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I'm looking for an options broker that provides an execution API.
I'd like to ideally test on a papertrading version of it before connecting to a real execution engine. I know IB offers that, but they require a funded account with 10K min balance. I was hoping for no more than 2-3K.

I would appreciate your suggestions

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Any insight as to why you want to have a computer do your trading for you on only $2-3k of assets? –  Jon S Feb 12 '11 at 0:16
    
It's IB for sure. See also discussion group: linkedin.com/groups/… imho you should not be trading anyway with such small capital. Mkt is not a slot machine... ;-) there is also a 25K (PDT rule for instruments making sense to trade with small capital). –  Pam Apr 15 '13 at 9:09
    
I need help identifying a platform like IB (just to compare) feature to feature - one that allows trading across the world, especially in markets like India, Japan, etc. I found IB good enough but want to see who ranks nearby before I take the plunge. Any suggestions guys? –  user5374 May 20 '13 at 11:26
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6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

My research so far:

OptionsXPress - with commissions of about USD 1.25/contract. USD 1K minimum account opening.

Interactive Brokers (IB) - with commissions of about USD 0.70-1.00/contract. USD 10K minimum account opening.

TradeStation - with commissions of about USD 1/contract. One point to note is that TradeStation's EasyLanguage platform is NOT a true API and orders can only be executed via EasyLanguage and it's not a full API as per the sales rep. So, if you want to execute more complicated trading strategies (e.g. if front month call IV exceeds) you won't be able to execute it there. USD 1K minimum account opening.

Lightspeed - with commissions of about USD 0.60/contract. USD 30K Minimum account opening for using APIs.

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Anyone have any further information on Lightspeed? Seems cheap if you've got the $$ to invest, but I haven't seen much mention of this name before. –  Tal Fishman Jul 21 '11 at 23:06
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Check out MB Trading. Their API is quite good and their support is excellent.

http://mbtrading.com/developers.aspx

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TradeStation does options, not necessarily through IB. http://www.tradestation.com/

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Last I checked (about 6 months ago) Tradestation doesn't allow auto-trading with options. Trade signals must be confirmed by a human, although there are hacks around this. Also, testing option strategies on Tradestation requires 3rd party software. Overall, after factoring in the extra software fees and general pain-in-the-butt factor I wouldn't recommend wasting any time trying to auto-trade options with Tradestation. –  Joshua Chance Feb 12 '11 at 4:13
    
There was a rule back in the day against all automated entry systems un less the trader was a market maker. I do not know if that rule is still in effect, but it is something you may want to look into if you plan to auto quote if you are not a market maker. –  TraderWerks Feb 12 '11 at 20:16
    
@Joshua: Agreed, tradestation is not great for options trading. IB is much better. Plus the commissions are lower and better fills at IB anyway. –  glyphard Feb 12 '11 at 23:12
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I don't use them, but thinkorswim has a $3,500 account minimum. They also have an API via thinkpipes. I'm not sure if it costs extra to use the API.

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The minimum for thinkpipes is around 250k. –  glyphard Feb 11 '11 at 18:45
    
@glyphard: Ouch, that's brutal! So much for that suggestion... –  Joshua Ulrich Feb 11 '11 at 18:47
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Sterling Trader has an API that can handle options. I have not personally used it but it may be worth checking out. Sterling is mainly used by prop firms or larger independent accounts.

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Have you seen TradeStation's WebAPI? Check it out here: http://tradestation.github.io/webapi-docs/

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TradeStation has already been mentioned a few times. –  chrisaycock May 17 '13 at 13:46
    
@chrisaycock Yes, TradeStation was mentioned, but only in context of the platform application and EasyLanguage. The TradeStation WebAPI is beneficial for standalone applications and can integrate with any environment and programming language. –  John Jelinek May 17 '13 at 15:32
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