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What Are The Cheapest Franchises in the U.S.?

These five franchises, ranging from fitness to travel to food, offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to invest in a franchise without breaking the bank.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
11:11AM 02/04/24

Did you know you can start a franchise for around $1,250 down? That’s less than a month’s worth of rent in most places. Though not all of these brands are quite that cheap, they still stand as some of the most low-cost in the industry. 


  • Investment Range: $2,000–$41,000
  • Unit Count: 7,340+

Jazzercise, founded in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett, is a globally recognized fitness franchise offering high-intensity cardio classes with dance-fusion workouts. Operating over 8,500 locations in 25 countries, Jazzercise caters to approximately 32,000 classes weekly. 

The franchise provides two types of opportunities: 

  • Instructor Franchisee — entrepreneurs who want to focus on teaching
  • Class Owner Franchisee — entrepreneurs who want to manage their Jazzercise small business

With a low upfront investment, franchisees gain access to virtual training, choreography databases, brand support and a network of fellow franchisees. Jazzercise's business model promotes affordability, flexibility and fitness entrepreneurship.

Cruise Planners

  • Investment Range: $2,000–$23,000
  • Unit Count: 2,720+

Cruise Planners is the largest, home-based, travel advisor franchise network in the U.S. With a low-cost initial franchise fee, which was recently reduced to $9,995, franchise owners gain access to marketing, cutting-edge mobile technology, hands-on training, lead-generating tools and professional coaching. The franchise emphasizes flexibility, allowing owners to work from anywhere in the world. As the travel industry experiences unprecedented growth, Cruise Planners positions itself as a rewarding career choice, enabling entrepreneurs to be their own bosses, explore global destinations and capitalize on the booming demand for travel advisors.

Dream Vacations

  • Investment Range: $3,500–$21,000
  • Unit Count: 1,870+

Dream Vacations is another travel agency franchise that offers individuals the opportunity to turn their passion for travel into a home-based business. With a low initial investment of $3,500 down, franchisees enjoy the perks of working from anywhere, with no overhead or territories. Leveraging the equity of a strong brand with over 30 years in the travel industry, Dream Vacations franchise owners receive marketing support, trailblazing technology and a dedicated support team. Veterans, military spouses, community heroes and travel industry professionals receive exciting discounts, while all franchisees benefit from hands-on training, ongoing education and travel perks. 

Steak and Shake

  • Investment Range: $10,000
  • Unit Count: 400+

Restaurant brand Steak 'n Shake provides a surprisingly low-cost franchise partnership program, enabling single-unit operators to join with a $10,000 initial investment. The franchisor covers site construction and equipment costs entirely, making it an accessible entry into a well-known brand. However, there's a caveat: franchisees in this program face a fee structure, paying up to 15% of sales and 50% of profits to Steak 'n Shake. This approach offers affordability for aspiring entrepreneurs, but the ongoing fee commitments are essential considerations for those looking to associate with this established restaurant chain.

JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting

  • Investment Range: $1,250–$50,000
  • Unit Count: 10,650+

JAN-PRO is a commercial cleaning franchise specializing in servicing various businesses, including auto dealerships, fitness centers and restaurants. Revenue is dependent on the initial investment, giving franchisees control over their earnings. The franchise opportunity is accessible, with a number of plans designed to fit franchisee’s needs and goals, starting as low as $1,250 and going up to $50,000. At a minimum, franchisees will need $1,250 for the down payment and $900 for JAN-PRO Franchise Development’s starter kit. 

These five options offer accessible entry points for individuals seeking affordable and flexible entrepreneurial ventures in various industries. Happy franchising!

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