The number of stock photo sites online is staggering, so finding the best ones in the sea of subpar options can be challenging.
This article reviews the top ten options to help you choose the best cheap stock photo site for your business, personal, or blogging needs.
We’ll look at pricing, photo limits, extra features, and more!
Best Cheap Stock Photo Sites (Overview)
- Canva Pro
- Adobe Stock
- Stock Photo Secrets
- Envato Elements
An Overview of Stock Photos
Before diving into the best cheap stock photo sites, it’s good to understand what stock photos are and their legality and costs.
Can Stock Photos Be Used for Free?
Technically, no. You must pay for stock photos.
However, some sites take the liberty of paying the licensing fees for you to have free access to photos.
How Much Should Stock Photos Cost?
It depends on the quality and content of the stock photo.
Photos can cost as little as $0.15 or as much as $30 an image.
On average, you should try to pay under $5 per image.
How Can I Legally Use Stock Photos?
Check all these boxes, so you know you’re using stock photos.
- The image is licensed for commercial use.
- Be aware of any royalties required on the image (meaning ongoing fees for use),
- Check for attribution requirements, meaning you may have to credit the image owner.
- Check the copyright status on the photo.
You can legally use stock photos as long as the photo is properly licensed for your purposes, and you ensure all necessary fees or attributions are adhered to.
Best Cheap Stock Photos Site
Learn details and pricing of the best cheap stock photo sites available.
Canva Pro is the premium subscription on the Canva stock image and design website.
This site offers templates, stock photos, graphics, and more features that help you to curate your brand’s online presence.
Canva Pro is ideal for someone with little to no design experience and who wants a user-friendly site to help them easily create engaging content.
Canva Pro is best for those who create social media posts, business cards, or presentations.
- Brand Kit: Their brand kit helps you build your brand’s image and identity, giving you access to templates for consistency.
- Background Remover: This feature makes it easy to eliminate an unwanted background, even if you have no design skills!
- Magic Resize: Magic resize helps you magically fit a single design to any format, whether mobile, desktop or otherwise.
- Content Planner: This planner allows you to organize your content and schedule posts to keep your online presence active and engaging without manual posting.
Canva Pro Pricing and Plans
Canva keeps it simple with their plans and pricing.
You can either use Canva Free or Canva Pro.
The Canva Pro subscription costs $119.99 for an entire year or $12.99/month.
With Canva Pro, you get unlimited access to premium content to easily create professional designs and scale production.
Better yet, there are many Canva Pro discounts that can be claimed to offset the cost for this tool
Does Canva Pro Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes! If you choose not to sign up for the Canva Pro subscription, you can still access Canva Free, over 1 million free photos and graphics, and 5GB of cloud storage.
How Much Is a Single Image on Canva Pro?
Canva will sell you a single premium image or design for around $1.
Canva Pro is an excellent choice because it also offers design templates and extra tools to enhance your photos and designs.
If you need help or inspiration to develop your brand image and identity, Canva Pro is a great place to start.
Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock photo sites because it has many images and vectors.
The site is easy to navigate, the images are always high-quality, and they offer excellent licensing deals, so you can claim photos and use them for as long as you want.
Shutterstock is best for videographers, photographers, and illustrators.
- 400+ million Images: They have more photos than any other stock website.
- Monthly Replenishment of Downloads: Some subscriptions give you a new set of downloads every month, so you can keep your online presence fresh and engaging.
- Creative Flow Applications: This one lacks compared to Canvas Pro’s creative design tools. But it can still help you use images and create content.
Shutterstock Pricing and Plans
Shutterstock plans vary widely in price, spending on the number of downloads you need, and what kind of license you want.
The average Shutterstock subscription is $29/month or $299/year.
The On-Demand is less of a subscription and more of a pre-purchase.
This option starts at $29 for two images with a standard license.
But for 25 images with an enhanced license, it costs $1,699.
Mix and Match
Mix and Match is a flexible subscription that allows you to use credits to download 25 images, six music tracks, 3 video clips, or a combination of these.
It costs $49 per month but can also be billed annually for a discount.
The Image Subscription plan is likely the best option for business owners who want consistent access to stock photos.
You can choose 10, 50, 350, or 750 downloads per month, running from $29 per month to $199.
Does Shutterstock Offer Free Stock Images?
Every week Shutterstock will post a new image and new graphic, both of which you can download for free within that week.
How Much Is a Single Image on Shutterstock?
A single image can cost anywhere between $0.26 and $9.80.
Not only are Shutterstock pricing and plans confusing, but they’re also expensive.
What saves Shutterstock is the high-quality images and the extensive image library.
If you want access to more than 400 million photos, Shutterstock will not disappoint; just be ready to open your wallet.
Adobe Stock is Adobe’s massive library of stock images, vectors, 3D graphics, videos, and more.
Their images are high-quality but can be expensive, and their plans can be limited.
Adobe Stock is best for designers.
- Images, Videos, and 3D Graphics: Adobe Stock has an impressive range of content, so you can make your site and posts more engaging than your competitors.
- Content Templates: Adobe Stock can help you develop your brand’s image and identity using easy-to-use templates for landing pages and social media posts.
- Web Apps: Adobe Stock works seamlessly with web apps like Photoshop, Acrobat, and Lightroom.
Adobe Stock Pricing and Plans
Adobe Stock has four plans offering different amounts of assets and downloads, plus some include access to videos.
Like most sites, you can save money with an annual contract or do month-to-month.
The prices range from $29.99 per month to $199.99 a month. What’s disappointing is none of these plans offer you unlimited downloads.
Does Adobe Stock Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes, Adobe Stock has a super convenient and robust library of free images, vectors, and more.
How Much Is a Single Image on Adobe Stock?
The price for a single Adobe Stock image starts at $9.99.
Adobe Stock gouges when you buy a single photo, as they want to push you toward their pricing plans. But save the link to the free library!
Pexels is a free stock photo site where you can download images, vectors, videos, and more.
The content is uploaded directly from the creators.
Everything is licensed under Pexels, so you don’t have to worry about legal issues or royalty fees.
Pexels is best for bloggers and designers on a budget.
- Free Library: Yes, every image, graphic, and video on the Pexels site is 100% free and licensed under Pexels.
So you can use as many as you want freely!
- Blog: The Pexels blog shows that the site has a bit of a community of photographers, users, designers, and more.
It’s a great place to gather inspiration and learn helpful artistic tips.
- Challenges: Pexels also does photography and design challenges with other brands, encouraging creators to upload more content for you to download!
Pexels Pricing and Plans
There are no subscription plans.
Everything on Pexels is 100% free!
Does Pexels Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes, they only offer free images.
How Much Is a Single Image on Pexels?
Once again, they charge a lovely $0 for all photos.
There are other free stock photo sites, but Pexels is the best.
Photographers and designers seem excited to share their work with others, so there’s a constant wave of new material to browse and download.
Stock Photo Secrets
Stock Photo Secrets offer royalty-free images, which you can download as a subscription or individually.
They often have stellar deals where you can get subscriptions at a discounted price and save money.
Stock Photo Secrets is best for those who download images infrequently.
- Royalty-free: Stock Photo Secrets only offers royalty-free images, so you don’t need to worry about legal issues or future fees.
- Image Packs: With image packs, you can buy photos in bulk for a discount and download them over time.
Stock Photo Secrets Pricing and Plans
They have three plans to choose from, and they also have image packers.
Image packs are when you can buy images in bulk to save some money per download.
Like most sites, you can choose to pay annually and save money or pay monthly.
Plan 1: $99 a year for 200 downloads.
$0.99 per additional download.
Plan 2: $389 a year for 50 downloads per month, which can carry over.
Plan 3: $999 a year for 500 downloads per month, which can carry over.
The plans are more straightforward than other stock photo sites.
Although you have options, it’s usually easy to see what plan or package will work best for your image needs.
Do Stock Photo Secrets Offer Free Stock Images?
Stock Photo Secrets doesn’t typically offer free images.
Sometimes they have special offers where you can get some free when you sign up for a plan.
How Much Is a Single Image on Stock Photo Secrets?
A single photo can cost anywhere between $0.17 to $20.
Stock Photo Secrets isn’t giving anything away for free: you pay per download and restrict how many photos you can download per month.
This site works well for people who don’t need many images.
Dreamstime is a lesser-known stock photo site with a free image library and thousands of royalty-free photos.
It can help business owners or freelancers build a brand, but with a more limited selection of photos than the sites mentioned above.
Dreamstime is best for business owners or freelancers looking for discounts on quality images.
- Smart Advanced Search: The multi-tiered, in-depth search engine makes it easy t find the best of what you’re looking for.
- Keymasters: Keymasters is a feature that can assist you in finding the best keywords for SEO.
- Referral Program: With the referral program, you can refer friends or colleagues and get a percentage of the sales.
Dreamstime Pricing and Plans
The plans cost between $23 and $197 per month.
While this isn’t the most affordable site on this list, it is up there.
You can opt for just five downloads a month or as many as 750, and you can also select yearly download limits of up to 9,000 images.
A great option on Dreamstime is their $4.99 a month plan that gives you access to all their “free” images.
Does Dreamstime Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes, but you get a limited number of monthly downloads unless you purchase unlimited access to free photos.
How Much Is a Single Image on Dreamstime?
Image prices can range from $0.20 to $25.
Dreamstime can be affordable and a decent site for finding images.
The images lack quality, so it isn’t the best stock photo site.
It can be frustrating when your limited downloads run out, or you need more content.
Dreamstime is only worth it when you select the $4.99 a month for free images.
123RF has a wide range of content, from videos to images to audio and more.
They offer a combination of subscriptions or download packages, and they also offer some free images.
There are more than 120,00 new images and graphics added daily.
123RF is best for those who want a customizable image download plan.
- Convenient Cropping: This feature allows you to easily format and crop your designs and images for various social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- AI Editing Tools: The AI editing tools take some of the editing work away from you, giving you more time to focus on your business but still have engaging content.
- 300,000 Contributors: With more than 300,000 artists and photographers contributing to the site, there is always fresh content to browse.
123RF Pricing and Plans
123RF lets you choose between a subscription that gives you access to a certain number of downloads per year or a download pack with a certain number of downloads.
These options are similar, but the subscription makes more sense for long-term use.
The average 123RF subscription cost is $59/month or $489/year.
Does 123RF Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes! When browsing 123RF, there will be a yellow tag on certain photos that says “FREE”.
How Much Is a Single Image on 123RF?
A single photo ranges from $0.15 to $12.
While 123RF has some excellent editing tools and decent content, it’s pretty expensive for what you’re getting.
But if you take the time to browse for the FREE images, the site can be a useful resource for content.
PikWizard offers royalty-free images for no charge on their website.
However, their site also features loads of images supplied from other sites, such as Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.
PikWizard has no subscription loans but often directs you to subscription and premium plans on other sites.
PikWizard is best for those who want to browse multiple image sites at once.
- Design Wizard: The Design Wizard feature helps you to create content using easy templates and a little help from AI.
- Image Editor: With the image editor, you can format your images for whatever you need, whether it’s a landing page or social media post.
- Free e-Book: When you give them your email, they’ll send you a 100% free e-book with loads of creative ideas to increase sales.
PikWizard Pricing and Plans
No pricing and plans to see here! All PikWizard photos are free and premium photos direct to a different stock photos website.
Does PikWizard Offer Free Stock Images?
Yes! All their images are free.
How Much Is a Single Image on PikWizard?
All images are royalty and attribution-free.
It’s worth saving the link for PikWizard you can browse for free photos, but it’s an advertising funnel for more expensive photo sites like Adobe and Shutterstock.
Envato Elements is one of the more simplified stock photo sites.
They have a pricing plan which offers unlimited downloads from their robust library of images.
Plus, they have helpful features for framing and editing your content.
Envato Elements is best for freelance designers or multimedia creators who need a Canva alternative.
- Templates: They have loads of free templates to help you create posts for different social media sites.
- Tutorials: Helpful tutorials that can teach you to edit images like a pro and build your brand image.
- WordPress: Envato can be integrated with WordPress to make blogging and posting easier.
Envato Elements Pricing and Plans
They only have one plan, and it’s super simple.
For $16.50 per month, you get unlimited free downloads.
Students can get this same subscription for just $11.50 a month, making this a close competitor to Canva.
Does Envato Elements Offer Free Stock Images?
No, you have to sign up for their subscription, but you can get a few free images when you first sign up.
How Much Is a Single Image on Envato Elements?
You cannot purchase single photos; it’s the subscription plan or nothing.
We like that Envato Elements keeps things simple with one subscription plan for as many photos, videos, and graphics as you want.
This is one of the best sites for people who want to keep things simple and accessible with as much content as they need.
It’s also excellent for students because they have student discounts!
Features to Look for in a Cheap Stock Photos Provider
Below is a handy buyer’s guide when deciding on a cheap stock photos site.
If you plan to use these images for a business or any commercial use, ensure the licensing allows for this.
No Required Attribution
Required attribution means you must credit the original artist, photographer, or videographer for their work.
But sites with no required attribution allow you to use images without credit.
Free Photos and Royalty Free Images
Royalty-free images are important because paying a continuous fee to use an image can become costly.
And why choose a site that has zero free photos when so many wonderful sites give you some beautiful freebies?
The last thing you want is low-quality photos ruining your brand image, so make sure the photos on the site are top-quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have more questions about stock photos, refer to the commonly asked questions below.
What kinds of stock photos sell best?
Images with strong leading lines are always popular.
The most popular theme is relaxing scenes of beaches, snow-capped trees, or flowery fields.
Is glossy or matte better?
To each their own, but in general, matte photos are easier to see and look high-quality compared to gloss.
Based on price, image quality, and subscription terms, Canva Pro is the best cheap stock photo site for bloggers and business owners.
Sites like Shutterstock, Envato Elements, and Adobe Stock are decent, but Canva Pro checks all the boxes you could dream of.
Start perfecting and enhancing your brand image today, whether you run a small business, a popular blog, or need them for personal projects.
A stock photo site subscription can save money and provide you with all the necessary visual content!