Webcams can cost hundreds of dollars, but unless you're a professional streamer, a camera in that price-point is probably unnecessary. The best budget webcams should more than suffice for video calls with loved ones and Zoom meetings for work. That said, good webcams (even budget ones) should have a higher resolution, be compatible with your operating system, and deliver certain key features.
Let's start with resolution. A good cheap webcam will have high-definition (or HD) resolution, which means a clearer picture due to more pixels. The best available is usually 1080p: The "p" stands for "progressive scan" and 1080 is the vertical resolution. Even some budget-friendly webcams under $50 offer this level of clarity, but 720p is still considered HD if you're looking to shave off a few dollars.
However, an HD picture won't get you very far if the webcam doesn't work with your computer to begin with. Always check the operating-system compatibility before purchasing — though most quality webcams should switch between Windows and Mac without issue. Also ensure that the means of connection works with your computer, too. (These all use a USB plug, which is convenient and intuitive for most people.)
Last but not least, think about the types of features that'll improve your video-calling experience. Do you want a clear built-in mic with noise-reduction technology? How about an auto-correcting lens? What about a privacy shutter and 360-degree rotation? If you know where to look, you can get a durable camera with some or all of these features for less than $50.