Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: July 11, 2022

US Investors: Get up to an extra $10,000 when you transfer your stocks to Public.com from another brokerage.

Quick Look: The Best Stock Charts

Depending on how you trade and which indicators you use most often, you may or may not need a paid subscription for charts useful for planning your next trades. Paid options on a stock graph offer additional charting tools or the ability to split your screen into several charts for a full analysis. You can get more charting tool options with paid options, but some of the better free charting options provide many commonly used technical indicators.

While stock charts are not the only tool you should use to make trading decisions, they give you more insight than any other tool. In fact, all other tools come back to your stock charts. There are several places to find quality charts, indicators you should know and additional study you can do. There are even recommended volumes on the subject. As you review these charting platforms, remember that you can change your strategy at any time, use different charts, adjust your indicators and create a system that works best for you.

Best Stock Charts

You want the best possible stock graph with a premium on easy-to-use features, tip-top functionality, real-time data and more. Here are Benzinga's top picks.

Note: Our favorite charting tools may or may not be available with free charting platforms.

1. Benzinga Pro

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Benzinga Pro is a real-time news streaming services packed with trade alerts, market screeners, audio alerts and much more. It's designed for fast-paced traders who need access to the right information at the right time.

The major benefit of Benzinga Pro is its ability to deliver real-time streaming news. The platform is designed to help traders get access to breaking news in real-time. but you can also sign up for trade alerts, audio alerts and more.

Benzinga Pro has TradingView charts within the platform, including all indicators. The only thing it lacks is the ability to share indicators and charts. For anything it lacks, it makes up for it with stackable indicators. The dark background is easy to read, the indicators can all sit on the same chart, and the charts themselves are rung with a massive amount of information.

You can review a company’s earnings reporting calendar, dividend calendar, high, lows, market cap and much more.

Choose the Basic plan for $99 per month or the Essential plan for $147 per month. You can save 20% on both plans when you opt for an annual subscription.

2. StockClock

Powered by Benzinga, StockClock's fast financial newsfeed lets you gather insight way before stocks start moving. You can filter stocks by the criteria important to you, including price, market cap, movement and more.

Build your own watchlist with powerful segmenting tools and get real-time price alerts sent directly to your smart device with push notifications. You'll know exactly when a stock hits a certain price.

You can access StockClock for just $10 per month and you can save 20% by billing annually. Start your 7-day trial now.

3. Stockcharts.com

Despite its decidedly old-school feel, Stockcharts.com offers clean charts with lots of indicators that are easy to find and apply to your chart. The free version of StockCharts.com limits overlays and indicators and also limits the size of the chart. Depending on your screen size and charting needs, the paid version may be a worthwhile investment if you enjoy StockCharts.com’s functionality.

Paid subscribers are treated to more charting tools as well. StockCharts.com also several other free tools and other goodies, including predefined scans so you can find stocks with bullish or bearish chart indicators as well as StockCharts TV, which analyzes live charts of current price action in the markets. Subscription prices for stockcharts.com currently range between $14.95 and $39.95 per month and you can kick off your subscription with a free 1-month trial.

4. TradingView

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TradingView’s free version provides access to 3 simultaneous indicators. You can also apply indicators created by other TradingView members. We found TradingView’s interface a bit more difficult to read and to navigate than some other charting options but liked TradingView’s snapshot gauge display that clearly indicates combined buying signals (or selling signals).

Tradingview allows you to find your inner Picasso, allowing you to draw anything you’d like on your chart, including notes, price direction arrows or anything else that you find useful when making a trading decision. Many other charging options only allow you to draw straight lines, such as those used to indicate resistance and support. You can also display multiple charts at once, splitting your display so you can take in the big picture.

To access all of TradingView’s features, you’ll need a subscription, with a pro plan starting at $14.95 a month and additional plans ranging up to $59.95 per month.

5. FINVIZ

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FINVIZ also offers very useful charts. Automatically generated technical analyses, including a candlestick chart, support and resistance levels, and moving averages are available.

An upgrade to FINVIZ Elite will buy you real-time data, intraday charts and advanced charting tools. For simpler analysis and trend trading, running a chart after market close is often enough to be a useful tool for trades you plan to execute the following day. However, free charts can’t be modified with FINVIZ.

FINVIZ’s clean charts and quick overview — even the free versions — are also a great way to confirm or disprove your analysis from other charting data. FINVIZ charges a $39.50 monthly cost and $299.50 annual cost. Both offer Elite feature access and provides access to real-time and pre-market data, advanced charting capability and an advanced screener. You can also unlock backtesting so you can see which indicators matched up with actual market events.

What is a Stock Chart?

Stock charts provide a graphical way to display stock data, including price and volume. The simplest charts display price data plotted on a line graph as it changes over time. Candlestick charts indicate trading volume in addition to price data. More complex charting tools allow you to set additional indicators to fully understand the trading activity for a given equity or index.

Remember, however, that a stock chart is often flanked by a number of items that you can use to your advantage. For example, most charting programs allow you to pull down a menu that includes several indicators. You can layer those indicators on the chart so that you can compare.

Plus, you can review historical data by opening up the chart to cover the last 6 months, year, 2, years, etc. When you do this, you can review trends that might not be obvious if you only check the last few months of results. For example, you may find that a stock has always recovered after a major dip, or it can never seen to surpass a certain price.

Stock Chart Indicators

If you put 100 traders in a room and place a stock graph in front of them, you might get 100 different answers on which indicators are the best for trading. But, a few indicators have proven their worth over time. Some of the more reliable indicators focus on short-term to long-term trends as opposed to intraday price movements.

Trend trading, in many cases, misses the highs and lows for a stock or index because the buy or sell signals happen after a trend has started. This approach can limit returns but has the advantage of waiting for a trend to be confirmed before you make a buy or sell decision. You can ride the price up, then exit the trade when a decline is confirmed — you can miss the lows if the trend continues down. While this creates an admittedly slower reaction time for traders, other indicators that try to time trades more precisely may not be as reliable.

Your trading strategy often determines the indicators that you focus on. However, you must be willing to adjust your strategy with the market, as needed. Yes, you may grow very fond of a particular indicator until it stops working, and you must make a change so that you can rebalance your portfolio and remain in the black.

Moving Averages (and Crossovers)

moving average tracks the average price of a stock, commodity or index over a given period of time. A 200-day moving average looks back in time, averaging the price over the last 200 trading days. A 50-day moving average does the same, but with a shorter time frame for the average. These 2 indicators are often used to find buying or selling signals. For example, when these 2 lines cross on a chart, it’s usually seen as a confirmed trend, sending a buy or sell signal depending on the value of the 50-day moving average relative to the 200-day moving average.

  • When the 50-day moving average falls below the 200-day moving average, it’s a sell signal.
  • When the 50-day moving average rises above the 200-day moving average, it’s a buy signal.

Daily stock prices compared to the 50-day and 200-day indicators are also sometimes used to determine a trend. This method can be less accurate and can create false signals because daily pricing is more volatile and intraday stock prices can be pushed around by news or large orders on thinly traded stocks.

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

The moving average convergence divergence (MACD) indicator is an oscillator indicator and is a bit more complex than simple moving averages, but still uses data from moving averages to signal potential entry points or exit points. The MACD shows both trend and momentum, helping to differentiate stronger buying or selling signals from the sometimes unconvincing signals that can come from a chart that isn’t moving decisively and may change direction again. MACD uses 0 as a baseline, with MACD lines above 0 indicating a potential entry point and lines below 0 indicating a potential exit point. 

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

RSI considers the number of days up versus the number of days down on a chart as a part of calculating the relative strength index. You can find out whether a stock is overbought, potentially indicating near-term profit-taking and an impending swoon for the stock, or whether a stock is oversold and potentially due for a bounce. RSI is shown as a value between 0 and 100. A value above 70 is considered overbought, while a value below 30 is considered oversold.

On-Balance Volume (OBV)

Another popular indicator is on-balance volume, which looks at volume in uptrends against volume in downtrends. This indicator becomes relevant when confirming buying or selling signals. Stock prices can drift aimlessly at low volume, triggering buy or sell signals as they wander up or down the chart. However, without convincing volume, moving averages and crossovers alone can be misleading and direction can quickly change when news hits or normal trading volume returns.

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are an tool plotted on your standard stock chart, working in pairs to illustrate the range of prices that a stock could see. When you superimpose the bands over the price of a stock, you can see the price bounce within those lines most of the time. In fact, you might see the price fluctuate wildly within the bands, hitting the top and bottom respectively.

A line in the middle of the stock chart the moving average—think of this as a simplified representation of the stock’s movement. As the bands constrict, volatility decreases. If the bands separate, volatility increases, indicating that a price trend may soon some to an end.

Adding Bollinger Bands to your stock charts is also a good way to get your bearings. You might look at the price fluctuation of a stock for the first time and have no idea where it is going. Looking over the moving average in the Bollinger Bands helps you see where the price is likely going. Finally, if the stock price exits the bands, a new trend may be emerging. If the price suddenly comes back into the scope of the bands, that trend is not likely to continue.

Free vs. Paid Stock Charts

There are some great free stock chart platforms out there but most have limitations, often encouraging users to upgrade for additional features or functionality. In addition to a typically limited feature set, free charts may not provide up to date or complete data.

A 15-minute delay is common, which can make free charting tools less useful for day trading. Volume reporting may also be affected for free charts that only display limited exchange information. Paid options provide real-time pricing with live updates, unlock more charting options and may allow additional features like the ability to save charts or use more overlays with your charts.

Keep in mind, however, that financial information sites like Benzinga provide real time information and a range of indicators that you can display all at the same time. With a large selection of indicators and a readable chart, you can make wise investment decisions. For a small membership fee, you can see everything you need all in one place.

Whether you need real-time data depends on your trading style. For day traders who might hold a stock for hours, minutes or even seconds, real-time data isn’t just valuable, it’s imperative. Active traders are likely to have access to charting with real-time data through their online brokerage account. Trend traders may hold a stock position for days or weeks and real-time data isn’t as important but charting tools that provide the most reliable buy or sell signals is still an important consideration.

Compare Online Stock Brokers

Which online brokers are best? You’ve done the work and looked for the best stock charting platforms, but you still need a quality broker that can provide you with the best trading experience. Take a look at Benzinga's picks for the best brokerage firms for stock trading. Using reviews and insights on these platforms, you can select a broker that works with you, allows you to succeed and teaches you more about investing.

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Choose the Best Stock Chart

Day traders or frequent traders benefit from access to real-time data and the more advanced charting options available with paid subscriptions. Trend traders (or if you're looking for an entry or exit point for a longer-term position) may not need all the features available in the most expensive subscriptions. Yes, a stock graph is powerful, but you should tailor your purchase to your needs.

Paid charting platforms can range from about $10 per month up to as high as $90 per month, depending on the features you add or the subscription level you choose. StockClock is our top choice for affordability, with its flexible, powerful segmenting tools and real-time price alerts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How do you read a stock chart?

A

Reading a stock chart requires looking at the timeframe, prices, moving averages, volume and indicators.

Q

What charts are useful for trading?

A

Candlesticks are useful because they show you the highs, lows, open and close.