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I just applied for an IB account yesterday. From what I understand, for cash account your money from a transaction will not be available to use until the transaction is settled, usually after 2-3 days. But for the Reg T Margin account you can use the money right away.

But I'm sure experts here have more to say about this.

I have 2 types of accounts with IB.

I have a no-margin IRA.
I have a margin account.

To trade stocks quickly, you need a margin account.

If you trade naked puts/calls you might be able to trade fairly quickly.

For example if you have $100k you could trade $10k per day before your cash == 0.

I asked IB for permission to trade equity options, futures, and future-options in my cash-only-IRA and they gave it to me.

One thing I like about naked options is that if I buy $X,000 in naked options , then that is the max I can lose.
Naked options make it easy for me to know my exact risk.

Dan

I'm confused - I thought naked options are actually more risky, with the potential for unlimited loss? e.g. here

Unlimited loss is a huge misconception.

Imagine that you have $100 and that you you spend $3 on a naked call.
Q: What is the max you can lose?
A: $3

Dan

In IB there are only 2 types of accounts I can upgrade to, portfolio margin and Reg T margin account (I currently have cash account). How to upgrade to an IRA margin account?
Which accounts is better: IRA margin and Reg T margin, in terms of requiring less cash cushion? From IB's description it's basically saying: IRA margin account do not have a 3 day money settlement , so you can buy with the sale money right away; but you can't borrow money. For Reg T margin account you still have 3 day settlement, but you can borrow up to 50% money. Is my understanding right?

Good news - you can now access the settled cash and other IB account information in your algorithm! Here is the announcement: https://www.quantopian.com/posts/new-feature-ib-account-information-available-in-algorithm

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How about the coding question - how does one go about emulating settling time in Quantopian? Say I don't want to dive into margin accounts or anything other than just using my own cash. How can I "skip" / "advance" the backtesting event loop 3 or 4 days after every sale to accommodate real life trading rules?

UPDATE
Although the following code sample doesn't specifically address simulating a 3 day settlement period it at least shows the syntax for skipping a variable number of event loops. Cheers!

def initialize(context):  
    context.i = 0

def handle_data(context, data):  
    # Skip 3 days.  
    context.i += 1  
    if context.i < 3:  
        return