Cheapest places to buy printer ink [2013 update]

cheapest place to buy ink

Printing costs can rack up fast and that’s not surprising given the price that some retailers charge for ink. To find out the cheapest places to buy printer ink, we price-checked 184 ink and toner cartridges at 17 retailers, and manufacturer websites during a week in August.

What’s the worst place to go ink cartridge-shopping? Look no further than the Great British high street.

Where to buy cheap printer ink – our expert guide

priciest ink retailers

WHSmith most expensive for printer ink

Of the retailers we price checked, WHSmith proved the priciest by far. The HP 301XL colour ink cartridge showed the biggest price difference, costing £15.75 online from the cheapest retailer, but £42.99 at WHSmith – that’s 173% more expensive.

For most retailers we price checked the online store rather than a high street store, because a wider range of cartridges are available online compared to in a high street store, which is limited by shelf space. For example, the big PC World store we visited stocked half as many different cartridges as PC World’s online store.

Even if you’re buying on the high street, you needn’t pay that much over the odds. We price-checked a high street branch of PC World, as well as its online store prices. Of the 51 cartridges stocked both online and in-store at PC World, only three differed in price. Buying from PC World on the high street worked out only a few percent pricier on average than PC World online and a far cry from WHSmith’s high prices.

Even with WHSmith’s ‘buy one get one half price’ deal, it would still have been the priciest retailer in more than half of cases when buying two cartridges at full price from other retailers and two from WHSmith on the deal.

So if you’ve left it too late to take advantage of the better prices available online and you need ink right away, it’s well worth shopping around a few high street stores. Don’t just settling for paying the price in the first store you walk into.

Top tips for buying ink at a good price

  • Free delivery – Some retailers offer free delivery or let you order online and collect from a high street branch for free. Others require a minimum spend to qualify for free delivery. Toner cartridges generally start from around £30, so just one of these may qualify, but if you’re buying a single inkjet ink cartridge, delivery cost could come into play.
  • Special offers - Look out for offers, but make sure they’re good ones – Argos’ offers on Brother cartridges made it the cheapest retailer of these cartridges at the time of our price check. However, even with WHSmith’s ‘buy one get one half price’ deal it would still have been the priciest retailer in more than half of cases when buying two cartridges.
  • Shop around - You wouldn’t accept the first quote you got on your car insurance, so why settle for the first price you see on ink? A few minutes checking out a few retailers’ prices online could easily save you £5 on a cartridge if you’re buying for the first time. For the fast track to finding the cheapest retailers from our price sweep, check out our advice on Where to buy cheap printer ink.

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Categories: Printers

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23 replies

  1. Am I missing something?

    The title of this promoted article is “Cheapest places to buy printer ink” but I can’t see where this “Cheapest place” is…

    WHSmith is the most expensive but theCheapest??

  2. Agree with the earleir comments – what a RUBBISH report, you do NOT say where the cheapest can be had – only what we already know that a high street retailer is the most expensive. Poor Show Which,. carry on like this and i’ll cancel my subscription..

    1. Am I missing something here? The report clearly shows that is the cheapest source of ink cartridges and WHSmith the dearest. How difficult is that?

    2. The information is there, but you have to work hard to get it! The information is not in the article above, it’s via the link ‘Where to buy cheapest printer ink – our expert guide. So ‘…report clearly shows…’ I would disagree with, but it is there.

  3. Seems to me there is a basic flaw in most of the responses here demanding to know ‘the cheapest’. No one supplier is going to be ‘the cheapest’ for ever, it’s never that simple. The best that an article like this can give you is a snapshot in time. If you really want the ‘cheapest’ at a particular point in time, you have to put some effort in to searching for yourself.

    Of course, opportunity cost plays a role here. There comes a point where the value of any additional time spent searching outweighs the extra penny or two you might save. At that point, you have reached your acceptable ‘cheapest’, but others may have happily stopped searching earlier, and others will doggedly keep searching for longer.

    There ain’t no silver bullets.

  4. If you do lots of printing, then rather than replace cartridges all the time, why not think about getting a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS). They cost from about 50 quid up to about 85. They use large reservoirs of quality inks which even with the cost of the system bring the price per page down to a very, very low value. They are easy to fit to most printers (including all-in-ones), my wife was able to fit her own and she’s not a computer techie at all.

  5. Depends how much your own time is worth, An old boss I once had dropped e few screws on the floor off a ladder, I tried to find them in the grass and he said here’s a lesson for you. I charge £20 an hour for your labour to the customer and you have spent 15 minutes looking for those screws So the customer has paid £5 for you to find 30p worth of stuff leave them and move on. How much have you saved by trolling through pages of prices rather than just picking a reasonable one in the first place, If someone sees you and tells you of somewhere cheaper go for it you will get a deal that suits you in the end.
    Also if WHSmith are dearer so what they have staff to pay rates, insurance,tax etc internet companies are killing the stores but if you want it now they are there.

  6. The best outfit I have found for my Canon printer is I have been a customer for six years and never had any issues. I have found cheaper on ebay, but the quality from ink2u is outstanding for their own brand.

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