DEFINITION of 'At Best'

At best orders are instructions to fill a transaction at the most desirable price available, and as quickly as possible. At-best transactions can either be applied to equities or currencies where the trader would attempt to get the best possible price or rate respectively.

BREAKING DOWN 'At Best'

At best orders are generally executed faster than a conditional order, such as a limit order. Because the ultimate price a trader receives for a share is subject to the current market price, the trader may wind up paying more (for a buy order) or receiving less (for a sell order) than expected. At best orders guarantee execution when there’s a willing counterparty for the entire order, but it doesn’t guarantee the price. Because you can’t set a price with at best instructions, the actual price at which you may buy or sell may be higher or lower than expected. Thus, investors should be cautious when marking an order at best.

When At Best Orders Are Useful

Two instances where an at best order could come in handy couldn't be further apart in motivation. In one case at best orders are useful for transactions requiring immediate execution; on another hand, they can be useful for investors who require no immediacy whatsoever. In the first instance, an at best order makes sense for a strategy that requires immediate execution due to time-sensitive information. For example, when a strategist comes to a profitable realization before anyone else.

In the second example, and on the opposite end of the need for speed, certain long-term investors may simply mark an order at best because they know they want to fill an order, but are unconcerned about price or immediacy. As an example, a hedge fund may want a certain asset class they're bullish on very long term, such as 20 years out, but doesn't feel the need to overpay for more expensive immediate execution. Here, they may simply say "buy it at whatever price" — as they know it won't matter given a long time horizon and a large expected price appreciation.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Fill

    A fill is the action of completing or satisfying an order for ...
  2. Immediate Or Cancel Order - IOC

    An immediate or cancel order (IOC) is an order to buy or sell ...
  3. Market Order

    An order that an investor makes through a broker or brokerage ...
  4. Day Order

    A day order automatically expires if not executed on the day ...
  5. Buy Limit Order

    A buy limit order is an order to purchase a security at or below ...
  6. Open Order

    An open order is an order to buy or sell a security that remains ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    The Basics of Trading a Stock: Know Your Orders

    Taking control of your portfolio means knowing what orders to use when buying or selling stocks.
  2. Investing

    Narrow Your Range With Stop-Limit Orders

    With stop-limit orders, buyers protect themselves from prices too high for their tastes.
  3. Investing

    When Using a Money Order Makes Sense

    Money orders are usually the least expensive way to send "cleared" funds to pay a bill (or traffic ticket). Here's how they work and what to watch out for.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between a buy limit and a stop order?

    Learn the difference between buy limit orders and stop orders, including stop loss orders, and understand the risks of the ... Read Answer >>
  2. How does a stop order and a stop limit order differ?

    Traders use stop orders and stop limit orders as stop losses and regular investors should understand how each type works. Read Answer >>
  3. How can I prevent my limit order from not getting filled if the stock's price gaps ...

    You can minimize the chances of this situation happening if you understand two types of orders: the buy-stop order and the ... Read Answer >>
  4. If a Stop-Limit Is Reached, Will It Always Sell?

    If a stop-limit order is established, find out if it is guaranteed to be executed even when the market is dropping fast. ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center