Why Are Ink Cartridges So Expensive?

Lawrence Bonk Profile image

Written By:

Updated November 22, 2022

If you have recently purchased a quality modern inkjet printer, you may wonder why replacement ink cartridges cost so much. Typically, inkjet models that many Canon printers use can be very costly. So, you will inevitably experience this, especially if you buy the top-rated printers in the market. There are several reasons for this, as will be explored in this guide.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Ink cartridges tend to be expensive for several reasons, as the manufacturers must account for the cost of research and development.
  • These cartridges can also be pricy due to the fact that the manufacturer uses them to offset the relatively low cost of the printer itself.
  • If you want to save money on ink cartridges, go with a third-party option or manually refill the cartridge.

What Makes Ink Cartridge Prices So High?

A number of factors help to determine the average price of ink cartridges. This also helps if you’re using a continuous ink system. Additionally, you may want to check out how to make your ink cartridge last longer so you won’t have to pay so much for new ink.

Research and Development

Ink manufacturers spend a lot of money on research and development so as to be able to concoct efficient ink cartridges. Ink can only be sourced from a number of materials, including various oils and dyes, and it is important to remember that most modern inkjet printers need enough ink to create four base colors.

Insider Tip

Ink can only be sourced from a number of materials, including various oils and dyes, and it is important to remember that most modern inkjet printers need enough ink to create four base colors.

Offset Cheap Printer Prices

Printer manufacturers like to sell printers at a loss, intending to make up that money with the sale of ink cartridges. Experts have suggested that the overall cost to manufacture a printer is actually more expensive than what consumers payout to purchase one. In other words, the ink cartridges are sold with profit in mind. To that end, many printer manufacturers make it difficult for consumers to use third-party ink cartridges with their printers.

Brand Recognition

The top players in the ink cartridge industry can and do mark up their products due to high brand recognition. Think of HP and related ink manufacturers as akin to a company like Apple. For such brands, you may have to get their dedicated cartridges, or you will keep wondering why can’t your computer find your wireless printer.

Save Money on Ink Cartridges

There are some ways you can save money on your monthly ink cartridge bill, especially if you’re doing a lot of printing. Other than our tips below, you may want to invest in a laser printer that uses much less ink than cartridges-based printers. 

Third-party Cartridges

You can purchase and install third-party ink cartridges to save money. Before you do that, however, make sure your printer can accept these off-brand cartridges. Some printer manufacturers will purposefully make it difficult to install third-party cartridges. Additionally, be sure to read reviews on the company you are purchasing ink cartridges from. There are a lot of shady companies out there with subpar products.

Ink Refills

Insider Tip

Printer manufacturers like to sell printers at a loss, intending to make up that money with the sale of ink cartridges.

Another option is to manually refill the ink cartridges instead of purchasing new ones. And if you are experiencing your printer making streaks, a new or refilled cartridge may solve this. You can do this by purchasing bulk ink and watching a tutorial video. Some retail stores even offer the service, which can cut down on the hassle. Just know where to refill printer cartridges, and you will always save some change.

Eliminate Waste

Many ink cartridges are disposed of before they are fully depleted. Be sure your cartridge has been sufficiently emptied before heading out to shop for a new cartridge. You may have to ignore some warnings from your printer, alerting you that the cartridge is nearly out of ink.

F.A.Q.

Are generic printer ink cartridges as good as branded ink cartridges?

This depends on the cartridge itself. Some generic cartridges are fantastic, while others are risky. Do your research to find a great ink cartridge.


What are the profit margins on printer ink cartridges?

As for a numerical value, it is unclear. However, it is widely known that printer ink cartridges act as a primary money maker for printer manufacturers.


Are printer ink cartridges a scam?

Not a scam, as they are needed for an inkjet printer to function. However, there can be a bit of a price markup regarding printer ink cartridges.



STAT: The oldest ink drawing in the world was created 73,000 years ago, according to archaeologists. (source)

Lawrence Bonk Profile image