Best Budget Fountain Pens 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

Expert Contributor

Rose Annemarie

Are you a calligraphy enthusiast? Are you a writer, struggling to find the perfect pen to jot down your ideas? Maybe you’re just looking for the perfect new accessory to your fancy bureau? Well, whatever your needs, we’ve got you covered – because this article will be taking you through our top ten picks for the best value fountain pen. Writing with these pens is an art form, but there’s no reason you can’t have fun picking the ones that work for you.

Our list is chock full of inexpensive fountain pens for any user under any budget – whether you want a vintage or modern fountain pen, the best beginner fountain pen, or the fountain pen best for writing smoothly, we have the perfect ink pen for you. Here’s a quick round-up of the table of contents:

Our FAQ and buyers’ guide section at the bottom will answer all your key questions when searching for the best fountain pens, while our top 5 hints will talk you through the key tips you’ll need to be thinking of when buying fountain pens. Is this your first fountain pen? If so, you’ll want to look at beginner fountain pens that offer a quality writing experience in any writing sessions, for your chosen price range.

Typical costs of the best affordable fountain pen can inevitably change dependent on features offered – for example, if you want to look at top rated fine nib fountain pens with a swish gold nib, this could be a little pricier than your standard run of the mill pen.

All of our models here offer up-to-date information from as recent as May 2020, with prices ranging from $10 to $90. This wide range in price just shows that you seriously have to shop around to match price against your needs and best interest. Looking for a fountain pen under $200? No worries – all of our listings meet that requirement! We have everything you need right here, so no need for making lists and shopping around… just sit back, relax, and pay attention.

Considerations for Choosing Fountain Pens

Whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned pro, searching for the fountain pens best for your desires can be a daunting experience. So, in order to help you out, we’ve compiled this list of 5 tips for helping you find the right inexpensive fountain pen for you.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of the pen you opt for will also affect your comfort and writing style, given that quality materials offer higher performance due to comfort. This is one of the reasons people prefer fountain models to ballpoint pens.

If you have larger hands, a smaller pen may be uncomfortable to hold – so it’s a good idea to look at the company guides for each version of pen to note exact dimensions in that line. This means that when you come to writing in your notebooks, the option you’ve picked gives you ease of writing… particularly handy if you’re an author looking for the kind of pen that will give your hand a rest and make your handwriting more legible.

Another mark not to miss, is that heavier pens can lead to fatigue – so you may think their sheen, luxurious look is doing you a service, when in reality it’s doing nothing for your writing and you’ll wish you’d have read the reviews and comments on the site to find anything else that could be more comfortable for your grip.

2. Filling Mechanism

Fountain pens have a range of filling styles which affect the ink flow and the convenience of your writing sessions. For example, true fountain pens used bottled ink and have piston fillers than draw ink through the pen from the nib.

What’s more, cartridge pens use disposable cartridges and are therefore refillable fountain pens. Finally, fountain pens with a fitted converter have the unique ability to use both cartridges and bottled ink – making them the most convenient model.

These factors will generally affect the price, given that more convenience requires mechanisms that are a little pricier to make, such as manipulating and fitting the ink window. Therefore, if you’re looking for the perfect pen to replace that one you lost in October 2017, you need to note how filling affects price. While you can find a great beginner pen from the fountain pen market for as little as 10 bucks, it may not be a convenient writing instrument after all.

3. Nib Material

Another key factor is to consider the range of material of nib that different people use, and what each design has to offer. There are three general types of material: stainless steel; iridium tip; and solid gold.

Stainless steel is sturdy, strong, and cheap to replace- so a stainless steel nib great as a low-price starter option from almost any brand.

Iridium Tip nibs reinforce stainless steel on higher quality pens – so this unique selling point might give a higher price point than a ballpoint pen, but this difference is worth it.

Solid gold nibs are a ‘practical luxury’ to most – offering a sleek design which moulds to your writing style over time, this one will feel good in your hand and look amazing straight out of the gift box… but it is a little pricier.

4. Nib Width and Shape

Another key thing when browsing our affiliate links is the shape and width of the nibs. The nib width generally varies the line width – so an extra fine nib will give you thin lines, which is popular in etching Japanese characters in Japanese calligraphic practice.

As you can imagine, the nib width will increase the line width, but this also means that the amount of ink being used in one stroke will increase. Therefore, a broad nib may be a great pick from the fountain pen world if you have large penmanship, but you’ll want to consider filling systems and their efficacy because, chances are, you’ll be using more ink and therefore spending more money long-term.

Nib sizes are also variant depending on shape. The three most common are round, stub, and italic. Round shapes are most common and provide seamless uniformity on paper – something that is important to most. Stub and italic nibs are generally used by calligraphers and for a more specialist fountain pen hobby. You might also want to look out for flex nibs, that can change the flow of ink on paper… but again this handy feature will undoubtedly come with a higher price tag.

5. Your Writing Style

The final thing we’d recommend looking for is a pen that suits your style, as the pen’s build quality will often be adapted to this. If you have smaller handwriting, broader nibs will likely be too broad for more intricate penmanship – so it’s best to go with a finer nib.

If you have bolder, spidery penmanship with lots of cursive elements, broader nib styles will help you write with ease more seamlessly with the fountain pen ink cartridges on offer.

Do your research before picking the category of pen you’re after, but here are some further things to think of to make life easier when it comes to putting the word on the page:

  • Durability
  • Ink Converters versus Piston Mechanism
  • Piston Filler and Piston Filling Mechanism
  • Grip Section
  • Brand, i.e. Pilot Metropolitan or Platinum Preppy

10 Best Cheap Fountain Pens

Thanks to us, it’s never been easier to buy a big-name fountain pen with all of the high-cost features that don’t actually break the bank. We’ll find you a pen in a series that offers a couple of different versions, looks good, and gives you zero trouble. In any case, we’re on your side, so have a read of this piece to find the new favorite pen you’re bound to love.

If you like any of the picks we’re advertising and find no problems going through with a sale based on our website recommendation, please let us know how we did!

1. Wordsworth & Black Silver Chrome Set

Wordsworth & Black Fountain Pen Set - Silver Chrome

Best Features: PDF instructions with the content of every package for easy use. Complementary ink converter in the barrel.

Our first retail option in the categories of budget fountain pens comes from Wordsworth & Black, with their pen set that offers an ink refill converter and not one, or two free cartridges… you get six! What a value combo.


With a range of colors to pick from, this medium nib pen comes with an ideal tip size for those with moderately sized written styling. The contoured grip type gives you an easy, ergonomic feel, whilst the thoughtful construction means that this pen is perfect for both left and right-handed writers!

It even comes in a gift box so you can buy this for your nearest and dearest. And if you’re short on cartridges? No bother! This pen gives you a hand by offering ink cartridge supplements. Put pen to paper in a range of colors – just be aware that there’s not a range of ink colors, just black.


Size and Weight: 13.9 x 1.27 x 5 cm/35 Grams | Filling Mechanism: Ink Cartridges | Nib Material: Silver Chrome | Nib Width:  Medium | Nib Shape: Bent

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2. Jinhao 5000 Luxurious Metal Pen with Dragon Carving

Jinhao 5000 Vintage

Best Features: Durability. Smooth, hard nib for you to easily apply pressure.

These second items are favorites of many customers, who all provide positive thoughts on Amazon countless times. You’ll struggle to find anywhere in the shops that, in comparison, can store a range of sellers like Jinhao – they nail the finer details with this Jinhao 5000, which comes with a Fude/ Bent Nib and a classic design.


A true hero, this pen gives you peace of mind by being comfortable on your fingers. It does not weigh a ton and is so seamless to use that you’ll think you’re using pencils.

No mess, no stress, with optimal recommendations with consistency. These pens are a perfect favorite for everyone, lefties or righties, adults or kids, and provide serious bang for your buck in our opinion. Don’t just listen to us – listen to the thousands of Amazon users who pick this fountain as their preference.


Size and Weight: 7 x 3 x 0.8 inches/1.58oz | Filling Mechanism: Ink Refill Converter | Nib Material: Metal | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Bent

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3. PILOT Metropolitan Collection Pens

Pilot 91107 - Metropolitan Collection

Best Features: Brass barrel. Users love the medium nib.

The third listing in our search for the greatest fountain pens comes from PILOT Metropolitan, with the medium nib, black ink colors pens.


These pens are brilliantly durable, better than any Bic, and give you a beautiful steel nib with a stainless brass barrel. This barrel gives you ultimate power and flexibility, meeting all of your desires.

These quality pens come at a very agreeable cost, beating out market competitors like the Lamy Safari or Jinhao X750. Perfect for hands-on enjoyment, from beginners to pros, these products are an obvious choice for their sleek looks and sleeker inks.


Size and Weight: 14.73 x 1.27 x 1.27 cm/102 Grams | Filling Mechanism: G2 gel ink refills | Nib Material: Plastic | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Bent

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4. Lamy Safari

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen - Charcoal

Best Features: Sleek looks. Great provisions, such as the barrel and clip cap.

The fourth listing we have is the Lamy Safari fine nibbed, and gosh does it offer a lot of things for you! These products are perfect for beginners and are one of the most highly recommended ink cartridge pens we’ve seen.


These pens offer a black coated steel point and come with a blue cartridge. These pens are also a great part of your collection as they accept the Z24 cartridge converter, which you can buy separately.

One of the things we love about the Lamy Safari is the comfortable-to-hold body which doesn’t hurt any part of your hand, not one bit. This Lamy item has the looks, the touch, and many more – it deserves a place in your desk drawer.


Size and Weight: 21.08 x 3.05 x 19.05 cm/27.22 Grams | Filling Mechanism: Ink Cartridge | Nib Material: Plastic | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Fountain

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5. PILOT MR Retro Pop

Pilot 91435 - Mr. Retro

Best Features: Power to you- be mightier than the sword with this versatile, easy-to-use item. Available for use with a converter or cartridge.

Our midway choice is clearly for someone with fine taste and that’s a fact – the PILOT MR Retro Pop pens come with a range of patterns that will make your kids too cool for school.


These deserve a special seat in your pocket for their classic aesthetic and form, after all, the pen is mightier than the sword. In an array of colors and patterns such as silver or marble green, these special pens come at low costs with brilliant balance for your left or right hand.

Their cool, retro effect looks cool but will feel even better, whilst the sheen finishes prove that PILOT make brilliant pens of trusted qualities. This bunch will face up to any situation. With the seller’s permission, of course, if you’re unsatisfied you’re within your rights to return. Who knows, you could win one in giveaways or get a sweet coupon discount.


Size and Weight: 13.72 x 1.27 x 1.27 cm/113 Grams | Filling Mechanism: International standard ink cartridges | Nib Material: Metal | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Fountain

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6. Black Forest Fine Tip Classic with Converter

Hongdian with Metal Pen Case

Best Features: Metal box. Fine 11m point.

Our sixth pick offers sure fire proof of a platinum-certified item. It’s the Asvine Black Forest classic make, with a converter and metal box.


These are proof that you don’t have to compromise durable touch for price, as their high ratings and low price just might make them right for you. From Germany to France, any location in Europe or the USA – they can be on their way to you in no time with fast, eco-friendly shipping.

The carefully calculated weight is suited to long time written tasks, whilst the artful form of the body means that you’re able to write beautiful scripts in no time – the ink flows like water.


Size and Weight: 19.56 x 4.57 x 2.54 cm/68 Grams | Filling Mechanism: Cartridge | Nib Material: Metal | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Fine

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7. Lamy Safari 17F in Umber, with Cartridge

Lamy Safari 1203886

Best Features: Cartridge provision with purchase. Good price point.

One of the things we love about this next listing is that it comes with an array of useful things for any task. With the Lamy Safari 17F, you get a premium German blue ink pen which is a bona fide must-buy.


This stationery is sleek, stylish, and amongst other things it’s highly durable. Pop this into Google and you’ll soon be sharing an entire pack with your friends – because this stationery make gives you every element you could possible need in one sleek box

The constructed design and ergonomic feel makes this stationery set a must-buy.


Size and Weight: 18.01 x 11.99 x 2.21 cm/9.07 Grams | Nib Material: Fountain Pen | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Fine

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8. Pilot Varsity Disposable Set

Pilot 90010 x3

Best Features: Sleek looking. Free flowing inks – seamless operation.

This set of 3 incorporates a sleek design, easy flowing black ink, and a very agreeable cost… it’s the PILOT Disposable Set.


With a smooth system that relies upon seamless ink feeding, this advanced model requires absolutely no maintenance and is fashionable, with its sleek cap.

The medium drillpoint allows you to write freely and without constraint, whilst the modern design makes it appear totally cool wherever you put it.


Size and Weight: 15.24 x 5.08 x 22.86 cm/14.17 Grams | Nib Material: Stainless Steel |  Nib Shape: Point

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9. Dayspring Engraved/ Personalised PARKER

Dayspring Pens

Best Features: Custom engraving. Trusted manufacturer.

Our penultimate listing comes from Dayspring Pens, and allows you to customize this make to give it to a friend or family member as a present. The Gold Trim Rollerball Fountain gives you precision, freedom, and care.


This stationery essential can be engraved for free, which means you can personalise with a name or message… perfect present, right?

The glossy lacquer finish gives a suave appearance whilst protecting the body so it’s guaranteed to last. You also get a two-year mechanical warranty to protect you against any haphazard instances of use.


Size and Weight: 6 Ounce | Filling Mechanism: Ink Converter | Nib Material: Stainless Steel | Nib Width:  Medium | Nib Shape: Point

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10. ZenZoi Handcrafted Vintage Bamboo with Refill Converter

ZelzoI Bamboo Vintage

Best Features: Vintage aesthetic. Easily refilled.

Our final listing comes from ZenZoi, and is the handcrafted vintage bamboo writers’ instrument with a refill converter. Perfect for all calligraphic tasks, these executive pens are guaranteed to provide satisfaction.


This executive piece of stationery offers you a bamboo case so you can buy this for anybody of your choosing. What’s more, the ABS plastic grip provides comfortable grip and ease, whilst you’re ensured with a 100% cashback guarantee if unsatisfied.

Antique, stylish, and elegant, this present is a perfect model to opt for if you’re looking for something for a friend, colleague, or family member.


Size and Weight: 17.53 x 4.32 x 0.76 cm/113.4 Grams | Filling Mechanism: Ink Converter | Nib Material: Bamboo | Nib Width: Medium | Nib Shape: Bent

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Our Favorites:

The Best Fountain Pen for the Money (Best Budget Pick)

The greatest value pick is 2: Jinhao 5000. With its consistent success and status as a market favorite, the durable and seamless nature of this stationery makes it a perfect budget listing.

The Cheapest Available

Our cheapest available is the 8: Pilot Disposable. It’s easy to use, cheap to get your hands on, and lasts for a while too – what’s not to love?

The Best Premium Pick

Our best premium pick is the 9:Dayspring Personalised PARKER Engraved. With the ability of engraving so you can offer it as a personalised present, this stationery is perfect for anybody – from impending graduates, to a Secret Santa for your colleague.

FAQs and Buyers’ Guide

What Is the Best Pen to Buy?

In short, the best pen to buy will depend on your requirements and what you want out of your fountain pen, such as whether you’re opting for a medium nib or fine point fountain pen.

Generally, our favorite pick is the Jinhao 5000, as this Japan-based manufactured pen is the perfect mix of durable and affordable, but other good ones can be found with brands like Lamy or Platinum Preppy. It really does depend on whether you prefer a steel or gold nib, or what things you’re looking for overall.

Nonetheless, we have a range of choice for all writers, so you don’t have to break the bank with a Mont Blanc.

What Is the Best Cheap Fountain Pen?

Our choice of cheapest pen is the Pilot Varsity Disposable, as we just mentioned above, but you can any cheap item suited to your requirements wherever you search!

There’s something for everybody, from writers to hobbyists, with lots of different ranges of price to choose from. With elements like size and weight, here’s our guide for different price ranges – so you can find something for you through the course of your search:

$0-10: testing it out

$11-50 : diving into quality brand picks

$51-100: stepping to professional standard

$101-200 and beyond… : premium and luxury

What Is the Smoothest Writing Fountain Pen?

There’s a variety of options for low-cost picks for anyone, any time. Beginnings and pros alike, as well as others, will soon see the importance of finding a pen that writes your name smoothly in the way you’d like.

The smoothest ink pen, that allows a premium feel and seamless glide across the pages, will incorporate:

  • An adequate size and weight
  • The correct nib dimensions
  • The correct nib material
  • Tip reinforcements

Our choice is the Dayspring Personalised PARKER.

Is a Fountain Pen Worth It?

There are an array of benefits that a fountain pen can offer, that your regular ballpoints just can’t match. For instance, the ink capacity of fountains is often a lot higher. Here are our key points that set fountain pens apart from any other pen in your collection. Feel free to review these pros before making a purchase, as chances are this type can last you a lifetime.

  1. Easily write in cursive for desirable aesthetics and art purposes
  2. Better comfort and premium material – a deal breaker
  3. Clutter: less dried out Bics around the boardroom or school classroom
  4. Longevity: long lasting, easy maintenance in the home with 0 trouble
  5. Value for money
  6. Easily reparable – you’ll save tons long-term

About This Expert

Rose Annemarie
Full-time writer. Blogger. Dedicated wife. Mother of 3 amazing kids. I love learning about everything from the latest tech gadgets, innovative new home designs and can be found regularly reading up on parenting tips. There is always room to grow!