What Is Barrier Option All You Need To Know

DailyForex.com Team

Investors utilize several options (alternatives) to attempt to profit by predicting whether a stock's value would then increase or decline in the future. Such options help investors to make a profit while also leveraging their portfolios. Aside from the standard calls and puts, investors can streamline their options contracts in a multitude of ways. A barrier option serves as a distinct category of options. Discover how it operates and why investors prefer it as an option structure.

What is the Barrier Option? All You Need To Know

Here is a comprehensive article to give readers an understanding of what the barrier option is and all other aspects of the barrier option that investors might find useful.

Simple Definition of Barrier Option

The barrier option counts among the kinds of derivatives in which the payoff is established by whether the asset value has achieved or surpassed an already-determined price. The barrier option could count as a knock-out option, which means it lapses and becomes worthless when the underlying valuation exceeds a specific threshold — limiting earnings for a holder and losses again for a writer. It could also be called a knock-in, which means that it does not have any value until the underpinned evaluation reaches a critical threshold.

Key Takeaways

  • Barrier options count among the exotic option types, where the payout is decided by if the option reaches or exceeds a predefined barrier valuation.
  • Barrier options have lower premiums than standard options. They are even utilized for hedging positions.
  • There are mainly two kinds of barriers: knock-out barriers and knock-in barriers.

More Details of Barrier Option

A barrier option is classified as exotic as it is more complicated than standard European or American options. They  also are classified as path-dependent options since their value rises and falls as the underpinned valuation changes over the course of the option's term of the contract.

To put it in another way, the financial benefit of this option is determined by the price path of the underlying asset. When a price level barrier is crossed, the option loses value or may become active. Since barrier options include additional requirements, their premiums are typically lower when compared to options without barriers.

As a result, if a businessman thinks the barrier situation is less likely to be achieved, they could choose to purchase a knock-out alternative, for instance, as it has a lesser premium. Hence, the barrier status is less probable to impact them. For example, knock-in options can be used by anyone who intends to hedge a certain position — but only when the underlying valuation reaches a particular level. The reduced barrier premium could end up making this more attractive than non-barrier European or American options.

What Are Advantages And Disadvantages of the Barrier Option?

For more details, here’s a rundown of its pros and cons:

The Pros

  • Less threat for an option seller: Sellers of options can minimize their risk by restricting their possible losses via an "out" option or decreasing the likelihood that the option will be exercised with an "in" option.
  • Reduced option premiums: Since barrier options contain more constraints than conventional approaches, they frequently prompt lower premiums.
  • More autonomy to personalize contracts: Barrier options allow investors to add additional conditions to the contracts, enabling them to develop the exact transaction they desire.

The Cons

  • More restrictions imposed on the individual investor: Barrier options render exercising the service agreement more difficult for the holder of the option.  These constraints may make profiting from the deal more difficult.
  • Barriers more complicated: Because barrier options are more tough to comprehend than traditional alternatives, they are less enticing to daily investors.
  • Less liquid than standard options: Barrier options can be traded over-the-counter (OTC), which means that reduced numbers of people trade them. It can be more difficult to find a seller or purchaser if you intend to participate in barrier options.

What Are Types of Barrier Options?

Knock-in and knock-out barriers are two main types of barriers.

  • Knock-in Barriers - The knock-in barrier option is defined as a form of barrier options where the rights related to the option are only activated once the underlying stock reaches a predetermined barrier in the midst of the option's lifecycle. When the barrier is created or knocked down, the option stays available until it lapses. Knock-in options can be either up-and-in or down-and-in. An up-and-in barrier option becomes active only when the foundational asset's price goes beyond the predetermined barrier, that is set over the underlying original cost. A down-and-in barrier option, on the other hand, only exists when the underpinned asset value price falls below a threshold barrier set just below underlying opening price.
  • Knock-out Barriers - In contrast to knock-in barriers, knock-out barriers expire once the underlying value attains a barrier anytime during the option's lifecycle. There are two types of knock-out barriers: up-and-out and down-and-out. Whenever the underlying asset moves beyond a barrier established above the original cost, the up-and-out barrier option shall cease to exist. The  down-and-out option is no longer available once the underlying asset falls below a barrier, set underneath the underlying opening cost. If the underlying asset achieves the barrier at any point in the option's life, it is knocked out aka terminated.

Alternative Barrier Options

Other variations on the above-mentioned barrier options are feasible. Here I will present three common examples:

  • Rebate Barriers: Knock-in and knock-out barrier options can include a provision that allows holders to receive discounts if the option fails to attain the barrier valuation and thus becomes valueless. These are recognized as rebate barriers. In such instances, rebates assume the form of a proportion of the option price paid by the investor.
  • Turbo Warrant Barriers: Turbo warrants, which are primarily traded in Hong Kong and Europe, are a kind of down-and-out barriers, which are heavily leveraged and have low volatility. These are quite prevalent in Germany where they are utilized for speculative reasons.
  • Parisian Barriers: A Parisian option doesn't trigger the service agreement if the barrier value is reached. Rather, the underlying asset must remain above the trigger barrier cost for a predetermined amount of time before the contract kicks in. This category of option quantifies the number of years/months etc. the underlying value of the asset spends in and out of the barrier's price bracket.

How to Price the Barrier Option?

Barrier options, in contrast to other option categories, do not enter into force until a particular price, known as barrier price, has been reached. Once the  barrier valuation is achieved, a barrier option could become ineffectual in certain cases. Assume Jack sells a barrier option, accompanied with a call option to Anna for shares of ABC at a strike price of $60 and a barrier of $65.

Anna may start exercising the option during any time ABC surpasses $60 via a normal call, and she can achieve financial gains.  However, since there exists a $65 barrier. Hence, Anna will be unable to execute the option unless ABC surpasses $65. This restricts her leeway and increases Jack's chances of not incurring losses. While "in" options are just operative when the barrier rate is achieved, "out" options exist as well. When the barrier value is reached, these options cease to be operative.


1. What is an up and out barrier option?

An up-and-out option counts among the knock-out barrier options which expire whenever the underlying asset's price rises more than a certain price point known as the barrier price.

2. What are barrier options used for?

Barrier options are categorized as a type of exotic options wherein the payout is determined by whether the option reaches or exceeds a predetermined barrier price. Barrier options have lower premiums than conventional alternatives and are often utilized in hedge positions.

3. How do you hedge a barrier option?

At expiration of the period, hedge the up-and-out call with two standard ones: the first one that has an identical strike like the barrier option to recreate its payoff under the barrier. The second option can be the one to deactivate the regular call's incentive at the barrier. Now , compute the previous period's worth of the hedge portfolio.

4. Why are barrier options traded only in OTC markets?

Barrier options contracts can only be traded over the counter (OTC), instead of on more available exchanges. The OTC platforms are less accessible because not all brokerage firms will permit you to purchase or sell contracts which are not bought and sold on public exchanges.

DailyForex.com Team
The DailyForex.com team is comprised of analysts and researchers from around the world who watch the market throughout the day to provide you with unique perspectives and helpful analysis that can help improve your Forex trading.

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