Updated on 24 September 2009.
When buying a new ink cartridge for your printer costs as much as buying the printer itself, it's hard to believe you are getting value for money. High street prices for new printer ink cartridges generally start from at least £20, which can seem a hefty sum to pay, especially if you use your printer frequently and find yourself having to fork out for this every month or so.
The cheaper alternative to buying branded ink cartridges on the high street is to buy generic ones online instead. Although many sites that offer cheap ink cartridges aren't worth a look, there are plenty of others that offer good quality cartridges at much more affordable prices than high-street varieties - and they'll deliver the same high performance.
You can also save money on your ink-expenditure by refilling your old cartridges, and even make money by recycling them.
The best places to buy online will offer prices that rival those on the high street, but also give you good deals on delivery, and information on finding the right cartridge for your printer that is easy to follow. The generic cartridges offered on these sites are often half the price of branded products. Many stock remanufactured cartridges, which is when empty cartridges are professionally cleaned, refilled, and repackaged for re-sale.
Here are some printer cartridge websites to try:
First, you'll need to have a look at the printer you're using and find its brand and model number. For example, the brand could be Lexmark, Epsom, or Hewlett-Packard, and so on. The model number will usually be clearly marked on your printer and will look something like Z601 or SP9500.
Then, use your chosen printer cartridge website to find the cartridge that will be compatible with printer. For example, if you are looking for a Canon Bubble Jet i250, you can either find this in the 'Canon' area of the website or by simply typing the model number 'i250' into the search box. You can then choose if you want a black or colour cartridge - most sites should stock both, and the black-only cartridge will be cheaper.
As long as you correctly identify the model number and brand of your printer, and choose your printer cartridge accordingly, you should get a cartridge that is as compatible with your printer as one you might have bought on the high street.
Cartridges bought online should also offer the same quality as those bought on the high street, as long as you buy the correct model. To give you peace of mind many online cartridge merchants will offer you a money-back guarantee if you aren't completely satisfied.
Do make sure to check the legitimacy of the website before you buy, however.
Re-filling your old ink cartridges
Instead of buying a brand new ink cartridge, you can choose to have your empty ones refilled at a fraction of the cost. This can be done by taking your old ink cartridges to stores such as Cartridge World, where they will refill your cartridges with ink for you.
You can also refill your cartridge yourself, by purchasing a refill kit from a stationery shop such as WHSmith or Staples. This should come with instructions telling you exactly how to go about refilling your own cartridges.
Recycling your old ink cartridges
You can also recycle your ink cartridges by sending them to sites such as Cash for Cartridges, who pay £3 per cartridge.
With sites such as these, you open a recycling scheme with them and send off your empty ink cartridges. They then pay you for the number of ink cartridges you have sent to them each month by cheque. This can be a good way to do your bit for the environment and make a little pocket money for your trouble.
Finally, a tried and tested home method that can get extra life out of ailing printer cartridges is to just give it a good shake - this should prolong the amount of ink for a little longer, at least.
Written by Sally at money.co.uk
Does making money from home conjure images of pyramid selling and shady fraudsters? We've waded through the schemes and scams to come up with 10 options that are easy and legal.
Whether you've recently unearthed a mine of coppers from the back of your sofa, or have been saving loose change for years, cashing it in can give your wallet a welcome boost. Find out the best way to switch your pennies for pounds.
Is your art a priceless Picasso, or a worthless watercolour? Well, unless the Antiques Roadshow are in town, this is how you can find out.
GE Capital Direct GE 100 Day Notice Account Issue 4
Halifax Online Saver
NatWest Instant Saver
10 ways to make money from home that aren't a scam
What's the best way to cash-in spare change?
Is Your Art Worth a Fortune? How to Get it Valued
Is it ever worth playing the lottery?
How to make money from the Olympics
Top 10 Most Expensive Pieces of Art Ever Sold
How to make money from auction sites
Cash for Gold - How to get more when you sell
Why hoarding cash at home is bad for your financial health
How to make your bank pay you
Get expert tips that will help you spend and save smarter, even if you're short on time.