Between wedding, graduation, and vacation photos and end-of-school projects, June can drink up a lot of printer ink. Unfortunately, a la the shaving industry, printer manufacturers make their money off high-priced replacement cartridges, rather than the devices that make use of them. Cheaper ink is out there, though, and "the secret" that printer companies don't want you to know, according to PC Mag, is that it can serve just as well as those expensive cartridges.
Online retailers sell low-cost ink in two varieties: remanufactured cartridges and compatible cartridges. The latter are made by third-party manufacturers. Although they are designed to work with specified printers, sometimes consumers find themselves with a dud. Remanufactured cartridges are recycled brand-name cartridges. Quality can still vary, however. Whereas some remanufacturers have strict quality-control systems in place, others may simply refill and ship out.
Web-based ink retailers also peddle OEM cartridges from the original equipment manufacturers (i.e., the printer companies). These are by far the most expensive ink refills because they carry the brand name of the corresponding printer. In some cases the quality may be higher, as well, but it's a tradeoff some consumers are happy to make. That's because remanufactured and compatible cartridges can save shoppers more than 75 percent over OEM cartridges.
Cheapism.com recommends three online ink sites that sell cartridges for as low as $6 each. They also reward customers who place large orders with free shipping, but be cautious about ordering more than you need. Ink can slowly dry out, and a wasted cartridge left sitting on a shelf could wind up costing more than you saved on shipping.
Although most ink-selling websites receive a number of complaints, 4inkjets stands out as a good choice with a relatively positive record. The prices are competitive and past buyers who have reviewed the site online report that the cheap cartridges generally work without a glitch. If a remanufactured or compatible cartridge malfunctions within a year, the customer can receive a refund or store credit. Shipping is a flat $4.95 for orders under $50 and free for orders over that amount.
Based on online reviews, 123inkjets stands out for great customer service, which is available seven days a week. The site's low prices don't hurt either. Customers receive free shipping on orders over $55. Most don't seem to have any issues with cartridges from 123inkjets, but those who do have a year to return remanufactured or compatible ink cartridges for a replacement or refund.
Carrot Ink offers high-quality, inexpensive ink cartridges, according to online reviews. Like many online ink sellers, the site backs its products with a one-year money-back guarantee. Some reviewers have complaints, but mainly they reside with the website navigation, not with the ink. Carrot Ink also makes its toll-free customer-support line available five days a week, as opposed to seven days like the other sites featured here. The shipping policy is standard: a flat $4.95 fee unless the order totals more than $50.