By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Between Christmas cards, family photos, party invitations, and other seasonal projects, the holidays drink up a lot of printer ink. Unfortunately, a la the shaving industry, printer manufacturers make their money off high-priced replacement cartridges, rather than the devices that make use of them. Cheaper ink is out there, though, and "the secret" that printer companies don't want you to know, according to PC Mag, is that it can serve just as well as their expensive cartridges.
Related: Top inexpensive ereaders under $100
Online ink retailers sell low-cost cartridges in two varieties: remanufactured cartridges and compatible cartridges. The latter are made by third-party manufacturers. Although they are designed to work with specified printers, sometimes customers find themselves with a dud. Remanufactured cartridges, by contrast, are recycled brand-name cartridges. Quality can still vary, however. Whereas some remanufacturers have strict quality-control systems in place, others may simply refill and ship out.
Online retailers also peddle OEM cartridges from the original equipment manufacturers (i.e., the printer companies). These are by far the most expensive ink refills because they carry the brand name of the corresponding printer. In some cases the quality may be higher, as well, but it's a tradeoff some consumers are happy to make. That's because remanufactured and compatible cartridges can save shoppers more than 75 percent over OEM cartridges.
Related: Best android tablets under $100
Cheapism.com recommends three online ink sites that sell cartridges for as low as $6 each. They also reward customers who place large orders with free shipping, but be cautious about ordering more than you need. Ink can slowly dry out, and a wasted cartridge left sitting on a shelf could wind up costing more than you saved on shipping.
For more ways to save, follow Cheapism on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
To stay on top of the latest posts, read the Cheapism Blog.