I was under the impression that options hold a time value which should make options more expensive if they expire further in the future. But I found this options table and it's cheaper to buy options with longer expiration time with same strike price. Why is this the case?

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    For weakly traded (i.e. low volume) options, the "last" of one might be very up-to-date and of the other be quite out-of-date. Notice for example that for the 1.00 strike expiring Feb 31, the call asks 1.00 but the last sale was at 1.10 Also notice that the ask price for calls aren't monotonic on either expiration date, which is contrary to reality. Some of the combinations just have no interest at all, so the exchange has no way to update the data in those areas of the table.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 22:47
  • So there are no situations in reality where one can buy options for a later date that are cheaper for same strike?
    – Maciek
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 23:13
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    The last price of the option has no bearing on the OP's question. The disparity outside the current bid/ask only indicates lack of liquidity. The current ask prices posted (assuming these quotes are current, which I doubt) is where the market is for purchases. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 23:16
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    @Matthew Semik - There are some situations where it can happen (spreads) or when there is very, very high implied volatility (not cheaper but a penny or two more). But in the context of just buying long opens, other than a rare momentary mispricing, there are no situations where one can buy options for a later date that are cheaper for same strike. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


I suspect that these quotes were captured after the market closed when B/A spreads widen, some moderately, some drastically. If so, that would explain why they don't line up. The quotes are stale.

During regular hours, OTM options may also not align if there's no interest (open orders) in some of them. In such cases, the market maker sets a wide B/A spread and it only narrows if an order arises with price improvement. This wider spread may make it appear that a nearer term option is more expensive. They're just illiquid with worthless quotes.

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