The exchanges list options on a given security according to one of the following expiration cycles:
At any given time, there are at least four different expiration months trading on a particular security. All stocks & ETFs will have options listed for at least the two near-term expiration months along with two months from their expiration quarterly cycle. Recent exchange rules now allow for the listing of additional months beyond just four available expirations, so there are deviations from standard listing procedures.
The table below illustrates the standard months listed for each cycle throughout the year, beginning on the first day of the year. The most recently listed months are boldfaced.
At start of calendar year, exchanges list the following months:
After January expires, exchanges add September to Cycle 3 and March to Cycles 1 & 2:
After February expires, exchanges add October to Cycle 1 and April to Cycles 2 & 3:
After April expires, exchanges add December to Cycle 3 and June to Cycles 1 & 2:
After May expires, exchanges add January to Cycle 1 and July to Cycles 2 & 3:
After June expires, exchanges add February to Cycle 2 and August to Cycles 1 & 3.
After July expires, exchanges add March to Cycle 3 and September to Cycles 1 & 2.
After August expires, exchanges add April to Cycle 1 and October to Cycles 2 & 3.
After September expires, exchanges add May to Cycle 2 and November to Cycles 1 & 3.
After October expires, exchanges add June to Cycle 3 December to Cycles 1 & 2.
After November expires, exchanges add July to Cycle 1 and January to Cycles 2 & 3.
After December expires, exchanges add August to Cycle 2 and February to Cycles 1 & 3.
While any security may have a unique expiration cycle, the follow approach will generally determine the specific expiration cycle for your target security. Pull up a chain of its options, match the third and fourth expiration months with the relevant table above and identify the corresponding cycle.