The API You Need $25,000 to Use

Adam DuVander
Jul. 20 2010, 12:01AM EDT

Move over Wolfram Alpha, there's a more expensive API in town. Online investment house TD Ameritrade wants $25,000 before it will extend an API key to its Ameritrade API.

A reader shared with us a snippet of the email that Ameritrade sends to the capital deficient:

Regrettably, your request for access to the TD AMERITRADE API could not be
processed at this time. This may be because you do not meet our minimum
requirements for access to the TD AMERITRADE API, related information, and/or
mechanisms for distributing information related to the TD AMERITRADE API.

Below is a guideline to help you meet our minimum requirements:

1. Be the primary or custodial owner of an individual TD AMERITRADE account
that is both
a) In good standing and
b) Has a total liquidation value of $25,000 (USD) or more

It's understandable that the company would require a trading account to use the API. However, I would expect it to be subject to the same minimums as any ordinary account. According to a TD Ameritrade representative, their accounts have no minimums. Though, creating an account online requires a $500 deposit, still well shy of the API requirement.

Why would a company require 50 times the capital to use its API? Likely, they're considering the developers to be super-traders. And in the land of super-traders, $25,000 is a rounding error. What TD Ameritrade is missing is that developers can enable super-traders without being one themselves.

That's the real power of an open API. And TD Ameritrade is passing it by. There is certainly ground to be gained with stock quotes and analysis via API, though most available (see our 89 finance APIs) are not simple and REST-based. So, TD Ameritrade has done something right, now its work should be available to all.

Hat tip: Chris Eke

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

Comments

Comments(7)

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ralph

They are assuming anyone using an API for trading is a high-frequency or day trader, and thus the trader is subject to the SEC's "Pattern Day Trader" requirement to maintain a minimum of 25k worth of equity in a margin account. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

victor

I agree, I see a lot of companies in the online trading world who don't allow access to the API unless you have a large sum in your account. The forex world is similar. GFT requires something like a 10k minimum in your account. I can't understand the reasoning developer = trader

Jay

I disagree with your article. An API that has the ability to make trades at a low commission cost is a service - a service that traders regularly pay many times more for than $25,000.

This article (http://blog.programmableweb.com/2010/07/20/the-api-you-need-25000-to-use/)

says that $25k is needed to use the TD Ameritrade API. Is this claim

true?

Thank you,

-----------------------------------------------------

No, that is not the current requirement.

There are two paths for submitting a request to the API. One is for personal use and requires a TD Ameritrade account and the other is for commercial development or for a product that will be released to the public. Could you please tell us which you would like to request approval for so that we may send you the request materials?

Furthermore note that individual access to the TD Ameritrade API requires:

1. A TD Ameritrade account with either an account value of $500,000 or more OR 30 trades per quarter

2. A legacy "green" TD Ameritrade account. "Orange" accounts do not have access to the TD Ameritrade API. If you are not sure which of the two your account is, if you can log in to http://www.tdameritrade.com/ and you can launch Command Center 2.0 and Streamer Suite and receive quotes in each, the account is a legacy "green" account.

If your TD Ameritrade account does not meet the first requirement, please email us back in a few months, as we are currently working on expanding access. In the meantime, feel free to try the thinkorswim from TD Ameritrade platform, which has a built-in scripting language.

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