Your security is truly priceless, and while the best cheap security cameras simply cost less, the peace of mind they offer is absolutely worth those paltry pennies – and you would be surprised at how good a cut-price security camera can really be.
Whether it's inside your home or outside, putting your trust in an affordable security camera shouldn't be a difficult thing to do, especially considering that the vast majority of budget security cameras can do just about everything their more expensive cousins can.
We've not just picked things based on their price here. Cheap security cameras can, and frequently do, vastly underperform. You're putting this tech in a position of great responsibility, and if it's not going to live up to the task it's actually counterproductive to have it there, so we've picked out cameras which actually do the job they're supposed to.
That job might not be quite as complex as cameras on the higher end. You can't necessarily expect every advanced feature of the best security cameras with cheaper cams – but as long as you can record video, see clearly what's happening, and have that sharp evidence to hand when you need it, you're golden.
- See all the best smart security devices available right now
- Stay safe with the best smart locks
- Call in on the best video doorbells
- Meet the best smart speakers on the planet
You've come here for budget security cameras, but you'll probably be surprised at what you can get for a minimal price; everything we've included here comes in under a self-imposed £50 limit. We picked that price because cameras typically come in at twice as much, if not three times as much, cash: for the majority of cams on our main guide to the best security cameras, you could pick up two or three of these. That gives you more coverage for less money, potentially improving your security threefold.
So let's look at the specific features you should be looking for when making the choice that fits your home, then bring you the absolute best cameras if you're on a tight budget.
How to choose the best cheap security camera
Home security cameras have one main job, which is to ping your phone whenever motion is detected in front of the camera, and record whatever caused the motion. Whether you're sitting upstairs or on the other side of the world, it means you can investigate and take action if needed – you'll be able to load up the video feed right on your mobile device.
At these sorts of prices, you're normally giving up a few of the more premium features, such as 4K video recording and weatherproof protection against the elements (so you can't set up these cameras outside). However, most of the other features you're going to want are covered – look out for night vision, two way audio (so you can chat to your pets or ward off burglars), and a wide viewing angle so they cover a lot of view in a single frame.
It's also important to weigh up what the storage and subscription options are for each camera model. Some will charge you to keep clips archived in the cloud (handy if you go away and can't check your phone every day), some include a free cloud storage tier, while others have a local storage option, which usually means you can slot a memory card into the camera and have your video recordings saved there.
Give some thought to where you're going to place your security cameras, because some of these models come with wall mounts and magnetic bases included, to make it easier to fit them in somewhere. You'll also need power – it's rare to find a battery-powered camera in this price range.
And don't forget the up front price of the camera either: the widgets on this page should give you an idea of how much you're going to have to pay. There's a big variation even within our low budget ceiling!
• Read our full five-star Neos SmartCam review
The Neos SmartCam gives you an astonishing amount for very little money: hand over £30 and you get yourself a dinky security camera with Alexa support, two-way audio, motion detection, night vision, and free cloud storage for 12-second video clips for up to 14 days (clips are automatically recorded when the camera notices movement in a room), plus a microSD local storage option too.
Compare that with some of the other security cameras on the market and that seems like an impossibly good deal, though all of the devices we've listed in this guide offer superb value for money. The Neos SmartCam - which sports the same hardware, if not firmware, found on the Wyze Cam in other regions - is simple to set up and use, and can be placed just about anywhere. The magnetic and wall-mountable base with highly posable design all help here.
The free package is plenty for most people, but add on the extra £2.49-per-month package and you get more space in the cloud for longer clips, and the ability to set up custom motion detection zones in your rooms (so only movement in specific areas chosen by you areas triggers an alert). You can also arm and disarm the camera on a schedule with the extra package, though geolocation-based auto arming and disarming is included with the free tier.
Image quality is excellent, the cloud service is reliable, the app is easy to use and supports multiple cameras in a non-confusing way, and it's small and unobtrusive – this is an ideal first smart security cam.
We're rather taken with the Blink Mini, which brings with it everything that's great about the Blink XT and puts it in a smaller, cuter form factor. The price gets reduced from the bigger camera at the same time, which means this is firmly in the section of the market that we would consider as affordable.
Besides the low price of admission, it's the simplicity of the Blink Mini that appeals: you can be up and running with this in minutes, getting motion alerts direct to your phone and connecting to the live feed whenever you want to, from wherever you are. Night vision, Alexa support and two-way audio add up to mean this is a comprehensive package, and you can even set custom motion zones and automatically arm the sensor when you leave the house.
The storage options are slightly less generous: if you want to store recordings in the cloud to look back on later, you'll need to pay £2.50 a month (though you get a few months free when you buy the camera, to see if you like it first). There is a local storage option, but this requires an extra module, which isn't available yet and costs as much as the camera. Despite these complications, the Blink Mini is undoubtedly one of the best cheap security cameras – especially because you can combine it with other more flexible Blink cameras (including the totally wireless and outdoor-proof Blink XT mentioned above) if you look to expand your range and options.
There's a lot on offer here, particularly considering its price, and if you don't mind the slightly sci-fi looks you'll find a lot to love in TP-Link's package. Pan and tilt is the obvious key selling point, allowing you to more accurately point the camera at the area you want to monitor, and even have a good scope around your living room while you're not there. It can spin around a full 360 degrees, and look up and down with a 114-degree action, which makes it suitable for mounting on the ceiling - though you'll need to run a wire.
It ticks a great many boxes in other areas, too. The sensor is 1080p, besting many lesser 720p cams, and it includes night vision too. You can define motion zones (which might force you not to use the panning and tilting functions, but if you have them dialed in that won't be much of an issue) and there's a built-in siren and two-way talk function for intruder spooking.
What's more, local storage goes as high as 128GB, though you'll need to bring your own microSD card. It's hubless, but the big sacrifice here is a lack of cloud storage; if someone absconds with your camera, you're out of luck.
There's a bit of double duty about the E1. It seems to be half baby monitor, half security camera, and if you pick it up for the former purpose you could certainly redeploy it for the latter when they're all grown up. There's two-way talk, for a start - perfect both for attempting to soothe a baby and for hollering at an intruder - as well as an eight-LED infra-red night vision mode, which offers a solid 40 feet of vision without disturbing a little one or a burglar.
The extensive panning and tilting range makes positioning the Reolink E1 easier, and if you're away from home and want to do a little scan around to see precisely what your dog has destroyed in your absence, you'll certainly be thankful for it.
In the company the resolution isn't too shabby either, with the 3MP sensor (2304x1296) slightly besting the 1080p or even 720p eyes of most at this price point. There's no Ethernet, but that does mean only one cable is required - and Reolink thoughtfully bundles a 3M power cable, so positioning this shouldn't be too tough.
This is really, really cheap, but don't be fooled into thinking TP-Link's Tapo C100 is a throwaway device - it's a dinky and very useful little security cam. Many of its features are the same as the C200 above - it's a 1080p cam, it's hubless, with local-only storage (which distinguishes it from the cloud-capable Kasa Spot, below, with which it shares its looks) and the ability to set activity zones, which is a more useful feature here given that this cam should generally stay put.
Users say the quality of the C100 is surprisingly strong; it's capable of some very acceptable night vision, too. It's capable of two-way talk, and you can choose to wall-mount it or leave it stood on its stand. Do note, though, that at the time of writing both this and the C200 work with the Google Assistant, but they're each waiting on a firmware update to add Alexa support - and who knows when that'll arrive.
• Read our full TP-Link Kasa Spot review
The TP-Link Kasa Spot does everything you would want an indoors security camera to do, and it does it well, and it does it at a very affordable price as well. It offers night vision, two-way audio, and a wide 130-degree field of view for fitting more in the frame – and you can refine the motion alerts you get on your phone by adjusting their sensitivity and setting up custom activity zones.
You can control and bring up the feed from the TP-Link Kasa Spot using either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, so you're covered as far as digital assistants go – it doesn't matter which one you're currently using (both the Neos and Blink above are Alexa-only). We're also fans of the TP-Link Kasa Spot setup process and accompanying app, which will help you get up and running in minutes even if you're not a trained IT installation expert.
You can get motion alerts and connect to the live feed from your camera free of charge, but to keep clips for later viewing you'll need to sign up for a Kasa Care subscription: prices start at £2.99 a month, which gives you 30 days of video history in the cloud, lets you make manual recordings, and enables you to share clips as well.
The Yi Smart Security Camera ticks just about every box you could want ticking when it comes to a device like this – night vision, Alexa voice control support, activity zones, crisp and clear video, two-way audio and smart algorithms that keep the number of alerts you receive on your phone down to a minimum (it can distinguish between people and pets, for example). After all, if you're getting so many false positives that you stop checking your phone, it sort of defeats the point of getting a camera.
The magnetic base makes the camera easy to fix just about anywhere, and we like the stylish-looking design as well. The Yi Smart Security Camera is also great when it comes to storage: clips of motion-captured events are stored in the cloud for free for 7 days, and there's the option to record video on to a local microSD card as well. You can either save clips triggered by motion, or have video being recorded around the clock.
Pay £3.33 or more a month and you get more space in the cloud for more recordings and longer recordings, which is handy if you're going away for a fortnight and you want to catch up on everything that's been going on when you get back. It's an impressive package from Yi.
Yi's cameras mark a serious value proposition (the company also makes the slightly higher-end Kami line) and if the static points-one-way nature of the Yi Smart Security Camera doesn't suit, the pan-and-tilt formulation of the Dome just might.
It can detect motion in a room and track what it sees by moving the camera, which could provide that vital piece of evidence, though it may be a feature you switch off if you're not fond of mechanical eyes following you on the way to the toilet. You can also set the Dome to do an automatic scan in what Yi rather cooly calls 'panoramic cruise' mode; this sets it to move 20 degrees every ten seconds, covering a full rotation in three minutes - or you can mark up to eight spots in your room you'd like it to cycle through.
The lens isn't the widest at 110 degrees, but in a pan-and-tilt cam it doesn't need to be, and the resolution is decent at 1080p, enough for its 4x digital zoom to make at least some sense, although the Dome can only manage 20fps video.
One bonus is that alongside the microSD card support, you also get 7 days' cloud storage for free, with more expansive plans available if you're willing to stump up some cash. It's also compatible with Alexa, so you'll be able to pull up a live view on an Echo Show or Fire TV device.
The D-Link Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera isn't much bigger than a stick of chewing gum, and that means you can put it just about anywhere in your home – either on a flat surface or up on the wall, using the wall mount that's bundled with the device. You don't get a microphone and speaker, and there's no 1080p video streaming, but it's still sharp enough to see what's going on at home whenever you need to take a look.
Night vision means the camera can carry on its monitoring job around the clock, and you even have the option of setting up custom activity zones – so, for example, movement from trees behind a window won't prompt an alert, but a door opening will. The 120-degree field of view is better than most too, so more of a room can be viewed whenever you log in on your phone.
Speaking of your phone, the D-Link app is slick and easy to use, and gets you connected in seconds. Videos are kept for a day in the cloud, and you can save 50 of the most important ones for as long as you like; if you need longer recordings, or want to keep them for a longer period, then subscription prices start at £2.29 a month.
We're fans of just about every smart security camera that Ring makes, but this is the most affordable of the lot – and despite the low price, it keeps the speedy alerts and the intuitive software that Ring cameras are known for. If you don't need weatherproofing or the flexibility of battery power, this could be the best Ring camera for you.
Even though the Ring Indoor Cam cuts costs compared to the other devices in the range, it still offers night vision, two-way audio, and crisp 1080p high-definition video so you can see everything that's happening at home while you're away (or just upstairs). The Ring apps let you set up custom motion activity zones as well, if you only want to be warned when there's activity in a particular part of a scene.
The Ring apps are some of the best in the business, and as the company is now owned and run by Amazon, you would expect it all to be Alexa-compatible – which is indeed the case. The Ring Protect upgrade (yours for £2.50 a month) is the same as it is for the Blink Mini, and in this case there's no local storage option (you will still get motion alerts and the ability to view video live if you're not a subscriber, but you won't be able to go back and view saved video clips).
Ezviz has a lot of experience when it comes to making smart security cameras for the home, so it's a brand you can rely on – and the Indoor Smart Security Cam is perhaps the device in the range that gives you the best possible value for money. It's very inexpensive and does all the jobs you need it to in terms of home monitoring.
Motion alerts can be investigated through the accompanying mobile apps, and you can load up a live feed from the camera at any time through your phone as well. You can even get the video up on an Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub device, because the camera is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
Besides night vision and two-way audio, another feature that appeals is the local storage option – stick in a microSD card, and you don't have to rely on the cloud for archiving the footage captured by the camera. Pricing for the cloud subscription package starts at £2.99 a month, which gives you 3 days of recordings to look back on.