Best Paper Shredders
This guide to the best cheap shredders, based on paper shredder reviews, includes cross-cut paper shredders and micro-cut shredders; personal shredders and heavy-duty paper shredders for office use. They make quick work of document destruction, and most even shred credit cards, helping prevent identity theft.
What We Considered
Each model highlighted in this buying guide earns at least 4 stars from hundreds or thousands of users in reviews on Amazon, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, and Staples.com. Some also earn recommendations from review sites such as BestReviews and TechGearLab, which do comparative product testing. According to the expert and consumer reviews we read, getting the job done efficiently, and without incident, is the primary goal. Other features, such as run time and durability, occasionally come under scrutiny as well. We ignored complaints about noise, because cheap shredders are just plain noisy; the decibel differences among them are tiny.
We Looked At
The amount of paper a shredder can handle at one time, or in one "pass," is a crucial consideration for most buyers and the basis for many review ratings. Pricey professional shredders with heavy-duty capabilities can shred upward of 20 or even 40 sheets with each pass. The cheapest models might take only three, or one sheet folded in thirds. Our top picks accept at least eight sheets at a time and are wide enough that users don't have to fold an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (8.7 inches is fairly standard, although a few models feature a wider slot).
Reviews indicate that not all shredders live up to their advertised capacity, however. While some users grumble about their disappointment, others argue that inserting fewer sheets than the maximum puts less strain on the machine and increases its longevity.
Even the best paper shredders sometimes jam up and stop in their tracks. Relieving the blockage typically requires a reverse action. On most cheap models, users must manually switch to reverse; some more expensive machines reverse on their own to clear the jam and then go about their business.
Many entry-level paper shredders can also cut up credit cards and/or CDs/DVDs (one at a time, please). For some users this function is irrelevant, but for others, especially those who back up personal files and information on physical media, it's critical. With the looming disappearance of CD/DVD drives on new computers, some consumers need a way to securely destroy confidential data on those outdated disks.
The shredders we researched have one of two bin styles: pull-out console or wastepaper basket. With the former, users pull out a drawer-like bin that collects the scraps. With the latter, the shredder mechanism is lifted off a receptacle that comes with the unit. Reviewers write that both can make a mess when dumping the waste into a larger container. Lining the basket with a bag may mitigate the problem.
As with any waste receptacle, the larger it is, the less frequently it must be emptied. Bin sizes for cheap paper shredders range from about 1.5 gallons to more than 5 gallons. Remember, micro-cut shreds take up less room than cross-cut, so a bin of equivalent size doesn't need to be emptied as often. (Tip: Shredded paper can be recycled as garden mulch and packing filler.)
This is an issue that crops up with some regularity in reviews. Although our preferred models seem to provide ongoing and reliable service -- at least for a few years -- we found reviews bemoaning the short lifespan of each. Some users report that a shredder failed from the get-go; others relate total breakdowns within a matter of days or months. Problems cluster around jams that can't be cleaned out and unexplained motor failure. We also read comments about models with automatic shut-off that continue running even though no paper is being fed through.
The typical warranty in the budget price range runs for one year, and many units last far longer without any hiccups. Regular oiling of the shredding mechanism with special lubricant oil or paper helps keep things running smoothly; check the manufacturer's instructions.
Our Top Pick
The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder is a top value buy. Many reviewers say it cuts the maximum eight sheets of paper without strain. Scattered reports of jams and early demise, common in this price range, attach to this shredder, as well. But many more reviews praise the build quality, reliability, and power.
Strong performer for home use, according to expert and user reviews.
Shreds credit cards, staples, and small paper clips.
Window lets users see when it's time to empty the 4.1-gallon wastebasket.
LED overheat indicator light.
Lifting handle on motor head.
4.3 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
"Best Bang for the Buck" in BestReviews testing.
Some users consider the motor head too heavy to lift comfortably, even with the handle.
Does not accept CDs/DVDs.
Short strips measuring 3/16 x 1 27/32 inches might not be secure enough for some users.
This Fellowes shredder is beefy enough for home or small office use and carries on like a champ, users say. A strong brand following only solidifies praise for this 11-sheet cross-cut model. A tiny minority balk at the windowless wastebasket design and the position of the feed slot, and a few report jams and malfunctions. In general, though, reviewers extol its durability, safety lock, and seemingly effortless performance.
Plenty of power quickly cuts through thick paper and multiple sheets, users say.
Shredded particles measure 5/32 x 1 3/8 inches for good security.
Long 5-minute run time and short 20-minute cool-down period.
Patented safety lock disables the shredder.
Unusually long 3-year warranty on the cutter (1 year on the entire machine).
Shreds credit cards and staples.
4 out of 5 stars from more than 3,000 reviewers on Amazon.
Does not accept CDs/DVDs or paper clips.
No window on the 4.75-gallon bin.
Feed slot near the back of the unit may discourage storage under a desk.
Insignia NS-PS10MC Review
Best Buy's Insignia NS-PS10MC is the shredder for frugal consumers seeking a very high level of security for documents and media meant for disposal. Despite some grousing about a less-than-advertised capacity and run time, this is one of few micro-cut models in the budget zone.
Impressive all-around performance, reviewers say.
Minces up to 10 sheets of paper into tiny 1/10 x 2/5-inch pieces.
Accepts staples, credit cards, and CDs/DVDs (the latter in a separate slot).
Pull-out 4.5-gallon receptacle with window makes for easy disposal.
Wheels for portability.
Indicator lights for power, overload, and overheat.
4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 1,100 reviewers on BestBuy.com.
Information on run time and cool-down period appears only in fine print, prompting surprise among some users when the unit begins overheating after several minutes.
Long cool-down time of 50 minutes before the shredder can be used again.
May balk when presented with more than several sheets, some users report.
Bonsaii DocShred C156-D Review
Users consider the Bonsaii DocShred C156-D cross-cut shredder a fair price for what you get. Its ability to chew up disks, paper, and related disposables, along with the large wastebasket, earn it a favored spot in many home offices. Although some reviews say it's underpowered, most are well pleased with the performance when not pushed to the limit.
Takes up to 12 sheets and shreds lighter loads with ease, users report.
Many reviews say it's suitable for a home office.
Accepts credit cards, paper clips, staples, and CDs/DVDs.
Larger-than-average bin (5.5 gallons) with a window.
4 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
A bit pokey, some reviews say.
May choke at loads short of the maximum 12-sheet capacity.
Scattered reports of jams and malfunctions.
Insignia NS-PS10CC Review
Users like the low-cost efficiency of the Insignia NS-PS10CC from Best Buy, although some caution that this 10-sheet cross-cut shredder is at its best with a maximum of five sheets. This model shreds paper into 1/5 x 1 1/3-inch bits and, unlike most others tagged with a budget price, it can handle paper clips -- a time saver when cleaning out files.
Chews up paper clips, staples, and CDs/DVDs in addition to paper.
Large 5.3-gallon wastebasket with a window to show when it's getting full.
Handle for lifting the motor head off the bin.
Wide 9.1-inch feed slot.
Performs consistently and meets the expectations of most home users.
4.5 out of 5 stars from nearly 2,000 reviewers on BestBuy.com.
Cannot shred credit cards.
Dull-looking design compared with others in its class.
No specification for run time, prompting surprise among some users when it begins overheating after several minutes.
Relatively long 50-minute cool-down period before the shredder can be used again.
The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder provides the high level of security many home users seek, chopping paper into teeny particles measuring 5/32 x 15/32 inches. (A separate slot for CDs/DVDs shreds with a straight cut.) Users appreciate convenience features such as the wheels and pull-out basket and say shredding proceeds quickly and relatively quietly.
Performs as advertised, most reviewers say.
Shreds credit cards and CDs/DVDs.
Automatic shut-off if the unit begins to overheat.
Pull-out 3-gallon receptacle with a window.
Comparatively quiet for this price class.
Wheels for portability.
4.1 out of 5 stars from nearly 3,000 reviewers on Amazon.
Some users report problems with auto-on, saying the unit continues to run when not in use unless switched off manually (frequent cleaning of the sensor may mitigate this issue).
Relatively short 2-minute run time and long 40-minute cool-down period.
Some reviewers grouse about flimsy build quality.
Aurora AU1215XB Review
The Aurora AU1215XB is a workhorse that earns well over 4 stars from Walmart customers for its powerful performance and budget price. That said, the shreds are about 1 inch longer than other cross-cut shredders produce and, according to some reviews, could enable dedicated snoops to piece together personal or confidential information. For anyone hyper-focused on data security, this is not the shredder to buy.
Shreds all types of paper, including cardboard, reviews say, as well as credit cards, CDs/DVDs, paper clips, and staples.
Power shuts off to prevent forced entry and a cover plate closes the feed slot when the shredder is not in use.
4.8-gallon wastebasket with window.
Overload and overheat protection.
Wheels for portability.
Unusually large shreds, measuring 7/32 x 2 5/32 inches.
Scattered reports of jams and unit failures.
Relatively small bin for a 12-sheet shredder.
Other Products We Reviewed
The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut shredder has garnered more than 2,300 reviews on the ecommerce vendor's site and earns an average four-star rating. Although this model is described as a "medium-duty" shredder, reviews indicate that it handles what passes for heavy-duty shredding by home users without overheating. AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cutter reviews say it easily shreds up to 10 sheets and some say it manages the advertised 12 sheets. Paper clips and staples pose no obstacles, either, many users assert.
Quite a few also report they have exceeded the recommended 5-minute continuous run time. One reviewer, for example, claims to have shredded materials for 90 minutes straight, with just one auto shutdown when the machine got too hot. Users really like the efficiency and many report relying on it to shred backlogs of sensitive documents.
AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut reviews at Fat Wallet, are divided, with some extolling its virtues (such as price) and others grumbling about design or reliability issues. As with all inexpensive shredders, reports of malfunctions and total breakdown within days or weeks of purchase appear with some regularity.
This all-purpose shredder can chew paper (up to 600 sheets a day, according to the specs), credit cards, staples and paper clips, as well as CDs and DVDs -- the latter two through a dedicated slot where these media are shredded into four pieces. The primary paper throat is 8.7 inches wide. The shredding mechanism sits atop a 4.8-gallon bin and must be removed to empty the basket. The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut shredder (starting at $50, Amazon) features SafetyShred, which triggers an automatic shutdown if an object that the machine isn't designed to destroy enters the shredding slot. It can be reversed to clear jams, and comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The combination of features and overwhelmingly positive feedback make the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet shredder a hands-down top pick.
The Royal CX80 scores well in reviews with experts and consumers. Bestcovery, for example, names it one of the best paper shredders overall, citing features such as the reverse run for clearing jams and the slide-out basket. Experts at Good Housekeeping commend the fast shred speed but report that 100 sheets is the maximum for a single shredding session. In users' Royal CX80 reviews at sites like Staples and Overstock.com, they write that the shredder works to its stated eight-sheet capacity and its slim profile means it nestles easily under a desk. The few dings directed its way concern the relatively small 2.75-gallon bin, the angle of the throat (can be tricky to load, asserts one review), and the modest price. One user even admits this latter attribute caused some initial hesitation, but it was quickly dispelled once seeing the Royal CX80 (starting at $70, Amazon) in action.
This model can handle up to eight sheets of paper in one pass (including staples) through its 8.75-inch throat, and one credit card at a time through the smaller, dedicated slot. There's an auto start/stop, and the transparent pull-out bin lets you quickly see when it's time to empty the contents. Users apparently like not having to take apart the shredder (i.e., lift off the shredding head, as is the case with other models) when disposing of waste.
Given the price point and host of user-friendly features, the Royal CX80 is a good choice for consumers with modest shredding requirements.
The diminutive Aurora AS420C Desktop-Style Cross-Cut Shredder suits users who like to shred on the spot, according to reviews. Posts at Amazon and Target crow about the convenience afforded by its size. Reviewers report keeping it close at hand for daily shredding sessions, reading the message and immediately shredding the document, and storing the unit in a desk drawer or inside a cabinet near the spot where mail is sorted. The Aurora AS420C also pleases users with its ultra-low price.
The biggest complaint recorded in Aurora AS420C reviews is the narrow width of the shredding slot -- ironically, the design feature that underlies its popularity. About half the size of the throat on most other shredders, the 4.5-inch slot enables a very compact footprint but can handle only a maximum thickness of four layers, which means folding a standard letter-sized sheet of paper in half before inserting. Some users who otherwise commend the performance find this step irritating.
Features include auto on/off and reverse modes. The model is rated to run for two minutes at 4-sheet capacity before needing a cool down period, and the 1.3 gallon bin holds the equivalent of 40 sheets of paper. The Aurora AS420C (starting at $29, Amazon) can also decimate paper clips, staples, and credit cards. It comes with a detachable power cord and a letter opener.
A combination of budget pricing, unimposing silhouette, and simplicity of operation make the Aurora AS420C Cross-Cut Shredder a decent selection for light personal use -- but only if you're not one to let sensitive documents pile up.
Practical features aside, Royal 85MX 10-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper Shredder reviews are discouraging. We found little more than a handful of online comments about this model, most of which are several years old. And those posted at Amazon are weighed down by the negative. Users like the dedicated shredding slots, pull-out basket, reverse switch, and rolling casters well enough, but their Royal 85MX reviews groan about performance. They cite constant paper jams that are hard to clear out and failure to live up to the stated 10-sheet capacity. Several report that two sheets is about all this model can handle without choking. They add that the throat is hard to feed and breakdowns of one sort or another are likely to occur.
The Royal 85MX (starting at $70, Amazon) sits atop locking casters and contains a 3.8-gallon waste bin that is pulled out for emptying. There is also an automatic start/stop function and special slots for paper, CDs, and credit cards.
With a price that hits the top of the Cheapism range and a performance that fails to impress, the Royal 85MX proves to be a poor value compared with the other shredders we researched.
Aurora AS810SD 8-Sheet Strip-Cut Review
The only strip-cut shredder we researched, the Aurora AS810SD 8-Sheet earns decent reviews for both performance and features. At Target users report that the shredder deftly handles the advertised eight sheets of paper in one pass and is generally efficient. Aurora AS810SD reviews at Amazon are slightly less favorable, however. Many users consider it reliable but a few posts note failure of the auto start/stop function and caution about overtaxing the machine in any given shredding session.
In addition to the usual paper, staples, and paper clips capacity, the Aurora AS810SD (starting at $30, Amazon) also handles credit cards through its 8.75-inch throat. CDs and DVDs can be shredded through a narrower dedicated slot. The resulting paper strips are 1/4-inch wide and CD strips are nearly 1.5-inches wide. According to the company website, the basket volume is 3.2 gallons.
Overall good reviews suggest the Aurora AS810SD is a worthy buy, but only if you can tolerate a lower level of security. Experts prefer confetti-like cross-cut shreds, especially for documents with personal information, so figure out what you'll be shredding before tossing this model into your cart.
A Walmart exclusive, this 6-Sheet Crosscut Shredder is arguably a steal. Hundreds of reviews assign the shredder four or five stars at the company's site, touting virtues such as the performance-to-price ratio, the efficiency, and the safety. Quite a few assert it handily beats out costlier rivals. But even fans of the Walmart 6-Sheet Crosscut Shredder make mention of a few hiccups. Many advise sticking with a maximum of four sheets at a pass, noting that six sheets pose too much of a challenge, and several report that it balks at windowed envelopes. Some also consider the 3.7-gallon waste bin to be a tad small, although that's about the size of the baskets found in other budget models.
The head of the shredder lifts off the basket for emptying, an action facilitated by a handle. There's a cover for the 8.7-inch slot during down times, as well as an auto-start function and a manual reverse to clear jams. The Walmart 6-Sheet Crosscut (starting at $23, Walmart) can also shred credit cards, small paper clips, and staples.
It's hard to ignore the appeal of the Walmart 6-Sheet Crosscut given the super-low price and more than passable performance. Its limited sheet capacity seems to be the primary weak spot.
Bonsaii DocShred C560-D Review
Even cheaper than some cross-cut shredders, the Bonsaii DocShred C560-D has limited functionality but might appeal to budget-minded users determined to mince documents with personal data into the tiniest of pieces. Like other inexpensive entry-level shredders, it receives its share of reviews about jams and overloads and is best for occasional use.
Very low price for a micro-cut shredder.
Thermal overload protection.
4-gallon wastebasket with a window.
4 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
Relatively short 2-minute run time and long 40-minute cool-down time.
Maximum 6-sheet intake.
Not suitable for credit cards or CDs/DVDs.
Users sing the praises of this mid-priced micro-cut shredder from Amazon. It's tough enough that some businesses have replaced professional shredding services, and plenty of reviews say it hits the 12-sheet mark with ease (there are claims to the contrary, however). Overall, it scores for power, quiet performance, and ease of use.
Sufficient bite for office and heavy-duty home use, reviews say.
Longest run time of any model we researched, at 8 minutes, with a 45-minute cool-down period.
Large 6.7-gallon pull-out bin with a window.
Accepts credit cards and CDs/DVDs.
Wheels for portability.
4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 3,500 reviewers on Amazon.
TechGearLab Editors' Choice.
Some griping about shreds spilling out when opening bin drawer.
Scattered reports of jams, malfunctions, and early product failure.
Staples Mailmate M7 Review
The usual complaints about malfunctioning units aside, the Staples Mailmate M7 wins fans for its compact size, user-friendly pull-out receptacle, and functionality. Many reviews extol its suitability for home and small offices. Its price exceeds the Cheapism ceiling, but for shoppers needing tabletop convenience, this model is hard to pass up.
Exceeds users' expectations, shredding thick envelopes and up to 12 sheets without strain.
Comparatively long 5-minute run time, with 30-minute cool-down period.
Table/desktop size is convenient for seniors.
Quieter than other budget models.
Thermal overload protection.
Auto-reverse to help clear paper jams.
4.2 out of 5 stars from more than 1,600 reviewers on the Staples site.
Some users consider the 1.62-gallon bin too small.
Scattered reports of defective units or limited longevity.
Fellowes Powershred 125Ci Review
The Fellowes Powershred 125Ci is a modestly priced commercial-grade cross-cut shredder, well suited to small businesses and midsize offices. Aside from some disgruntled reviews citing underwhelming performance, this 20-sheet model earns high praise from users for power, reliability, and efficiency: It keeps on going without slowing down or heating up.
Shreds like a beast, reviews say; very fast and relatively quiet.
Continuous run time of about 45 minutes is good for large jobs.
Anti-jam system refuses overly thick stacks and reverses when necessary to release blockages.
SafeSense feature automatically disables the cutter when a hand touches the opening.
Accepts credit cards, staples, paper clips, and CDs/DVDs.
14-gallon pull-out bin.
LED "full" indicator light.
Slim, compact footprint and wheels for portability.
Bin may need jostling to distribute 5/32 x 1 1/2-inch shreds evenly.
May balk at stacks shorter than the maximum 20 sheets.
Scattered reports of jams and assorted malfunctions.