As an option trading strategy, selling naked or short puts is highly risky and only recommended for experienced investors. There are differences between selling a cash-secured puts and selling a naked put. In either case, Ally Invest encourages you to stay mindful of the risks.

What is a naked put?

If you short a put, the put owner has the right to sell stock to you at the strike price until expiration. In exchange for taking on that potential obligation, you receive the option’s premium.

Let’s say you’re bullish on stock XYZ, so you decide to sell 20 XYZ put contracts to bring in a little extra income. Those 20 put contracts represent the obligation to buy 2,000 shares of the stock, should that obligation be assigned to you. However, if you don’t have enough cash in your account and you are forced to buy those 2,000 shares, that’s naked put selling.

How risky?

If the stock declines below your strike price, you’d most likely be assigned. Then you’d be forced to buy 2,000 shares of XYZ at a higher price than it is trading for in the open market.

Unless you want to hold on to the shares of this stock, you will have to sell the shares at the prevailing market price to recoup at least some of your cash. That would leave you holding the bag for the difference between the strike price and the market price, multiplied by 2,000 shares.

Cash-secured puts mean less risk.

When you sell naked puts, the difference between your strike price and the going market price for the stock can mean substantial losses. On the other hand, selling cash-secured puts is a much less nerve-wracking approach. If you keep enough cash on-hand, not only are you prepared in the event of an assignment, but you’ve tapped into a method to buy stock that may also earn you a little extra income along the way.

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