If you only print occasionally, it wouldn't make much sense to spend a fortune on a fully decked-out printer. Fortunately, there are pretty good options that you can get for under $100. They may not have advanced features like a duplex automatic document feeder or a supertank ink system, but they get the job done, and you can save some money. Keep in mind 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 upfront.
We've tested over 125 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best printers 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.
Note: Some of the picks on the list currently cost a bit more than $100, but you can still find them at a cheaper price at different retailers, so make sure to shop around.
When you're on a budget, it can be hard to find a printer that satisfies all of your family's needs. Enter the Canon PIXMA MG3620, an all-in-one model you can find at under $100 just about anywhere. It prints well-detailed photos, and its good color accuracy makes it suitable for casual color printing.
It has a flatbed scanner, so you can easily scan anything you want, like photos, drawings, or signed documents, and you can also lift the lid's hinges by about half an inch to scan thicker items, like a textbook or recipe collection. Of course, it isn't ideal if you need to scan many pages in a row since it doesn't have an automatic document feeder (ADF). This means you'll have to place each sheet on the flatbed scanner one at a time, which gets old after a couple of pages. It isn't an issue if you scan only a few pages.
The biggest downside of this model is the page yield. Like many printers in its price range, this model only yields around 200 pages before its cartridges run out. It means you might be buying them pretty often, which can very quickly cost you more than the original price of the printer. Also, it's pretty slow at printing, but this is normal since it isn't designed for fast-paced, high-volume printing anyway.
If you print lots of photos, whether it be for crafts, journaling, or a photo wall, you'll want something that won't ruin your memories with excessive banding and grain. For that, have a look at the Canon PIXMA TS3520. Naturally, as a budget inkjet, its photos don't look as good as ones printed with a professional photo printer, but it still prints nice-looking photos for its price. If you don't mind spending a bit more money for better quality, the Canon PIXMA TR4720 is a decent choice.
When printing on 4" x 6" photos, there's no banding anywhere, so you don't have to worry about any vertical lines running along your pictures. While there is a bit of noise in some areas, it isn't noticeable enough to make your photos look terrible. Some colors (like blues, browns, and blacks) don't look like their original, so neither look as deep as they should; however, it's fine for casual pictures. Photos take about one minute to print out, which is on the slower end but similar to other printers in this range.
Although the cartridges are relatively cheap to replace, the terrible page yields mean that you'll have to replace the cartridges after every hundred or so prints, especially if you print frequently. It means you'll very quickly spend the amount you paid for the printer in ink, but that's common with these budget printers. With that said, it's a good choice if you're looking for the best printer under $100 for casual photo printing.
While most assignments are handed in online these days, some professors still prefer you hand in a physical copy of your work. If that’s the case for you, you’ll want something affordable that can print lots of pages, like the Brother MFC-J1205W. While it now costs a bit over $100, it’s well worth it thanks to its hybrid cartridge—supertank system.
The biggest selling point with this pick is that you can print thousands of pages before the ink runs out. It's a plus when you already need to pay for tuition and books. The cartridges are a bit on the expensive side, though, but at least you won’t have to spend money on ink replacements like you would on some other models.
Unfortunately, it’s slow at printing, so you can’t be in a rush to get your reports out since it prints nine pages per minute for monochrome documents and six for color ones. Also, it can’t print double-sided automatically, so you need to flip over the sheets when prompted. If neither of those faults bother you, then it’s one of the best printers for college students we've tested.
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 easily fits on an office desk or a cramped dorm room and comes in three colorful variants if you want to spruce up your workspace.
Despite its small size, it manages to fit a sheetfed scanner, which you can use to scan plain sheets up to 8.5" x 14" size. It doesn’t have a flatbed scanner, so you can’t scan anything too thick (like a page from a textbook). It also doesn’t have a feeder tray, so you’ll have to insert each sheet one by one, which is annoying if you have many pages to scan in a row.
A huge downside with this printer is common with many budget picks: it has awful page yields. Even though the cartridges are cheap, you’ll have to buy replacements pretty often, making it expensive long-term. Like the Brother J1205W, it also can’t print double-sided automatically. If you’re okay with these compromises and want a compact model, this printer is a decent choice.
No one wants to deal with dried-up ink and clogged printheads—common problems when you don’t print often. If you only print once in a while, look at the HP LaserJet Pro M15w. While its retail cost is slightly over the price limit of this article, and it’s tough to find in stock, it’s well worth it since you won’t have to spend as much money on cartridges nearly as often as the inkjets on this list.
It can print thousands of pages before the toner is out, which will last you many months if you print a few pages every week at best. It’s pretty slow at printing for a laser printer, but it’s still quick enough to get invoices and medium-length research papers out in about a minute. It also begins printing quickly after going unused for a while. You can print to it wirelessly if you’re on the same Wi-Fi network, but you can also use Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service.
Unfortunately, there's no scanner, so you'll need to get an all-in-one model or a dedicated scanner if you want to clearly digitize your photos or documents. The Brother HL-L2370DW performs better in almost every other way, including cost-per-print and printing speed, but it's hard to find in stock at a reasonable price. The HP is still a good choice, especially if you're on a tight budget but need a decent laser printer for black and white prints.
May 17, 2022: Replaced the Canon PIXMA TR4720 with the Canon PIXMA TS3520 since the TR4720 is currently well over the price limit of the article. Added details about the price and availability of the other picks.
Mar 15, 2022: Made the HP LaserJet Pro M15w 'Best Laser', and moved the Brother HL-L2370DW to Notable Mentions since the Brother is difficult to find at a reasonable price. Added the Pantum P2502W to Notable Mentions. Verified availability of picks.
Jan 14, 2022: Made the Canon PIXMA MG3620 'Best Family' and the Brother MFC-J1205W 'Best Student'. Added the Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer to Notable Mentions. Verified availability of picks.
Nov 16, 2021: Replaced Canon PIXMA TR4520 with Canon PIXMA TR4720 due to availability; updated text for clarity.
Sep 17, 2021: Made the Brother MFC-J1205W 'Best Family' because of its superior page yields, and moved the Canon PIXMA MG3620 as its alternative. Removed the Canon PIXMA TS5320 as a main pick, and removed the HP LaserJet Pro M15w from Notable Mentions. Verified availability of picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers 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.