Best Discount Ink Cartridge Stores of 2018

Jessica Richards ·
Education Software & Printing Senior Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent 80 hours comparing prices, evaluating inventory and researching store policies to find the best places to buy discount ink cartridges. Based on our findings, we think 4inkjets is the best option out there. The site has a variety of payment options, low-cost shipping and low prices. It carries a large inventory of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) cartridges, as well as remanufactured cartridges and other printer supplies like paper and cables. So, if you want to buy all your supplies in one place, 4inkjets is a good place to look.     

Best Overall
4inkjets
4inkjets’ large inventory of both Original Equipment Manufacturer and remanufactured cartridges, long return window, and multiple payment options make it our best pick for both bulk and personal orders.
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@4inkjets
Best Overall
4inkjets
Best Value
499inks
499inks doesn’t have as big of an inventory as our top pick, so you might have to shop elsewhere for some products. However, on average, its prices are lower.
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Best Shipping
Inkcartridges
The best thing about Inkcartridges is it ships orders anywhere in the contiguous United States for free, and you don’t have to spend a minimum amount to qualify.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Ink Pricing
Customer Satisfaction
Shipping Information
Payment Options
Help & Support
Percentage of Stock
Average Cost of Ink
OEM Cartridges
Remanufactured Cartridges
Other Printing Supplies
Number of Brands
RE Return Policy (Days)
Bulk Ordering Discounts
Public Service Support
Order Size for Free Shipping (Dollars)
International Shipping
Expedited Shipping
Purchase Orders & Cashiers Check
Paypal
Amazon Payments
Social Media Checkout
Phone & Email
Online Troubleshooting
Social Media
Live Chat
Check Price
9.3 10 10 7 10 7.3
64%
$0.06
$0.07
$0.03
80
365
$50.00
United States and Canada
2-3 day
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9.3 9.2 10 10 8 7.3
62%
$0.06
$0.08
$0.03
80
365
$0.00
United States and Canada
2-3 day
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-
Check Price
8.6 9.8 8.3 6.8 10 7.3
62%
$0.06
$0.07
$0.03
75
365
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$55.00
United States and Canada
2-3 day
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7.5 5.5 8.3 8.3 8 10
28%
$0.03
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$0.03
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28
365
$50.00
United States and Canada
Overnight
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Check Price
6.3 4 7.8 6.5 6 10
21%
$0.03
-
$0.03
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15
365
$40.00
United States
Overnight
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Check Price
6.2 3.8 8.3 8.3 2 10
19%
$0.03
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$0.03
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29
365
$50.00
United States and Canada
Overnight
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-
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Check Price
6 8 2.8 7 6 7.3
41%
$0.04
$0.06
$0.02
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47
30
-
$49.00
United States and Canada
2-3 day
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Check Price
5.9 6.3 6.8 6.8 0 7.3
40%
$0.04
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$0.04
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30
365
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Not Applicable
United States and Canada
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5.4 7.8 6.8 2.3 2 1.5
33%
$0.04
$0.05
$0.02
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135
90
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$75.00
United States and Canada
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4.6 4.3 3.8 9.3 6 0
19%
$0.02
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$0.02
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48
90
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$49.00
International
2-3 day
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Best Overall
4inkjets doesn’t have the lowest prices, but our research shows it carries more of the most popular cartridges than any other store. It sells ink cartridges made by all the major manufacturers, including HP, Canon and Xerox. You can buy Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) cartridges or opt for remanufactured cartridges, which cost less.
As we evaluated online ink cartridge stores, we preferred sites that are one-stop shops for printing supplies. 4inkjets also sells refill kits, fax toner, laser toner and photo paper, so you can stock up on all the printer supplies you need in one place. If you have problems with your cartridges, the site allows you to return them for up to two years after your purchase. Because using discount ink can be a bit of a gamble – sometimes the quality of the ink in non-OEM cartridges isn’t very good, and some printers reject refilled proprietary cartridges – we like 4inkjets' flexible policy. That said, check to make sure the cartridge you’re purchasing is covered by this policy, as there are a few exceptions. 4inkjets also offers multiple payments options, and its site is secure, so your credit card and personal information stays private during checkout. The site frequently has coupon deals, so we recommend checking for codes to apply at checkout to get even deeper discounts. While it can ship anywhere in the United States, 4inkjets has only a few international shipping options. Also, only bulk orders or orders over $50 qualify for free shipping.
Pros
  • Good selection of OEM and remanufactured cartridges
  • Variety of secure payment options
  • Robust customer support
Cons
  • Service only ships within the U.S. and Canada
  • Free shipping only applies to orders over $50
  • Some exclusions from the two-year satisfaction guarantee
4inkjets
Read the full review
Best Value
While 499inks doesn’t carry the variety of cartridges found on other sites, it strikes a better balance between cartridge prices and features than its competitors. Like most online ink cartridge stores, 499inks sends out monthly coupons to further discount its already low prices.
To compare prices across the sites we reviewed, we calculated how much it cost to print per page using ink purchased from each store. Based on our results, on average, it costs 4 cents per page to print with ink cartridges bought at 499inks – the lowest average price we found. For comparison, it costs around 6 cents to print per page using cartridges purchased at 4inkjets, our top pick. Also, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) cartridges 499inks sells cost less overall than on other sites. Orders over $49 ship for free – a dollar less than 4inkjet’s free shipping requirement. This is a fairly average free-shipping threshold for the sites we reviewed, but some, such as Inkcartridges, ship all U.S. orders for free. 499inks’ site looks more up to date than those of many of its competitors, and it has a social media presence – only about half the stores we reviewed were so connected. It’s easy to search for cartridges on the site using its drop-down selection tool or search bar. In addition to its low prices, 499inks has a lot support options on its site. For example, you can live chat with a customer service representative if you have questions about your account. Also, while not as impressive as our best pick’s two-year return policy, 499inks lets you exchange or return defective products for up to one year.
Pros
  • Lowest per-page print costs
  • Coupon codes for additional discounts
  • Live chat support
Cons
  • Limited one-year return policy
  • Small inventory of other printing supplies
  • Amazon Pay and social media payment not accepted
499inks
Read the full review
Best Shipping
Inkcartridges carries many of the most popular ink cartridge brands, as well as some of the less common ones. It has comparable pricing to 4inkjets, our pick for best discount ink store, plus the benefit of free shipping on any size order. The site also offers expedited shipping in case you find yourself in a bit of a time crunch, though it costs extra.
The site’s multiple search options make it easy to find products – during testing, the search bar returned results for the correct ink cartridges quickly, though having the cartridge model number speeds up the process. The site carries other printing supplies, such as paper and cables, as well. In addition, it sells 3D printer filament. If you’re ordering for an organization or business, you can work with an Inkcartridges account manager to find the best deals for your office. Large bulk orders may qualify for a 10-percent discount. Schools and government organizations can call a representative to pay with a purchase order. Inkcartridges accepts traditional forms of payment, including checks and credit cards. You can also check out using Google Pay, Amazon Pay or PayPal. You can contact Inkcartridges over live chat and telephone, as well as Facebook. If your question isn’t urgent, you can use an online text box to contact the service and wait for an emailed response. The site also has helpful walkthroughs that demonstrate how to use the site and install cartridges.
Pros
  • Free shipping on all orders within the U.S.
  • Large stock of cartridges and other printing supplies
  • 10-percent discount on bulk purchases
Cons
  • Limited support
  • Better discounts on other sites
  • Fewer payment options than our best pick
Inkcartridges
Read the full review
Best Payment Options
123inkjets is a convenient one-stop shop that offers an updated website, large inventory and variety of payment options including PayPal and Amazon Pay.
123inkjets offers both remanufactured and OEM cartridges, which drives up its average prices compared to many other sites, as OEM cartridges cost more than remanufactured ones. Even among the sites that offer both types, 123inkjets is still more expensive, but it has several perks that make it worth the extra cost. 123inkjets offers a wide variety of non-ink printing supplies including paper, printer accessories and 3D printing materials. Unlike many other sites, 123inkjets isn’t designed for bulk orders for schools or corporations. It does offer free shipping for orders over $55 and more up-to-date payment options than many companies we reviewed. In addition to traditional payment methods like cashier’s checks and credit cards, you can also use your Amazon account, PayPal or even certain social media sites to pay.
Pros
  • Large inventory of printing supplies
Cons
  • Above average prices
$0.00123inkjets
Read the full review
Most Brands
InkGrabber offers an impressive 135 ink cartridge brands at below-average prices, including both Original Equipment Manufacture and remanufactured cartridges.
The next-best brand variety topped out at 80. Compared to other discount ink sites, InkGrabber’s average cost was about one cent cheaper per page as well. Its OEM cartridge prices were the least expensive in our evaluations. We particularly appreciated InkGrabber’s transparency about its remanufactured cartridges’ print capacity. Many other sites hide this information in difficult-to-find places, but this site’s upfront information placement makes it easy to comparison shop. Unfortunately, InkGrabber’s customer support options aren’t competitive with many of the sites we reviewed. The company has a relatively short refund period, after which you can only exchange returned product for store credit. Customer support is only offered via phone or email, and expedited shipping isn’t available with your order without calling a representative. Even so, the low prices and wide variety of brands make it worth considering, especially if you’re looking for inexpensive OEM cartridges.
Pros
  • Low prices for Original Equipment Manufacturer cartridges
Cons
  • Short return period
$0.00InkGrabber
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We researched and compared prices on more than 30 sites that sell discount ink cartridges to find the best, most convenient online stores to buy from. We also considered shipping costs, payment options, the number of ink cartridge brands each store carries and whether the site sells other printing essentials.

In addition, we evaluated how secure each site is and the quality of the store’s support options because security and customer service are important when making purchases online. We’ve researched what to look for and what to avoid when buying discount ink cartridges online, as well as read the fine print in FAQs and return policies to make well-informed recommendations.

How We Tested

At Top Ten Reviews, we also test the best all-in-one printers.  To compare prices and check inventory size, we searched for ink that’s compatible with the all-in-one printers we tested, which means we checked more than 1,000 prices in our research. We calculated the average cost per page to print with ink purchased at each store using the sites’ prices and the cartridges’ manufacturer-reported page yields. Using this information, we found which stores have the largest inventories and the lowest prices.

During testing, we also talked with users about their experiences buying and using discount ink cartridges and read reviews see customer service is like on these sites.

Key Features to Look for in a Discount Ink Cartridge Store

Price
The price of an individual cartridge varies depending on the type of printer you have. Inkjet cartridges can cost from $3 to $30 while laser toner cartridges cost much more at $50 to $200 or more. Remanufactured cartridges cost less than originals but may void your printer’s warranty. For our evaluation, we calculated the cost-per-page using each site’s prices and the cartridge manufacturer’s reported yields. We found prices don’t vary much from site to site, especially on remanufactured cartridges. In fact, the average prices at a few of the stores we researched only differed from each other by $0.001. As such, a site’s return policy, payment options and shipping options are more important to consider. It’s also true that the prices we found could change at any time, so you may want to compare prices at our best picks before you buy to make sure you get the best deal.

Customer Satisfaction
Anytime you buy online, it’s important to make sure the store offers plenty of support, including contact information and troubleshooting guides. With discount ink, it’s also important to consider the site’s customer satisfaction guarantee so you can get your money back if something goes awry.

Many sites say they have a one- to two-year satisfaction guarantee, but the fine print says you can’t get a cash refund. Some stores only allow exchanges or issue store credit. 4inkjets has the best guarantee we saw, letting you return unopened or defective discount cartridges for your money back for a full year after you place your order.

Because using remanufactured ink cartridges can void your printer’s warranty, we recommend waiting until the warranty expires to use them.

Shipping & Payment Options
Nearly all the sites we researched offer free shipping on orders totaling a certain dollar amount. Many require you buy $50 to $55 of product to qualify. If you find a site with a higher purchase minimum than that, we recommend you keep looking. Some stores, like Inkcartridges, offer free shipping on all orders sent within the United States.

Most of the sites we researched offer ground, two- or three-day, and overnight shipping. However, not all of them list every option online during checkout. Instead, they require you call a customer service agent to expedite shipping. This is less convenient because it’s much easier to manage your account online than over the phone.

At minimum, a site should accept traditional payment options like credit card, check or purchase order. Online stores that also accept modern payment methods, like Amazon Pay, PayPal or Google Checkout, are even easier to use.

How Much Can You Expect to Save?

Using major online retailers like Amazon to buy your ink may be more convenient than visiting a discount store, but saving a few minutes of online shopping could cost you a lot over time. We compared the price of the top-selling cartridges from Amazon with our best overall pick for discount stores, 4inkjets, to give you an idea of how much you can expect to save.

At the time of this writing, the best-selling printer ink cartridge on Amazon was HP 63 Black & Tri-color Original Ink Cartridges. You can buy this dual- cartridge-pack for about $50, once you add in taxes and shipping.

On 4inkjets we found similar cartridges at great discounts. For instance, the LD Remanufactured Replacement Ink Cartridge for HP is an alternative that will only run you about $30. While we saved money with alternative ink cartridges compared to Amazon, the prices on 4inkjets were similar to ink prices on Walmart’s online store.  

How to Tell If an Ink Cartridge Is Compatible With Your Printer

It's frustrating to buy the wrong type of ink cartridge for your printer, especially when you purchase it online. While you return the ink and wait for the exchange, you are left with a useless printer. To help you avoid this situation, here are some ways to make sure a cartridge is compatible before you buy it:

The first thing you need to know is what printer model you have. This is usually displayed on the printer's front control panel. If you can’t find it there, it may be on the top of the printer, near the cartridge access area or inside the cartridge or ink access door.

Once you have your model number, consult the help section on the printer manufacturer’s website. Major brands, such as HPCanon and Epson, provide comprehensive lists of all their printers, and you should be able to find your model fairly quickly. 

There should be a list of compatible cartridge types next to the printer's model number. For example, our HP Envy 4520 takes HP 302 Black and HP 302 Tri-color cartridges. You can then take that information to a discount printer cartridge site and search to see if they have it in stock.

Alternatively, the best discount ink cartridge stores, like 4inkjets, allow you to search for cartridges based on your printer model number. So, you can skip going to the manufacturer’s website, although it’s always a good idea to double-check before you buy. 

Should You Buy Remanufactured Ink Cartridges?

One of the reasons discount ink cartridge stores can offer lower prices than places like Amazon and manufacturer stores is the fact that they sell remanufactured products. These are used cartridges that have been recycled either by the original manufacturers or third-party companies.

If you choose this route, you can expect to save between 15 and 50 percent from buying new cartridges. If you’re environmentally minded or just want to save a few bucks, this is a great option for you.

However, there are a couple of things you should do before buying one. First, read reviews, not just the store reviews, but also the reviews of the cartridges themselves. You’ll have a much better idea if it’s right for you after reading others’ experiences with them.

You should also check the warranty offered by the store you’re buying from, since recycled products have a higher chance of being defective.

And finally, find out if the cartridge you’re considering has been tested by an independent party and meets OEM standards, and if it's certified by the Standardized Test Methods Committee. Doing these three things greatly reduces the chance of your printer being damaged or getting a bunk cartridge.

Does Ink Go Bad in a Printer?

If you don’t use your printer very often, you may wonder if your ink will still be good after long periods of inactivity.

We asked Brian Westover, who reviews and writes about printers for Tom’s Guide, and he told us that the ink itself will last a long time, but old ink does have the capability to harm the printer.

“Generally speaking, ink in the cartridge stays fine for some time. Eventually it will dry out. More often the problem is not the ink in the cartridge, but the ink in the outlet valve to come out of the cartridge. It can dry and create a blockage. It’s even more of a problem in HP printers where the cartridge also has the print head in there, and all those valves are prone to that same sort of clogging,” Westover said.

If you’re unsure about the ink in your printer check the expiration dates on the cartridge. Most ink cartridges expire between 18 and 24 months after you install them. So, even if you have plenty of ink, you’ll still want to change your cartridge at least every year or two.

Is Toner Cheaper Than Ink?

When you’re choosing between an inkjet and laser printer, part of your calculation should include how much it’s going to cost in the long run. Laser printers use toner cartridges and inkjets use ink cartridges, and which one you need can affect the cost dramatically.

“A toner cartridge will generally be more expensive than a similarly sized ink cartridge, Westover told us. He further explaind that “the volume to page ratios are much different, so you get far more pages out of toner than straight ink."

He also emphasized the difference between the laser jet and inkjet printers. “If you’re using toner, you’re using a laser printer, which means it will be better suited to different uses, primarily text and graphics rather than photo printing,” Westover said.

Basically, it’s all about what you want to do with your printer and how that calculates into your buying decision.

How Many Pages Can Be Printed With One Ink Cartridge?

It may be better to think of this question in terms of cost per page. This gives you a more accurate picture of your printer’s ongoing costs. Among the printers we reviewed, the Brother Business Smart Plus had the lowest cost per standard page at 2 cents, while the highest we saw was the Epson Workforce WF-3640 at 19 cents per standard page.

The number of pages you can print with a single ink cartridge will vary based on a number of factors, most of which have to do with what type of documents you’re printing, your specific model’s ink usage, the type and brand of ink you use, as well as your personalized settings.

However, you can get a rough estimation of how many pages you can get from a particular printer by visiting the manufacturer’s website. You may have to dig around a little, but companies generally list average page yields somewhere.

For example, we found HP’s Photosmart Pro B8350’s average page yields, which range anywhere from 210 to 860 pages, depend on what type of ink you use and what type of documents you print.

What Are the Cheapest Ink Cartridges?

If you’re looking for the absolute least expensive ink cartridges, chances are it won’t be compatible with your printer. In our top choice for discount ink cartridge stores, 4InkJets, we found ink cartridges for under $5. However, those are for specific models of printers.

A better question would be “What are the cheapest ink cartridges for my printer?” Finding out the answer is simple. When you go to 4InkJets, or any of the other discount ink cartridge stores we reviewed, search for your printer model number and the site will list all the available cartridges for that printer. Although you can’t sort results from lowest price to highest, lower priced cartridges are usually near the top of the list.

Whatever you do, don’t buy an ink cartridge based on price alone. You’ll end up paying more in returns and exchange fees because you’ll likely get an incompatible product.

What Is an OEM Ink Cartridge?

As you shop for discount ink cartridges, you will come across the term “OEM cartridge.” OEM stands for "original equipment manufacturer." That may seem nebulous, so we asked Westover to put it in simple terms. “An OEM ink cartridge is one made by the manufacturer of the printer. So, if it’s an HP printer, it’s going to be HP ink. Same thing with Brother, Canon, Epson or whatever other brand you use,” Westover said, adding that “The alternative to OEM is third-party [cartridges], which just means it’s made by someone else.” Most discount ink cartridge stores sell both OEM cartridges and third-party cartridges.

What Printers Use Refillable Ink Cartridges?

Some printer manufacturers make models that use refillable ink tanks instead of replaceable cartridges. For example, Canon makes the PIXMA series and Epson has several models that use refillable tanks. These may be preferable for some, as refilling the tanks can save money over replacing cartridges, and some people may find it easier to refill a tank than change a cartridge.

However, it should be noted that there’s a difference between printers that use refillable tanks and those that use cartridges you can refill yourself. Third-party companies, such as InkOwl, create refillable cartridges for major printer brands.

Since refillable cartridges are usually off-brand, you need to make sure they’re compatible with and won’t harm your printer. Printer manufacturers usually recommend against using refillable cartridges and say you should opt to purchase standard ones from them instead.

How Long Does Unopened Ink Last?

Every OEM ink cartridge comes with a factory-set expiration date, which we recommend you follow. That's because printer ink dries out over time, even if you don’t open or install the cartridge. The expiration date is the only indicator you have that the ink has degraded to the point that it isn’t wet enough to use in your printer. Dry ink can damage your printer's components and reduce the quality of your printed pages.

To avoid wasting full cartridges, buy them as needed. You should also store your ink properly so you don't otherwise damage the cartridges. For example, always store ink upright. If you store ink cartridges on their backs or sides, you run the risk of the ink settling in a position that could ultimately affect your printer’s performance and print quality.

Can You Use Expired Ink?

Buying too many ink cartridges at once may end up costing you money, especially if you don’t use your printer heavily. That’s because all OEM cartridges have an expiration date, and you may find yourself in the situation where you’ve run out of ink and the only cartridges you have are expired.

You may be tempted to use the expired ink. If it’s not too far past the expiration date, you might be able to get away with it, but consider what it might do to your printer. Complications of using ink that’s too dry include clogging internal parts and ink flow problems that result in lowered print quality.

Refill Your Ink Cartridges at Costco

It's inconvenient to buy ink cartridges online when you don’t have time to wait for them to be delivered. Luckily, there’s a brick and mortar alternative to online ink cartridge stores. If you live in the United States and have a Costco membership, you can take your empty ink cartridges to the store and have them refilled while you shop. Depending on the type of cartridge, a refill costs anywhere from $9 to $15. That's much cheaper than buying a new cartridge, and you save money on shipping as well. This program is a joint venture between Costco and our top pick 4inkjets. So, you can expect the same quality from Costco.

Best Budget All-In-One Printer

If you’re looking to save money on ink, it’s likely that you would be interested in buying an affordable printer. We researched, tested, rated and reviewed ten of the best all-in-one printers on the market today. The least expensive model we tested was the Epson Expression Premium XP-830. At the time of this writing, you can get this printer on Amazon for about $110. But you get a lot for that price.

This printer out performed all the other models we reviewed in terms of photo quality in our tests. It also fared well in our copy and scanning quality tests. It does have a higher per-page cost, but those can be recouped by using discount ink. While it provides the best photo print quality from the printers we tested, it still struggles with alignment issues with printing regular documents. We recommend the Expression Premium as the best budget all-in-one printer, especially if you print photos on a regular basis.