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Why Covered Calls Are Bad? A Comprehensive Guide

Why Covered Calls Are Bad

In the realm of investment strategies, covered calls have been painted in a particularly bright light. They’re often hailed as a smart move for generating extra income from your stock holdings. 

However, like any strategy, they come with their own set of drawbacks.

So, do you want to know why covered calls are bad?

In this deep dive, we’ll unpack the less-talked-about corners of covered calls to reveal why they might not always be the golden ticket they’re made out to be.

What are Covered Calls?

To start, let’s quickly define covered calls. Simply put, when you sell a call option on a stock you own, you’re executing a covered call. 

The “covered” part means you have the stock to back up your option sale. Many investors find this approach appealing because it offers a stream of income on top of potential stock earnings. However, the devil, as they say, is in the details.

Substantial Capital

Limited Upside Potential

One major drawback of covered calls is their cap on your profits. When you sell a call, you agree to sell your stock at a specific price, known as the strike price. 

If the stock soars beyond this price, you’ve locked in your selling price and cannot benefit from the rise beyond the strike. This cap can mean missing out on significant gains, especially in a rapidly climbing market.

Requirement of Substantial Capital

Covered calls are not a low-budget strategy. They require you to own the stock you’re selling calls on, which means a significant upfront investment. 

For those with a slim investment portfolio, this can be a prohibitive barrier. Other strategies might offer similar benefits without requiring as much capital upfront.

Why Covered Calls Are Bad? An Honest Guide

For dividend lovers, covered calls present a conundrum. High-quality dividend stocks often come with low option premiums, making the strategy less lucrative. 

You then face a choice: enjoy your dividends with less additional income from options, or opt for higher-yielding, potentially riskier, stocks. It’s a balancing act that can dilute the benefits of both dividends and option sales.

Market Risks and Covered Calls

Market conditions can dramatically affect the outcome of a covered call strategy. In a bullish market, capping your gains can be a bitter pill to swallow. 

Conversely, should the market or your stock take a downturn, the income from your options may not be enough to offset the losses. The stock could even fall below your break-even point, leading to an overall loss.

Opportunity Costs

The opportunity cost of covered calls is closely linked to their capped gain potential. By committing to a selling price, you’re potentially forgoing the chance to sell at a higher price later. 

In a scenario where your stock’s price leaps, you must watch from the sidelines as it surpasses your strike price, knowing you could have reaped more had you not sold that call.

Misconceptions About Covered Calls

Some investors jump into covered calls under several misconceptions. They may believe it’s a risk-free way to make money on stocks or that it can turn a bad stock into a good investment. Neither is true. 

Covered calls reduce but do not eliminate risk, and they cannot fundamentally change the prospects of a poorly performing stock. Understanding these realities is key to setting the right expectations.

Best Practices If You Choose to Use Covered Calls

Despite the drawbacks, covered calls can still fit into some investment strategies. To minimize risks, consider:

  • Choosing stocks you’re comfortable holding long-term, regardless of market fluctuations.
  • Setting strike prices and expiration dates that align with your investment goals.
  • Staying informed about market conditions and ready to adjust your strategy as needed.

These practices can help you navigate the challenges of covered calls while making the most of their benefits.

covered calls

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do some investors use covered calls despite the risks?

Many investors find the immediate income of covered calls appealing. They’re willing to trade the potential for higher profits for a more predictable income stream, especially if they believe the stock won’t exceed the strike price significantly.

Can covered calls ever be part of a successful investment strategy?

Yes, in the right circumstances. For investors with a large stock portfolio looking for steady income, or in situations where stock prices are expected to remain relatively stable, covered calls can be a useful tool.

How do market conditions affect the viability of covered calls?

Market conditions significantly influence the success of covered calls. In stable or slightly rising markets, they can provide additional income with manageable risk. However, in volatile or rapidly rising markets, the strategy can lead to missed opportunities and capped gains.

What are some alternatives to covered calls for generating income?

Investors seeking income might consider dividend stocks, mutual funds focused on income, or other option strategies like selling puts, each with its own risk and reward profile, to diversify their income generation methods.


Covered calls are not the one-size-fits-all solution they’re often made out to be. They require a substantial initial investment and come with a set of risks and limitations that can curb your financial growth. 

The capped gains, opportunity costs, and the potential for losses in volatile markets highlight the need for a careful, informed approach. Before venturing into covered calls, consider whether the potential income outweighs the drawbacks in your specific situation. 

There’s no denying the allure of generating extra income from your investments, but it’s essential to weigh this against what you might be giving up. As with all investment strategies, knowledge, caution, and realism are your best allies.