Save money on printer ink, toner and consumables

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Printer makers are happy to sell a cheap printer because they make big profits on ink, toner and other consumables.  Here’s how to save money.

Buy in advance

Stores and printer makers rely on people waiting until they’ve run out of ink/toner before rushing to get more.  You pay a high premium for that rushed purchase or express shipping.

  • Keep an eye on your ink/toner levels and order cheaply online before it’s needed.
  • ‘Original’ manufacturer labelled consumables are often available online for a much lower price.
  • Go to a reputable online store like Amazon or Ebay merchants with an established record.

Personally, we stick with ‘original’ supplies if they are available at a reasonable (ie non-retail) price. A small premium is worth it for the reduced hassle.

Third-Party printer supplies

Alternatively, try third-party ink/toner consumables (not refills). Check in your local office supplies stores, make a note of any third-party brands for sale.  Give one a try (use the store refund policy, if necessary/available) and, if suitable, look online to buy the same brand in future.

Refilled printer cartridges

Buy original cartridges that have been refilled with ink/toner or buy the equipment to refill your own consumables.

Many readers swear by refilled cartridges but we’ve never had a good experience with them.

Don’t upgrade printer firmware

Don’t upgrade the firmware on your printer. Firmware updates can fix obscure bugs but more often they are self-serving for the manufacturer.

Last year HP tried to force consumers to use their expensive ink/toner by updating HP printer firmware to reject ‘foreign’ cartridges.

Update the printer if there’s a specific fix you need but don’t update automatically.  There’s always the chance that the update will lock out your preferred third-party cartridges.

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