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Best Cheap Stock Photo Sites 2022

Best cheap stock photo sites

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 for 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

  1. Shutterstock – Best overall
  2. Adobe Stock – Best for graphic designers
  3. Depositphotos – Best for bloggers
  4. iStock – Best subscriptions
  5. Canva – Best all-in-one
  6. 123RF – Best Canva alternative
  7. Dreamstime – Cheapest extended licenses
  8. Bigstock – Overall cheap
  9. Vecteezy – Best freemium
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: /
  • 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 siteNumber of photosRatingPriceFree trial
Shutterstock390 million5.0/5.0$0.22–$14.50/imageYes (10 images)
Adobe Stock295 million5.0/5.0$0.26–$8.00/imageYes (10, 25, or 40 images)
Depositphotos224 million4.8/5.0$0.22–14.00/imageYes (10 images)
iStock140 million4.8/5.0$0.22–$7.00/imageYes (10 images)
Canva110 million4.6/5.0$9.99–$30/monthYes (30 days)
123RF180 million3.9/5.0$0.36–$11.80No
Dreamstime185 million3.9/5.0$0.225–$51.78/imageYes (15 watermarked images)
Bigstock111 million3.1/5.0$0.157–$12.00/imageYes (35 images or videos)
Vecteezy2.2 million3.2/5.0$9.00–$14.00/monthNo

Rating Methodology

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.

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About your guide

Matic Broz profile image
Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire, Skylum, and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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