HP Instant Ink is a subscription service for your printer cartridges. Instead of paying to buy a new cartridge, you pay a monthly amount to be allowed to print a certain number of pages. When your cartridge starts to get low HP mails you another cartridge, whilst also giving ways to return your used cartridge for recycling. If you print more than your subscription you pay a hefty amount per extra page.
Upsides of HP Instant Ink
- If you only use genuine HP inks, and are consistent with how much you print, never accidentally printing unneeded pages, you'll save money on buying the genuine HP cartridges yourself
- One page is one page, regardless of what's on it. A full colour A4 photo is the same as a short line of text.
- Your subscription can roll over to the next month for some of your spare pages (this is limited)
- Reordering is easy as it's all automated and tracked by the internet connection
Downsides of HP Instant Ink
- Check the small print! Most importantly, "a page upon which any amount of ink is placed by your printer". This means if you accidentally print a word on one page, or a draft page comes out, or you print with wrong settings... yup, you've used a page of your subscription. Can be stressful/frustrating for non-tech savvy people.
- One page is one page, regardless of what's on it. A short line of text will cost you the same as an A4 photo.
- The service only sends a replacement when you run low, and the cartridges are low capacity. This means, if you suddenly need to print more than usual, if you run out you're stuck until your replacement arrives in a few days.
- You have to be connected to the internet to be able to print. Unreliable internet or connection problems? You can't access the ink you've paid for until it's back on.
- If you don't print close to the page limit of your subscription, you'll be paying more for your printing than if you just purchased cartridges
- The cost per page over your subscription is very high, as much as 10p per page. Any unexpected prints you run into will be very expensive.
- You lose peace of mind and have to monitor your page count religiously. Instead of just keeping a spare cartridge to hand, you now need to monitor how much you've printed this month and how much you'll want to print later in the month.
- You're tied in to Instant Ink cartridges. No money saving refills or choice to shop around anymore.
- If something goes wrong, you have to deal with HP customer service. All we'll say is good luck brave adventurer, you're going to need it.
Definitely Avoid HP Instant Ink If
You don't keep track of your accounts. If your printer dies, you don't print for a month, your internet goes down or anything else unexpected, you'll still be paying your subscription... in return for nothing.
Is Instant Ink Worth It?
If you're very consistent in what you print, Instant Ink can be a great little money saver. It's a service aimed at people that rarely print but are very organised in their day-to-day lives and know how to work a computer. If this is you, it may be worth a look.