Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive

Having a printer at home or in the office offers so much convenience. This is because you can use it for printing, copying, and even scanning. However, the biggest downside is that you must keep paying for printer ink, which is not cheap.

Yeah, that’s the harsh truth that no one will ever tell you. And the worst thing is that you can’t escape from buying the ink. Because, how will you print documents?

But why is printer ink so expensive? Well, manufacturers claim it’s because producing the ink is also not cheap. Whether this is true or not, it’s hard to tell.

So, in this article, we will look at the different reasons why genuine ink cartridges are not cheap. Some are genuine, but others are not practical.

How Much Does Printer Ink Cost?

ink on printer

The prices of OEM printer ink may vary depending on the model of your printer and the capacity of the ink. Also, the number of ink cartridges your printer uses does affect the cost of printer ink. But generally, inkjet ink costs anywhere from around $10 to several hundred dollars.

For example, a 60 ml bottle of EPSON T522 EcoTank Ink black with a 4,500-page yield will cost you around $13.99. The price per page will be 0.31 cents only.  And if you have to purchase the ink at least three times a year, the cost will run up to $42.

However, if you buy the HP 940XL Ink Cartridge Black, you will pay $49.89 for a 49ml bottle. On the other hand, the cost per page will amount to 2.27 cents. As you can see, the price of HP printer ink is relatively higher compared to that of EPSON. Yet, EPSON ink offers you more page yield and a higher ink capacity.

Printer Inks Price Comparison Chart

Printer InkInk Volume (ML)Page YieldAverage Price (OEM)Price Per Page
EPSON T522 EcoTank Ink Black (T522120-S)60 ml4,500 pages$13.990.31 cents
EPSON T522 EcoTank Ink Color Combo Pack (T522520-S60 ml6,200 pages$41.950.68 cents
HP 940XL Ink Cartridge Black (C4906AN)49 ml2,200 pages$49.892.27 cents
HP 940XL Yellow Ink Cartridge (C4909AN)16 ml1,400 pages$35.892.57 cents
Canon PGI-280 XXL Pigment Black Ink25.7 ml600 pages$37.006.17 cents
Canon CLI-281 XXL Yellow Ink-Tank11.7 ml820 pages$29.003.54 cents
Brother Genuine Ultra High-yield Black (LC3039BK)150 ml6,000 pages$55.990.93 cents
Brother Genuine Ultra High-yield Yellow (LC3039Y)75 ml5,000 pages$62.481.25 cents

From the table above, you can tell that black ink is relatively cheaper compared to other color inks. And if you must purchase a combo pack with three different ink colors, the price will be even higher.

Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

different ink cartridge

Compared to buying a printer, you will find that your printer ink is quite pricey. And it does not matter what brand of printer you are using. But why is this the case? In this section, we will look at some of the reasons why your printer ink comes at a high price tag.

Ink Technology Is Expensive and Complex

One of the reasons you find printer ink very expensive is that so much technology goes into ink manufacturing. Simply, ink manufacturers have to spend so much money on research and development. This is because it’s the only way to ensure they can provide you with quality and reliable ink.

For instance, your printer ink has to be made to withstand heating to 300 degrees. Also, it is not easy to make sure that all the elements of an ink cartridge work in harmony. So, in the end, manufacturers have to spend so much money. And this explains why your printer ink is priced exorbitantly.

Ink Is Formulated for a Specific Printer

With so many printers made and models available. Manufacturers have resulted in formulated inks for specific printers. This means that what may work for your specific printer model may not work for another model.

So, when buying printer ink, you have to take into account the type of printer you have. For example, if you own an HP printer, you have to get an HP ink cartridge. This is because an Epson printer ink may not be compatible with your HP printer.

So, due to the specialization involved in printer ink formulation, manufacturers have to spend more money on research and development.

Your Printer Is Inexpensive

Ever asked yourself why your printer is that inexpensive? You probably haven’t, right? Well, guess what? Printers cost less because the manufacturers know they can recover their investment from selling printer ink at a higher price.

Often, some manufacturers will even sell you their printers at or below cost. As such, they end up selling more printers. However, they only do this to entice you. This is because they know well that you will have to buy their expensive printer ink in the long run.

Superior Quality

If you want high-quality printer ink, then you must invest in genuine OEM ink. But like with other OEM products, you can expect your ink to also be expensive compared to aftermarket cartridges. This is because a specific manufacturer makes the ink to align with your printer’s exact specifications for maximum reliability.

Although you might use compatible printer ink instead of the OEM, its quality may not be guaranteed. And as such, you may have to deal with issues like low page yield and poor image quality. Also, the ink could end up damaging your printer.

Unfortunately, ink manufacturers know this. That is why they can confidently price their products expensively without worrying about aftermarket cartridges.

High Demand for Printer Ink

If you walk into most offices, there are high chances that you will find at least one printer. This means some offices even use multiple printers. Not to mention, so many households continue to invest in domestic printers.

Because of this, you will find that the demand for printer ink continues to rise every day. This is because most people are not aware that there are cheaper alternatives to printer ink. And with the demand being high, it’s not a surprise that ink cartridges costs are bound to remain high.

Printer Ink Ingredients & Components Are Not Cheap

When it comes to producing high-quality print ink, there is a whole lot more than just some ink and nozzles. The ink itself comprises a range of ingredients like specialized non-volatile solvents, pigments, additives, colorants, and other solutions.

Some of these components are designed to ensure that your printer’s ink is released in the right amounts. Others help ensure that your print document does not curl up as the ink dries up. Unfortunately, these internal components that make up your printer ink don’t come cheap. As a result, the cost ends up being reflected in the price of your printer ink.

Monopoly Power in Selling in Cartridges

Once a company has sold you a printer, it automatically gets a degree of monopoly power in selling printer ink. This is because you cannot use an Epson ink cartridge on your HP printer and vice versa.

This means that there is no effective competition that could help bring down the prices of printer ink. Because of this, you will find that different ink cartridges manufacturers have no problem charging crazy prices on their inks.

As if that’s not enough, some large printing companies have gone ahead to prevent other third-party firms from selling remanufactured inks. This is basically to help them maintain their monopoly power.

What Are the Cheapest Alternatives to Printer Ink?

change ink cartridge

If you feel the prices of original or OEM cartridges are exorbitantly high, you could try alternative inks. Also known as aftermarket or third-party inks, these printer inks are relatively cheaper than OEM and will make printing affordable. The common alternatives of printer ink include-

Compatible Printer Cartridge

Third-party manufacturers manufacture this type of ink from 100% brand new materials, including the cartridge, ink, and internal parts. Basically, what the manufacturers do is reproduce the OEM printer ink. Therefore, you will notice that compatible ink cartridges differ from your original ink in small structural details.

Despite these tiny differences, the cartridge will still fit in your printer without any issues. Also, you can expect it to print the same number of pages just like any original printer ink.

So, in other words, we can say that compatible cartridges are similar to purchasing the generic version of an OEM cartridge. Of course, without having to sacrifice quality. The best part is that these cartridges come with larger ink tanks. As such, your ink can last longer.

However, sometimes you may experience problems while using compatible printer cartridges. In this case, the ink and the chip are often to blame. So, before buying a compatible cartridge, you must check its chip to confirm if it’s well suited for your printer model.

Remanufactured Ink Cartridge

A remanufactured ink cartridge for the printer is ink that has been recycled and refilled to replace your OEM cartridge. This means that the cartridge has already been used once.

The makers of remanufactured ink cartridges do that they replace any damaged parts of the cartridge and then clean it. After that, they test the cartridge for quality and then refill it with the same Ink as that of the original manufacturer. As such, you might find that your remanufactured printer ink looks so similar to the OEM ink.

However, this ink cartridge is cheaper than the OEM because only a few components are needed to create the cartridge. This is because this cartridge uses the original shell and most of the original internal parts.

On the flip side, though, if you are using a relatively new model of printer, it might take a while before you can get a remanufactured ink cartridge. This is because manufacturers have to wait for some time before there is a large pool of original cartridges to recycle.

Refill Kits

Another cost-effective alternative to original printer ink is inkjet refill kits. Generally, you can save between 30% and 50% by using refill kits compared to buying original cartridges. Therefore, you might find these kits more convenient if you have significant printing needs.

Basically, your printer ink refill kit will comprise a syringe and bottle of printer ink. So, you’ll need to locate the small holes on your printer’s cartridge that the manufacturer uses to add the ink at the factory. And once you spot them, just fill up your syringe with your printer ink and then insert the syringe into the hole.

However, while this method is cheap, it can also be quite messy. This is because you might accidentally spill the ink while refilling. But if you are worried about spilling the ink, you can always get the refill done at the store. Also, you run the risk of overfilling your cartridges, which can eventually cause damage to your printer.

Best Printer Ink Practices to Help You Save Money

Besides using cheaper alternatives to printer ink, some best practices could help you save money on ink cartridges. They include-

  • Always leave your printer on so you can prevent triggering a maintenance cycle every time you want to use it. This is because the printer uses ink to run this cycle.
  • If buying OEM printer ink, buy XL packs or simply in bulk because such cartridges contain much more ink.
  • Avoid buying printers with tri-color ink cartridges because if one color of ink runs out, you will have to replace the entire cartridge. Instead, get a printer with separate color cartridges.
  • If you are always printing black and white documents, you should switch to a laser printer. This type of printer is more cost-efficient compared to inkjets.
  • You can consider subscribing to automated ink delivery programs. Most ink manufacturers that offer such programs charge a monthly fee based on how many pages you print.
  • Always try to stick to Times New Roman because some fonts such as Aerial use a lot of ink.
  • If you want to save on black printer ink, you can switch to grayscale or draft mode. Afterward, you could change to a high-quality setting when printing your final draft.


Whether you own an HP, Canon, or Epson printer, you cannot deny how expensive a gallon of printer ink is. According to different ink manufacturers, the reason behind this is that ink technology is quite complex and costly.

But this is not just the reason. The fact that you cannot use just any printer ink on your printer also contributes to the high prices of ink cartridges. Not to mention the monopoly power these manufacturers enjoy.

The good thing is that there are cheaper alternatives to printer ink. For instance, you could use compatible ink, remanufactured ink cartridges, or refill kits. In addition, you could try following some of the best printer practices to help save on your ink cartridges. We hope you found all things about why is printer ink so expensive above.

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