What Is a Wild Card Option?

What Is a Wild Card Option?

3 Min.

In the context of Treasury bond futures contracts, a "wild card option" is a right reserved by the seller, which allows him to deliver their bonds to the futures contract buyer after-hours trading. The seller may benefit from this option by securing a more favorable price, thereby reducing the cost of their short position and ultimately increasing their profits.


Certain Treasury securities have an embedded option called a wild card option. This option permits the seller of a Treasury bond to delay delivery of its underlying asset until after regular trading hours. By doing so, the seller can gain an advantage of a few extra hours to secure a favorable price before settling their futures contract. Overall, this option benefits the seller and is a valuable tool for ensuring a better price.

How Do Wild Card Options Work?

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) has facilitated U.S. Treasury bond futures contracts since 1977. Under CBOT regulations, Treasury futures trading ends at 2:00 pm, but sellers aren't obligated to settle until 8:00 pm. The invoice price, compensating the futures contract holder, is fixed at 2:00 pm. However, the wild card option grants Treasury futures sellers a six-hour window for potential post-market gains.

When employing the wild card option, sellers monitor post-market spot prices. If they drop below the invoice price, the option can be exercised, allowing delivery at the reduced spot price, thus cutting short position costs.

Wild Card Option Example

Treasury bond futures are globally renowned for their high trading activity. To exemplify the practical application of a wild card option, let's delve into the scenario of ABC Capital, a fictitious investment entity holding a short position in the Treasury market through the sale of Treasury bond futures contracts. ABC Capital, as the seller of these bonds, is responsible for delivering a specified bond quantity to the buyer at a predetermined time. However, ABC Capital holds the discretion to activate the embedded wild card option on the settlement date.

On this crucial day, ABC Capital can exercise patience, with a permissible delay of up to six hours following the close of the regular trading session, before declaring its intention to make the bond delivery. This waiting period creates an opportunity, as bond prices may drop in the after-hours market, allowing ABC Capital to secure bonds at a more advantageous rate before fulfilling its commitment to the buyer. This maneuver effectively reduces the cost of ABC Capital's short position, contributing to potential profit maximization or loss mitigation.


The "wild card option" in Treasury bond futures contracts allows sellers to delay delivery until after regular trading hours, potentially reducing costs and increasing profits. The CBOT has facilitated U.S. Treasury bond futures since 1977, permitting trading until 2:00 pm and settlement until 8:00 pm. The wild card option provides sellers with a six-hour window for post-market opportunities, potentially resulting in cost savings through delivery at a reduced spot price. For instance, ABC Capital, a hypothetical seller, can use this option to secure bonds at better prices during after-hours trading, reducing potential losses and maximizing profits. This option is a valuable tool for sellers in the Treasury bond futures market.

Wild Card Option
Futures Trading
Treasury Bond