Whether you've started to run low or are 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 125 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best printers with cheap toner or ink you can buy, 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. If you're looking to save on ink costs, a supertank printer is the way to go; instead of expensive cartridges, printers of this type have a large ink reservoir that can be topped up with cheap bottles, with a full tank yielding thousands of prints. It produces very high-quality black and color documents and is fast, pushing out 25 black or color pages per minute. As for photos, they look detailed and colorful but a tad grainy. The scanner has an automatic document feeder, so you can quickly process long, multi-page documents and scan double-sided sheets, albeit in two passes. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB; you can also print directly off a USB flash drive.
If you want something similarly-designed but oriented more towards photo printing, get the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550, one of the best all-in-one printers with cheap ink we've tested. It has a wider color range and produces photos with less grain. Plus, it supports wide format paper sizes up to 13" x 19", which is great for making posters. However, it doesn't have an ADF, prints slower, and its document printing quality isn't quite as good as the ET-5850. You can get the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 variants if you don't need wide-format printing. It performs identically but only supports up to 8.5" x 11" paper.
If you don't need a premium model like the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 above, get the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 instead, one of the best home printers with cheap ink we've tested. Like our top pick, it's an all-in-one supertank model that yields thousands of prints with a full ink reservoir, keeping cost-per-print very low. It has the usual USB, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet connectivity options and support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. As for its print quality, black documents look amazing, but color documents come out a little washed out. Its printing speed is decent, churning out 15 black or seven color pages per minute. Unfortunately, it lacks duplex scanning and isn't ideal for photo printing, as printed pictures look grainy with inaccurate colors.
If you're shopping for a printer cheaper than the Epson EcoTank ET-3850, consider the Brother MFC-J4335DW, one of the best printers for home use with cheap ink we've tested. Unlike the previously mentioned Epson EcoTank models, this printer uses ink cartridges. While the cartridges are pricey and result in a lower page yield than supertank models, this printer can still output roughly 2,000 black and 800 color prints, which is outstanding, and you can get XL cartridges that'll last even longer. It prints quickly at 17 black or 15 color pages per minute and supports automatic double-sided printing. It also has a scanner with an ADF that can process up to 20 pages per minute 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, also known as the Brother MFC-J1215W at Walmart. 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; it prints a little slower, and its scanner doesn't feature an automatic document feeder. It also uses lower-yield, slightly cheaper cartridges than its more expensive stablemate. You can expect a maximum of roughly 1100 black and 750 color prints, which is still far more than most budget inkjet printers. It's 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 Brother MFC-L8905CDW. This all-in-one has nearly everything you'd need for a small or home office. It produces incredibly sharp documents, prints quickly at up to 32 pages per minute (black or color), and doesn't need much maintenance. While the toner cartridges are expensive, they last a long time, so your maintenance cost will remain low. You do need to replace the drum separately, which is an added expense, but again, it isn't something you need to regularly replace since it's good for 30,000 prints. The scanner produces high-quality scans and can process documents quickly through its automatic feeder. It also supports single-pass duplex scanning, so you won't need to manually flip the pages when scanning double-sided sheets.
Like most printers, the MFC-8905CDW has many variants at different price points, so if you don't need features like duplex scanning and NFC support, you can save some money with a cheaper variant like the Brother MFC-L8610CDW. There's also the Brother MFC-L8900CDW, which has nearly the same features as the MFC-8905CDW except for a smaller display. You can see more details about all the variants in the full review.
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, 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 quickly and prints at 36 pages per minute.
As with most Brother printers, there are many variants of this printer with minor differences in features and performance, so if you want to save money, you can get a cheaper model like the Brother MFC-L2710DW, which lacks duplex scanning and prints slightly slower. You can also find bundles with a longer-lasting XL toner cartridge, like Brother MFC-L2690DWXL, which might be cheaper than buying the cartridge separately. You can see all the variants and their differences in our full review.
May 24, 2023: Replaced the Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw with the Brother MFC-L8905CDW because the Canon is discontinued and hard to find.
May 18, 2023: Ensured all main picks are still available and represent the best option for user needs. Added Canon Color imageCLASS MF753Cdw/MF751Cdw to Notable Mentions.
Mar 21, 2023: Minor text changes to include more information about the Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw's variants. No change in recommendations.
Jan 20, 2023: Minor text changes to improve clarity. Added the Brother HL-L2325DW as a Notable Mention. No change in recommendations.
Nov 22, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
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.