01Difference Between Free Real-Time and Paid Real-Time Stock Charts
Free stock market data is provided by BATS. BATS is an electronic exchange that processes trades on US stocks and then publishes those transactions, in real-time. Websites and charting platforms then use that data to provide real-time charts to their users.
These free real-time charts only show the stock transactions that occur through the BATS exchange. The charts don't show the transactions that occur through all the other electronic exchanges that compose the US markets. BATS data represent an approximation of what is happening in real-time. You see some of the price movements and transactions, but not all.
Also, volume data is approximated, since the stock charts only track volume that is processed by BATS.
When you pay for official real-time stock market data and charts, you receive the price and volume information for all the electronic exchanges that compose the US stock markets, such as the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.
In actively traded stocks, the BATS exchange is frequently used, so a transaction will likely go through on BATS at each price level the stock moves to. In this case, the charts turn out to be quite accurate. In lower volume stocks, where few transactions occur, a transaction may not go through on BATS at each price level where a transaction on another electronic exchange takes place. In this case, you are missing pieces of information on your free charts that paid real-time charts would show.
Free charts are still useful. New traders can use them to analyze chart patterns and strategies and see how prices move in real-time. Free official data is delayed by 15 to 20 minutes, but as that data is released, free real-time charts are updated with the official data. These charts provide a way to easily exchange trade ideas and charts with others who may not have access to real-time official (paid) stock charts.
Paid real-time official quotes provide historical time and sales data—Level I data and possibly Level II data—that show how many shares are being bid and offered at various price levels. BATS provides its Level and Time and Sales data on its website, but this data only reflect transactions taking place on BATS, and not other electronic exchanges.
Real-time data from free sites are not guaranteed to be accurate or timely. With real-time official quotes, since you are paying for them, you have some recourse if the data feed is unreliable or inaccurate. With a free site, you have to take the data as is.
TradingView is also a social media site. Traders can easily share charts and ideas with each other, follow other traders, and discuss stocks and other markets.
Traders can create watchlists and alerts, see what stocks are hot, and even trade directly from TradingView charts by hooking up to a broker.
Different chart layouts can be saved and loaded, and the stock of one chart can be compared to other stock charts on the same screen. A strategy tester and stock screener round out the tools available to TradingView users.
Stocks aren't the only thing you can chart on TradingView. Futures (delayed), forex, bitcoin, Contracts for Difference (CFDs), indexes, economic data and global data are also available. Quotes for many global stock exchanges are also provided.
The site is free, with upgrade options available which provide additional features and official real-time data for stocks and futures markets around the globe.
On the free version of the site, there are ads that constantly pop up. These are a minor hindrance while performing analysis. Real-time data plans start at $9.95/month, plus exchange fees (starting at an additional $2/month), as of September 2017.
Technician is a free charting platform that provides real-time intraday charts for US equity markets, as well as delayed data from many global stock exchanges. Forex charts are real-time. Futures and index data are also available, but delayed.
Intraday charts are available on one, three, five, 10- and 15-minute time frames. Drawing tools, chart types, and technical indicators are available. Traders can easily share charts and discuss stocks through a StockTwits feed, as well as save different chart layouts.
Technician is free to use upon sign-up. Trading is available through Technician charts, assuming a brokerage account is opened with a partnering broker. Add-ons are available through the Technician Marketplace, for a monthly subscription fee.
The free version is typically clear of ads, allowing you to analyze your charts uninterrupted. While minimal ads is a huge bonus, Technician lacks some of technical analysis functionality that TradingView and FreeStockCharts offer.
Technician users gain access to real-time charts when they connect a live brokerage account to Technician.
FreeStockCharts was one of the first websites to offer charts that were functional, attractive and easy to navigate.
Day traders can monitor stock prices on one, two, three, five, 10- and 15-minute time frames. There are technical indicators and drawing tools, as well as a stock comparison feature. Save portfolios, scan for stocks and create various chart layouts. Create alerts or trade reminders, and easily share your charts on Twitter or Facebook.
As of September 2017, the site doesn't run on the Chrome, Firefox or Edge web browsers. It only runs on Internet Explore for PC and Safari for Mac.
Real-time index and forex data is also provided, as well as delayed data for Canadian stocks.
Ads are a constant feature. While these don't interfere with analysis, the ads do reduce the size of the chart area on your screen. In terms of technical tools available, FreeStockCharts has more than Technician, but less than TradingView.
Paid plans for FreeStockCharts start at $19.95/month, as of September 2017.
05Best Free Real-Time Stock Charts for You
Which charting platform works best for you depends on the tools you need to analyze stocks. While all three offer similar drawing tools and technical indicators, there may be slight differences, with one offering what you need while another doesn't.
TradingView and Technician work on all web browsers, while FreeStockCharts only works on Internet Explorer and Safari.
TradingView offers the most extensive list of markets, indexes and economic data. This means you don't need to switch charting platforms to view charts from other markets. TradingView is also the most integrated socially; if you are looking to interact with other traders, TradingView is a good option. Beware of who you are watching, though, since not everyone sharing charts and ideas is a profitable trader.
In terms of ads, Technician has the least (if any) when using the free charts. TradingView has popup ads, which have to be closed and distract you from your analysis. FreeStockCharts has constant ads shown. These typically don't distract you from your analysis, but they do reduce the size of your charting area.
Once you start day trading, your broker will provide real-time quotes, and you likely won't need these sites as much. Many brokers also offer demo accounts with official real-time quotes, but there is typically a cap on how long you receive free official quotes for.
The one advantage of having a web-based charting platform is that you can monitor stock prices, in real-time, from anywhere or any mobile device. You don't need to have your trading platform open (or even installed on a device) to keep up to date on stock prices. Even if you have a day trading account with a broker, and have access to official real-time quotes, it is worthwhile setting up an account on one of these sites as well. They work well as a backup data feed in case the quotes or charts in your trading platform malfunction.
Best Free Real-Time Stock Charts for Day Traders
Sites That Offer Free Real-Time Intraday Stock Charts
There are a number of websites and platforms that provide real-time charting capabilities for 1-minute, 5-minute, and other intraday charting time frames.
Free is nice, and the while the data may be real-time, it is not "official." Free real-time data usually comes from one data provider, which means you may not see all the price movements occurring in the stock or Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) that you're day trading. To receive all, and official, price data from a market, you need to pay.
That said, free real-time day trading charts are an excellent backup data source, on the off chance you lose quotes from your broker, and are a great tool for new traders who are looking to study day trading and create strategies based on how prices move in real-time.