A paper shredder can be an invaluable tool for your office or home use. From electric to manual models, the best paper shredders under $50 can make quick work of destroying documents. While you won’t be able to shred hundreds of pages in one go, these reliable models still offer a range of feeder capacities, run and cooldown times, security ratings, and overall sizes.
First, take a look at the paper shredder’s feeder capacity. Many shredders have the ability to shred more than one sheet of paper, but those with plenty to shred might want a unit that can tackle up to eight sheets at a time. You might also want one that can cut through staples, paper clips, plastic credit cards, and CDs, depending on your needs.
If choosing an electric model, you’ll also want to make note of a shredder’s run time. Budget shredders will typically operate for up to five minutes. Shredders also usually require a cooldown period after they’ve hit their maximum runtime. Shorter cooldown times are ideal if you want less waiting between shredding tasks.
Another feature to consider is a shredder’s security level, which is often classified using the DIN 66399 standard system, ranging from P-1 through P-7. When shredding junk mail or other material that’s not highly sensitive, a shredder with a P-2 rating should do. But if you’re destroying confidential information, opt for one that cuts paper into even smaller pieces and features a P-3 rating or higher. (If you have highly secret documents to dispose of, it’s recommended you purchase a shredder that has at least a P-5 rating — unfortunately, you’re not likely to find a P-5-rated shredder for under $50.)
Even when working on a tight budget, there’s no shortage of shredder sizes and styles to choose from. Traditional freestanding shredders are great for tucking under a desk or in a closet, but a desktop model or one that doesn’t include a basket can be even easier to stow away.
Here are the five best paper shredders under $50 on Amazon, as well as some convenient lubricant sheets to help keep your shredder’s blades sharp.
1. The Overall Best Paper Shredder Under $50
- Security level: P-4
- Feeder capacity: 6 sheets
- Dimensions: 12.1 x 7.3 x 14.8 inches (length x width x height)
Boasting a P-4 security rating and a price just under $50, this budget-friendly paper shredder can micro-cut up to six sheets at a time, along with credit cards, paper clips, and staples. It has a run time of two minutes and a cooldown period of 30 minutes. Plus, it powers off when it’s overloaded to keep it from jamming up.
Positive Amazon review: “This does a good job of chopping up paper into very small bits. I think it would be quite a challenge for the bad guys to reconstitute what goes through this shredder. I usually only put small amounts of paper through it at any one time but it has had no problem keeping up.”
2. The Best 8-Sheet Paper Shredder Under $50
- Security level: P-3
- Feeder capacity: 8 sheets
- Dimensions: 12.8 x 7.3 x 15.9 inches (length x width x height)
If you’re looking to shred lots of paper in the least amount of time, this Amazon Basics paper shredder can shred eight sheets at once — the most of all the options on this list. Unlike a P-4 shredder, this P-3 one won’t shred paper into confetti-sized pieces, but that might be worth the tradeoff if you need a high-capacity shredder on a budget. It can slice through staples and paper clips, and has a separate slot for destroying credit cards. This unit runs for up to three minutes until the unit needs to cool down for 30.
Positive Amazon review: “This shredder is fabulous. It’s been put to the test and works great. Credit cards and many pieces of paper together. Never slowed down or jammed. The container holds a good amount.”
3. The Best Desktop Paper Shredder
- Security level: P-3
- Feeder capacity: 4 sheets
- Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 10 inches (length x width x height)
If you want something that will fit nicely on a desk or tucked away in an easy-to-access cabinet for small shredding jobs, this paper shredder should fit the bill. It has a four-sheet capacity and while its P-3 rating isn’t ideal for highly sensitive paperwork, it can certainly slice through junk mail, along with staples and paper clips. It also has a separate slot to destroy credit cards. The shredder operates for up to two minutes and has a cooldown period of 15.
Positive Amazon review: “We needed to replace a desktop shredder we had for years. Honestly, there weren’t a lot of choices. We took a chance on this and have been very happy. It’s a bit smaller than what we had so it takes up less space on the kitchen desk, which is a plus. It is a bit quieter than the one we were replacing plus it shreds faster. We have a regular size shredder in the garage for bigger shredding jobs, but like having this small size in the kitchen for quick mail shredding needs. This met our needs perfectly.”
4. The Best Paper Shredder Without A Basket
- Security level: P-2
- Feeder capacity: 8 sheets
- Dimensions: 12.9 x 6.5 x 2.9 inches (length x width x height)
If you’re really short on space, this paper shredder could be a great fit. Since it doesn’t come with a basket, you’ll need to situate it over a trash or recycling bin when you use it — but that means you can easily stow it away when you don’t. Plus, it can fit over trash bins up to 15 inches wide, thanks to its extendable arm. The shredder can cut up to eight sheets of paper at a time into strips, and it can also handle paper clips, staples, credit cards, and even CDs. It runs for two minutes and has a recommended 15-minute cooldown period.
Positive Amazon review: “As most of the previous reviews say, this little machine does what it says! I wanted to shred some old credit cards but didn’t want a standard size shredder. In fact, I’d have been happy with something even smaller but that’s just me! Shred my cards and the few pieces of junk mail easily enough and I can hide it up in mt shelves when I don’t need it! Great size and works well!”
5. A Manual Paper Shredder You Don’t Have To Plug In
- Security level: Unspecified
- Feeder capacity: 1 sheet
- Dimensions: 12.6 x 5.9 x 7.6 inches (length x width x height)
For small, low-stakes shredding jobs, this manual paper shredder can come in handy. Just by cranking the handle, you can turn sheets of paper into strips. It also destroys paper clips and staples, and with some elbow grease, credit cards and CDs, too. (Credit cards are cut into five pieces and CDs into three.) And since it doesn’t require electricity to run, you can use it for as long as you need — or your arms can hold out. Since this option is fairly compact, it can be great for offices that are tight on space. While it does cross-cut paper (rather than just cut it in strips), it doesn’t come with a security rating and isn’t ideal for highly sensitive information.
Positive Amazon review: “I have had two electric shredders in the past and both of them just stopped working. This little manual machine does the job just fine and is great for small jobs. Not many moving parts, so it should last a long time.”
Also Great: Lubricant Sheets To Keep Your Paper Shredder’s Blades Sharp
The effectiveness of a shredder can depend on the sharpness of its blades, and these lubricant sheets help ensure that they stay as sharp as possible. They also help prevent future paper jams and remove dust and debris that builds up between the shredder’s teeth. Unlike oil lubricants, they don’t leave a mess for you to clean up, and better yet, they are a cinch to use. Just run one of the sheets through your shredder as you normally would. It works with shredders that can fit paper measuring just over 6 inches wide.
You should always defer to your paper shredder’s maintenance instructions, but you can generally expect to oil a paper shredder whenever you have to empty its basket. This set of sheets comes in a pack of 12, but for a few more dollars, you can purchase a pack of 24.
Positive Amazon review: “My shredder was getting a bit rusty and not running well. After I used this the rust was almost entirely gone and the shredder worked better. I thought I was going to need to replace it but it works as well as it did when it was new.”