Request a Personalized Demo

Learn how to accurately convert your designs with Scan2CAD

  • Join thousands of happy customers worldwide

How Much Does AutoCAD Cost? Pricing Explained

Updated Jun 19, 2022
AutoCAD Icon Money Emoji

When choosing to invest in CAD software, there are a number of factors to consider. One of the most important of these, of course, is cost. For this reason, demystifying the often complex pricing structures of CAD licenses is incredibly helpful. How much, for example, will an AutoCAD license really cost you?

Luckily, the team here at Scan2CAD are ready to help. In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of AutoCAD pricing. We’ll also go into detail on the options available to you when it comes to purchasing your licence. Read on for everything you need to know!


How Much Does AutoCAD Cost?

Autocad logo

It’s a simple question, surely? Well, not quite. Software manufacturers have shifted from offering perpetual licenses to subscriptions over the years, with the CAD industry proving no exception. As such, Autodesk stopped selling perpetual licenses for AutoCAD (alongside most of its other products) on August 1st, 2016.

The result of this shift is that, instead of paying a one-off fee to be able to use AutoCAD forever, users now pay for a rolling subscription to maintain access to AutoCAD although you can also get AutoCAD for free though on very specific conditions. And if you don’t qualify for any of those conditions, there is always a range of free CAD software you can use.

You can see the cost of an AutoCAD subscription direct from Autodesk in the table below.

Subscription length Price
Monthly $235.00
1 year  $1,865.00
3 years  $5,315.00
Prices correct as of June 2022

As the table shows, paying for a longer period naturally means a greater upfront cost. However, it’s worth noting that your monthly costs are lower if you choose to commit to one of the longer subscription lengths. Here’s what the per month costs look like when compared side by side.

Subscription length Total cost Monthly cost Monthly saving

Saving (%)

Total saving ($)

Monthly $235.00 $235.00 $0.00

0%

$0.00

1 year $1,865.00 $155.42 $79.58

34%

$954.96

3 years $5315.00 $147.64 $87.36

37%

$3,144.96

Prices correct as of June 2022

Thus, monthly costs drop as you opt for longer subscription periods. That being said, you will see somewhat diminishing returns. Your cost per month of usage is a whopping $79.58 cheaper if you opt for a yearly subscription over a monthly one. Picking the 3-year plan will see another drop, but this time of just $7.78 per month.

This isn’t to say that the longer-term options aren’t worth considering, though. If your business has used AutoCAD for a long time, for example, and is certain to stick with the software for the duration, then opting for a 3-year deal may be a good choice. Those who are just trying out AutoCAD, however, should probably steer clear of the longest subscription periods. Here, it may even be worth paying for a monthly licence at first.

Pros and Cons of the Subscription Model

Pros of the Subscription Model

There are some upsides to the AutoCAD subscription model. These include:

  1. Subscription gets you access to the latest version of AutoCAD as soon as it comes out. As such, you won’t need to worry about missing out on the latest features.
  2. It saves money. If you previously bought perpetual licenses for each new version of AutoCAD, the subscription model could actually save you money.
  3. You also get support and maintenance as long as you stay subscribed.

Cons of the Subscription Model

If you’re used to perpetual licensing, then it can be easy to see the downsides of the shift to subscriptions.

  1. The most obvious disadvantage is that you need to keep paying for the software year in, year out. Fail to do so, and you’ll lose access to AutoCAD. This in turn means that you won’t be able to use the files you created in AutoCAD, causing a real headache for your business.

In understanding this limitation of the subscription-based model, which is likely to put off some would-be customers from purchasing the AutoCAD due to the associated long-term expenses, Autodesk introduced Autodesk financing and Autodesk Flex.

Autodesk Financing

According to a study, financing influences the purchasing decisions of 45% of global digital consumers, with 36% of the respondents noting that financing allowed them to purchase a more expensive option than what they had initially considered. Additionally, 31% of digital consumers would not consider a purchase outright if the seller did not have a financing plan.

Autodesk understands the inherent importance of payment plans, which is why it offers a financing plan for buyers looking to spend $1,000 or more. Mainly available for subscription plans that are annual or longer, the financing is intended to spread the costs, enhancing your business’s financial flexibility.

Autodesk’s financing application is available in the payment section of its online store. The submission and processing stages are conducted online. The approval is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions, including but not limited to, how long the business has been in operation and business credit reporting with commercial bureaus. You are also required to furnish Autodesk with information on the business’s contact details, business structure, number of employees, tax ID, and more.

This financing is only available to users looking to purchase the 1-year and 3-year subscriptions for all Autodesk products on its online store. It is not available to monthly subscribers or buyers seeking Autodesk Flex tokens.

Autodesk Flex

Introduced in August 2021, Autodesk Flex is designed for occasional users of Autodesk products, including AutoCAD. Flex allows users to purchase tokens to access and use AutoCAD (or any other supported Autodesk software) for 24 hours at a time. In addition to enabling you to access the software, this purchase lets you add as many Flex users as you want using your Autodesk account. 

To use AutoCAD for a day, you must expend seven tokens. The price of one token varies depending on the number of tokens you wish to purchase. At a minimum, Autodesk allows you to purchase 500 tokens at $3 per token. Therefore, the lowest amount you can spend to purchase Autodesk Flex tokens in bulk is $1,500. Here’s a breakdown of the available Autodesk Flex options. 

No. of tokens

Price per token

Total cost

500

$3

$1,500

1,000

$3

$3,000

5,000

$2.93

$14,625

10,000

$2.85

$28,500

15,000

$2.78

$41,625

25,000

$2.70

$67,500

50,000

$2.63

$131,250

Source: Autodesk

While the total cost for each token quantity is quite significant, the Autodesk Flex offering is considerably cheap when you break down the cost on a per-day basis. For example, considering Autodesk will deduct seven tokens per day for you to use AutoCAD, you will spend between $18.41 and $21.00 per day, depending on the number of tokens you purchase.

To further ensure cost savings, Autodesk recommends that all the users utilizing your Flex close AutoCAD when not in use to avoid being charged for idle time.


AutoCAD Discounts

Are Volume Discounts Available?

A desktop, laptop and tablet

Need to use AutoCAD across multiple machines? Try a multi-user license

If several employees within your business use AutoCAD, then the prospect of paying out thousands for individual licenses can be somewhat daunting. Luckily, however, standalone licenses aren’t the only option. Multi-user licenses are available, too, and can offer you serious cost savings when compared to buying licenses one-by-one.

Multi-user licenses (or network licenses), as the name suggests, allow you to run AutoCAD from multiple machines within your organization. When you purchase a network license, you choose how many machines you wish to buy access for.

As an example, if you purchased 10 licenses, you could run AutoCAD on 10 machines at any one time. However, you are free to install the software on more machines for ease of access. If, for example, you had 10 desktop machines and 10 laptops, you could install the software on all these machines. This would allow a user to switch from their desktop to their laptop when away from the office.

Unlike standalone licenses, you can’t purchase a multi-user license from the Autodesk Online Store. This means that your best bet will be to try one of Autodesk’s many local resellers. A full list of local resellers can be found by checking out the Autodesk Authorized Partners portal.


Is There a Discount for Buying AutoCAD alongside other Autodesk Products?

Autodesk's industry collections

Though the range of functions offered by AutoCAD is incredibly broad, it can’t do it all. Many businesses will require a range of different software to meet their needs. If this is the case, then you should explore Autodesk’s various industry collections.

Autodesk’s industry collections bundle together several software packages with the aim of fully meeting the needs of a specific sector. The Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection, for example, includes AutoCAD alongside Revit, Civil 3D, InfraWorks, and Navisworks Manage. To visualize just how staggering the cost savings are, take a look at the table below.

Software

Monthly price

Annual Price

Price paid every 3 years

AutoCAD

$235.00

$1,865.00

$5,315.00

Revit

$335.00

$2,675.00

$7,625.00

Civil 3D

$320.00

$2,550.00

$7,270.00

InfraWorks

$240.00

$1,920.00

$5,470.00

Navisworks Manage

$315.00

$2,520.00

$7,180.00

Total (when purchased separately)

$1,445.00

$11,530.00

$32,860.00

AEC Collection

$410.00

$3,270.00

$9,320.00

Savings

$1,035.00

$8,260.00

$23,540.00

As you can see, even users who only need a couple of the above programs will see savings of thousands of dollars per year. Meanwhile, for users who need access to multiple Autodesk software packages, industry collections such as this one are truly a steal. It’s worth noting that multi-user licenses are also available for industry collections, offering you the chance to save even more if you’re a larger business.

Industry collections, meanwhile, set Autodesk up as a strong competitor to its rival Dassault Systèmes, which similarly offers software bundles, which it terms “industry experiences”. Check out our comparison of Dassault Systèmes software to see what the company has to offer.


Are any other discounts available?

15% off discount tag

If you’re getting AutoCAD from the Autodesk Online Store, then the prices above will generally be the prices you pay. However, some lucky users can get AutoCAD for free: educational users.

Educational licenses have been offered at no cost to users since 2014, with such licenses valid for three years. Provided that you still have a valid academic email address (usually .edu for users in the United States), you can renew this license for further three-year periods in future.

Meanwhile, discounts are also available for those who have perpetual licenses for legacy versions of AutoCAD. If you’re willing to trade this license in, then you can get 15% off a 1-year or 3-year subscription to AutoCAD. And don’t worry about buyer’s remorse should you choose to trade-in: you retain the option to switch back to your old perpetual license if you’re not satisfied.


Should I buy from a reseller or direct from Autodesk?

Middleman represented by male symbols

Stick with trusted resellers—or cut out the middleman?

Back in the days when software was distributed on CD-ROMs rather than as downloadable executables, local resellers dominated the market. Since then, however, CAD has evolved. Purchasing AutoCAD now is simply a matter of downloading the software and waiting to receive your product key—something that can be completed in minutes, not days.

The result of this is a shift away from channel sales and towards direct sales, with customers able to buy direct from the Autodesk Online Store. Nonetheless, Autodesk hasn’t done away with its worldwide network of resellers; indeed, it maintains relationships with dedicated local partners across the globe.

So, how do you choose between resellers and direct sales? Naturally, cost is one of the factors that comes to the forefront. The prices listed on a reseller’s website tend to closely match those of Autodesk itself, which can make an initial comparison tricky.

However, reseller prices may (and do) vary, meaning there may be some flexibility with regards to pricing. Indeed, some users have reported hefty discounts when buying through resellers. They are also a great choice if you’re seeking a personalized quote for your business, especially as resellers have a much closer connection with specific local markets than the multinational Autodesk.

Aside from the cost, you should also consider the standard of your local resellers, particularly with regards to customer service. Choosing a reputable reseller with a solid track record could gain you access to valuable support should you experience any issues with your software. This is likely to be more personal than the support offered by Autodesk—and they’ll quite literally be speaking your language!


AutoCAD Alternatives

Screenshot of DraftSight

Screenshot of DraftSight, a popular alternative to AutoCAD

No matter whether you choose a standalone or network license, AutoCAD alone or an industry collection, or buy direct or from a reseller, one fact remains constant: you’ll need to fork out thousands per year on an AutoCAD subscription. With AutoCAD pricing so uniformly high, then, you may ask yourself: what are the alternatives?

Luckily, there are other options on the market when it comes to 2D and 3D CAD software. One such package is AutoCAD LT, a ‘lite’ version of AutoCAD with more limited functionality, but priced at just $60 monthly, $460.00 per year, or $1,310 payable every 3 years.

AutoCAD vs. AutoCAD LT

A cheaper and cost-effective option to AutoCAD across all three pricing categories, AutoCAD LT only offers precision 2D drafting and documentation capabilities. It does not support 3D modeling functionalities. Additionally, it does not have built-in programming and automation capabilities as it does not support AutoLISP. AutoCAD LT also lacks additional features and functionalities, which are available on AutoCAD. We have listed some of these features below, but for a more comprehensive list, visit Autodesk’s website.

AutoCAD LT does not support or offer the following features/capabilities:

  • Tracked changes within drawings
  • CAD standards checker
  • Ability to export blocks to Inventor and BIM 360; integrate coordinate BIM models; import or export drawings to Inventor and BIM 360; import or export from Fusion 360 and Revit; and attach, edit, and display point clouds
  • Mechanical, electrical, and piping (MEP) capabilities such as accurate MEP documentation, the ability to create MEP drawings, MEP objects, MEP/HVAC symbol libraries, and more
  • Some electrical design functionalities such as intelligent electrical symbols, electrical standards, and wiring diagram error checking
  • MAP 3D toolsets such as the ability to create and maintain CAD and GIS data, reports for gas, wastewater, and water, the ability to insert geomapping data, and more
  • Some mechanical design features, including automated creation of the bill of materials, manufacturing parts library, and the ability to automate part updates, just to mention a few
  • Some architectural design features, e.g., intelligent architectural objects library, ability to automate with the Architecture toolset

The absence of these features and capabilities makes AutoCAD LT cheaper than AutoCAD, as summarised in the below table.

Price Comparison: AutoCAD vs. AutoCAD LT

Software

Price

Monthly

Yearly

Every 3 Months

AutoCAD

$235.00

$1,865.00

$5,315.00

AutoCAD LT

$60.00

$460.00

$1,310.00

AutoCAD Alternatives from Other Developers

If you’re happy to venture outside of the Autodesk stable, however, then some of the best known alternatives are:

  • DraftSight, a freemium product from rival firm Dassault Systèmes
  • BricsCAD, which offers perpetual, rental, volume and network licenses
  • TurboCAD, with licenses for 2D/3D versions of the software starting from $249.99 per year

Of course, desktop programs aren’t the only option for CAD professionals. Innovative cloud-based CAD software is now catching up to (and, in some cases, surpassing) the functionality of traditional programs, with Onshape proving one of the leaders in this field.

Meanwhile, if you are willing to invest in Autodesk software, then your business may be better served by choosing the BIM software Revit over AutoCAD. Check out our guide to Autodesk software compared for the full lowdown.

Parting Shot

AutoCAD is a highly popular offering. That’s thanks to the features packed into the software. Starting 2016, Autodesk ceased the sale of perpetual licenses in favor of a subscription model that currently has three pricing tiers: monthly, yearly, and after every 3 years. In this pricing explained article, we have delved into the 2022 prices of AutoCAD as well as the cheaper AutoCAD LT version. We have explored Autodesk financing, Flex tokens, and possible discounts. That said, you can also venture outside of the Autodesk ecosystem if you are open to try AutoCAD alternatives. 

Introducing...

Convert your images and PDFs for CAD and CNC

Download your free trial

,