What Really Happens

In theory, options settlement is a resolution between a holder and a writer of options but in reality, when stock options are exercised and settled in the US market, it is the Options Clearing Corporation or OCC that actually pays as your counter party. If you exercised call options that you own, it is the OCC that gives you the stock. If call options that you hold are being assigned, it is the OCC that takes the stock from your account. This happens through an Options Assignment process. Yes, the resolution of all options contracts in options trading are guaranteed by the OCC in such a manner so that you will never have to worry if “the other party” has the money or assets to fulfill their part of the contract. This is because you are really trading with the OCC instead of another trader or investor.

Structured Settlements Payouts

Structured settlements are a form of an annuity product structured to provide a specific financial payout over a specified period. If a lawsuit was settled for your benefit, then you may be awarded a structured settlement payout. This type of payment arrangement is common when someone was injured as the result of a personal injury, such as the following types of accidents and lawsuits:

  • Automobile
  • Slip-and-fall
  • Malpractice
  • Wrongful death
  • Product liability

Additionally, people who win the lottery also often receive their payments as an annuity, rather than getting one lump sum distribution.

When you settle a personal injury case and receive a settlement, it often signifies the end of a long, drawn-out battle. The idea of having to wait years or even decades to collect all of the funds you are legally entitled to can be frustrating. You may need for cash to pay medical expenses or to help make up for lost income during periods when you are unable to work because of the underlying injury. If you are looking to sell structured settlement payments, it can be freeing and it can provide you with a ready source of cash to help you get back on your feet. Our financial experts at Annuity Capital, LLC, are here to guide you toward the most suitable investment option for your needs, so we will help you determine if structured payments or to cash out a structured settlement is in your best interest.

Get the Funds You Need with a Cash Settlement
If you decide that you do not want to wait for the money you deserve, there are multiple options available to you concerning how and when you receive your payments. When it comes to a cash out structured settlement, you have the opportunity to choose a partial, whole, or lump sum. Partial cash outs involve the transferring of a portion of each payment while keeping the remainder of your future stream the same. To sell structured settlement payments, or selling the entire annuity, provides you with access to a much larger cash pool, enabling you to invest your funds or make a more significant investment.

With a lump sum, you will be able to sell a certain amount of your payments now while leaving the rest of your funds available for retirement. For both partial and lump sum payments, a certain amount of cash will remain in your annuity. If you happen to encounter a circumstance wherein you are unable to wait for the scheduled payments, then you can sell your remaining payments. The flexibility of cash settlements gives you the options you need to customize your transaction to your personal financial situation.

Contact our staff to learn more about our structured settlement options. We serve clients nationwide.

Stock Settlement: Why You Need to Understand the T+2 Timeline

Key Points

Stock settlement violations can occur when new trades are not properly covered by settled funds.

Although settlement violations generally occur in cash accounts, they can also occur in margin accounts, particularly when trading non-marginable securities.

We discuss the main types of settlement violations and how to avoid them.

Frequently asked questions

What is settlement?

Settlement marks the official transfer of securities to the buyer’s account and cash to the seller’s account.

When does settlement occur?

For most stock trades, settlement occurs two business days after the day the order executes. Another way to remember this is through the abbreviation T+2, or trade date plus two days. For example, if you were to execute an order on Monday, it would typically settle on Wednesday. For some products, such as mutual funds, settlement occurs on a different timeline.

What counts as settled funds?

  • Incoming cash (such as a check deposit or wire)
  • The available margin borrowing value in a margin account (doesn’t apply to a cash account)
  • Settled sale proceeds of fully paid-for securities

How can I view settlement information on

You can view the settlement date for a particular transaction in your account History page, or you can see your account’s total available settled funds in your account Balances page.

To view History:

  1. Log into
  2. Select Accounts.
  3. Click History.
  4. Click on the Transactions tab.
  5. To view the Trade Transactions Details window, click the Trade Details link. (See below.)

To view Balances:

  • Log into
  • From the Accounts dropdown, select Balances.
  • Navigate to the right-hand side of the page to Funds Available.
  • Under To Trade, you’ll see the Settled Funds total. (See below.)

What are the main types of settlement violations?

Stock settlement violations occur when new trades to buy are not properly covered by settled funds. Although settlement violations generally occur in cash accounts, they can also occur in margin accounts, particularly when trading non-marginable securities.

The main violation types are good faith , freeriding and liquidation.

Good faith violations occur when you attempt to use unsettled proceeds to settle a purchase.

  • The situation:
    • Day zero (the trade date): Ms. Jones starts with 100 settled shares of XYZ stock, and sells them for $2,000. The proceeds from the sale will settle on day two (T+2); until then, they are “unsettled” proceeds.
    • Ms. Jones then invests $1,000 of the unsettled proceeds in UVW stock.
    • Day one (the day after trade date: T+1): Ms. Jones sells her UVW stock for $1,500, one day before the XYZ trade settles.
  • The violation: Ms. Jones has created proceeds in her account, but they won’t be settled until day two (T+2). Because Ms. Jones sells her UVW stock prior to the settlement of the XYZ proceeds used to buy it, the sale of UVW results in a good faith violation.
  • The consequence: ( Although Schwab generally implements the following sequence of actions, it may at its discretion impose permanent restrictions or account closure.)
    • The first instance of a good faith violation in an account generally results in a notification, but no restriction.
    • The second through fourth combined violationsin a rolling 12 month period will result in a 90-day settled-cash restriction, during which time trading is restricted to the amount of settled funds available. A one-time exception – i.e., once in the life of the account – can be used by the client to remove the restriction.
    • The fifth combined violation of any kind generally results in a permanent settled-cash restriction.

Freeriding violations occur when you buy a security in a cash account that lacks sufficient settled funds and then sell the same security before depositing funds to pay for its purchase. This violation can occur whether the purchase and sale occur on the same day or on different days.

  • The situation:
    • Day zero (the trade date): Mr. Smith starts the day with $100 of settled cash in his account, and buys $1,000 of XYZ stock. The remaining $900 needed to cover the trade is due by the settlement date (day two: T+2).
    • Day one (day after trade date: T+1): Mr. Smith sells his XYZ shares for $1,500, before fully paying for the security with settled funds.
  • The violation: Because Mr. Smith sells the stock before paying for its purchase, the sale results in a freeriding violation.
  • The consequence: Industry regulations require the brokerage firm to freeze the account for 90 days, during which time trading is restricted to the amount of settled funds available. (At its discretion, Schwab may impose permanent restrictions or account closure.)
  • Schwab cannot waive this restriction . However, if funds are deposited within the payment period to cover the entire purchase – generally four business days after the trade date – the violation may be downgraded to a good faith violation.

Liquidation violations are based on trade dates rather than settlement dates. There are two types of liquidation violations:

  • A cash liquidation violation occurs when you sell a security and use the proceeds to cover the purchase of a different security you bought on a prior trade date. Although similar to a freeriding violation, the primary difference between a liquidation violation and a freeride violation is that you are selling a security other than the one you purchased and using its proceeds to cover the other trade.
  • A margin liquidation violation occurs when your margin account has both a Fed call and a regulatory maintenance call, and you sell securities in the account to cover the calls.
    • A Fed call represents the deposit amount needed to meet the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation T requirement (Reg T) for trades in a margin account. According to Reg T, you may borrow up to 50% of the total purchase price of a margin security, and fund the remaining 50% with cash.
    • A maintenance call occurs when a brokerage account falls below the brokerage firm’s established minimum equity requirement. Schwab’s maintenance requirement for equity securities is generally 30% of current market value, though this amount may vary depending on the type of security. A regulatory maintenance call occurs when the account falls below the regulatory minimum requirement, which is 25% for equity securities.
  • The situation:
    • Day zero (the trade date): Mr. Lee starts with settled shares of XYZ stock and $100 in settled cash, and buys UVW stock for $1,000. The remaining $900 in settled funds needed to fully pay for the UVW purchase is due by the settlement date, which is day two (T+2).
    • Day two (T+2): rather than deposit cash into his account, Mr. Lee places an order to sell his XYZ stock.
  • The violation: Mr. Lee needs to provide settled cash by the settlement date, but instead he initiates a sell order on the settlement date. Because Mr. Lee elected to sell securities on a subsequent day rather than bringing in funds to meet the trade obligation, he incurs a liquidation violation. There would be no violation had Mr. Lee sold enough settled, fully-paid-for shares on the same trade date as the buy of UVW.
  • The consequence: ( Although Schwab generally implements the following sequence of actions, it may at its discretion impose permanent restrictions or account closure.)
    • The first liquidation violation in an account generally results in a notification, but no restriction.
    • The second through fourth combined non-freeride violations in a rolling 12 month period will result in a 90-day settled-cash restriction, during which time trading is limited to the amount of settled funds available. A one-time exception – i.e., once in the life of the account – can be used by the client to the restriction.
    • The fifth violation of any kind will generally result in a permanent settled-cash restriction.

If you do not make payment on a purchase of stock or deliver shares for a sale of stock within the designated time frame, you be notified to take action.

If you don’t take action upon notification, industry regulations require that Schwab either request an extension, buy back, or sell out the position, as well as mark your account with a freeriding violation. Your account may also be placed on a 90-day settled-cash restriction, or incur more severe penalties, including account closure or removal of electronic access. At Schwab’s discretion, a one-time exception (i.e., once in the life of the account) may be available to the client to remove the restriction.

Schwab does not grant extensions of time for trades in retirement accounts (IRA’s, SEP’s Keogh’s, etc.), or accounts with an existing trading restriction. There are different practices for extensions on purchases and sales. You can contact a Schwab trading specialist at 800-435-9050 for more information about extensions.

What are some common situations that can lead to settlement violations?

I accidentally placed the trade in the wrong account.
It can happen to the most careful of investors. You think you’re placing a trade in your margin account, only to find you’ve accidentally placed it in your IRA. If you place a trade in the wrong account, contact a Schwab trading specialist immediately at
. Closing out the position yourself may cause a violation. In many cases, Schwab can request a cancel and rebill to move the trade to the intended account.

I traded a non-marginable security in my margin account.
If you buy a security that’s not marginable (then settled funds are required for full payment. Consequently, a settlement violation can occur in a margin account if you buy and then sell a non-marginable security before settled funds have covered the purchase. The order verification screen will alert you if a stock is not marginable. If you’re not confident that you can commit to holding a non-marginable security for at least three trading days, consider limiting your purchase to settled funds only.

I placed a day trade in my cash account.
When a stock trade is completed in a cash account, the funds will not settle for two full trading days. Since a trade held less than two days in a cash account requires settled funds to avoid a good faith violation, it may become necessary to wait at least two days between trades so that the day trades or short-term trades may be executed using settled funds only. Limiting very short-term trades to settled funds will help reduce the risk of violating settlement rules.

A bracket or alert fired in my cash account during the settlement period.
When a bracket or alert is attached to a security you bought with unsettled funds in a cash account, there’s a possibility that the exit trigger (e.g., sell stop, trailing stop, profit exit, etc.) will fire, closing the position and causing a settlement violation. If you need immediate protection on the position via an alert or bracket, consider using settled funds for the purchase, in case the exit is triggered during the settlement period.

Alternatively, you could delay activating the alert until the first day the position can be sold without incurring a violation – either the settlement day for the purchase or the settlement day for the funds used to make the purchase. If you decide to simultaneously place the purchase with unsettled funds and immediately attach a bracket or alert, consider giving an additional cushion to the exit parameter(s) to lower the risk of execution within the settlement period. You can always update your exit parameters when the cushion is no longer necessary.

Cash Settled Options

Cash settled options have a specific feature related to the way they are settled. Usually when the holder of an options contract exercises that contract, they either buy or sell the relevant underlying asset. However, when a cash settled option is exercised the writer of the contract pays any profit due to the holder in cash rather than any asset transfer taking place.

Because of this cash settled options are usually used when based on underlying assets that would prove difficult or costly to transfer. On this page you will find more details about the options and how they work.

  • What are Cash Settled Options?
  • Pricing
  • Advantages & Disadvantages
  • Buying & Selling Cash Settled Options

What are Cash Settled Options?

Options contracts use one of two forms of settlement; physical settlement and cash settlement. Physical settlement is the most commonly used type of settlement; the majority of contracts involve the transfer of the underlying security in the event of the holder exercising. For example, if the holder of a call based on a specific stock exercises then they would buy the relevant stock from the writer of that call at the agreed strike price. Conversely, the holder of a put would sell the relevant stock to the writer.

Cash settlement is different because no assets, other than cash, are exchanged. If an underlying asset cannot easily be transferred, then cash settlement makes more sense. Index options could include cash settlement as an index and not a physical asset. When you buy index options you are essentially betting on the movement of the underlying index. If you correctly forecast which way the index will move and you own the relevant type of contract, then you will receive a payment from the contract writer when you exercise. Commodity options often use cash settlement options such as transferring physical commodities which can often be impractical and expensive.

Most cash settled options are European style, meaning that the holder must choose whether or not to exercise at the expiration of the contract. There is usually no point in exercising a cash settled option early anyway because there is no actual asset to be bought or sold. If the holder wanted to gain any profit prior to the expiration date, then it would make more sense to simply sell the contract.

When a contract represents a profit to the holder at the time of expiry, they will usually be automatically exercised and the writer will be liable to settle the necessary amount with the holder at that point.

In terms of trading strategies, there is little difference between physical settlement and cash settlement. The biggest issue is that cash settled options tend to be European style contracts that don’t allow the same flexibility for exercising as American style contracts do. This creates some limitations, but any strategy that does not rely on being able to exercise early can be used to trade cash settled options.


The price of cash settled options contracts is made up of two components; this is the same for the price of options in general. These two components are intrinsic value and extrinsic value. The intrinsic value represents any profit that already exists – i.e. if it was a call and the price of the underlying security is higher than the strike price of the security. When a contract has intrinsic value, it’s said to be in the money.

Contracts can also be at the money, when the strike price and the current security price are the same, but they therefore contain no intrinsic value. The same is true for out of the money contracts, where the underlying security is currently worth less than the strike price.

Because at the money and out of the money contracts have no intrinsic value, their prices are made up entirely of extrinsic value. Extrinsic value is different from intrinsic value as it doesn’t represent anything tangible per set. It’s the part of the cost that reflects the potential for making money on the contract, and effectively serves as compensation to the writer of the contract for the risks involved on their part.

Advantages & Disadvantages

The single biggest advantage of cash settlement is that it represents a way of trading options based on assets and securities that wouldn’t work with physically settlement. Cash settled options have enabled traders to buy and sell contracts on things such as indices and certain commodities that are either impossible or impractical to physically transfer.

The only real disadvantage of cash settlement is that it tends to be available only on European style options that are not as flexible as American style options when it comes to being able to choose when to exercise. If you wanted to use a contract to actually physically buy or sell specific securities then cash settlement options would not be suitable of course – but that is not what their purpose is.

Buying & Selling Cash Settled Options

Trading cash settled options is just as easy as trading any other kind of options contract. The simplest and usually the cheapest way to buy and sell them is to use an online stock broker. Online stock brokers can execute transactions on your behalf for the purchase and sale of contracts. They typically charge very competitive fees and commissions.

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