iStock Pricing Guide – Buy iStock Images At the Best Price

Are iStock images expensive? A simple, innocent question with a seemingly complicated answer. The iStock pricing is kind of complex and that can overwhelm the newcome buyer and make them potentially miss the agency's incredible offer in high quality images. 

To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, today we are breaking down iStock’s plans and prices and giving you both the long explanation and the quick numbers for you to know exactly how much an image will cost you here and which option is the best for you to buy images at iStock. 

Media typePrice with the minimum paymentLowest price on demand*Lowest price with a subscriptionLowest price ever**
Essential image$12$6$0.22 $0.18
Signature image$33$18$0.44$0.37
Essential video$60$36$6.66$5.66
Signature video$170$108$6.66$5.66
Audio files$99/mo$6.66$5.66
*With our exclusive discount for iStock large credit packs (25% off in packs from 18 credits and up)
**With our exclusive iStock Promo Code (15% off)
great solution for premium subscriptions
iStock premium plans are by far their best and most complete offer. Starting at $70 for 10 images, with a premium membership you can download high quality stock photos from any collection including exclusive premium pictures.
Prices can go as low as just 44 cents per image with the largest plan for 750 downloads, making it an amazing deal in premium stock images.

What is iStock?

istock homepage istock pricing homepage

iStock –known initially as iStockphoto– is a leading stock photo agency that holds the title of being the very first microstock company – meaning it was the first to sell affordable royalty free images online, with a minimum payment required. They inaugurated this business model in 2000 and have been a top stock agency ever since, also parented by the prestigious Getty Images since 2006. 

iStock royalty free photos are famous for being highly curated and provided by reputable stock photographers and for including a large selection of exclusive, high-end pictures. They have galleries with popular categories, trending searches, and an advanced search bar as a way to find visual content quickly. 

They work with the Royalty Free license model that covers commercial use and offers very low prices and convenient buying methods.

To this day, iStock’s images are the favorites of millions of designers, marketing creatives, and businesses. 

Find out how much they cost and how you can get iStock images without watermarks with a discount or even for free next. 

For more information and visual insights that matter about the agency, check our full iStock review. 

iStock Free Trial: 10 Free Photos During a 30-Day Period

You’re here to learn about iStock prices, but how does getting iStock images for free sound? If you said “great,” then get happy because you can unlock the special free trial from IStock that gives you ten image downloads of your choice for 30 days, completely free!

Unlock your iStock Free Trial with 10 image downloads from Essentials and/or (NEW) Signature collection for 30 days! Access to collections varies ...
Get Free Trial!
8 days left

Free Trial is Not Available Everywhere

Know that this trial deal isn’t available in all countries. Since the introduction of this offer, iStock has modified the list of countries and regions where you can access the free trial multiple times.

Read here for all details, including where you can get the iStock free trial and how to activate it. 

Exclusive Offer: iStock Bonus 10 Free Credits!

At Stock Photo Secrets, we have an exclusive offer you don’t want to miss: for a limited time, using our unique coupon code, when you buy any iStock subscription plan, you will unlock 10 free iStock credits; to download anything you want! 

This offer applies to Essential subscriptions, premium subscriptions, and even Premium+video subscriptions (all of which you’re about to learn below). Acquiring any plan from those options and using our exclusive code, a bonus pack of 10 credits will be added to your iStock account completely free of charge. 

You can use these credits to download photos vectors and illustrations, and stock videos at your discretion. And they’re free!

The best part is that this offer applies worldwide, so if you’re in a region with no free trial deal, this is the perfect chance to get free iStock images and maximize your investment!

Get an iStock monthly subscription and enjoy an extra 10 credits for FREE!

Our iStock Promo Codes: Up to 25% Off!

Before we dive into the details of iStock prices, we need to tell you about our newest and exclusive iStock discount code! All our readers get access to a 25% off on iStock's large credit packs, from 18 credits and upwards! Just use our special promo code at checkout and you'll unlock this incredible discount.

Get an exclusive 25% discount on your purchase of large credit packs at iStock! This discount applies to packs from 18 credits and up, only.
iStock large credit packs: Most flexible option for downloading images and videos
If you like the low prices of the image subscriptions, but need not be bounded by the monthly download limits, or need to download both images and videos, getting a larger credit pack (from 18 credits and up) is one of the best ways to ensure you get the flexibility you need, and at the best possible price. All the more now with our exclusive 25% off coupon for large credit packs:
With an 18-credit pack, you can download up to 18 Essential images, up to 6 Signature images, up to 3 Essential videos, or one Signature video (in any resolution up to 4K), or a mix of all. But you don't have to worry about expiration dates to use up your downloads, because your credits never expire.
For regular folk, this pack would cost $170, which is already a good deal. But using our exclusive coupon, you can buy it for only $127.50, making it even more worthwhile! Think about it, you could be downloading high-quality images for just $7 each, or even 4K videos for only $42.50 apiece. Very convenient!

If you need a pack smaller than 18 credits, or a subscription plan, our second excellent iStock discount code gives you 15% off on everything at iStock! 

Our coupon applies to everything on the iStock website: stock images, vectors, illustrations, and stock video clips, with a monthly or annual subscription or via credit packs, of any volume and duration. When it comes to credits, it covers both standard and extended license downloads, too. 

This is why our site is the best place to save in iStock downloads, as you can buy royalty free images at the lowest, discounted price!

Don't waste time, and buy your choice of stock videos and stock images at iStock: 15% discount on everything: subscriptions and image packs.

iStock Pricing Breakdown: Subscription & On Demand

iStock price structure comes with options to download images (also videos and audio files) with a subscription or on demand. Depending on the buying model, you can access different services, and downloads can cost more or less based on that, too.

istock usage terms table istock pricing

iStock Collections: Essential (Basic) and Signature (Premium)

istock collections istock pricing

A key element to understanding the iStock price structure is that they divide the catalog and its pricing into two tiers: the Essentials collection, which hosts high resolution, budget-friendly images, and the Signature collection is made of high-value pictures that are exclusive to the iStock platform.

This splits iStock's content across the board: photos, illustrations, and video clips are all sorted into these tiers. And their offers for subscriptions and on-demand buying are priced according to the collection.

While it might seem more complicated, this is actually a great option for buyers: it means that there is a high-quality yet low-priced alternative –iStock's Essential images are amongst the cheapest royalty-free photos on the web–, and also a premium but not overly pricey option in Signature pictures, all in the same site.

iStock Subscriptions: Lowest Prices for Stock Photos

The iStock subscriptions are the buying option with the lowest per-image prices for stock photos on this website, so it’s key to understand how they work and what you get with them. 

In general terms, an iStock subscription gives you a preset number of downloads every month, limited to a specific file type (or types), for a flat monthly fee. 

Their subscriptions are also divided into Basic (Essential) and Premium (Signature+Essential) tiers. Plus, in all cases, they provide options for monthly and annual plans. The annual subscription is still billed monthly. 

This is important: The iStock subscription plans include rollover of unused downloads. If you didn’t use up all downloads in one month, you can carry them over and pile them onto the next month’s allowance. The rollover is limited to 250 unused downloads. For a monthly subscription, this only applies if you have autorenewal selected. If your plan expires, you lose your unused downloads. 

iStock Basic Plans: The Cheapest Option

iStock pricing subscriptions

Basic subscriptions only allow downloads from iStock’s Essentials collection and have the lowest monthly price across the board. 

Number of imagesMonthly Annual (billed monthly)Best Price*
* With our iStock Promo Code (15% off)

Remember that our iStock promo discount saves you 15% from the regular price, so it’s a way to get the lowest prices for subscription download and Essential images.

Don't waste time, and buy your choice of stock videos and stock images at iStock: 15% discount on everything: subscriptions and image packs.

iStock Premium Subscriptions: For High-End Content

istock pricing subscriptions premium

The iStock premium subscriptions let you download royalty free images from both the Essentials and the Signature collections. As we explained, Signature images have a higher value and are also exclusive to iStock so that you won’t find them anywhere else. For this reason, the plans come at a slightly higher price. 

Number of imagesMonthlyAnnual (billed monthly)Best Price*
10 $99$70$59.50
* With our iStock Promo Code (15% off)

But using our iStock promo code, you can cut the cost of Signature collection prices by 15% and get the best discount for exclusive images with a Royalty Free license. 

Don't waste time, and buy your choice of stock videos and stock images at iStock: 15% discount on everything: subscriptions and image packs.

iStock Premium + Video Plans: Multimedia Downloads

iStock premiumvideo subscriptions > iStock Pricing Guide - Buy iStock Images At the Best Price

More recently, iStock introduced Premium video subscriptions that include access to all libraries: photos, video clips, and music tracks, all with the same subscription. In this offer, every item is one download, regardless of the file type. 

Number of downloadsMonthlyAnnual (billed monthly)Best Price*
* With our iStock Promo Code (15% off)

You’ll also be happy to learn that our iStock discount code applies to the Premium+Video plans! So you can get all the stock media content you need with one unified plan and do so at the best price possible!

Don't waste time, and buy your choice of stock videos and stock images at iStock: 15% discount on everything: subscriptions and image packs.

Pros and Cons of iStock Subscriptions

  • You can download iStock images at the lowest per-image prices 
  • It gives you the number of downloads you need every month, so you’re never without images
  • Video + premium subscription plans let you download videos, audio files, and images at the most affordable prices
  • You must commit to recurrent payments mid to long term 

iStock Credits: Flexible On-Demand Buying

iStock credit packs > iStock Pricing Guide - Buy iStock Images At the Best Price

If you prefer to buy on demand, iStock has a method to download photos by paying as you go: the iStock credits. 

This is a fictional currency; all iStock content is priced individually in credits, not USD or any other real currency. So what happens is that you can buy iStock credit packs and then use those credits to download photos whenever you wish. 

The unitary credit cost goes down the bigger the credit pack is. 

Number of creditsPriceBest Price
*With our iStock Promo Code for All Credits and Subscriptions (15% off)
**With our iStock Exclusive Promo Code for Large Credit Packs (25% off)

With credits, you can download images and video clips indistinctly. For example, with a pack of 6 credits, you can download 6 Essential images, 2 Signature images, one Essential video, or a combination of all. And credits never expire: as long as you log in to your account at least once a year, your credits remain valid and ready to be used.

The larger the pack you buy, the cheaper each image you download will cost you, but the final cost of images and videos with this buying option is higher than with subscriptions.

MediaMinimum Payment Price on DemandLowest Price on DemandBest Price on Demand*
Essential image$12 (one credit)$8 $6
Essential video$60 (six credits)$48 $36
Signature image$33 (three credits)$24 $18
Signature video$170 (eighteen credits)$144 $108
* With our iStock Promo Code for Large Credit Packs (25% off)

Luckily, our exclusive iStock promo code for large credit packs is here to cut down the cost for you significantly!

Get an exclusive 25% discount on your purchase of large credit packs at iStock! This discount applies to packs from 18 credits and up, only.

And our regular promo code also applies to credit packs of all sizes, so as you can see, you can save money even when buying on demand!

Don't waste time, and buy your choice of stock videos and stock images at iStock: 15% discount on everything: subscriptions and image packs.

iStock Single Image Purchase: Quick Purchase Option

It’s worth noting that iStock, like many stock agencies, now includes a quick and straightforward way to buy one single image. 

If you add just one image to your cart and checkout, you’ll be charged the minimum credits needed: $12 (one credit) for Essential and $33 (three credits) for Signature image download. This option is available for single video downloads, as well. 

This is a good alternative if you don’t want to purchase credits in larger packs or if you only need one image or video. 

Pros and Cons of iStock Credits

  • They give you time flexibility as they never expire 
  • You can download photos and videos with the same credits
  • There is quick checkout for single image purchase
  • The price per download comes out higher than subscription downloads

iStock Licensing: Standard and Extended

An important consideration regarding prices is that they also depend on whether your image comes with a standard or extended license. 

The company offers these two licensing options, each with its own usage rights. You can learn more about the difference between a standard license vs. an extended license here

iStock's are amongst the best stock photo licenses out there, too!

Standard License: Subscriptions and On-Demand

The standard license, as the name implies, is the regular license included by default with all downloads. Files licensed under the standard agreement can be bought with subscriptions and credits. All the prices displayed on the iStock website –detailed in our tables above– correspond to standard images.

Extended Licenses: On-Demand Only

As you likely guessed, the extended licenses include all rights from the standard version but add specific usage rights of higher value. iStock has three different extended licenses available, which you can buy individually or pile them on for the same image: 

  • Unlimited reproduction (eliminates the 500,000 print run limit of standard license)
  • Products for resale (adds the right to use images in products you can sell massively for profit, be them physical or digital like electronic templates)
  • Multi-seat (lets multiple users access the downloaded files)

In addition, extended licenses increase the legal guarantee from $10,000 included in Standard to $250,000.

Extended licensed images are available on demand only. And each extended license is priced at 18 credits. This is between $144 and $170, depending on the credit pack size you use. 

Who is iStock Best For?

Based on the pricing, iStock is an excellent fit if you are looking for high-quality images with royalty-free license at the lowest possible prices. The Essential (non-exclusive) photos are iStock are comparable to those available at other top stock photo sites, yet they cost a bit less.

Additionally, iStock works great if you need high-value images, that are a little less used around the web but don't want to break the bank to get them. The Signature collection adds visual value at a very competitive price.

Last but not least, iStock is one of the best places to buy 4K stock footage, because they don't tie price to video resolution. This makes Essential videos have one of the cheapest per-clip prices in the industry.

iStock FAQ

Now, let’s address some of the most common questions about the prices and buying methods of iStock:

How expensive is iStock?

iStock is a very affordable stock photo site. The Essentials collection offers very competitive prices, with high-resolution images as cheap as 22 cents a piece and 4K videos for as little as $6.66 each. The premium plans are also very cost-efficient, considering you access content from exclusive contributors and of higher quality for less than 50 cents per photo and less than $7 per video. 

Is iStock legitimate?

Yes, absolutely. iStock is a company with 20+ years in the market, and 15+ of them it's been under the parentage of Getty Images, a very prestigious stock photography company. iStock is a very legitimate business.

How much is iStock monthly?

That depends on which subscription you choose. There are plans from $29/mo. 

Do you have to pay for iStock?

Yes. While signing up for an account is free, you can navigate the entire website and libraries without signing up; but if you want to download files, you have to pay for them. 
The only exceptions to getting iStock photos without paying are to unlock the iStock free trial or take advantage of the weekly free files they give away on their homepage.

Is iStock royalty free?

Yes. iStock works with royalty-free licenses, all their content including images, videos, and audio files, is royalty-free and good for commercial use.

How much does iStock extended license cost?

Depending on how many credits you buy upfront, iStock extended license costs between $144 and $170.

Can we use iStock photos for free?

Yes, but only if you download them legally from their website, through the iStock free trial offer, or their weekly freebies. For some countries, there's an iStock free trial available.
You cannot use just any iStock image for free; they’re licensed and must be paid.

Is Shutterstock or iStock better?

That is an excellent question with multiple long answers. The short version answer is that iStock is best for those who need high-end content, and Shutterstock is more convenient for those who want more variety in images. 
For more insight, check our dedicated iStock vs. Shutterstock facedown

Which is better, Getty Images or iStock?

Another excellent question. iStock's parent company Getty Images is a more traditional agency and is famous for its wide, global network of photographers that work exclusively for them, and have exclusive partnerships and access to high-profile events, as well as an extensive archival collection. As a result, Getty Images is the place to find very high-end pictures for editorial use –celebrities, entertainment, news, etc.– and unique images for commercial use… if you don't mind paying up to thousands of dollars per license.
iStock is the budget-accessible daughter of Getty, and while it provides premium and high-end images that other online image banks don't, it's more oriented to buyers and companies that want to spend less while getting professional photos for their marketing.

And there you have it, and now you know everything about iStock’s plans and prices! It wasn’t as complicated as it seemed, wasn’t it? 

Now all that’s left to do is head over to iStock, select your preferred plan, and download!

Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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