The 7 Best Treadmills Under $500 – A Step Up in Quality and Performance

We made big changes to this article, with many older models – such as the Pinty Folding Treadmill and Merit Fitness 725T Plus – making way for a selection of newer treadmills.

These new additions comprised the impressive XTERRA Fitness TR150, the MaxKare 801 Folding Treadmill and the SereneLife Smart Digital Folding Treadmill. We also added the Miageek Fitness Folding Treadmill and the SF-T7515 from Sunny Health & Fitness.

The winner after the latest chart update:
ProForm Performance 300i - 1
  • Motor 2.0CHP
  • Speed: 0 to 10mph
  • Incline: 0 to 10% (Motorized)
  • Belt: 16” x 50”
  • Folding: Yes
  • Features: ProShox cushioning, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, media shelf, EKG heartrate monitors, 16 preset workout programs

When buying a treadmill for your living room, home gym or office, having a budget of up to $500 can result in a surprisingly good machine.

While we are still a considerable step away from the higher-end market, spending this amount means you will see improved designs, stronger motors, more functional top speeds, and a handful of advanced features that budget treadmill users have to make do without.

With that in mind, what should you look out for? In today’s article we are highlighting a selection of the best treadmills in this price range, to give you a clearer idea of what to expect, what’s popular and what you should avoid.

Top 7 Best Treadmills For Under $500:

Pros

  • Automatic incline of 10% is a big plus in this category
  • Good core performance with a jogger-friendly top speed
  • Nicely cushioned belt makes for a comfortable experience
  • Very media friendly with tablet holder and built-in Bluetooth speakers

Cons

  • The display screen is a bit small and not backlit
  • The belt feels a little too compact for taller runners
  • More expensive than others in the sub-$500 price range

Motor: 2.0 CHP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: 0 to 10% (Motorized)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Folding: Yes
Features: ProShox cushioning, Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, media shelf, EKG heartrate monitors, 16 preset workout programs

ProForm is a brand that’s known for their treadmill offerings in the affordable market, and the 300i is certainly worthy of its top spot in this chart.

This sturdy, reliable running machine packs in good 2.0 CHP motor powering a standard length 16” x 50” belt. The top speed of 10mph is one of the highest on this list, while the ProShox cushioning keeps the ride comfortable.

The addition of a 10% motorized incline is another useful function that’s rarely seen in this region. Other features include Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, a selection of preset programs and a heart rate monitor. Not the cheapest in this category, but worth the extra money. The full 300i review has all the details!

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Pros

  • Lower price and great value
  • Good motor with runner-friendly 10mph top speed
  • Decent belt dimensions for this range
  • Features three incline settings

Cons

  • Smaller LCD display which is not backlit
  • Incline must be adjusted manually

Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Folding: Yes
Features: 5” LCD display, heart rate monitor, quick speed keys, XTRASoft cushioning, 12 preset workout programs

Another of our top picks in this category is the TR150 from XTERRA Fitness – a very popular foldable running machine that does the simple things well.

The 2.25 HP motor is impressive, offering a smooth and quiet operation, but with good power and runner-friendly speeds of up to 10mph. Features like a 16” x 50” XTRASoft belt and three manual incline settings make walking, jogging and lighter running a pleasure for most users.

While the 5” LCD display is relatively small and not backlit, the control panel is simple and functional, with 12 preset workout programs available to choose from. There’s also a heart rate monitor built into the handles. Ultimately, XTERRA sell the TR150 at a good price, making it one of the best value options in this range.

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Pros

  • One of the wider belts in this range, with 17” on offer
  • Large LCD screen displaying vital stats
  • Decent top speed for walking, speed walking and jogging
  • Easy to both stow away and unfold before use

Cons

  • Lower top speeds – not great for running
  • Incline can only be adjusted manually when off the machine

Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 8.5mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 17” x 43”
Folding: Yes
Features: Anti-shock system, heart rate monitor, backlit LCD screen, range of preset workout programs, quick speed buttons, cup holders

The 801 from MaxKare is another solid choice if you’re looking for a treadmill in the midrange market, with appealing features complementing the attractive price tag.

In terms of core performance, you are looking at a running machine with a relatively quiet motor offering speeds of up to 8.5mph – not the fastest on this list, but not the slowest either. The multi-layer belt, however, is one of the widest in this range with 17” catering nicely for wider users.

The folding system is easy to use, while it also comes with a manual three-angle incline option, a heart rate monitor, and controls built into the handles. The main control panel is simple yet functional with a nicely-sized backlit LCD screen displaying all your stats, including speed, time and calories burned.

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Pros

  • Motorized incline adjustments with 15 levels (up to 10%)
  • Bluetooth connectivity and built-in speakers
  • Good backlit display screen

Cons

  • Quality control on the frame lets it down
  • Running experience can feel a bit wobbly
  • One of the more expensive on this list

Motor: 2.2 HP
Speed: 0 to 9mph
Incline: 0 to 10% (Motorized)
Belt: 15.5” x 47”
Folding: Yes
Features: Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, backlit display screen, preset workout programs, quick speed buttons, cup holders

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s hard not to like the design of the T012 from Efitment – sleek and aesthetically-pleasing. Yet, it’s not just a pretty face as it boasts both a decent core performance and some great secondary features.

There’s a 2.2 HP pulse motor pushing a 15.5” x 47” belt, with a top speed of 9mph. The headline act is that it comes with 15 levels of motorized incline, which isn’t that common in the sub-$500 price range.

One of the other highlights is that it features built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to play music or watch movies while running on your device. In practice, this isn’t an incredible sound system, yet does the job.

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Pros

  • 16 preset programs for good workout variations
  • Stylish design with easy folding
  • Connect to the FitShow app via Bluetooth
  • Large backlit display screen

Cons

  • The belt feels cramped, especially for taller users
  • Top speed is too low for faster runners

Motor: Motor: 1.5 HP
Speed: Speed: 0 to 7.5mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 15.75” x 43.30”
Folding: Yes
Features: 16 preset programs, 5” backlit display screen, Bluetooth compatible, built-in speakers, heart rate monitor, storage space

This folding treadmill from SereneLife isn’t the most powerful on our list, nor does it offer the most advanced features. Yet the core performance is good for the price, while the secondary features are built for comfort.

The belt is a little compact when compared to others, with the 15.75” x 43.30” dimensions more suited to smaller users. A 1.5 HP motor powers this nicely-cushioned belt, with speeds of up to 7.5mph on offer – good for walking and light jogging in particular.

There are plenty of options for workout variation, with three manual incline settings, 16 preset programs and connectivity with the FitShow app. The pair of cup holders along with handle-mounted heart rate sensors and speed/power settings enhance the convenience of this stylish treadmill.

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Pros

  • Compact folding design means it’s easy to stow and store
  • Good workout variety
  • Decent 2.25 HP motor offering a 9mph top speed

Cons

  • The belt isn’t particularly wide
  • Faster runners will prefer a higher top speed

Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 9mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 15.7” x 47.2”
Folding: Yes
Features: 5” LCD backlit screen, Bluetooth compatibility, 12 preset workout programs, storage space, transportation wheels

One of the most popular electric treadmills in the sub-$500 range is this folding offering from Miageek. It’s ideal for using at home or in the office, with a space-saving foldable design, compact dimensions and wheels to make moving it around easier.

The belt is 15.7” wide and 47.2” long, which caters for most users – as does the 9mph top speed. This offers enough power for walkers and joggers alike, while the 2.25 HP motor keeps operation noise quite low.

There is plenty of variety in the way you can use this treadmill, including manual incline and 12 preset programs. It is also compatible with the FitShow app, so you can control your speed and monitor workout data on your smart device.

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Pros

  • Motorized incline with 12 levels is an excellent addition
  • Handy Bluetooth connectivity
  • Decent core performance

Cons

  • The 8mph top speed isn’t suitable if you like to run quickly
  • Unreliable quality control lets it down

Motor: 2.2 HP
Speed: 0 to 8mph
Incline: 0 to 12% (Motorized)
Belt: 16.5” x 49.5”
Folding: Yes
Features: LCD screen, built-in speakers, Bluetooth compatibility, heart rate monitors, transportation wheels, storage space

The SF-T7515 may not be the top performing treadmill on this list, yet this foldable machine feels worthy of its place due to several extra features.

One of these is the fact that it offers a motorized incline with 12 different levels – compare that to some of the manual incline options on this list and you can already see the value here. Another cool feature is the Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to listen to music and take calls while working out.

The core performance is also pretty good for this affordable price. It offers a belt with decent dimensions (16.5” wide and 49.5” long), a top speed of 8mph, and simple controls conveniently built into the handles.

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Shopping for a $500 Treadmill

Investing more money in a treadmill can only bring you better results. Sure, you can find some great-value running machines that function reasonably well in the budget treadmill market. However, treadmills found in this $500 range always deliver three basic things that entry-level models struggle to offer.

Specifically, we are talking about stronger motors, adequate belt space, and incline options. Of course, this is still affordable territory – so the more advanced features seen on treadmills under $1,000 are still out of reach – yet the features you will find are a step up in comfort and convenience when compared to lower-priced models.

In this portion of the guide, we will focus on the features often seen in this category and what you should look out for:

Design

The overall design of a treadmill under $500 is still pretty basic – you are a far cry from the swish high-end running machines you’ll find in commercial gyms. Yet, you can still expect something that looks pretty decent in a modern living room or office.

Most of the treadmills in this range are foldable, so you can stow them away pretty easily. This is essential if you are using the treadmill in an area that isn’t a dedicated home gym (such as a living room) or a small space, like a studio apartment.

Some designs will also offer hydraulic assistance, so folding and unfolding the track is a smoother process.

Core Components

Unlike some of the lower-end affordable models, treadmills in this $500 range tend to be motorized and make use of motors with decent power – around 2 HP (horsepower) or above. The average speed tends to be around 7 to 8mph, although some models boast top speeds of 10mph.

Considering the average male jogs at around 8mph, the treadmills here are adequate for walkers, speed walkers and joggers. Faster runners and sprinters may want to look towards higher-end categories to deliver the power they need.

Incline Selection

This is a section where we do see big improvements over entry-level treadmills. Budget models don’t usually feature any control over incline at all – what you see is what you get. However, as you push up to $500, incline is pretty standard.

However, many models will still offer just manual incline. This means you’ll have to be off the machine to change the setting, with usually just two or three gradients to choose from.

Luckily, some models do come with motorized incline controls, offering up to 10% of incline at the touch of a button. This means you can change the gradient from your control panel during your workout.

Each manufacturer and model differ, so be sure you know whether the incline is manual or motorized before splashing out.

Belt Size

Another crucial consideration is the size of the running belt. Remember, these are not gym-grade treadmills, so you won’t be able to enjoy huge areas on which to run. Manufacturers in the affordable-midrange market want to keep costs as low as possible, so belts are narrower and shorter than you may be used to.

The good news is that the size of belts on treadmills under $500 is bigger than those on entry-level treadmills. While each differs, the average size tends to be around 15.5” wide and 47” long. This is relatively comfortable, unless you are around 6ft or taller, or wider than the average adult.

You’ll find it’s not much of a problem when walking, but as the speed increases and your stride becomes longer, you may run out of room – literally. It’s something to consider, but, if you are taller, investing more money in a machine will give you a better experience.

Control Module

Just glancing at the treadmills above proves that control modules tend to vary wildly from model to model. Some may be quite simplified and compact, while others have more buttons than a NASA control room, spread across a main panel and the handles.

The LCD display monitors can also vary greatly – some are big, detailed and backlit, with others are small and need external lighting to be seen. How much importance you put on this is down to you, but providing the screen is capable of displaying speed, distance, time and other crucial parameters simultaneously, it will have done its job.

Keep an eye out for built-in preset programs – most treadmills have them. These may not be as advanced as those you’d find on higher-end treadmills, yet you should still find a variety of programs tailored towards both athletic performance and fat loss.

Secondary Features

As with many other aspects, the secondary features on a treadmill in this category are still quite basic, but feel like a noticeable improvement over lower-priced machines. Whereas the entry-level range may boast just one advanced feature, treadmills costing up to $500 offer more of them as standard.

As with the most basic treadmills, you should find a safety tether to attach to yourself. This important feature may not be the most glamorous thing on the treadmill, but will ensure the machine automatically stops if you faint, fall or collapse.

Onto the cooler things! This price range will give you features such as Bluetooth support, integrated speakers and handle-mounted heart rate monitors. As attractive as these features are, they aren’t likely to be the most reliable in this range.

For example, the speakers will work, but they won’t sound incredible. Heart rate monitors will give you a good indication of your work level, but they won’t be as accurate as a wrist or chest strap monitor.

The smart thing to do is to buy a treadmill that delivers a strong core performance, then see any secondary features as a bonus.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you will have seen from our chart and the accompanying guide, you can land yourself a very strong treadmill for $500. But is it worth the step up from an entry-level model?

We say yes, as the differences can be substantial. Most notably, the motors on $500 treadmills are stronger, which means higher top speeds are available.

If you are planning on only walking, then perhaps this isn’t as crucial, but the more powerful the motor, the faster you can go and the smoother your experience will be.

By spending $500, you will also find bigger belts compared to entry level models. Again, if you are a shorter person with a shorter stride, perhaps this won’t be a big deal. But if you are over 5ft, you will benefit from a belt with a longer length.

The range of secondary features – such as built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity options, better controls and heart rate monitors – improves in this $500 category too. Again, you probably shouldn’t buy a treadmill based on the secondary features, but these do help provide more comfort and convenience.

As mentioned earlier in the article, if you want a treadmill with an incline feature, buying in the $500 market is essential, as many of the treadmills under $300 don’t offer any incline options – let alone motorized incline.

But why should you even want incline? Adding a gradient to your track has several benefits. Firstly, it can make your workouts more challenging, with both your heart rate and potential for burning calories increasing.

Other benefits include the fact that a track with incline is more of a stimulus to the muscles in your lower body, which have to work harder to walk, jog and run up hill. Incline also allows you to mimic outdoor running a little easier, by adding a gradient to represent the increased challenge wind resistance would offer.

In short, incline offers a bit more variation to your workouts and is a great feature to have at hand, even if you don’t use it every session.

In short – no. We’ve all been to a gym and used a treadmill. If you’re expecting a similar experience at home when buying a $500 treadmill, you’ll be very disappointed. Commercial treadmills can range from anywhere between a few thousand dollars right up to around $13,000.

These truly high-end machines may offer power of around 5 HP, with top speeds of up to 15mph and motorized incline of 15%. They have extra wide running surfaces with good length (around 22” x 60” is standard) and advanced shock absorption systems. This is already impressive, before you start adding in excellent speakers, full HD screens and virtual assistants.

This shouldn’t put you off spending $500. These affordable machines do the job, even if they lack the bells and whistles of high-end treadmills. Just don’t go expecting the performance you’d have at a commercial gym and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Let’s ask a counter-question – where will you be using your treadmill? If you are planning to use it in an area that’s limited on space – such as an apartment, a living room or an office – then yes, a folding treadmill will be very beneficial.

Let’s face it, we don’t all have the luxury of having a dedicated home gym or an infinite space in which to keep a treadmill – especially if we only use it a few times a week. Therefore, being able to fold the track upwards and lock it in place will save you valuable floor space.

If you do have a home gym setup and space is not an issue, then don’t worry about foldable treadmills – aim for a fixed design, which will offer more stability.

The Ver(ve)dict!

At the end of the day, you will be the one using it, and you will also be the person benefitting the most out of it. Find the exercycles that give you what you need. With the right equipment, and enough discipline, you can make exercise a fun and healthy part of your daily life.

And all of this is possible from the comfort of your very own home. Being fit and healthy just got a lot easier. Who says you have to go outdoors just to enjoy cycling?

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