Option Trading vs Day Trading: Which Better Aligns With Your Trading Style

Jeremy BiberdorfBy: Jeremy Biberdorf

July 5, 2024July 5, 2024

When you’re diving into the stock market, picking the right trading strategy is crucial. It has to match up with your financial goals, how much risk you can handle, and how much time you can dedicate each day. Two popular strategies that really stand out are option trading and day trading. They’re pretty different from each other and attract different kinds of traders.

So, let’s talk about option trading vs day trading. I’m here to walk you through what makes each method unique. We’ll look at how they compare and what sets them apart, so you can figure out which one might be the best fit for you based on what you’re looking for in your trading journey.

For those that prefer to learn the ins & outs of option trading vs day trading through videos, you should find this video beneficial:

What is Day Trading: All You Need To Know

Day trading is an investment style that’s all about speed and precision. As a day trader, you’ll buy and sell financial instruments like stocks, forex, or commodities all within the same trading day.

The goal? To capitalize on short-term price movements and close out your positions before the market shuts down for the day. This method suits those who thrive under pressure and are prepared to tackle the markets full-time.

Why Choose Day Trading?

Not for the faint of heart, the life of a day trader can be stressful. So why do many traders choose this path? Let’s take a look at some of the main appeals:

Quick Profits

One of the biggest draws of day trading is the potential for quick profits. Traders can take advantage of market volatility during the trading hours and make several trades in a day, each aiming to capture small price changes that add up. It’s about making the most of the market’s ups and downs swiftly and efficiently.

Leverage and Flexibility

Day trading also offers significant leverage, which means you can control large amounts of capital with relatively little money down. This can amplify both gains and losses, so while the profit potential is high, the stakes are equally high. Additionally, day trading doesn’t bind you to the long-term performance of assets. Whether the market is bullish or bearish, there’s always a trading opportunity, as you can profit from both rising and falling markets.

The Downside of Day Trading

Intense and Demanding

Make no mistake, day trading is intense. It requires a solid understanding of the markets and the ability to make quick decisions. The stress of needing to perform rapidly and accurately can be significant, and not everyone thrives in such a high-pressure environment.

Financial Risk

The financial risks are substantial. Day trading is notorious for the potential of significant losses, especially in the first few months as traders climb the steep learning curve. Unlike long-term investments, day trades can turn sour quickly, and without any potential for recovery once the market closes.


It’s also worth mentioning the costs associated with day trading. You might face fees for every transaction, which can eat into your profits especially if you’re making multiple trades per day. Plus, short-term capital gains from day trading are taxed at higher rates than long-term investments, impacting your net returns.

Strategies for Successful Day Trading

Successful day traders often employ a mix of strategies to stay profitable. Here are some of the most popular strategies:

  • Scalping: This quick-fire strategy involves making dozens, sometimes hundreds of trades in a single day, each aiming to profit from very small price movements.
  • Momentum Trading: Here, you identify stocks or other assets that are moving significantly in one direction on high volume. The plan is to jump on the momentum and ride it out for a profitable exit.
  • Swing Trading: This strategy stretches the definition of day trading a bit, as positions can be held for more than a day. It involves taking advantage of predictable patterns or swings in stock prices over several days.

Each of these strategies demands not just an understanding of the markets, but also strict discipline and excellent risk management. Knowing when to enter and exit, recognizing how to set stop-loss orders, and keeping emotions at bay are all crucial.

What is Option Trading: My Breakdown

So, you’re curious about option trading? Well, it’s essentially about dealing with contracts that grant you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price before a specific deadline.

Think of it like this: you’re securing a price today for a decision you might make later, depending on how the market behaves. This doesn’t mean you own the asset outright; instead, you’re betting on its future price movements without actually holding it.

This approach offers a way to tap into market trends with less upfront investment compared to buying the assets directly. It’s a strategic move for those who like to plan and predict market changes.

Main Benefits of Option Trading

When done correctly, option trading has numerous advantages. Here are a few of the most noticeable ones:

  • Strategic Flexibility: Options trading is versatile. You can go for straightforward strategies or mix things up with more complex approaches depending on what the market is doing.
  • Leverage: With options, your buying power is magnified, which means you can control more with less. If your predictions are right, the potential for bigger gains is there.
  • Risk Management: Options are great for managing your risks through hedging. You can use them to protect other investments from losses, almost like insurance.

Main Drawbacks of Option Trading

Like all investing vehicles, option trading comes with some drawbacks to be aware of. Here are some of the main disadvantages I think you should consider:

  • Complexity: Options aren’t simple. There’s a lot to learn about how they work and how to use them effectively, which can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just starting out.
  • Expiry Limitations: Options don’t last forever; they have expiration dates. This means you need to be on your game and make your moves at the right time, or you could lose what you’ve invested.
  • Potential for Rapid Losses: The flip side of having more leverage is that you also face the risk of losing money just as quickly if things don’t go your way.

Popular Option Trading Strategies

As I mentioned earlier, option trading is inherently risky, especially if not done correctly. Here are some low-risk option strategies that successful traders use to gain the necessary advantage:

  • Covered Call: You own the asset and sell a call option on it. It’s a way to make some extra money from the option premiums, which can offer a buffer if the asset’s price drops.
  • Protective Put: Buy a put option to go along with holding the actual asset. It’s like having an insurance policy in case the price tanks.
  • Iron Condor: This is a bit more complex. You’re playing both sides — buying and selling calls and puts with different strike prices but the same expiration. It works best when the market isn’t making big moves.
  • Straddle: Buy both a call and a put at the same strike price and expiration. This strategy bets on the asset making a big move in either direction.

Option Trading vs Day Trading: Which is Right For You?

So, you’re curious about option trading vs day trading and wondering which one might be the better fit for you? Both styles have their perks, but they cater to different preferences and trading styles.

Day trading is all about speed, buying and selling within the same day to snatch quick profits from small market movements. It’s fast-paced and can be pretty intense since you need to keep a constant eye on the market.

Option trading, on the other hand, gives you the flexibility to make profits in markets that are moving up, down, or sideways. It’s not just about speed; it’s also about strategy. You might ask, “Is option trading worth it?” Well, it can be if you’re up for tackling some complex strategies and if you like the idea of having more controlled risks.

Both require a solid grasp of the markets and a commitment to learning. Your choice depends on how much time you can dedicate and your risk tolerance. Think about what excites you more: the fast pace of making several trades a day or the strategic depth of trading options?

Jeremy Biberdorf
Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. He's a father of 2 beautiful girls, a dog owner, a long-time online entrepreneur and an investing enthusiast.

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