Online brokers allow you to place stock market trades in an instant. But to be successful, it helps to have access to the latest stock market data and the best stock analysis tools. That’s where stock charting software apps come in handy, especially for active traders.
Stock charting software apps analyze the price action of thousands of stocks, and identify chart patterns and other data using well-established technical analysis practices. The end-goal is to provide DIY investors with data that they can use to produce higher portfolio returns.
But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? In this article, I’m sharing nine of the best stock charting software apps on the market today. The prices and features vary, but I’ve broken it all down to help you find the right app for your portfolio and your budget.
Table of Contents
- 9 Best Stock Charting Software Apps
- Benzinga Pro
- Thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
- Trade Ideas
- How Can Stock Charting Software Help Me?
- Candlestick charts
- Relative strength index (RSI)
- Moving average convergence divergence (MACD)
- Bollinger Bands
- Final Thoughts
Benzinga Pro is one of the most popular stock charting software apps available today. It offers actionable stock news, trading signals, intelligent chat rooms, and daily trade picks from professional day traders. You’ll also get exclusive stories on individual companies and access to Benzinga’s stock audio, which provides daily live streams focusing on financial headlines and real-time market updates.
The Benzinga Pro Stock scanner enables users to identify trades, and stock alerts are available for mobile devices to alert investors of news on breakout stocks. Benzinga Pro claims that it’s the fastest newsfeed in the industry.
You can find the content you need using a keyword search and set custom filters to display only the news information you are interested in. Sentiment indicators can indicate the impact of those news stories.
For more information, check out our Benzinga Pro review.
- Desktop, email, and sound alerts.
- More than 12 stock calendars, providing information on analyst ratings, conference calls, mergers and acquisitions, and more.
- Learning to trade with the chat room community.
- List of daily gainers and losers in real-time, with customizable filters.
- Unusual Options Activity, a premium feature addition.
- Scanner with overall gainers, five-minute movers, mid-cap movers from open, real-time after-hours gainers, and large-cap gainers.
- A trading mentorship program.
- Customizable watchlist alerts.
- Basic, $27 per month.
- Essential, $197 per month, or $1,997 annually (16% off the monthly rate).
- Options Mentorship, $457 per month, or $4,572 annually (70% off the monthly rate).
TradeStation is an online brokerage that can be accessed via a desktop app or on your mobile device. One nice feature is that TradeStation allows you to place cryptocurrency trades on their main platform.
RadarScreen scans help you to identify trading opportunities in real time. It continuously monitors and ranks up to 1,000 symbols, using more than 180 fully customizable technical and fundamental indicators.
It also offers something called the Matrix feature, which TradeStation describes as the Swiss Army knife of trading tools. The Matrix provides a detailed market depth window, a highly advanced order entry tool, and a precise order tracking system.
For options traders, TradeStation offers OptionStation Pro, which provides visual options trader chains that can highlight your strategy’s likelihood to break even across a series of expirations.
- Dynamic markets scanning tools.
- Fully customizable charting.
- Advanced order management.
- Fully automated strategy trading.
- Trading Simulator, where you can trade unlimited virtual currency using real-time or back-testing strategies.
- No fees for TradeStation investors. Commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs, and options.
Short for “financial visualizations,” FINVIZ is one of the most popular stock screeners in the industry. With FINVIZ, you can filter stocks based on valuation, financial information, ownership (including institutional and insider ownership), performance (by week, month, quarter, half year, full year, and year-to-date), technical analysis, customizable criteria, and much more.
FINVIZ also offers maps and industry groups, complete with relative performance by day, week, month, quarter, half-year, full-year, and year-to-date. An insider feature discloses buying and selling action among corporate officers of publicly traded companies. The platform also provides analysis for futures, Forex, and crypto.
FINVIZ provides three versions, Free, Registered, and FINVIZ*Elite. The Free plan offers delayed quotes, charts, screening, maps, and groups and doesn’t provide charts, portfolios, or screener presets.
The Registered plan (also free) is a little better, offering up to 50 portfolios per user, 50 tickers per portfolio, and up to 50 presets. It also provides layout customization.
The Elite plan provides all the premium services you need to up your trading game, including real-time quotes, charts, screening, advanced charts and technical studies, email alerts, insider activity, up to 100 portfolios per user, up to 500 tickers per portfolio, and as many as 200 screener presets.
- Stock analysis and screener tools
- Two of the plans offered are free of charge.
- Ad-free layout.
- Free and Registered plans: $0
- Elite, $39.50 per month, or $299.50 per year, a savings of 27%.
Unlike many of the other apps on this list, TradingView does not offer a free version. But its low-end Pro plan, at $14.95 per month, has more tools and features than the free versions on other platforms at a reasonable price.
The Pro plan includes all the features included in “Features on all three plans” listed below.
The Pro+ plan adds ten saved chart layouts, intraday exotic charts, charts based on custom formulas, chart data export, and indicators on indicators.
Premium includes all the above, with unlimited save chart layouts, second-based intervals, alerts that don’t expire, four times more data on charts, publishing invite-only indicators, and four times more intraday data in bar replay.
When you join the TradingView community, you can access live streams, trade ideas, educational ideas, and scripts. The platform covers stocks, crypto, forex, indices, futures, bonds, and the world economy.
Lastly, you’ll have access to the News Flow, which includes market news, corporate activity, news from major publishers, global market news, and market analysis.
Features on all three plans:
- 5 to 25 indicators per chart.
- 2 to 8 charts in one layout.
- 20 to 400 active price alerts.
- 20 to 400 active technical alerts on indicators, strategies, or drawings.
- Ad-free platform.
- Volume profile indicators.
- Custom time intervals.
- Multiple watch lists.
- Bar replay on intraday bars.
- Multi-monitor support in the desktop app.
- Additional features and tools on Pro+ and Premium plans.
- Pro, $14.95 per month.
- Pro+, $29.95 per month.
- Premium, $59.95 per month.
- 30-day free trial with each plan.
- (Ultimate plan available for professional subscribers at $499.95 per month.)
StockCharts describes itself as the most advanced interactive financial charting platform on the web, and is used by more than 1.9 million investors. The platform comes with charting tools, articles, and a ChartSchool providing an educational resource for investors. StockCharts is designed for investors at all levels, from beginner to advanced.
They offer three different plans, each with a progressively more advanced set of tools and features, at different price levels.
For example, while the Basic plan provides one chart list, one advanced technical alert, and 200 price alerts, the Extra plan provides 200 chart lists, 100 advanced technical alerts, and 200 price alerts.
The Pro plan offers even more in each category, as well as historical price data going all the way back to 1900. But each plan offers available real-time data, multiple technical indicators and overlays per chart, and members-only commentary.
- Interactive financial charting platform.
- Provides charts, scans, and alerts.
- Trade directly from the platform.
- Twenty-five technical indicators and 25 technical overlays per chart.
- Monthly payment plans save money over annual payment plans.
- One-month free trial.
- Basic: $18.42 per month or $239.40 per year.
- Extra: $27.65 per month or $359.40 per year.
- Pro: $46.11 per month, $599.40 per year.
Thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
Thinkorswim is a highly regarded stock charting software that’s exclusive to TD Ameritrade customers. It’s available via desktop or mobile app. The platform offers advanced tools built by experienced traders, and TD Ameritrade monitors user interactions to determine what upgrades they need to make.
Thinkorswim enables you to trade right from your web browser. It also offers an online investment community with in-platform chat rooms, social media discussions, in-person market drive events, and live and on-demand webcasts and workshops.
- Up-to-the-minute news and analysis.
- Practice trading account (paperMoney) to trade up to $100,000 in virtual money.
- Side-by-side risk profile and chart tool for options trading.
- Watch lists provided by industry professionals.
- There is no fee for Thinkorswim, as it is part of the TD Ameritrade platform. (TD Ameritrade offers commission-free trades of stocks, options, and ETFs, with no trade minimums and no platform or data fees.)
MetaStock’s Pro software is available through three plans: MetaStock Daily Charts (D/C), MetaStock Real Time (R/T), and MetaStock R/T Software Subscription Monthly.
But MetaStock offers much more, acting kind of like a supermarket for various trading plans, add-ons, and global exchange data.
MetaStock Daily Charts is designed for traders who prefer to do their analysis after the market closes. You can scan the market to identify opportunities, back-test your strategies, forecast future price action, receive expert advice, monitor lists for performance, option chains, or sentiment and plot risk, and access industry-leading charts.
MetaStock R/T provides similar features and tools to MetaStock Daily Charts, but in real-time and from the XENITH platform. MetaStock R/T Software Subscription Monthly offers similar features and tools but at a lower cost.
- Market scan feature.
- Back-testing capability.
- Forecast future price action.
- Receive expert advice.
- Monitor option chains or sentiment and plot risk.
- MetaStock Daily Charts (D/C), $499 per year.
- MetaStock R/T, $1,395 per year.
- MetaStock R/T Software Subscription Monthly, $100 per month, or $1,080 per year.
- Other add-on services are available.
Trade Ideas is an AI-driven stock scanning and charting platform. There are two versions, The Standard and the Premium Plan. Both offer full access to the Trade Ideas Web, chart-based timing (simulated and live) alert windows, price alerts, real-time stock racing, simulated trading, and custom script formula creation.
The Premium Plan adds AI-powered trade signals, risk assessment, auto trade strategies, and suggested entry and exit signals. Trade Ideas AI Trade Assistant, “Holly,” can provide real-time stock suggestions, as well as entry and exit levels. Premium also includes Market Explorer, providing high-performance prebuilt scans.
Trade Ideas also offers its optional TI Swing Picks. For $17 per month, you’ll get the ALERT newsletter, with five new trade ideas emailed to you from the Trade Ideas model portfolio each Sunday night.
- Provides 10 or 20 charts, depending on the plan.
- Chart indicators, types, markup, styling, social sharing, and trading.
- Alert, top list, and multi-strategy windows.
- The Standard: $84 per month or $999 per year.
- Premium Plan: $167 per month, or $1,999 per year.
TC2000 has served investors for over 25 years, providing charting, stock and options screening, and trading features platform. It’s available for download on your desktop. The platform includes US stocks and options, dozens of indicators, delayed streaming data, options trading, trading windows, and much more.
TC2000 offers three different plans: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Silver is pretty basic, offering custom layouts of award-winning charts and watch lists.
The Gold and Platinum plans add additional features, including the EasyScan condition library, a step-by-step wizard to create conditions, large toolsets to draw charts, the ability to drill-down through sectors and industries, plot fundamentals, and tracking of up to 100 alerts.
The Platinum plan adds the ability to set filters and market indicators from conditions, monitor the state of the market with real-time gauges, filter for specific points in time, and track up to 1,000 alerts.
- Options charting.
- Stock and options screener.
- Unlimited, free simulated trades.
- Dynamic charting.
- Watch lists.
- Options profit and loss zones.
- Built-in options strategies.
- Alerts and reminders.
- Custom layouts.
- Silver, $9.99 monthly plan, $8.32 per month on the annual plan, and $7.49 per month on the biannual plan.
- Gold, $29.99 monthly plan, $24.99 per month on the annual plan, and $22.49 per month on the biannual plan.
- Platinum, $59.99 monthly plan, $49.99 per month on the annual plan, and $44.49 per month on the biannual plan.
How Can Stock Charting Software Help Me?
Stock charting software allows you to access the same tools that brokers and professional investors use. This includes the stock charts themselves, which are visual representations of price action on a given security.
The visual representation part is important.
It’s what helps you to identify patterns that are critical to any trading strategy. Once you become comfortable with the use of charts, you’ll be able to quickly spot those patterns, making it easier for you to act quickly on the information they provide.
Stock charts can help you visualize the following types of data:
Candlestick charts were developed more than a century ago in Japan, to track the relationship between price and the supply and demand of rice. In a nutshell, candlestick charts use different colors to represent the size of price moves. Trading decisions are made based on regularly occurring patterns that are believed to forecast short-term price changes.
Relative strength index (RSI)
The RSI tracks price changes and volume. In theory, it should indicate when a stock is neither overbought or oversold, helping you to determine when to buy a stock and when to sell it.
The index works on a scale of zero to 100. It’s generally considered that an RSI below 30 indicates a stock is oversold, and a good candidate for a buy.
Moving average convergence divergence (MACD)
This is considered a momentum indicator, which calculates the difference between the 26-day and 12-day exponential moving averages. A crossover of either line indicates a trading signal. For example, it’s considered bullish when the MACD moves above zero, and bearish when it goes below.
These display both the upper and lower ranges of the price of a given stock. It helps to give an indication if the price of a stock is either too high to low.
Are free stock charting software apps worth using?
Free versions of stock charting software apps are a good place to start, as you become familiar with the different tools. At some point, you may decide that paying for the premium version is worth the cost.
How much should I spend on stock charting software?
If you have a small portfolio – like a few thousand dollars – or if you trade only infrequently, your best choice will be a free plan. That’s because you probably won’t generate returns sufficient to justify the cost of a premium plan. For larger portfolios, you might consider setting a specific percentage of your anticipated returns as they amount you’re willing to pay for the software, say 10% of expected return. Just know that any money you spend on investment tools is reducing your overall net investment return.
Can any stock charting software guarantee I’ll see higher returns?
No. As with everything else related to stock market investing, there are no guarantees. That includes investment advice, stock picks, and yes, stock charting software.
There you have it, our list of the top stock charting software apps available today. While the price of some platforms is significant, many of the apps on our list offer a 30-day free trial. I recommend taking advantage of those trials to determine if a particular app will help to improve your investment performance.
If it doesn’t, you may want to move on to another that similarly offers a 30-day free trial.
It’s also worth remembering that any investment tool has two potential benefits: increasing gains and reducing losses. Even if a particular stock charting software app doesn’t help you noticeably increase your gains, it may be worth using if it reduces your losses. All investors experience losses, but those who are best able to minimize them often have the best returns.
As Warren Buffett once famously said, “The first rule of making money is not to lose it”!
At the same time, be aware that charting is an integral part of technical analysis. There’s no strong consensus within the investment universe as to the validity of technical analysis all by itself. Fundamental analysis has a more successful long-term track record and should be used in conjunction with the technical analysis provided by charting software.
Combining both fundamental and technical analysis may be just a one-two punch your portfolio needs.
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About Kevin Mercadante
Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a washed-up mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed “slash worker” – accountant/blogger/freelance blog writer – on OutofYourRut.com. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides “Alt-retirement strategies” for the vast majority who won’t retire to the beach as millionaires.
He also frequently discusses the big-picture trends that are putting the squeeze on the bottom 90%, offering workarounds and expense cutting tips to help readers carve out more money to save in their budgets – a.k.a., breaking the “savings barrier” and transitioning from debtor to saver.
Kevin has a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from Montclair State University.
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.