The best cheap TV antennas let you pull in local channels for free without spending a lot. Even a basic antenna can do a trick Netflix can't, pulling in over-the-air channels that offer shows, movies, sports and news without any sort of sign up or subscription fee. But not every cheap TV antenna offers acceptable performance. We've tested several of the most affordable TV antennas on the market, and found some of the best, giving you a selection of great performers. The best cheap TV antennas offer performance to match some of the models seen on our best TV antennas list, but some of the top sellers go for $20 or less.
Buying something for under $20 may not get you huge range or amplified signal, but our favorite inexpensive antennas still pull in dozens of channels, have flexible mounting options and offer some interesting designs.
- Check out the best TV antennas for indoor, outdoor and amplified models
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The best cheap TV antennas get the job done for less. And the best news? Even as broadcasters start switching to ATSC 3.0 in 2021 – bringing 4K broadcast to over the air TV – these antennas will all work with the new tuners.
These are our favorite budget-friendly TV antennas.
What are the best cheap TV antennas?
The best cheap TV antenna overall is the Mohu Leaf Metro, our longtime favorite thanks to its excellent performance and a design that's great for small apartments. It's small, simply designed and the best budget antenna you can buy.
For solid performance at a low price, we also like the 1byOne Paper Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. It may not have the best performance in the budget-friendly category, but it's one of the most affordable antennas on the market, and it's more than capable of pulling in your local broadcast stations.
For something completely different, the Chaowei DVB66 Digital HDTV Indoor/Outdoor Antenna can be used inside or out, but has a distinctive design that features a magnetized base for attaching to an RV or car for use on the road or at a campsite.
The HomeWorx Digital Flat Antenna is also distinctive thanks to it's colorful design, which is a nice change of pace for those who want something other than basic black or white. And at half the price of competing budget TV antennas, it's also one of the most affordable we've seen.
Finally, the Antop AT-108 Paper Thin Indoor TV Antenna is another good inexpensive option, provided you can make do with mediocre performance. It's likely insufficient for people who want an antenna for their daily watching, but it's perfect for pulling in the local news when the cable or internet connection is out.
The best cheap TV antennas in 2021
Experienced antenna company Mohu offers one of the best-performing antennas in the under-$20 category with its Leaf Metro. In fact, it's the best cheap TV antenna you can get. The non-amplified, reversible (black on one side, white on the other) antenna is of modest dimensions (11.5 x 3.4 inches) and is designed to be tacked or stuck to a wall with velcro patches.
The Mohu Leaf is rated to pull in channels with a range of 25 miles, and comes with a detachable 10-foot cable but doesn't have an amplifier — yet it turned in very respectable results, receiving a total of 31 stations. That makes this antenna a great choice for dorm rooms or smaller living spaces, and the excellent price makes it the best bang for the buck in affordable antennas.
Read our full Mohu Leaf Metro review.
Demonstrating that larger, flat indoor antennas tend to make it easier to capture more stations, the very reasonably priced 1byOne Paper Thin (Model OUS00-0187) antenna was able to receive 28 watchable channels in our metropolitan test area. So long as you don't need something with a detachable cable, the 1byOne Paper Thin is simple to use and reliably pulls in a decent number of channels. Major stations looked clean and crisp, and it was able to receive 28 stations, giving you most of the same channels the top performers pulled in.
The 13.25 x 9.25-inch plastic antenna is by no means the most inconspicuous nor the most stylish model in this group, but it gets the job done. Included mounting pins and stickers make it easy to hang on the wall or on a window, so you'll always be able to find the sweet spot for pulling in the best signal.
Read our full 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna review.
The Chaowei DVB66 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that sells for under $20, but offers a unique compact design that stands apart from the mudflap aesthetics of most inexpensive antennas, plus it can be used outdoors as well as in the living room. When tested indoors, it pulled in a respectable 14 channels.
It's also an excellent choice for use on RVs and other vehicles. With it's small, sturdy design and magnetized base, it's easy to pop the indoor/outdoor antenna onto the roof of your Winnebago or Volkswagen Vanagon and start pulling in channels from miles around. In our testing, the outdoor performance was dramatically better than indoors (grabbing 45 clear channels), making it ideal for use on the road or at a campsite. Just don't try to use it when the vehicle is in motion – the magnet in the base isn't quite strong enough to handle corners.
Read our full Chaowei DVB66 Digital HDTV Indoor/Outdoor Antenna review.
The bright-blue HomeWorx antenna (model HW110AN) stands out, not only for the colorful design, but because it's also a respectable performer that sells for less than $10. Whether it's for a freshman dorm or your home living room, it's a sweet deal for basic cord cutting. It comes with a clip-on stand, allowing the 8.25 x 4.75-inch antenna to sit on a tabletop or, with the aid of an included suction cup, adhere to any window.
When we tested it in our New York City testing environment, we were able to view 19 different channels playing everything from McCloud to Miffy. And since the HomeWorx antenna doesn't have an amplifier, there's no need to worry about finding a USB port or adapter. The only limitation: a very short 56-inch cable, which will limit your placement options for receiving signals.
Small, flat, oblong-shaped antennas are the name of the game when it comes to inexpensive TV antennas, but they aren't all made the same. The Antop AT-108 Paper-Thin antenna shows that quality can vary widely, even in the under-$20 price range. The 9.37 x 5.43-inch design is made of flexible material and matte black finish make it easier to tuck away in an inconspicuous spot.
This basic non-amplified HDTV antenna is rated for a 30-mile range, but it pulled in only 8 stations. That's likely not enough for folks who rely on broadcast channels for the bulk of their viewing, but it might be enough for someone who wants a backup option so they can check the news when the internet goes out.
Read our full Antop AT-108 Paper Thin Indoor TV Antenna review.
Should you get a cheap TV antenna?
The best cheap TV antennas are a good fit for areas with plenty of TV signal to pull in – if you're in the city or neighboring suburbs, you can usually get a good selection of channels with a small antenna like these. The TV antennas listed above will be a great fit for many readers, but not everyone will be well-served by these inexpensive basic models.
While these non-amplified indoor antennas are great for city dwellers and towns where local stations are broadcast from 20 or 30 miles away, they aren't well-suited to rural environments that may not have many stations to begin with, and even fewer within that short range. In those cases, we recommend looking at our best TV antennas page and focusing on antennas that offer outdoor mounting or built in amplification, or both. To see what channels are available in your area, check your ZIP code at AntennaWeb.org.
That said, if you aren't sure you want to spend a lot of money on free local channels, a $20 TV antenna is a great way to dip your toe in the waters without having to spend more or deal with a more involved installation process.
How to choose the best cheap TV antenna for you
When it comes to inexpensive TV antennas, you'll obviously want to start by figuring out your price range, and the models here are generally sold for $20 or less. While these basic antennas are capable of pulling in a handful of local stations for free, it is worth noting that they won't be a great option for everyone.
If a small, inexpensive antenna is right for you, then consider the options above. Some have subdued designs that can be easily mounted out of sight, or even painted to match your walls. Others are flashier, or have something other than a flat design. While these different designs might not be a great fit for your apartment, they might be just the thing for an RV or other vehicle.
But the main factor, aside from price, is performance. We test all of the antennas we review, and provide details about how many channels they pull in – and how many of those channels are clear enough to watch.
How we test cheap TV antennas
All of the TV antennas we review – in any price range – are put through the same testing process to determine how many channels they will receive and how many of those channels are watchable.
All of our testing is done in the same location in New York City, an apartment that receives dozens of channels from a variety of broadcasters. Every individual antenna is connected to the same Samsung 4K TV and built-in TV tuner, and each one is placed in the same position to eliminate variables of environmental interference and to produce comparable results.
The Manhattan testing environment has more than 100 over-the-air channels available in the area, making it an ideal testing location for antenna reception of any range, with more sensitive, long-range antennas pulling in a higher number of channels. It also gives us a chance to determine the reception quality, by seeing whether or not those channels are clear and watchable. The best antennas will pull in more channels and a higher number of watchable results.