Best Ballpoint Pens on a Budget - Our Top Picks

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Parker Jotter Ballpen - Our Number 1 Budget Ballpoint

In our increasingly digital world, the allure of a finely crafted, reliable ballpoint pen remains undeniably strong. Whether it's jotting down notes, signing important documents, or simply expressing your thoughts on paper, the right ballpoint pen can elevate the act of writing from mundane to truly satisfying. In this guide, we'll look at some of the best ballpoint pens on a budget and which one is right for you.

Why a Good Ballpoint Pen Matters:

A good ballpoint pen isn't just a writing tool; it's an extension of your thoughts and ideas. It bridges the gap between the tactile sensation of paper and the fluidity of your thoughts. The way it glides across the page, the ink's consistency, and the comfort it offers in your hand all play crucial roles in the writing experience.

Our Evaluation Criteria:

If you're just starting out then you know the choice is almost limitless, with so many pen brands vying for your attention.  As with everything, some are better than others.  To help make things easier for you, our team at Executive Pens Direct have chosen their favorite ballpoint pens for writing and we've reviewed them here.  We look at 7 main criteria when reviewing each ballpoint pen and give a final verdict.

  1. Writing Performance: We'll assess the smoothness, ink flow, and line consistency of each pen to ensure a superior writing experience.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: The durability, comfort, and grip provided by the pen's construction materials will be closely examined along with design elements, color options, and overall visual appeal.

  3. Refill Options: Evaluate whether the pen offers various refill options. Some pens allow you to choose different ink colors or tip sizes, providing versatility for different writing tasks.

  4. Weight and Balance: Consider the weight distribution and balance of the pen. Some users prefer a well-balanced pen, while others may like a pen that's heavier at the tip for smoother writing.

  5. Grip Comfort: Evaluate the comfort of the grip section. Pens with ergonomic grips or rubberized sections can provide a more comfortable writing experience, especially during extended use.

  6. Packaging: Some high-end pens come in luxurious packaging, which can be an important aspect for gift-givers or collectors.

  7. Customization: Check if the pen offers any customization options, such as engraving or personalization. This can be particularly appealing for gift purchases.

Schneider Slider Rave RT Ballpen

Budget vs. Luxury:

We understand that preferences and budgets vary. That's why we've curated two distinct lists to cater to all pen enthusiasts. In the following sections, we'll present you with the five best budget ballpoint pens, ideal for those seeking quality without breaking the bank.  Then in our Best Luxury Ballpoint pens review, we'll explore the world of extravagance, showcasing the five best expensive ballpoint pens for those who value exclusivity, premium materials, and impeccable craftsmanship.

The Best Budget Ballpoint Pens

1. The Budget Champ - Parker Jotter

Parker Jotter Ballpoint - Best Budget Pens

There is no other place to start.  Since its release in 1954, the Parker Jotter has consistently been one of the best selling ballpoint pens and with good reason.  The all round design and performance is superb, and with Parker continually updating the design to keep it fresh, it has gained something of a following, with collectors trying to capture every design and colour.  Here's our review:

  1. Writing Performance: The refill inside the jotter is Parker's own standard refill with its own ink mixture.  The flow of ink (particularly from the medium nib is ideal for everyday note taking, it will keep up with the fastest of scribblers without pause.  The medium line is a nice width and Parker ballpoints are so smooth.  You can happily write all day with one of these pens and not get tired.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: The Jotter Original has a hard plastic barrel with metal trim and click action function.  The click is one of the most satisfying of all retractable ballpoint pens.  Other variations are the Premium Jotters with all metal barrels which gives a nicer aesthetic.  You can now also get a Jotter XL version which is a bit more expensive but is better for those with larger hands. Finally, the pen comes in so many colours and finishes.  There's an option for everyone.

  3. Refill Options:  Parker Provides refills for all of its pens, and the Jotter is no exception.  A range of refills are available in various colours and in Fine, Medium and Broad width.  All last a long time, one of the longest of this list.
  4. Weight and Balance: The Jotter has a fine balance, the metal top gives it enough weight to help with the feel of the writing, while the plastic barrel allows the pen to be quite light, meaning a more comfortable weight for long writing sessions..
  5. Grip Comfort: The Parker Jotter doesn't have a dedicated grip section, it has an ultra smooth barrel, which some may find hard to use if you prefer a rubber grip section.  Ultimately this one is user preference, but it could be the one area that the Parker Jotter doesn't excel in.

  6. Packaging: Parker Jotter Ballpoint pens are offered in the same Parker gift box as their more premium IM range, meaning it can make the perfect gift and, on appearance, looks like a much more expensive pen than it actually is.  The giftbox is cardboard aswell so it is recyclable.

  7. Customization: All Parker Jotter Ballpoint pens can be engraved or printed.  This is why they make such good promotional pens, and why you always end up with one in the house even if you have never bought one.

2. The Wallet-Friendly Wonder - The Papermate Flexgrip RT

Papermate Flexgrip RT - Best Budget Pens

While the Papermate Flexgrip RT won't win any beauty pageants, it certainly conforms to function over fashion.  This pen is an office workhorse - some pens are for fun and some for business; this is definitely for business.  We love it here at Executive Pens Direct, as a no nonsense pen that we keep our desks stocked up with.  Also check out the new Papermate Flexgrip Pastel Colours

  1. Writing Performance: We have to remember that this is a cheap disposable pen.  With this in mind, in our view it is one of the best disposable ballpoint pens available.  The flow is smooth and consistent and  doesn't require any pressure to write with, like so many cheap pens do.  Our choice is the black 1.0 medium nib, which surprisingly feels more like a gel pen such is its effortless writing style.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: The build feels durable and the rubberised coating gives a  more premium feel to a pen in the lowest price bracket.  Stainless steel accents add to the aesthetics, while the

  3. Refill Options: As a disposable pen there are no refill options.

  4. Weight and Balance: The rubber coated barrel gives the pen a nice weight, and the shape of the pen being slightly larger at the top helps to balance the pen to give a comfortable hold for lobger periods of time without too much fatigue.

  5. Grip Comfort: The idea of this pen is easygrip.  Papermate have designed this pen around its material giving the best grip for long duration writing and it works. The one grumble we might have are the ridges where the grip is can sometimes feel sharp if you move your grip which might put you off this pen.

  6. Packaging:  Comes in a plastic/card blister pack in multipacks.

  7. Customization: The pen material doesn't allow it to be personalised.

3. Bargain Brilliance - The Pilot Super Grip G Ballpoint Pen

Pilot Super Grip Ballpoint Pen - Best Budget Pens

The Pilot Super Grip G Ballpoint Pen is another top pick for ultra budget pens.  Looks budget and feels budget but definitely doesn't write budget.  If you're looking for smooth, then this is the pen for you.

  1. Writing Performance:  At a price point below £2, this pen is the obvious choice for the budget conscious writer.  Forget the looks, this pen is all about free flowing writing.  It delivers such a smooth flow, that it could be mistaken for a gel pen.  In fact, Pilot advertises this as a standard oil based ballpoint ink, so it makes the list.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: As you'd expect for a £2 pen, the materials are on the cheap side, with a clear plastic barrel, but you do get a nice sized rubberised grip for comfort.  Added to this, it is a rectractable with a definite 'click' that doesn't feel cheap.

  3. Refill Options: As a disposable pen there are no refill options, but the choice of ink colours are reasonable, they have the standard black, blue, green and red, but they also have the neon options, with vivid neon pinks, yellows and greens, which make the pen a fun choice.

  4. Weight and Balance: The rubber coated barrel gives the pen a nice weight, a little on the lighter side being plastic, which some people may not like, personal preference again, but the balance is good, so it should suit most people.

  5. Grip Comfort: Pilot have given the pen a rubberised grip.  It helps with longer writing periods, as does the grip thickness, it is thicker than the Jotter and the Papermate, which should suit a larger hand.

  6. Packaging:  No gift box, basic packaging, these are often sold loose.

  7. Customization: The pen material doesn't allow the pen to be personalised.

4. Frugal Favorite - The Schneider Slider Rave

Schneider Slider Rave - Best Budget Ballpens

Schneider began as a refill manufacturer so they know how to make a smooth refill.  It is no surprise then that their great ballpoint pen offerings are both plentiful and high quality.  Our top pick is the Schneider Slider Rave RT Ballpoint Pen for both its ergonomic design and rubberised grip finish.

  1. Writing Performance:  The refill in the Schneider Slider Rave RT utilises Schneider's proprietary ink formula, named Viscoglide designed for smooth, smudge free writing and free flowing ink.  The Sliver Rave is the perfect example of a pen that you can trust to just work, all day, every day, problem free.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: The Slider Rave RT is coated in a soft rubberised coating with metal accents, with an ergonomic shape that is a nice thickness for reduced fatigue and higher comfort levels while writing.  The RT click action is solid and dependable and the pen feels a little more premium than you'd expect for the price.

  3. Refill Options: The Silver Rave RT has refill options allowing you to plug and play.  The Slider 755 refill comes in medium or extra broad, and both give even lines without smudging.  The special formula is also waterproof and is smudge free even while highlighting.

  4. Weight and Balance: The rubber coating of the barrel and the ergonomic shape which flares out at the top and bottom gives a great balance while writing and the weight feels just right.

  5. Grip Comfort: The soft touch rubber barrel means the grip level is higher than other pens, and the shape of the grip section along with the pen thickness in the grip area both aid in providing maximum writing comfort.

  6. Packaging:  No gift box, basic blister packaging

  7. Customization: The pen material doesn't allow the pen to be personalised.

5. Affordable Elegance - Lamy Logo Ballpoint Pen

Lamy Logo - Best Budget Ballpoint Pens

Lamy are often a brand of choice for beginner fountain pen enthusiasts, they are very well known for their no nonsense fountain pen nibs.  But their Ballpoint pens are also very well made with particular focus on smoothness and ink flow.  Here we have chosen the Lamy Logo Ballpoint, for its budget price range and affordable elegance, one of the best ball pens on the market.  A contemporary mimimalist design, it is still the most striking pen in our budget list and at under £10 well worth considering.

  1. Writing Performance:  Lamy ballpoint pen refills are smooth, free flowing and unlike the inks in some of our pens on this list, it is not a hybrid ink, it is purely oil based and so it will cater for those who don't like the slightly wetter inks.

  2. Materials and aesthetics: The Lamy Logo is made with a full metal barrel, with coloured accents.  The budget design matt steel version here has a lightweight feel to it and a slim width, which might be an issue for some.  It looks premium and feels premium, and it doesn't rely on adding rubberised grip sections for comfort.

  3. Refill Options: There are colour options for these pens, the lamy M16 refill fits the Logo.  It comes in red, black, blue and green.  So plenty to work with, and each pen's colour accents denote the ink colour. (unless you change the refill of course)

  4. Weight and Balance:  Weight and balance is good, however as mentioned, the slim design may or may not suit you.

  5. Grip Comfort: The pen feels comfortable to write with, the completely smooth barrel means there are no edges that can cause discomfort and very little pressure is required for writing, which will reduce fatigue.

  6. Packaging:  Can be provided with or without gift box.

  7. Customization: The pen can be laser engraved to create a unique gift or promotional item.

Honourable mentions that didn't quite make it this time

1. Uni-ball Jetstream

The Uni-ball Jetstream was designed purely as a budget disposable pen that offers ultra smooth writing.  In this regard, it does just that and from reviews online, people love it.  Uni-ball does offer refills aswell if you want to squeeze a bit more savings out of it.  Uni-ball describes the pen as:

"The uni Jetstream RT pen has the smooth even ink flow of a rollerball but with the fast-drying properties of a ballpoint ensuring less smudging, making it ideal for left-handers."

It is difficult to define this as a ballpoint pen, so for this reason it didn't quite make our top 5 budget ballpens list.  Check out our best budget rollerball rundown to find out if it made that list.

Uni-ball Jetstream

2. BIC Cristal Ballpoint

Many see this as the ballpoint that started it all, and although not wholly true, its name is synonymous with the ballpoint.  The BIC Cristal has consistently been the best selling ballpoint throughout history, and its design has barely changed, with good reason - it is very good at what it does. And it is very very cheap. 

Although it is a favorite of many, the main complaint seems to be that the barrel is too thin for larger hands.  This would be my main complaint aswell, and the reason it just misses out on our top 5.  However it is a solid choice if you want a bargain pen that excels at its price point.

BIC Cristal Ballpoint Pen - Best Budget Pens

And Finally Our Fun Choice - Two Colour Legami Llama Ballpoint Pen

We couldn't resist adding this one in.  Legami make brilliant gel pens that light up your workspace, and they have some great ballpoint pens aswell.  They write with super smooth free flowing ink, and come in so many fun designs.  This one is our top pick, not for business but as a fun writing utensil that is a joy to write with.

The Legami Llama dual colour Ballpoint gives your work some flair, with 2 colours: Pink and light blue, and options to add green, dark blue and black aswell, allowing you to express yourself. 

Writing can be tedious and hardwork.  When you add some fun into the mix, it feels just a little less like work and, for that, we love this pen.

Legami Llama Ballpoint - Best Budget Ballpoints for fun

Hopefully we have given you some ideas on your next ballpoint pen to help your budget.  The Parker Jotter promises excellent, quality build and is a timeless classic, while the Papermate Flexgrip is a brilliant workhorse with one of the smoothest ink flows. The Pilot Super Grip impresses with its remarkable performance and ultra low price point meaning you could buy a selection of colours for your desk.

The Schneider Slider Rave manages to balance affordability with sophistication and its ergonomic design positions it as a favorite for long duration writing and the Lamy Logo impresses with its premium design at budget cost, while still being a reliable ballpoint option that can even be gifted with a modern Lamy gift box and personalised engraving.

Budget ballpoint pens offer practicality, accessibility, and affordability. They are perfect for daily use, note-taking, and situations where pens tend to disappear mysteriously.  Your pen is more than just a tool; it's a channel for your thoughts and creativity.

The world of pens is rich with stories and personal connections, and we'd love to hear yours.  Your choice of pen might just be the thing that sparks your creativity, productivity, and self-expression.

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