Best Free Real Time Option Flow Tools
Options flow is an analysis of some abnormal trades that have been made and may influence the markets, and we are going to be looking at the best free real time option flow tool to help us analyze the large quantities of information and process it into a usable format.
For a more in-depth explanation of Options Flow you can read our guide here.
Although option flow trackers, or option flow scanners, may sometimes have free versions, some features may be unavailable, or there might be a delay in the information.
For the purposes of this comparison, we will only be focusing on the free version of the option flow tools.
Free Real Time Option Flow Tool Criteria:
There are several criteria for the ranking of these option flow tools:
- The first, and one of the most important, would be the period over which the tool could be used free of charge, and the cost that may result afterwards.
- Additional criteria include useability/ ease-of-understanding, quantity of information provided.
- It is also preferable that the option flow tool has access to private trades, as those account for up to 40% of all trades in the US and could greatly influence the markets.
With those criteria in mind, let's look at some of the best real time option flow tools.
6. Cheddar Flow Option Flow Tool
At the bottom of the list, we have Cheddar Flow.
Cheddar Flow is a free real-time option flow tool that has a variety of different features that make it attractive.
It tracks repeat call activity, unusual order flow, orders that use large sums of money, and more. It uses AI to produce alerts, but also analyzes historical alerts and calculates profit/loss values.
It also allows for a large amount of customization, including setting up watchlists, desktop alerts, changing filter sensitivity to better suit your trading style, and more.
Additionally, it illustrates information in an easy-to-read manner. This can be seen in the image below, indicating the assets with the strongest bullish movement.
But where this option flow scanner stands out the most is in its claims that it is able to track and analyze private trades that are not usually accessible to the public.
If this is the case, then it would drastically increase the information that is accessible to the trader, and give them an edge over the rest of the market.
Where Cheddar flow fails in comparison to other option flow scanners, and the reason it is at the bottom of this list, is in the duration of its free trial.
It is only seven days, after which a recurring cost of $85 per month is charged. Some would argue that it takes far more than seven days to truly be able to learn how to use an option flow tracker such as this, and that it would take even more time to know if it would be beneficial to you if you traded over long periods.
Although the subscription price is not as high as some of the other option flow trackers, it may still be too expensive for some small scale retail traders.
Overall, the Cheddar Flow options flow tool might be the best tool for someone trading large volumes, who would benefit from having access to private trade information.
5. Trading Flow Option Flow Tool.
The Trading Flow real time option flow tool is very similar to the Cheddar flow tool in that it provides all the basic information and analyses that one would want from an option flow tracker.
This includes real time and historical analyses, unusual volume data etc. But where this one differs is in its emphasis on the availability of open interest changes.
It is, however, a little bit more difficult to use at first. Some of the analyses figures are not as intuitive and may take some time to become acclimated to.
This option flow scanner again, only has a seven day free trial which means that the free version gives very limited benefit to a trader.
However, it does not seem like there are any components of the tool that are 'locked' in the free version. This Option Flow Tracker is on the cheaper range. If billed annually, the cost comes to a total of $49 per month.
4. Barchart Option Flow Tool
For the sake of this review we will be looking at the entirely free version, not the trial of the paid version, although the full version of this real time option flow tool is once of the cheapest, coming out at approximately $17 per month when purchased on the best deal annual plan.
The free version of this option flow tracker is easily available, simply by going to the website. There is no need to fill out a form, and no hassle.
However, this scanner only supports ETFs, indices, and stocks. Additionally, I have found that it doesn't refresh well, and that it doesn't support much customization or filtering at all.
There are no additional analyses outside of the trades being highlighted green if the last price was above the strike price and red if it was below, meaning that it provides no additional insight.
This would be ideal for someone who just wanted to get a feel for using an option flow scanner before looking at a better one, but I would not recommend it for long term use.
3. Whale Stream Options Flow Tool
The free real time option flow tools available on Whale Stream are simple, but can prove to be incredibly useful.
Unlike some of the other option flow systems, it does not illustrate the individual unusual trades, but instead only illustrates the analyses. This can come in a variety of different ways.
Firstly, there is the general directionality and strength that the asset is being driven in by the unusual trades.
This is shown in an easy to read graph, very similar to the graphs of most of the other option flow trackers.
Although this can be extremely easy to understand, where it lacks is in the ability to filter out unusual trades on assets that you do not intend to trade.
The assets are listed from strongest directionality to least, but you may not be familiar enough with whatever is moving the most on a given day to feel comfortable trading it, and thus may have to waft through a variety of different assets before you find what you are looking for, if it is there at all.
Another problem with the free option flow scanner is that it does not seem possible to look at historic data or change the period over which you are looking, thus it may mislead you if you are trying to find information that will better assist you in a long term trade.
For this reason, the option flow tracker may only be useful and accurate for day traders, and perhaps swing traders.
However, where this free option flow tool goes above and beyond many of the others, is in the fact that it provides an analysis of the 'Darkpool,' data as well.
It is easy to include or exclude any private orders that you would not be able to see otherwise, providing slightly more accurate information for those who are trading ticker symbols that are available.
Overall, it is not bad considering it seems to be completely free of charge and updates in real time. But I would recommend using it alongside other software or option flow tools as it does not seem to contain as much information as some of the others.
2. Titan Flow Option Flow Tool
Unlike all the other free real time option flow tools that we have looked at, this one does not support a desktop version, but is instead only a mobile app.
It has a completely free version as well as several paid versions. There doesn't seem to be any time restrictions on the free version which allows real-time flow, with limitations placed on real time institutional flow, custom alerts and darkpool data. Additionally, there is a delay to flow alerts.
Regardless of the limitations, due to the accessibility to limited analyses while still maintaining an indefinitely free version, this one is likely the best value for newer traders who are used to using apps to trade, or small retail traders who do not have a lot of capital.
1. Option Sonar Option Flow Tool
Option Sonar's free real time option flow tool is top of the line for its ease of use. Although certain features are not supported on the free version, it makes it very clear which those are and thus prevents any misunderstanding.
Additionally, it measures the Moneyness of all unusual trades, which can be a helpful indicator, along with many others.
Again, the trade is highlighted in green or red to indicate the direction of the trade, and although the conditions for labeling a trade as unusual are not specified, the trades on the list seem to only consist of high volume trades.
It is also easy to search a specific asset and all the unusual trades that have occurred simply by clicking on the ticker symbol. On this day, only a single unusual trade had occurred for Tesla (TSLA), but by clicking on the ticker symbol it revealed a variety of historical trades as well.
Additionally, the net quantity (dollars) of unusual trades for the day are also portrayed as can be seen below. Allowing a person to determine the general market direction, as well as direction of the stock, being driven by these trades.
However, much like some of the other option flow scanners that we have looked at, this one only seems to support ETFs, indices, and stocks. It does not support any commodities or currency pairs.
I would label this as one of the easiest, completely free option flow trackers available online.
There are a variety of different free options out there that may work for you or may not.
One of the best ways that you can figure it out is to just start using what is available to you. Perhaps it would be best to start out with a combination of the web-based, continuously free option flow trackers.
My recommendation for someone who is not willing to spend any additional money on the systems even after they have proven to be highly profitable to them, is to combine a variety in order to ensure that they are getting as much information as possible.
An good combination might be to make use of Whale Stream and Option Sonar together, to be able to access a variety of easy to read graphs, and see which tickers are trading with the greatest change, but at the same time be able to view what happened historically as well, and what is happening to the rest of the market.
However, ultimately the best software is going to charge money.
If you are willing to buy something, but want to make sure that it would benefit you first, then I would recommend starting with the free, web-based real time option flow tools in order to become accustomed to working with them, before moving over to a free trial, and eventually a paid version of something like Cheddar Flow.
Regardless, it is always worth knowing a little bit more than your components, so that you can mitigate risk and trade with increased accuracy.