I’ve been trading for nearly 30 years. I can remember a time when good trading tools were few and far between.
In the old days, stockbrokers used Quotron and Bloomberg Terminal. They cost a fortune. If you had access to capital and had a good broker, you could get quotes over the phone.
Rarely were there free tools for beginners, or for those on a budget, that matched the quality and access you could get from professional trading tools.
Times have changed.
Brokerage firms now offer software and access to data for free or for cheap. If you don’t have enough capital to open a trading account yet, there are still plenty of options to prepare for your trading career.
Many traders don’t even know about the new tools available, or about improvements to existing trading tools.
In this post, I’ve listed 3 great stock charting tools that offer free versions. These tools are great for when you’re just learning to trade, or as a supplement to other charting options.
Disclaimer: I’ve written this post for traders who focus on stocks, as I do. Although these tools can be used by futures, forex, or options traders, there are better tools for those specific markets.
TradingView.com came to my attention a few years ago. They’ve grown their platform into a robust suite of tools.
TradingView offers paper trading, watch lists, and scanners.
Arguably, their best feature is the easy-to-use charts. TradingView’s charts are much easier to understand at a glance, compared to other offerings that are too complex and visually busy.
And you’ll be hard pressed to find another free option for paper trading. TradingView even offers a running P&L.
I haven’t found any other free tool that offers advanced charting, analysis, and paper trading.
Even better, TradingView works on any mobile device, as well as any computer (i.e., Windows or Mac; iOS or Android).
Caveat: TradingView is great for training, charting, and analysis. However, it’s not an option for trading stocks with real money. (It lets you execute real futures trades, but not stock trades.)
So take into consideration how much effort you want to expend becoming accustomed to an interface. You may want to focus on the tools you plan to use long term, if you’re going to trade real money for profit.
Who Should Use This: TradingView is great for those who want to paper trade for free without opening an account with a broker. So it’s great for those just learning how to trade stocks.
Also, if your broker doesn’t offer a mobile-ready platform, you could use the TradingView app. Their free account has delayed data (BATS), but that’s enough to analyze stocks for swing trading or position trading.
Fees: TradingView offers a free version and 3 paid tiers (each with a 30-day free trial). Their Pro versions start at $9.95 per month. There are extra fees for data feeds.
FreeStockCharts.com is one the longest-running free trading-chart tools around. It’s from the same people who offer TC2000 (Worden Brothers, Inc.).
FreeStockCharts offers a suite of charting tools to analyze stocks. It looks and feels like a real trading platform. (In fact, it reminds me of TradeStation.)
It’s fairly easy to get the hang of their interface. Layouts are simple and intuitive, and you can create an alerts list.
The only negative I found was that navigating to certain simple functions is clunky, such as toggling to a difference stock symbol within the same chart.
They offer intra-day data without a fee, although the data is still delayed.
FreeStockCharts runs on (and works best on) Windows-based devices. It does require Silverlight (but that’s a free download).
Caveat: At the time of testing, FreeStockCharts didn’t work on Mac computers running the Chrome or Firefox browsers. However, it does work on a Mac inside the Safari browser. This isn’t an issue for 95% of our audience, but … just saying.
Who Should Use This: FreeStockCharts is great for stock traders who want to practice identifying chart patterns. Day traders will benefit from this tool because of the real-time data feed.
Fees: A free version is available, with ads running on the right hand side. There are multiple levels of paid version available. Price varies depending on features and desired data feed. Worden lets you choose your pricing plan a la carte, which is rare.
Another option for studying stock charts is aptly named StockCharts.com. You can study price action and chart patterns using the free option. For daily and weekly charts, I like their Gallery View, pictured above.
With the Sharp Charts view, you get more annotation and customization abilities. This is handy for deeper analysis.
StockCharts requires no special software and operates within any web browser on any device (desktop or mobile). They recently updated their website layout, making it more user friendly.
Caveat: The Sharp Charts view seems too small to be usable to me. Their charts are smaller in size until you pony up for a membership (because the free version has ads).
But with a membership, you can use the site ad-free, getting 25 indicators per chart, tons of analysis tools, and intra-day charting.
Who Should Use This: StockCharts is great for traders who want to analyze chart patterns, volume, and price action.
You can’t paper-trade with this site, but it’s an excellent source of historical data for identifying patterns. You may want to use this to compliment your broker’s trading platform when doing research. They boast data going back to 1900.
Fees: A free version is available with ads and limited features. Paid levels come with a 1-month free trial, with prices starting at $14.95 per month.
Like every other area of knowledge, the internet has made it much easier and cheaper to learn about stock trading. If you’re a beginner, pick one of these options to play with until you’re comfortable with your ability to recognize chart patterns. If you’re already a trader, these free charting tools could be a great addition to your researching tool bag.
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