Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. Rest assured that all are for places which I’ve personally shopped at before.
Do you need a tablet for yourself or your child? There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a tablet. I’ve bought tablets for my kids from reliable reputable places for under $100 for a new one, and here I’ll show how you can too.
If you want a cheap tablet, consider Android instead of iPad. The first rule of thumb is, even if you really like Mac products, if you want to save money then Android is the way to go. You’ll see considerable savings with Android.
- Buying tip: Make sure that the Android tablet you want to buy is original firmware. If the tablet says it comes with Google Play store, that’s a pretty safe indication that you’ve got original firmware (but not an absolute guarantee). Look at the product images and/or product description for this. In any case, if it comes with Google Play Store then it will work perfectly for what you want to do: you’ll be able to get all your apps from the official Google Play store, which is what you want. Never buy a tablet that doesn’t come with Google Play store; you don’t want to resort to a dodgy 3rd party app store to download your apps. All the mainstream brands like Acer, Lenovo, Samsung, etc are safe and will have original Android firmware and come with Google Play Store. It’s the off-brands you need to check about.
The 5 best places to get cheap tablets online:
If you can find one, get an 8-inch or bigger tablet for ease of viewing. I’ve noticed that 7-inch tablets, while popular, look a little small when viewing videos or playing games. The tricky bit is that not all of the retailers below stock 8-inch tablets; 7-inch is far more popular. If you want an 8-inch one or larger, our favorite place for that at under $100 is AliExpress - that's where our family got ours.
Target has some really great tablets for cheap. Be careful and read the product reviews; some of their off-brands are not good quality. But if you get a mainstream brand of tablet from them, you can get top-notch quality for under $100.
One of the best reasons to buy tablets on Amazon.com is their no-questions-asked return policy. We bought a table from there once that turned out to have non-original firmware (which did not match the product description) and had no problems returning it and getting our money back. Likewise if you receive something that does not work out of the box, you have the reassurance of a super-easy return process.
Walmart, like Target, has a few gems of mainstream brands of Android tablet among a large selection of off-brands. It’s worth combing through their offerings to find some great deals; they often have one or another model of tablet deeply discounted for a short time. You can take a look at their tablets here.
AliExpress by Alibaba.com is a bit like eBay; it’s a marketplace for sellers and has items in all categories, and they ship worldwide. Some of the AliExpress sellers are even the manufacturers/factories themselves selling direct to consumer, so you cut out the middleman, which is what allows you to get great deals there. They’re based in China and most items are shipped from there, so shipping can take awhile. My brother bought a 10-inch off-brand tablet from there for his daughter for under $100; it came with Google Play store and worked beautifully out of the box. A few months down the track, we also bought one for our kiddos and had an equally great experience.
Be aware that with AliExpress there’s less recourse in the possible event that something doesn’t work. However, you can open a dispute on AliExpress if any product does not arrive or is defective. As a final layer of protection, if you pay by credit card, you can always dispute the charge through your credit card company if the product doesn’t arrive or doesn’t work. My brother and I were each thrilled with the tablets; they've stood up to a lot of playing time from both sets of kids. If you haven’t used AliExpress before, I recommend making a small purchase of something else first just to make sure you’re familiar with the system and what to expect, before making a larger purchase. On my first purchase I bought a pair of heels, a top, and a handbag – all for under $30 together, including shipping! As with eBay, only buy from sellers on AliExpress who have good feedback ratings. Read comments in the product listing to get an idea of whether the product and seller you’re considering is reliable. You can often find the same product from different sellers, so go for the reputable ones. You can find tablets in their Consumer Electronics - Keep up to the date with the latest tech for up to 50% off.
I’ve put eBay last because it can be harder to find a good quality new tablet there with original firmware at a decent price point. Some of the products there look clearly like the sellers have bought them from AliExpress and are then selling them on to you via eBay at a higher cost. Still, you can sometimes find a great deal there on eBay. You will have to spend time combing through search results here though. Be careful to look at the seller’s feedback; only buy from a reliable seller with a feedback rating close to 100%. Read the product description carefully; unlike AliExpress, eBay sellers can sell used tablets. If something doesn’t work or isn’t as listed, you’ll have to request a return through eBay.