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 and can be expensive to refill. 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 add up over time. Finding a printer with cheap ink isn't only about the cost of new cartridges, but how cost-efficient their cartridges are over time.
We've tested over 80 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best home printers you can buy. 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 for home use with cheap ink that we've tested is the Brother MFC-J995DW. This all-in-one model has an exceptionally high page yield for both black and color ink thanks to Brother's INKvestment Tank Ink System, so the cartridges should last a fairly long time before you need to replace them. Thanks to this, the cost-per-print is outstandingly low, so it shouldn't cost you much for ink in the long run.
It has great scanner features, including a flatbed with high resolution and an automatic document feeder to process multi-page documents. The printing speed is good, and while black and color documents are a bit on the slower side, photos come out impressively fast. Printed images look detailed with only a bit of banding in gray areas. The color accuracy is only okay, but it should be fine for casual photos and color printing.
Unfortunately, while it has good connectivity options, it doesn't support Bluetooth, and we couldn't print through Mopria Print Service. Also, it can't perform duplex scans, so scanning long, double-sided documents may be tedious since you need to flip over each page manually. Nevertheless, this is an excellent family printer that shouldn't cost you much for ink, and it's among the best home printers we've tested.
If you're looking for an alternative with even cheaper ink, check out the Epson EcoTank ET-3760. While it doesn't print photos as well and you can't print off a USB thumb drive or SD card, it has a much higher page yield and a lower cost-per-print than the Brother MFC-J995DW. Instead of disposable ink cartridges, it has a supertank system that uses four refillable ink tanks. These hold a lot of ink, so you can print an outstanding number of pages before needing to refill them, let alone by new ink bottles. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a fax feature and its display screen isn't a touch screen.
If you want an excellent family printer for photos with external storage support, go with the Brother, but if you want a printer with a higher page yield that will cost you much less in the long run, get the Epson.
The best printer with cheap ink for home offices we've tested is the Epson EcoTank ET-4760. It's an all-in-one model that uses a supertank ink system, which yields an exceptionally large number of pages. The ink bottles are affordable, and since you shouldn't need to buy them very often, the long-term costs remain incredibly low.
It features a flatbed scanner with high resolution and color depth, and an automatic document feeder to quickly process multi-page documents. You can print to it in a variety of ways, including Ethernet, USB, and Wi-Fi. While it lacks Bluetooth support, it does support printing via Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. It's compatible with the Epson iPrint app, from which you can print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks.
Unfortunately, it can't automatically process double-sided scans, so you need to manually flip over each page which can be time-consuming. Also, photo quality is only okay since there's some banding, and colors only look passably accurate. This should be fine for casual color prints, but you may be disappointed if you rely on exact color reproduction. Overall, this is a great office printer thanks to its exceptional page yields and low ink costs.
The best printer with cheap ink for casual photos is the Canon PIXMA G7020. It's a versatile inkjet model that overall feels sturdy, and it provides easy access to ink bottles and paper jams by lifting the scanner bay. Photos are produced with very good detail, although dark areas contain some banding. Colors look slightly oversaturated and are acceptably accurate; while they may not be good enough for exact color reproduction, they should be fine for casual photos.
It has an exceptionally high page yield and, combined with its affordable ink cartridge price, the cost-per-print remains outstandingly low. It has great connectivity options, and it's compatible with the Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app, where you can print, scan, copy, and order ink when you're running low. It has great scanner features, including a flatbed scanner with high resolution and color depth and an automatic document feeder to quickly scan multi-page documents.
Unfortunately, it has a small, monochrome display screen that doesn't show much text. Also, it's disappointingly slow at printing, with subsequent pages coming out almost as slow as the first page. Sadly, there's no Bluetooth support, and you can't print off of a USB thumb drive or SD card. Overall, it's still good for casual photos, shouldn't cost you too much for ink, and it's one of the best photo printers we've tested.
The best all-in-one printer for home use with cheap ink in the budget category is the Canon PIXMA MG3620. This compact all-in-one inkjet model has a great cost-per-print thanks to its cheap ink cartridges. While it doesn't yield a high number of pages for black or color ink, high-yield cartridges are available and should last you longer, although we haven't tested them.
Printed photos are detailed, with only a bit of banding in gray areas. Colors are slightly oversaturated and inaccurate but should be acceptable for casual color printing and family pictures. It's compatible with the superb Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app, from where you can print, scan, copy, and order ink directly from your mobile device.
Unfortunately, since it has a disappointing cartridge system, you may need to replace the ink cartridges often, especially if you print often. Also, its build quality is subpar, with flimsy input and output trays, as well as a lack of a display screen. It doesn't have a sheetfed scanner or the ability to scan double-sided pages, which may be an issue if you value these features. Nonetheless, this is still a decent budget printer for families that shouldn't cost you too much for ink.
Feb 18, 2021: Verified availability and relevance of picks; no product changes.
Jan 19, 2021: Added the Epson Expression Premium ET-7750 EcoTank to Notable Mentions; updated rest of text for clarity and accuracy.
Jul 23, 2020: Replaced the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025 with the Epson EcoTank ET-4760.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best printers with cheap ink 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 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.