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Canva free vs Canva Pro: Is it worth the upgrade?

Canva logo

Canva is one of the best graphic design tools for non-graphic designers, with a host of tools to create perfect images for social media or promotional use. All without spending a dime.

But if you are using Canva free on a daily basis, you may want to consider Canva Pro.

It includes a host of excellent features, like 75+ million premium stock photos, an easy-to-use branding kit, and a magic resize tool that makes cross-platform social media posts a snap.

Whether you’re new to Canva or a long-time user considering Canva Pro, here’s everything you need to know!

Want to try Canva Pro? Click the button below to start your free 30-day trial!

Affiliate disclosure: Articles on Tiny Workshops may contain affiliate links.

What is Canva?

Canva free home screen

Canva is a free graphic design tool for everybody. It allows you to make professional-looking images and animations for social media, presentations, posters, and more using customizable templates.

You don’t need any graphic design experience or know-how. It’s all templates and drag-and-drop functionality.

Don’t let Canva’s simplicity fool you though. It’s an extremely powerful platform with virtually unlimited possibilities. Not only are there hundreds of thousands of free templates, images, and fonts, you can also create your own designs that incorporate your own images and branding.

To give you an idea of what Canva is capable of, here’s a short list of the types of templates the platform offers:

Canva templates:

  • Instagram posts/stories
  • Event invitations
  • Business cards and logos
  • Posters
  • Presentations
  • eBook covers
  • Resumes
  • …and more!

Is Canva free?

Yes, Canva is free to use for everyone! However, there are a few special features that you can unlock by paying for Canva Pro.

Canva free gives you 5GB of cloud storage for your projects, plus hundreds of thousands of templates, designs, and graphics. You can also buy individual “pro” graphics on a project-by-project basis, and they typically cost a few dollars or less.

If you want even more features, you can pay for Canva Pro. This is a subscription service that’s aimed at social media managers or small business owners. I’ll get into the benefits of Canva Pro later in the article, but for now you just need to know that Canva is and always has been free.

How does Canva work?

How does Canva work - interface

One of the best things about Canva (aside from the fact that it’s free) is that it’s all online. You don’t need to download or install any software: every feature is available from your browser.

Of course if you want to you can also install the Canva app on iOS, Android, or Windows. They all connect to your account in the cloud, so your work is always saved across devices.

No matter how you access Canva, the process is always the same: Create a new project from a template or from scratch, add graphics and text, then export and download the finished file.

For Canva free users, there are some limitations to file sizes and types. For example, you can download an image as a PNG, but not with a transparent background.

If you do opt for Canva Pro, you can also resize images or download them as SVG files for lossless scaling. The Magic Resize tool is also hugely convenient, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

What is Canva Pro?

Canva Pro benefits

Canva Pro is a subscription service that includes more graphics, templates, and functionality than Canva free.

It’s relatively inexpensive when compared to other professional graphic design tools, making it a great choice for social media managers and small business owners.

It’s also much easier to use, so you can skip training courses for Adobe Photoshop or InDesign.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits of Canva Pro:

Benefits of Canva Pro:

  • 420,000+ templates and 75+ million stock photos and graphics
  • Brand kit with your company’s logo and fonts
  • Magic Resize tool to instantly change a template to another format/size for Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Custom template creation
  • 100GB of cloud storage
  • Social post scheduling on 7 different platforms
  • Background remover for images and graphics

While some of these tools can be replaced with other options online, all of them will save you time on the platform.

Access to more templates and stock images will save you the trouble of finding royalty-free graphics, and the Magic Resize tool is a godsend for social posts. You can create a single graphic, then optimize the same design for another social media platform like Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or Facebook with the click of a button.

How much is Canva Pro?

How much is Canva Pro

In the United States, Canva Pro costs $12.95 per month. You can also save some money buy paying annually, which costs $119.40. This works out to just under $10 per month.

Pricing is similar for the rest of the world. In the EU, for example, Canva Pro costs €11.99 per month, or €107.88 per year.

Keep in mind, these prices are for one user. If you have a small business with multiple employees, you’ll have to pay a separate fee for each person. That said, right now there’s a limited-time deal to get 5 users for the price of one.

For larger companies, there is also an enterprise plan. This is significantly more expensive at $30 per month per user, but it comes with even more features and benefits.

If you’re not sure whether or not you need it, you can try Canva Pro for free for 30 days at the link below.

How to get Canva Pro for free (or heavily discounted)

There are a few ways to get Canva Pro for free. The first, as mentioned above, is the 30-day free trial. This is more than enough time to decide whether or not it’s worth it for you.

However, you can get Canva Pro for free if you are a teacher or student in grades K-12. As a Google for Education partner, it’s designed to work with collaboration tools like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Remind. You can also access files on Google Drive, Dropbox, and Folders.

You can apply to get Canva Pro for education at this link.

Canva Pro is also free for non-profit organizations. The company will provide free access for up to 10 team members, but only at qualifying organizations. You can apply for this program here.

Is Canva Pro worth it?

Canva templates

So is it worth paying for Canva Pro? The answer depends on what type of user you are.

If you manage a brand on social media, have a small business or blog, or just want to level up your presentations and graphics, Canva Pro is definitely worth the cost of entry.

Essentially, Canva Pro will save you a lot of time, and if you’re using it professionally, time is money. Save yourself the headache and pay for the upgrade.

However, for those who rarely use the platform or don’t need much from it, Canva free has a lot to offer. You will need to work a little to avoid Pro graphics (or upload your own), but you can still make some truly eye-catching designs.

Canva alternatives

While Canva free and Canva Pro offer a wide variety of features, there are a few good alternatives. That said, for free users I’d still recommend starting with Canva, since it has some of the best free features of the bunch.

For those looking elsewhere, here are the best Canva alternatives:

  1. Adobe Spark
  2. Easil
  3. Stencil
  4. Visme
  5. Snappa

Canva vs Adobe Spark

Canva vs Adobe Spark

Adobe is one of the most trusted names in graphic design software, and its “lite” design tool Spark is a solid Canva alternative.

Like Canva, Adobe Spark is available entirely online with no software downloads required. It’s nowhere near as powerful as Photoshop or Illustrator, but it’s great for social media posts and animations. For web design specifically, it may even be more powerful than Canva.

However, the free plan leaves a watermark on all of your creations, so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for an entirely free tool. It is, however, included in every Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

You can subscribe to just Adobe Spark for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year, with a 14-day free trial linked below.

Canva vs Easil

Canva vs Easil

Easil is a great Canva alternative for those looking to stick to free software. It has many of the same benefits with a slightly less robust set of features.

Once again it has a simple drag-and-drop interface with a host of templates to choose from. It’s filled with trendy designs that are perfect for creative businesses and bloggers. It even has a design resizer that works just like Canva’s.

The free version includes most features, but like Canva Pro you will need to be a paying subscriber to unlock everything. However, it’s cheaper than Canva Pro at just $7.50 a month (or $75 a year).

Canva vs Stencil

Canva vs Stencil

If all you need is a simple tool for social media posts, Stencil is a great alternative to Canva. It’s extremely easy to use, and has a variety of templates, photos, and fonts to choose from.

At its heart, Stencil is a tool to add text and graphics over images. You won’t find any video or animation options, but if you’re just looking for blog headers and social posts it’s got everything you need. You can even send your finished images directly to your phone to share on Instagram.

Free plans are limited to 10 images per month, and Pro plans cost $15 per month or $108 per year. Click the link below to give it a try.

Canva vs Visme

Canva vs Visme

Visme is another great Canva alternative that’s more focused on complex graphics.

Unlike many of the other options on the list, Visme aims to do more than just social media posts. It has a robust system to create infographics, presentations, and motion graphics.

The free plan is fairly limited with just 100MB of storage, and the cheapest paid plan is $15 a month. Like Canva Pro, there are special plans for teachers, students, and non-profits.

Canva vs Snappa

Canva vs Snappa

For social media managers looking for a casual design platform, Snappa is another great alternative. It’s really only made for social media posts, but it does that job well with thousands of templates and millions of stock photos.

The built-in Buffer integration is another great feature for social media managers and small business owners. You can create and schedule all of your posts from the same easy-to-use platform.

The free plan gives you access to all templates and photos, but you can only download three images a month. Paid plans (which include Buffer integration) start at $15 if paid monthly and $120 if paid annually.

Other FAQ

Is Canva better than Photoshop?

Canva doesn’t have as much raw power as Photoshop, but it may be a better alternative for non-graphic designers. It’s much easier to use, and the built-in templates have many styles for common types of content.

Can I save a Canva design as a PDF for free?

Yes! You can select between PDF Standard for reduced file sizes and PDF Print to maximize image fidelity. Both are available with Canva free.

Can I use Canva offline?

No, Canva cannot be used offline in either a browser or one of the standalone apps. However, if you lose your connection while working on a design, the platform should auto-save your progress before it’s lost.

Why do I need to pay to download my Canva design?

If Canva requires a payment before you can download your design, it’s likely due to a Pro graphic you’ve included in the process. Pro graphics have a small crown icon next to them, and cost a dollar or two to use. You can unlock unlimited Pro graphics by subscribing to Canva Pro.

Does Canva have animations?

Yes, the platform has animations, gifs, and even videos to incorporated into your designs. However, most videos are locked behind a Canva Pro subscription. They can be purchased individually for a small fee, as well.

Can I edit photos with Canva?

Yes! Canva has a separate photo editor that works entirely online, just the like main platform. It’s free to use and has a basic but adequate featureset. Edited photos can be incorporated in other designs or downloaded for free with no watermark.

Can I sell my own Canva templates?

Yes, although there is currently no way to do it directly through the platform. You have to create a template, then share it with your customers manually. Obviously, you cannot sell any existing or modified Canva templates, only completely original designs.

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