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How To Find The Best Cheap Dorm Room Fridge

There are many essentials needed for a dorm room. Sure, your dorm comes with a bed, desk, and a dresser, but there are other big items needed to make this your temporary new home. One of those items is a dorm room fridge. 

As a college student, you obviously want a compact refrigerator that is the most cost effective option. If you are lucky you’ll live in a dorm with a communal full-size refrigerator, but that is usually a rare scenario. You may find a little fridge in your room is one of the most important appliances you’ll need in your dorm room.

College students need snacks right? It’s nice to have access to some of your favorite healthy (and maybe some treats!) snacks during late night study sessions, that’s for sure!

In this post I’m sharing five places where you can find the best cheap mini fridge for your tiny dorm room. Before we get there, let’s take a look at the different features and styles of a mini refrigerator. 

cheap dorm fridge

Features To Look For In A Great Dorm Mini Fridge

When it comes to looking for a dorm room fridge, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider. Are you looking for a mini refrigerator with a sleek look, or are retro mini fridges more your vibe? Are you willing to give up more space for a larger freezer compartment?

These questions and more are what you and your roommates will have to consider when you’re on the hunt for the best mini fridges. And, all this while staying in your budget.

Compact Fridge Size

You don’t have much space for appliances so the more compact your fridge is, the better. However, make sure you have plenty of cubic feet space for any food and drink for your dorm room. The key is to find the perfect size that works for your needs.

Separate Freezer Compartment

This is a must if you frequent freezer meals (or ice cream, anyone?). Some mini fridges only have small compartments within the main compartment. Others have an entirely separate freezer door. Also keep in mind room for ice trays if you feel having ice cubes is a must when you need cool temperatures.

A top freezer might be okay if you don’t need to freeze a lot of things but in a lot of mini fridges, it offers so little space it’s hardly worth it! A seperate freezer is one of the best features!

Adjustable Shelves

This could also be removable shelves. This feature gives you more freedom with your food storage. You don’t have to worry about a(n) item(s), like wine bottles, being too tall to fit in your compact fridge if you can rearrange the shelves to get just the right size.

You’ll also want to check for a removable shelf so you can adjust the height for your preferences.

In-Door Storage

This is another feature that helps you make the most of the small space a mini fridge provides. The side door is a great place to store condiments and cold drinks.

Size and Capacity:

Determine the available space in your dorm room or apartment. Mini fridges come in various sizes, so choose one that fits comfortably in your designated area while providing enough storage for your needs.

Energy Efficiency:

Look for an Energy Star-rated mini fridge to save on electricity costs. Energy-efficient appliances not only benefit the environment but also help keep your utility bills lower.

Noise Level:

Check the noise level of the mini fridge, especially if it will be in close proximity to your study or sleeping area. Some models are designed to operate quietly, which can be important in a shared living space.

Adjustable Shelves and Compartments:

Flexible storage options are essential. Choose a mini fridge with adjustable shelves and compartments to accommodate items of different sizes and shapes, such as tall bottles or leftover containers.

Temperature Control:

Ensure the mini fridge has a reliable temperature control system. This feature allows you to adjust the temperature according to your preferences and helps keep your food and beverages at the desired level of coldness.

Portability:

Opt for a lightweight and portable mini fridge if you may need to move it around or transport it frequently. Look for models with built-in handles or wheels for easy mobility.

Door Configuration:

Consider whether you prefer a single door or a two-door configuration. Two-door models typically have a separate freezer compartment and may offer better organization options.

Budget:

Set a budget for your mini fridge purchase. There are various models available at different price points, so it’s important to find one that meets your needs without overspending. We shared some models below that are affordable plus some other ways to find affordable ones!

Brand and Reviews:

Research brands and read reviews from other college students to get insights into the reliability and performance of different mini fridge models. Consider customer feedback on factors like durability, temperature control, and energy efficiency.

Miscellaneous

Keep in mind some compact refrigerators might even have a reversible door hinge to help them fit right in that perfect place! Some small refrigerators even have adjustable legs. The limited space in a dorm room might make these handy features a necessity.

5 Places To Find A Cheap Dorm Room Fridge

Facebook Marketplace/Groups

These are perfect places to look because most likely you’ll be buying from a previous college student. That means you know the mini fridge will work great for your dorm room. Being that they were in college once, you’ll most likely get a great deal.

Most colleges have buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook so that would be a great place to start. Since you are buying something from someone online just remember to practice internet safety. Meet up in a public location if you decide to buy a fridge this way. Follow these tips for getting the most out of an online sale.

Family & Friends

This would probably be the best case scenario. In most cases, your family has your best interests at heart, so they wouldn’t give you a fridge that isn’t a great quality one. If you’re lucky you may even receive it as a gift instead of having to pay for it.

Friends also tend to have experience in what a dorm room fridge need looks like. Even if they don’t have a mini-fridge to pass on to you, utilize their knowledge and experience in this topic. Whether at a discount price or for free, receiving a dorm fridge from family or friends would help you save money for other dorm room essentials.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores can be a hit or miss because there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll find a small refrigerator there. If you do spot one you know you’ll get a great deal.

My advice is to go around to multiple thrift stores in your area, and consider times when they are more likely to be there. The end of the semesters and during breaks would be the times there would most likely be mini fridges for sale. 

Another thing I’d recommend is if you find a fridge at a thrift store, make sure you thoroughly look it over. You may even want to ask a worker if they know the condition of it. Be sure you purchase one that is either in good condition or can easily be fixed up like new.

Overstock Liquidation Bin Stores

These types of stores have been on the rise. If you haven’t heard of them yet, I’m sure there will be some popping up in your area soon. The idea is these stores take excess inventory from stores like Target or Walmart and offer them at a deep discount.

Like the thrift stores, it’s not guaranteed that a dorm refrigerator will be available for purchase. However, if you do spot one, you are going to be saving a lot of money. 

Refurbished/Open Box Sites 

If you’d rather buy a mini fridge from a big retailer, there are still ways to get a great deal. The best way to do that, without waiting on a sale, is to buy a refurbished or open box refrigerator. This means the fridge was returned, but still in great condition, whether it just wasn’t used or the manufacturer fixed an issue.

If you have your heart set on a certain best seller, this would be the best option for you. You’ll have your choice between the best mini fridges, while also scoring a great discount. 

cheap dorm fridge

The Best Fridges To Buy For Your Dorm Room on Amazon

If you are looking to purcahse a new fridge for yourself, here are the best options from Amazon between $100-$200:

Why College Students Should Consider a Mini Fridge


A mini fridge can be an essential appliance for college students, offering several practical benefits that cater to the unique living conditions and lifestyle of college life. Here are some reasons why you might need a mini fridge as a college student:

  1. Limited Dining Options:
    • College students may have limited access to on-campus dining or nearby restaurants. A mini fridge allows you to store perishable food items, snacks, and beverages, providing a convenient and cost-effective alternative to constantly eating out.
  2. Budget-Friendly Eating:
    • Cooking and storing your own food can be more budget-friendly than relying on meal plans or takeout. A mini fridge allows you to store groceries, leftovers, and homemade meals, helping you save money over time.
  3. Flexible Snacking:
    • College schedules can be unpredictable, and you might find yourself studying or working on assignments at odd hours. Having a mini fridge enables you to keep quick and healthy snacks on hand, promoting a more flexible eating schedule.
  4. Access to Fresh Produce:
    • A mini fridge enables you to keep fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishables readily available. This can be particularly important for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, even in a busy academic environment.
  5. Convenience for Late-Night Studying:
    • Late-night study sessions are common in college. Having a mini fridge stocked with beverages, energy drinks, or snacks can keep you fueled and focused during those long study hours.
  6. Storage of Medications:
    • If you have medications that require refrigeration, a mini fridge provides a convenient and private space for their storage. This is especially important for students with specific health needs.
  7. Avoiding Food Theft or Spoilage:
    • Sharing communal refrigerators in dorms or shared living spaces can sometimes lead to food theft or accidental spoilage. Having your mini fridge provides control over your food items and reduces the risk of these issues.
  8. Space Optimization:
    • Dorm rooms or shared apartments often have limited space. A mini fridge is a compact appliance that can fit into small areas, providing the convenience of refrigeration without taking up too much room.
  9. Preventing Wastage:
    • With a mini fridge, you can buy and store perishable items in smaller quantities, reducing the risk of food wastage. This is especially useful if you have a busy schedule and may not finish larger quantities of food before they spoil.
  10. Independence and Self-Sufficiency:
    • Having a mini fridge empowers you to take charge of your own meals and snacks, fostering a sense of independence and self-sufficiency in managing your daily nutrition.

Final Thoughts on Finding a Cheap Dorm Fridge

Keep in mind the various features which are most important to you for the small fridge you want. This will guide you as you explore these great sources for this essential dorm room appliance. You may not have as many color options or adjustable temperature control but your wallet will thank you.

Your best chances to find a mini fridge in good condition will be through friends and family or overstock liquidation stores. You’ll need more caution, but equally as good, or even better, savings lie in Facebook marketplace/groups and thrift stores. And finally, you can get the discounted newer products from big retailers if the dorm fridge has been refurbished or is sold as open box.

Where will you be purchasing the mini fridge for your dorm? Let me know in the comments. Once you’ve got the mini fridge figured out, you have completed one more step on preparing to go to college

About the Author

Kelly Clark

Kelly graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Journalism. Even though it took her a little while to find her career path, she was always meant to be in Communications. She remembers writing poems and songs when she was a little girl and pitching to my parents the reasons why I should have a cell phone when I was a teenager. She currently has a blog (budding-joy.com) where she talks about her weight-loss journey, mental health and personal development. Her hope is to encourage and inspire readers and let them know they are not alone. Reading blog posts like that are what helped her in tough times and she wants to pay it forward. She loves dance fitness, listening to music, and creating layouts in her bullet journal. She's a big fan of planning, especially when cute notebooks and pens are involved. Her dream job has changed so much over the years; right now she'd love to co-own a dance studio.

Website: budding-joy.com