3 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Printer Ink Cartridges

detail computer print ink cartridge

No matter what type of printer you have, there is one thing you can always count on: needing to buy inkjet cartridges. How often you need to buy them depends on how frequently you print and whether you print primarily in color or in black and white. While families may only need to replace cartridges every few months, business owners may find themselves burning through them every few weeks or even every few days.

Printer ink isn’t cheap, so it’s important to buy the right products. When shopping for replacement cartridges, there are a few mistakes you should avoid to ensure that you purchase the right products at the right price. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Ignoring Your Printer’s Manual

When you bought your printer, there was a user manual in the box. If the device came with an installation CD, the manual may also be on that in PDF format. Have you read the manual yet? If not, you should check it out before you go shopping for replacement ink. It’s packed with helpful information that can help you make the right purchase.

Your manual does more than tell you how to perform the initial setup for your device. It also tells you how to tell when you need new ink cartridges and how to replace them. More importantly, it tells you what type of ink cartridges you need and what model your printer is. Just knowing that your printer is an HP won’t do you much good when you walk into an office supply store. HP (and other brands) sell several models, and each takes a different type of replacement cartridge.

Can’t find your manual? You can still determine what type of ink cartridge you need before you leave your house. Open your device and look at the cartridges inside. Make note of the numbers on the cartridges or remove them, place them in a plastic bag, and take them with you. If there are no cartridges in the device, look at the front or the bottom to determine the product’s model number. Use the model number to determine what type of ink you need.

Mistake #2: Choosing the Wrong Ink for a Particular Project

printer cartridges focusInk is ink, right? Not so much. When choosing ink for your printer, there are generally a few options to choose from. Most importantly, you need to decide between dye-based and pigment-based ink.

Dye-based ink prints with vibrant colors, but there are concerns about its longevity. It can be prone to rapid fading, which is, obviously, problematic if you plan on printing photos. Pigment-based inks dry quickly, are waterproof, and last longer than dye-based products, making them a more suitable choice for photo printing.

Mistake #3: Spending Too Much

Ink cartridges aren’t cheap. We can’t deny that. But we can say that if you aren’t shopping around, you are likely paying too much. Paying too much is an easy mistake to make, but there are several ways around it. First, you should always compare prices online. You’re likely to find that your local office supply store is not the best place to purchase ink. Online retailers also offer a greater selection and have larger quantities in stock, making it a lot less likely for them to be out of what you need. Placing an order online saves a lot of gas compared to running from one store to another to try to find what you need!

Remanufactured ink cartridges are another way to save money. While manufacturers typically recommend using OEM cartridges, remanufactured inkjet cartridges typically work just as well. Made from recycled cartridges, remanufactured cartridges typically cost significantly less, and they’re good for the environment, too.


CMYK cartridge set recycling symbolReplacing the cartridges in your inkjet printer isn’t difficult, but making mistakes is always possible. Be careful when selecting your cartridges, as many retailers do not accept returns or exchanges. Always make sure the ink you choose will fit your printer and is appropriate for the project you are working on to avoid frustration and ensure optimal quality.

Shopping for ink online is, generally, the best way to get a good deal, and remanufactured cartridges allow you to extend your savings even further. If you go through a lot of ink, you may even be able to offset your expenses to a degree by recycling your old cartridges through an organization that offers cash back.