X
Innovation
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Record the road for less with these cheap dash cams

The best cheap dash cams will allow you to document scenic drives, monitor first-time drivers, or record inside a vehicle, all for a lot less money.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Allison Murray
Chortau Dual Dash Cam | Best cheap dash cam overall
A dash cam on a windshield with a sunset in the background
Chortau Dual Dash Cam
Best cheap dash cam overall
View now View at Amazon
Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 | Best compact cheap dash cam
A black dash cam on a windshield
Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
Best compact cheap dash cam
View now View at Garmin
MIOFIVE AI-enabled 5G Wi-Fi 4K UHD Dash Cam | Best front-view cheap dash cam
A dash cam on a windshield with a mountain landscape in the driver's view
MIOFIVE AI-enabled 5G Wi-Fi 4K UHD Dash Cam
Best front-view cheap dash cam
View now View at Amazon
Vanture N2 Pro | Best cheap dash cam for rideshares
A black dash cam against an orange background
Vanture N2 Pro
Best cheap dash cam for rideshares
View now View at Amazon
Viofo A129 Pro Duo | Best dual-view cheap dash cam
A black dash cam on a windshield
Viofo A129 Pro Duo
Best dual-view cheap dash cam
View now View at Amazon

Anything can happen on the road, and it does. It is crazy to think how many hit-and-run accidents could be avoided each year just by having the right kind of equipment. That is why it is so important that we arm ourselves with the right tools and equipment so we can have the protection we need behind the wheel. 

A dash cam is one of those invaluable items that can provide extra safety and caution when you are driving. It can also help save you money on your insurance policy while providing invaluable peace of mind each day. However, not everyone has an open budget to spend on a dash cam. 

That is why we rounded up the industry's top picks for the best cheap dash cams to keep you and your family safe. This is what we found. 

More:

The dash cams to get if you want peace of mind while on the road

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Clear display
  • Excellent video quality
  • Wide-angle lens
Cons
  • No Wi-Fi or GPS
  • Night imaging could be improved
More Details

Specs: Camera type: Front, rear | Video resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 3" | Product dimensions: 1.97" x 3.15" x 1.18"

The Chortau Dual Dash Cam features both a front and rear camera for greater viewing. Designed to reduce blind spots, there is 170-degree wide-angle coverage in the front, while the waterproof rear camera offers a 130-degree range. Featuring a three-inch screen for easier viewing, the dual dash cam records in 1080p resolution with Wide Dynamic Range technology. 

There is even available audio recording for greater coverage. This is a self-sufficient device, too, with seamless loop recording, so you never have to worry about replacing your memory card. G-sensor technology means that it will save all the footage you need without any you do not. Just plug into the cigar lighter and mount. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Straightforward operation
  • Sharp video quality
  • Discreet design
Cons
  • No GPS
  • Additional purchase required for parking mode
More Details

Specs: Camera type: Front, rear | Video resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 2" | Product dimensions: 1" x 1" x 2"

Our pick for the best compact dash cam is Garmin's Dash Cam Mini 2. It still manages to offer a two-inch screen, recording in a 1080p resolution with a 140-degree lens and exclusive Garmin Clarity HDR optics. It automatically records and saves accidents you have on the road, but voice control is also incorporated to maximize driver safety and is available in six different languages.

You can even monitor your car when you are not around via the Parking Guard feature. This model uses an adhesive mount with a dual USB power adapter for greater convenience, while the companion app gives you easy control over the device.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Sleek, compact design
  • GPS capability
  • Generous built-in storage
Cons
  • Adhesive pad can loosen
  • Storage not compatible with Mac
More Details

Specs: Camera type: Front | Video resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 2.2" | Product dimensions: 2.95" x 4.57" x 2.05"

We had the opportunity to test the MIOFIVE AI-enabled 5G Wi-Fi 4K UHD Dash Cam ourselves and were delighted with our experience. While this lacks the rear camera of other models, it still offers crisp 4K viewing in an ultra-HD 1080p resolution, all viewable via the 2.2-inch screen. 

Even night vision records at 2160P UHD for incredible pictures. With its intelligent AI algorithm, you receive dual incident protection from both G-sensor technology and motion detection with available GPS tracking. 

The companion app gives you complete control, plus this unit comes with everything you need to install, including the adhesive mount, so you can get back to driving sooner rather than later. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 24-hour parking mode
  • Audio recording
  • Time-lapse feature
Cons
  • Smaller screen
  • No rear camera
More Details

Specs: Camera type: Front | Video resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 1.5" | Product dimensions: 3.8" x 5.28" x 4.45"

The Vanture N2 Pro is our top pick for drivers that work for ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft. There is 1080P resolution with dual lens capability, incorporating both front and inside cameras for better coverage. While many cameras focus on the outside, the Vanture N2 PRo also allows for 140-degree coverage of the inside cabin, capturing your passengers while you drive. If you choose front-only mode on your camera, you will receive more crisp, clear imaging that enables you to read license plates and road signs. You do not have to worry at night, either; there is infrared night vision with a Sony sensor, four IR LED lights, and f/2.0 aperture for excellent footage even in the dark. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Phenomenal video quality
  • Built-in sensors
  • Compact build
Cons
  • No cloud integration
  • Some mounting issues
More Details

Specs: Camera type: Front, rear | Video resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 2" | Product dimensions: 1.62" x 2" x 3.25"

The Viofo A129 Pro Duo features the Sony 8MP IMX317 Sensor, which works for both the front and rear cameras. These cameras also share Ultra HD 4K picture for greater attention to detail with superior night vision for 24/7 reliability. We also love the phenomenal protection that this model provides. 

You will have to purchase an additional hardwire kit, but once you do, you can access the advanced parking mode. That gives you both pre- and post-incident footage if you have an accident, giving more comprehensive footage to your insurer. When you combine that with the included GPS Logger, you can receive your GPS location and your actual speed with embedded timestamp details. You do not have to worry about a connection with dual-band Wi-Fi.

What is the best cheap dash cam?

With fantastic 4K picture and reliable performance, the Nextbase 622GW is the best cheap dash cam you can buy today. The outstanding clarity is just one of many features, including slow-motion playback, image stabilization, night vision, and even a defogger feature.

For an overview, here is a look at the best cheap dash cams for your vehicle. 

Best cheap dash cam

Cost

Camera type

Screen size

Chortau Dual Dash Cam

$69.95

Front, rear

3"

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

$129.99

Front, rear

2"

MIOFIVE AI-enabled 5G Wi-Fi 4K UHD Dash Cam

$149.99

Front

2.2"

Vanture N2 Pro 

$164.99



Viofo A129 Pro Duo

$195.00

Front, rear

2"

Which is the right cheap dash cam for you?

To help you find the best cheap dash cam for your needs, consider our expert recommendations based on our study.

Choose this cheap dash cam...

If you...

Chortau Dual Dash Cam

Want an affordably priced dash cam

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

Want a high-performing dash cam with an unobtrusive design

MIOFIVE AI-enabled 5G Wi-Fi 4K UHD Dash Cam

Are forward-focused

Vanture N2 Pro 

Want a camera worthy of the road warrior

Viofo A129 Pro Duo

Want to benefit from dual view 

How did we choose these cheap dash cams?

These are some factors to consider to find the best cheap dash cams:

  • Cost: Budget is perhaps the biggest concern when searching for the best cheap dash cameras, so we look for dash cams priced below $350. 
  • Cameras: Most of the best cheap dash cameras feature dual cameras, allowing for both a front and rear view, but not all cameras will have this feature. Consider whether you prefer to have two cameras, as this could also increase the amount you spend.
  • Resolution: The best cheap dash cams all feature a resolution of 1080p, guaranteeing high-quality images for your review. Many dash cams offer 4K imaging for fantastic clarity and attention to detail.
  • Night vision: If you do a lot of night driving, it is important to consider whether a dash camera has night vision to record dark environments. 

Is a dash cam legal?

Dash cams are legal in all U.S. states, but it is still important to check local traffic laws to ensure that you are using an appropriate model and in the right way. 

Do I need a dash cam?

A dash cam can be an invaluable help when it comes to insurance reporting after an accident. Whether someone hits your vehicle or breaks into your car, having videographic evidence can speed up the claims process and help guarantee that your claim will end in your favor. 

How much do dash cams cost?

Cheap dash cams range in price, costing between $70 and $350 approximately. However, the cost of dash cameras can vary significantly, costing well over $500, depending on the model and features that you choose.   

Are there alternative cheap dash cams worth considering?

During our study, we found many alternative cheap dash cams that may also be worthy of your consideration. These almost made our list.

Editorial standards