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Tired of overpriced printer cartridges? Here's what you can do about them

Woman printing in office
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Regardless of make or model, there's a good chance that your printer has something in common with everyone else. Over the course of your printer's lifespan, you'll likely end up spending more on replacement ink, toner cartridges, or drums than you spend on the printer itself.  Buying replacement printer cartridges should be easy and affordable — but far too often, it's neither of those things. 

Depending on whom you ask, the reason for this will vary. Some people believe it's simple greed. Others posit that printer manufacturers make the bulk of their profits not on printing hardware, but on ink sales. 

One common theory amongst consumers is that OEM companies operate on a razor blade business model when selling their printers. Either they sell the devices at a loss, or they charge just enough to break even, at which point they must recoup by overcharging on cartridges. 

Close up of laser printer toner cartridges.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The reality, according to manufacturers, is that the technology involved in making ink and developing new printer models is almost prohibitively expensive. They spend a fortune on research and development. Then they spend even more ensuring top-notch quality and reliability. 

Whatever theory you subscribe to, the simple truth is that printer ink is expensive. But it doesn't need to be. By learning a bit about printer ink specifications and being conscientious with your purchases, you can save yourself a tidy sum.

Understanding printer type and page yield

Photo prints on an inkjet printer.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Page yield is the vital statistic of an ink cartridge — and fortunately, it's a rather easy concept to grasp. It's simply the average number of pages a cartridge will print before it needs to be replaced, per the manufacturer. This number tends to vary considerably depending on the type of cartridge you've purchased; page yield is also impacted by how ink-intensive your printing jobs tend to be.

If you mostly print text documents and contracts, you'll get more mileage out of a cartridge than if you use it to print full-color photos.  

When purchasing a printer, pay careful attention to the average page yield. Even two printers with otherwise identical price points and features may use different cartridges. It also goes without saying that you'll want to lean towards purchasing a model that uses high-yield cartridges — the cost of constantly replacing inefficient ink adds up fast.

Replacing a toner cartridge in a laser printer

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You'll also want to think about your printing needs, and consider which type of printer is the best fit:

  • Inkjet printers may be cheaper, but their cartridges have lower yields, especially with cheaper models. That said, they are well-suited for printing photos and graphics. If you print often, however, your printing budget is likely to inflate very quickly. 
  • Laser printers use toner cartridges, and are generally the best option for home offices and businesses with heavy-duty printing needs. Although the units cost more upfront, toner cartridges can usually print thousands of pages before they need to be replaced, and won't dry out if they go unused for a long time. 
  • Similar to laser printers, ink tank printers have high page yields, though they also offer print quality similar to inkjet printers. There are several trade-offs, however — in addition to being slower, ink tank printers are prone to blockages or drying if unused for too long.

As you've probably guessed, your best bet for most use cases will be either ink tank or laser. High-yield models such as these mean less money spent on ink in the long term. Those savings can climb even higher if you purchase proprietary cartridges in bulk. 

Of course, all this is assuming you're buying name-brand printer ink. If you're really looking to save yourself a tidy sum, there's another option. You can get more affordable ink cartridges from a non-OEM supplier like LD Products.

Why LD Products ink is the smart buy

LD Products ink and toner

(Image credit: LD Products)

A leading online retailer of aftermarket printing supplies (opens in new tab), LD stocks thousands of high-quality cartridges for every major printer brand. Offering the same level of quality as proprietary ink and toner, you get amazing prints at a fraction of the cost. Plus, every cartridge comes with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee. 

In short, LD Products offers precisely what you need to take control of your printing budget and enjoy whatever printer you've purchased to its fullest extent.

To drive home the point, have a look at the table below, which shows the price comparison of three top-rated cartridge series.

LD Products Price Comparison

HP 26X Black Toner CartridgeOEM Price - $227.99LD-Brand Price - $49.99
Canon PGI-280XXLL Black Ink CartridgeOEM Price - $37.99LD-Brand Price - $11.99
Epson 502 Black Ink BottleOEM Price - $19.99LD-Brand Price - $8.99