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Is it Cost and Time Effective to Switch from Cricut to Silhouette?

Cricut's now-reversed decision to require users to pay $9.99 a month if they want to upload more than 20 designs into Cricut Design Space a month - has caused some Cricut users to eye Silhouette. 

Silhouette Studio, Silhouette 101, Silhouette America blog, Silhouette CAMEO 4, Silhouette vs Cricut, silhouette software

But is the switch to Silhouette worth it now or in the long run?  Let's take a look at what you get with Silhouette vs Cricut and Silhouette Studio vs Cricut Design Space and the time and monetary investment it may require.

Please note this blog post was written prior to Cricut's decision to reverse course and abandon their announced plan to limit uploads to users, however the information and comparison between Cricut Maker vs CAMEO 4 and Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio remains relevant. 

Silhouette CAMEO 4 vs Cricut Maker 

The Silhouette CAMEO 4 is comparable to the Cricut Maker as far as features and the ability to cut fabric and thicker materials along with the popular material types like vinyl, paper, and heat transfer vinyl. Both machines can do print and cut although Silhouette's print and cut size is only limited by the printer (not the cutter) allowing for a larger print and cut area.  Silhouette can also cut with or without a mat with lined materials of up to 60' long being cuttable. 

A new 12" Silhouette CAMEO 4 will set you back about $299 compared to a Cricut Maker which normally retails for $369.99 but can be found for as low as $329. 

Popular features and functions of the Silhouette CAMEO 4: 
  • Increased Downward Force - up to 5kg (5000 g) to allow for the cutting of thicker materials including leather, matboard, balsa wood and craft foam
  • Increased Cutting Speed and Acceleration - About 3x Faster than CAMEO 3
  • Ability to use Silhouette Rotary Blade
  • Ability to use Silhouette Kraft Blades (2mm and 3mm)
  • Single tap AutoBlade
  • Gear Driven Tool Carriage to accommodate Rotary Blade, Kraft Blade, and new Auto Blade
  • Touch Panel
  • Auto Tool Detection allows for the software and machine to detect if the tool in the carriage is a sketch pen, blade, auto blade, etc
  • Automatic Mat Sensor and Loading
  • Built-in Pull Out Roll Feeder
  • Retractable Cover
When compared to the Cricut Maker, the Silhouette CAMEO 4 packs a cutting force of 5000 grams or 5kg compared to the Cricut Maker's 4kg (4000 grams). The cutting areas of the CAMEO 4 is also much larger than the Maker.  The Silhouette CAMEO 4 can cut up to 60' long compared to Cricut's 24" max length. The wider Silhouette CAMEO 4 models - the 15" CAMEO Plus and 24" CAMEO Pro - have a cutting area of 15" x 60' and 24" x 60' respectively.

Silhouette Studio vs Cricut Design Space

Silhouette Studio and Cricut Design space are both free to download.  Even Silhouette Studio's free version - in comparison to Cricut Design Space - is robust giving users the ability to design, create, and manipulate their own designs and text with dozens of tools and features - all while offline (aka you do not need Internet access to use Silhouette Studio). Want to see the free Silhouette Studio features and tools including offset, welding, grouping/ungroup, tracing, sketch line effects, pop up cards, point editing, Pixscan, image effects and more? Download Silhouette Studio free right now

Perhaps most important - given the current changes in Cricut Design Space - is that Silhouette Studio has no limit on the number of files that are uploaded or opened in the software.  In a statement by Silhouette America in response to Cricut's planned changes, Silhouette says it has NO plans to follow suit by limiting the number of uploads into Silhouette Studio - and I'm not even sure that would even be possible if they wanted to. 

Opening a file in Silhouette Studio, is as simple as dragging and dropping it into the software or the Silhouette library. You can even bulk upload directly into your Silhouette library if you want. 

The Silhouette software will also allow you to export or save your designs out of Silhouette Studio OR you have the option to save them in your library OR on the Silhouette Cloud (making them accessible to any computer where you are signed into your Silhouette account).  Running out of room on your Silhouette Cloud? Toggle designs on and off the cloud to local library (only available in your Studio library on your current computer) or save them on your hard drive or another cloud service (Drop Box or Google Drive instead). 

This can all be done for free. 

In comparison, Cricut will soon start charging if you want to upload more than 20 designs in a month and there is no ability to export your design from Cricut Design Space.

Silhouette Studio Software Upgrades

The argument that Silhouette charges for their software has been made, by some, in response to Cricut's recent announcement. 

The difference is Silhouette offers the option for users to access additional features and tools by unlocking them with one of three software upgrade options. Designer Edition, Designer Edition Plus, and Business Edition are ONE TIME PAID UPGRADES that can be used on up to three computers and a single license key works on all Silhouette machines you own. You do not need a separate license key for each machine.  

The one time cost ranges from about $28 - $65 depending on the Silhouette software upgrade you get. 

I upgraded to Silhouette Studio Business Edition in 2015 and have had access to all of those features - and been automatically granted access to new Business Edition features released since then - since. 

Silhouette Studio Upgrade Features List: Designer Edition, Designer Edition Plus, Business Edition

FeatureDesigner EditionDesigner Edition PlusBusiness Edition
Object Warpxxx
Font Glyphs (V4.1)xxx
Warp (V4.1)xxx
Trace By Color (V4.0)xxx
Layers in Silhouette Studioxxx
Import SVG/GSD/DXFxxx
Add Custom Fill Patternsxxx
Advanced Knife Toolxxx
Advanced Eraser Toolxxx
Custom Rhinestone Designsxxx
Select Objects by Colorxxx
Advanced Sketch Toolsxxx
Nesting Toolxxx
Transfer Propertiesxxx
Shear Toolxxx
Shadow Toolxxx
Improved Rulers and Gridsxxx
Freehand Lasso Select (V4.2)xxx
Warp Templates (V4.2)xxx
Editable Warp Text (V4.2)xxx
Flexi Shapes (V4.2)
xx
Puzzle Generator (V4.2)
xx
Advanced Rhinestone Features
xx
Conical Warp (V4.1)
xx
Import Embroidery Files
xx
Digital Font Creation (V4.2)

x
Handwritten Font Creation (V4.2)

x
Edition Toggle (V4.2)

x
Material Usage Monitor (V4.2)

x
Multiple Undo/Redo (V4.1)

x
Save as SVG/PDF/JPEG (V4.1)

x
Cut with Multiple Machines

x
Auto Weeding Lines

x
Tiling Tool

x
Advanced Nesting

x
Ability to Open AI and Corel Draw Files

x


For the sake of this Cricut vs Silhouette comparison let's just consider I was buying Business Edition for the first time - that would set me back $65 this one time.  If you consider how long I've had (going on 62 months as of this writing) it has cost me about $1 a month. 

Cricut Design Space

Until this March 2021 announcement, Cricut Design Space has been free to access all features of their software. "All features", however, is relative as Cricut just announced kerning and offset tools will soon be rolled out. Offset has been a basic tool in Silhouette Studio for at least 8 years.  

In other words, the Cricut software is much more limited even in comparison to Silhouette Studio's basic free option. To be fair, we should point out, one big up to Design Space is the ability to open SVGs (which would require at least Silhouette Studio Designer Edition).  The feature-rich Silhouette Studio is one reason SO many Cricut users have been designing in Silhouette Studio Business Edition > exporting as SVG > uploading to Cricut Design Space > cutting on Cricut for several years. BUT with this change..they'll be limited to do that 20 times a month.

Now with Cricut's upcoming change, Cricut will be charging users $9.99 a month (or $7.99 a month with an annual subscription) to upload in excess of 20 designs or patterns a month - calling more than 20 uploads a benefit to Cricut Access members only.  As of now, joining Cricut Access does not give you any more features, tools, or options in the software other than the ability to upload more than 20 designs a month.  

I should point out Cricut Access does give members other benefits - such as access to a library of Cricut designs and fonts that you have access to as long as you are a member and 10% off at Cricut.com.  But now the ability to upload less than one design per day is tied into those other fringe-type, paid-for benefits.

Cost Analysis Cricut Design Space w/ Access vs Silhouette Studio w/ Business Edition

So let's look at what this means for Silhouette vs Cricut users for the first and then subsequent years of either Business Edition or Cricut Access. 

Year 1: 
Silhouette Studio with Silhouette Business Edition: $65
Cricut Access Annual Plan: $95.88
Cricut Access Monthly Plan: $119.88

Year 2: 
Silhouette Studio with Silhouette Business Edition: $0
Cricut Access Annual Plan: $95.88
Cricut Access Monthly Plan: $119.88

Year 3: 
Silhouette Studio with Silhouette Business Edition: $0
Cricut Access Annual Plan: $95.88
Cricut Access Monthly Plan: $119.88

Year 4: 
Silhouette Studio with Silhouette Business Edition: $0
Cricut Access Annual Plan: $95.88
Cricut Access Monthly Plan: $119.88

Year 5: 
Silhouette Studio with Silhouette Business Edition: $0
Cricut Access Annual Plan: $95.88
Cricut Access Monthly Plan: $119.88

If you own a machine for 5 years it will cost you $65 for Business Edition or $479.40 for Cricut Access if you commit to an annual plan or $599 if you pay ever month.   

Is it Cost and Time Effective to Switch from Silhouette to Cricut? 

If you're a Cricut user and you're considering switching to Silhouette there are more than just monetary costs involved.  There's no denying you've spent time learning Cricut's software and machine and now you'll need to invest not only money into a new machine, but time learning it and Silhouette Studio.  It's definitely an upfront investment the cost of which would be $299 for a Silhouette CAMEO 4 + the optional $65 if you wanted to add on Silhouette Studio Business Edition for a total of $364.  Note that's less than buying a new Cricut Maker ($369.99 retail) before even paying for Cricut Access.

The good news is, by switching to Silhouette CAMEO, you will have access to a much more robust software all the while being free to upload, open, create, and export as many designs as you want in .studio, JPEG, PNG, SVG, and PDF format and store or use them as you wish!  See for yourself - you can download Silhouette Studio's free version now before you decide! 

And...you will still be able to use many of the Cricut accessories you might already own including the Cricut EasyPresses, Cricut Mug Press, Cricut Infusible Ink Sheets and Pens and even your Cricut brand cutting mats, vinyl, HTV, faux leather and other consumable materials. 

You have access to Silhouette School Blog completely free to help you learn, troubleshoot and be inspired! I have thousands of free blog posts to get beginners started with Silhouette CAMEO 4 from unboxing to setup to first cut and much, much more and add new content every single day. 

Want to learn Silhouette as fast as you can to avoid disruption to your hobby craft or small business? My Ultimate Silhouette Guide for CAMEO 4 is in progressive order with written and video instruction and it's the perfect Silhouette reference guide to get you up and running and then to keep you cutting! 






Prefer Silhouette videos and 1:1 help, we have that too!! If you purchase a Silhouette CAMEO 4 through Swing Design you'll get a free month to Silhouette U which will give you 1:1 help, videos, and a monthly credit for free SVGs and fonts of your choice - plus other benefits as well. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!


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20 comments

  1. I am one of those that has switched from Cricut to Silhouette. I used to be silhouette, then went to Cricut when my Silhouette 2 died so the learning curve will not be huge for me. I had a Cricut Access membership so the money wasn't the issue for me. It was what Cricut were doing to its 3 million users that don't have memberships (1.3 million users have Access membership). I am so incensed by it all, especially as their software has been horrendous (I used SS BE to design and transfer into DS). It's a great overview you have given here, and every word of it is true. I managed to snag myself a Cameo 4 from a supplier here in Australia on Sunday, by Monday they were sold out of everything. Silhouette couldn't have wished for a better marketing campaign. I wonder if Cricut is thinking this was all worth it.

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    Replies
    1. I have had Silhouette since 2014 and would never go anything else. I can do any and everything with my Silhouette Cameo and Cameo 4 in my sleep. It has never ever disappointed me. You can import and export. I cancelled my 9.99 monthly membership which gave me the mats/blades 3 times a year but other than that I still love it.

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    2. I left Cricut during the cartridge only thing. I did use Cuts a lot and downloaded much better designs. When the 12" Cameo came out I was one of the first to get one. Still using it and the original ratchet blade!

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  2. I have both a Cameo4 and a Cricut Maker, and - even with 5 kg force and bigger clearance - the knife blade compared to Cricuts, is useless. I am upset with Cricut too, because I do not want to be ripped off for somathing I will never use or that I can create for myself alone. For a good software with REAL offline features I would pay-like I bought the SS BE, but not for useless content and not for "cloud storage" I never asked for.

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  3. Bear in mind that Cricut Access gives you the entire design library. Silhouette Business edition doesn't give you that. You need the Silhouette Design Store subscription which is 29.99/monthly for the Diamond tier.

    Silhouette is still cheaper, yes, but had to add that there!

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    Replies
    1. But who needs that?
      1. In SS I can draw almost anything, or get free svgs and OPEN (not upload) the almost is there because of my own skills and not because of the capabilities of the software.
      2. Design store needs no subscription. I never had one since 2017-the year I got my first Silhouette. I bought some single designs-complex ones that I cannot make because my drawing skills are practically none-existant-but nothing was forced by Silhouette. Even the buying of the upgrades of SS were my decisions and my choices, not force from Silhouette. And when I bought my first upgrade, they made the PUZZLE function available. When will Cricut implement it to DS, plese?

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    2. Not everyone needs their cookie cutter crap designs.

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    3. And here in Europe, and maybe in the rest of the World outside Nort-America-we hav absolutely no profit from ordering things cheaper or without shipping costs from Cricut-because we are not able (not allowed) to do so. For us there are no bundles, no giweaways, we are just paying the often much higher prices-and then this.

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    4. also the difference is when u buy SS subscription you get certain amount of credits to spend on whatever you want and even when you later on decide to cancel that subscription you keep what you previously purchased with your credits vs in cricut access the moment you cancel you lose it all with no more access to it. With certain tiers [or maybe all of them i am not sure, but it can all be found on their website] you get that you can't cancel before 3 months is up so you have to keep it for 3 months or you might be charged a penalty fee, saying that if you take up a premium tier which for me is [in UK] £13 you get £100 worth of credits to spend each month so if you decide to cancel after 3 months you pay £39 for £300 worth of designs that you KEEP after you cancel. That includes fonts and well everything that is in the store. Also if you don't spend all £100 in that month it rolls over to the next, i am not sure how many months further it rolls over as haven't had a subscription for years now, but it is a plus that you less likely to loose credits if you didn't spend it all that month. You can also upgrade or downgrade your tier if you feel the one you currently have is not enough or too much for you. Just saying :)

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  5. I originally went to Silhouette when my Cricut 2 (can't remember what it was called anymore) big format thing stopped connecting via cable to my computer and the only option was using their software online. Uh no, no way, we were living on an island in the Caribbean at the time with horrible unreliable online access. I had to have software I could use at any time on my computer, and happy to say Silhouette Studio BE has worked out really, really well. This doesn't have an edit option darn it! Just wanted to add that Silhouette school has been phenomenal in helping me learn how to get around Silhouette Studio.

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  6. Sticking to what I know works very well. Even with the little flaws. I can purchase designs from anywhere and use them with my Silhouette with no problem.

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  7. I have a CricutMaker, a Cricut Joy, a cameo 4 and a Curio. I love them all for different reasons. I always had access so this limitation is no biggie. For Canadians the no duties, mystery boxes and the percentage off is worth it. I hate that I pay duties if I buy from Silhouette America. I hate that Swing Design does not ship here. I hate that teh cameo is so bloody loud. But I love them all and I use them all. I do find the business software more robust but a larger learning curve. There are pluses and negatives with each. We shall see how this all unfolds.

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  8. I have the original Silhouette Portrait, original Cameo 1 and recently added a Cricut Joy. I love everything about my SIL products and the Silhouette software. I added the Cricut Joy due to the size and the ability to use Design Space on my ipad & iphone while away from home. I will be back 100% to SIL once they can give me an app that works like Cricut Design Space. Not happy with the Cricut announcement for uploads because I prefer the SIL designs and uploading my own free true type fonts.

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  9. I owned the Silhouette cutters and software for several years and becuase of the ability to work offline and ease of using SVGs from other sources. I puchased the Cameo when I saw the rotary blade I "just had to have it" :). I also purchased Corel Draw and The Design Wizard software from The Rhinestone World becuase I liked the sophisticated rhinestone pattern creation features although I mostly cut the patterns on glitter HTV (cheating). I had so many problems with the Design Space and uploading usuable SVGs and also sending to the machine was so inflexible compared to SSDE. Especially love the the ability to cut by color on in SS. I haven't decided if I will ditch the Cameo althought right now the special tools such as knife and rotary blade are more flexible. Due to Cricut never improving the SVG issues with DS, the Cameo has become an expensive paper weight ever since I updraded to the Cameo 4. I mostly cut HTV and sometimes adhesive vinyl. I wish Silhouette would improve the special tool and keep up with the newer Cameo specialty tools such as etching and foil. ... Although I did pick up the Foil Quill and several accessories and materials on clearance. ... And I need to start using the Cricut Infusible pens on the the Cameo before they dry up like some of my Cricut pens and markers have done (note to self).

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  10. I find it interesting that, just like politics, everyone has certain beliefs that work for them and THAT is what is important. I am a Cameo user...my sister a Cricut user, and we still love each other! I am so grateful to you, Melissa, for putting all the information out there so that we can decide for ourselves. No one is asking anyone to choose sides, but it is sure refreshing to have such a great comparison available to help us make an informed decision. Let's all support each other...then carry that sentiment into the world!

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  11. I am currently a Cricut owner, when all of this hit, I immediately purchased a Cameo 4 and decided to change. I felt that any company that would make this sort of decision without considering the community first, isn't one I want to support. Even though they walked back their initial plan, it was a big wake up call for me to not continue to support them. I am excited to get started with my Cameo and utilize software that works. Lol!

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  12. I have started using SS business edition with my Cricut Maker. Cricut cuts much better and I can engrave, not sure if I can do that with Silhouette as I don’t have their machine. I must say learning Studio takes much longer and there are fewer videos and blogs/sites to help. I also started using STudio to do my sublimation. Both machines have pluses and minuses.

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  13. I switched from a Cricut Maker to a Cameo 4 when this all hit. I started out with the original small Silhouette cutter back when it was first released because I wanted a cutter that didn't use cartridges and I could use my own images. The switch back has been effortless for me and Silhouette even still had all my original account information intact. The ONLY beef I have with Silhouette is that I can't replace the rotary blade on my own and have to buy a whole new piece. On the Maker I can replace that blade myself. I LOVE the option to cut vinyl and HTV without a mat. I can't even begin to say how much vinyl and HTV I have cut in the last two weeks!

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    Replies
    1. Every machine has it ups and downs! Happy crafting Kathie!

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