Is There a Cheaper Version of Cricut?

Cricut Machines are expensive, the top of the line powerhouse the Cricut Makers costs nearly $400! At that price I had to consider whether it was worth it to just buy the custom invitations I wanted to craft. As a casual crafter I settled on the mid range Cricut Machine, the Cricut Explore Air, but there are cheaper alternatives to the Cricut Maker on the market.

The Cricut Explore and Cricut Joy are cheaper versions of the Cricut Maker. The Cricut Explore Air is about one hundred dollars less than the Cricut Maker. The Cricut Joy is less than half the price of a Cricut Maker.

There are a few options for saving if you are in the market for a crafting machines. Keep reading to learn how to save on a Cricut machine. Also learn more about crafting machines that don’t have as much functionality as Cricut but may meet your crafting needs.

Is There a Generic Version of Cricut

It is common for consumer products to be produced in a factory but branded and priced differently. A friend who works retail let me in on a secret that there are high-end home goods that are the exact same items as in dollar tree only difference the brand.

Unfortunately, there is not a generic version of Cricut Cutting Machines. There are less expensive machines for paper crafting with reduced functionality. The Cricut cutting machines are a crafting powerhouse, other brands make similar machines but they are not a generic version of Cricut.

The Cheaper Alternative to the Cricut Maker

The Cricut Explore Air machine is about $100 cheaper than the Cricut Maker. The Cricut Explore has a few less accessories and can cut fewer materials. When I purchased my Cricut Explore, the Cricut Maker did not exist. The main difference between the Maker and Explore is that the maker is capable of cutting heavier materials such as fabric, leather and basswood.

If you are not into wood or fabric crafting, you would probably do just fine with the Cricut Explore. Keep reading to learn more about alternative machines.

If you are into cutting fabric, leather and wood. …well the Cricut Maker is the only machine of its kind there really are not any alternatives. In a previous article, I discussed the Secrets to find the best deal on a Cricut.

The Most Affordable Cricut Cutting Machine

The Cricut Joy is the newest and the cheapest Cricut machine. It’s compact and can be used without a cutting mat. It is a good choice for crafters who want a machine that does not take up a lot of space.

Cricut Joy, Cricut’s Cheapest Machine

The Cricut Joy does not have one of Cricut’s most powerful features, you cannot Print then Cut with the Cricut Joy. I would say at least half of my projects are Print then Cut projects, so this would be a deal-breaker for me. Also, the material is a non-standard size, I have not researched this thoroughly, but you MAY be limited to the Cricut brand or having to cut vinyl to the right size.

Machines Like Cricut but Cheaper

The Cricut cutting machines utilize software to control a die-cutting machine. The alternatives to Cricut that also require software to control the die-cutting machine are also pricey. Some require the purchase or subscription to the software. While Cricut Access is a subscription-based service that can be used for a wider variety of fonts, images, and projects, the subscription is optional and not required to use Cricut machines.

Manual crafting machines can be used for embossing, cutting etc. Manual Die Cutting machines are similar to Cricut they are electronic and can cut at a minimum the most popular materials (cardstock & vinyl). I have had my Cricut for more than 5 years so I don’t remember all of the distinguishing features.

Machines like Cricut but cheaper for Paper Crafting

Paper Crafting machines are a fraction of the cost of a Cricut Maker. However, they also only have a fraction of the functionality. Often requiring a unique accessory for each unique project, the money saved on the initial machine can easily add up on the cost of accessories..

One of the reasons I chose not to purchase a manual crafting machine, was because of the mound of accessories required to do the crafting I desired. These paper crafting machine may be good for someone wanting to embellish paper crafts or fun projects with the kids.

Xyron Creative Station

I know you may have stumbled on this article in an attempt to spend less money, but this is a really cool machine alone, but also with CRICUT. The Xyron is not a cutting machine, it is for adding adhesive, magnets, or laminating. THese features are not available on the Cricut machine.

The Xyron Creative Station can be used for label making, laminating, making stickers, magnets, and flashcards. This could be a cheaper alternative for making educational materials.

The Xyron Creative Station is available on Amazon.

Xyron Creative Station

Xyron has a great YouTube video that explains some of the cool projects you can make with the Creative Station machine. Below is a list of some of the potential projects that can be made with a Xyron Creative Station.

  • Custom Labels for Organization
  • Laminating documents (Cricut machines CANNOT Laminate documents)
  • Flash Cards
  • Signs
  • Posters

Learn more about Xyron Creative Station by visiting

Tim Holtz Vagabond 2

Sizzix Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 is motorized, but does not connect to a laptop. These machines are cool, but heavy on accessories necessary to create projects. It is true any project that I make needs a material like cardstock or vinyl, but with these machines, you also need to buy die-cut folders etc.

These crafting machines could be a cool way to pull a teen or tween from tech overload. The Vagabond could also be fun for those who are not tech savy but enjoy crafting.

Mimi D.

Mimi D is the creator of Dream Plan Smile. An NYC native, she is a wife and mom with a passion for crafting. She holds a Bachelor's in Engineering and a Master's in Project Management. In her current role as a working wife and mom, she is getting a crash course in budgeting, planning, & organization.

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