Published on October 12, 2005, by

Most folks I know grudgingly accept that printer cartridges are ridiculously expensive, which is part of the reason printers are often ridiculously cheap. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Next time you’re printer shopping, hit eBay and search for that exact printer model. Odds are if it’s any brand but HP or Lexmark you’ll find tons of amazingly cheap cartridges for sale. If you don’t see any listed, give that model a pass and try a different one. What you’re looking for are generic, brand-new (not refilled or reconditioned) cartridges made for your printer. Once I discovered this my printing expenses plummetted. And while I wasn’t very happy with my one foray into reconditioned cartridges, I’ve had near-perfect reliability from the brand new knock-offs I buy in lots of 12 or so on eBay — often for $2 to $3 per cartridge including shipping. For example, a four-pack of cartridges for my Canon Pixma MP780 costs $40 plus shipping at Amazon. But instead I recently ordered 18 generic cartridges on eBay for a total of $32.50 shipped. Epson and Canon are always good bets for generic cartridge availability, but they’re not the only ones. Just be sure to confirm before you buy that otherwise cheap printer.