Updated on April 4, 2024
Article bySusmita Pathak
Edited bySusmita Pathak
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Swaption Definition

A swaption is an over-the-counter contract that allows but does not obligate the buyer to enter into an interest rate swap deal at a predetermined strike rate and future date. The phrase is a portmanteau of swap and option, enabling traders to reduce interest rate risk by swapping cash flows or liabilities.

This contract, also called the swap option, permits investors to perform different swaps in exchange for premiums. However, it does not obligate buyers to enter into a pre-decided swap agreement. Aside from being non-standardized, this option guarantees a maximum fixed interest rate and gives the customer flexibility and protection.


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Key Takeaways

  • A swaption contract gives buyers the right to enter into an interest rate swap in exchange for a premium, but it is not obligatory.
  • It is traded outside the stock exchange at a predetermined strike rate and future date, and the buyer pays a premium upfront to the issuer of the swap agreement.
  • A swap option agreement is non-standardized and provides the buyer with freedom and protection while guaranteeing a maximum fixed interest rate.
  • The interest rate swap is categorized as Payer and Receiver. It can be executed in three ways – European, American, and Bermudan and physically resolved or cash-paid at expiry.

How Swaption Works?

A swaption is an interest rate swapInterest Rate SwapAn interest rate swap is a deal between two parties on interest payments. The most common interest rate swap arrangement is when Party A agrees to make payments to Party B on a fixed interest rate, and Party B pays Party A on a floating interest rate.read more contract between a buyer and a seller (issuer). It is one of the best backup strategies for traders who want protection against risks of market interest rate swings that could occur at any moment in the future.

Swaption Benefits

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It also implies that the buyer will be offered a maximum fixed interest rateInterest RateAn interest rate formula is used to calculate loan repayment amounts as well as interest earned on fixed deposits, mutual funds, and other investments. It is also used to calculate credit card interest.read more on future borrowings. As a result, if the rate rises above the predetermined terms at the contract expiry, the buyer can exercise the swap and stay protected from losses. On the other hand, if the rate does not increase in the future, the buyer can borrow at lower market rates, avoid exercising the swap and sell it for monetary gains.

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Features Of Swaption

  1. Cash Settlement – When the seller pays the buyer the current market priceMarket PriceMarket price refers to the current price prevailing in the market at which goods, services, or assets are purchased or sold. The price point at which the supply of a commodity matches its demand in the market becomes its market price.read more for the underlying swap
  2. Swap Settlement – Two parties swap according to the agreement’s predetermined terms when choosing a swap option.

Exercising Swaption

The terms and conditions of different swaption contracts vary. Hence, there are three categories in which they can be executed:

Swaption Execution

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  1. European Swaption: The buyer can enter and exercise the swap option at expiry.
  2. American Swaption: The buyer can exercise the swap option at any time between the originationOriginationOrigination in finance refers to the borrower applying for a loan or mortgage and getting it approved by the lender.read more and expiration periods.
  3. Bermudan Swaption: The buyer can enter and exercise the swap option on multiple specified dates.

The European swaption form of execution is generally favored due to its simple terms and one exercise date. The other two are more complicated in terms of execution.

Types Of Swaptions

The two common types of swaption are:

Swaption types

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#1 – Put or Payer Swaption

This form of swap option gives purchasers the option of entering into a swap agreement in which they pay a fixed swap or strike rate (non-changeable) while receiving a floating (variable) swap rateSwap RateSwap rate refers to the fixed exchange rate of a swap contract as ascertained by the parties or the market. The rate is inclusive or exclusive of the spread and determined on the benchmark rates such as LIBOR or MIBOR.read more. Firms frequently choose this option to protect themselves from interest rate risk if interest rates rise in the future.

#2 – Call or Receiver Swaption

Here, buyers have the opportunity, but not the obligation, to participate in a swap option contract in which they obtain a fixed swap rate while paying the variable swap rate. Mortgage lenders typically choose this option to protect themselves from decreased interest rates, which would result in early mortgage prepayment.

Swaption Examples

Let us consider the following swaption examples to understand the concept better:

Example #1

Mary entered into a swap option contract to make sure she does not face any interest rate risk in the future. The issuer, John, prepared the agreement and specified a predetermined rate of 8% with the expiration date mentioned. Contrary to what Mary expected, the interest rate fluctuated but remained in her favor on the date of contract expiry.

As a result, Mary did not bother to execute the swap option anymore. However, she could do so as the contract gave her the right to enter into an agreement if needed but did not make it an obligation in any manner.

Example #2

Dynex Capital, an American real estate investment trust, released its fourth-quarter financial report for 2020, announcing a total economic return of 15.2% and total shareholder returns of 17%. However, the corporation invested $750 million in interest rate swaption to get greater returns and ensure that interest rate risk does not impair the entity’s financial success over time. Additionally, this aided the corporation in replacing US Treasury options that had expired or been terminated.


Swaption finds relevance in different financial decisions that traders make to maximize the return on their investments. SpeculatorsSpeculatorsA speculator is an individual or financial institution that places short-term bets on securities based on speculations. For example, rather than focusing on the long-term growth prospects of a particular company, they would take calculated risks on a stock with the potential of yielding a higher return.read more and hedgers, in particular, benefit the most from such contracts.

Speculators anticipate the interest rate riskInterest Rate RiskThe risk of an asset's value changing due to interest rate volatility is known as interest rate risk. It either makes the security non-competitive or makes it more valuable. read more and seek to protect themselves with a swap option if required in the future.

On the other hand, hedgers pay a premium for the swap option and use it as a backup plan to cover their losses in the event of significant market changes. For example, the interest rate risk on bondsBondsBonds refer to the debt instruments issued by governments or corporations to acquire investors’ funds for a certain period.read more.

For instance, Jed takes up two loans, accounting for $100 million, maturing in two years. But he is unsure how the market will turn out in the next couple of years. Thus, he enters a swap option to hedge his expected refinancingRefinancingRefinancing is defined as taking a new debt obligation in exchange for an ongoing debt obligation. In other words, it is merely an act of replacing an ongoing debt obligation with a further debt obligation concerning specific terms and conditions like interest rates tenure.read more plans against an adverse increase in the 10-year rates.

Besides, there are other reasons to execute a swap option deal, such as:

Pros and Cons

Let us look at the benefits and drawbacks of swaption through the below-mentioned table:

The maximum interest rate is guaranteedRequires a premium upfront
No additional fees on terminating the contract earlyNo value in case the market rate goes below the predetermined swap rate
Not necessary to enter into the swap if interest rates fall instead of rising
Can be sold
Low floating swap rates can benefit before exercising the contract

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is swaption?

A swaption is a type of options contract that allows buyers to enter into a swap agreement at a specified interest rate for a specific period. It is not traded on a stock exchange, and the buyer must pay a premium to the swap deal’s issuer. The participants are large corporations, banks, financial institutions, and hedge funds. They use it as a backup plan for perceived interest rate risk arising from their business activities and financial arrangements.

What is the difference between a swap and a swaption?

Swap and swaption both provide similar benefits to traders, but they differ in one way. The former is an actual contract to trade in derivatives, while the latter is a non-binding contract to enter into a swap agreement with a predetermined interest rate valid for a set future date.

What are the pros and cons of interest rate swaption?

Pros and Cons of Swaption

This has been a Guide to Swaption and its meaning. Here we discuss how swap options work along with features, types, examples and uses. You may also learn more about financing from the following articles –

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