Are Cross or Parker Pens Better?

Luxury pens can get expensive, but brands like Cross and Parker fill the middle ground by offering quality at a modest price. The first hurdle you face is making a choice between the competitors.

Parker pens are often preferred to Cross pens because of their durability and reliability, as well as the quality of their ink. Cross pens come out on top for their compatibility with other brands and their lifetime warranty.

In this article, we compared the lines offered by each company for ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. We also take a look at how price, style, and warranty influence opinion on which pen is better.

Table of Contents

Cross Pens Overview

are cross pens good
By Neo139 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Cross clocks over 175 years of history with founder Richard Cross establishing the company in 1846. The A.T. Cross Company is the first manufacturer of fine writing instruments in the United States, and its debut fountain pen Peerless worked hard to show the worth of Cross pens.

Cross started off specializing in elaborate and ornate designs, particularly with pencil casings of gold and silver.

Cross pens gained a reputation with leaders worldwide. U.S. Presidents used pens from various lines for over a century, preferring Townsend as The Pen of Presidents. Century II has also been spotted a few times for official White House signing ceremonies. Leaders across the globe also hold an affinity for Cross pens.

The company has used its time to develop trustworthy products that users can trust for generations, offering a lifetime mechanical warranty that most other companies shy away from.

Parker Pens Overview

Why is Parker Pens so Popular?

Parker started in 1888 when founder George Safford Parker applied for his first pen patent. Through the years Parker has been building on the original idea that “it will always be possible to make a better pen”. You see evidence of this philosophy in major events in the company’s history, including:

  • Inventing the anti-leak ‘Lucky Curve’ system in 1894
  • Developing quick-drying ink ‘Quink’ in 1931, the first to need no blotter
  • Becoming the official supplier of writing instruments to the Royal Household in 1962
  • Creating the G2, or Parker Style refill, which is one of the most popular refills today

Several Parker innovations reign supreme today, and they’ve shaped the way the writing instrument industry responds to consumer needs.

Parker pens are known to be contemporary and innovative, always a step above the rest, and their distinct collections have reputations of their own.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Ballpoints

JotterClassic Century
Parker 51

While performance is not based on variety alone, Parker generally comes out on top for ballpoint pens every time. Parker pens and ink refills have a reputation for better vibrancy, definition, and longevity.

Parker ballpoint refills are some of my favorite writing inks. I use Parker-style refills in my everyday pens. Parker ballpoint pens also expand to gel pens, while Cross has yet to make this move.

Cross ballpoint pens are better if you find that the Parker pens write too boldly for your style. Cross pens tend to have a finer point.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Rollerballs


Cross offers more lines for rollerball pens, while Parker’s options are far more slight.

Consumers are happier with the result from Cross rollerball pens than what Parker has to offer. While Parker’s patented quick-drying ink is a major selling point of the company, it impacts the rollerball’s ability to glide across the page as one typically expects from a rollerball pen.

Because the cartridges for Parker pens are not universal, there is no way to bypass this issue, and Cross pens come out on top.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Fountain Pens

JotterClassic Century
Parker 51Sauvage

Both Cross and Parker pens got their start with fountain pens, and the companies maintain their reputation for elegance and performance through these designs.

The general consensus is that older Cross fountain pens offered higher quality, but this is not guaranteed with newer fountain pens. Unfortunately, Cross quality appeared to decline when the company moved production to China in 2013.

This did little to affect the quality of the pen’s barrels, but fountain nibs were hit the worst by the change. Cross nibs seem scratchier than the competition, and they do not offer as wide a variety of nib sizes.

This is one area where the larger Parker barrel is seen as a plus rather than a hindrance. Parker fountain pens can hold more ink than competitors, and the quick-drying ink limits common issues like smearing.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Price

Both Cross and Parker sit at the luxury pen price, so you should expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $200 for a single pen.

The difference in price relates better to the quality that you get from the pen.

Overall, Parker pens boast higher quality than Cross pens. This can change if you compare older models of pens, but since Cross moved production out of the United States, it is difficult for them to offer competitive quality.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Pen Styles

Cross offers a greater variety of lines than Parker pens, but you see more finishes and styles from Parker.

The style of Cross remains the same through the years as they focus on a classic style. Cross pens are eye-catching in a way that focuses on timelessness and elegance.

Parker pens are just as elegant, but they have more contemporary and innovative styles than you’ll see from Cross. Parker special editions pop up more often, as well as vibrant colors and intricate designs, and relief-based finishes.

Cross vs. Parker Pens: Warranty

Parker offers a 2-year warranty with the purchase of a pen, and you can purchase an additional 2 years for a total of 4 years of coverage. This covers defects in materials or workmanship, but not ordinary wear and tear or damage from accidental or intentional misuse.

Cross offers a lifetime mechanical warranty, putting them on top in this category. Writing instruments from Cross is “unquestionably guaranteed: against mechanical issues, regardless of how old they are”.

The warranty excludes:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Stains, discoloration, or scratches
  • Damage by causes beyond Cross control (accident, fire, theft, etc.)
  • Misuse, abuse, negligence
  • Unauthorized repairs that cause damage

While you have plenty of rules to follow, the Cross warranty covers you for the life of the pen.

Final Thoughts

Cross and Parker pens have reputations of their own, but existing in the same space often puts them head to head.

If you’re looking for a ballpoint or fountain pen between the two, the quality of Parker pens comes out on top. With their quick-drying ink and history of reliability, Parker pens have more to offer in these areas.

Cross ballpoint pens work better if you want a finer point, and their rollerball reputation sits above Parker pens. If you’re big on warranties, it’s hard to beat the guarantee by Cross.

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