Where to Buy Printer Ink
KathyDewar/istockphoto
Where to Buy Printer Ink
KathyDewar/istockphoto

PRINT IT!

Inkjet printers are fairly cheap these days, but you can still spend a small fortune on replacement ink cartridges if you print lots of photos and documents. Branded ink from Canon, Epson, HP, and other major printer makers can cost as much as $30 per cartridge. But you can spend much less by purchasing remanufactured or compatible ink cartridges from a reputable online retailer like these top sites for cheap printer ink from Cheapism.com.

Remanufactured ink cartridges are recycled name-brand cartridges that have been cleaned, refilled, and tested, while compatible ink cartridges are made by third-party producers to fit popular printers. Although there aren't many professional reviews of cheap printer ink online, there are plenty of consumer reviews. Mostly, consumers say third-party inks are just as good as their name-brand counterparts, but there are a few drawbacks. Sometimes, cheap replacement ink cartridges leak, clog printer heads, or simply don't work, reviewers say, and some colors (especially yellow and magenta) may not be very rich or saturated. Be sure to buy from a retailer with a return/exchange warranty of at least a year to minimize your chance of being disappointed with your purchase.

4inkjets
Courtesy of 4inkjets.com

4INKJETS


Best Cheap Printer Ink Website

Pros:
- 2-year return/exchange guarantee.
- Responsive customer service, reviewers say.
- Large selection of ink, toner, paper, and 3D-printing supplies.
- PayPal and Amazon Pay accepted.
- Orders accepted from U.S. and Canadian addresses.

Cons:
- No overnight shipping; UPS 2-day is the fastest option.
- Free shipping only for orders over $50.

Takeaway: No online printer ink vendor earns more positive reviews than 4inkjets. We found far fewer complaints about cartridges that malfunction or leak than for other retailers, although negative reviews do exist. We also found a handful of complaints about shipments that didn't show up, were incomplete, or took a long time to arrive. To their credit, customer service representatives have responded to most negative reviews we saw. Prices aren't always the cheapest, but 4inkjets is usually within a couple dollars of the lowest-priced competitor, and most consumers seem perfectly happy to pay a little more for ink they say they can rely on. Customer service is available seven days a week by phone or online chat. Note: Inkcartridges.com is owned by the same parent company, and both sites sell the same replacement ink cartridges. Prices are similar (slightly higher at Inkcartridges.com, although shipping is free), so we give the nod to 4inkjets for better customer service, based on reviews.

123inkjets
Courtesy of 123inkjets.com

123INKJETS


Good Cheap Printer Ink Website

Pros:
- 2-year return/exchange policy on all products.
- UPS overnight and 2-day shipping options available.
- Ships to the United States and Canada.
- PayPal and Amazon Pay accepted.
- Very good selection of ink and toner, plus paper and 3D-printing supplies.

Cons:
- Scattered reports of unsatisfactory customer service.
- Prices tend to be slightly higher than competitors'.
- $55 minimum for free shipping.

Takeaway: 123inkjets gets generally positive reviews from consumers, but buyers are not as enthusiastic about this replacement ink vendor as they are about 4inkjets. Reviewers are more apt to complain about receiving defective cartridges, and we found more incidents of poor customer service, as well. Prices vary by printer and brand, but the fact that 123inkjets tends to be a few dollars more expensive than competitors doesn't seem to be an issue with reviewers. It also has the highest free-shipping threshold among the sites we researched. Still, most of its replacement ink cartridges get very high ratings from owners.

Carrot Ink
Courtesy of carrotink.com

CARROT INK


Good Cheap Printer Ink Website

Pros:
- Prices tend to be lower than competitors'.
- UPS overnight and 2-day shipping options available.
- 1-year "no questions" warranty on all products.
- Free return shipping.

Cons:
- No ratings for individual ink cartridges.
- No paper or 3-D printing supplies available.
- $40 minimum for free shipping.
- Ships only to U.S. addresses.

Takeaway: Like 4inkjets and 123inkjets, Carrot Ink has been around since the late 1990s, and in the past it has been a reviewer favorite. But recent online reviews of Carrot Ink are harder to find. The reviews it does get from consumers are largely positive, and prices are lower than other retailers' for the sample inks we compared. An added bonus: Carrot Ink pays for return shipping, something not all retailers do. The company offers customer support by email and by phone Monday through Friday.

Office Depot
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OFFICE DEPOT


Best Local Store for Cheap Printer Ink

Pros:
- Loyalty club members can receive rewards dollars for recycling cartridges in-store.
- 20 percent discount for subscription delivery.
- 24/7 customer service by phone or chat.
- Price-match guarantee, online or in store, with Staples, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Cons:
- Smaller selection of ink and toner than online-only retailers.
- Pricier than dedicated printer ink sites.
- Conflicting information on delivery fees.

Takeaway: Office Depot sells store-brand ink for home delivery, free in-store pickup, or purchase at its bricks-and-mortar locations. A red banner on its website promises "FREE delivery on ALL ink and toner. No minimum purchase required." Yet we saw delivery charges of $5.95 and $9.95 for orders below the $35 site-wide threshold for free shipping, and a customer service representative couldn't explain why (she offered to place an order over the phone with free delivery). Still, Office Depot seems to have a slight advantage in terms of selection and shipping over its biggest rival, Staples, although both retailers are pricier than online sellers like Carrot Ink or 4inkjets. Unlike some printer-ink sites, Office Depot sells only remanufactured ink cartridges under its brand name, which tend to be more reliable than replacement cartridges. As with all third-party inks, we found scattered complaints about Office Depot ink cartridges that malfunctioned or leaked, but most buyers say they're satisfied with the quality.

Staples
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto

STAPLES


Good Local Store for Cheap Printer Ink

Pros:
- Rewards club members earn rewards dollars for recycling empty ink cartridges.
- Price-match guarantee includes 10 percent discount and covers major retail/online competitors in addition to Amazon (direct only).

Cons:
- Free-shipping minimum of $50.
- Smaller inventory and higher prices than online-only retailers.

Takeaway: Overall, Staples had the smallest selection and highest prices among the printer ink retailers we looked at. But its Rewards program offers a more generous discount than Office Depot (5 percent vs. 2 percent) and its price-matching policy is much more comprehensive. Staples offers customer service online and by phone, but the phone support isn't available 24 hours a day. Most buyers say they're satisfied with the quality of the brand's ink — and like Office Depot, Staples relies on remanufactured cartridges, not third-party ink — but we found scattered complaints about cartridges that malfunctioned or leaked.