Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Time Decay


Time decay, also known as Theta, is a financial term primarily used in options trading. It represents the rate at which the price of an option or derivative will decrease as time passes, assuming that all other factors remain unchanged. This is because as expiry nears, the chance for the option to make a profit decreases, thus reducing its price.


The phonetics of the keyword “Time Decay” is: Time- /taɪm/Decay- /dɪˈkeɪ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Time Decay refers to the decline in the value of an option as the expiration date gets closer. This happens because the closer the option gets to its expiration date, the less time there is for the option to make a profitable move.
  2. Time Decay is not linear in nature, but rather an exponential increase as the option’s expiration date approaches. This means that it does not reduce the option’s value at a consistent rate. Instead, the rate of decay increases over time, causing greater drop in value as expiry approaches.
  3. Time Decay can strongly influence an options trader’s potential profitability. Options traders who primarily sell or ‘write’ options can benefit from time decay as they can sell the options at a higher price and potentially buy them back later at a lower price because of this decay. However, for the buyer side, they need the underlying asset to move significantly to overcome the loss due to time decay.


Time decay, also known as theta, is a key concept in the field of finance particularly when dealing with options trading. It refers to the rate at which the value of an option or an option premium decreases over time, assuming that other factors like stock price and volatility remain constant. The importance of understanding time decay lies in its critical role in the effective strategic decisions regarding when it is most profitable to exercise, hold, or sell an option. Time decay becomes significantly larger as the expiration date of the option draws near, thereby eroding its value. This means that an option must increase in value at a rate fast enough to compensate for the loss inflicted by time decay in order to remain profitable for the holder. Therefore, this concept is something every trader must understand and closely monitor so they can adjust their investment strategies accordingly.


Time Decay, also referred to as “Theta” , is a critical concept used in the trading of options in finance. It essentially describes the rate at which the value of an option will decrease over time, holding all other factors constant. This is vital for options traders as it not only influences the pricing of options, but it also plays a crucial role in determining an option’s potential profitability.Options are derivative contracts with a limited lifespan, and due to this inherent time limitation, Time Decay can be a crucial deciding factor in an options trader’s strategy. As time progresses, the probability of the option being profitable (in-the-money) reduces, causing its premium to decline – this is Time Decay. Therefore, understanding the concept of Time Decay helps traders in making informed decisions about when to buy or sell an option contract to realize maximum profits or minimize potential losses. It essentially places a deadline on the option’s profitability, and this ticking clock can play a critical role in defining trading strategies.


Time Decay, or “Theta,” is a concept primarily used in options trading to define the rate at which the value of an option will erode as time passes, all other things being equal. Here are three real-world examples:1. Stock Options: Let’s say, you purchase a call option (right to buy) on Apple stock with a strike price of $150, expiring in a month. If Apple’s stock price stays at $125 by the expiry date, the option’s time value decays to zero, rendering it worthless.2. Commodities: Consider a similar situation, but this time with oil futures. You buy an option to purchase oil at $60 per barrel, expiring in three months. If the price of oil stays put at $50 per barrel as the expiry date nears, the time value of your option decays, decreasing the option’s overall value.3. Currency Options: You buy a put option (right to sell) on EUR/USD with a strike of 1.15, expiring in six months. If the exchange rate is still 1.20 by near expiration, your option’s time value decays due to the time decay factor, reducing the overall value of your option. In all these cases, the closer the option gets to its expiry date without the asset’s price moving in a beneficial direction, the less valuable the option becomes due to time decay.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Time Decay in terms of finance and business?

Time Decay, in financial terms, refers to the decrease in the value of an options contract as it gets closer to its expiration date. It is also known as theta and is an essential concept in options pricing.

How does Time Decay affect an options trader?

Time Decay is essentially the rate of change in the value of an option or other derivatives with respect to the passing of time. If all other factors are kept constant, an option will lose value as time draws closer to its expiration. This could either benefit or penalize an option trader depending on whether they are buying or selling options.

Can you slow down Time Decay?

Time Decay cannot be slowed down as it is a constant process until the options contract reaches its expiration date. However, options traders can strategize their trades to minimize the negative effects of Time Decay.

Does Time Decay affect both the Call and Put options?

Yes, Time Decay affects both call and put options. As the expiration date nears, both types of options tend to lose their value assuming all other factors remain the same.

How is Time Decay calculated?

Time Decay is usually measured by Theta, one of the Greeks in options trading. A Theta of -0.25, for example, means that the option’s price will decrease by 25 cents per day. The closer the option gets to its expiration date, the faster its value will decay.

How does Time Decay relate to Intrinsic Value and Time Value?

The total premium of an option is made up of intrinsic value and time value. While intrinsic value is the real value of the contract at any point in time, the time value represents the extra premium that a buyer is willing to pay for what the option might be worth in the future. Time Decay refers to the erosion of this time value as the option inches closer to its expiration date.

Does Time Decay work the same on weekends and holidays?

Yes, Time Decay includes all days, including weekends and holidays. Even though the markets are closed, the value of the option will still theoretically decrease due to Time Decay.

Can protection against Time Decay be achieved?

Yes, protection against Time Decay can often be achieved through strategies such as spreads where you offset the Time Decay in one option by selling another. Another common method is buying options with longer expirations where Time Decay is slower. Such decisions depend heavily on individual trading goals and risk tolerance.

Can I profit from Time Decay?

Yes, you can profit from Time Decay if you’re an options seller. As an options seller, the premium of the options you sold decreases in value over time due to Time Decay, making it cheaper for you to buy back the same options and hence making a profit.

: Is Time Decay always a bad thing?

: The impact of Time Decay can be negative or positive depending on whether you are an options buyer or seller. It typically works against buyers and in favor of sellers. For a buyer, the closer an option gets to expiration, the less valuable it becomes. However, for a seller, Time Decay can be beneficial as they want the option to decrease in value.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More