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Canva free vs paid 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 upgrading to the paid version called 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.

I’ve been using Canva for years now, and it’s truly an incredible platform. Still, I agonized over Canva free vs paid before taking the plunge. To help you decide, I’ve laid out everything you need to know in this handy article!

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 Canva free vs paid Canva Pro comparison 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 paid 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 upgrading from Canva free to the paid Canva Pro plan:

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)

In some special cases, you may not have to choose between Canva free and the paid Canva Pro plan. That’s because there are a few ways to get Canva Pro for free.

The first, as mentioned above, is the 30-day free trial. This is usually more than enough time to decide whether or not it’s worth it for you.

However, you can also 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.

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 that program here.

Canva free vs paid Canva Pro: Is it worth it?

Canva templates

So which comes out on top when comparing Canva free vs paid 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.

I used Canva free for years before I paid for Canva Pro. What pushed me over the edge was graphics. I was spending several dollars a month on individual graphics, so it just made sense to swing for Canva Pro, which includes so much more!

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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