The Best Free Real-Time Stock Charts for Day Traders
A number of websites and platforms provide real-time charting capabilities for 1-minute, 5-minute, and other intraday charting time frames, and some of them do so for free. That could be a great deal, depending on your goals.
You might want to keep a few considerations in mind, however, before you jump in.
To Spend or Not to Spend
Free is nice, but although the data might be real-time, it's not "official." Free real-time data usually comes from just one data provider, which means you might not see all the price movements occurring in the stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF) you're day-trading. You'll have to pay if you want to receive all official price data from a market.
Free real-time data also isn't guaranteed to be accurate or timely. When you pay for real-time official quotes, you have some recourse if the data feed is unreliable or inaccurate. With a free site, you have to take the data as is.
That said, free real-time day-trading charts are an excellent backup data source on the off chance you lose quotes from your broker. They're also a great training tool for new traders who are looking to study day trading and create strategies based on how prices move in real time.
Here are the best free charting platforms you might want to check out.
TradingView provides real-time stock charts that are visually appealing and can be customized with hundreds of technical indicators.
TradingView is also a social media site. Traders can easily share their charts and ideas with each other. They can follow other traders and discuss stocks and other markets. Just beware of who you're watching because not everyone sharing charts and ideas is a profitable trader.
Traders can create watchlists and alerts, see which stocks are hot, and even trade directly from TradingView charts by connecting with a broker. They can use the Strategy Tester to test a built-in strategy for a particular stock and time period. Or they can use the Pine Editor feature to create their own strategy to test.
TradingView also lets you chart futures, forex, bitcoin, (CFDs), indexes, economic data, and global data, although futures data are delayed. You can pay for upgrade options that provide additional features and official real-time data for stocks and futures markets around the globe.
TradingView offers the most extensive list of markets, indexes, and economic data. You won't have to switch charting platforms to view charts from other markets. It's also the most integrated socially of the free chart providers.
StockCharts is one of those charting platforms that offer both paid and free options, but the free content has its limitations. You can pay as little as $14.95 a month for a Basic subscription to as much as $39.95 a month for a Pro subscription if you want more bells and whistles.
An Extra subscription, with a somewhat more advanced user interface, is available as well for $24.95 a month. A free one-month trial subscription at the Extra level is available for new customers.
StockCharts' free capabilities are pretty robust. You can do bar, line, or candlestick charting with more than 40 line studies and modifiable technical indicators, although the free version lets you plot only three indicators at once.
Data is displayed on either a weekly or daily basis, but you can only go back three years for data unless you pay up. Other downsides to the free StockCharts option are that you can't save your screens and the graphics are rather bland.
Yahoo! Finance offers that are provided by as well as real-time news. And its free interactive charts are quite good, with a selection of more than 100 technical indicators to choose from.
Yahoo! Finance lets traders create an unlimited list of stocks to follow and offers daily trading ideas. It also enables you to link to your brokerage account to implement trades based on your charted strategies.
For $34.99 a month or $349.99 annually, you can upgrade to a Premium service that offers enhanced charting capabilities, third-party investment research, live chat support, and fewer ads, among other features. A free 28-day trial is available to see whether you think the Premium level is worth the money.