In stock photography, cheaper usually means lower quality. However, in this post, we collected the 10 best cheap stock photo sites that despite being affordable to everyone offer high-quality stock images. Interested in how we review stock photo sites to give you the most accurate information?
10 Best Cheap Stock Photo Sites of 2022
on Shutterstock’s website
Shutterstock is the best stock photo site because it has the largest collection of stock images, with over 384 million images and another 200 thousand added daily. This guarantees various beautiful and professional photos, vector graphics, videos, and music. Shutterstock’s quality is among the highest in the business due to its strict technical standards for stock photos.
You can also get a 30-day trial, during which you can download 10 free stock images. But don’t remember to cancel it 2 days in advance; otherwise, you’ll get charged. Lastly, Shutterstock is also a good option for editorial content.
Read more: Shutterstock review
- 390+ million images.
- Ten free images during a 30-day trial.
- Great image quality.
- Misleading free trial terms.
- Limited on-demand options.
- Not the best for videos.
- Subscriptions ($0.22–$4.90/image): Subscriptions are available in four sizes (10, 50, 350, and 750 monthly downloads) and with three payment options (monthly, yearly, and yearly upfront).
- On-demand ($9.16–$14.50/image): On-demand packs come in three sizes (2, 5, and 25 images). Enhanced license images come in the same sizes but cost $67.96–$99.50/image.
- Royalty-free license ($0.22–$14.50/image): Unlimited web distribution, up to 500,000 prints or copies, and up to $10,000 in legal indemnification. Learn more
- Enhanced license ($67.96–$99.50/image): Unlimited web distribution, unlimited prints or copies, and up to $250,000 in legal indemnification.
- Free trial (10 images during 30 days): Be careful, though, because you must cancel the trial 2 days in advance. Learn more
- Coupon code (25%): Using the 25% coupon code, you get royalty-free images for $0.165. Learn more.
BEST FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS
on Adobe Stock’s website
Adobe Stock is the best stock photo site for graphic designers, thanks to its excellent integration into the Creative Cloud. It works well with Adobe applications and allows users to try out the photos in their designs without buying them. This way, you only pay for the photos you use in your project’s final version. With this feature alone, you can save much of your budget and time. You can buy stock photos with a subscription or on-demand with credits.
What stands out the most is Adobe’s generous free trial that lets you download 10, 25, or 40 stock images at no charge. The number of images you get to download for free depends on the subscription you choose.
Read more: Adobe Stock review
- Superb image and video quality.
- Offers templates, 3D objects, and fonts.
- More than 1 million free images.
- Creative Cloud integration.
- Works with Photoshop, Illustrator, & others.
- More costly than some alternatives.
- No promo codes or coupons.
- Expensive premium content.
- Subscriptions ($0.26–$9.99/image). Subscriptions are available monthly (more expensive) or annual commitments and come in four sizes (3 or 10, 25, 40, and 750 monthly downloads). You can access standard images, templates, 3D elements, and music tracks with subscriptions.
- On-demand ($8.00–$9.99/image). Using credits, you can get premium images that are unavailable with subscriptions. They cost $96.00 to $119.88.
- Royalty-free license ($0.26–$9.99/standard image). Unlimited web views, 500,000 copies or views, and up to $10,000 in legal indemnification. Adobe’s royalty-free (dubbed “Standard”) license applies to standard assets.
- Enhanced license ($96.00–$119.88/premium image). Everything royalty-free license has + unlimited copies or views. Adobe’s Enhanced license applies to premium assets.
- Extended license ($79.99/image). Everything the Enhanced license has + unlimited merchandise.
- Free trial (10, 25, or 40 standard images). Adobe Stock’s free trial gives you the most downloads of any stock photo free trial.
- Coupon code: Adobe Stock offers no coupon codes.
- Free collection: You can also download free files from the free collection of 1+ million assets.
- Additional features: Integration into the Creative Cloud.
on iStock’s website
iStock, formerly iStockphoto, is the best stock image site for commercial purposes because of flexible subscriptions at very low prices and high discounts with promo codes. It’s worth noting that iStock is not great for merchandise because of expensive extended licenses for which Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Depositphotos prove superior.
In January 2022, iStock introduced its free trial, which is available only in certain countries.
Read more: iStock review
- 140+ million images.
- The signature collection is of superb quality.
- Competitive prices.
- 10 images with the free trial.
- Signature images are a lot more expensive.
- Expensive extended license.
- Subscriptions ($0.22–$4.00/Essential image; $0.44 to $9.90/Signature image): Subscriptions are divided into Basic (for Essential images) and Premium (Signature images). Both come in four sizes (10, 25, 50, and 750 monthly downloads) and are available with month-to-month and annual plans.
- On-demand ($8.00–$12.00/image): iStock offers ten credit packs (1 to 300 credits) that you can use to buy photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos at the following prices.
- Royalty-free license ($0.22–$12.00/image): Unlimited web distribution, 500,000 copies or prints, and a $10,000 legal guarantee.
- Extended license ($79.99): Unlimited web distribution, unlimited copies or prints, $250,000 legal guarantee.
- Free trial: 10 free stock images with the 30-day free trial. Learn more
- Coupon code: You can get up to a 20% discount with iStock coupons.
BEST FOR BLOGGERS
on Depositphotos’ website
Depositphotos is an RF microstock photo agency based in Florida. Its collection of images contains 224 million files of high-quality photos, vectors, videos, and illustrations. Since it offers incredible e-commerce stock images, it’s the best stock image website for bloggers and small businesses.
Read more: Depositphotos review
- 224+ million images
- Good image quality
- No daily limit
- Reverse image search
- Great customer support (phone, live chat, and email)
- A collection of free images
- No custom packs (only available for enterprises).
- Limited flexibility of on-demand options.
- Subscriptions ($0.22/image) are either monthly or annual (14% cheaper) with 30, 75, 150, and 750 monthly downloads. You get the best price ($0.22/image) by choosing the largest plan for a full year. But you can use my 15% promo code for Depositphotos and pay only $0.197/photo.
- On-demand plans ($2.99/image) are available in sizes of 3, 10, 25, and 100 images. You can choose between a standard license and an extended license. Choose the 100 image plan for $2.99/image to get the best price. In contrast, the smallest 3 images cost $14.00/image.
- Extended license ($63.96) is available with on-demand packs only, costing $63.96–$89.00/image, based on pack size. Thus, the best investment of your money is buying a 100-image plan, compared to buying 25 images four times.
- Free trial is not available at Depositphotos. To get Depositphotos’ free trial, sign up and wait a couple of hours to get an invitation to a 7-day free trial of 10 photos via email.
- Free photos from a collection of 70K free files similar to what Adobe Stock offers. Furthermore, Depositphotos lets you download watermarked images, giving you a chance to test the image in your design or project before buying it.
on Canva’s website
Canva is an impressive online graphic design platform suitable for users with any level of experience in design, graphic creation, visualization, and creating attractive social media posts. For users who need more, Canva Pro costs only $9.99/month.
Read more: Canva review
- 30 day free trial
- Inexpensive subscription
- Intuitive and super easy-to-use
- Huge built-in stock photo library
- Prompts team-work
- Bad at photo editing
- No one-time purchase option
- Can’t use it offline
- Lacks advanced design options
- Price: $0.00 for Free; $9.99/month for Pro; $30/month for Enterprise.
- Subscriptions: $9.99–$30.00/month. Canva’s stock photo library is integrated into its editor, so the only way to get access to the images is to buy a full subscription.
- License: Canva offers multiple licenses based on the source of images. For its Pro content, a form of a royalty-free license applies, which gives you a perpetual, non-exclusive, and non-transferable, worldwide right to use the content.
- Free trial: There’s a 30-day free trial for the entire Canva suite (tools + photos).
- Coupon code: /
- Additional features: The entire Canva stock photo library is integrated into all of its tools.
Best Canva alternative
on 123RF’s website
123RF stock photo site isn’t as good as Adobe Stock, but it’s larger than Canva’s. It’s also integrated into Designs.ai, an online graphic design suite based on AI similar to Canva. However, it’s quite slow and a lot less intuitive than Canva. In addition, it’s more expensive than Canva and even Adobe.
Read the full review: 123rf review.
- 180+ million images.
- Good image quality.
- Unsophisticated photo editor.
- No one-time purchase option.
- Requires internet connection.
- Subscriptions ($0.36–$3/image): Available in sizes of 10, 50, 150, and 350 monthly downloads with the monthly and yearly (25% cheaper) options. There’s no daily download limit.
- On-demand plans ($2.69–$9/image) are available in sizes of 3, 10, 25, and 100 downloads, but you can also get a custom pack of up to 1,000 downloads.
- Extended licenses ($59–$130) are sold based on the required extended use.
- Free trial (10 images) lasts 30 days and is available with the subscription of 10 monthly downloads.
THE CHEAPEST EXTENDED LICENSES
on Dreamstime’s website
Dreamstime is the cheapest stock photo site for extended licenses that you can buy for as low as $26. However, we are not convinced by its image quality, which is usually subpar. We also don’t like the “watermarked images” free trial and shady websites promoting their free trial.
Read more: Dreamstime review
- Up to 30% discount.
- The cheapest extended license.
- Extended licenses with subscriptions.
- Often overedited images.
- Poor variety.
- Free trial images are watermarked.
- Subscription plans ($0.158/image) are available in six different sizes: 5, 10, 15, 25, 100, and 750 monthly downloads. By prepaying for the entire year, you get a 23% discount. I partnered with Dreamstime to give you an additional 30% discount connected to a link. This link allows you to get the best stock photo prices possible. With the largest plan, you will get stock photos for as low as $0.158/photo.
- Credit packs ($8.00/image) come in ten different credit sizes that you can use to buy images. However, the pricing of images depends on the image level. The higher the image level, the more credits it costs. To determine which level the image falls into, click on each image and check manually. Furthermore, levels change every day because they depend on image popularity and age. The credit prices range from $0.616 to $9.54 based on the credit pack you choose.
- Extended licenses ($16.10/image) are uniquely sold with subscriptions at Dreamstime. This results in the best possible price in the industry – $16.10 for an extended license. Of course, you can buy an extended license on-demand for 50 credits or $62.50.
- Free trial (15 images), but they will be watermarked.
on Bigstock’s website
Bigstock was acquired by Shutterstock in 2009, but the agency never really took off. Despite being the second cheapest stock photo site, Bigstock is rated very low on the Photutorial scale. The website is very slow and is sometimes delayed by poorly timed pop-ups. The support team is virtually unresponsive (we’ve reached out multiple times but never received an answer). Despite the medium-sized stock photo database (110 million images), we can hardly find usable images because they either look too stocky or low-quality. Also, the cheapest images are available with the enormous 50 images/day plan.
The verdict: If you value your budget, stay clear of Bigstock.
Read more: Bigstock review
- One of the cheapest stock photo sites
- 111 million images
- Good free trial (35 free images or videos)
- Completely unresponsive support team
- Low image quality
- Almost no new images
- Lowest prices only with a very large plan
- Price: $0.157–$12.00/image.
- Pricing options: Subscriptions, on-demand.
- Free trial: 35 images or videos during the first 7 days.
- Coupon code: /
- Additional features: /
on Vecteezy’s website
Vecteezy is a freemium stock image site that lets you download all content for free but then requires attribution. If you want to use the images and videos without the credit lines, you need to buy the Pro subscriptions, which costs $9.00–$14.00/month.
Read more: Vecteezy review
- Access to Vecteezy editor.
- Unlimited downoads with the Pro plan.
- Full of sponsored images on a free account.
- Only 100,000 impressions with the standard royalty-free license.
- Free account requires attribution.
- You get access to all resources even with a free account, but you must give attribution.
- Vecteezy’s standard royalty-free license allows only 100,000 copies and sales, which is very low compared to 500,000 other stock photo agencies.
- With the Pro plan, you access the SVG editor, which is good, but not as good as Adobe Illustrator.
Summary: Best Cheap Stock Photo Sites
|Stock photo site||Number of photos||Rating||Price||Free trial|
|Shutterstock||390 million||5.0/5.0||$0.22–$14.50/image||Yes (10 images)|
|Adobe Stock||295 million||5.0/5.0||$0.26–$8.00/image||Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)|
|Depositphotos||224 million||4.8/5.0||$0.22–14.00/image||Yes (10 images)|
|iStock||140 million||4.8/5.0||$0.22–$7.00/image||Yes (10 images)|
|Canva||110 million||4.6/5.0||$9.99–$30/month||Yes (30 days)|
|Dreamstime||185 million||3.9/5.0||$0.225–$51.78/image||Yes (15 watermarked images)|
|Bigstock||111 million||3.1/5.0||$0.157–$12.00/image||Yes (35 images or videos)|
To identify the best stock photo sites, we took a holistic view of 31 stock photo agencies that incorporated image number, quality, variety, prices and pricing options, licensing terms, features, and customer support.
- Image quality & variety: 20% of the score. We browsed each stock photo site for over 50 search terms and analyzed the resulting image quality and variety. Both were scored qualitatively based on our expertise and experience. The quality check comprised technical quality, including exposure, sharpness, grain, saturation, color temperature, and added value. The variety check was primarily focused on checking what percentage of images came from the same photo shoot.
- Stock photo prices and pricing options: 20% of the score. Price is the crucial factor in choosing stock photos, and having various options helps customers find the best plans. We checked whether the stock photo agency offers subscriptions, on-demand options, and which sizes. In addition, having a free trial is a bonus as it allows customers to get an insight into what they can expect. Finally, we considered the minimum, median, and maximum price per image and the price per extended license image.
- Licensing terms: 20% of the score. We read and took notes on every stock image license. We compared them based on how many copies, reprints, and impressions they allow and their indemnity value.
- Image number: 15% of the score. The number of images is essential when rating stock photo sites because when you need thousands of images, you can quickly run out of free photos. We checked each stock photo site’s database and took notes on the number of images.
- Additional features: 15% of the score. Additional features are meant to simplify or enhance a customer’s workflow. We reviewed and tested all the additional features where possible. Since some are limited to enterprises, or we couldn’t get in touch with the support team, we searched for customers with access to the additional features and asked for their opinion.
- Customer support: 10% of the score. Crucially, when testing customer support, we didn’t tell them who we were, so we got treated like every other customer. We took notes of the response times, contact options (live chat, email, and telephone), and the usefulness and kindness of the support teams.
What’s the difference between the “cheapest” and “best cheap” stock photo sites?
Because we wanted to be thorough, we covered both topics, despite how similar they may seem. The main difference is that the cheapest stock photo sites are ranked purely based on increasing pricing.
In contrast, we ranked the best cheap stock photo sites (the current post) based on the quality of service measured with our ratings. However, we listed only the sites we deemed affordable, meaning those within reach also for users on a tight budget.