What printer ink is cheapest: Cheapest Printers for Ink Costs

The cheapest printer ink and how to make cartridges last longer

We all know the pain of buying ink cartridges. They are expensive – ridiculously expensive – $16 to $227, depending on the brand. In some cases, replacement cartridges seem as pricey as the actual printers.

Tim W. emailed me saying how frustrated he was with the cost of ink cartridges, writing:

“Next article I’d like to see on Printers is life on an ink cartridge. Like you mentioned, print couple times a year, maybe just taxes. You spend $50 on a cartridge and use it once, it’s dried out next time you attempt. HP cartridges are the worst. We went to Brother printer, seems to last longer”

Tim, I hear you and want to share with you and others some things you can do to save money on ink cartridges and a few tips on how to make them last longer. First, here’s how to choose the best cheap printer ink cartridge that suits your budget and needs.

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How to ensure you are buying the best discount ink cartridges

The first step is to consider how often you print documents or photos. If you don’t print that much like Tim, you are better off buying the standard yield or non-XL printer ink because it’s cheaper than the higher-yield ones. However, if you print more often, you want to buy the higher-yield or the XL and XXL versions because they have more ink than the standard-yield ones. Plus, since it has more ink, you can print more pages.

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What is the cheapest printer ink

To ensure you purchase low-cost printer ink, you need to calculate the cost per page. Since a higher page yield means a higher number of pages you can print per cartridge, this also decreases the cost per page, which saves you a lot more in the long run. 

Higher-yield ink cartridges may cost more than standard ones. Still, they are the most cost-effective, especially if you print frequently. You can also take advantage of the combo or value pack because these are offered at a much lower price than buying ink cartridges individually.  

So how do you calculate the cost per page? You can divide the cost of the cartridge by the page yield. That is how you will know if you actually got ink for less. Simply stated, the higher the cost per page, the bigger your printing bill will be.

Formula: Cost of the cartridge ÷ Page yield = Cost per page

The lower cost per page, the better the value you are getting. This is why high-yield cartridges tend to be a better value in the long run, even though there is typically a higher upfront cost.

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Ways to save on cost per page

The easiest way to cut down printing costs is to buy a printer that uses cartridges with a low CPP. Several printers have a super low cost per page, including:

Brother’s INKvestment Printer Line

Brother MFC-J4335DW INKvestment-Tank All-in-One Printer

Best features:

  • The Brother’s INKvestment printer is one you won’t want to replace with up to one year of ink using only the four cartridges provided in-box
  • The re-engineered INKvestment Tank ink cartridges eliminate manual refilling
  • At the time of publishing, this product received over 1,000 global ratings 66%, giving it five stars

Get the Brother MFC-J4335DW INKvestment-Tank All-in-One Printer

 

Epson® Ecotank Line

Epson® EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Color All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer

Best features:

  • The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Supertank Printer allows for innovative cartridge-free printing
  • Its high-capacity ink tanks mean no more tiny, expensive ink cartridges. Epson’s exclusive EcoFit ink bottles make filling easy and worry-free
  • You’ll also see dramatic savings on replacement ink. In fact, you’ll save up to 90% with replacement ink bottles vs. ink cartridges
  • At the time of publishing, this product received over 1,500 global ratings 71%, giving it five stars

Get the Epson® EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Color All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer

Ways to extend the life of an ink cartridge

  1. Check for clogged nozzles
  2. Avoid large fonts and bold text
  3. Proofread before you print
  4. Change your printer settings
  5. Use print preview
  6. Use a small font size
  7. Ignore out-of-ink warnings

Frustration with ink cartridges has led some people to instead switch to printers that use toner, but just how big a difference does that make?

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What’s the difference between ink and toner

Depending on your type of printer, you may have a product that uses toner instead of ink. Toner uses a powdery substance as opposed to ink. Toner is known for lasting a bit longer and for being able to print more documents.

From a price standpoint, printers that use toner vs. ink cartridges see slight price disparity, depending on the make and model. At the same time, replacement toner cartridges also come in generally the same price range.

While toner cartridges tend to last longer, they also come with expiration dates. Even if they work fine past the expiration date, they could clog the printer and void your warranty.

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Many consumers are opting for cartridge-free ink-tank printers

An ink tank printer or continuous tank printer, doesn’t have a built-in print head. Instead, the ink is supplied directly to the printer via an integrated system. In place of cartridges, the ink is replenished directly into the tank via a refillable bottle.

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Are ink tank printers better than ink cartridge printers

1.

Price

Most printers with ink cartridges tend to be much less expensive than ink tank printers. Some, such as the Canon PIXMA MG3620, go for under $100. Top-of-the-line ink tank printers, such as the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 on the other hand, tend to be priced much higher.

However, while an ink tank printer might be a more expensive immediate investment, in the long run, you might find yourself saving money, as replacement ink bottles for an ink tank tend to cost a bit less, averaging around $20.

2. Lifespan and performance

Most printers that use ink cartridges tend to be able to print at most one thousand pages before running out of ink, while ink tank printers can print up to 7,000. Also helping matters is the fact that these printers are often able to store more paper in them than cartridge printers.

However, ink tanks ink is still printer ink, designed to dry at a rapid rate. Ultimately, ink found in ink tanks doesn’t have a much longer life than ink cartridges. So, if you don’t use your ink tank printer regularly, it once more leaves the potential to dry and clog the machine.

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Is there an ideal solution?

Ultimately, finding the most cost-effective way of dealing with printer ink truly depends on your printing needs.

If you rarely need items printed like Tim, buying a printer that uses ink cartridges is probably the best way to go, as is purchasing the standard yield or non-XL printer ink because it’s cheaper.

Whereas, if you print on a daily or weekly basis, an ink tank printer is probably worth the investment, as you will be able to print out far more pages than you would with a cartridge model, and when you do find it’s time to replace the ink in the ink tank, it will cost you less than replacing an ink cartridge would.

Which printer ink do you use and why? We’d love to hear from you.

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Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business beginning mornings on “FOX & Friends.” Got a tech question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.

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Why is printer ink so expensive?

Printer ink is more expensive than exclusive champagne or even human blood. If you print a lot, you find yourself paying a lot of money for new ink (inkjet) cartridges – more than what seems reasonable.

Buying the cheapest inkjet printer and officially replacing the original cartridges is the most expensive thing you can do. There are ways to save money on ink if you want to keep printing documents economically and within your budget.

Cheap printers – expensive ink!

Inkjet printers are often very cheap. This is because they are sold at cost or even at a loss – the manufacturer either does not make a profit on the printer itself or loses money.

The manufacturer makes most of their money on the printer cartridges you buy after you buy the printer. Even if the company makes a little money from every printer sold, it makes a lot more profit from the ink. Instead of selling you a printer, which can be quite expensive, they want to sell you expensive cartridges and make money on a consistent basis. The cartridge is a consumable item.

It’s easier to compare with razors – buy a razor cheap and then spend big money on razor blades. Instead of making a one-time profit on the razor, the manufacturer will make a steady profit as the customer keeps buying replacement razor blades (cassettes) – or ink, in our case.

Many printer manufacturers go to great lengths to make it difficult for you to use unofficial (compatible equivalents) ink cartridges by embedding microchips in their official inkjet (or laser) cartridges. If you are using an unofficial cartridge or refilling an original cartridge, the printer may refuse to use it, it will simply give you an error or not see the installed cartridge at all. Lexmark once argued in court that unofficial microchips that allow the use of third-party ink cartridges would infringe their copyright, and would be illegal under the US DMCA. Luckily, they lost that argument.

What printer companies are saying

In the past, printer companies have put forward their own arguments to justify the high cost of official ink cartridges and chips that block competition.

In a 2010 “Computer World” article, HP claims that they spend a billion dollars each year on “ink research and development.” They point out that printer inks “should be formulated to withstand heat up to 300 degrees, vaporized and injected at 30 miles per hour, at 36,000 drops per second, through a nozzle the size of one-third of a human hair. After all this, it should dry almost instantly on paper.” They also claim that printers have become more efficient and use less ink to print, while third-party cartridges are less reliable.

Companies using microchips in their ink cartridges claim that only the microchip has the ability to set an expiration date, preventing consumers from using old ink cartridges.

Of course, there is something to these arguments, but they do not seem to justify the high cost of printer ink or the restriction on the use of third-party or refillable cartridges.

Saving money on printing

Ultimately, the price of something is what people are willing to pay, and printer companies have found that most consumers are willing to pay to replace ink cartridges. Try not to fall for it: don’t buy the cheapest inkjet printer. Consider your needs when buying a printer and do your research, always look ahead to the cost of the ink cartridges for the printer you want to buy. You will save more money in the long run.

Consider these top tips to save money on printing:

  • Buy refillable or compatible replacement cartridges: Third party refillable cartridges are usually much cheaper. Printers warn us about this, but they often do very good quality work.
  • Refill your own cartridges. You can purchase DIY refill kits for your own printer cartridges, but that can be messy. Your printer may refuse to accept a refilled cartridge if it contains a microchip.
  • Switch to a laser printer: Laser printers use toner, not ink (ink) cartridges. If you’re printing a lot of black and white documents, a laser printer might be cheaper, cheaper, and more cost effective.
  • Buy XL (high yield) cartridges: If you buy official printer cartridges, spend more money each time. The cheapest ink cartridges don’t contain much ink at all, while the larger “XL” ink cartridges will hold a lot more ink for just a little more money. It is often cheaper to buy in bulk or a whole set, our store in this regard gives a discount on the purchase of such sets.
  • Avoid printers with tri-color ink cartridges. If you are printing color documents, you will need a printer that uses separate ink cartridges for all of its colors. For example, let’s say your printer has a “color” cartridge containing blue, green, and red ink. If you print a lot of blue documents and use up all your blue ink, the color cartridge won’t work – now all you can do is toss the cartridge and buy a new one, even if the green and red ink chambers are full. If you had a printer with separate color cartridges, you just need to replace the blue cartridge.

If you buy official cartridges, compare the cost of cartridges when buying a printer. The cheapest printer can be more expensive in the long run.

Of course, you will save the most money if you stop printing completely and go paperless, saving digital copies of documents instead of paper ones, thus you will take part in saving the environment, but that is another article that we will publish soon.

Why is printer ink so expensive?

Printer ink is more expensive than exclusive champagne or even human blood. If you print a lot, you find yourself paying a lot of money for new ink (inkjet) cartridges – more than what seems reasonable.

Buying the cheapest inkjet printer and officially replacing the original cartridges is the most expensive thing you can do. There are ways to save money on ink if you want to keep printing documents economically and within your budget.

Cheap printers – expensive ink!

Inkjet printers are often very cheap. This is because they are sold at cost or even at a loss – the manufacturer either does not make a profit on the printer itself or loses money.

The manufacturer makes most of their money on the printer cartridges you buy after you buy the printer. Even if the company makes a little money from every printer sold, it makes a lot more profit from the ink. Instead of selling you a printer, which can be quite expensive, they want to sell you expensive cartridges and make money on a consistent basis. The cartridge is a consumable item.

It’s easier to compare with razors – buy a razor cheap and then spend big money on razor blades. Instead of making a one-time profit on the razor, the manufacturer will make a steady profit as the customer keeps buying replacement razor blades (cassettes) – or ink, in our case.

Many printer manufacturers go to great lengths to make it difficult for you to use unofficial (compatible equivalents) ink cartridges by embedding microchips in their official inkjet (or laser) cartridges. If you are using an unofficial cartridge or refilling an original cartridge, the printer may refuse to use it, it will simply give you an error or not see the installed cartridge at all. Lexmark once argued in court that unofficial microchips that allow the use of third-party ink cartridges would infringe their copyright, and would be illegal under the US DMCA. Luckily, they lost that argument.

What Printer Companies Are Saying

In the past, printer companies have put forward their own arguments to justify the high cost of official ink cartridges and chips that block competition.

In a 2010 “Computer World” article, HP claims that they spend a billion dollars each year on “ink research and development.” They point out that printer inks “should be formulated to withstand heat up to 300 degrees, vaporized and injected at 30 miles per hour, at 36,000 drops per second, through a nozzle the size of one-third of a human hair. After all this, it should dry almost instantly on paper.” They also claim that printers have become more efficient and use less ink to print, while third-party cartridges are less reliable.

Companies using microchips in their ink cartridges claim that only the microchip has the ability to set an expiration date, preventing consumers from using old ink cartridges.

Of course, there is something to these arguments, but they do not seem to justify the high cost of printer ink or the restriction on the use of third-party or refillable cartridges.

Save Money on Printing

Ultimately, the price of something is what people are willing to pay, and printer companies have found that most consumers are willing to pay to replace ink cartridges. Try not to fall for it: don’t buy the cheapest inkjet printer. Consider your needs when buying a printer and do your research, always look ahead to the cost of the ink cartridges for the printer you want to buy. You will save more money in the long run.

Consider the following top tips to save money on printing:

  • Buy refillable or compatible replacement cartridges: Third party refillable cartridges are usually much cheaper. Printers warn us about this, but they often do very good quality work.
  • Refill your own cartridges. You can purchase DIY refill kits for your own printer cartridges, but that can be messy. Your printer may refuse to accept a refilled cartridge if it contains a microchip.
  • Switch to a laser printer: Laser printers use toner, not ink (ink) cartridges. If you’re printing a lot of black and white documents, a laser printer might be cheaper, cheaper, and more cost effective.
  • Buy XL (high yield) cartridges: If you buy official printer cartridges, spend more money each time. The cheapest ink cartridges don’t contain much ink at all, while the larger “XL” ink cartridges will hold a lot more ink for just a little more money. It is often cheaper to buy in bulk or a whole set, our store in this regard gives a discount on the purchase of such sets.
  • Avoid printers with tri-color ink cartridges. If you are printing color documents, you will need a printer that uses separate ink cartridges for all of its colors. For example, let’s say your printer has a “color” cartridge containing blue, green, and red ink. If you print a lot of blue documents and use up all your blue ink, the color cartridge won’t work – now all you can do is toss the cartridge and buy a new one, even if the green and red ink chambers are full.