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
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.