What does realtime data in free account mean?

There is a confusion in the account descriptions. In the accounts subscription page shows that I will have access to real-time data ergo quotes… with limitations on number of symbols etc.

Now when you look at the documentation page of the market data api page it shows

where it says that free accounts are provided limited access to websockets and historic calls.

I have just created an account for myself with the aim of exploring the api offering from Alpaca. I unfortunately find that access to market data is forbidden for me as this api call simply doesn’t work. Please can someone clarify what is actually on offer? And how can developers look and explore the full api offering without moving into paid accounts? I thank you for your time.

  • Newbie

@chillpill Good questions. The first thing to understand is there are two completely separate sets of APIs.

There are the Trading APIs. These allow one to look at account balances, positions, orders etc along with the ability to place and modify orders. Those are provided free of charge and are the same for all accounts.

There are the Market Data APIs. These are provided as a service to anyone but one is not required to use Alpaca Market Data to trade. There are a number of 3rd party data providers which offer various features. If one chooses to use Alpaca Market Data there are two subscription plans. The Free plan is available to anyone with an Alpaca paper or live account. The paid plan requires a paid subscription. The primary difference is the Free plan only offers full market SIP quotes, trades, and consolidated bar data 15 minutes prior to the current time. One cannot get real time full market data due to licensing agreements by the exchanges. The Free plan however does provide a subset of real time data representing quotes, trades, and consolidated bar data which executed on the IEX exchange. This single exchange offers special licensing which allows Alpaca, and others, to provide their data free of charge. So, both plans offer the exact same data coverage if querying data older than 15 minutes. The Free plan provides real time data more current than 15 minutes data but only representing executions on the IEX exchange. The paid plan provides full market real time data.

One can test out the APIs with the Free plan but the real time data will be limited.

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your prompt reply. Please can you tell me if I can use the free tier Market Data API using my paper account API keys?

Also the postman examples you’ve provided don’t really give the base address for the query. Can you please give me an example which has the full curl request for any quote lookup?

Many thanks for your help. I look forward to hearing from you again.