The Bottom Line
Dreamstime has a large collection of stock images, but we don’t like the quality of these images, which are often overedited. While Dreamstime can be a good option, we advise you to pick one of its alternatives.
- Extended license come also with subscriptions, making them cheap
- Wide variety of buying options
- Often overedited images.
- Poor variety.
- Free trial images are watermarked.
2-minute Dreamstime review
Dreamstime is best for people who need a large number of stock images with an extended license, either due to the larger allowed print distribution or higher indemnification. To clarify, compared to the standard royalty-free (RF) license, an extended license allows unlimited printed and digital items for distribution, multiple seats, and a 25-times higher indemnification. Dreamstime also offers a variety of other subscriptions, including video and audio subscriptions and an all-in-one subscription that allows you to download any content of any size—these are the best for users who need a mix of content and not just images.
However, Dreamstime doesn’t measure to our top stock photo sites, such as the Editor’s Pick Shutterstock.
How much does Dreamstime cost?
Most popular stock photo sites are similarly priced regarding the price per image, usually ranging from $0.20 to $20 per photo, depending on whether you buy in bulk or not. And Dreamstime is no different. However, understanding the Dreamstime pricing is not easy because it comes with lots of options and a few unlogical bulk discounts. Here’s the summary:
- Subscriptions ($0.23–$5.00/image) – The subscriptions come in multiple sizes (5, 10, 15, 25, 120, and 750 monthly downloads). You get the lowest price per image with the largest plan (750/month) when chosen for a 12-month duration. As a Dreamstime partner, we offer a 30% discount on every purchase.
- Credit packages: $0.88–$51.78/image. To buy images with credits, you first need to buy a credit package. These come in sizes from 11 to 2000; the larger the plan, the more credits you get per dollar spent. You can then use credits to buy anything on Dreamstime.
- Unlimited access to free images: $5.00/month. If you need a lot of images but don’t have the budget for large subscription plans, the unlimited downloads plan is a good option. However, you get access to only 1 million images that are not very good.
- Extended license subscriptions: $19.55–$26.50/image. Extended license subscriptions are the best way to get images licensed under the extended license.
- All-in-One subscriptions: $14.76–$17.90/image. By using all-in-one subscriptions, you can get any media file of any size, including stock images, videos, and audio. It’s the best plan for those who have versatile needs for stock content.
Dreamstime offers 7 subscription plans for licensing images, which vary in the number of monthly downloads they provide, ranging from 5 to 750. Although the larger plans are more expensive than the smaller ones, they come with a bulk discount that significantly reduces the price per image, with rates as low as $0.23. Six of these plans are available monthly, meaning you don’t have to commit to a contract, while the 12-month plan gives you a ~23% discount. Unfortunately, the annual offer is available only with the 750 monthly downloads subscription, while other sites, like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock, offer such discounts on all plans.
Dreamstime’s pricing structure features an unusual aspect where the monthly download plans for 5 and 15 images are priced the same at $25/mo, while the plans for 10 and 25 images are also the same at $39/mo. It is unclear whether this is an intentional marketing strategy or an oversight, but this pricing model has remained unchanged for over two years. Consequently, opting for the 5 or 15 images per month plans may not be worthwhile due to the similar pricing with the 10 and 25-image plans.
Dreamstime’s subscription costs are comparable to Shutterstock’s but with fewer options. Dreamstime’s subscription allows for downloading of images only, while Shutterstock offers a wider range of options, including images (photos, vectors, illustrations), videos, and audio tracks. Additionally, Shutterstock provides subscribers with more flexibility by offering monthly, annual, and annual prepaid subscription durations, as well as additional discounts. In contrast, Dreamstime’s subscription only provides a prepaid option for 750 monthly downloads.
Credit packages typically simplify pricing by allowing users to download any asset from the website without being bound to subscription contracts. Although credits generally cost more than subscriptions, they offer greater flexibility. However, Dreamstime’s credit packages are too confusing. We will first cover their pricing and then examine what you can obtain with them.
Dreamstime photos don’t have a set price in credits. Instead, the price changes based on the photo’s size and how many times it’s been downloaded (shown by levels). which means the price can change unexpectedly. The price of a stock photo is determined by its level, which can range from 0 to 5, and is based on factors such as the photo’s age and the number of downloads. Stock photos can be purchased using credits, with prices ranging from 1 to 38 credits each ($0.62 to $36). Extended licenses may cost up to 50 credits. Using credits, you can also buy videos, costing $8.80 to $51.78 per video clip.
Dreamstime offers affordable options for purchasing credits in bulk and selecting low-level images. However, their high-end images are comparatively more expensive than those offered by other stock photo sites.
Extended license prices
Dreamstime stands out as one of the few major stock image sites that offer extended licenses with subscriptions at very affordable prices, starting from only $23 per extended license. This is notably lower compared to the prices of $67 at Shutterstock and $79 at Adobe Stock. You can get extended licenses with the following plans:
- 2 monthly downloads: $59 ($29.50/item)
- 5 monthly downloads: $137 ($27.40/item)
- 25 monthly downloads: $659 ($26.36/item)
- 100 monthly downloads: $2,500 ($25.00/item)
- 500 monthly downloads: $11,500 ($23.00/item)
- Subscriptions: $6.12–$50/video clip. The subscriptions come in multiple sizes (1, 5, 10, and 25 monthly downloads) and four resolutions (web, 720, 1080, and 4K). You get the lowest price per video with the largest plan (25/month) when for the “web” quality of the video.
- Credit packages: $8.80–$51.78/video clip. To buy videos with credits, you first need to buy a credit package. These come in sizes from 11 to 2000; the larger the plan, the more credits you get per dollar spent. You can then use credits to buy anything on Dreamstime.
- All-in-One subscriptions: $14.76–$17.90/video clip.
Compare video subscriptions prices
|1||$15 ($15/video)||$40 ($40/video)||$45 ($45/video)||$50 ($50/video)|
|5||$40 ($8/video)||$121 ($24.2/video)||$148 ($29.6/video)||$239 ($47.8/video)|
|10||$72 ($7.2/video)||$225 ($22.5/video)||$280 ($28/video)||$450 ($45/video)|
|25||$170 ($6.8/video)||$444 ($17.76/video)||$534 ($21.36/video)||$1,070 ($42.8/video)|
We discussed the pricing of royalty-free content above, including stock images, videos, and audio, but extended licenses cost significantly more. That’s mainly because they give you more usage rights, but more on that in the section about licenses.
|Extended license type||Images||Videos||Audio|
|Unlimited Seats||50 credits||200 credits||200 credits|
|Web Usage||50 credits||200 credits||200 credits|
|Print Usage||50 credits||–||–|
|Extended License Subscription||from $23.00||–||–|
|1 Year Exclusivity||from $62.5||from $250||from $250|
|3 Year Exclusivity||from $150||from $600||from $600|
|Sell the rights||from $250||from $1,000||from $1,000|
|Universal Royalty-Free||from $500||–||–|
|Universal Extended License||from $1,000||–||–|
Since you’re not the rightful owner of the image, you need to get rights from its creator to use it legally. This is best done by purchasing a license through a stock photo site. The most widely used license is the royalty-free (RF) license due to its versatility and affordability.
A royalty-free license is a perpetual license, meaning you may use it forever once you pay the initial fee. However, RF licenses are usually limited in the number of allowed copies and generally don’t allow resale and redistribution.
|illustrating websites||any item that will be resold or redistributed (i.e, postcards, T-shirts, puzzles, your art, web templates, coloring books, art prints)|
|decorating home and office, interior design||logos and trademarks|
|advertising posters, flyers, postcards||candy wrappers|
|illustrating books, CD covers, booklets|
|illustrating magazine articles, covers, and newspapers|
|product and gift wrappings|
|humanitarian or social campaigns|
When you need a more broad use of a stock image, you should consider buying an extended license. By default, an extended license extends a royalty-free license to unlimited reproduction, multiple seats, and higher indemnification. However, Dreamstime separated these licenses into multiple specialized extended licenses.
|Extended License Type||What you get|
|Unlimited Seats (U-EL)||Unlimited user seats within the same organization.|
|Web Usage (W-EL)||Get the rights to use the stock media for web templates, screensavers, e-cards, PowerPoint presentations, and wallpapers for resale.|
|Print Usage (P-EL)||Get the rights to use the stock media for T-shirts, posters, mugs, postcards, printed artwork, etc.|
|Sell the Rights (SR-EL)||Get full ownership of the stock image or video. It gives you exclusive rights to the media.|
Dreamstime is a microstock photo agency that was founded in Tennessee 22 years ago. At the time, it was the main competitor to Shutterstock and iStockphoto (now called “iStock”), but has since slightly fallen behind in recent years. Nowadays, Dreamstime offers 185 million stock photos, illustrations, and vectors to 42 million registered members, contributed by 800,000 photographers.
Nowadays, Dreamstime runs an active blog, is a member of DMLA (Digital Media Licensing Association), was the first to receive CEPIC, and is the founding member of the European Tech Alliance
Dreamstime free downloads
Dreamstime offers a collection of 1.5 million images that you may download for free. The images are licensed under a CC0 (Creative Commons 0) license that requires you to attribute the Dreamstime. A typical attribution may look something like this: Free photo 144892350 © Publicdomainphotos – Dreamstime.com
Frequently asked questions
Is Dreamstime legit?
Dreamstime is a legit yet not the best stock photo site. It has a rating of 3.1 from almost 1,100 reviews on Trustpilot. Most customers complain about watermarked images with the free trial and having difficulties when canceling subscriptions.
Are Dreamstime images free?
Dreamstime has a large database of 1.5 million free images that require attribution when used. Dreamstime also sells images under royalty-free and extended licenses, which cost anywhere between $0.225 to several thousands of dollars.
Is Dreamstime copyright free?
Dreamstime is not copyright free. You may, however, use CC0 photos for free, but you need to attribute the author and Dreamstime.
How much does Dreamstime cost?
Dreamstime sells royalty-free stock images for $0.225–$5.00 with subscriptions, $0.88–$51.78/image with credits, and $19.55–$26.50/image for extended licenses. You can also get stock footage for as low as $6.12 and up to $50 for a 4K video.
How do I cancel my Dreamstime subscription?
1. Log in to your Dreamstime account
2. Click on My Account
3. Select Payment Management
4. Uncheck Auto-renewal
Photutorial reviewed Dreamstime based on 14 data points in the categories of image quality and variety, pricing, licensing, image number, customer support, and additional features. Photutorial rated Dreamstime based on the weighting assigned to each category.
- Image quality & variety: 20%
- Pricing: 20%
- Licensing: 20%
- Image number: 15%
- Additional features: 15%
- Customer support: 10%
Within each category, we also considered several characteristics, the number of images per most popular searches, technical quality, and added value. We also looked at the variety of pricing plans, minimum, median, and maximum image prices, and free trial terms. Finally, we evaluated Dreamstime’s customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.
About your guide
Matic Broz is a multifaceted creative professional, with experience as a photographer, graphic designer, and business owner. He has a decade of experience in helping other creatives improve their craft and start their own businesses. His writing and research have been featured in notable publications such as The Guardian, PetaPixel, and USA Today. Additionally, his scientific research has been recognized with a cover feature in the prestigious MDPI-owned journal. In his leisure time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and spending time with dogs. Read more
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