Free option charts

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 | Vance Harwood

So far I have only found two sites that offer completely free option charts:  BigCharts and QuoteMedia.  I provide more information about them below.   Recently Schwab (StreetSmart Pro)  and Fidelity (Active Trader Pro and standard web site) have started offering option charts to customers, but they require you to at least setup an account with them.


BigCharts uses their own custom option symbols, not the Fidelity or Schwab flavors or the “standard” option symbol.  To get the BigCharts option symbol to use, enter in the underlying symbol (e.g, INTC) towards the top of the screen and click on one of the chart buttons.  Then click on the option chain link to show the available options.   If you hold your mouse over their “quote” word in their options chains it will show their option symbol.   For example for Intel November 2011, $23 strike calls are: “INTCK19114230000).  Type this symbol into the symbol dialog, click one of the chart buttons, and you should get the chart for that option.

BigCharts avoids the huge issue of charts not being available after the options expire.  But it looks like it still suffers from the problem that intra-day information becomes unavailable soon after the options expire.  They need to allow a range of dates to be displayed, not just assume that you want everything referenced back in time from today’s date.


To generate options chart from QuoteMedia, start at their URL and put a stock symbol in the quote field in the upper left and then click the “get quote” button next to it.  Then you should see a “Quote Portal” section to the left of your page.   Probably the easiest way to get the right symbol to use in the chart is to go to the option chains first and get a quote on the option you are interested in.  Copy that symbol to your clipboard (control C) click “Charts” in the Quote portal section to get to their charting package, and then paste (control v) the symbol into the symbol field.   Their symnbols require an “@” as a prefix to the ticker, and two spaces between the ticker and the date, so SPY October 19th, 2013 calls with a strike of 173 would be  “@SPYJ  131019C00173000″

Wish List

What I would really like options charting packages to do would be to chart bid/ask values if actual trade values are not  available.   Since many options are lightly traded their charts are deserts of information.  Bid / ask history would be much better than nothing.

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 | Vance Harwood
  • Phil Steinke

    I am new to options trading and I am looking for historical charts of daily option contract volume for specific stocks. Can you help me find something?

  • Vance

    Hi Phil,
    The only free options charts I’m aware of are at BigCharts (see I’ve heard that optionsExpress, has good options charts, but I have not seen them. Option volumes tend to be very light except for the popular stocks/ETFs and even then most of the action is in the option strike prices close to where the stock is currently trading. Options with low / non-existent volumes often quote wide big / asked spreads, but I’ve found that I can often buy or sell options close to the price halfway between those two quotes. I usually have to give up a penny or nickel to the market maker. So for example if I wanted to buy a option and the the quote was 0.8 bid, 1.1 asked I would put in a limit order for 0.95, and if that didn’t fill after a few minutes, cancel that order and re-enter at 1.00. If you are ever confused as to whether you should be using the ask or the bid price, just ask yourself which is worse for you, and that will be the price the market is offering for that transaction. Never use a market order on options unless it is a very active, with very tight spreads, and you are concerned about the market “running away” from you.

    — Vance

  • Bry

    Really good information. Thanks!

  • gamcom

    I have been looking for historical options prices so that I can look for patterns or make some sense of why some strike prices move and others don’t.  I would be nice to see a chart or graph for all of the various expiration dates and strike prices 

  • vance3h

    I’m not aware of any free sources of options historical prices. What specific kinds of options are you looking at (e.g,, SPY, VIX, stocks)? Could you give me a quick example of the behavior you are seeing. I might be able to offer some suggestions if I have more info.

    — Vance

  • Seaisland55

    BigCharts options graphs ARE NOT ACCURATE.  The high price on the GS December 120 put, for instance, displayed more than $1.00 lower than the put’s high trade for the day.  (This is a big surprise on an otherwise reliable chart site.)

  • Randy Lively

    Hi Vance- I am looking for historical weekly options charts for AAPL, GOOG, PLCN, NFLX, and AMZN . it would be nice if these went back 6 months to a year

  • Vance Harwood

    Hi Randy, I’m not aware of any free options charts for the historical data you want. I’m sure you can pay for option data and generate the charts, but I suspect that would be pretty expensive. Sorry, not any help.

    — Vance

  • cslob

    based on the article/post above I went to BigCharts. Thanks.

    Now that I’ve played with it a little, i recognize that the options charts I’ve been using from Fidelity (yes they have ‘em) are actually coming from BigCharts. I recognize the presentation and controls. Alas, neither will overlay the stock price and neither will provide history just currently trading options.

  • Alexis

    Hi Randy, Options Express provides this info for FREE and I don’t make a trade without looking at their historical quotes; it also shows volume and open interest

    Good Luck to you

  • Vance Harwood

    Hi Alexis, Do you mean OptionsXpress? I wasn’t able to find an “Options Express” firm.

    — Vance