While many crypto traders go with their gut when determining when to buy, how much to buy, and when to sell, others look to more objective data by looking to crypto charts. Using charts, such as crypto line charts and candlestick charts, will give you a data-driven perspective of the market to help you make wiser buying decisions.
Intuition is a fickle thing, and if that’s all you have to rely on when trying to time your entries and exit points, there’s a greater risk of losing money all around. Cryptocurrency charts can help traders, especially new traders, manage their timing and have more control over their market plays.
Together with technical analysis, reading cryptocurrency charts can help you nail your timing, so you’re also not exiting too early or too late, ultimately leaving money on the table.
In this guide, we provide an in-depth overview of how to read crypto charts, including the different types available so that you can understand and use the information to your advantage.
We also share our top picks for the best free cryptocurrency charts, walk you through crypto technical analysis, the Dow theory, and share some apps you may want to download to start tracking crypto charts regularly.
What Is a Crypto Chart?
A crypto chart is a quantified snapshot of the current and historical price and market action of a particular cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin (BTC) or Litecoin (LTC).
A crypto chart will show these data points across a specific timeframe that can vary. Crypto charts may show a small snippet displaying data around the cryptocurrency over just a few seconds, or they may be as wide-reaching as several months or years.
There are various kinds of crypto charts, and the price action of the cryptocurrency may take the form of a line chart, a graph, candlesticks, bar charts, and much more.
Any crypto chart will show the timeframe of view, the trading pair (what the cryptocurrency trading uses in the exchange), and the trading platform used. It will also show the spot price open for the timeframe, the close, and the high and low. At the bottom of the charts, you’ll find dates and increments for the price.
Some charts will also show technical indicators, like moving averages or volume. You’ll find these below the exchange price action. They’ll also follow each trading session open as well as the close.
Crypto Line Chart
A crypto line chart is the simplest of the cryptocurrency charts you’ll find. It depicts the change of prices via a line. When looking at a line chart, if the line is moving upwards, that means the price of that cryptocurrency is trending up. If the line is sloping downward, the price is trending down.
A line chart can represent any duration of time, from seconds to months or even years. Most investors prefer to use line charts that depict the change in the cryptocurrency price over many months so that they can take a broad perspective of the movement of the cryptocurrencies they’ve bought.
On the other hand, day traders prefer to use charts that show much shorter periods, usually over the span of one day, called volume (24h). The volume is more useful for day traders who, as the name would have you assume, buy and sell currencies within the same day. A line chart that shows one day shows the variation in the cryptocurrency price over hours, minutes, or even seconds.
Day traders also tend to use live crypto line charts. These get updated constantly to show the most current price. Since prices can change in a matter of seconds, day traders need this up-close perspective of their currencies.
In the instance of a crypto line chart over a year, you’d find the months represented on the x-axis of the chart and the currency’s price represented on the y-axis of the chart. The year-long line charts show how a cryptocurrency performs over an extended period, as in the figure below.
For an understanding of how to read crypto charts using the line representation, let’s look at a visual representation:
In the example below, we can see that the highest price of Bitcoin over a year happened at the end of April when the price inched close to $65,000. We can also see that the lowest price it saw was around August of the previous year, when the price was closer to $13,000.
Do you see where the line begins to slope drastically upward around the end of the year 2020? If you were buying Bitcoin at that time, just before the price continued to soar, you could have made an attractive profit.
Another type of cryptocurrency chart that is helpful to know how to read is the candlestick chart. There are a few key things to notice and understand when reading a candlestick chart: time selection, volume, and bearish/bullish candlesticks. Let’s walk through each one so you can get a better feel for each item:
When viewing a candlestick chart, you can usually select the timeframe that you want to review. You might want to see how the cryptocurrency changed over the period of a week, a month, a year, or whatever your desired time frame is.
There are also default time frames that you can choose from, including a five-minute chart, a 15-minute chart, a daily chart, a weekly chart, etc.
Before you take a closer look at the rest of the chart, select your desired time frame and make sure it’s all ready to go.
The next thing on your candlestick chart that you’ll want to look for is the volume. This measure shows the amount of trading activity around the specific cryptocurrency you’re looking at within the specific time frame that you’ve selected just before.
Looking at the vertical bars on the chart above, you’ll see varying heights of the bar lines at the bottom. These represent the volume. The longer the bar, the more trading activity there is at that time.
Do you notice how some bars are green while some of them are red? The green ones represent an increasing interest and buying pressure, while a red bar means just the opposite. When you see a red bar, that means the interest and selling pressure has gone down.
Bearish and Bullish Candles
There are two kinds of candlesticks that you’ll find in a candlestick cryptocurrency chart: bearish and bullish candlesticks.
Bullish candlesticks represent a price increase, so the color of these sticks is green. A bullish pattern would mean that the closing price of the cryptocurrency was higher than it was when it opened, i.e. it gained value. The wicks of these candlesticks represent both the highest and the lowest prices within the set period.
On the bottom of the thick section of the candlestick is the opening price, while the top of the candlestick body is the closing price.
On the other hand, the red sticks represent bearish candlesticks. A bearish pattern indicates the closing price was lower than the opening price, i.e. its value went down. You can then apply the same rules that you did to bullish candlesticks and reverse them to apply to bearish candlesticks.
You’ll see candlesticks in a wide variety, often used to predict future trends in the market. By using different candlestick patterns, such as the bullish pattern or bearish pattern, you can try to gauge and predict what will happen in the future — these predictions are what traders call chart patterns.
Live Crypto Charts
The two charts described above can be either stagnant charts or live charts. Stagnant charts are going to be charts that stay the same while you’re looking at them. They represent a snapshot view of the cryptocurrency price and activity.
There can also be live charts, which will constantly and instantaneously change while you look at them to represent the live changes in the market. They show real-time data of the market so that you know what’s happening when it’s happening.
Live charts are beneficial for all traders, but they can be especially helpful to day traders. These investors need to react quickly to changes in the market and decide whether they want to hold or sell.
Live charts are a great way to find patterns in crypto activity so that you can decide what your next move will be and when.
The Best Crypto Charts
The two best cryptocurrency charts are the kinds we have already gone through — the line charts and the candlestick charts.
Some traders also like to use bar charts, which present similar information but in the format of bars, like a bar graph.
As far as the charts you can find online to track your cryptocurrencies, there are many options available that can be helpful depending on what you’re seeking.
Some of the most popular include:
- TradingView — This is the most popular charting tool for all markets and all traders. They offer charts on the most popular exchanges.
- Coinigy — This is another well-known tool that is technically a charting tool. However, it also employs other features to offer traders the resources they need to plan and execute the most successful strategies.
- CryptoWat.ch — Cryptowat.ch is another great charting tool that lets users access live charts depicting volume, price, and order book data from more than 800 different exchanges.
Technical Crypto Charts
Technical crypto charts, or technical indicators, are tools of technical analysis (more on that later) that offer further data about market activity and price. You can use different technical indicators, like Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) and Relative Strength Index (RSI).
MACD is what many traders refer to as a lagging indicator. This indicator utilizes two moving averages that will meet in the middle when a cryptocurrency is either overbought or oversold as supply dries up. Together, the two lines also depict momentum, and when the lines cross, that means the trend is changing one way or the other.
RSI, on the other hand, is an indicator that measures trend strength. It also shows when assets are either getting oversold or overbought. RSI will usually signal to the viewer when an asset is preparing to correct.
Crypto Charts with Volume Profile
Volume profile is a helpful and intuitive way to visualize a market’s trading volume. Rather than taking a broader view of volume over a set period, crypto charts with volume profiles will show the volume of those currencies at specific price levels.
This representation makes it easier for a trader to see where the action is taking place and where they can find resistance and support.
The volume profile is one of the most popular indicators out there.
Crypto Exchange Charts
Crypto exchange charts depict the exchange rate for a given cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, or altcoins, like Litecoin.
Depending on where you are and what currency you’re using to trade for crypto, your chart will look a bit different. Traders in the U.S. are likely trading cryptocurrencies for USD, so the crypto exchange charts will show the activity for exchanges between U.S. dollars and that cryptocurrency.
Best Free Crypto Charts
The good news about crypto charts is that so many of them are available free to traders all over the internet. Want to know the best free crypto charts that you can start using today to track your crypto activity? Here are our top recommendations:
- Coinigy — A free tool we mentioned previously that uses custom data feeds to integrate seamlessly with over 45 exchanges.
- TradingView — Another free tool, this is very popular among traders, both new and veteran.
- CryptoWat.ch — A comprehensive charting tool, it’s easy to use despite its dashboard, which can be intimidating at first glance.
- CoinTracking — This is a great charting tool that offers features like real-time profit, loss reports, unrealized gains, and portfolio value.
Crypto Technical Analysis
Technical analysis is the key to becoming a profitable trader and investor. Beyond knowing how to read crypto charts, such as a candlestick or line chart, technical analysis can help you identify patterns. You can then use these patterns to predict future behavior and hopefully profit from it.
Technical analysis involves using various technical indicators (reviewed above) to create trend lines across troughs or peaks, or resistance and support and make sense of the market to determine your next move.
Some technical indicators can also help traders by giving them a unique perspective of conditions in the market — like volatility, momentum, volume, and so much more. You’ll find these indicators layered on the charts below the trading activity.
The Dow Theory
The Dow Theory is a popular trading theory first developed by Charles H. Dow, part-founder of the Dow Jones & Co, Inc., which launched the Dow Jones Industrial Average back in the late 1800s.
The Dow Theory will help you better grasp technical analysis, and you can apply its fundamental concepts as you learn how to read crypto charts.
Essentially, The Dow Theory says that the stock market (or crypto market, in this case) is a reliable measure of business conditions in the global economy.
There are several fundamental principles behind the Dow Theory, so let’s break them down here:
- The market considers everything when pricing, including past, current, and upcoming details.
- Multiple variables in the crypto market (e.g., past, current, and future demands or regulations) may also impact the market.
- Price changes are not random — they follow trends, whether short- or long-term. You just have to know how to find the patterns.
- Analysts focus on the price itself rather than the variables that create price movement.
Crypto Charts App
If you want to access cryptocurrency charts from your mobile device any time, you’ll want to download a few crypto chart apps so you can always keep tabs on your coins.
One popular app is Cryptograph, which utilizes crypto market data to provide the latest figures and data for 2.5k+ currencies.
Another is CoinMarketCap. The highly trusted crypto data authority provides information on market cap, rank, exchange volumes, prices, and conversions, all in the convenience of an app.
When you’re still somewhat new to cryptocurrencies, it can feel like you only have your intuition to guide your trades. While you might have luck following your gut instincts at first, learning how to read crypto charts is a valuable skill that will provide you with real-time data and help you find patterns to make your next move based on accurate information, not just a guess.