Many inkjet printers are initially cheap but expensive over time. When a new pack of cartridges costs as much as the machine, one can’t help wondering if corporate greed is the reason. Fortunately, you can choose any cartridges you like and save hundreds of dollars annually.

Suppose you have a Canon PIXMA Printer. The manufacturer sells four 280/281 cartridges with a standard yield of around $65. In comparison, a compatible 5-pack of Canon 281 ink costs around $43.5. On top of that, you get even more ink thanks to the XXL volume.

Why Original Ink Is So Expensive

The rivalry between printer brands and independent stores is fierce, but it does not prompt the former to lower their prices. Manufacturers like Canon and HP claim to spend billions of dollars on research annually. The prices of ink cartridges are said to reflect this.

For decades, these companies seem to have capitalized on the “razor and blades” logic. While basic equipment will only set you back $90-$150, new ink may cost almost as much. What looked like a bargain turns into a consumer trap of sorts.

How to Save Money

There are two ways to get new ink more cheaply. First, you can buy a compatible product from a third-party supplier like Smart Ink. Secondly, consider recycled (aka remanufactured) cartridges. Here is a closer look at both options.

●     Compatible

As the term suggests, these products fit specific models of printers. They are developed and sold by smaller brands, companies that usually specialize in office supplies.  Both the ink and the cartridges are technically original in comparison with the OEM products.

●     Remanufactured

These are original cartridges brought back to life. They are emptied, cleaned, refilled, and fixed if necessary. Worn elements are replaced. Second-hand cartridges work like new but cost significantly less.

Safety and Legality

So, are these products safe and legal? Compatible cartridges are not counterfeit, so you are free to choose any product you like. By law, printer manufacturers may not prevent you from using non-original supplies. Nor can they punish you for avoiding their products. Your printer warranty will remain valid.

That said, it is still crucial to find a trustworthy store. Unfortunately, as the demand for cheaper replacements is so high, this industry is not perfect. To identify a reputable store, focus on these features:

  • Extended warranty on all products (2 years);
  • Certified quality following international standards like ISO, CE, Reach, etc.;
  • Updated chips (for hassle-free recognition);
  • Sustainability (recyclable products);
  • High rating on Trustpilot;
  • Free shipping;
  • Multi-layer packaging.

As you can see, even third-party brands can provide excellent print quality. Buy compatible cartridges to cut expenses or remanufactured products to reduce plastic waste. Popular stores like Smart Ink include both categories of products.


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