Best Cheap Fountain Pens 2020 (Under $30 / $50)

Reviews

Is the grip on your current fountain pen poor? Or is the engineering clunky for your needs? If the answer is yes, and you think you’ve had your fair share of troubles, then don’t worry about it anymore. In this article, I will walk you through the specific features to look out for during your search for a good, budget-friendly fountain pen.

What’s more, I’ve compiled a list of 10 best fountain pens under $30/$50, which will deliver according to your needs in addition to being budget-friendly. Make sure you read on so that you don’t miss out on our top ten fountain pens, complete with an editor’s pick. To start us off is a quick buying guide.

Features to Consider in Good Fountain Pens

Different pens serve different purposes; some even require some experience before using them. In this buying guide, I will focus on the fountain pen material, the nib style and finally, the ink capacity. Though there are many considerations, I felt that these are the most important for any buyer out there.

Design Features

Fountain pens can be made out of a variety of materials like acrylic, wood and even metal. But what’s important is the grip and how comfortable you are when writing stuff with it. Do you need that smooth feeling when writing? What about the weight of the pen? Do you prefer a heavy fountain pen or a light one? Remember that apart from the material of the pen, there is also ink, which adds to the weight of the pen. It all comes down to your preference. Those comfortable with heavier pens should go for metallic fountain pens and vice versa. Another issue is durability. Metallic fountain pens last longer than plastic and wood. So if your intention is to buy a durable fountain pen, then you should carefully consider the build material.

Nib and Writing Performance

Do you prefer broad or thin handwriting? If you prefer broad handwriting, then go for a fountain pen with broader nibs. The nib of a fountain pen is that writing end. That’s where ink is released on paper. So if you are selective about your handwriting, you should consider the nib style and material because your handwriting is heavily dependent on the shape and size of the fountain pen’s nib. Customers can opt for fine or broad nibs for thinner and broader handwriting respectively.

Nibs can be made out of different materials like iridium, stainless steel, etc. we will cover this section in the complete buying guide below. The point is if you intend to use it more frequently. Then you need a stronger tip, to make it more durable giving you value for your money.

Filling

Do you intend to use a pen for longer periods without refilling? If yes, you should opt for a fountain pen with a higher ink capacity, so that your writing process is not interrupted when the ink drains. Fountain pens come with different ink capacities that it can hold within a given time. I prefer fountain pens with huge ink capacities because I can write for longer periods before refilling and staining my hands with ink in the process. Go for an ink capacity that suits your needs. If you use the fountain pen frequently, then you need to purchase one with a larger capacity and vice versa.

Grip

Grip determines the comfort and the handwriting since you need to hold the pen while writing. You should consider the size of your hands so that you purchase a fountain pen that fits well in your grasp. To write conveniently, comfort is vital. Buy a fountain pen that is neither undersized nor oversized in relation to your hands. You have to physically test it out while writing to determine this feature.

Best Cheap Fountain Pens 2020

We researched on 10 different brands of fountain pens because we know that a pen can make or break your handwriting. The 10 best cheap fountain pens that we reviewed are good in terms of the grip (General Ergonomics), the convenience and also the material. Here are our picks.

1. JinHao Dragon Phoenix Fountain Pen

Why we like it: The WORX WG303.1 is a high-quality chainsaw that delivers powerful performance despite the size and the price. We like this chainsaw because of the impressive features and the overall performance. It is easy to maintain and use. If you are a newbie, you will find this chainsaw right up your alley.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
For those who like heavy pens, then the JinHao Phoenix is the best purchase. It is covered in metal engravings and a ying-yang symbol on the pen cap’s end. The red faux decorations on the dragon’s eye make the pen look nice. The dragon engraving is rough on the surface, perfect for your grip.

Nib and Writing Performance
The JinHao Phoenix writes surprisingly well for a pen of its weight, the nib is smooth and gold plated with a dragon head decoration. The medium nib gives you fine handwriting, though you have to get used to a pen of its weight.

Filling
The ink reservoir is constructed with cast iron with rose-colored decorations and holds a considerable amount of ink. The piston converter is a great addition. Upon receiving this pen, you have to flush it with water before filling it with ink to make the ink flow effortless.

Verdict
The weight of the pen gives you a back heavy balance, which is good for writing. Though some people don’t like heavy pens, you can remove the cap to ease the weight. This is one of the best fountain pens for writing. Overall, it’s a good purchase.

Pros
  • The metallic dragon engraving makes the pen look appealing
  • Ink flow is great
  • The pen is heavy and can be used for calligraphic inscriptions
  • The medium nib style gives you smooth writing on paper
Cons
  • The pen has no clip, but you can purchase a pen pocket
  • The overall weight is a problem as many people get hand fatigued; you can remove the cap to ease the weight

2. ZenZoi Carbon Fiber Fountain Pen – Best wood fountain pen

Why we like it: the bamboo construction gives this pen a unique look, plus the packaging, including a pen case, makes it a great gift purchase for your loved ones.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
We were astonished to find out that the pen had a bamboo wood construction, with a nice wood grain finish making the pen look nice. The rounded ends give you a good grip, perfect for writing for long hours. The plastic cap reduces the overall weight of the pen, and it comes with a pen case.

Nib and Writing Performance
The nib is made of iridium, which makes the ink flow on paper nice and smooth. Interestingly, there was no hard start when the pen was left for some time. You can test this fact by leaving the pen uncapped for some time before writing again.

Filling
The ink reservoir doesn’t hold much ink, but it is easy to clean it after use and no leaks were evident while writing. The ink converter is a great addition to the filling system.

Verdict
The overall experience of owning this pen is good, a bamboo construction with nice packaging. It also came with a converter for refilling the ink. We highly recommend the ZenZoi Fountain Pen.

Pros
  • It comes with an ink converter
  • The ink reservoir is easy to clean
  • The unique look of bamboo is amazing
  • The overall packaging makes it a nice gift purchase
Cons
  • TThe ink reservoir doesn’t hold much ink; you can purchase an ink cartridge to write for longer hours

3. DRYDEN Luxury Fountain Pen – Best Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Why we like it: the Dryden fountain pen comes with an ink refill converter that enables you to draw the ink from an inkwell, rather than replacing pre-loaded ink cartridges. This feature enables you to write for longer hours.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
The Dryden fountain pen is ergonomically designed to ensure that it fits well in your hand so that you don’t get fatigued when writing for long hours. It feels solid in your hands because it’s heavy, but not too heavy. The pen’s metallic parts come in a shiny gold coloring, which makes the fountain pen look good in addition to the acrylic layering on the outside. If the pen is too heavy for you, you can remove some of the metallic parts to ease the weight of the fountain pen. This fountain pen comes with a classy Velcro slip bag, which is in sharp contrast with other expensive pens that come in gift boxes. The Velcro slip bag protects the pen against damages during shipment.

Nib and Writing Performance
The Dryden fountain pen comes with a medium nib style, which is good for you to make wonderful calligraphic inscriptions. That’s why it’s the best fountain pen for calligraphy.

Filling
You have the option of using an ink refill converter or an ink cartridge. If you want to work for long hours, you may want to use an ink refill converter which draws ink from an ink well. It is much easier than constantly replacing the cartridges. The big advantage here is that with an ink refill converter, you can use high-quality ink rather than rely on pre-loaded ink cartridges.

Verdict
In terms of ink capacity and the design, the Dryden fountain pen scores highly. Plus it is meant for both right and left-handed persons. If you prefer these features, you should purchase this fountain pen.

Pros
  • It does not bleed or blotch the page when writing
  • Good for left or right-handed people
  • Good ergonomic design for grip
  • The medium nib is good for making calligraphic inscriptions
  • It is affordable
Cons
  • There are some concerns over the nib not being held tightly by the barrel

4. NEW Moonman C1 Fountain Pen

Why we like it: the nib assembly is great, as it is leak proof. The o-rings in the nib assembly replace the silicone grease, which is prone to leaking.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
We loved the pen’s transparent design, complete with an eyedropper tool which is well-designed. It appears to be well balanced and fits well in your hands. The body of the pen is made of acrylic which is tapered on both ends resulting in a well-balanced shape, which is good for writing.

Nib and Writing Performance
Most people are afraid of using an eye-dropper fountain pen as they may leak. The Dryden fountain pen comes with an o-ring that prevents leakages, resulting in clean writing. The ink flows smoothly through the nib. The nib style is fine, resulting in fine handwriting with less dramatic flair.

Filling
The ink capacity of the pen is large, about half the entire pen’s volume of 51mm*12.7mm. You can write for long without refilling the ink reservoir. The best thing about the Moonman fountain pen is that the color of the ink is the color of the pen.

Verdict
The Moonman fountain pen is ergonomically designed with smooth tapered acrylic, which is good for grasping while writing. The fine nib results in fine handwriting. We highly recommend this fountain pen.

Pros
  • The o-rings secure the ink to prevent leakages
  • It comes with a fine nib for fine handwriting
  • Good ergonomic design for grip
  • High ink capacity
  • It comes with a robust pipette to refill the ink reservoir
Cons
  • The super-soft acrylic on the pen makes it disengage from your hand at the slightest pressure, but you can hold the pen firmly.

5. Zebra Fountain Pen – Best fountain pen for beginners

Why we like it: the nib is reinforced with a plastic hood, making it great for beginners as it prevents accidental damages to the nib.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
One of the most notable design features on the Zebra fountain pen exterior is the ridged black plastic grip. It is good for those who want to write for long hours as it gives you a good grip which is also good for those with sweaty hands. The cap fits firmly on the pen’s body; you don’t have to worry about ink leaks on your paper.

Nib and Writing Performance
The nib comes with a plastic hood that holds the steel nib firmly in place. This feature is good for heavy-handed persons, as flexible nibs might break easily. There are some concerns that the hood obscures the nib while writing, but you can adjust the writing angle to mitigate this issue.

Filling
The ink reservoir has an ink capacity of 12 counts, and it comes with an innovative ink system to ensure efficient utilization of every drop.

Verdict
The fountain pen comes with a double ink refill, giving you extended writing time. You cannot ignore the price versus the quality of this pen, making it good for those looking for budget fountain pens. We highly recommend this pen.

Pros
  • It comes with a double ink refill giving you an extended usage
  • Affordable to most customers
  • The nib is hooded to prevent accidental damages to it
  • The nib will not run dry on a scratchy surface
  • The ridged plastic design is good for grip
Cons
  • When using it for extended periods, we noticed some skips in the writing process. You can opt for breaks when writing for longer periods

6. Parker IM Fountain Pen

Why we like it: the overall design construction is great; the high gloss metal gun finish with a cool arrow clip makes it stand out. It makes the fountain pen balanced for smoother writing.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
The first noticeable design is the gunmetal finish and the chiseled crosshatch patterns with grooves that give you a sense of style and grip when writing. The chrome trims in addition to the gloss finish make it eye-catching, and the cap comes with an arrow-shaped pen clip to slide it in your coat pocket.

Nib and Writing Performance
The pen comes with a medium nib, made of stainless steel which makes the pen durable from accidental damages and also gives you fine writing on paper. The nib can write well on any surface, whether smooth or scratchy with no skipping between lines. The only setback we experienced was that the barrel began unscrewing when writing for longer sessions.

Filling
The pen comes with a cartridge which you should plugin. we noticed that during the refill process, you have to plug in the cartridge, place the cap don and give it 30 minutes for the ink to flow down the nib by gravity instead of shaking the pen which is not recommended.

Verdict
The pen is well balanced and writes smoothly, the only improvement we would recommend is a gold plated nib addition. Which will give the pen both style and durability. Overall, at approximately $50 it’s a great value for money.

Pros
  • The ergonomic shape gives a comfortable grip
  • The nib is made of durable stainless steel
  • It writes smoothly on any surface
  • The pocket clip is a great addition
  • No hard starts
Cons
  • The barrel unscrews when writing for longer sessions, you can screw it back periodically

7. Duke Ruby Fountain Pen

Why we like it: the tapering and the wiggly ridges give its users a good grip, even with small hands. No sharp and unpleasant edges, these features prevent you from being hand fatigued while writing for long hours.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
The Duke Ruby fountain pen is made of brass metallic parts, which makes it heavier (It weighs 32 grams), well-balanced and it feels solid when writing. The cap has a stunning ruby at the top, but we highly doubt if its actual ruby found in jewels.

Nib and Writing Performance
It comes with a medium nib style, which is good for those who like smoother handwritings. At a fairly normal pace, it’s hard for the pen to skip some writing. One notable advantage worth mentioning over other fountain pens is that there is no dry start.

Filling
It comes with an ink converter, which makes refilling a lot easier. It starts writing immediately after refilling as there are no dry starts.

Verdict
The Duke Ruby fountain pen looks classy and its performance is great for a pen costing less than $30. It is a great purchase.

Pros
  • The exterior decoration is appealing
  • It comes with a medium nib for smoother writing
  • Easy to refill the ink reservoir with an ink converter
  • No dry starts
Cons
  • The cap is not postable, though the pen is long enough without the cap on.
  • The pen’s balance is off when capped

8. Parker Urban Fountain Pen

Why we like it: the sleek modernized design complete with metallic reflections and chrome trims gives you a personalized sense of style.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
The Parker fountain pen is torpedoed in design, making it narrower on its ends. The widest point on the pen is where the barrel meets the cap. The metal body gives it a back heavy balance, which is more suitable for people with large hands.

Nib and Writing Performance
The nibs are made of stainless steel; available in medium nib giving you smooth writing. The only setback about the nib is that it dries out quickly, making the Parker fountain pen prone to dry starting.

Filling
Though the capacity of the Parker fountain pen is a lot less, the ink converter comes to its rescue, as you can refill ink in the reservoir in a breeze. You can also opt for an ink cartridge to get long writing hours.

Verdict
We highly recommend the Parker fountain pen for those in the corporate world because of its modern design and smoother writing. The hard starts make this pen a bit off, but it’s worth purchasing.

Pros
  • The pen comes in a variety of colors
  • The ink converter makes refilling easier
  • The medium nib gives you a smoother writing experience
  • The cap can be posted
  • It is tapered on both ends to give you maximum grip
Cons
  • If the ink dries, there will be a hard start. You have to rinse the pen with water to ease this problem

9. Travelers Company Fountain Pen – Best fountain pen for drawing

Why we like it: you have the option of unscrewing the ring on top of the snap cap to remove the steel clip for a more streamlined look.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
The brass coating on the pen gives it an attractive finish, plus the ring at the back is a great addition to the pen’s design. If you don’t like the clip, you can remove it since it comes detachable. The overall size fits well in your pocket.

Nib and Writing Performance
The Travelers fountain pen comes with a fine nib made of stainless steel, which gives you both fine writing experience and durability at the same time.

Filling
The pen only uses short cartridges, which is good for effortless refilling. The ink capacity is good, though we recommend shorter sessions while writing.

Verdict
This pen is good for on-the-go writing, not suitable for frequent writing sessions. If you travel occasionally, then the Travelers fountain pen is a great purchase.

Pros
  • It comes with a detachable clip
  • The size makes the pen portable
  • The short cartridges offer quick refilling
  • The fine nib gives you a fine writing experience
  • The fine nib makes it the best fountain pen for drawing
Cons
  • The fountain pen only accepts standard short cartridges when refilling.

10. LAMY AI-Star Pacific Fountain Pen

Why we like it: the transparent grip is a cool addition to the pen’s exterior, since you can check the ink level as you write. Plus the Z24 ink converter refills the fountain pen’s reservoir in seconds.

Editor’s rating:

Design Features
At first glance, the LAMY AI Pacific fountain pen has an ocean blue plastic finish and the grip is transparent you can easily see the ink flow. The clip is U-shaped and looks attractive in your pocket. The exterior finish is good but easily scratches.

Nib and Writing Performance
Upon testing the LAMY pacific pen, we noticed that the writing is consistent since it comes in a medium nib made of steel. We didn’t experience any hand fatigue since the pen is light-weight and you can write for longer sessions.

Filling
Upon testing the LAMY pacific pen, we noticed that the writing is consistent since it comes in a medium nib made of steel. We didn’t experience any hand fatigue since the pen is light-weight and you can write for longer sessions.

Verdict
Upon testing the LAMY pacific pen, we noticed that the writing is consistent since it comes in a medium nib made of steel. We didn’t experience any hand fatigue since the pen is light-weight and you can write for longer sessions.

Pros
  • It comes with a detachable clip
  • The size makes the pen portable
  • The short cartridges offer quick refilling
  • The fine nib gives you a fine writing experience
  • The fine nib makes it the best fountain pen for drawing
Cons
  • The fountain pen only accepts standard short cartridges when refilling.

Guide to Buying the Best Cheap Fountain Pens

Finding the right fountain pen for a good writing experience can be a difficult task. We came up with a few tips on what you should consider before buying a good fountain pen of your choice.

The Nib

Nib Material

You should carefully consider the nib material as it shows if the fountain pen is durable or not. You can choose from the following materials.

  • Solid Gold – good for those who love taste and luxury, it also gives you a consistent writing experience. The downside is that solid gold nibs are very expensive and out of reach for most customers. Since our main focus was on budget fountain pens, we don’t recommend fountain pens with solid gold nibs.
  • Iridium tip – iridium is highly resistant to corrosion, which makes it more durable. It can also be gold plated for those who love luxury fountain pens.
  • Stainless Steel – the advantage of using a stainless steel nib is that it is inexpensive and sturdy. That’s why it is recommended for beginners since it doesn’t break easily.

Width of the nib

There are three nib styles out there, fine, medium and broad nibs. The width of the nib determines the thickness of your writing.

  • Fine nib – it gives you smooth and thin handwriting, making it best for precision drawing.
  • Medium nib – for those who work on calligraphic inscriptions, this nib style is the best. You can use it for various writing styles and fonts.
  • Broad nib – it gives you a thicker writing style, fountain pens with this nib style are generally inexpensive.

Replacement nib

Some fountain pens allow you to replace the nib independently, while others don’t. You have the option of replacing the whole front end, or the nib only.

  • Nib only – most LAMY fountain pens allow you to replace the nib end independently. After replacement, you must flush the nib beforehand before writing to prevent incidences of page bleeding.
  • Whole end – the only advantage of replacing the whole front end, is that you can keep multiple nibs’ at your disposal. Whether broad, medium and fine nib styles.

The cut

You can either choose an oblique, italic or standard cut that matches your writing style and font.

  • Oblique – if you prefer holding your fountain pen from below the line, then this cut is for you. Left-handed people have the option of using the reverse oblique to prevent sm udging.
  • Italic– found mostly in calligraphic writing, it creates thin lines to denote variation.
  • Standard – this cut denotes the general variation in font and writing style. It’s good for beginners.

The grip

There are two factors that influence the grip, shape, and material used in the construction.

  • Shape – some fountain pens are ridged for you to grasp them well whilst writing. It helps prevent hand fatigue during the writing sessions.
  • Material – some people prefer metal, while others prefer plastic. it all comes down to personal preference. If your hands are sweaty, go for the metallic fountain pens, as the plastic ones become very slippery.

The refilling process

You can either choose from a cartridge or a converter. How exactly do they work?

  • Converter – we highly recommend a converter during the refill process, as it takes only a few seconds.
  • Cartridge – though they are expensive, they are portable and convenient. They can fit in any pen case during your travels.
  • Reservoir – they are rare, but they come in handy for large capacity refills, giving you a longer writing session. Maintenance and replacements can be costly.

The barrel

Any material can be used in barrel design and construction. Below are the most popular. They are instrumental in determining the overall weight of the fountain pen, which determines the shape and size of your writing.

  • Plastic – barrels made of plastic are inexpensive and lightweight. Most fountain pens in this category are made of ABS plastic.
  • Metal – barrels made out of metal are generally heavier and perfect for making engravings. The most popular metals are brass and stainless steel. We think there are a few aluminum fountain pens in the market.
  • Resin – some fountain pens are made of resins like acrylic. They do have a glossy matte but are very brittle when dropped. One advantage of resin barrels is that they offer limitless color pattern variation.
  • Wood – we saw one brand in the review section made out of bamboo, and the pen looks classy. These fountain pens are eco-friendly.

Barrel width

We think there is a general rule, as the barrel gets thicker, the pen becomes more expensive. Most fountain pens have a maximum measurement of 9-11mm. Barrel measurement determines the grip; choose wisely depending on the size of your hands.

The cap

The caps offer a variation in terms of design shapes. Some fountain pens come with a detachable clip for a more streamlined look. The cap’s closure can either be a screw or a click-on. So, what’s the difference?

  • Click-on – though they are convenient, some customers have raised concerns that they are prone to leaking.
  • Screw – the screw-type has one major advantage; it helps prevent leakages and page bleeding during the writing process.

Frequently asked questions

Why purchase a fountain pen?

There are many reasons why you should purchase a fountain pen. One, it’s fun, when using a fountain pen, the ink flows well and your hands are barely in contact with the paper. Everything is smooth and seamless. Two, you get good handwriting. If you choose the best nib style, your handwriting improves during the writing process. The weight and barrel width of the fountain pen plays a major role in balancing the pen and preventing hand fatigue. Three, there are no indents on the writing surface. Fountain pens eliminate instances of indents below the writing surface, a problem that exists only with ballpoint pens.

Why the disparity in the prices?

We think the nib is responsible for the price disparity. Most cheap fountain pens come with stainless steel nibs while pricier brands have either gold or platinum plated nibs. For beginners, we recommend the steel nib as it is cheaper since most of you are on a tight budget. Secondly, they are strong, to prevent accidental damages since most of you are getting used to writing. Golden nibs are malleable when compared with steel nibs, giving you a softer smooth writing experience. That’s why the price is off the roof, and most people can’t afford them. Luckily, there are gold-plated nibs which are cheap and some can be found in our review section above. Some brands come with engravings that feature pricey and elegant gems like a ruby. These features push up the price of the fountain pen in the market. We always advise readers to start small before buying pricier fountain pens. That’s why this review specifically featured fountain pens under $30/$50 price range.

What is an ink converter? And how do I use it in the refilling process?

Well, am sure most of you have seen terms like an ink converter and a cartridge in the review section. They both serve the same purpose in the refilling process; the only difference is that the converter can be used again and again while the cartridge cannot be re-used. For those readers who are completely green on how to use an ink converter, you might find this YouTube Video link informative.

My fountain pen is prone to skipping, what could be the problem?

Fountain pens require cleaning occasionally, sediments build-up after prolonged use. Just like arteries build-up cholesterol after some time. You need to clean the nib before refilling if the pen was stored for some time.

Cleaning the nib improves the writing quality in addition to the ink flow. Most manufacturers recommend using water mixed with ammonia, in a ratio of 10:1. If you use your fountain pen frequently, it is recommended to clean it once a month. If you follow this routine, the problem of skipping lines during writing will be long gone.

How do I store my fountain pen?

When not in use, fountain pens should be stored in a pen mug or desk while facing up. Since fountain pens are affected by gravity, if they are empty, consider storing them in pen cases or pockets.

Wrap Up

Our top pick in our best fountain pens under $30/$50 review is the JinHao Dragon Phoenix fountain Pen. We really liked the dragon metal engravings, with spruced feathers and eyes made of ruby. It shows the skills and the workmanship of the manufactures. I mean who doesn’t like rubies? This fountain pen features gold plated nibs and its heavy; it almost feels like a weapon in your hand. The weight gives it a back-heavy balance which results in the good writing experience. The engravings are ridged and rough to provide maximum grip for those with sweaty hands. All these qualities for approximately $45 are great value for your investment. If the price is too high for you, you may consider the Moonman fountain pen, which goes for around $22. This pen is great for beginners as it comes with stainless steel nibs for added strength, and it comes with a large capacity ink reservoir for longer sessions of writing. You can purchase these fountain pens by clicking on the Amazon links below your preferred fountain pen brand.