Five Tips When Buying Ink Cartridges


printer-790396_640When you run out of ink for your printer, the worst thing is to be unprepared and have no replacements in. Second-worst is racing to the store only to get home and find out you’ve got the wrong type of cartridge, especially as many shops won’t take returns! So, while the best advice you can get is to have a ready stock of replacements ready, you need to get the buying thing right. Here’s how you do it.

Read the printer manual

All printers come with a manual; some are in the form of hard copy booklets, while others are contained on the start-up CD. Even if you’ve lost the manual, you’ll be able to find one online, so make the effort, because it’ll tell you how to change your cartridges and also, most importantly, what cartridges it needs.

Note down the cartridge number and printer model before you start shopping

These two pieces of information make life so much easier, whether you’re going to a physical store or whether you’re ordering from an online retailer like

If you don’t have your manual to hand, then have a look at the empty cartridges and note down their serial and model numbers before making any sort of move. The staff at the shop will appreciate it and so will your online customer service operative. You could also make a note of the brand and model number of the printer, just in case you have no cartridges available.

Sure you buy the right ink for your purpose

Not all inks are the same. There’s pigment-based inks and dye-based inks and how they behave determines what you can do with them.

Dye-based inks are very stable and they produce very bright, vibrant print-outs…when they’re not blurring, that is. Pigments dry much quicker, so this makes for sharper images. Pigment-based, waterproof inks are used for printing photos and they tend to come in their own cartridges – cyan, magenta, yellow and black, that all work in synch to produce the prints.

Don’t pay too much

Price is a big factor when you’re buying ink and most people pay way over the odds. Around two-thirds of regular ink purchasers buy the OEM cartridges – the ones made by the printer manufacturer, and these are expensive because it’s how the companies make their profits.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though, as buying compatibles from well-respected online retailers can be way cheaper. For a start, the third-party cartridge makers have fewer overheads than the original makers, and then the online retailers don’t have the same overheads as the shops. Put together, buying compatibles from an online retailer can save you quite a bit of money.

Try online bulk-buying

Bulk-buying works well for most purchases, and can work well with ink, as long as you’re smart about it. If you get through a lot of ink – maybe you have a lot of hobbies, or you run a small business, then bulk-buying your ink can seriously reduce this overhead. You can, with a bulk order, get cartridges – OEM or compatible – for around half the price per unit than if you buy singly. Be careful, though, only buy as much as you’d use in six months or so, as inks have a very definite shelf-life!

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