Rip-Off HDMI Cables?

What’s the difference between $50 HDMI cables and $5 ones? … The price.

You go to the store you buy yourself a new HD TV. But now you need HDMI cables to hook it up. So you look around and notice that prices are all over the place: from 30 to $130.00 bucks. The salesman offers his advice…

“If you bought a thousand dollar TV, I’d recommend you buy, depending on distance you’re going to move it from, any where between a fifty and eighty dollar HDMI cable.”
-Aaron Fleming, Radio Shack

Then you say, “But hey, I just saw HDMI cables online for a penny plus a few bucks shipping! Why would I pay 80 bucks?” And he says…

“It is definitely worthwhile to invest a little bit more in a cable because it’s going to last you for a long time and you’re going to get the picture quality you paid for when you bought your TV.”
-Aaron Fleming, Radio Shack

But there’s only one problem with that kind of advice: other than people who sell these cables, I can’t seem to find any expert that agrees with it.

“I would say rip-off. I would say definitely say rip-off. Obviously you could start at the lower end and work your way up. But when you start going 30, 40, hundred times what it obviously costs, then there’s a tremendous mark-up.”
-Eric Ackerman, PhD

Popular Mechanics did a comparison between cables costing from $13 to 300. Their conclusion? “None of our editors could tell the difference.”

And CNET agreed, calling $50 HDMI cables a rip-off and saying “You should never pay more than $10 for a standard six-foot HDMI cable.”

Bottom line? Since these things differ so much in price, there’s really only one solution. Get online, do your own homework so you can make a high-definition decision.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. Take 5 seconds and join our family by clicking here. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

More Money Talks News


  • Amy

    Great article. I was just having this debate the other day. I am glad to see that I was indeed correct. Rip off!
    Thanks for the information!

  • NoSpam

    I have been using ultra cheap HDMI cables from Amazon just as seen in the video above. There is NO difference in picture quality between these cables and expensive Monster cables. The picture is extremely clear and sharp with the cheap ones.

  • Beatrice Valenzuela

    In these financial hard times, it is time to watch your spendings. My personal experience with cheaper cables was when there was a power outage results not good..anyways my saving is not having to reorder,ship or drive back .

  • Ben Chinburg

    I never thought a HDMI cable could actually break itself by being used for it’s intended purposes. I bought the cheapest cable I could find at and it quit working after a year and a half. I think there is a price point for longevity but ten dollars per foot is insane.

  • I want to buy a HDMI cable so I searched here to get some information. Now a days we have to be very careful to spend money for anything which we buy. Its information is necessary before we buy it so its picture is cleared in mind. Thanks for sharing such nice information about cable. I like this site and will visit this site in future.

  • eve

    Hey! Nice job here! I’ll be dropping by from time to time :)

  • Ken Zink

    You have done your readers a service by making them aware that there is not a difference between HDMI cables video quality. I agree there is sometime a increase in longevity between the less expensive HDMI cables and the more expensive. Yes, people do get RIP-OFF! Oh, I have 40 years of electronic repair so I have a little experience in cable testing and repair.

  • Diane Martin

    Beware COMISSION SALESMEN!!!!! My boyfriend and I just bought new laptops. He wanted to hook his to his HDTV. With the laptops were all these expensive packaged types of HDMI cables and he was going to buy one when I walked up. I told the salesman I knew there were less expensive cables in the store. He then took us to the gaming dept where we got a longer HDMI cable for 1/2 the price. Remember : YOU ARE THE ONE PAYING, BE IN CONTROL, DO YOUR RESEARCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • phillman5

    I, for one, would be careful whom you buy from. If buying on-line, check the return policy, check reviews of the product and seller, try calling/emailing the support line to see if you even get an answer. There are several large on-line sellers, newegg, zipzoomfly that have been around for awhile that I would trust. Also figure in the shipping cost (NewEgg has a 6' for $5.99 + $5.99 shipping which makes it more expensive than the 10' for $10.98 with free shipping). There are a lot of scammers out there too. In this case check the wire gage, one ad said AWG 24, which would be the wire gage, smaller is bigger wires, that might not break with bending back and forth, or pulling as quickly. I bought a new battery for my SLR camera for a ridiculously low price, knowing it maybe worthless. The battery worked at first, but after two years or so is completely dead, but the original battery is still strong. (But it did serve its purpose as a backup battery for a year or two).

  • manoahi

    The key is that the signal in HDMI is digital. This means a streams of 1s and 0s. “High quality” cables are not needed. A 1 is a 1 and a 0 is a 0, and you cannot have a higher quality 1 or 0. Analog signals on the other hand may be better with high quality, and price, cables. Connectors on the other hand are important for both digital and analog. Just make sure that the connectors are not damaged.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,854 more deals!