Why is printer ink so expensive?

One of the most frustrating things about inkjet printers is that the ink costs can stack up pretty quickly. This isn’t necessarily true for all ink printers, but the majority of them made by the main brands like Epson and HP can end up costing you quite a bit over the course of their lifetime.

But why exactly is printer ink so expensive, and does it really warrant it’s cost? And are there ways that you can avoid paying out high prices for your printer ink? Well, that’s what we’ll be looking at today.

Why is printer ink so expensive?

The reality is that printer companies make the ink quite expensive because it allows them to sell the actual printer at a lower cost. So, you may buy the printer for a fairly reasonable price, and then you have to commit to purchasing their ink cartridges; this is where printer companies really make their money.

The idea is that you get sucked in by buying a cheap printer, and then spend more money on the ink cartridges than your initial investment. This isn’t the case for all printers, but it is how it works with the majority of them. For many people it isn’t much of a problem, as they only print occasionally and may only need to buy new cartridges yearly, or even less than this.

However, if you’re printing in volume, then high ink costs can really hit your bank balance, and you can end up spending more on ink pretty than the printer itself within a few years. There are ways that you can help to reduce your effective printing costs, however.

How to avoid paying high ink prices

If you’re sick and tired of paying £30, £40 or even £50 for your ink cartridges, then there are ways that you can try to avoid paying these high prices. Here’s just a few ideas which you can use to help reduce your overall printing costs.

Use refill cartridges

Although all the big companies will warn you off using refilled ink cartridges, they do work well in most cases. Whilst companies have introduced a microchip into the cartridge making it more difficult for resellers to do this, there are still ways around it. Often, you can syringe new ink into an older printer cartridge, and this can allow you to pay a lot less for your ink.

Opt for a laser printer instead

If you don’t have to print in colour, then it’s definitely worth considering optiong for a laser printer instead of an ink one. Why? Well typically, laser printers are more expensive than ink printers in the beginning, as the unit itself costs more than an inkjet printers.

However, a laser printer uses toner instead of printer ink, which is actually cheaper. Over the course of a month, you might not notice the difference in price. But over the course of years, you’re likely to save quite a bit by using a laser printer instead (probably enough to offset the cost of the printer in the first place).

Sign up to a subscription service

For the majority of people, I don’t recommend signing up to a subscription service (like HP Instant Ink). However in some cases, it can definitely make sense to use a subscription service instead of buying new ink cartridges.

Why? Well, typically these services work on a per page basis instead of charging for ink as it’s used. this means that if you print photos in full colour, then this is the same cost from your subscription as a text document in black ink. So, for people who print inn colour on a regular basis, you can save some money by using a subscription service.

Do your research first

As always with any tech product, you should do a little research before you buy it. This isn’t some in depth mission you need to go on – usually just checking the reviews of the printer before you buy it can help a lot. This can help you know what to expect when you actually buy a printer, and you can account for your expenses over the year.

Buy an Ink Tank Printer

Another way that you can reduce your overall printing costs is to buy a refillable ink tank printer. Although they are initially more expensive, in the long term they can end up saving you a lot of money.

Are ink costs justified?

There are those that think that high ink costs are actually justified by the big companies – obviously, the main people who think this are the companies themselves.

And whilst they do probably charge too much, producing printing ink isn’t that easy. A printer needs to drop thousands of droplets of ink onto a printer with precision accuracy, so we know that the technology behind them has probably been quite expensive to make, and much of printer companies cash gets spent on further research.


The reality is that high ink prices have been part of the printer industries method to making money for decades now. There are ways that you can navigate around the high prices and make things a little easier for yourself financially. However in some cases, we just have no choice but to accept that printer companies set the market rate at what it is.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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