Where to buy printer ink, and the very best printer cartridges
Your printer is pretty much useless without the right ink or toner, but buying it is confusing. Here’s how – and where – you can pick up cartridges.
If you don’t want your home printer to become an expensive paperweight, you’ll eventually need to refuel it with ink or toner. Doing so can often be confusing – and expensive – especially if you don’t know what you are looking for.
We have all been there. You go to the trouble of connecting the printer to a phone or laptop, then navigate the settings which never seem to be quite right. Only then do you get the warning that you’re running low on ink or printer paper. Annoying, right?
It doesn’t matter if you have a model from our best printer or best budget printer guides – they will all need compatible cartridges and printer paper to work effectively. So let’s break it down: here’s what you need to know about printer ink, and where to buy it.
Best printer cartridges to buy at a glance:
- HP 305 Original Black Ink Cartridge, £15.49
- HP 305 Original Black/Colour Twin Pack, £28.49
- HP 305 Tri-color Original Ink, £11.99
- HP Combo 304 Tri-colour & Black Ink, £34.99
- Palmtree Compatible 903XL Ink Cartridges Multipack for HP,
- Canon PG-545 Black Ink Cartridge, £19.99
- Canon PG-540 XL & CL-541 Black/Colour Twin Pack, £39.90
- Epson 29XL Black Inkjet Cartridge, £22.22
- Epson 603 Black/Colour multipack, £49.99
- 999inks Compatible Multipack Epson T0711, £15.49
- Essentials HP 301 Black/Colour multipack, £23.39
- Brother LC3217 Black Cartridge, £21.99
- Brother LC223 Black & Colour Cartridges, £63.29
How to find the right printer ink
OK, so it may sound simple, but searching Google for your printer model number followed by “ink cartridge” will bring up a list of compatible options.
The second way is to look via the manufacturer’s website. For example, both HP and Canon let you search for matching ink using your printer’s model number. The same searches can also usually be made via the third-party seller websites:
How to buy the right printer ink
Printer cartridges and toners vary wildly in price – and there’s a lot of jargon that you will encounter when shopping around for new ones. So before we start, here is a run-down of the main terms involved – and what you should look out for.
Inkjet vs Toner
Broadly, there are two types you can buy: ink and toner. This is the first thing you need to look out for – don’t buy the wrong type as it may not be compatible with your home printer. If you have an inkjet model you need to buy ink cartridges, but if you have a laser printer you will need to be shopping for toner cartridges. Each store usually lists an approximate number of prints you will get with the pack.
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Single vs combination packs
You can buy ink as a single cartridge or in a combination multipack. It’s just like it sounds, with the single options containing one colour – usually a cyan, magenta, yellow or black – and the multipack coming with every tone that you need.
The single cartridges will be more affordable, but the combination packs may turn out to be a better longer-term investment if you will be using the printer often.
OEM vs Compatible
When searching in stores for printer ink, you'll find lots of cartridges and toners marked as OEM products, which stands for Original End Manufacturer.
This means they were made by the brand that manufactured the printer they’re designed for. The bigger home printer brands out there are HP, Canon, Epson and Brother. Xerox and Kodak are two prominent makers of laser printers.
On the other side, there are what's known as compatible printer cartridges, which is just the industry term for those made by third-party sellers. For comparison, it is often said to consider these ones like you would off-brand supermarket goods.
You’ll often find compatible ink labelled as remanufactured, which means they are previously-used toner cartridges that have been recycled, and re-filled. Because of the lower cost, these are usually the most affordable ink options out there.
While it is generally accepted that OEM cartridges contain a higher overall quality of ink, you will definitely save some money by looking at compatible ranges. Read this inkjet vs laser printers buyers guide for a comparison about the two types.
Where to buy your new printer ink
Here’s our list of online stores where you’ll find the best prices on cartridges and toner for both inkjet and laser printers – whether that’s OEM or compatible.
It’s going to come as a major surprise to absolutely nobody that Amazon stocks a wide range of ink printer cartridges. You’ll find cartridges both from OEMs and third-party manufacturers, with the occasional small price drop on both.
Currys stocks OEM cartridges, but it's the store’s own-brand Essentials range that is really worth looking at for your home printer ink needs. These are compatible with HP, Epson and Canon printers and come with a two-year guarantee.
You'll find a range of both toner and cartridges available at this online ink retailer, with a total of 27 different printer brands covered. You can either search for your cartridge by printer model or by selecting the ink cartridge model number.
Another retailer that offers an easy search process via a drop-down tool, Cartridge People stocks both OEM cartridges and its own-brand ink alternatives – which, unsurprisingly, are significantly cheaper than the manufacturer's options.
Cartridge Shop’s store stocks a range of office equipment alongside its range of printer cartridges and toner. Despite prices being very low, the company offers a two-year 100% satisfaction guarantee, meaning if your cartridges aren’t up to scratch or you face compatibility issues, you can return them at no cost.
Ink Factory makes its own line of ink cartridges compatible with the main brands, including HP, Canon, Epson and Brother printers. We have seen price drops listed against bundle products, so if you regularly replace your cartridges, it’s worth taking a look here to see if any offers are compatible with your printer.
Nottingham-based Internet Ink both manufacture and sell compatible cartridges that are – according to the company’s website – both half of the price of OEM equivalents and of a higher capacity. You’ll find cartridges compatible with HP, Canon, Epson, Brother, Kodak, Advent and Ricoh available at this store.
The UK high-street stationery brand has ink cartridges available on its website and offers some of the best prices on OEM cartridges. Some of the offers are exclusively online. However, if you take your old cartridges in-store, Ryman will recycle them and offer a discount on your next purchase of printer ink, so it’s worth a look.
High-street stalwart Staples sells both ink cartridges and toner, with a dropdown search function on its website that will find the right product for your machine. Keep in mind, though, that only OEM cartridges are on sale at this outlet.
Wilko stocks OEM cartridges from Canon, Epson, HP, Brother and Samsung – but if you’re shopping at Wilko, it’s the store’s own-brand remanufactured ink cartridges you ought to look at. They’re particularly cheap, and available for each of the big brands we’ve already mentioned. Some deals are exclusively online.
By this stage, you should have a good idea of what type of cartridge you are looking for – and if not you should know how to search for the right ones online.
Of course, there are dozens and dozens of different printer models – and there’s no one-fits-all ink or toner that we can point you towards. But if you need some general recommendations, here are our top picks of the best printer cartridges.
HP 305 Original Black Ink Cartridge, £15.49
Approximate number of prints: 120. Compatible with: HP DeskJet 2710, 2720, 2721, 2722, 2723, 2724. HP DeskJet Plus 4110, 4120, 4122, 4130, HP Envy 6010, 6020, 6022, 6030, 6032 and Envy Pro 6420, 6422, 6430, 6432.
A reliable choice, the HP 305 cartridge is perfect if you just need black ink for an HP DeskJet or Envy-series home printer. Not only do you get more than 100 pages, but the results “dry fast and resist water,” according to the manufacturer.
HP 305 Original Black/Colour Twin Pack, £28.49
Approximate prints: up to 120 black, 100 Tri-colour. Compatible: HP DeskJet 2710, 2720, 2300, DeskJet Plus 4100, Envy 6000 and the HP Envy Pro 6400.
If your HP DeskJet or Envy inkjet printer needs a top-up of black and colour ink, this HP 305 Original set is a great price and should have you fully covered.
HP 305 Tricolor Original Ink, £11.99
Approximate number of prints: 100. Compatible with: HP DeskJet 2700, 2730, 4100, 4134, Envy Series 6020, 6030, 6420, 6430.
If your black ink levels are fine but you need a dash of colour, this 305 Tricolour Original Ink is not only reliable and affordable but quite widely compatible.
HP Combo 304 Tri-colour & Black Ink, £34.99
Approximate number of prints: 120 Black/100 Colour. Compatible: HP AMP 130, HP DeskJet 2000 series, 3000 series and 5000 series.
Great for colour photos and everyday documents, this HP multipack of black ink and coloured ink is great for the money, and once the cartridges are finished you can recycle them for free with HP Planet Partners, a sustainability project.
Palmtree Compatible 903XL Ink Cartridges Multipack for HP, £31.11
Approximate number of prints: 960 for black, 832 pages per tri-colour. Compatible with:HP OfficeJet 6950 All-in-One, OfficeJet 6960 All-in-One, OfficeJet Pro 6960 All-in-One, OfficeJet Pro 6970 All-in-One
This is a compatible multipack for HP Officejet printers. Black, cyan, magenta and yellow colours are included in the set, each with a high page yield.
Canon PG-545 Black Ink Cartridge, £19.99
Approximate number of prints: 180. Compatible with: Canon PIXMA iP2850, MG2450, MG2455, MG2550, MG2555, MG2555S, MG2950, MG3050, MG3051, MG3052, MG3053, MX495, TR4550, TR4551, TR4650, TS1150, TS205, TS3150, TS3151, TS3350, TS3351, TS3352, TS3355, TS3450, TS3451, TS3452.
Canon’s Pixma series of home printers is hugely popular, and if you need a top up of black ink alone then this cartridge has a great 180 page yield. Print away!
Canon PG-540 XL & CL-541 Twin Pack, £39.90
Approximate number of prints: 180. Compatible with: Pixma MG2150, MG2250, MG3150, MG3250, MG3550, MG3650, MG4150, MG4250, MX375, MX395, MX435, MX455, MX475, MX515, MX525, MX535.
Suitable for Pixma MG and MS home printers, this multipack has everything you could need for a re-fuel, promising a “smudge free and fade resistant finish.”
Epson 29XL Black Inkjet Cartridge, £22.22
Approximate number of prints: 470. Compatible with: Expression Home XP 235/245/247/332/335/342/345/432/435/442/445 series printers.
If you have an Expression Home XP inkjet, here’s the perfect black ink for your documents, promising hundreds of pages and “sharp and well defined” results.
Epson 603 Black/Colour multipack, £49.99
Approximate number of prints: 150. Compatible: Workforce WF-2835DWF, WF-2830DWF, WF-2850DWF, Expression Home XP-3100, XP-2100, XP-4100.
If you have a Workforce or Expression Home printer from Epson, this is a great multipack, with the coloured cartridges coming with Starfish Cyan, Magenta, Yellow tones. You get up to 150 black pages and 130 pages of each colour.
Epson Compatible multipack (999inks), £15.49
Approximate number of prints: 495 pages per cartridge. Compatible with: Epson Stylus DX, SX series of home inkjet printers. (See full compatibility).
This is a compatible (third party) multipack that will work with Epson Stylus DX and SX series inkjet printers. It’s not official, but it's so much more affordable.
Essentials HP 301 Black/Colour, £23.39
Approximate number of prints: 480 pages for black and 380 pages for tri-colour. Compatible with: HP Deskjet & Officejet & Envy home inkjet printers.
This is a compatible multipack for HP Deskjet, Officejet and Envy inkjet printers from Currys. It’s more affordable than the official version, and has a wide range of compatibility and page yields, enough for an impressive 480 pages of blacks.
Brother LC3217 Black Cartridge, £21.99
Approximate number of prints: up to 550 pages. Compatible with: MFC-j5330dw, MFC-j5730dw, MFC-j5930dw, MFC-j6530dw, MFC-j6930dw, MFC-j6935dw.
Suitable for a variety of Brother home printers, this is a single black ink cartridge that’s perfect if you need a top-up to reliably print some basic documents.
Brother LC223 Black & Colour Cartridges, £63.29
Approximate number of prints: up to 550 pages per cartridge. Compatible with: DCP-J4120DW, MFC-J4420DW, MFC-J4620DW, MFC-J4625DW, MFC-J5320DW, MFC-J5620DW, MFC-J5625DW, MFC-J5720DW.
This official Brother multi-pack includes coloured (Black/Cyan/Magenta/Yellow) and black ink cartridges – and that's all you could ever need for your home printer. Not only that, but each has an impressive page yield of more than 500 prints.