Having a car seat that is safe and functional for your child is imperative. You also want to make sure the car seat you purchase is the right one for the age of your child and will fit comfortably in your car.
At the same time, if you are like me, you want to get the best and safest car seat but also don’t want to overspend. As a mom of 3, it was very important to me to save money, while also keeping my children safe while driving. That’s why I am sharing my top picks for the best budget car seats on the market today.
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What Makes a Car Seat Budget-Friendly?
I define a budget car seat as any car seat that is under $150.
As you start looking for an affordable car seat, the number one thing you want to make sure is that the car seat has all the required safety features for your child’s age. Now the price point will also depend on the type of car seat you need to purchase.
If you are looking for a budget infant car seat then you can expect to pay up to $150 for one. To truly get more bang for your buck, you may want to consider using a convertible car seat from day one.
This will allow you to skip the infant car seat purchase. However, do keep in mind it could make taking trips out with your newborn more difficult.
The budget-friendly price tag for a convertible car seat is less than $130. As your child grows you will be headed to booster seats. When it comes to booster seats you can expect to pay between $28 and $60 for a budget one.
Are Budget Car Seats Safe?
When it comes to the safety of our children we want to make sure that they are well taken care of and always out of harms way. This is especially the case when it comes to driving with them in a car.
However, car seats can come with very hefty price tags. Often one would think to have the very best quality and safety specs you need to spend a lot of money. But this is not necessarily the case. You can find many high quality car seats that cater to all stages of your child’s life, while also being safe and super budget-friendly.
Cheapest Car Seats By Type (That Are Also Good Quality)
Before we get to the full list of the best budget car seats, let’s take a look at the ones that are cheapest on the list. For a detailed overview of all the best affordable car seats and why – keep on scrolling.
- Cheapest Infant Car Seat: Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX
- Cheapest Convertible Car Seat: Evenflo 2-in-1 Tribute LX (weight limit 40lb) or Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX (weight limit 65lb)
- Cheapest Booster Seat: Graco TurboBooster backless booster car seat
Reasons To Get a Budget Car Seat
Now that we have seen that buying a budget car seat is perfectly acceptable, here are some of the main reasons to get a one.
- Having another child and don’t want to spend excessive amounts on another car seat
- Trying to save money or are on a budget
- Do not need or want anything fancy – just something safe
- Spending money wisely is important to you
With that said, let’s get started reviewing the best budget car seats by type on the market today!
The Best Affordable Infant Car Seats
Budget car seats are not necessarily some no-name brand item that is sitting in a random supermarket. You can get really well-known car seat brands at affordable prices. Here is my list of the best budget-friendly infant car seats.
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX
This Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX seat is my personal favorite and the car seat I used for my kids when they were under 1 year-old. Some of the features and benefits include:
- Protects rear-facing infants 4-35 lb and up to 32″
- Lightweight making it easy to carry from car to stroller
- 4-position adjustable base for easy installation and keeping your baby comfortable as she grows
- ProtectPlus Engineered to protect your little one in frontal, side, rear, and rollover crashes
Overall this is a great first car seat for your infant at a very affordable price.
Baby Trend Secure Snap 35
The Baby Trend Secure Snap infant car seat is a high-quality option. I love this seat because of the energy-absorbing foam for extra head protection. Some of the features and benefits include:
- 5-point safety harness with easy one-hand harness adjustment and push-button release
- Removable 4-piece grow with me insert
- Extra large 3-panel canopy
- Multi-grip carrying handle
- No-rethread harness allows for simple and easy installation
- Four recline positions
- Flexible latch connectors and built-in connector storage
- Built-in belt lock-off for installing with vehicle belts
This infant car seat is a great affordable choice. You can’t go wrong with either this one or the Graco seat mentioned above.
>>Interesting read: When To Buy a Car Seat During Pregnancy<<
The Best Budget-Friendly Rear-Facing To Front-Facing Convertible Car Seats
The next category we will discuss is convertible car seats. More specifically the car seats on this list can easily convert from rear-facing to front-facing car seats.
This type of car seat is often a better option if you really want to save and get more bang for your buck because you can use them from the newborn stage through the toddler stage. You will want to consider convenience versus saving money though.
Personally, I preferred to get an infant car seat and then switch to a convertible car seat because an infant seat is much easier for taking babies up to 9 months old in and out of the car. But, the negative is you will have to spend money on two car seats instead of just one.
So, let’s get started on my list of the best budget-friendly convertible car seats. I am confident you will find something that works for you.
Please note: I think that it is important to not only talk about the car seats I would recommend, but also those that I would not recommend. It is important to be transparent when it comes to these kinds of products. In saying that, I don’t recommend Safety 1st car seats. We had these seats and I found the top buckle hard to snap in and out and the fabric came apart on the inserts.
Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat
First up is the Evenflo Sonus convertible car seat. This seat moves from being rear-facing to front-facing seamlessly and can handle weight up to 65lb. This car seat is durable and allows for extended use. Features and benefits include:
- Up-front harness adjustment providing easy movement and central, front access to the harness adjuster for an accurate, snug fit
- Six shoulder harness positions
- Dual (two) cup holders
- Durable fabrics – that are machine washable and easily removable
This convertible seat has a very attractive and affordable price tag.
Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
The Baby Trend Trooper seat is extremely cost-effective since it can go from infant rear-facing to toddler rear-facing and then finally to forward-facing. The weight limit is 65lbs.
This convertible car seat also comes in a few different colors so you can select the color you like best for your car. Features and benefits include:
- The width of this car seat means you can fit 3 seats in your car at the same time
- Rear-facing recline flip foot allows for easy installation
- Built-in bubble level indicator makes finding the correct angle simple
- 5-position shoulder height adjustment and 3-position crotch buckle for seat adjustment
- Super deep side wings for better head protection
This car seat is very affordable and is super stylish too.
Evenflo 2-in-1 Tribute LX
Here we have another car seat in the Evenflo product group. The Evenflo 2-in-1 Tribute LX can fit rear-facing infants from 5-40lbs. It can also convert to a front-facing toddler seat with a weight limit of 40lbs. It’s important to note the weight limit is only 40 lbs here, so take that into consideration when selecting the best convertible seat at the best price.
The Tribute LX meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards, as well as Evenflo’s side impact test standard for structural integrity. Features and benefits include:
- 5-point harness system with 4 shoulder strap positions accommodates growing children
- Light and compact weight makes it an excellent choice for smaller vehicles, movement between multiple cars, and air travel
- Easy to remove, machine-washable seat pads
- Removable cup holder
Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX
The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX is one of the most affordable on this list of convertible seats, but it still packs a punch when it comes to its safety standards. Cosco has been one of the leading brands when it comes to children’s products and the safety that goes along with it, so you cannot go wrong.
The weight limit is 40lbs for rear-facing and 65lbs for front-facing. Features and benefits:
- Latch-equipped making it easier to adjust the straps and clip baby in and out with one hand
- Light and compact – perfect for travelling and moving from one vehicle to another
- The 5-point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features 5 heights and 3 buckle locations
- Can fit 3 of these seats side by side in the back seat of most cars
- Extra padding and head protection
- This car seat meets or exceeds federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards and includes a 1-year limited warranty
Disney Baby Onlook 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
It is a Disney car seat – that is all we need to know. But seriously, it is really cute and you have a Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse option.
This is a fantastic convertible car seat that has a weight limit of 40lbs for both rear-facing and front-facing. You will find that the seat is easy to move around and change from one direction to the other.
It is important to note that this seat is part of the Cosco product line, so you can be assured of safety. Features and benefits include:
- The five-point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features six heights and three buckle locations
- Built-in, side-impact protection keeps your little one extra secure
- Easily remove the machine-washable and dryer-safe car seat pad to clean
- Perfect for travel, the seat is certified for use on aircraft and gives your child a familiar seat during a flight
- Two cup holders
This Disney-branded car seat has a price tag that is just slightly more than some of the seats on our list, but if you just fell in love with it’s cuteness – it is well worth it.
The Best Budget Convertible To Booster Car Seats
You might find yourself in need of just a front-facing convertible car seat. In this case it’s cost effective to get a seat that can do both front-facing as a convertible car seat and then transition to a booster seat.
This list has the best budget car seats that can convert from a front-facing car seat (with 5-point harness) to a booster seat. I also want to note that the list for this section is somewhat small because most of these kinds of seats tend to be quite pricey. But nonetheless, I have found some of my favorites.
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Seat
Graco is always well-received and my personal favorite for car seats. The brand is synonymous with quality and safety.
This Tranzitions 3-in-1 booster seat is no exception. You will find that with all the safety features and comfort included with this seat, it is well worth its price.
The weight limit is 100lbs and can easily convert to a backless booster seat. To stay within industry safety standards, the minimum weight for this seat is 30-40lbs. Features and benefits include:
- No-rethread simply safe adjust harness system allows the headrest and harness to adjust together in one motion
- Lightweight and portable
- One-hand, 8-position adjustable headrest that grows with your child
- Two cup holders
- Open-loop belt guides help properly position your vehicle’s seat belt
- Easily washable fabric
Evenflo Maestro Sport Convertible Booster Car Seat
Evenflo has so many budget-friendly car seat options! This Evenflo Maestro convertible booster car seat is a great value because it is so easy to convert it from a front-facing seat to a booster seat.
As the name implies, it is very sporty looking and it comes in some really nice colors. This seat has a weight limit of 110lbs. Features and benefits include:
- Dual use with a 5-point harness car seat for toddlers (ages 2-4, 22-50 pounds, 28-50 inches tall) and a high-back booster seat (ages 4-8, 40-110 pounds, 44-57 inches tall)
- Adjustable harness and belt with a shoulder seat belt guide for the booster seat to keep it in the proper position
- Easy to clean with a wipeable and machine-washable car seat pad
- 2 built-in cup holders
- Meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and Evenflo’s side impact standards
The price point on this booster car seat is very reasonable and one of the cheaper options on the list.
If you are looking for a super affordable booster car seat with all the bells and whistles, then you have found it in the Evenflo Chase harnessed booster. This booster seat is 2-in-1 and has a weight limit of 110lbs.
It converts from a 5-point harness to a belt-positioning car seat allowing for extended use for your child. Features and benefits include:
- Upfront harness adjust for easy and central, front access to the harness adjuster, which provides an accurate, snug fit
- Equipped with latch systems allowing for easy installation and transfer between multiple vehicles
- 2 crotch buckle positions for more seating space as your child grows
- Integrated cup holders without increasing the width of the car seat – allowing multiple car seats to fit in your back seat
The Best Budget High-Back Booster Car Seats
Why would you choose a high-back booster car seat? Simply because they provide a lot of added protection and support.
Most of these seats come with extra padding and deep, padded side wings. This offers protection and support to the head, neck, and torso in the event of a collision, as well as side impact protection.
These types of seats make use of seatbelts to hold your child safely in place. Here are my two favorite high-back booster seats with budget-friendly price tags.
Graco TurboBooster High Back Booster Seat
The Graco TurboBooster high back booster seat is minimalistic, but provides your older child with the support and protection that they need. This seat is perfect for children from 4-10 years of age and has a weight limit of 100lbs or 57 inches in height. Features and benefits include:
- 2-in-1 seat that easily converts from a high back booster to a backless booster
- EPS, energy-absorbing foam for effective impact management
- Padded, height-adjustable armrests and hide-away cup holders
- Open-loop belt guides help correctly position your vehicle’s seat belt (latches are not included in this model)
- Fully adjustable multi-layer headrest
- Engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed the US standard FMVSS 213
EvenFlo GoTime LX
By far the most affordable car seat in this entire article. The EvenFlo GoTime LX high-back booster car seat features a deep design with overlapping head and body sides, providing added support where it’s needed most.
This seat meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards. As we have seen in the other categories, EvenFlo car seats are perfect for your wallet AND are extremely safe and functional.
This seat can easily convert from a high-back booster to a backless booster meaning you will have years of use ahead of you.
The Best Backless Budget Booster Seat
My favorite for this category and the seat we personally use in our family is the Graco TurboBooster backless booster car seat. A backless booster seat is the go-to when you have an older child.
This particular seat has a weight limit of 100lbs or 57 inches in height. Features and benefits include:
- Top rated by leading consumer magazines and publications
- Rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed U.S. safety standards
- Engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed US Standard FMVSS 213
Now you know the best budget car seats available in each car seat category. Save yourself some money and get one today!
The most important thing to remember when shopping for a car seat is safety. Having a car seat that converts and grows with your child is something you should consider because it can save you money in the long term.
The main items you should be looking at when shopping for budget car seats are ease of installation, safety features, padding, and if you want a car seat that converts to grow with your child. Lightweight seats are also popular especially if you need to move the seat from one vehicle to another. I hope you are able to find the perfect car seat for your family with a budget-friendly price tag too.