Opting for a budget heart rate tracker used to mean compromising on quality, but as the technology has developed and products have proliferated there has been a corresponding rise in accuracy in even the cheapest heart rate monitors. When looking for a bargain it’s still advisable to focus your search on chest straps, which are more likely to be accurate owing to the tracker’s position close to the heart; also, since there’s not the same expectation of additional features as with wrist-worn trackers, they’re more likely to come in under £50. There is one notable exception though, which we’ve included below.
Before buying anything, however, check which communications tech your desired HRM uses – Bluetooth or ANT+ (some offer both) – and that the device you’re planning on syncing to (your smartphone or fitness tracker most likely) is easily compatible. For instance, Garmin only makes ANT+ devices, which require some extra steps to sync with an iPhone but do play nicely with many Android models.
Here are picks of the most affordable heart rate monitors, in price order starting with the cheapest.
Moov HR Burn
The RRP is £59.99 but you should be able to find it for under £50, and we’d recommend blowing the £50 budget on this fine tracker which is both Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible. While it will sync with any of the major fitness apps, it’d be a shame not to use it with Moov’s smart coach, a verbal and/or visual service which will guide you through workouts and ensure you’re working in the right heart rate zone. Impressive stuff at this price.
Buy from Moov (opens in new tab) | £21.66
Kalenji Smart Belt
The in-house running brand of Decathlon is a great way to kit yourself out with the basics for less. Its budget HRM can communicate over Bluetooth and ANT+ and is compatible with popular running apps Runkeeper, Runtastic Pro, Endomondo and Strava on iOS, although on Android that list just is shortened to Endomondo and Runtastic Pro. It uses a coin battery.
Honor Band 5
Just a few years ago a fitness tracker with as many features as the Honor Band 5 would have cost well over £100; today it offers excellent value at a smidge over £30 given that it offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring alongside sports, activity and sleep tracking. Be aware that although the battery life is listed at 20 days, this is significantly reduced by having the heart rate monitor turned on at all times. Still, the band will last several days between charges.
German brand Beurer makes a range of cheap heart rate monitors that are available from Amazon and Argos. The PM25 hits the sweet spot between price and functionality – it’s waterproof and comes with a chest strap to ensure reliable heart rate data is beamed straight to your wrist during your workouts.
The TICKR can connect to devices via both Bluetooth and ANT+, and can connect to up to three Bluetooth devices at once. It also lasts for 500 hours before you’ll need to swap out the CR2032 coin battery. It’s tremendous value at its full RRP, and judging by how often the previous version of the TICKR (also called the TICKR) was reduced, there’s a good chance you’ll soon be able to get it for less. There is also a more expensive device in the range, the TICKR X (opens in new tab), which costs £64.99 and offers live running technique stats like ground contact time if you connect it to a watch via ANT+.
Buy from Wahoo (opens in new tab) | £39.99
We’ll come clean: the new Polar H9 is not under £50. However the RRP is just over £50, and it will almost certainly be widely available for less than that once it’s been on sale for a few months. The H9 has all the key features of the excellent Polar H10 (opens in new tab) heart rate monitor, the main differences being the omission of the ability to store one training session in its internal memory and swapping out the strap for one that we found a little less comfortable. It is still comfortable, though, and the H9 offers accurate tracking, a 400-hour battery life and both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity. And it will almost certainly be under £50 soon.
Buy from Polar (opens in new tab) | £52.50
All of our favourite armband heart rate trackers, such as the Polar Verity Sense (opens in new tab) or Wahoo TICKR Fit (opens in new tab), cost more than £50, but this budget option will do a similar job. The appeal of an armband tracker is that many people find them more comfortable and convenient than using a chest strap, while being more accurate than a wrist device, simply because using an optical sensor on the thicker forearm or upper arm areas provides more reliable readings.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, the latest gear and more.
Thank you for signing up to Coach. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.