Good, Cheap Pens?

Usually we discuss high-end writing sticks here ... but we sometimes have need of low-end tools, too.

Years ago, I bought a stash of inexpensive ball-point pens, primarily for my kids to lose -- use at school. But they dried out and are now worthless. [I tried heating the tip of one, and it disintegrated.] I need to replace them.

So, can anyone recommend pens that are:

- really low cost -- such that you wouldn't mind handing one to a 9 year old boy in the morning only to find out he lost it by the same afternoon. Or gave it to a friend (my daughter gave out a half-dozen pens in a day, once)

- can be bought in bulk (I hate emergency runs to the store)

- has a long storage life

- is a "pen", not a "marker"

- writes decently -- I know cheap pens won't write beautifully, but there shouldn't be any blobs or skips


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Ballpoint pens - Zebra makes

Ballpoint pens - Zebra makes a Z-Grip pen which is both comfortable and reliable. They are reasonably priced and available many places. (I found cheapest price at Wal-Mart). Link

Pentel pens are great, comfortable and reliable. RSVP's are reasonably priced and come in a retractable version. WOW pens are also a good value.

I find BIC brand ballpoint pens last a long time) both with and without use). They use the same inks in all their pens so the various barrel designs would affect the cost and comfort.

I hope this helps! Were you interested in roller balls or gel pens at all? ( I have a bit of a pen addiction hehe)

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This is a good start.

Sara, roller and gel pens are fine. My main issues are cost (as low as possible) and storage life. Comfort and writing quality are much less of an issue.

I'm unlikely to use the pens personally — I love my Space Pen bullet that lives in my pocket. But as the CMO of my family (Chief Maternal Officer), I need to buy pens for the rest of us. You know the pen that your spouse can never find near the phone message pad? The one your kid takes to do homework that never is seen again? The one you keep in the bottom of your bag, sometimes for years? That you use to write your shopping list, the first item of which is: Space Pen refill!!!

That's the type of pen I need. Cheap, disposable, and reliable.

Bic Crystal

Bic Crystal sounds like a possibility. A basic stick pen that is available in boxes of 50. Artline make a similar pen that is cheaper but I am not sure if you can get it in anything other than a box of 12. Staedtler also make a basic stick pen (the Stick 430) that is slightly cheaper again though possibly a smaller capacity pen. Once again I have only seen them in boxes of 12, nothing larger. All are good basic pens.

Bob H.

If you could find rounder/wider pens than the basic sticks,

it would be better.

I grew up with yellow bic sticks, they were the same size and width as the clear bics and I could not wait to use fountain pens as they were really uncomfortable to write with.

Staples brand retractable ballpoints have a cushy grip but do not cost much.
I buy retractable ballpoints/gel pens/rollerballs with cushy grips for my husband (his office supplies have legs so he gets disposable stuff) and have used them occasionally much more comfortable than any stick pen.

Good Cheap Pens

I favor Papermate medium point ballpoints, not retractable, not gel, roller ball, or marker. I get boxes of 36 pens at Office Depot or Staples for a few dollars. I like them because the best of them really lay the ink down to form satisfyingly solid writing. I also like plain vanilla Bic's for the same reasons.

good inexpensive pen

i like the bic stick plastic pen. they write good and are cheap. Michael Vargo

Been happy with Foray

I bought a bunch of the Office Depot Foray retractables a while back, and have been very happy with them. A few of them turn out to be dogs, but the price was so good (72 pens for $16) that I can live with a 10% failure rate.

Nice ballpoints

Stabilo 808 pens

They're cheap but not poor quality. (Here we can buy 10 for $6 Australian)

The office I work in only buys cheap pens and the Stabilos are the pens that disappear fastest from the supply cupboard. They're light, cheap, write well and look OK.

dollar store finds

10 packs of 'INC' brand ballpoints are good pens. I have several varieties and have yet to be disappointed. But do note that the medium point runs a bit finer than a BIC medium. :)

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cheap pens


I was at our local Office Max today and they are blowing out their packs of 10 pens for 40 cents. That should count as more than just affordable.

pens on sale in box stores

Sorry, I didn't see this sooner to comment: I've [mis-]spent three decades in retail- when a box store puts an item on sale like that, and it isn't 'Back-to-School', the pens have probably reached their shelf life (yes, they are regarded as perishable) and will probably have a very high failure rate. These sales are frequently instigated by the manufacturer.

Is there a Secret Code

on pens that wil tel us when the shelf life ends?

I guess that's what bit me before. I love the idea of having dozens of backup pens (I buy toilet paper by the caseload, too), but not if they are going to go pleh before I need them.

i'm curious too. i'm still

i'm curious too. i'm still using pens from high school (read: 10 years and older) :)

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Storage Method

Your restrictions seem to limit what's possible. A cheap pen that you can buy in bulk is going to be just that. Even a pen that costs a $1 is probably too much for what you're looking for. Others have given suggestions of various pens/brands/styles to consider, so that part is more up to you.

What I'd suggest is that you focus on two things: Storage method, and freshness of product. I've found that ballpoints often work best when brand new (even the el cheapo ones). I could buy a $1 box of a dozen pens from a store and keep it for five years, and then few, if any, might work. I've wasted money in the long run, when originally I was looking to save money! When buying bulk pens, you're often better off buying smaller quantities more often....getting new product more often....rather than continually pulling old pens out of a box when you need them. There are plenty of low end brands that would probably fit your needs.....just test a few out...dollar stores, big office stores, etc. Find ones you can buy 10-12 or so at a time....but find ones you know you can go get regularly. That way you only need to buy a box/bag at a time and just replenish as needed. Stocking up on 100 pens at a time isn't likely going to do well in the long run, especially as you get to the end of the box when they're drying out.

But you may also want to think about how you store your pens. I don't have proof this works for sure, but I often will put my new pens these days inside zip bags (with air pressed out), in hopes of them not drying out so quickly. I admit this is more important with the more common rollerballs I buy, but it shouldn't hurt ballpoints either. A vacuum sealer might even be a far better system, if you've got one. But the key is trying to keep them from "drying out" any sooner than necessary. Anything you can do to "prolong" their life on the shelf, the better. Others may have some suggestions in this regard as well...but that's just some beginning food for thought.

So, combine those fewer pens (but still cheap and readily available in reasonable sized bags/boxes), but buy them more often. And then store them more securely so they will hopefully last longer. If you can even make some hedgeway by doing so, it'd be worth it for what you're apparently needing.

My favorite...

My favorite fountain pen that is cheap is Preppy. I get them from JetPens online. They write great! sporter
"To fly, we must have resistance."

> - writes decently -- I

> - writes decently -- I know cheap pens won't write beautifully, but there shouldn't be any blobs or skips

Nothing beats a Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen :-)
I've found that they write beautifully without any blobs or skips even though it has not been used for weeks.

best place to buy Pilot Varsity?

anyone know?
And what about, in packs of 7 for $12 or each for $3, but black so you actually use it. For some reason, the 12 packs of black are super expensive.


Circa: check.
Now onto...fountain pens.
This new office supply kick is getting mighty expensive real quick.

I think Amazon and eBay are

I think Amazon and eBay are your best chances... I rarely find singles anywhere and now the 7packs are gone from my area.

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