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Printer ink: save money with third-party brands

Switching to cheap ink cartridges, including third-party inks, can almost halve the amount you spend on printer ink. We show you the best ink brands

Printer makers, such as HP, Epson and Canon, would much rather you use their printer ink in their printers. However, in our survey of more than 8,000 printer owners, the top-10 highest-rated printer ink brands were all third-party sellers.

You can save around 40% by going for a third-party brand, and that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing print quality. We show you the best printer-ink brands, and the best places to buy your ink.

Printer reviews – find the best-rated inkjet and laser printers based on our expert testing

Save £££ with cheap printer ink

While the big brands can rate higher on quality, when it comes to price they just can’t compete. In our snapshot look at pricing, we found a re-manufactured high-capacity black-ink cartridge from a third-party brand for a Best Buy printer at almost 40% cheaper than a branded alternative.

Third-party sellers often offer ink in value multipacks, potentially giving big savings. We found a multipack of four XL black cartridges for the high-scoring printer for just £18.50, while a single branded original ink cost £12.53.

Best places to buy your printer ink

Most people buy their ink online (66%), compared to in a shop (34%), but we have ratings for both so you have options.

Amazon is the most popular place to buy ink online, while Tesco is the most popular high street store – however, neither were the highest-rated sellers in our research.

Read our full printer ink results to find out which are the best. If you have a laser printer, we have ratings of laser toner brands, too.

Printer ink problems

You may worry about using third-party ink brands over fears that the cartridges will cause problems to your printer. While the chance of having a problem is a little higher with third-party inks, it’s not by a massive amount.

In our research, some 82% of people with printer-branded ink cartridges didn’t have a problem, and that drops only slightly to 76% for third-party ink users. Few problems are terminal, and you have options if things do go wrong.

If you get a ‘cartridge not recognised’ error message, for example, try removing the cartridge and then re-installing it. This might trigger the printer to accept it. If not, contact the retailer or seller to request a refund or replacement.

More troubleshooting help is available from the Computing Helpdesk website.

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