Whether you've started to run low or you're now completely out of ink, you can be in for a nasty surprise when it comes time to replace your cartridges or bottles. Some ink bundles can cost up to your printer's original price, making refills costly. Printers themselves can also have a low page yield, so you're stuck constantly replacing your ink cartridges if you want to keep printing, which can quickly add up over time. Additionally, finding a printer with cheap ink isn't only about the cost of new cartridges, but how cost-efficient their cartridges are over time. Generally, the most cost-effective printers are a bit more expensive, but dishing out the extra money is often worth it thanks to the much larger page yields.
We've tested over 135 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best printers for home use with cheap ink you can buy, all depending on your needs. You can also check out our recommendations for the best home printers, the best photo printers, and the best all-in-one printers.
The best printer with cheap ink we've tested is the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850, an all-in-one model with large, refillable ink tanks instead of cartridges. It yields thousands of prints, so you won't have to refill the tanks often, and the ink bottles are cheap, making your long-term maintenance cost exceptionally low. It produces very high-quality black and color documents, and it does so quickly, pushing out 25 black or color pages per minute. It also prints colorful and detailed photos and supports borderless printing.
It has a scanner with an automatic document feeder, allowing you to quickly scan long, multi-page documents, and it can scan double-sided sheets, albeit in two passes. You can connect to the printer via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB, and it's compatible with Epson's mobile app, which you can use to print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks.
If you don't want to spend too much on a premium model but still want something that performs well, the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 is a good option. Like our top pick, it's also a supertank model that yields a large number of prints, so you don't need to worry about high maintenance costs. It feels reasonably well built, with a design that allows easy access to paper jams. It has the usual USB, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet connectivity options, along with support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service.
As for its print quality, it produces very sharp black documents and detailed photos. Color documents look good but a little washed out. Compared to our significantly more expensive top pick, the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850, there are a couple of compromises, like its slower printing speed, lack of duplex scanning capability, and worse color accuracy. The overall build quality isn't quite as good, but it still feels reasonably sturdy.
If you just need a printer for home use, a more modest mid-range model might be a better option. We recommend the Brother MFC-J4335DW, one of the best all-in-one printers with cheap ink we've tested. Unlike our picks above, this model uses ink cartridges. It yields roughly 2,000 black and 800 color prints, which isn't as good as supertank models but still outstanding, and you can get XL cartridges that'll last longer. It prints quickly at 17 black or 15 color pages per minute and supports automatic double-sided printing. The scanner processes up to 20 pages per minute through its automatic feeder and produces high-quality scans; however, it doesn't support duplex scanning.
Our pick for the best budget printer with cheap ink is the Brother MFC-J1205W. It's very similar to our mid-range pick, the Brother MFC-J4335DW, but as it's a more affordable model, it does come with some tradeoffs. Like most Brother printers, the cartridges are a bit expensive compared to the cartridges of other budget printers; however, it's still a cost-effective option since you can get a lot more pages out of the cartridges, meaning you won't have to replace them too often. There are a few compromises: it can't automatically print double-sided, the scanner lacks an automatic feeder, and there aren't any high-yield cartridges available for this model. That said, it's still a good choice if you're only looking for a budget printer with cheap ink and don't mind losing some features.
The best color laser printer with cheap toner we've tested is the Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw. It's a sturdily-built all-in-one with tons of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet. Its ADF-equipped scanner produces high-quality scans, processes double-sided sheets in a single pass, and has an optical character recognition feature that lets you scan documents into text files for quick keyword searches.
The toner cartridges yield a large number of prints, around 3000 black and 2000 color. The cartridges are expensive, but since you don't need to replace them often, the cost per print remains very low. They also contain the drum, saving you the trouble of replacing the drum separately. On top of that, the printer accepts third-party toner, which might be cheaper. It takes longer than most laser printers to warm up, but once it starts, it prints very quickly at 29 black or color pages per minute.
If you only print black and white documents, we recommend the Brother MFC-L2750DW. This well-built all-in-one model has a scanner with an automatic feeder to process multi-page documents, extendable hinges to accommodate thick items like textbooks and single-pass duplex scanning capability. It yields around 2000 prints from a single black toner cartridge, and you can get an XL cartridge that'll last longer. It also accepts third-party toner. You have to replace the drum separately, but it's usually good for about 12,000 prints, so you likely won't need to do it too often. It warms up fairly quickly and prints quickly at 36 pages per minute.
Sep 23, 2022: Replaced the Canon PIXMA G7020 with the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 because it has more features, faster printing speed, and better print quality. Added the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 as an 'Upper Mid-Range' pick. Removed the HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w because it's discontinued and hard to find. Added the Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw as the 'Best Color Laser' pick and the Brother MFC-L2750DW as the 'Best Monochrome Laser' pick.
Jul 25, 2022: Restructured article to better match user expectations. Removed the HP LaserJet M209dwe and the 'Best Standalone Printer with Cheap Ink' category.
Jun 10, 2022: Restructured the article to make it easier to read. Replaced the HP LaserJet MFP M234sdwe with the HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w since it has a much higher page yield.
Apr 12, 2022: Changed the scope of the article to include printers with cheap toner. Replaced the Epson EcoTank ET-4760 with the HP LaserJet MFP M234sdwe for 'Best Home Office Printer With Cheap Toner' and the Epson EcoTank ET-2760 with the HP LaserJet M209dwe for 'Best Black and White Printer With Cheap Toner.' Also updated the Notable Mentions to remove irrelevant and unavailable picks.
Mar 24, 2022: Replaced the Epson EcoTank ET-3760 with the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 for 'More Affordable Ink Alternative' since the ET-3760 is discontinued. Removed a few models from Notable Mentions since they're discontinued and hard to find in stock.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers with cheap toner or ink. 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 all our printer reviews. 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.