1. Cricut Joy
The Cricut Joy is a recent addition to the market of vinyl cutters, and it just might blow you away.
It’s perfect for small projects like cardmaking, keeping it simple and quick and easy to take on the go. The machine itself weighs no more than 4 pounds, and you’re sure to get plenty of joy out of its ability to cut wirelessly.
The best part is the price — so low that it makes it one of the most appealing cutters out there, just the thing for anyone on a tight budget.
Don’t let it’s cost fool you: it’s not just cheap, it’s ahead of its time. This model boasts innovations such as matless cutting and compatability with Smart Materials that keep it fresh and modern.
- The additions of Matless cutting and Smart Materials are easy to use and very convenient
- Perfec for creating quick custom cards
- Offers cutting options of 1 image up to 4″ wide and 4′ long, as well as images that reapet up to 20′ long
- Capable of cutting over 50 materials
- Avoid the hassel and mess of wires with its Bluetooth connectivity
- Great for beginners and easy to undertsand
- The Smart Materials and Card Mat are not included in the purchase
- Rather inefficient as it can only cut and write, and not at the same time
- Cricut Design Space software can be a little frustrating to use
2. Cricut Explore Air 2
It may come before the more recent Cricut Maker release, the Explore Air 2 is a Although Cricut have recently released their amazing Maker machine, the Explore Air 2 still holds its own as one of the best.
Great pricing for under $300 as well as plenty of sales and discounts that can be found elsewhere to give you the best deal possible.
- Capable of cutting one image at 4″ wide and 4′ long or repeated images at 20′ long
- Can connect through Bluetooth
- Works on over 50 varieties of materials
- Can not just cut but also draw and write
- Functions great with Smart Materials for easy matless cutting
- Perfect for custom cards using Card Mat
- Reduced print and cut sizes
- Can be loud when in use
3. Brother ScanNCut 2
The ScanNCut 2 may be a more expensive choice, but that doesn’t stop it from being loved and appreciated for its desktop machine qualities and high value.
Due to the built-in 300 DPI scanner, many crafters find themselves choosing this model when they want to do extensive print work then cut work.
- Has a built-in 300 DPI scanner
- Contains 7 preprogrammed fonts and 100 applique designs
- Can be used with a variety of materials
- A bundle of accessories is included
- Capable of transfering designs both wirelessly and through USB
- Uses high calibre blades for maximum accuracy
- The software is fairly basic and not very user-friendly
4. Cricut Explore Air
Don’t let the fact that this is an older model fool you. It offers a cheap but quality option that keep the Explore Air a strong contendor.
Because it’s been around for a while, you can find great deals second-hand, perfect for anyone who’s on a tight budget. Just remember that the reliability of the machine may reflect the cheaper cost.
Here are some highlights and possible lowlights of this classic machine.
- Thanks to its Bluetooth capabilities, you don’t have to mess around with wires and UBS ports and can send designs straight from your computer
- Although it may be cheap, it doesn’t sacrifice quality or precision. It’s perfect for intricate and minute designs thanks to the long-lasting German carbide blades it comes with
- In only one step it can cut and score or cut and write
- Comes with a Smart Set Dial that allows you to choose from a wide range of automatic settings for your favorite cutting materials
- You can use up to 100 different materials with this machine
- Very easy to understand and use
- The machine itself looks great
- Unless you choose to buy it used, its not cheap enough to excuse the fact that its subpar compared to the Explore Air 2
- It’s only compatible with the Cricut Design Space software which may seem basic for more experienced crafters.
5. Silhouette Cameo 3
The Silhouette’s Cameo 3 was a major rival of the Cricut Explore Air 2 until the new Cameo 4 was released. An upgrade from the Cameo 2, the cheaper price than the 4 makes up for the fact that it’s not quite as powerful. If you like the Sillhouette models, you will not be disappointed!
FOr this model eBay is your best bet to find a good deal. Most top retailers only carry the more recent Cameo 4 model, but you won’t find the prices you will second-hand!
- Perfect for beginners as the AutoBlade setting lets you calibrate your settings automatically depending on the material you use
- The cutting clearance doubled to 2mm so you can now use thicker materials
- It has a helpful touchscreen that’s easy to use and gives useful audio alerts
- In only one step it can cut and score or cut and write
- Comes with a roller locking mechanism and clear instructions for making feeding material
- Contains plenty of storage compartments
- Has a great chic and sleek look
- Capable of cutting up to 12″ wide and 10 feet long
- The cutting force is weaker on this machine than on the Cricut
- The Cameo 4 has replaced this model as the newest and most up-to-date
6. Sizzix Big Shot
The Sizzix Big Shot has gained enough popularity it could almost be deemed a cult among the craft cutting world, and when you take a look at this machine you can see why.
This machine is like a diamond in the rough for small projects such as cards and stickers, which is perfect since it can only cut up to 6″ wide. This is the true definition of a budget vinyl cutter, but gives you both cutting and emobssing options making it a steal.
The unique factor of this machine is that it doesn’t operate electronically, but rather with a crank. Yep, that’s right, a crank — so if you don’t mind some maual labor the Big Shot is the ideal machine for you!
- Great price
- Can both cut and emobss
- Includes a 3 year warranty
- Perfect for desktop use as its small and portable
- Kid-friendly and great for small craft makers
- Doesn’t give you the accuracy of a more expensive cutter and it only cuts up to 6″ wide
- Operates with a crank — some love it some hate it
7. Sizzix Eclips 2
Although the Big Shot is seen as the number one cheap vinyl cutter for most, we recommend a careful considerion of the Eclips 2 and all it has to offer as well.
This machine was designed to rival the Silhouette Cameo and Cricut Explore, and does run electrically. We’re wouldn’t consider it better than those two modles, but many fans are dedicated to the Eclips 2.
It is hard to find this model, however. We’ve spotted some in local craft stores, but eBay is probably going to be your best bet.
- Extremely precise
- Capable of combing multiple shapes and letters in just one cut
- You’ll love the true scoring
- Plenty of auto-select settings to make it easy to use
- Gives you a laser cut preview
- Eco-friendly with its Scrap cut mode that gives you minimal material wastage
- The software included, eCal Lite, is very basic
- Doesn’t connect through Bluetooth
- Hard to find this model online
8. Silhouette Portrait 2
We bring you back to the Silhouette once again. The Portrait 2 is one of the premium budget vinyl cutters on the market.
Similar to the Big Shot, this is an ideal machine for beginners or small craft makers thanks to its low price point, general operation, and simple software.
The Portrait 2 is the recent release that succeeds the original, very popular, Portrait machine. This makes it easier to find and gives you more options for shopping online or in stores.
- Perfect for small cuts and is very compat
- The installation process is easy to set-up and hassle-free for beginners.
- You can choose ot cut an incredibly wide range of materials including paper, vinyl, cardstock, fabrics, heat transfer materials, vellum and wood paper
- Although it’s much cheaper than the Cameo, it offers almost the same functionality, giving you better bang for your buck
- The Silhouette Studio software may not be easy to understand at first, but with a little studying it offers clear explanations to get the best use out of your machine
- There have been some issues raised about its calibration and alignment
9. Cricut Cuttlebug
The Cricut Cuttlebug bears a strong similarity to the Sizzix Big Shot above, and just like the one we saw earlier, is operatted by a crank. But the best feature of all is that it’s extremely cheap.
For a manual cutting machine, it has a strong and passionate following. Maybe that’s due to its versatility, as well as the fact that it’s a perfect pick for anyone who wants to get into the crafting world without breaking the bank.
- It’s lightweight and compact
- Offered at a very cheap price
- Perfect for kids and very easy to use
- Not only does it cut and emboss, it does so on a variety of materials from tissue paper to thin leather
- Compatible with multiple embossing folders and dies
- Has a wonderful mint design
- Great for cards and scrapbooking
- The folders and dies are not included
- You will also need to buy the Adapter Plate C separately
10. USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34in
The USCutter is an inexpensive option that allows you to tackle large projects, perfect if you’re considering or interested in using your machine for commercial as well as personal use.
Because of its capacity to print sizeable items such as posters and banners, it comes on its own stand, ready to be set up in an unobtrusive corner or at the end of a table.
- Capable of printing large items up to 34”x30”, with a cutting length of 96”
- Great for commercial use as well as personal projects
- Can run multiple software programs, giving you even more design options
- Has great vector and tracing abilities
- Because of its size, the machine can get loud when it operates
- This machine is not compatible with any Mac computers
Hello there, my name is Carole Lokey from Texas. I am a die cutting and scrapbooking enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 15 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page. Learn More>>