If you only print occasionally, spending a fortune on a fully decked-out printer wouldn't make much sense. Fortunately, there are pretty good options that you can get for under $100. They may not have advanced features like an automatic feeder with duplex scanning or a supertank ink system, but they get the job done, and you can save some money. Remember that cheaper printers usually cost you a lot more in ink since their cartridges don't hold as much ink, so you may have to buy cartridges more frequently than if you spent more on a printer with better page yields upfront.
We've tested over 135 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best printers for under $100 you can buy. You can also check out our picks for the best cheap printers, the best home printers, and the best all-in-one printers.
The best printer under $100 we've tested is the Brother MFC-J1010DW, an all-in-one inkjet model designed for home use. It has a sturdy build, Wi-Fi and USB connectivity, and a front panel with tons of buttons to make navigating the printer's functions easier. The scanner produces high-quality scans and processes up to eight pages per minute through its automatic feeder. Unfortunately, it doesn't support duplex scanning, so you'll have to flip the pages manually when scanning double-sided sheets.
Documents look sharp whether you're printing in black-and-white or color, and while it doesn't have the widest color range or most accurate color reproduction, photos still look incredibly detailed. Unfortunately, like most printers in this price range, page yields from its ink cartridges are very low, as it can only produce roughly 200 black and 130 color prints, considerably less than many other pricier models. Thankfully, the overall cost per print is still fairly low because the cartridges are relatively cheap.
Another similar printer worth checking out is the Brother MFC-J1205W. It usually retails for around $130 USD and goes down to about $100 on sale. It yields significantly more prints—about 1150 black and 750 color—so you don't have to replace the cartridges as often. However, it has no automatic feeder and prints slightly slower at nine black or six color pages per minute. Also, it doesn't support automatic duplex scanning, meaning you must flip the pages manually when double-sided printing.
A laser printer is better if you don't want to deal with clogged printheads on an inkjet printer. We recommend the Pantum P2502W, a black-and-white print-only unit. It produces high-quality black and white documents and doesn't cost much to maintain, as it yields over 2000 prints from a single toner cartridge. Plus, the drum is built into the cartridge, so you won't need to replace it separately. It's slow to warm up, but it prints very quickly at 25 pages per minute once it gets going.
However, there are a couple of downsides to this printer. The first is the lack of automatic double-sided printing, which means you'll have to flip the pages manually. It also tends to push printed pages off the output tray, resulting in out-of-order sheets. It doesn't happen often, but it's still inconvenient, especially during large print jobs. Lastly, while the mobile app is feature-rich, it doesn't have the most user-friendly user interface.
If you can stretch your budget slightly, we recommend the Brother HL-L2325DW, a print-only monochrome unit. It has a sturdier build and prints faster without the abovementioned issues, with pages falling off the output tray. It doesn't yield as many prints, but its toner cartridge is cheaper. It might be a little harder to find in stock; among the major retailers, it seems easier to get it at Walmart.
If you're looking for a cheap printer that doesn't take up much space, the HP DeskJet 3755 might be just what you need. This compact all-in-one fits easily on an office desk or a cramped dorm room and comes in three colorful variants to spruce up your workspace. Despite its small size, it manages to pack in a sheetfed scanner, which you can use to scan plain sheets up to 8.5" x 14" in size. Print quality in black-and-white is somewhat grainy, but it does a good job with color prints.
Regarding page yield and maintenance cost, you can expect to get around 100 black and 40 color prints per set of cartridges. The cartridges are cheap, but because you'll have to buy replacements often, the cost of ownership goes up drastically, not to mention you'll also have to do more maintenance. That said, it's worth considering if you only print once in a blue moon and want a compact model that can get the job done.
If you need to print photos on the go, check out the Canon SELPHY Square QX10. It's a super compact photo printer that fits easily into a small backpack or handbag. It connects to Android or iOS mobile devices via Bluetooth, and through the SELPHY Photo Layout app, you can print your locally stored photos or pictures from services like Instagram and Google Photos. You can also create collages or add stickers before printing. It prints the images on a proprietary 2.84" x 3.35" paper, which you can buy in packages of 20. The paper isn't overly expensive, but the cost will still add up quickly if you print a lot.
The print quality isn't that great, as the pictures look soft and lacking in detail. However, that's to be expected, as it's intended to produce polaroid-like photos that you would keep in a wallet or stick on a fridge door. As this is a portable printer, it has an internal rechargeable battery. Unfortunately, the battery is only good for 20 prints and takes two hours to charge fully. One last note: this printer usually sells for $150 USD but is often on sale for $99. If you miss the sale, it might be worth waiting for another one. Alternatively, you can check out the Fujifilm instax mini Link 2. Its battery lasts longer and charges faster, but the print quality is worse.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers for under $100 for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of our cheap printer reviews, sorted from least to most expensive. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no printer is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.