Seven Tips When Choosing Day Trading Charts

Responsiveness: This is the most important, and it is always the biggest issue that affects your trading. I need my charts to work quickly, no sluggish price movement, and I need my charts to move smoothly at ALL times. Many charts will work fine in slow times, but just when you need them to be working the most (when the market is moving quickly) they can jam up and freeze. Trading is difficult enough without your charts freezing, so this must be as efficient as can be. A good trick is to test out your charts during a news event. Thursday morning at 830am EST open your charts and watch the jobless claims number released… do your charts freeze? If they do, make sure you upgrade your computer or switch charting providers.

Stability: You need to be connected to the market at all times, and lack of consistency with your connection is a close second to responsiveness. Day traders need to know that they can count on their charts staying in connection with the live market at all times. If you have inconsistent connection it may be your office internet connection as well, so make sure you explore all reasons for the lack of connection.

Easy to use: If you fumble with your charts because they simply aren’t easy to use its going to make your job as a day trader much more difficult. I have found in the past some charting packages never considered the trader using them when they developed the layout of all the controls. If you struggle to use your charts efficiently because it just doesn’t work right they way you need take the time to research other options that are developed with efficient use in mind. Remember, little things that slow you down as a trader will increase the number of mistakes you make and will cause you to lose confidence, and that needs to be avoided at all costs. Get yourself a set of charts that are easy to use for YOU.

Low Cost: 10 years ago charts cost me more than my rent payment each month, I’m not joking, so it was a major commitment if you wanted to day trade multiple markets. If you’ve been trading more than 3 years you remember when we used to purchase market data individually from the exchange for each market you wanted to trade… not anymore. These days we get ALL the data we need from one source and it’s very cheap. In regards to your charts, you should not have to pay very much for the best charts. With the competition growing by the day for retail trader’ business, the market for charting platforms has driven the costs down exponentially. You don’t need to pay a lot of money for great charts, just do your research and look for what matters most.

Indicator Development: We all know that technical indicators don’t make a day trader successful, but the right indicators can certainly help. I’m a believer that indicators are only useful when they save my time and limit my mistakes. You may not need to develop indicators right now, but if you work with a charting package that is well known for easy indicator development than you will always have the opportunity to use the technical indicators you desire in the future. You never know where your day trading will take you, and it would be a shame to learn on a set of charts that cannot easily be used with new indicators.

Use of Computer resources: A very important factor you need to know before you choose a charting package is how much of your computer’s resources will it be using. Have you ever seen a charting package that uses so much RAM that your computer can barely keep up? Many charting packages are not designed with the end user in mind, so when you’re shopping around for charts make sure you use them on your computer and then press control+alt+delete and look how much your computer is working to power your charts. Also ask your charting provider to tell you what the minimum computer requirements are for the charts they provide, this will give you the ability to compare to other charting providers.

Customer Support: We can’t forget that you will certainly have questions when you begin learning to use your charts. Does your charting provider have technical support? If they don’t how will you get help? If they do, is it email or phone based? I have found that the best customer service is strictly emailed-based. I would stay away from the ‘support ticket’ system because it has too many moving parts, and the phone system sounds like a good thing, but in reality you end up with busy signals and waiting for your voicemail messages to be returned. The phone is inefficient for a support team, so look for easy ways to communicate for tech support, you will be thankful when you come across an question you can’t find in the manual.