Make us your home page

How to save on printer ink cartridges

A decent computer printer nowadays runs about $100, but you'll spend that much again just to refill the ink two or three times. But with so many coupons, rewards offers and recycling options out there, buying ink cartridges doesn't have to be so painful. Here are some ways to save some green and stay in the black when buying printer ink.

Make it last

The easiest way to save a few bucks is to make the ink in the cartridge last longer.

If you don't need to print, don't. If you do need a paper copy of something, and it doesn't have to look pristine, you can save some ink by printing in draft mode or by grayscaling the colors.

Draft mode means the document is printed in low quality, which uses less ink.

Grayscaling prints the document in shades of gray and only uses black ink, rather than blending the colored ink to make black.

When you're finally down to your last drops of ink and need to get more, consider buying generic. Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot sell ink cartridges under their own brand that are compatible with some common printers, and in most cases, cost a bit less.


Those suppliers also offer rewards programs for customers who bring in their old ink cartridges to be recycled, most of which can be "remanufactured" and resold for lower prices.

Staples offers $2 in Staples Rewards for each empty ink cartridge you bring in (maximum of 10 per month), as well as a 10 percent off coupon if you reach $10 on ink rewards in the same month.

OfficeMax will offer you $3 in rewards for Lexmark, HP and Dell cartridges (maximum of 20 per month), but will recycle cartridges of other brands.

Office Depot will offer $2 in rewards per cartridge (up to 10 per month) on qualifying purchases made within a certain time period.


Specialty shops like Cartridge World in Tampa or Omnicopy in St. Petersburg will fill your used cartridges for about 40 percent less than buying new. Walgreens also refills black and color cartridges for $13.

Cartridges that are compatible with Brother, Canon and HP printers are typically the easiest to refill because they don't have a chip in them that measures the ink levels, said Tampa Cartridge World owner Robert Bohacek.

Epson and Kodak cartridges have the chip, which causes problems because they have a hard time reading a new level when it is refilled, Bohacek said.

If you intend on having a cartridge refilled, immediately put it into an airtight, sealed plastic bag to keep the ink from drying out and ruining it.

At your own risk

You can also purchase an ink refill kit for about $18 and do it yourself at home. Just follow the instructions on the box and try not to make too much of a mess.

But be warned: A refilled cartridge doesn't come without risk.

Michael Vroom, master repair technician at Staples in St. Petersburg, said he usually recommends not using a refilled cartridge.

If you refill a cartridge from a kit, the ink tends to be more watery, he said. It takes more ink to print fewer pages, which means you don't always save money. If you aren't careful, refilling the cartridge can also damage the circuitry, which can render it useless or even damage your printer.

And if the refilled cartridge leaks? Well …

If you're going to recycle the cartridges, Vroom warns, leave it to the professionals. The opening is tiny and it can be difficult to fill properly without damaging the cartridge or making a mess.

"Be aware that it takes a steady hand and a careful hand," Vroom said. "If you have neither of those things, you have no business refilling one."

How to save on printer ink cartridges 02/26/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 5:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Allegiant Air reports $400 million in revenue for second quarter

    Allegiant Air CEO Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. | [Courtesy of Tony Jannus Aviation Society]
  2. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  3. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  5. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.