It may not be the most exciting purchase, but it’s without a doubt one of the most vital for any home business: a paper shredder.
Over my years working in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings, I’ve become well-acquainted with shredders. I’ll tell you right now: There are few things in this world that are as aggravating as dealing with a slow, inefficient, and paper-jam-prone prone shredder.
If you deal with sensitive documents regularly, you may have finally reached an impasse. At some point, you’ll just have to invest in a shredder.
Luckily, there are several surprisingly high-quality shredders available at a cheap price. Let’s kick things off with a curated list of some of the best paper shredders under $50.
Let’s kick things off with a favorite:
Best Paper Shredders under $50:
1. AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper ShredderView at Amazon
Featuring an efficient cross-cut shredding mechanism, the AmazonBasics shredder is far from basic. The powerful, compact shredder can take six sheets simultaneously and even destroy credit cards.
After shredding, each strip measures 7/32 by 1-27/32″, which makes it ideal for both medium security corporate use and residential use. The slot is wide enough to fit a slightly larger than standard 8.7″ paper feed, which later empties out into a spacious 3.8-gallon bin.
It has everything you’d expect from a modern shredder: auto start, manual reverse, paper jam correctors, and minimized machine cool-down time.
All in all, customers appreciate the compact size and quiet operation of this shredder. Buyers should keep in mind that this little device isn’t the best for heavy-duty, continuous use, since it requires a cool down time of 30 minutes after two minutes of continuous use.
The AmazonBasics shredder is, without a doubt, one of the best rated paper shredders under $50.
- Able to destroy credit cards, envelopes, and index paper with ease
- Backed by generous AmazonBasics one-year warranty
- The machine needs at least 30 minutes of cool-down time after continuous shredding sessions
2. AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Capacity Paper Shredder
Looking for something a little more heavy-duty than a barebones 6-sheet capacity shredder? The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet paper shredder has got you covered.
Able to shred up to eight pages at once, this compact shredder strips paper into small 3/16″ by 1-27/32″ strips, which slightly exceeds level P3 security standards. It’s ideal for sensitive documents concerning financial transactions, client addresses, and order confirmations.
The machine can run for three minutes continuously before needing a 30-minute cooldown, making it slightly more robust than the AmazonBasics 6-sheet shredder. The even more roomy 4.1-gallon bin is great for medium and consistent workloads.
So, is this machine the best paper shredder on the market? For the average home, the under $50 price tag makes it hard to beat. While the majority of customers are satisfied, some complain that thick paper jams are difficult to resolve with the built-in auto-reverse function.
- Angled feed entry makes the shredder safer for small fingers
- 4.1 gallon bin comes with a see-through window for easier emptying
- May struggle to reverse jams when used on maximum sheet capacity
3. AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Strip-Cut Paper ShredderView at Amazon
If you’re looking for a powerful, yet small, shredder, this particular Amazon 8-sheet shredder may be right for you. With a basket size of 3.2 gallons, it’s small enough to slip comfortably under any desk.
The squat machine can handle up to eight sheets of paper simultaneously. Better yet, it doesn’t even struggle on credit cards, CDs, and DVDs (of course, as long as they’re the shredded one at a time). It’s likely the best home paper shredder under $50 that you can find.
The machine advertises two minutes of continuous use for fifteen minute cool down. It’s great for inconsistent or light workloads. Since the shredder cuts into efficient strip cuts, it can destroy documents at an efficient 9.84 feet per minute.
Users appreciate the standard AmazonBasics features that come with the product: auto-start, manual reverse, and the generous one-year hardware warranty.
Though most users love the shredder, some state it’s not perfect for standard envelopes: the slot width is just slightly too small to shred mail offers horizontally.
- No need for users to remove staples or paper clips from documents
- Compact yet powerful enough for light, consistent use
- Doesn’t quite fit the standard federal envelope horizontally
4. Bonsaii 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper Shredder
With a max six-sheet shred capacity, the Bonsaii shreds any papers into fine-grained, high-security strips. Each strip measures a maximum of 13/64 by 1-46/64″ inches, making it virtually impossible to recombine sensitive documents.
This shredder boasts four minutes of continuous run time with a 40-minute cool-down period, making it squarely mid-range in terms of energy-efficient performance. Considering the shredder’s max workload, it’s likely one of the best paper shredders for home use under $50 yet may struggle on corporate workloads.
On top of auto-start and manual reverse functions, the shredder is retrofitted with thermal protection guarantees that protect it from all forms of motor overheating.
Users love the convenient carrying handle, which makes emptying the 3.5-gallon capacity device convenient.
- Creates high security, virtually untraceable cross-cut strips
- Comes with a carrying handle for convenient travel and emptying
- Some complain shredder gets finicky if not lubricated regularly
5. Aurora AS810SD 8-Sheet Strip-Cut Paper Shredder
Available in shades ranging from black to bone white, the Aurora is a powerful shredder equipped to keep your personal documents safe. Shredding up to 9.7 ft of paper per minute, the 8-sheet shredder can easily handle index paper, CDs, credit cards, and odd-sized envelopes.
Each paper is shredded into quarter-inch strips, making it ideal for sensitive documents, financial information, and employee records. Families with children appreciate the triple-layered safety system that keeps fingers and toes from getting caught.
No need to turn the shredder on, it auto-starts as soon as you feed paper through the slot. The throat of the shredder is a wide 8.75 inches while the basket can hold up to 4.5 gallons.
The aurora is perhaps the best shredder for home use under $50, owing to its powerful, speedy, and quiet operation.
- On average, operates at quiet 60 dB (equivalent to white noise)
- Shreds up to 9.7 ft of paper per minute
- Some complain the internal mechanism that powers the motor requires a lot of force when inserting paper
6. Aurora AU870MA High-Security 8-Sheet Paper Shredder
With an 8-sheet capacity, this Aurora shredder creates micro-cuts suitable for security level P4. Each shred has a width of just slightly less than 6mm, which is appropriate for some of the most sensitive employee-related documents.
The five-minute continuous run time only requires, on average, a 20-minute cool-down period. Users don’t have to worry about the device overheating since it’ll shut off automatically to protect against all motor-ruining heat surges.
The wastebasket is 3.9 gallons in size and can hold up to 230 sheets of micro-cut paper at once. Customers appreciate the seamless, integrated handle that makes emptying the shredder easy.
Overall, this Aurora is quiet, efficient, and effective. This cheap paper shredder is recommended for those that want to shred some of the most sensitive documents.
- Creates high-security micro cuts that protect private information
- Great for both home and office use
- Bin has a somewhat small capacity for high-workload office use
7. Bonsaii 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper Shredder
Compared to the six-sheet Bonsaii, this 8-sheet capacity shredder boasts more aggressive machinery that makes it competent for both office and home use.
After shredding, each paper measures a mere 13/64 by 45/64, making it reach a high level of P4 security clearance. It’s able to power through paperclips, staples, credit cards, DVDs, and CDs with practiced ease.
Users love the convenient, heavy-duty handle design, which makes it easy to empty the 3.5-gallon wastebasket. Better yet, the wastebasket features a transparent window for simple viewing.
This 8-sheet shredder comes with somewhat more robust features than its 6-sheet counterpart, including auto start, auto stop, manual reverse, and better-overheating protections.
- Includes automated overheating and overloading protections that keep the motor healthy for years
- Able to destroy paper clips, heavy-duty documents, and credit cards easily
- Home paper shredders like this can be somewhat noisy when handling consistently high workloads or thick documents
- The price is a bit higher than 50 dollars but you can get it on sale for an affordable price point.
8. Fellowes Powershred P-30C Cross-Cut Paper Shredder
If you’re cutting paper at home, you want to be certain that any shredder you buy has robust safety features – that’s where the Fellowes Powershred comes in.
Built with patented safety locks, the shredder is equipped with an angled paper slot and an automatic stop to keep kids and pets safe. It can tear through six sheets at once, creating fine-grained cross-cut particles that meet security level P4 standards.
The four-gallon waste bin can hold hundreds of torn sheets at once. Offering up to three minutes of non-stop shredding, this shredder is suitable for daily home use. It may even be the best home office shredder under $50 on the market.
Potential buyers should keep in mind that the Powershred isn’t built for high-volume workloads. At the end of the day, it’s a light-duty shredder meant for one user at a time.
- Easily fits into small offices, on countertops, or under desks
- Excellent four-gallon storage capacity can accommodate over 300 pages at once
- Motor runs slower under excessive strain
9. Royal JS55Basket 5-Sheet Strip-Cut Paper Shredder
The Royal shredder is instantly recognizable from its distinctive look. With a matte black bin and shredder base, the Royal is surprisingly sleek and slim, making it ideal for the most compact home office spaces.
In fact, the Royal is half the weight of most standard shredders at a mere 3.97 pounds. It’s easy to empty and the internal machinery is so low-weight as to appear nonexistent.
Like other shredders, the Royal can strip through CDs, DVDs, and credit cards. It can accommodate up to five sheets in a single pass with auto start, stop, and reverse functions.
Though it’s not the most powerful paper cutter on the market, it’ll get most home jobs done with ease. The shredder creates small, quarter-inch paper strips appropriate for most personal documents.
- Comes with an automatic reverse function that makes resolving jams easier
- The design is compact, slim, and stylish for modern home spaces
- Can only shred up to five sheets simultaneously
10. GBC Shredmaster 6-Sheet Strip-Cut Paper Shredder
The ShredMaster meets most users’ basic security needs, cutting paper into long quarter-inch strips. With a two-minute continuous runtime, this 2.38-gallon bin provides plenty of space for at-home applications.
Built with recessed blades, the shredder insures user safety at every step of the shredding process. Its simple interface makes the shredder easy to operate, especially since the manual reverse function prevents bad paper jams.
The shredder can cut through staples and paper clips, yet may struggle on thick credit cards and DVDs. It’s not the most powerful shredder, yet it is one of the most compact and personal-sized machines you’re likely to find.
- Best for personal use
- The very small design makes the shredder great for small offices
- May not work well on credit cards or odd-sized documents
Paper Shredders: What You Should Know
Before opting for just any paper shredder, you should know some key considerations that could impact your buying decision. Certain products will differ on noise level, bin capacity, run time, and cut type.
Depending on your needs, the right shredder for you will be distinct from anyone else’s perfect product.
Paper shredders can differ massively in volume depending on their size and use. Typically, standard large-capacity shredders generate noise comparable to a background conversation at 60 to 75 dB.
For home offices, you’ll likely want to use your paper shredder at all times of the day without fear of waking anyone up. Smaller paper shredders that slide under your desk can be as quiet as 50 dB, which is equivalent to light white noise.
Generally, strip-cut shredders are quieter than both micro and cross-cut machines, since they don’t require as much machinery to cut paper.
No matter what you go for, most manufacturers recommend regularly oiling your shredder to reduce noise production. Oiling can cut down on the vibration and friction that results in unwanted noise.
Always make sure to place the shredder on level terrain to avoid noise-causing vibration.
Paper shredders will also differ based on their bin capacity. Just like the name suggests, the bin is an internal storage space that collects paper particles as they are shredded.
If you shred consistently, you may want to invest in a shredder with a larger capacity bin. Most under $50 shredders boast bin sizes ranging from 2 to 5 gallons.
For reference, a standard 3-gallon capacity strip-cut shredder can hold 230 standard pages before needing to be emptied.
Continuous Run Time
Continuous run time (CRT) refers to the amount of time a shredder can be used perpetually before needing to cool down. No matter what shredder you choose, every machine will have to take rest periods after encountering high-intensity shredding loads.
Even if you don’t intend to shred at a high volume, the CRT can give you a good insight into how efficient, fast, and reliable a machine is. The CRT is just one variable in the productivity calculation of a shredder.
All you math wizards out here can compare shredder productivity based on three pivotal specifications: sheet capacity (the amount of paper a shredder can shred simultaneously), feet of paper shredded per minute, and the CRT.
Feet-per-minute * Continuous Run Time * Sheet Capacity = Overall Shredder Efficiency Score Most at-home shredders boast CRTs ranging from two to four minutes before needing a thirty-minute cooldown.
Cut Type and Security Clearance
All shredders are classified based on the type of paper cuts they make. Most fall into three common categories: strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut.
Strip-cut shredders make long, quarter-inch vertical shreds. Cross-cut machines make these pieces even smaller, adding horizontal cuts every few millimeters. Micro-cut reduces the size, even more, producing small chips that are virtually impossible to piece back together.
By far, micro-cut shredders are the most secure. Micro-cut shredders are often used in corporate settings to protect highly classified employee documents, financial information, or trade secrets.
Most everyday consumers get by with strip or cross-cut machines, which are ideal for residential applications. Generally, strip and cross-cut machines work more efficiently and quietly.
For slicing sensitive personal information, we recommend cross-cut machines which adhere to level P3 or P4 security standards.
Frequently Asked Questions
What security level shredder do I need?
Though it can seem like overkill, it may be worth your peace of mind to opt for a more secure shredder. You should consider the type of documents you’ll be working with before buying a shredder.
Shredders are classified by different security levels from scores P1 to P7. As a rule of thumb, machines scored P3 and below are fine for junk mail and anything that doesn’t contain ultra-high-security information.
P5 Micro-cut shredders are an excellent choice for personal, financial, and identity-related information.
What oil should I use to lubricate my shredder?
For most shredders under $50, the mechanism is simple enough that just about any oil will work fine. Vegetable oil, dry oil, and even canola oil are sufficient to grease up the sensitive metal components of the machine.
When lubricating, make sure to use a teaspoon at a time and work horizontally across the shredder until you achieve a fine coat. It’s best to oil up the shredder once every six months.
Do most shredder warranties protect against paper jam or user-caused failures?
Unfortunately, most warranties on paper shredders are fairly limited. You’ll have to carefully read the specific manufacturer’s warranty since it will differ from seller to seller.
Unresolvable paper jams are often not considered a hardware failure, meaning that they wouldn’t fall under a Limited Warranty plan. Sellers that offer “no questions asked” or money-back guarantees are often more lenient.
The Verdict: What’s the Best Paper Shredder Under $50?
It’s hard to get more reliable than the sturdy, much-loved AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder. Although its features are somewhat basic, there’s a reason it’s one of the site’s annual top sellers.
The cross-cut machine provides an easy and pain-free way to protect your most sensitive personal information. The compact machine features a wide paper feed slot, auto start, and robust overheating protections.
The shredder is fast, reliable, and quiet enough to use in any home office.