Shutterstock is one of the best and most popular stock photo websites around. Their history, reputation, quality of service, and affordable prices in royalty-free stock images make them a favorite for many buyers across the world. But if their offers don’t adjust to what you need, or if you simply are the kind who likes to have options, you’ll love to learn about these great Shutterstock alternatives to buy cheap Royalty-free images online. So let's answer the question, what is the best of them?
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It's not easy to find the best alternative to Shutterstock, but we are certain this quick list of stock agencies like Shutterstock and offers will help you find the one which is best for you: If you are on a restricted budget? Club Easy by Stockphotos.com is a great deal. If you need everyday images? iStock is good and even cheaper with their subscriptions. If you are a Creative Cloud user? Go with Adobe Stock and their full integration in Photoshop and Co. If you need lots of images? Stockphotos.com's Club Plus can be the best for you. We collected and compared the best alternatives to Shutterstock in the form of offers compared to the former in price, number of images, usage rights, image resolution, and quality of service below. And picked only the cream of the top, as all these are included in our list of the Best Stock Photo Agencies!
Discover them below!
- Club Easy by Stockphotos.com
- Adobe Stock
- Stockphotos.com's Club Plus & Club Ultimate
But wait for a second …
Shutterstock has an awesome deal for you, with the exclusive, limited-time Shutterstock Coupon Code you can save up to 15% on your purchase of high quality images! This is a super special offer valid for a limited time only. And it applies to everything on Shutterstock including their massive collection of 406+ million royalty free images! Buy stock images, royalty free vector graphics, stock videos, and stock music tracks at a cut-price. The coupon applies to image packs and subscriptions too. Hurry up!
1 (per day)
200 - 300 in first year (per day)
$0.49 ($0.33 in first year)
1 (per day)
600 - 750 in first year (per day)
$0.33 ($0.26 in first year)
1 (per day)
750 (per day)
1 (per day)
750 (per day)
1 (per day)
As many as your credits allow
1 (per day)
And if you're looking for the best free Shutterstock alternative, good news: we bring you the exclusive Shutterstock Free Trial, which gives you 10 free Shutterstock images for one month, making it the best free-of-charge alternative of all!
Even better: The best Shutterstock alternatives we list below also come with exclusive free trials and freebies, so they are also some of the best free Shutterstock alternatives you'll find!
And if you want a flexible subscription with annual download limits, the Club Easy from Stockphotos.com is ideal for you… even more so now that you can unlock a bonus of 10 Free Image Downloads upon subscribing!
Note: We do not recommend using pictures from a free photo site or photo-sharing community website, especially for marketing purposes, since those images are often not policed or verified for copyright and model releases. If you can't afford to spend money on stock imagery, the best free Shutterstock alternatives will always be those special free downloads offered by reputable stock media agencies, often the same images offered on their premium version, but for free. These are royalty free and legally verified, cleared for commercial use.
Here are some quick details to better understand this comparative board:
- Offers listed are high-volume stock photo subscriptions: this has been Shutterstock’s flagship product since its early days, and we focused our alternatives on it
- The comparison highlights price per image: we feel that knowing how much you’re paying per download for royalty-free images really helps to see the value in these offers
- The offer’s download cap is pointed: all Shutterstock subscriptions have monthly download limits, but the alternatives include annual and monthly caps. We think it’s useful to know how restrictive or not the offers from each microstock agency
For more details on each offer, read our list below or check out this list of stock photo sites.
#1 iStock – Great in Price and Curation
iStock (previously known as iStockphoto and part of Getty Images) is one of the oldest and most renowned stock photography agencies, famous for its highly curated library, which hosts millions and millions of high-resolution images.
iStock's catalog splits into two main collections: Essentials hosts budget-friendly yet high-resolution images for everyday use, and Signature homes high-value, stunning images captured by talented artists and handpicked by expert curators. Signature are exclusive images, too, and you won't find them anywhere else. Additionally, they offer stock videos and audio libraries, available in both collections.
This agency has a broader offer in subscription plans than Shutterstock. For one, they have Basic subscriptions that give you access to Essential images only. This collection is comparable to Shutterstock in terms of quality and commercial value, but all the plans have lower price points: you can opt for 10, 25, 50, or 750 downloads per month, with a monthly or annual commitment, and the prices per image range from $0.22 (largest annual plan) to $4 (smallest monthly plan).
Premium plans are great because they give you access to the entire library, including Signature images. While slightly more expensive, they're fairly affordable, especially considering you get exclusive imagery with added value. Premium subscriptions are also available with 10, 25, 50, or 750 downloads per month and with a monthly or annual duration. Images with this option cost between $0.44 and $9.99 each. See? Fairly affordable.
Plus, they include a convenient Premium Plus Video subscription option that, as the name suggests, lets you download pictures, videos, and audio tracks from either the Essential or Signature collection at your discretion. These plans come with 10, 25, or 50 downloads per month (month-to-month or yearly hired), and unlike Shutterstock's multimedia subscriptions, every file equals one download, which gives you greater flexibility and a better per-download rate. Prices for images, videos, and music tracks with this subscription fall between $5.30 and $14.90 apiece – imagine that, a 4K quality, exclusive video clip for a little over five dollars.
Equally relevant, all files come with iStock's Standard License, which is one of the most straightforward and broad usage coverage in the industry. This license, for example, gives you unlimited use in YouTube, TV, and Broadcast, something Shutterstock limits to a certain project budget cap. Read our comprehensive guide to iStock licensing for more details.
To recap, iStock is an alternative to Shutterstock subscriptions with:
- Downloads per month – from 10 to 750
- Subscription types – Monthly and yearly – three subscription types: Basic (Essential non-exclusive files), Premium (for exclusive iStock Signature content plus non-exclusive as well), and Premium Plus Video (images, video, and audio files from Essential and Signature).
- Price Range – From $29 to $349 monthly
- Image files – The image library has royalty-free photos, vectors and illustrations
- Image size – Most files available up to high resolution at no added cost
- License type – Royalty-free, enabling commercial and personal use in websites, prints, ads, social media, and more creative projects.
But iStock lets you buy images (and videos) on demand as well, using a credits system: you buy prepaid credit packages and then use those credits to download images whenever you need. Interestingly, Shutterstock has switched their long-used image packs for credit packs in 2023, so you can now buy stock media this way on either agency. It's worth noting, though, that while Shutterstock credits have a validity of one year from the purchase date, iStock credits never expire.
If you like that Shutterstock lets you try their service for free, well, guess what? So does iStock! The iStock free trial gives you the first month of an annual 10-downloads-a-month subscription, including ten images of your choice, completely free. Check the guide to the iStock free trial to learn how to unlock it; it's fairly simple!
Summing up, what makes iStock such a great Shutterstock alternative is that they offer photo subscriptions with similar download volumes and time extension, but they have cheaper prices for similar quality of images (the Basic subscriptions), plus a unique offer in exclusive and highly-curated content (Signature) that Shutterstock doesn't have, and their multimedia plans are more flexible. Plus, you have a free trial to test the waters. You have more choices based on your creative needs for affordable prices. Our iStock vs Shutterstock comparison goes deeper into this. And you might find it useful to discover some iStock Photos Alternatives as well!
We would also like to mention the great perks in iStock for discovering the best content for your projects. Their image search engine is really advanced, with intelligent functionality for keyword matching, reverse image search, and result filtering that help you find exactly what you need faster and easier. Their Visual GPS is a great bonus service where you can find up-to-the-minute visual trend data for every theme and every region you need, assisting you in picking the ideal graphics for every purpose.
And more great news: For a limited time, we have a great, exclusive iStock Promo Code that gives you 15% off on EVERYTHING! That's right: anything you want to download from their site at a cut price! Grab our iStock Promo Code now; it's only valid for a limited time!
Another great option is to invest in large credit packs. These let you manually download images on demand, at your own pace, and without expiration dates. Credits are more expensive than subscriptions, but with our exclusive iStock discount for large credit packs, you can get packs from 18 credits up to 25% off!
- iStockphoto Review
- Unlock the iStock Free Trial – one of the best free Shutterstock alternatives
- Save up to 15% with our iStock Promo Code
- Save up to 25% in large credit packs with our exclusive iStock discount
- Check out the new iStock Subscriptions
- Free stock images have been reviewed by iStock’s professional team
- They’re Royalty-Free and cleared for all appropriate rights and permits – much better than Creative Commons licenses which are risky
- They’re completely free
To access these free image giveaways, all you need is to sign up for free at iStock and you’ll be able to download them – you’re not required to purchase anything!
#2 Exclusive: Club Easy – The Perfect Shutterstock Alternative
Stockphotos.com is a microstock agency designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. Its offers are thought to meet their needs in terms of service and budget, and none does it better than its star product, Club Easy (a.k.a The Club). It gives you 200 XXL royalty-free high-quality stock images for one year for just $99, which means $0,49 per download! Even better, right now, they have a special deal where you get 100 bonus downloads in your first year! So 300 images in one year for only $0.33 each – Now that's low-cost images! In our opinion, it's the best Shutterstock alternative if you like their low prices per download but can’t work with their high-volume monthly plans.
Plus, if you sign up now using the banner below, you will get 10 free image downloads on top of your subscription!
The price is not the only thing to love about this plan. Have a look at what you get with your Club membership:
- Flexible subscription with annual download cap: download from 1 and up to 200 images whenever you want during one year (up to 300 images in your first year – at no added cost)
- Choose from a collection of over 8 million stunning images: including high-resolution photos and vectors
- Hundreds of thousands of new files are added monthly: what you don’t find in the library today, you might find tomorrow
- Download in up to XXL size at no added cost: valid for jpg image and vector files
- Royalty-free license with perpetual use: buy photos today, and use them FOREVER for both personal and commercial purposes
- 50% discount on Extended Licenses on demand: They have the lowest prices for Extended Licenses, and as a Club member, you can get them at half price, starting at just $35 for one image!
- Bonus Benefits: Besides 100 extra downloads in your first year of subscription, Club Easy entitles you to 10 video downloads and 10 upscales at Stockphotos.com Upscaler at no added cost.
- Auto-renew option: lock the low price of this deal for as long as it’s available
It’s easy to see why The Club is the best and most fitting Shutterstock alternative for those on a restricted budget: not only is it as cheap as the former, but also more flexible, with lots of benefits, and from a reliable agency backed by industry professionals. In its library, you'll find anything from people centric photos to landscapes and outdoor images. What’s more to ask?
Ready to buy? Get your Club Easy membership right here!
#3 Adobe Stock – A Alternative for Creative Cloud Members
Adobe Stock is a stock photo service property of Adobe and built on the base of the Fotolia stock photo agency library. It’s most notable feature is that it is fully integrated into the Adobe Creative Cloud platform, enabling you to access, surf, test edit, and license images from its collection directly within your favorite Creative Cloud apps. They offer various subscription plans with access to a collection of over 60 million royalty-free photos and vector illustrations. They also have graphic templates, 3D models, video clips, and more.
Their subscriptions cover a wide range of volume tiers and there are prices for everyone. You can choose between month-to-month or yearly options too. Here’s what you can get:
- Downloads per month – 10 up to 750
- Subscription type – monthly or annually
- Price range – $29,99 to $249,99
- Image files – Royalty-free photos and vector graphics
- Image size – High-quality images of all sizes up to high resolution at no added cost
- License type – Royalty-Free for commercial and personal use
- Bonus: Fully Integrated into Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and many more Creative Cloud Software
Adobe Stock is a cool alternative to Shutterstock if you work with Creative Cloud tools in your design process. This service not only has subscriptions like Shutterstock, and enough photos for you to have plenty to choose from, but more importantly adds value with its full integration with Creative Cloud that simplifies your design workflow greatly. So if you like to work with Illustrator CC and similar, this is definitely a Shutterstock alternative worth exploring! See our full comparative analysis of Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock!
Adobe Stock Infos
- Sign up for Adobe Stock
- Try Adobe Stock Free for One Month
- Read our Adobe Stock review
- Read all about the Adobe Free Image Trial
- See the different ways to download Adobe Stock images without watermark
- 10 or 40 free images for 30 days
- All high-quality photos from their main collection
- Under royalty-free license – avoid the legal risks of using creative commons images!
- Just sign up for the 10 or 40 downloads a month yearly plans (which costs $29,99 and $79,99 per month respectively) and you will get your first month free!
To get your free trial started, all you must do is click on this Adobe Stock Free Trial, go to Adobe Stock and select the plan you want. Complete the registration and enter your payment details (you won’t be charged for the first month) and you’re done!
#4 Photocase – Great for Artistic Stock Photos
Photocase is a Berlin-based stock photo agency offering artistic stock photography from passionate photographers at very affordable prices. Their highly curated library is full of premium stock images with great artistic value and the authentic, modern aesthetics that are trending in the market. With so many years in business, this is a very reliable and professional service where you will find the kind of unique pictures no other agency provides.
They do not work with subscriptions, but they do offer convenient credit packs for you to save in volume purchases instead of paying as you go. Their images are priced according to size, from 5 to 15 credits, and their final price will depend on the credit pack you buy. Credit packs start at $55 for 25 credits, all the way up to $1,520 for 1000 credits, which saves you a whopping 45% in the final price. Here are the details:
- Downloads per month – As many as your credits let you buy (credits never expire)
- Subscription type – On-demand (no subscription)
- Price range – between $7,60 and $33
- Image files – Royalty-free photographs of various resolutions
- Image size – Small, Medium, and Large priced accordingly
- License type – Royalty-Free for commercial and personal use, including usage in social media
Photocase is a fantastic alternative if what you are looking for are unique stock photos, the kind of images you rarely find in Shutterstock’s catalog. If you follow more artsy and edgy aesthetics but you like low-priced images, this is the perfect alternative for you!
What's even better: As a StockPhotoSecrets reader, you can get more Photocase photos cheaper thanks to our exclusive Photocase Coupon Code with 5 FREE credits + 10% Off! A deal not to be missed.
- Sign up for free at Photocase
- Read our dedicated Photocase Review
- Save more with our special Photocase Coupon Code
#5 Club Plus & Club Ultimate – an Alternative to Shutterstock Bigger Download Plans
These are two additional plans with an annual download limit and annual upfront payment (just like Club Easy that we listed above), but with a higher number of downloads per year:
- Club Plus: 600 XXL images in one year for $199 ($0.33/image) – Bonus: 250 extra downloads in your first year ($0.26/image)
- Club Ultimate: 1,000 XXL images in one year for $299 ($0.29/image) – Bonus: 500 extra downloads in your first year ($0.20/image)
These offers give you three and five times more downloads than Club Easy, for a fraction of the cost. And you can choose from a pool of over 8 million images with hundreds of thousands of new ones added every month! Here’s all that you need to know:
- Downloads per month – 600 and 1,000 (use them whenever within one year)
- Subscription type – Yearly
- Price range – $199 to $299
- Image files – Royalty-free photos and vectors
- Image size – Up to XXL for the same price
- License type – Royalty-Free for commercial and personal use: web, marketing, advertising, social media, personal projects, and more
- Bonus 50% discount on Extended licenses, starting at one image for $35 (regular price for non-members is $70)
- Bonus resources – Club Plus includes 10 image upscales, 20 video downloads, and 2 vehicle templates – Club Ultimate comes with 10 image upscales, 30 video downloads, and 4 vehicle templates – All at no added cost.
The different Club plans at Stockphotos.com are remarkable Shutterstock alternatives for any business needing hundreds of images for marketing and promotional efforts but working with a tight budget. Sure Shutterstock gives you up to 9000 images in a year, but they charge you as much as $199 per month, and if you don’t use such a huge amount of downloads, you’re actually losing money.
Both these Club deals give you a considerable amount of photos with a flexible yearly cap to download them for a much lower, one-time fee. Notice as well that Shutterstock has a 600-a-year subscription but limits it to 50 downloads per month and charges $1188 ($99 monthly) for it. It’s a no-brainer that Club Plus is a better option!
BONUS: Canva Pro – The Alternative with Unlimited Downloads
Canva is a very popular web-based and user-friendly graphic design tool. But what you may not know is that they integrate a very big catalog of 60 million high-quality stock photos and digital assets into their subscription-based service, Canva Pro, which also offers graphic templates, publishing and brand kit tools, and many other functions that simplify visual content creation.
The Canva Pro subscription‘s main benefit is that it comes with unlimited downloads, something Shutterstock does not offer, and access to a very simple yet powerful image editor, one that served as inspiration for Shutterstock Editor as well. Here is the extent of the offer:
- Downloads per month – UNLIMITED – You can download as many images as you wish at no added cost!
- Subscription type – Monthly or annual (the latter is billed upfront)
- Price range – $4.60 per month (with annual plan) – $6.49 per month (monthly plan)
- Image file – Royalty-free photos, illustrations, templates, and more
- Image size – All sizes up to HD at no added cost
- License type – Royalty-Free for commercial use – Single-use and Multi-Use licenses available
- Free Monthly Trial to test the service for free
Canva Pro is a complete solution for small businesses, especially for those people who can't hire a graphic designer to do their visuals but also aren't really savvy enough to use complex image editing tools. Best of all, it's very affordable. Here you can see a detailed breakdown of Canva Pro prices!
And more good news! You can now try Canva Pro for free for 30 days, thanks to the Canva Free Trial! Just click on the banner below and unlock one month of Canva Pro totally free!
Canva Pro as a Shutterstock Alternative
- Sign up for free at Canva
- Read our Canva Pro review
- Take advantage of the Canva 30-Day Free Trial
- Save with the special Canva Coupon Code with 15% off
Let’s talk briefly about Shutterstock – after all, there wouldn’t be a need for Shutterstock alternatives if there was no Shutterstock, right?
This is a stock photo agency under the microstock model: they sell high-resolution images (this means photography and vector illustrations) online under a Royalty-free license, at very low prices with a minimum payment requirement. They were the pioneers of the stock photo subscription, a buying model for which you agree to a fixed monthly fee in exchange for an also fixed number of image downloads per month, with incredibly low per-image rates. While now they have several options in the volume of images, their star product has always been their plan for 750 photos per month for $249 monthly or $199 annually. This is what made them popular from the beginning, as lets buyers get high-quality photos for just $0,26 – $0,33 each. You can find more about Shutterstock Pricing here.
But there are many more reasons for their success. They host the world’s largest online stock photo library, with over 406 million files and counting. They implement the latest intelligent technology for image search that goes beyond the simple search bar, they have additional media catalogs like stock footage and stock audio, and they include a free photo editor in their services, for example. You can read more in our Shutterstock review.
This is why so many buyers choose Shutterstock. If you want to join them, take the chance to use our exclusive Shutterstock Coupon Code with up to 15% off on your purchase!
You might wonder “is Shutterstock free”? There is good news. Shutterstock has a free trial that you can sign up for below.
Is there a better alternative to Shutterstock?
Shutterstock is a great stock photo service, but there are alternative offers that may work better for you. If you are on a tight budget, the 99Club by Stock Photo Secrets Shop is a perfect solution, with 200 image downloads for one year for $99.
Stock photo websites like iStock, Adobe Stock, Photocase, and Canva are all really good options for different needs, as well.
Is iStock or Shutterstock better?
Depends on what you need. If you want lots of commercially oriented photos, Shutterstock does this very well. But if you are after unique photographs, iStock has a great selection of exclusive images at very affordable prices.
Is Getty Images better than Shutterstock?
Depends on how you look at it. Getty Images –which is also the parent company of iStock– is a prestigious stock photography agency that has been around for decades, they have an extensive network of paid professional photographers working exclusively for them, covering the most high-end and exclusive events of public interest. For editorial imagery, celebrity content, and archival photos, Getty Images is a very good provider.
Shutterstock has been constantly expanding its offer in editorial pictures, though, so they are catching up quickly. For commercial use pictures, Shutterstock is a much more affordable and straightforward service.
Is there a free alternative to Shutterstock?
Shutterstock has a one-month free trial that gives you 10 images of your choice for 30 days, completely free of charge. It's the perfect way to get free photos from Shutterstock, legally.
The iStock free trial and Adobe Stock free trial are also great options for free download of professional photos that are safe to use.
Buying images royalty-free will now be easier than ever! Not only do you get an awesome discount from the very popular Shutterstock, but also 6 awesome alternatives to Shutterstock to download royalty-free photos cheaply!
If you are not in a position to spend money on photos, our bonus info on free stock photos from these reliable agencies comes in handy, as you will get professional imagery that is safe to use in commercial projects, a lot safer than Creative Commons photos for sure.
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