What is the symbol for VIX futures?

by Jennifer

The VIX, or Volatility Index, often referred to as the “fear gauge,” measures market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. Trading VIX futures allows investors to hedge against or speculate on changes in market volatility. Understanding the symbol for VIX futures is essential for anyone looking to participate in this unique segment of the futures market. This article will provide an in-depth exploration of VIX futures, their symbol, how they work, and considerations for trading them.

Understanding VIX Futures

Futures contracts are financial derivatives that oblige the buyer to purchase and the seller to sell a specific asset at a predetermined price on a future date. VIX futures are a type of futures contract that specifically track the Volatility Index (VIX).


What Are VIX Futures?

VIX futures represent a forward expectation of the VIX index, providing a way for traders to bet on or hedge against changes in market volatility. Unlike other futures contracts that track physical commodities, VIX futures track a statistical measure of market volatility based on S&P 500 options.


Symbol for VIX Futures

The symbol for VIX futures is a unique identifier used in trading platforms and exchanges to represent contracts based on the Volatility Index.

Standard Symbol

The standard ticker symbol for VIX futures is “VX.” Each VIX futures contract also includes a specific code to denote the contract month and year. For example:

VXU21: This represents a VIX futures contract expiring in September (U) 2021 (21).

VXF22: This represents a VIX futures contract expiring in January (F) 2022 (22).

The letter codes for the months are as follows:

  • F: January
  • G: February
  • H: March
  • J: April
  • K: May
  • M: June
  • N: July
  • Q: August
  • U: September
  • V: October
  • X: November
  • Z: December

Understanding these symbols is crucial for accurately identifying and trading specific VIX futures contracts.

How VIX Futures Work

VIX futures provide a way to trade based on expectations of future market volatility. They are used by investors to hedge portfolios, speculate on future volatility, or diversify investment strategies.

Pricing of VIX Futures

The pricing of VIX futures is influenced by several factors, including current market volatility, expectations of future volatility, and time until the contract’s expiration. Unlike equity futures, VIX futures often exhibit a “contango” or “backwardation” structure:

Contango: When future prices are higher than the spot price.

Backwardation: When future prices are lower than the spot price.

Settlement of VIX Futures

VIX futures are cash-settled, meaning no physical delivery of assets occurs. Instead, the difference between the contract price and the settlement price is exchanged in cash. The final settlement value is determined based on the VIX special opening quotation (SOQ) on the contract’s expiration date.

Steps to Trade VIX Futures

Trading VIX futures involves several key steps, from understanding the market to executing trades and managing risk.

Step 1: Educate Yourself

Before trading VIX futures, it is crucial to understand how these contracts work and the factors influencing their prices. Read educational resources, attend webinars, and practice with demo accounts to gain a solid foundation.

Step 2: Choose a Futures Broker

Select a reputable futures broker that offers access to VIX futures. Consider factors such as commission rates, trading platform features, customer support, and educational resources. Some popular brokers include TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, and E*TRADE.

Step 3: Open a Futures Trading Account

To trade VIX futures, open a futures trading account with your chosen broker. This involves completing an application, providing identification documents, and funding the account with the required minimum deposit.

Step 4: Use the Trading Platform

Familiarize yourself with the broker’s trading platform. Ensure it has the necessary tools for trading VIX futures, such as real-time quotes, charting tools, and risk management features.

Step 5: Develop a Trading Strategy

Develop a comprehensive trading strategy that outlines your approach to trading VIX futures. Consider using technical analysis, fundamental analysis, and risk management techniques to guide your trading decisions.

Step 6: Place Your Order

Once you have a strategy in place, you can place an order to buy or sell VIX futures through your broker’s trading platform. Use limit orders to control the price at which you enter the market and stop-loss orders to manage risk.

See Also: What is Binance futures?

Key Considerations for Trading VIX Futures

Trading VIX futures involves several important considerations to ensure you are well-prepared and can manage risks effectively.

Market Volatility

VIX futures are highly sensitive to changes in market volatility. Be prepared for significant price fluctuations and manage your risk accordingly.

Leverage and Margin

Futures trading involves leverage, which can amplify both gains and losses. Understand how margin requirements work and avoid overleveraging to minimize the risk of substantial losses.

Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental analysis for VIX futures involves evaluating factors that influence market volatility, such as economic data, geopolitical events, and market sentiment. Stay informed about news and events that could impact volatility.

Technical Analysis

Technical analysis involves studying price charts and using indicators to identify trends and patterns. Common technical indicators for futures trading include moving averages, relative strength index (RSI), and Bollinger Bands. Use these tools to make informed trading decisions.

Risk Management

Implement effective risk management strategies to protect your capital. This includes setting stop-loss orders, diversifying your portfolio, and limiting the size of individual trades.

Advantages of Trading VIX Futures

Trading VIX futures offers several advantages for investors and traders:

Hedging Opportunities

VIX futures provide a way for investors to hedge against market volatility. For example, portfolio managers can use VIX futures to protect against declines in equity markets during periods of high volatility.


Futures trading allows traders to control large positions with a relatively small amount of capital due to leverage. This can amplify potential profits, although it also increases the risk of losses.


VIX futures are traded on established exchanges, offering high liquidity and tight bid-ask spreads. This ensures that traders can enter and exit positions easily without significantly impacting market prices.


Adding VIX futures to an investment portfolio can enhance diversification. Since VIX futures are negatively correlated with equity markets, they can reduce overall portfolio risk during periods of market turbulence.

Challenges and Risks of Trading VIX Futures

While trading VIX futures can be profitable, it also involves significant challenges and risks:

Price Volatility

The VIX market can be highly volatile, with prices influenced by various unpredictable factors. This volatility can lead to large swings in futures contract values, resulting in substantial gains or losses.

Leverage Risk

The use of leverage in futures trading can magnify both profits and losses. Traders must be cautious with leverage to avoid substantial losses that can exceed the initial margin deposit.

Market Knowledge

Successful futures trading requires a deep understanding of the market and factors influencing VIX prices. Traders must stay informed about industry developments, economic indicators, and geopolitical events to make informed decisions.

Emotional Discipline

Futures trading can be emotionally challenging due to market volatility and the potential for significant gains or losses. Maintaining emotional discipline and sticking to a well-defined trading strategy is crucial for long-term success.


Yes, you can buy VIX futures, and doing so offers opportunities for hedging against market volatility and speculating on changes in market sentiment. The symbol for VIX futures is “VX,” followed by a letter code for the contract month and a number for the contract year. Trading VIX futures requires a solid understanding of the market, a well-developed trading strategy, and effective risk management techniques. By educating yourself, choosing a reputable broker, and practicing disciplined trading, you can navigate the complexities of the VIX futures market and potentially achieve your financial goals.

Remember, futures trading involves significant risks, and it is essential to approach it with caution and a thorough understanding of the market dynamics. Continuously educate yourself, stay informed about market developments, and refine your trading strategies to enhance your chances of success in trading VIX futures.

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