What is the Cost of Carry?


The cost of carrying is the expense spent by the investor to maintain specific holdings in the underlying market until the futures contract expires. This cost includes the risk-free interest rate. The cost of carrying does not cover dividend payments from the underlying.

Cost of carrying is the difference between a stock or index's futures and spot price. The cost of carrying is significant because the greater the value of the cost of carrying, the more willing traders are to pay to hold futures contracts.

Let’s understand what the cost of carrying is and how it works.

Understanding the Cost Of Carry in Derivatives

The cost of carrying is a measure of the actual costs of an investment or position, based on the difference between the cost of an asset and its return over time. It is commonly used in the pricing of futures contracts and the difference between the yield earned on a cash asset and its cost of funding. The cost of carrying includes the physical cost of holding assets, insurance payments, and interest expense on margin accounts. It is important to consider the cost of transportation, as traders may have a greater interest in storing futures contracts as their value increases.

Read more about how to use open interest for intraday trading


How Can I Calculate the Cost of Carry?

In theory, future price fair value = spot price + dividend payout cost. Cost of Carry = the difference in futures and spot prices at any given moment.

The cost of carrying is represented as a percentage and computed as an annual rate. The cost of carrying figures are provided in real-time on stock market websites.

What is the Cost of Carry Model?

You need to learn the cost of the carry model before understanding the concept of carrying costs. This model operates on the idea that all pricing differences between current and future prices are balanced out by trading between them, erasing any profit opportunities. The only item justifying the difference between the spot and the futures prices is the cost of carry after considering all these other factors.

The cost of maintaining a futures position on your books is implied by its name. The cost of carry model assumes that these futures contracts are held until maturity without being squared off.

Cost of Carry Formula with an Example

The amount of the current spot prices and transport costs is usually referred to as the price of a futures contract. However, the related assets' demand and supply also determine the contracts' actual price.

To determine the target value, a cost-of-carrying calculator may be applied. The formula for calculating this cost is as follows:

  • The Cost of Carrying = The price of the futures contract – The spot price of the futures contract 
  • (Futures price = spot price of the underlying security + cost of carry)
  • To understand this concept better, we'll look at the cost of carrying example: Let's assume the script ABC is at 2000 and the prevailing interest rate is 10% annually.
  • P = 2000+2000*0.10*30*365, the future price for a month's contract. 
  • This will be P = 2000+ 16.43 = 2016.43. 
  • Consequently, it is 16.43 for the costs of transport incurred.

What is the Cost of Carry Futures?

Now that you know the definition of the cost of the carry model, let's look at the future cost of the carry model. In the derivatives market, carrying costs are one of the elements to be considered when calculating future and forward prices. Physical commodities are expenses arising from the storage costs an investor has, over time, been able to eliminate, e.g., physically stored items, insurance, and any possible losses.

The willingness to buy at different price points on the futures markets may also be affected by the carrying cost of each investor. When calculating the prices of futures markets, account must also be taken of efficiency yields, which are a vital benefit in maintaining this commodity.

F = Se ^ ((r + s - c) x t)

●    F = price of the underlying commodity of a future 
●    S = the commodity's spot price 
●    e = natural log base, approximation 2.7181 
●    r = risk-free interest rate 
●    s = storage cost (which is a fraction of the spot price) 
●    c = the convenience yield 
●    t = time to deliver a contract (stated in terms of fraction of a year)

You can use the model to understand how several factors affect prices in the future.

Can the Cost of Carry be Negative?

Yes. A futures contract that trades at a loss relative to the results it represents has a negative cost of carrying. Dividends or "reverse arbitrage" strategies, where traders purchase spots and sell futures are the most frequent reasons for this. It indicates a bearish sentiment when carrying costs are negative.

How is the Cost of Carrying Observed in the Market? 

Let’s understand the cost of carrying observed in the market with the following table:                

Cost of carrying

Open Interest






Long build-up



Cautiously bearish

Long unwinding




Short build-up



Cautiously bullish

Short covering

The cost of carrying, together with open interest, serves to paint a clear picture of the market mood. [Listicles]

  • When both the cost of carrying and open interest rise. This is a positive indication. The implication here is that fresh, long positions are being taken in the market. This is known as a long build-up. 
  • When the carrying cost and open interest both fall. This is a negative sign that should be used with caution. The implication here is that previously made positions are being squared off. This is known as a Long Unwinding.
  • When the cost of carrying falls and open interest rises.This is a bearish signal. The implication here is that fresh positions are being created as traders short-sell in the market. This is known as a short build-up. 
  • When the cost of carrying rises while the open interest falls. This is a somewhat positive indication. The implication here is that the previously taken short bets are now being covered. This is known as a Short Covering.

Carrying costs, also known as storage or retention charges, are associated with physical products and financial instruments. These costs can influence investors' investment decisions, with physical commodities often carrying higher costs than financial assets. BlinkX is an online trading app designed for ease and accessibility, offering a user-friendly interface, robust features, and the ability to open a free demat account. It also provides real-time market alerts.

What is the Cost of Carry FAQs?

It is stated that if the trade has yet to be settled in a timely fashion, interest and accrued fees earned by the seller are passed on to the buyer while carrying costs pass from the buyer to the seller.

The various costs associated with holding a physical commodity or an investment option are referred to as carrying costs. Positive carry refers to the higher benefit of holding an investment than its cost; conversely, negative carries refer to costs over benefits.


A number of expenses relating to holding unsold inventory shall be included in carrying costs. Capital expenditure, inventory service expenses, inventory risks and storage space costs form the four main components of stocks.

The cost of carrying investment is the most likely factor to affect your net return, also known as net profit. Consequently, the investor must be informed about any cost of carry charges that may occur during trading and will significantly impact their return on investments or transactions.


The cost of ordering and procuring additional inventories is the expense incurred to store inventory in stock, whereas carrying costs are the expenses associated with its storage. 


Making a profit by investing in an asset with borrowed funds is an example of positive carry. The profit is the difference between the investment's return and the interest due.

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