# How Do I Start Trading Binary Options in the U.S.?

Binary options are financial instruments that offer a straightforward and binary choice for traders – a simple yes or no proposition. This unique characteristic has made binary options an attractive choice for traders, both experienced and newcomers to the financial markets. In this article, we will explore the world of binary options, how they function, the pros and cons, and where you can legally trade them in the United States.

Understanding Binary Options

Binary options are named as such because they offer just two possible outcomes: a fixed amount or nothing at all, based on whether the trader's prediction is correct. The central question posed by binary options is whether an underlying asset's price will be above or below a certain level at a specific time. Traders then make their choices, either 'yes' or 'no,' and place their bets accordingly.

In the U.S., binary options differ from those traded outside the country. American binary options provide traders with capped risk and profit potential. Let's consider an example to illustrate this. Suppose you believe that the price of gold will be above \$1,830 at 1:30 p.m. today. In this case, you would buy the binary option. If you anticipate that gold will be at or below \$1,830 at 1:30 p.m., you would sell the binary option. The price of a binary option always falls between \$0 and \$100, much like bid and ask prices in traditional financial markets.

If you purchase a binary option for \$44.50 and at 1:30 p.m., the price of gold is indeed above \$1,830, your option will be worth \$100. This means a profit of \$100 - \$44.50 = \$55.50 (minus fees), and you are said to be "in the money." However, if the price of gold is below \$1,830 at 1:30 p.m., your option expires at \$0, and you lose the \$44.50 you invested, plus any associated fees. This scenario is referred to as being "out of the money."

One of the appealing aspects of binary options is the flexibility to close a position at any time before expiration, allowing traders to lock in profits or reduce losses rather than waiting for the option to expire.

A Zero-Sum Game

In binary options trading, each option eventually settles at either \$100 or \$0. This means that for every gain, there's an equivalent loss. In other words, binary options represent a zero-sum game – your profit is someone else's loss, and your loss is someone else's profit. Each trader must put up capital for their side of the trade. For example, if you buy an option at \$44.50, someone else sells it to you. Your maximum risk is \$44.50 if the option settles at \$0, and your trade costs you \$44.50, excluding fees. The person who sold you the option faces a maximum risk of \$55.50 if the option settles at \$100, minus the fees.

Traders can also purchase multiple contracts, allowing for greater flexibility in managing their trades. This flexibility can be especially appealing when trading assets with varying levels of volatility.

Binary options are primarily traded on the North American Derivatives Exchange (Nadex), the first legal U.S. exchange dedicated to binary options. Nadex offers a browser-based trading platform where traders can access real-time charts and current binary option prices. It provides both demo and live accounts for traders to practice and trade.

Additionally, binary options are available through the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) for traders with options-approved brokerage accounts. However, not all brokers offer binary options trading.

Fees for Binary Options

On Nadex, each contract has a cost of \$1 to enter and \$1 to exit, with the exit fee assessed only if the option is in the money at expiry. In contrast, CBOE binary options have varying commission fees depending on the broker.

Binary options offer a wide array of tradable asset classes. Nadex provides options on major indices like the Dow 30, S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000. International indices, including the FTSE 100, Germany 40, China 50, and Japan 225, are also available. Traders can also engage in forex pairs such as EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, and more. Additionally, Nadex offers commodity binary options related to the price of crude oil, natural gas, gold, and silver. It's even possible to trade event binary options based on economic events, such as changes in interest rates or jobless claims.

Traders have the flexibility to choose binary options with different expiry times. Nadex offers intraday, daily, and weekly options, allowing day traders, swing traders, and even event-based traders to participate. Event-based contracts are tied to official news releases and enable traders to speculate on specific events' outcomes.

The cost of binary options can be influenced by perceived market volatility. When the underlying market is expected to be calm, binary options prices may be close to \$50, reflecting an even likelihood of settling at \$0 or \$100. However, in a volatile market, the cost to buy or sell a binary option may fluctuate significantly. Traders should pay attention to market conditions when making their trading decisions.

Pros and Cons of Binary Options

Binary options offer unique advantages for traders. One significant benefit is the capped risk, as you cannot lose more than your initial trade cost. The potential for better-than-average returns is also appealing. In quiet markets, binary options can be more profitable, as the payout is predetermined. For instance, buying a binary option for \$20 can result in a profit of \$80 if the option expires in the money, creating a 4:1 reward-to-risk ratio.

On the flip side, the maximum gain in binary options is always capped at \$100, regardless of how favorable the market move is. Additionally, binary options are derivatives, meaning traders do not own the underlying assets, and they lack voting rights and dividends that are associated with actual stock ownership.

In summary, binary options are a simple yet distinctive way to trade financial markets. They provide capped risk and potential rewards, making them an appealing choice for many traders. To trade binary options legally in the United States, look to exchanges like Nadex and CBOE, where you can explore various asset classes and expiration times. Remember to conduct thorough research and practice using demo accounts to refine your trading skills and make informed decisions.

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