Does anyone really like using Alpaca?

I’m getting ready to pull money out of Alpaca. After a solid 6 months or so of using it I can safely say its not good enough for what I’m trying to do. I’d like to hear everyone else’s thoughts. My problem is that the execution speed is so slow that its worthless. My entire algorithm’s success is predicated upon getting out of trade quickly if it turns down, but letting it run up as long as it can. Far too often a stock makes a sudden downturn and instead of my stops limiting the loss to ~1%, I end up having it down much farther where I just let it sit and hope it comes back. This of course defeats the purpose of all the backtesting and strategy development I did in the first place. I"m not even day trading, more like swing trading every few days. I can’t fathom trying to execute anything faster on this platform.
My advice is that if you are trying to build something that trades monthly or less frequent, its probably fine. Anything faster than that, you are wasting your time. It will work most of the time when its not important and then screw you over when it matters most.
I’d love to hear any differences of opinion on this, especially if you can help me get my trades to execute without passing through the stops. I really want this to work. I should add that alpaca support (which is pretty much next to useless, another reason to bail on this platform), has said that they won’t honor trade limits unless you are buying in 100 lot bundles. There’s no way I can commit that kind of money to this unproven platform right now.


I can not really confirm your issues. I am using this service since arround August last year and up until March 2021 it has been working very well. Our applications run on AWS hosted in North VIrginia, execution time has not been an issue with 50+ daily users and more than 5K trades per week. The only thing that makes us consider switching has been the last weeks trouble.

are you saying that you never have issues having a trade execute if/when the price slides down quickly? Do you limit your orders to buckets of 100? Do you use bracket orders?

depending on the volume and impulse of the move we use market instead of limit to secure fills cause else you probably wont get filled. If that is what you mean. Other than that we never had any issues.

Well, thats a pretty massive distinction. Using Market fills undermines everything i’m trying to do

but limit orders dont get filled on high volatility moves on all brokers either if you dont sell in brackets.

I’m glad for the opening of this discussion, but I’m not sure enough of the mechanics of order routing to know whether Alpaca is to “blame.” Much of our perception of how well a broker works is the price paid compared to bid quotes, which (I think for many customers) come from Alpaca itself. Before actively trading I did extensive research on buying/selling a few shares at market prices, and found that the transaction prices closely matched my expectations (bid/ask prices, respectively). However, as I moved into larger trades, for stocks with larger bid/ask spreads, the degradation was quite noticeable. This is classical price impact, but must depend on the number of exchanges accessed by Alpaca, which I don’t know or understand. My impression is that Alpaca performs poorly on price in comparison to, e.g, Fidelity, which claims to use “up to 75 market centers including exchanges, market makers and automated trading systems.” I did not do a precise head-to-head, but in many instances have been pleasantly surprised by the price achieved by Fidelity, and have rarely been pleasantly surprised in that manner by Alpaca. For limit orders I have less information, but for less liquid stocks, whether limit orders or not, Alpaca’s trading speed can be extremely slow, which is a bad thing. So my tentative conclusion is that Alpaca performs poorly on price in comparison to other large brokerages, likely due to the number of centers/exchanges in its network. Does anyone have any information on this?

Alpaca does fit my needs in other ways, and I’ll stick with it for a while. The loss of free polygon data hurt a lot, and I haven’t even had a chance to work through how or whether to reproduce my tuned system for using polygon data. Thus I will pay for polygon for the time being.

My biggest complaint about Alpaca comes from errors in account calls showing current holdings, overall equity, etc. This is buggy beyond belief, and has wild false apparent swings. My previous posts on this subject show that I’m not alone. I suppose I can write my own code to compute equity, by comparing my holdings to price obtained from an external source such as polygon. But that hardly seems like my job, and in some instances will not help, as the errors have sometimes been in my cash holdings. I would much rather Alpaca fix these issues than introduce novelties such as fractional share trading.


I also confess to having large gaps in my knowledge of the inner-workings of what happens behind the scenes. I can only say that in 6 months of trading similar volumes of stocks with Ally, this never happened once. I’m pretty sure that Ally would buy and sell orders to promote liquidity, and I’m also pretty sure that Alpaca does not do this. So perhaps that is why. Ally no longer accepts bracket orders and I couldn’t get their API to work, hence I’m here for now. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can make money using this platform without the effective use of stops and limits. I suppose a system that plans for very large gains on each trade, and hence doesn’t trade very often, could probably get away w/ using market sells. But in that case, why bother w/ an API? Just logon and do it manually. To me, the whole reason for an API and automation is to allow faster trades. For most individuals true HFT is probably unrealistic but a few trades a day isn’t. And in that scenario you will obviously be trying to make many trades that have a small profit. That will never hold up to a market sell. Every time I’ve tried a market sell it came in almost 1% under current price. Granted, I wasn’t closely examining the bid-ask spread. I like my strategy and I know it will work, but not without effective stop loss in place.

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I am selling in brackets, and as I said, although I know it is possible I’m telling you that never happened to me at Ally after hundreds of OCO trades. Its happened to me twice in a month at alpaca.

May I ask why you left Ally? I have just opened an Ally account and they have an API interface too, I think.

Oh, you said Ally no longer accept bracket orders. Got it.

i can say i do hope that helps

I’ll leave my 2cent here. Alpaca is my first and only algo trading attempt and I have been ridiculously unsuccessful so far. Tried almost 20 slightly different strategies with consistent failure. I know some were downright dumb, but I would attribute at least a few good strategy failures to the price movement on Alpaca. But then again, I don’t want to pay commissions and from what I have researched, Alpaca api seems to be the easiest, maintainable, and overall really great. Its just the quality and accuracy of data/order that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


why the hell would someone do that?

I put a lot of money and effort into Alpaca account and every day i question if i made a mistake. Their API is considerably better than Ameritrade but they have performance issues which cost me. They throttle order management requests. It is my biggest complain so far aside from primitive1099 B form they produced. When market moves i need to place a lots (hundreds) of limit orders, cancel/replace, etc. They don’t let me. Account change websocket stream is of no help here. Ameritrade API sucks but at least they don’t have this limitation. Order management requests are not throttled there. I guess, you get what you pay for :slight_smile:

Are you having trouble even if you live within the API calls/minute that they advertise? Or do you require more than their advertised limit? (200/min, I think?)

They honor their promised thruput of 200 req/min. In fact they allow more than that. However, i need occasional bursts of much more than 200 req/min. Perhaps 500 REST API requests in 5 seconds.

are TDI api calls unlimited? And they dont charge commission right? Why would you say “you get what you pay for”?

Ameritrade REST API call are also throttled but not the order management ones. Last year i paid Ameritrade considerable commissions for options and OTC stocks. They made a good coin off me.

Ameritrade API does not support “client order id” which prevents you from identifying the origin of your fills. Huge detriment if you running multiple strategies and also trading manually. At least Alpaca API does not have this problem