The 8 Best Heart Rate Monitors to Buy Under $100 in 2021

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A heart rate monitor is an excellent fitness tool, allowing you to workout within your chosen heart rate zone. Extras beyond the heart rate reading include stopwatch, exercise timer, clock, settable heart zones with alarm, and backlight. Check whether you can change the battery yourself or must send it to the factory. Decide what you want and shop for the best value.

Wahoo TICKR Bluetooth and ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor
Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

This chest strap will connect to your smartphone, GPS watch, Polar receiver, and more. It will also pair directly with the Apple Watch. It's compatible with many fitness apps such as Nike+ Running, MapMyFitness, Runkeepr, Strava, and Apple Health. It has a replaceable battery. What you get is only the chest strap, but that may be enough if you have an app you like to use or you already have a wrist receiver.

Timex Road Trainer Heart Rate Monitor

Timex Road Trainer Heart Rate Monitor
Timex Road Trainer Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

The Timex Road Trainer uses a chest strap sensor for maximum accuracy. The wrist monitor is a full-featured Timex Ironman sports watch. You can view your heart rate with the time of day and while using the chronograph and timer. It has a minimum and maximum heart rate alert, five pre-set heart rate zones and a customizable zone. I like the large number display and a night light. Perhaps because I've used Ironman watches in the past, I find the Timex more intuitive and I find it easier to navigate the displays and menus than I do with Polar heart rate monitor products. The watch is large, but you could easily wear it and use it as a sports watch, independent of its heart rate monitor function.

Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor
Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

This is the base-model for Polar heart rate monitors. Polar FT1 heart rate monitor lets you set a manual target heart rate zone with visual and audible alarm. It gives you your average heart rate during your exercise and elapsed exercise time. I like the basic models for their ease of use, you don't have to remember which button to use for which function. You can also wear it as a watch - it displays the time and date. The extra large digits are appreciated. It has a backlight for viewing after dark. Water resistant up to 30 meters (100 feet).

Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar H7 Bluetooth Chest Strap and Polar App
Polar H7 Bluetooth Chest Strap and Polar App. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The beauty of this Bluetooth-transmitting heart rate monitor band is that it doesn't come with a wrist monitor that limits what data you can see and use. Instead, you can use it with your iPhone or compatible Android phone and devices that are Bluetooth Smart (4.0) capable. That means you can either use their Polar Beat app, or Endomondo, Runtastic and other compatible apps, expanding what you can do with it. It will also transmit to other Polar wrist displays that can receive Bluetooth or Gymlink, including their Polar Loop wristband activity monitor.

Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor
Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

This Polar is a step up from the FT1 and FT2, as it includes calorie calorie expenditure and a more graphical display of your heart rate. It will also calculate your heart zone automatically based on your age. It saves and displays 10 workouts rather than the single workout shown by the basic models, plus your ongoing totals.It also has watch functions for time of day and date. But it does not include sports watch features such as a stopwatch or countdown timer, splits, etc. such as you find in Timex models.

Sportline 630 Cardio Coded Heart Rate Monitor

Sportline Cardio 630 Heart Rate Monitor
Sportline Cardio 630 Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

This heart rate monitor has the basic functions of displaying your heart rate in beats per minute and in percentage of maximum heart rate. You can time your workouts and see the calories burned during the workout session. It also has watch functions of time, date and alarm, and a chronograph stopwatch function. It comes in men's and women's versions. The chest strap for the women's version fits well under the breasts, and I had no problem with it maintaining skin contact. The watch is comfortable and displays the data in big-enough numbers for aging eyes, plus a backlight.

Cardiosport GO-35S Heart Rate Monitor

Cardiosport Go 35S Heart Rate Monitor
Cardiosport Go 35S Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of

This heart rate monitor allows you to set target zone limits with upper and lower alarms. It has a stopwatch and countdown timer. See your time in zone and calories burned. It has a large LCD display with a super-glow light that is easy to read. It has a user-changeable battery.

Ekho E-10 Heart Rate Monitor

Ekho E10 Heart Rate Monitor
Ekho E10 Heart Rate Monitor. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

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Prevention Magazine rated its transmitter the most comfortable. This is an entry-level model which displays your heart rate continuously and the time of day. It comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty. It features user-replaceable batteries on transmitter and watch.

What to Look For

How to Change the Battery

It is important to know what type of battery the monitor uses, and how to change it. Some heart rate monitors must be returned to the factory in order for the battery to be changed, which is less than ideal. Others are as simple as buying and replacing the battery yourself.


Depending on when and where you work out, a backlight may be useful for being able to see the screen in dim or dark locations. Whether this be your home gym, the outdoors, or another location that may be in poor lighting, it is worth consideration.


A clock would be useful for keeping track of time while working out, counting minutes, or even adhering to a schedule. Some monitors may also include a stopwatch, which is useful for things such as timing runs. These functions aren’t necessary, but may be useful depending on your routine.

Ease of Use

In order to accurately keep track of your heart rate, and so as to not hinder your workout, it is important that the monitor is easy to use. Monitors with too few or too many buttons can become confusing. It may be best to consider how many functions the device has, and how many buttons there are to navigate them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How accurate are heart rate monitors?

    A study found that chest-mounted heart rate monitors were very accurate, much more so than wrist-mounted heart rate monitors.

  • Why are heart rate monitors important?

    Heart rate monitors can help you determine when you are in your target heart rate zone.

  • When should you use a heart rate monitor?

    You should use a heart rate monitor at least every 10-15 minutes during a workout, to ensure you never exceed your maximum heart rate.

  • How do you read a heart rate monitor?

    The use of each device is individual and should be detailed in the instruction manual. However, the device will always give your heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).

  • How do you use a heart rate monitor while running?

    When you finish an interval, keep jogging lightly while you check your heart rate monitor. Start running again if you have not reached about 70% of your maximum heart rate. Once you reach that, keep up a light jog until your heart rate lowers. Once you can see it has lowered to a more relaxed state, you may run again.


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  1. Pasadyn, S. R., Soudan, M., Gillinov, M., Houghtaling, P., Phelan, D., Gillinov, N., Bittel, B., & Desai, M. Y. (2019). “Accuracy of commercially available heart rate monitors in athletes: a prospective study”. National Institute of Health.