If you’re excited about getting an awesome blender, but Vitamix and Blendtec prices are out of your range, there are some cheaper options that I’ll go over today.
Before I get into it, I want to point out that if you use one of these machines regularly and think about its long lifetime, the cost is less daunting. For example, if you get a new Vitamix 5200 for $449, and use it 5 times per week for the 7 year warranty, that’s 25 cents per use. Add to that the machine will probably last at least 15 years, and you may use it more than 5 times per week, and the cost per use goes much lower. If you get one, and find that you hardly ever use it, it’s easy to recoup your cash. If it’s within 30 days you can get all your money back from Vitamix, and they even pay for return shipping. After that period you’ll have to resell it yourself, but the machines are so highly regarded that they maintain good resale value (for example, I just looked on eBay at completed listings of used 5200’s and it looks like the average is about $350!–more on this later). Another way of looking at the value is if you currently buy smoothies or blended coffee drinks, and switch to making them yourself, the blender will quickly pay for itself.
But lets say $450 is just out of your price range. Here are some cheaper options, in order of decreasing cost.
This is the first place to look for the best price for Vitamix and Blendtec machines. For details on the refurbishing process and why you should consider it, see this page about refurbished Vitamix machines. Vitamix and Blendtec are currently running sales on reconditioned units. $329 gets you a factory-reconditioned Vitamix 5200 with a solid 5-year warranty, and $279.95 gets you a factory-refurbished Blendtec Total Blender with a solid 7-year warranty. (These machines come with brand-new, unused, containers.) Note that this price for the Vitamix is less than a lot of the used ones that sold on eBay that I mentioned earlier!
Vitamix also offers interest-free payment plans. You can get a Vitamix for ~$18 per month. See my payment plan page for more details.
Unless you get considerably lucky, I don’t think used is the way to go. As I just showed, you can get a factory reconditioned unit for about the same price as used machines usually go for on eBay or Craigslist. The exception is the occasional story of finding a machine at a yard sale for $5-$20, sold by someone who did not know what it was, so it’s possible to get lucky, but don’t count on it. Alternatively, you might consider an older model such as the 4000 or 3600, which are from the 1970s and 80s and can be had for under $200. They have stainless steel pitchers, which has a certain appeal, but it makes it harder to see what’s going on inside the pitcher. They’re also not as powerful as the newer models (the 4000 is 7 amps, compared to 11.5 amps for current Vitamix machines). Another caveat is they have a spigot at the bottom that can be a pain to keep clean (it was bad enough that you could actually request a plug from Vitamix to stop it up; I’m not sure if you can still get one from Vitamix.) I’ve also heard that the seals and blades are more likely to wear out than on current models, and finding replacements these days may be a pain.
In the past couple of years a number of other brands have released blenders that aim to compete with the Vitamix’s high performance blenders. At around $200, there’s the Oster Versa. You can expect similar performance, but it is more likely to break down. It comes with a 7-year warranty, but they are not as customer-friendly as Vitamix.
Other brands to look into are Ninja and Breville, in the $100-$200 range. If you don’t need the absolute smoothest blends, and if you will not be doing super heavy duty blending, those could be decent options.
I recommend the
$329 factory-reconditioned Vitamix as the best budget option. With that machine you really aren’t making any compromises, and you’re covered by a strong warranty/customer service. For a bit more money the $439$349 refurbished Vitamix 7500 is also a solid deal. If you’re curious about the differences between the different Vitamix models, check out my Vitamix roundup.
Or if you prefer to have preset modes and a push-button interface, go for the Reconditioned Blendtec at $279.95 while supplies last. (Free shipping is applied if you click any of these links.)