The 9 Best Cheap Vinyl Cutters

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You don’t need to splash the cash — a cheap vinyl cutter is a great investment.

If you’ve just entered the world of craft cutting, chances are you’re feeling¬†a little¬†overwhelmed. So many designs! So much software! And — as if you could¬†forget —¬†so damn many¬†electronic cutting machines.

How to choose which one?

best cheap vinyl cutter

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

If you’re looking for the best budget vinyl cutter, fear not — we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled this list of the top 9 budget vinyl cutters that are perfect for the entry-level crafter or simply those on a budget.

Prices range from under $100 to around the $300 mark. Hopefully you’ll find something that fits in with your budget here.

Some of them are *so good* we’re shocked that they’re really this cheap.

If you want a really comprehensive rundown of all the best vinyl cutters for both personal and commercial use, check out our guide to the very best vinyl cutting machines in 2018.

Or, if you just need a quick guide to everything you need to know about vinyl cutting, check out Vinyl Cutting 101.

Now, without further ado, here’s a sneak peek at the top 4 results…

 
Electronic/ManualElectronicManualElectronicElectronic
SoftwareCricut Design SpaceNoneSilhouette StudioSilhouette Studio
Max. Cut Width12"6"12"8.5"
Wireless ConnectivityYesNoYesNo

Best Cheap Vinyl Cutters

Cricut Explore Air 2

cheap vinyl cutter

Although Cricut have recently released their amazing Maker machine, the Explore Air 2, its predecessor, is still one of the best vinyl cutters on the market.

Here’s a quick look at it in action:

And it’s cheap too — while its list price is somewhere just under $300, it can readily be found for much less than that during sales and discount periods.

Before you buy, make sure to read our full Cricut Explore Air 2 review.

In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to the pros and cons of the machine:

Pros:

  • Cuts, writes and scores¬†twice as fast¬†as the Cricut Explore Air (below)
  • Embedded Bluetooth for¬†wireless¬†cutting
  • Dual carriage¬†for writing and cutting, or scoring and writing in just one step
  • Sharp, accurate blades
  • Works with over¬†100 different materials
  • Settings are automatically calibrated with the¬†smart set dial
  • You can design on or offline with¬†Cricut Design Space
  • Huge¬†artwork library

Cons:

  • Print and Cut¬†sizes are reduced (see the full review for precise details)
  • It’s quite¬†loud

cheap vinyl cutter

Brother ScanNCut 2

vinyl cutter cheap
The ScanNCut 2 is one of the more expensive machines on this cheap vinyl cutter list, but it’s well loved by many as a desktop machine and still offers great value for money.

It’s particularly popular among crafters who do a lot of print then cut work thanks to the built-in 300 DPI scanner.

Read our full review of the Brother ScanNCut 2 here, or see our summary below.

Pros:

  • Built-in¬†300 DPI scanner
  • 100 applique designs¬†and 7 fonts are preprogrammed
  • Works with a variety of materials
  • Comes with a¬†bundle of accessories
  • Both¬†wireless¬†and USB design transfer available
  • High calibre¬†blades¬†built for accuracy

Cons:

  • We find the ScanNCutCanvas¬†software to be basic¬†and not particularly user friendly

cheap vinyl cutter

Cricut Explore Air

cheap vinyl cutter

The Explore Air is one of Cricut’s older machines nowadays, but it still offers great value for money and is an all-round great contender for the best budget vinyl cutter out there.

We’ve written a full review of it here, but here’s a quick snapshot of what we love (and aren’t so keen on) about the machine.

Pros:

  • It’s¬†Bluetooth enabled¬†so you can just send your designs straight from your iPad/desktop to the cutter without messing around with wires and USB ports
  • Despite its low price, it¬†cuts really well¬†— precise, good on small and intricate designs and equipped with long-lasting German carbide blades
  • Dual carriage¬†means that it can cut and write, or cut and score, in just one step
  • The¬†Smart Set Dial¬†allows you to automatically select automatic settings for the most popular cutting materials, while the software has auto-settings for an even wider range
  • It works with¬†over 100 different materials
  • It’s super¬†easy to use
  • It¬†looks good!¬†

Cons:

  • Inferior to the Explore Air 2¬†but not significantly cheaper
  • You¬†can only use the Cricut Design Space software¬†with the machine. It’s perfectly serviceable and easy to use¬†for newbies, but more experienced crafters may find it a little basic

vinyl cutters under $250

Silhouette Cameo 3

Silhouette’s Cameo 3 is the major rival to the Cricut Explore Air 2 above, and most crafters have a favorite between the two brands. It’s usually priced around the same price point too.

budget vinyl cutter

We really like the Cameo 3 and consider it a cracking upgrade on the Cameo 2 — Silhouette fans will not be disappointed.

We’ve written a full review of the machine here, but here’s a brief look at our pros and cons of the Cameo 3.

Pros:

  • The¬†AutoBlade¬†setting allows you to automatically calibrate your settings depending what material you’re using — great for beginners
  • You can now use thicker materials as¬†cutting clearance has been doubled to 2mm
  • It comes with a¬†fancy touchscreen,¬†that’s simple to use and even has audio alerts
  • Dual carriage¬†allows you to cut and draw, or cut and score, in one step
  • It has a¬†roller locking mechanism¬†and¬†guidelines¬†making feeding material super easy
  • Lots of¬†storage compartments
  • It looks¬†sleek and chic
  • The maximum cutting size is 12″ wide and¬†10 feet long

Cons:

  • We find the¬†cutting force¬†a little weak — the Cricut has a edge on Silhouette here

vinyl cutters under $250

Sizzix Big Shot

The Sizzix Big Shot has something of a cult following in the craft cutting world — and with good reason.

sizzix big shot

It’s a real diamond machine for small projects like stickers and card-making (it can only cut up to 6 inches wide), and is great for both cutting and embossing. Best of all — it is a truly budget vinyl cutter. Check out this price!

What’s kind of quirky about the Sizzix is that it’s not an electronic cutting machine — it’s operated by a crank. Yep, that’s right — a crank. If you like a little manual labor with your craft cutting, you will love the Big Shot.

Check out what we love and what we’re not so keen on with the Sizzix Big Shot.

Pros:

  • Super cheap¬†— under $100, hello!
  • Good for both¬†cutting and embossing
  • Comes with a¬†3 year warranty
  • Very¬†small and portable¬†— great for desktop use
  • Kid-friendly¬†and a great starter kit for small crafts makers

Cons:

  • It can only cut up to¬†6 inches wide¬†— it’s pretty damn small and¬†you won’t have the accuracy¬†of a more expensive cutter
  • Crank operated¬†— you either love it or you hate it

vinyl cutters under $250

Sizzix Eclips 2

cheap vinyl cutters

For most people, the Big Shot is the number one cheap vinyl cutter from Sizzix, but we think that the Eclips 2 has a lot to offer as well.

This is the electronic cutting machine that was designed to rival the Silhouette Cameo and Cricut Explore. We’re not convinced that it’s quite as good as those two market leaders, but it’s certainly got a dedicated fan base nonetheless.

We’ve written a full review of the Sizzix Eclips 2 here.

Pros:

  • Excellent¬†precision cutting
  • Can combine multiple shapes and letters in one cut
  • True scoring
  • Easy to use¬†with auto-select settings
  • Laser cut¬†preview function
  • Scrap cut mode¬†for minimal material wastage

Cons

  • Included eCal Lite¬†software is super basic
  • No Bluetooth¬†connectivity

cheap vinyl cutter

Silhouette Portrait

We’re back with Silhouette again and the Portrait is one of the best budget vinyl cutters on the market right now.

best cheap vinyl cutter

Just like the Sizzix Big Shot, this is another great machine for small crafts makers — card and sticker makers will love it. It’s also great for beginners, thanks to its low price point, easy to use software and general operation.

We’ve written a full review of the Portrait here, but check out our pros and cons of the machine too.

Pros:

  • It’s¬†super compact¬†and great for small cuts
  • It’s very¬†easy to set-up and install the machine¬†— great for beginners
  • It¬†cuts a large range of materials, including paper, vinyl, cardstock, fabrics, heat transfer materials, vellum and wood paper
  • It’s¬†much cheaper than the Cameo 3 and has much of the same functionality
  • The Silhouette Studio¬†software¬†is reasonably easy to use

Cons:

  • It can only¬†cut a maximum of 8.5″ wide
  • There have been a few issues reported with calibration and alignment

vinyl cutters under $250

Cricut Cuttlebug

best cheap vinyl cutter
The Cricut Cuttlebug is remarkably similar to the Sizzix Big Shot above and is another crank operated die cutter. Best of all, it’s truly very cheap.

No wonder it’s so popular with children and people on a strict budget!

You can read our full review of the Cuttlebug here, but in the meantime here are our thoughts.

Pros:

  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • Very¬†cheap¬†— under $100
  • Easy to use and¬†great for kids
  • Cuts and embosses¬†numerous materials including tissue paper and thin leather
  • Works with lots of other¬†embossing folders and dies
  • Beautiful¬†mint design
  • Great for¬†scrapbooking and card making

Cons:

  • You’ll need to buy folders and dies
  • Doesn’t come with¬†Adapter Plate C¬†— you’ll need to buy separately

cheap vinyl cutter

Silhouette Curio

Our final entry is yet another offering from the brilliant Silhouette — the Curio.

cheap vinyl cutting machine

This budget cutter is more of an ‘add-on’ to other more hardcore vinyl cutters as it actually specializes in a few unique tools that you can’t use with other Silhouette products. Tools like embossing, stippling and etching.

Major bonus, it can be used on a wide variety of materials including stuff like metal, leather and even WOOD.

For crafters who like to do their cutting with a side of embossing, the Curio is really all you need. For hardcore cutting crafters, the Curio is a lovely desktop machine for a bit of experimental side action.

Here’s what we love (and don’t love so much) about the machine.

Pros:

  • Great for¬†embossing, debossing, stippling and etching
  • Good to experiment with¬†thicker materials¬†— it has a 5mm clearance
  • It has¬†3 different embossing methods:¬†path emboss, score & emboss, and print & emboss
  • Good for¬†small, intricate designs
  • Works with the¬†Silhouette Studio software¬†which is reasonably good and easy to use
  • The¬†dual carriage¬†can create multicolor sketch art
  • Comes with a¬†deep cut blade¬†that’s made of tungsten alloy for durable, deep cuts

Cons:

  • Can only¬†produce designs of a maximum 8.5″ x 6″
  • The¬†quality of the¬†embossing is not consistent

vinyl cutters under $250

 

What’s your favorite cheap vinyl cutter?

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