How to Save Money on Printer Cartridges Ink

After a recent shopping trip to Stapels for Printer Ink, I left discusted. I spent $80 on 1 black and 1 color cartridge. As a Tupperware Manager no matter how “Green” I try to be, I still have a lot of printing to do. There are hostess packets, opportunity packets, display signs etc. I knew I had to investigate and there had to be a cheaper way. Thanks to Frugal Upstate, I have found my solution! Here is her post, see below for the cheapest price I found…

Dear Frugal Upstate,

Do you have any ideas for how to save money buying ink cartridges for my printer?  I cringe every time they get low because I know I’ll be spending a bundle at the office supply store.


What a great question!  With all the things a typical household prints these days, you can really spend a lot of money on printer ink over the course of the year.  Not frugal!  But never fear, I’ve got a couple of great ideas to help you save.

1. Choose a printer carefully.

If you are in the market for a new printer make sure that you do a bit of research first.  That printer that is selling for less than a hundred dollars might take unusually expensive cartridges!  Make sure you don’t just look at the base price of the ink replacements–check the “page yield” and divide that into the cartridge cost so you can come up with a “price per page” for comparison. You’ve got to compare apples to apples :)

2.  Use less ink when you print.

Not everything you print needs to be done in full color and best quality.  Most of us print a lot of materials that are for personal reference only–a recipe we need to take into the kitchen, directions for a project, an email joke we want to share with our spouse.

Why waste ink on these? Instead go into your printer properties and change your default for color to “grayscale-black ink cartridge only” and for quality to “draft” or “fast/economical”.  When you DO need a full color or high quality print you can simply change the properties for that individual job before you print it out.

Don’t know how to do that? I know that in most Microsoft products you go in through your “control panel”. . . but this is a case where Google is your friend. Just do a search for your operating system (for example safari or Microsoft XP) and then “change printer settings” or “change default print color”.

3.  Buy your ink online.

This is one of my favorite ways to save money on printer ink.  I always buy re-manufactured printer cartridges-which are much cheaper than their “first go round” cousins.  I know some people don’t trust them, but I have never had an issue with re-manufactured printer cartridges from any of the vendors I’ve purchased them from.Now you might have to do a bit of searching-I wouldn’t recommend buying your ink from the very first place you try online.  I usually compare the price of my cartridges at 3 or 4 trusted places, check to see how much the shipping is and then make my decision.

For example-I have an HP Photosmart C5180.  Here are some of the sites I checked and their prices:

Simply Ink
(re-manufactured HP Cartridges)
(note: this banner is an affiliate link-but I truly think it’s a great deal)

$5.99 per cartridge, $5 per if you buy 3 or more,   $59.99 for 13 pc set ($4.62 ea).  Free shipping on orders over $55.   10% off entire order using the affiliate banner link above.

(re-manufactured HP Cartridges)
Same exact prices as Simply Ink above-but not an affiliate link and without the 10% off entire order promotion.

Ink Grabber
(re-manufactured HP Cartridges)
$4.95 per cartridge, $38.99 for 8 pc set ($4.87 ea).  Currently (3/14/11) running a 10% off orders of $55 or more.  No information on how much shipping is until you actually place an order.

Inkjet Superstore
(re-manufactured HP Cartridges)
$4.99 ea for colors, $5.59 ea for Black, Set of 3 black 1 ea color $39.99 ($5 ea).  Flat Shipping rate of  $5.95 per order in the US.

So for me if I was only going to order a few ink cartridges then it looks like Ink Grabber would be the best price (assuming their shipping wasn’t way out of line).

However to save the most money (and have the least aggravation in the long run) my choice would be to buy the 13 pc set at Simply Ink where I would not only get the best price on the cartridges due to the large order ($4.62) but also free shipping and another 10% off, bringing my total price down to $4.16 per cartridge.

Which is a whole lot better than the approximately $15 ea I would pay in any of the major box stores.

4.  Refill your own ink cartridges.

I admit it.  I have never pursued this option, despite the fact that it is the most frugal one, because I’m scared.  Scared that I’ll end up looking like this:

printer failurePhoto by buyalex 

I did a quick search online and found a vendor-123 Refills-who offers the Uni-Kit 6 Color Inkjet Refill Kit that is supposed to be able to refill my 6 color ink cartridges* and my black cartridge between 3-7 times each. The kit costs $29.99 and they have $4.95 flat rate shipping on orders under $60, so that is $34.94 for at a minimum 21 refills.  That would bring the cost of each cartridge to $1.66.

Maybe it’s time for me to reconsider refills eh?

So there you go Alice!

As for the rest of you~where do you buy your ink?  Have any of you tried the refillable kits?

*Note:  I have 6 colors because it’s a Photosmart printer.  There are two shades of blue and two shades of red to make the photo colors even more realistic.  At least that is what they say.

****This post contains affiliate links****

“The cheapest option for my printing needs was simply ink who is not an affiliate of mine (see banner below) Instead of $80 for 1 black and 1 color my new cost is $35 wow that is over 50% savings.  Thank you Frugal Upstate, you are going to be saving me tons!  One day I will be brave and try the refillable ink, just not today, to scared of the mess!


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