HP Instant Ink is an ink subscription service that HP offers. The program works similarly to many other popular monthly subscription services, however, there are a few important things that you should know about before signing up. We’re going to break down the finer points of HP Instant Ink for you so that you can make an informed decision before signing up.
What Is HP Instant Ink?
HP Instant Ink is an ink replacement service that HP says is the most affordable way to print. When you sign up for a monthly subscription though, you’re not actually paying for the cartridges, you’re paying for the number of pages you print each month.
They offer plans for as low as 15 pages a month, so the service can work for just about anyone. However, in order to use HP Instant Ink, you do have to use an HP Instant Ink ready printer. This allows HP to monitor your print volume and ink levels. Printers start as low as $49, so the costs to get started are definitely not prohibitive. If you are unsure if your printer is compatible, you can check our list of HP Instant Ink compatible printers here. If your printer isn’t compatible, we have a great selection of HP Instant Ink printers that you can choose from.
How Much Does HP Instant Ink Cost?
In addition to the cost of the printer, there are also monthly fees to use HP Instant Ink. There are 4 standard plans – the occasional printing plan, moderate printing plan, frequent printing plan, and the business printing plan. There is also a free plan available, but it is limited to 15 pages per month.
The occasional printing plan is only $2.99 per month and includes 50 pages per month. If you need to print more pages, it costs $1 per 10 pages. If you don’t use all of your pages, you can also roll over up to 100 of them.
The occasional printing plan costs $4.99 per month and includes 100 pages per month. If you need to print more pages, it costs $1 per 15 pages. With this plan, you can rollover up to 200 pages.
The frequent printing plan is ideal for a small office. This plan costs $9.99 per month and includes 300 pages per month. If you need to print more pages, it costs $1 per 20 pages. This plan also allows you to roll over up to 600 pages.
Finally, the business printing plan costs $19.99 per month and includes 700 pages per month. If you need to print more pages, it costs $1 per 20 pages. This plan also allows you to roll over up to 1400 pages.
On its face, the pricing structure seems simple and straightforward, however, there are quite a few caveats to be aware before signing up.
How Does HP Instant Ink Work?
HP Instant Ink printers send information about print volume, ink volume, and other printer data back to HP. They use this data to bill your account and to know when it’s time to send you more ink for your printer. It’s important to understand just how this data is used though.
How Does HP Monitor Your Printer Use
When you sign up for HP Instant Ink you give HP permission to monitor your printer activity and usage remotely. The software that HP installs will use the Internet to send data back to HP including page count, ink levels, the kinds of documents you’re printing, and other information about the printer being used.
What Is A Printed Page?
A printed page is considered a page that has any amount of ink on it from the printer. So if the document you are printing only has 1 line of text on the last page, that final page will still count as 1 full-page against your monthly total.
There is no difference in price between printing a full-page color photo and a single line of text in black and white, so it will require a bit of a shift from the standard thought process when it comes to conserving ink.
Understanding Rollover Pages
When you don’t use all of the printed pages you have available in your monthly plan, your unused pages will roll over. The caveat here though is that there is a maximum number of rollover pages that your account can accrue based on the level of your subscription.
For example, if you’re on the occasional printing plan, you can accrue up to 100 rollover pages. However, once you reach 100 rollover pages, you will lose any unused prints after that point. Depending on your subscription level and just how often you’re printing, rollover pages can either be a great thing or a waste of money, so it’s important to be conscious about just how many of your pages you use each month.
Be Conscious of Overages & Fees
The overage fees for HP Instant Ink are pretty straightforward. They charge $1 for every additional 10 – 20 pages (depending on the subscription level). The lower your monthly fee, the fewer pages that you are alotted in your overage.
If you just need a handful of additional prints each month, the extra $1 usually won’t be a big problem. However, if you’re hit with an unexpected project that requires a lot of printed pages, you can find yourself paying quite a bit in fees.
If you’re just getting started with HP Instant Ink, it is usually a good idea to keep another printer around as a backup for these situations. While the ink used won’t be as inexpensive as the HP Instant Ink options, you will definitely save on unnecessary overages.
Plan For Ink Shipping Times
Even though the HP Instant Ink program bills you on a monthly basis, it only sends out new HP ink cartridges as your printer needs them. HP ships out the ink cartridges using standard shipping, so while it usually only takes a couple of days for your ink to arrive, it can take up to 10 days for your ink to arrive.
Since the Instant Ink software is monitoring your ink levels, it can anticipate your usage and ship the ink out before you run out. However, you can run into issues if the shipments take longer than expected to arrive, or if you have an unexpectedly large print job that the software doesn’t anticipate.
You also have the option to expedite your ink shipment if needed, but this will have extra costs associated with it depending on the shipping distance and how quickly you’ll need the ink. This is another reason it’s a good idea to have a backup printer available for unexpected high-volume print jobs.
Changing or Canceling Your Instant Ink Plan
You always have the option to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your Instant Ink subscription based on your needs and your print volumes.
When upgrading the plan, you have the option to have the changes take effect in the current billing cycle or the next billing cycle. When you cancel or downgrade your plan the changes become effective after the last day of the billing period.
While new users can sign up for the $0 plan at the time of enrollment, users aren’t able to downgrade from a paid plan to the free plan once they’ve started a paid subscription.
It’s also important to note that once you cancel your plan, your cartridges will no longer work. They must be returned to HP at the completion of your subscription.
HP Instant Ink Cons
We’ve told you some of the features and benefits of the HP Instant Ink program, but no review would be complete without noting some of the cons too.
You Can Only Use Their Cartridges
When you are signed up for HP Instant Ink, that printer can only use HP Instant Ink cartridges. So if you run out of ink, you can’t use a “fallback” cartridge. You just have to wait for your new cartridges to arrive. While HP should ship the cartridges to you prior to you running out of ink, unusual printing patterns could cause you to run out of ink before they can get the cartridges to you.
You Always Have To Be Connected To Wi-FI
In order to print using HP Instant Ink cartridges, your printer must be connected to the internet. Even homes and offices with redundant internet connections can still face the possibility of internet downtime. This could be a very big inconvenience when printing a document is urgent.
Longer Than Normal Support Timelines
According to various reports and reviews online, it would seem that the customer support process for HP Instant Ink printers and cartridges can take a while. One of the more common complaints is that before tech support will do something like send you a new printer cartridge, they’ll first make you go through a lengthy testing and cleaning process. For people who are on a deadline and looking for simple solutions, this tech support process can be inefficient.
The various reports do note that customer support is often friendly and polite, but that there is simply no “shortcut” through the lengthy troubleshooting process.
HP Instant Ink FAQ’s
We find that a lot of our customers have many of the same questions about the HP Instant Ink program, so we compiled some of the more common ones to a list of FAQs. If you have a question that’s not included here, feel free to reach out to our customer service team for more information.
What Are The Requirements To Sign Up?
Signing up for HP Instant Ink is easy. You only need 4 things to get started:
- An HP Instant Ink Printer
- An Active Internet Connection
- A Valid Email Address
- A Valid Credit Card
Once you’ve confirmed your printer is eligible, you can sign up online within a couple of minutes. Once you’ve finished signing up, HP will ship out your first shipment of ink cartridges.
How Do I Figure Out How Much I Print?
If you’re not sure how much printing you’re going to be doing, you can just start out with whatever plan you think works best for you. If after using the program for a month or so you realize your needs are different than what you first anticipated, you can easily upgrade or downgrade your plan online. The only caveat is that existing Instant Ink members cannot downgrade to a free plan once they’ve been on a paid plan.
What If My Print Volume Changes from Month to Month?
There are no contracts or minimum terms when you sign up for HP Instant Ink. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan each month as your needs change. This is one of the reasons that HP Instant Ink is so popular with seasonal businesses.
Will I Receive New Ink Cartridges Every Month?
HP will only send you new cartridges when your printer is running low on ink. So unless you’re doing a very high volume of printing, you will probably only receive ink every couple of months. Don’t worry though, you won’t be billed based on the amount of ink you use or how many cartridges you receive, your billing is based on how many pages you print.
What Is The Billing Cycle?
The billing cycle will start as soon as you insert your first cartridges into your printer. You will then be billed every 30 days or so from that point forward. You are billed at the end of the period as opposed to the beginning of the period so that any overages or rollover pages can be factored into the price.
How Does HP Know When To Send New Cartridges?
HP Instant Ink printers are pretty smart. They consistently track your printer usage and ink levels so that they are able to anticipate when you will need more ink. They ship the ink out prior to your printer running out of ink, so there is very little chance that you’ll be in a situation where you don’t have enough ink to print. The cartridges are sent standard shipping, so they can take up to 10 days to arrive, but will usually arrive a bit sooner.
Can I Cancel or Change My Plan Whenever I Want?
Yes. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel your HP Instant Ink subscription whenever you’d like. Cancellations and downgrades become effective after the last day of the current billing cycle. The only caveat is that existing HP Instant Ink customers can’t downgrade to a free plan.
HP Instant Ink Reviews
Don’t just take our word for it, here’s another review that Youtube user QXReviews published about HP Instant Ink.
HP Instant Ink Alternatives
HP is not the only company that offers money-saving alternatives to buying original inks on demand. Other major printer brands like Brother, Epson, and Canon have also introduced a number of alternatives like higher-yield cartridges and refill systems. Here are a few of the more popular alternatives to HP Instant Ink.
Epson EcoTank Printers
Epson has also begun offering more cost-effective printers and ink solutions for home and business customers called EcoTank Printers. Epson first launched the EcoTank Printers in 2015 and has continued to introduce new models ever since.
EcoTank Printers don’t use traditional ink cartridges, but instead, have an ink tank that is built into the printer. You can then buy ink bottles that allow you to refill the tanks as needed.
Epson has also recently begun creating high-volume EcoTank Printers that actually use large plastic bags instead of the refillable bottles. The plastic bags attach to clips inside of the printer, so there’s no need to pour ink to refill the printer.
Both the refillable ink bottles and ink bags are comparatively cost-effective. It costs on average 3 cents for black and white prints and 9 cents for color prints.
While the ink is inexpensive, the EcoTank Printers themselves do have a fairly high cost themselves. The higher upfront costs for these printers make them much more popular in offices as opposed to homes.
Brother INKvestment Printers
Brother is a company that is already known for its cost-effective printers, ink and toner options. With the introduction of their INKvestment Printer line, they’re now giving businesses even more savings.
The INKvestment all-in-one printers work exclusively with Brother’s low-cost, high-yield ink cartridges. On average, the black and white cartridges have a 3000-page yield and the color cartridges have a 1500-page yield.
This breaks down to less than one cent per page for printing black and white and from three to five cents for each color print.
Almost all of the INKvestment printers use the same cartridges, so you can easily forecast ink usage and print volume, even when you change printers. Brother also creates XL versions of all of their printers that can hold either three full sets of cartridges or five full sets of cartridges. Brother says that five sets of cartridges should last about 2 years.
Canon MegaTank Bottled-Ink Printers
Canon came out with the MegaTank Bottled-Ink Printer series in late 2016. These printers are similar to the Epson EcoTank Printer line in that they utilize refillable ink tanks and ink bottles.
These printers are great for producing high-quality photo prints and color prints at a low cost. Similar to the EcoTank models, they also can print 3 cent black and white prints and 8 – 9 cent color prints.
These printers have fewer features than some of their competitors, but the combination of quality, low cost, and the set of features make them one of the best low-cost printer options on the market.
So Is HP Instant Ink Worth It?
HP Instant Ink can definitely be a cost-effective printing option for many people, but it doesn’t seem like it’s the right option for everyone. There are definitely big upsides when it comes to cost savings, however, you do run the risk of finding yourself in a situation where you run out of ink and won’t receive ink for a few days.
HP Instant Ink also has some pretty steep fees that can really add up if you have an unexpected need to print well outside your plan’s allotment. At $1 per 10 pages, the fees can add up pretty quickly. So while the starting monthly prices may be low, you may find yourself paying twice your monthly price or more in fees.
Sure, you can keep a backup printer handy for these situations, but maintaining two printers and two sets of ink cartridges can be a costly expense for some businesses.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t have a regular need for printing documents and could get by for a day or two if they were unable to print, HP Instant Ink can be a great option for you. The printers are extremely affordable which makes it easy for just about anyone to get started.
It would seem that HP Instant Ink is a much better option for home users and home offices. While it would definitely still be a great low-cost option at an office or workplace, you do run the risk of running out of ink prematurely.
Buying Low-Cost Ink
Another great low-cost ink alternative is buying your ink and toner cartridges at BlueDogInk.com. We carry high-quality original printer ink from brands like HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Lexmark and many more. Our prices are the lowest you’ll find anywhere online, and we typically ship out our ink cartridges on the same day you place your order.
Want to set up recurring weekly or monthly ink and toner orders? That’s no problem at all! Just give our customer service team a call to learn more about our various ordering options that your business can take advantage of.