Cheapest Place To Buy Printer Ink – Editors independently select and review products. If you make a purchase through affiliate links, we may earn commissions that help support our tests.
One of the most common printer complaints? Ink and toner are very expensive. You can spend a lot of money replacing cartridges that wear out quickly – or the nozzles for infrequently used ink jets can dry out and clog, then waste a lot of ink on cleaning. In general, the more expensive the printer, the more affordable its ink. The cheapest printers and all-in-ones have the highest cost per printed page, following the classic marketing strategy of selling razors for knife sales.
Cheapest Place To Buy Printer Ink
One way to save when buying a printer is to consider the total cost of ownership, which is the purchase price of the printer plus the cost of consumables for how many pages you plan to print over its lifetime. In this calculation, you’ll want to look into getting an ink or toner subscription that offers a fee that fits your monthly printing needs, or buying supplies in bulk, such as with an inkjet printer that refills from bottles instead of replacing cartridges.
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Both options – subscription and bulk purchase – are becoming increasingly popular. Many printer manufacturers have introduced inkjet and laser printers, offering one or the other at record low operating costs for both consumers and businesses. For example, HP’s Instant Ink program offers several months’ supply of ink and toner, which can offer significant savings, especially if you print a lot of color pages. Brother has introduced a similar program and Canon offers a more limited version. All three companies, plus Epson, also offer ink or toner printers that you can buy in volume.
An important note about the monthly fees for all subscriptions described below: they are based on the number of pages you print, not the number of cartridges you use. Whether it’s black text, a mix of text and color graphics, presentation material with a solid background, or a photo, every page counts. So, the more colors you print, especially if your middle page is covered in high ink, the more you’ll save. Similarly, a subscription will be most cost-effective if you print close to the maximum allowed for the tier you’re paying for without going over the limit.
HP introduced its subscription-based Instant Ink program in 2013 and has since attracted more than 9 million subscribers. The plan supports a wide range of HP inkjets (Opens in a new window), which has recently expanded to include laser toner. At this writing, it’s only available for two laser models, the HP LaserJet MFP M234dwe and LaserJet MFP 209dwe, but the company says it will be available for all future models that support HP Plus (aka HP+), as well as some. ‘t.. In general, Instant Ink-eligible printers cover a wide range of printer types, including home and office models and Editors’ Choice award winners like theOfficeJet Pro 9015e.
Instant Ink registration is integrated into the printer’s setup process, allowing you to choose between several levels of Instant Ink or choose the traditional model of purchasing ink at retail stores or online when supplies run out. Each Instant Ink plan is defined by the number of pages per month.
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Note that HP Plus printers include a free six-month subscription to Instant Ink at any level if you set them up to take advantage of HP Plus. (See our guide to HP Plus and HP Instant Ink and HP Smart for more on the relationship between the two programs.) Depending on how much you print, this alone can add up to significant savings. Some printers, like the HP OfficeJet Pro 8035e, include an additional month of free ink regardless of whether you sign up for HP Plus.
However, there is an option for six months of free HP Plus ink: to take advantage of it, you must agree to use genuine HP cartridges for the life of the printer, whether you stay with your subscription or decide to buy cartridges elsewhere. If you don’t tend to use third-party cartridges, this won’t be a problem. But if you’re thinking of giving them a try after your free subscription is up, you might be—the printer will honor the deal by checking for HP chips in your cartridges. In that case, you’ll need to consider both options to decide whether six months of free ink will save you over the life of the printer.
Instant Ink subscribers can choose from five plans, or tiers, priced on a monthly basis with a different set of ink and toner prices. Your variable monthly subscription (and
The 15-page-per-month tier used to be free and is still available for existing customers, but new subscribers pay 99 cents. The levels for lasers are:
Printer Ink, Toner & Paper
If you review your region, you’ll automatically receive an additional 10-15 pages (varies by plan) for $1. If you don’t use all of your pages, you’ll still be billed monthly according to the tier you signed up for, but if you go over the allowed number, you can transfer up to three months of inkjet pages to use. future monthly deductions (within two months for lasers). Although HP calls it an Instant Ink subscription, there’s no contract—you can cancel your plan at any time or upgrade to another tier that better suits your needs.
HP points to the potentially significant savings for instant ink compared to regular cartridge purchases, saying customers using 1,500 pages per month can save up to 50%. If you use the full maximum number of pages, the cost per page for inkjet printers ranges from 3.6 cents for a 700-page plan to 6.6 cents for a 15-page plan. For lasers, you’ll pay anywhere from 1.7 cents per piece for 1,500 pages per month to 4 cents per piece for 50 pages per month.
Still, if you print primarily in black and white (and especially if your average monthly income isn’t close to the maximum for the tier you’re paying for), you can continue to buy cartridges the old-fashioned way. . This warning also applies to similar plans from other manufacturers.
HP uses “smart” cartridges that monitor your ink or toner usage and the number of pages you print, automatically order replacement cartridges when they run out, and ship them online. Your printer must be connected to the Internet for the plan to work, and if the printer is offline for a long time, you will not be able to print. If you cancel your subscription, your instant ink cartridges will be deactivated; you will need to purchase standard cartridges to reuse your printer.
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With the Smart Tank Plus 551 and Smart Tank Plus 651 starting in 2019, HP has followed Epson’s lead and taken another step to reduce its customers’ ink costs. These wireless all-in-ones come with up to two years of prepackaged ink, which you refill into the tanks inside the printer when it’s empty. Extra ink is on sale at a deep discount.
In line with similar mass inkjet printers from Epson and Canon discussed below, the cost per page is quite low – about 0.3 cents for black pages and 0.9 cents per color page. The caveat for all manufacturers is that their inkjet printers are more expensive to purchase than cartridge-based models with similar speeds and features, so calculating your total cost of ownership (purchase price and operating costs) is critical.
In 2020, HP pioneered the introduction of laser toner mass ink technology. The company’s Neverstop laser printers, including the Editors’ Choice HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw and Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w, can be refilled without spilling powdery black toner all over the place, thanks to giant plastic syringes that push toner into the printers’ reservoirs.
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In August 2021, Brother capitalized on the idea of instant ink with its Refresh EZ Print Subscription service (not to be confused with Brother’s auto-renewal fulfillment plan, which is limited to automatically ordering cartridges at a 5% discount). Like HP’s plan, Refresh EZ Print offers several tiers based on printing a certain number of pages per month and is designed to automatically send you new cartridges until you need them.
At launch, the plan was available for dozens of Brother bakery monochrome laser printers, including the award-winning Brother HL-L2370DW Editors’ Choice with inkjet coverage to be added in fall 2021. Which you can check
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