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10 Ways to Save BIG on Printer Ink and Toner

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10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Printer in a cart

Printer ink can be SO expensive!

Did you know printer ink can cost more than fine champagne per drop?! Luckily, we’ve got 10 ways to save big on your printer ink so you can print loads of coupons we post here at Hip2Save without breaking the bank.

1. Invest in a laser printer.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Buy a laser printer like this one

It seems that the longest lasting, most reliable, and most affordable (in the long run) printers are laser printers. Although laser printers may cost more initially, they tend to be faster, use less toner, and are much cheaper on a monthly basis (i.e. cost of inkjet cartridges versus laser toner cartridges).

If you’re looking to purchase a laser printer, check out Amazon’s best sellers page, updated hourly!

Hip Tip: When your laser printer shows the toner is low, take the cartridge out and look for a little window on the side of the cartridge. Cover it with a piece of black electrical tape, and you may be able to get MANY more pages of ink out of it. The window lets light in and tells the owner to buy a new cartridge (in reality, there’s usually still plenty of toner left in the cartridge).

If your toner cartridge doesn’t have a “window” but instead has a slow rotating gear on the side of the cartridge, you can get more prints by resetting the gear and turning it backward manually.

*But please note that this DIY tip may not work for all printers.


2. Consider compatible printer ink cartridges.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Staples storefront

If you already own a printer and need to purchase ink cartridges, consider buying compatible ink or toner cartridges at retailers like Staples and Office Depot/OfficeMax. Compatible ink is like buying a generic brand for a certain store (a separate company creates their own version of the cartridge to work in your printer), such as the Staples brand. Some compatible brands may be inferior to the original ink from the manufacturer, but many compatible printer cartridges work just the same!

You can also find a lot of compatible brands on reputable sites like Amazon123InkJets, 4inkjets, CarrotInk, ComboInk, CompAndSave, and eBay – just to name a few. These sites offer big savings with occasional promotions, and the compatible cartridges often work just as well!


3. Use Costco’s Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Costco inkjet cartridge refill service flyerOne of the best prices for getting your ink cartridges refilled is by using Coscto’s Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service as you can save up to 70% when compared to new cartridges! Prices range from $7.49-$10.49 for original Brother, Canon, Epson and HP inkjet cartridge refills. Just bring your empty cartridges to the Costco Photo Center and shop while they refill your cartridges – they’ll even be ready in one hour!


4. DIY! Refill your own ink cartridges.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Refill your own ink bottles and syringesIf you have some time and don’t mind getting a little bit messy, refilling your own ink cartridges can save you quite a bit of money. That’s because refill kits cost about 50% less than new cartridges and you can use them at least 4-5 times! You can purchase refill kits at office supply and discount stores or even purchase them online at AmazonWalmart, and Target with prices starting around just $7.


5. Buy remanufactured printer ink cartridges.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – printer ink samples and printed color imagesRemanufactured printer cartridges have been recycled, refilled, and resold for up to 60% less than the name-brand cartridges. A legit re-manufacturer will disassemble, clean, and test the cartridge before replacing any worn parts and refilling the toner, resulting in a quality cartridge.

You can usually buy these re-manufactured cartridges at the same online retailers mentioned under tip #2 above, as well as on Walmart.com, Staples.com, and other sites.


6. Use HP Printers? Consider HP Instant Ink.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – HP instant ink envelope mailerIf you have an eligible HP printer, consider enrolling in HP’s Instant Ink replacement service. Monthly plans (which are based on pages printed, not cartridges used) start as low as FREE – $2.99/month and there’s no annual fee or commitment. Ink, shipping, and even cartridge recycling are all included!

Your printer uses the Internet to let HP know when to send more ink. Special HP Instant Ink cartridges are sent to you by mail or included with your printer. And since these cartridges have more ink than HP XL cartridges, you’ll replace them less often. They even provide postage-paid shipping materials to return used cartridges, and they’ll recycle them as part of your service!


7. Change your font.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – a printed page with textWhen printing documents, avoid using serif fonts whenever you can since those little tails on the letter ends use up more ink. Century Gothic is one of the most eco-friendly fonts when printed in smaller sizes (such as 10 or 11-point versus the traditional 12-point) as it a thinner but somewhat wide font. Garamond, Times New Roman, and Courier are also good alternatives.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – an example of the font ecofont

You can also purchase a license for Ecofont Sans, which is a true type font that has tiny holes in each letter. When printed at smaller sizes, the holes are not really noticeable due to ink bleed.


8. Print in Grayscale with Draft Quality.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – a printed grayscale documentWhen you don’t need a perfect copy, set your printer quality to “draft” and print in grayscale or black and white, which will use less ink and toner. Printing in grayscale when color isn’t necessary is optimal as color printer ink cartridges are typically more expensive.


9. Only print what you need!

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Closeup of a documentThis may seem like a silly tip, but if you’ve ever tried to print an online recipe, article, or web-page, you’ve likely wasted lots of ink printing unnecessary ads, navigation bars, images, and more.

PrintWhatYouLike is an easy tool that lets you print only the parts of a page you want. Just paste in the website address and you’ll be able to alter or remove any segment of a page. Easy peasy!


10. Recycle your printer cartridges.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Cartridge recycling binsMany popular office supply stores offer rewards and/or coupons just for bringing in your used ink or toner cartridges! Here are a few:

  • Office Depot/OfficeMax: When you recycle your ink and toner cartridges in-store, you’ll get $2 back in rewards per recycled cartridge when you make a $10 qualifying purchase during the same month (limit 10 cartridges per month). You’ll get your rewards certificate after the end of the month for every 1,000 points you earn which are redeemable for future purchases at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores. *If you’re a teacher, read the recycling tip down below!

  • Best Buy: Recycle your old ink or toner cartridges at your local Best Buy store and earn $2 in Recycle Rewards on your next in-store purchase of $40 or more (limit three items per household per day).

  • Staples: Earn a $2 Staples store credit to spend on anything in-store or online when you have spent at least $30 on ink or toner in the past 180 days, valid for up to 10 ink cartridges per month.

10 ways to save big on printer ink and toner – Recycling rules toner box in a classroom

Are you a teacher? Read this!

The Office Depot Recycling Rules program rewards teachers with a gift card to purchase much-needed classroom school supplies while highlighting the importance of recycling. Recycling Rules allows teachers, school administrators, parents, and students to register their classrooms online.

After a classroom signs up for the Recycling Rules program, Office Depot will supply it with FREE recycling boxes and information about the program. The boxes can be filled with empty ink and toner cartridges (any brand) and/or small electronics. Once the boxes are filled, they can be shipped back to Office Depot FREE of charge. Classrooms are rewarded (based on the value of their recyclables) with Office Depot gift cards that can be used to purchase the supplies they need.

What are your tips for saving on printer ink?


Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off running long distance, bargain shopping, warm weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Join The Discussion

Comments 31

  1. Frecklelily

    LOVE HP instant ink! I’ve used it for several years and do the $4.99/100 prints plan. Worth it to never have to worry about ink again.

    • riss

      Never heard of this til today. I’m gonna have to try this soon:)

  2. Sarah

    I use HP instant ink and love it! I print pictures and of course tons of coupons plus any other day-to-day things. I use the $2.95 plan and have never even come close to using all the pages and my rollovers full!! Not too bad for 36 bucks a year!

  3. Sarah

    I love HP instant ink. They even have a free “membership” where you get 15 pages a month free. That’s not a lot, but I don’t do a whole lot of printing, so most months, it is enough. Extra pages are $1.00 for every 10. You can upgrade or downgrade at any time, so if I have a month where I know I’ll be doing a lot of printing, I can easily switch up to $2.99 for 50 pages that month, and then move back down. Plus I don’t have to worry about buying cartridges. It’s so great.

  4. Eileen

    I have been refilling my own for about 2 years. Only down side is that it dries out BC of the small hole you drill but if you refill or top it of, it saturates the ink in there and works fine in a few hours. If I know I need to print, I try to plan ahead when I haven’t printed in a few weeks.

  5. Mommyof5

    Wow… definitely going to try HP instant ink. Sounds great from the reviews thank you.

  6. Heather C

    Just did refills at Costco yesterday! Very convenient that my husband works there

  7. thank you

    thank you for the info about HP ink and the reviews. excited to try it 🙂

  8. Lau

    Great tips! I will definitely be considering a laser printer in the future. I typically bring my used ink cartridges to Cartridge World(franchise) trade them in for their recycled cartridges. Black ink cartridges are roughly about $5-6 or more cheaper. Great company!

  9. Heather C

    LOL – love that sign that says “leave me alone, I’m busy!”

  10. Guest2

    I’m trying to save the little green leaf icon for CleanPrint in my broswer, but I can’t figure it out?

  11. rebecca

    at work where we used to print a lot, when we got the message about “running low” or noticed the print getting lighter, we would take out the cartridge, then wrap paper towels around it, and SHAKE IT vigorously. then when we put it back in we could get a few more weeks out of it of nice, dark print.
    use the paper towel, because some throw off tiny, powdery dark flecks when you shake it.
    sorry i don’t know if this works for all brands and types of printers, but i know at 2 different jobs we did this for multiple models of printers.

  12. Zig

    The best value I’ve ever received is from Staples. They always have great deals on ink and printers. And if you print a lot like we do their recycling program is definitely worth it. I do not recommend ever using Cartridge World or any type of “refillable cartridge” because HP and other companies install a chip sensor in their new inks that the printer reads as authentic HP ink. It will know when it is not a new cartridge and is a refill and will not accept it. Tried it and wasted my money. So never again. I enrolled in the HP Instant Ink program at Staples with some kind of promotional deal and got an extra year free! I highly recommend Staples.

  13. Athena

    I use instant ink. As a teacher, I print A LOT from home, especially color. I have the larger plan. 500 pages for $14.99. I love that pages roll over each month.

  14. CS

    Another HP Instant Ink fan here…you can also switch your plan depending on whether you need to print more/less in certain months! I love the rollover of unused pages, too!

  15. lkc4052

    Word of Caution: I’ve been using an HP for many years and decided to try one of the lower price options for ink. (I don’t have a model that I can use the instant ink program). A couple of months back I had issues with printing. Long story short, I ended up having to buy new print heads because I had been using the sub-standard ink refills. It wasn’t cheap getting them replaced but I’ve learned my lesson that ink is not a place to cut corners with.

  16. riss

    Does it have to be colored when printing coupons off coupons.com, etc?

    • Renee

      No, I always print coupons in black and white

  17. VaNeSteR

    I’ve never heard of the hp program & we’ve had our printer for at least 3 years. I do love their picture program and have used it for most occasions lately. Thank you, I’ll be signing up.

  18. CW

    Tip- make sure your printer is out of warranty before you use any ink cartridges that are NOT your printer brand. You void the warranty. I had an off market cartridge explode in my printer and I had no recourse.

  19. Diane

    Here is a tip/ caution about purchasing the re-manufactured ink. I began using ink purchased from some of the more reputable internet sites and quickly noticed that I started having more coupons rejected because the scanners could not read the barcodes. The black ink is a less sharp pigment than the regular type black ink. So now I still use the cheaper ink – but ONLY for the colors.

    • NICHOLE HOCKERSMITH

      I have had the exact same problem! My printer is set to black & white, but even at the highest quality printer setting I would still have coupons be rejected by the scanner. Good to know!

  20. Brian

    I’ve always used Canon products, but will look at this instant ink thing with HP. Many thanks!!

    With Canon, I’ve found that the Walmart Marketplace will stock some Canon inks – and place them on clearance after a year or so. I bought seven cartridges for my Canon Pixma for $4 each on clearance. 8 days later, the print-head died. So……..time to get a new printer, and my “lemonade” became lemons….:(

  21. Kate

    Like riss, I am wondering if you can redeem black and white coupons. I only have a monochrome printer so I’ve been afraid to redeem coupons in store.

    • Candace

      Yes, you can. I set my printer to print black and white only. HTH

  22. Amber

    To those of you asking if you can redeem black and white coupons- yes. I do this the majority of the time. However if you are couponing at a less coupon friendly store I would recommend using color coupons for those stores. Sometimes they Will accuse the coupons of being photocopied and sometimes they will get the managers okay but I’ve never had my black and whites refused.

  23. KR

    Ok, so my advice is (if you really want to do it on a tight budget):
    1) look on Craigslist for cheap used printers (you can get one for $20 or so, or free sometimes), even the wireless ones.
    Please be safe meeting people to buy things from Craigslist. Meet in busy public places, or in broad daylight, or in residential neighborhoods you know to be safe. Don’t go into homes of strangers. All the common sense stuff.
    2) before you buy, check Amazon for prices for generic compatible cartridges. I have an Epson printer and a full set of 2 of each color and 3 XL black cartridges costs about $12 on Amazon.
    I have been using it for years. A set of ink lasts forever.
    This way you are not scared to break a printer, given how much it cost you, and there is no warranty concern either.
    I have NEVER had issues with generic ink. Never. Saved tons of money doing that.
    Hope this helps.

  24. NH

    I have a small business where I use my printer frequently to print labels, etc. I recently purchased an Epson laser printer from Costco for under $100 and I love it! The ink doesn’t run or fade, it’s alot faster to print and seems to be great quality for the price. My coupons come out looking sharper so then less bar codes are rejected. I forget to look at Costco for electronics, but their prices are good and it seems like the return time and warranty are alot longer than other stores like Best Buy.

  25. Dawn

    I use compandsave.com for ink. They’re really cheap and I’ve never had a problem with their refurb cartridges.

  26. Michelle

    Any tips or recommendations on color laser printers? I’ve been looking into upgrading to a laser printer but would like to print color as well.

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