What Is a Call Spread

What Is a Call Spread?

7 min read

When I first started dipping my toes in the trading world, the first thought that came to mind when I heard the word call spreads, was something I put on food. What is a call spread? Fortunately or unfortunately, the word “spread” in the trading arena has nothing to do with culinary delights. Every options trader should know what spreads are and how to make money from the different strategies.

If you’re starting or even a seasoned veteran, this article will help you! You won’t only know what an option spread is, but you will know all the different spreads that exist.

This is very powerful because if you fully understand options spreads, you will understand ALL options strategies! So, without further ado, let’s get started.

A key point to remember is that call spreads consist of call options only. When the same number of call options are bought and sold simultaneously, it’s a call spread. Your profit is limited, but on the plus side, your risk is minimal. So far, so good. And they are cheaper to implement. Moreover, call spreads can profit from a bull, bear, or neutral market! So far, very good.

What Is an Options Spread?

First, Before I start explaining the different types of options spreads, it is crucial to understand what they are.

They’re first by buying and selling options on the same underlying asset but at different strike prices. Moreover, the options may have the same or different expiration dates depending on your strategy. It’s important to remember that an option spread consists of only one type of option. Which means they consist solely of call or put options, not both.

Are you still with me? A second important thing to remember is an option spread has the same number of long as short options.

Let me give you a concrete example to make it clear to you. I entered an option spread by employing the following:

  • 1 ABC short call with a strike price of 100 that expires in 40 days.
  • 1 ABC long call with a strike price of 105 that expires in 40 days.

As you can see, the only difference in the options above is their strike price (100 vs. 105) and the opening transaction steps. I bought one call option, and I sold a second call option. It’s as simple as that.

Day Trading Course Options Trading Course Futures Trading Course
DESCRIPTION Learn how to read penny stock charts, premarket preparation, target buy and sell zones, scan for stocks to trade, and get ready for live day trading action
Learn how to buy and sell options, assignment options, implement vertical spreads, and the most popular strategies, and prepare for live options trading How to read futures charts, margin requirements, learn the COT report, indicators, and the most popular trading strategies, and prepare for live futures trading

Let’s Recap

  • All options are on the same underlying asset (e.g., ABC).
  • All options are of the same type (either call or put).
  • An options spread always consists of the same number of purchased as sold options (e.g., ten short and ten long).

In other words, options spread only differ regarding the strike price and expiration date. That’s it. It’s that simple. So please keep this in mind when I start to talk, just in case you feel overwhelmed.

But before we move on, remember this: Even though the options only differ regarding 1-2 factors, it is still possible to create a wide assortment of spreads.

For example, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, credit, debit, and bull spreads are different option spreads. Next, I will walk you through all the different kinds of option call spreads.

Debit Spreads Option Strategies

Vertical Call Spreads

Of all the different options spreads one can employ, the most basic is the vertical spread. They differ only regarding the strike price. They are directional strategies, which means they mainly profit when the price of the underlying moves. In other words, you use this strategy to take advantage of price movement. What’s excellent about vertical spreads is they can be bullish or bearish. That’s why they are also referred to as bull/bear spreads.

I like that all vertical spreads define your risk and profit. You know the maximum you can profit and lose when entering the trade.

If you’re anything like me, you want to know how much you stand to lose. In this case, you need only one calculation to determine your maximum risk and maximum profit:

Width of Strikes × 100 − Net Credit or Debit

1. Horizontal (Calendar) Call Spread

To profit from changes in implied volatility and from time decay, use a calendar call spread. A calendar or horizontal call spread is created when buying long-term call options and selling near-term ones.

Both have the same strike price. They differ only regarding the expiration date. You can use the neutral or bull calendar call spread based on factors such as the near-term outlook.

2. Neutral Calendar Call Spread

As the term implies, use a neutral calendar spread if the short-term outlook is neutral. To construct the spread, use at-the-money call options.

As you know, with options, time can either be on your side or not. In this case, time is on your side—the near-term options experience rapid time decay, which is how you make money. Capitalizing on the rapid time decay is the main objective of this strategy.

3. Bull Calendar Call Spread

If you’re long-term bullish on the underlying yet want to make some money in the short-term, a bull calendar call spread may be for you.

You sell near-term calls to ride out the long-term call for a discount. And in some cases, even for free. In these cases, use out-of-the-money call options.

4. Diagonal Call Spread

Diagonal spreads are a combination of both vertical and horizontal spreads. In other words, they try to profit from changes in the underlying asset’s price and implied volatility/time.

To create this type of spread, use the same number of long and short options with different strike prices and expiration dates.

The main difference between a bull calendar call spread and a diagonal one is the near-term outlook. This difference is slight, as the diagonal call spread is slightly bullish.

Final Thoughts: What Is a Call Spread?

Generally speaking, vertical spreads are the simplest of the three main options strategies. Due to the different expiration dates, horizontal and especially diagonal spreads are much more complicated.

Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trading horizontal or diagonal spreads if you aren’t entirely familiar with them.

And that’s where we can help you. When you become a Bullish Bears member, you gain access to thousands of dollars of online trading courses for free.

Not to mention our Facebook community is over 30,00 members. We will help you to become an independent trader, and this is something to be very proud of.

Related Articles


If you’ve looked for trading education elsewhere then you’ll notice that it can be very costly.

We are opposed to charging ridiculous amounts to access experience and quality information. 

That being said, our website is a great resource for traders or investors of all levels to learn about day trading stocks, futures, and options. Swing trading too! 

On our site, you will find thousands of dollars worth of free online trading courses, tutorials, and reviews.

We put all of the tools available to traders to the test and give you first-hand experience in stock trading you won’t find elsewhere.

Our content is packed with the essential knowledge that’s needed to help you to become a successful trader.

It’s important to treat day trading stocks, options, futures, and swing trading like you would with getting a professional degree, a new trade, or starting any new career.

Invest the proper time into your Trading Education and don’t try to run before you learn to crawl. Trading stocks is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not gambling either, though there are people who treat it this way. Don’t be that person! 


The Bullish Bears team focuses on keeping things as simple as possible in our online trading courses and chat rooms. We provide our members with courses of all different trading levels and topics.

If you’re a beginner, intermediate level, or looking for expert trading knowledge…we’ve got you covered. 

We have a basic stock trading course, swing trading course, 2 day trading courses, 2 options courses, 2 candlesticks courses, and broker courses to help you get started. Free.

Just choose the course level that you’re most interested in and get started on the right path now. Become a leader, not a follower. When you’re ready you can join our chat rooms and access our Next Level training library. No rush. We’re here to help.

Click Here to take our free courses.