HP Instant Ink Review
With the continuing controversy about the HP Instant Ink program, we decided to post an Instant Ink Review of my experience with the program.
The HP Instant Ink service attempts to offer home printers at a reduced monthly fee by using monitoring and limiting of use. With some printers, this can work out well, but we will explore that later on in the article.
What is HP Instant Ink?
HP Instant Ink is an ink replacement service that allows you to pay a monthly fee of $2.99 per month, plus additional charges based on the number of pages printed (cost per page), in order to get your home printer at “lower than normal” cost.
You must purchase the Instant Ink plan alongside your HP printer. You do not need any special hardware; it works with all HP printers currently advertised on their site.
One benefit of this program is that you never run out of ink again! Instead, once you hit 400 pages for one cycle, they ship you new ink before you run out so there is no delay in printing. This alone could save people quite a bit if they print large volumes or know that they will need to keep printing for a large project.
HP Instant Ink sounds like a great idea, but there are mixed reviews of the program – some people love it and others hate it. Before you sign up we recommend doing some research on what exactly HP Instant Ink is and how it will affect your home printer experience.
Is HP Instant Ink Worth It?
The best answer to this question is “YES” and “it depends”. It is worth it for some people, and not for others. If you print less than 200 pages or so per month then HP Instant Ink probably isn’t worth it to you. You would be saving more money just getting extra ink cartridges and replacing them as needed than by using the Instant Ink program.
However, if you plan on printing a lot of documents every month (500+), let’s say for school or business purposes, then this is an excellent way to save some major cash on printing costs over time.
- Cost Savings
- Rollover Pages
- Special Cartridges
- Poor Customer Service
- Mandatory Network Connection
What are the Advantages of HP Instant Ink?
Ink Cost Savings
The best home printers are those who print the most pages for the cheapest per page. This is how HP Instant Ink can initially seem like a great deal. If you are printing at least 400 pages each month (for one cycle), then it is cheaper than buying ink cartridges over time.
HP Instant Ink offers you “free” starter cartridges that contain enough ink for your first two cycles (or 2 months). After that, they ship new cartridges before you run out; however, this does not mean that they will send you free cartridges after your initial period of use has been completed. For example, if I opened my account on June 15th and used all of my free ink in July, I would need to buy new cartridges in August instead of having them shipped to me automatically with my plan.
To see their current prices, please visit the HP Instant Ink site.
If you don’t print enough pages in a month to “roll over” extra pages to the next billing cycle, then HP will allow you to buy additional pages at a cost of $1 each (up to 20). These are basically leftover printed pages from your previous month that were not used up. It can be useful if there is a major project where you need more than 400 printed pages in one month and didn’t realize it until after your cycle had started. You can charge up to 20 at a time for this option so if you have a lot of printing needs in a short span of time, this could save quite a bit of money.
Another advantage to HP Instant Ink is the convenience of having a constant supply of ink available at all times. If you print a lot, then there’s a chance that you don’t have any extra ink cartridges around and cannot print your documents right away. With this plan, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have any cartridges because they are automatically shipped to you before they run out! In addition to the free starter cartridges, HP will also send replacement cartridges for your printer before you even need them. That way if one runs out while another is being used up, they ship another cartridge quickly so that you aren’t without your printer for too long. This can be very useful if you happen to forget about ordering ink cartridges and your printer suddenly stops working.
Free Printing Plan – FREE!
HP lower-end printers are currently available with a free, unlimited plan. This includes the HP DeskJet 3720 , 3721, 3724 ,3725, and HP ENVY 7640 .
If your printer is compatible with the program, then you will not have to pay anything extra for ink each month! Yes that’s right, absolutely FREE printing.
This is actually one of the major selling points that has made the Instant Ink plan so popular because you don’t have to pay anything to print as much as you want. You just need to make sure that you are using an ink cartridge compatible with the service by checking their site first before signing up. Click here for more info on compatible printers.
Occasional Printing – $2.99 For 50 Pages/Month
This is a common plan most HP Instant Ink customers go for because it’s a convenient way to print documents at home. In order to qualify for the $2.99 per month printer, you just have to use your printer 40 or fewer times in a billing cycle. If you go over that limit, then you will be charged a higher fee until you either upgrade your plan or reach another billing cycle.
One thing I really like about this plan is how flexible it can be depending on your needs as a consumer. There are no contracts if you don’t want them and HP can change prices whenever they want because there is nothing written in stone here as far as permanency goes. You pay as long as the service works for you and when it doesn’t anymore, then it makes sense not to continue using it.
Unlimited Printing Plan – $9.99 For Unlimited Ink/Month
If 50 pages per month isn’t enough for your printing needs, then the unlimited plan is probably what you are looking for. This is perhaps one of the most attractive aspects to this program because users can print as much as they want without having to worry about paying high prices in ink each time they do so. It just costs $9.99 per month and that covers everything! Compared to regular retail prices at office supply stores or online sites like Amazon, this is a great deal! There’s even a free trial period where you can cancel anytime if it doesn’t work out well for you or your family members who will be using it too.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that if you happen to print more than the number of pages allotted in one month, then you will be charged for additional pages. However, I haven’t seen any customers with this problem so it shouldn’t really be a big deal unless your kids just can’t help themselves when it comes to printing out their homework or other school projects! On average, most customers only use about 40-50% of what they are allowed per month anyway so there’s plenty of ink available.
Moderate Printing Plan – $4.99 For 100 Pages/Month
Not so many customers use the Moderate printing plan, but it’s still available for those who have this need. If you think that the previous two plans might be too rewarding, then perhaps you are right because I can see how people will print more than what they are allowed with either of those options.
That being said, if you want to make sure that your printing needs are always satisfied without spending an arm and a leg on ink cartridges each month, then the 100 pages per month plan may work better for you. It is probably one of the cheapest ink cartridge refill rates out there since most retail stores charge about $15-20+ for just one . So why not pay less than half the price? Printing costs can really add up especially if you have kids in school or spend a lot of time on the computer.
It’s also worth noting that all existing customers will have to move to this plan if they go over their current limit in any given month. The good news is that you are allowed to transition gradually by choosing your own monthly quota so you don’t have to worry about maxing out too fast or being forced onto this plan immediately after using the free trial period.
One thing I should mention is that if you are already an existing customer, then HP can still change prices for existing customers at any time because there isn’t anything binding here besides your consent to join the program and pay for these services each month. As long as it remains profitable, then they can adjust prices accordingly without having to consult anyone first except their accountants probably.
No matter what plan you choose, you can always pause or cancel your subscription at any time without having to worry about penalties or fees associated with doing so during a minimum period. This is a great thing because people change their minds about things very often and it’s good that HP recognizes this fact too instead of treating customers like some sort of commodity who will just go away if they don’t keep them happy enough.
Alternatively, if you are not 100% satisfied with the service for whatever reason, then there’s even an option to get reimbursed on all ink cartridges that were purchased under this program! So how much is all of this going to cost? While I am not allowed to reveal exact prices here, I can tell you that it works out to about $2.00 per month for each cartridge which is a fantastic deal considering what other companies are charging right now at office supply stores and such.
With the HP Instant Ink program, you don’t have to worry about running out of ink or spending too much money buying them at retail prices because it works out to only about $2/month per printer cartridge! There’s even a free trial period so you can decide whether or not this service is right for your family. If not, then just cancel it and get reimbursed on any cartridges bought in the meantime!
Change Your Plan To Fit Your Needs
Sometimes you need more or less than what the original plan offers and HP has come up with a solution to accommodate everyone’s needs on this front too.
Option 1: If you want to add more pages per month, then you can always do so by paying additional monthly fees for each 50 page increment added on top of your existing quota. For example, if you are using the 19 page/month plan and want to bump it up to 29 pages, then that’s only an additional $3.99 per month which is a pretty negligible increase in price for what amounts to twice as much printing!
Option 2: Alternatively, if you subscribe to the 100 pages per month option but find yourself needing less than that at times, then you can downgrade to the 50 pages/month rate and pay half the monthly price instead.
Option 3: If you want to keep your current plan but would like a few extra pages here and there as needed, then there’s even a third option where you can simply buy these additional pages from HP individually each time they are needed.
The best part is that the price of these pages stays exactly the same regardless of which option you choose or how many extra pages you need each month. It’s also worth noting that if you are currently subscribed to one of the monthly programs but don’t use any ink at all in a given month, then this doesn’t mean you automatically get your subscription canceled or anything like that because HP still wants to make money off of you even if you don’t use their service at all!
Even though I can’t reveal exact prices, it works out to about $2.00 per printer cartridge which is a fantastic value considering that other companies are charging over twice as much for these same services.
No More Trips To The Store
Another nice thing about the HP Instant Ink program is that there are no more trips to the store to buy new printer ink. If you’re anything like me, then you probably hate driving around town looking for just one color or black cartridge or spending time waiting in line at some retail store where they always seem to be too busy with other customers who had exactly the same idea as you did!
With this service, refills are delivered right to your doorstep so what could be easier than that? The best part is that you can order up to 4 sets of cartridges per month on each plan so if you think all 3 levels might not cover your needs for a month, then it’s good to know that you don’t have to worry about going over quota and incurring additional charges.
Next time your printer runs out of ink, just sit back and relax. The cartridges will arrive on your doorstep before you know it! In fact, some people get new cartridges arriving before they even send their old ones back!
The HP Instant Ink program means never having to worry about going out to buy ink again. Just order replacement cartridges and they’ll be sent right away! On top of that, you can order up to 4 sets per month which is a nice bonus if your printer runs out before the month is over.
Cheapest Photo Printing Available
When you use your instant ink subscription to order 4×6 photos printed on truspic premium photo paper for example, they come out looking fantastic! But most people don’t have a way to print 4×6 photos at home so this is great if you need some pics fast. One thing I highly recommend is getting the highest DPI possible when you are uploading photos because it will result in printed images that look better than what can be found online at places like Walgreens or Walmart.
I just uploaded one of my favorite digital camera shots that was taken with a Nikon Coolpix L110. It’s about 6 years old now but still takes amazing pictures under natural lighting conditions.
One last point to make here is that HP Instant Ink does not require a long-term contract. You don’t have to sign your life away or anything like that because all you are committing to is buying printer cartridges from HP when required and nothing more.
As of right now, my family is going through about 1 tank of ink per month which includes the free trial period. I think this service is a fantastic way for anyone who prints a lot at home but hates paying retail prices for printer cartridges in stores. This ends up saving us about 50% off our costs which adds up to hundreds of dollars per year when you add it all together when compared with how much we used to spend on ink.
If you want even more details on how this works, then I recommend checking out our How does HP Instant Ink work article.
Stuck With Their Cartridges
The major disadvantages of this program are that you must purchase cartridges from HP, and you cannot use “off-brand” or third-party ink refills as the cartridge is locked to only work with the Instant Ink program. This automatically raises your cost per page. Once you subscribe to HP Instant Ink, you are stuck with this plan for at least one full year, so you must be sure that the service is right for you before subscribing.
This can be a problem because you have no real control over the cost of printing. If you are just using your printer once a month, then it’s not too big of a deal, but if you print more frequently or need to make ink last longer it can be problematic.
Must Stay Connected
Another big complaint most customers are upset about is the mandatory connection to the Internet. This is not a big issue for some people, but it can be an inconvenience if you need to use your printer without Wi-Fi or with a laptop that does not connect to your home’s network (such as a USB drive printing solution).
Printers drop WIFI a lot. Some of these top complaints from people who have been using this service for a significant amount of time are that the WIFI connection often becomes spotty or even disconnected, causing an increased number of prints not to go through. In order to correct this problem, you must be on your computer and online so that you can reconnect with your printer(s) which is another inconvenience.
Additionally, HP Instant Ink states on their website, “HP recommends a residential street address as a shipping address for this program.” This means that if you purchase a new home you will have to choose whether to subscribe to HP Instant Ink at your new address, cancel the plan from your old location, or move someplace where they offer the service. You cannot simply sign up for the program at any location that you choose.
Poor Customer Service
By far one of the biggest complaints about this program is the fact that many customers have received very poor customer service when inquiring about problems or issues with their printer and/or Instant Ink plan. HP has not made their phone number, email contact information, or online chat options easy to find and use for those who may need help understanding how to manage their account and devices.
If these important links were easier to locate it would definitely improve the quality and speed of support that they provide. Tech support will make you run through all the troubleshooting stuff. Make sure u tell them that you are looking for a solution, not another troubleshooting scenario.
Printing Photos is Expensive
If you print photos often, this plan will be most likely more expensive than your local printers due to the fact that they only offer black and white prints using their special photo cartridges (not color, despite what it says on their website) which can cost $7 per cartridge or they may require multiple cartridges per photo depending on the size of your print.
This price does include shipping costs, but if you need just one or two pictures printed at home this cost can really add up quickly. With HP Instant Ink however, they do offer free printing of up to 100 pages each month (you must pay for shipping and handling).
Not So Cheap After All?
After doing some calculations on how much it would cost to subscribe to HP Instant Ink over their lifetime, many people realized that even though you save money per page, you need to print at least 100 pages a month in order for this service to be worth it. If you only print 20 – 30 pages a month, this is not the best option as the total cost would end up being around $1,000 at that rate.
In addition, there are many locations within 10 miles of my house that offer competitive pricing on printing services including Costco and local grocery stores such as Smith’s and Harmons who have a Kinkos service inside where I can get black and white prints for 4 cents a piece plus an additional 3 cents if I want them laminated or another side effect of Instant Ink is having to go out of your way to use their service.
If you live in a rural area and your only option for printing is to drive 25 miles away and pay $0.15 a page or go to Kinkos and pay $1.00 per color page and $0.10 for black and white then this service might be more suitable for you, but if you can print at another location such as Walmart, Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, etc., where the cost of printing is even less than these already low ink prices, Instant Ink may not save you money in the long run especially when considering the inconvenience of having to drop everything each month in order to re-subscribe to their service every 30 days.
Cartridges Stop Working When You Cancel
This yet another common complaint, and one that may deter you from signing up if you were already planning to. The HP Instant Ink cartridges that come with the printers are special in the sense that they can only be used when your printer is linked to your Instant Ink subscription, meaning when you quit using the service or decide to cancel it for any reason, even if you haven’t printed 100 pages yet, your printer will “deactivate” the ink tank.
And you will not be able to use them ever again unless you pay full price for another set of cartridges, which would negate all of the money you saved on printing while enrolling in this program.
Payment Forms Don’t Tell You All Your Options
The payment forms on their website do not mention the prepaid option until the very end of the checkout process, and since each payment method has different terms and conditions associated with it, you might miss this important information. This means that if you want to use prepaid credit cards such as American Express Blue or Visa Gift cards, for example, you will need to call customer support in order to find out which option is best for your needs.
There are a lot of small issues here and there but these biggest complaints would be the lack of understanding on how much they charge per page because a color page can cost a lot more than black and white even though its the same printer cartridge. For example, 35 cents versus 4 cents plus an additional 3 cents if it’s laminated or glossy paper.
In addition, someone signs up they don’t give you the right info and assume that you print 100 pages a month because that would be the best option for you, but if you didn’t have that many pages to print then it’s not worth it. Also how they charge you doesn’t tell you all your options so there are times where I would go on ahead and call customer support in order to get my questions answered.
Who Is This HP Instant Ink Review For?
The HP Instant Ink program was created for those who want to save money on printing and never run out of ink. If you print a lot, but not enough to make it worth buying a printer in the first place, then Instant Ink is for you.
If this doesn’t sound like you, we recommend checking out our printer buyer’s guide for more information about which types of printers best suit people with different lifestyles and needs.
We recommend it for home users who print on a semi-consistent basis. If you print once every three months or so then you are probably better off just buying cartridges when you need them.
What does the enrollment process look like?
If you set up an account on hpinstantinkrewards.com, then they will ask for some basic information such as name, phone number, email address, etc… Once you get through all of that you will need to verify your email address. You can either input the verification code they send you or complete a couple of offers to unlock your account.
Next, they ask for some more detailed information about what printer you have and what cartridges it requires. They also ask how frequently you print and how many pages per month. Once you are done with that part, then HP sends out a test page so that you can see exactly how it works before signing up for the program.
Conclusion: Is the HP Instant Ink Worth It?
If you print 100 pages a month and spend $5 per cartridge, then this service will save you 16% off of your total printing cost. If you already have an inkjet printer at home, then the new plan is even more worthwhile as it saves you about 33% off of the standard cartridge price.
Additionally, there are some added benefits to the program such as discounts for online photo services or free shipping at some stores.
So, overall this is a great service if you are looking to save money on printing and don’t mind having to pick up the phone every now and then in order to resubscribe. If you print less than 100 pages per month, then prepaid credit cards and the old program would be a better deal for you.
Does HP Instant Ink really save money?
Well, this really depends on what category you fall under. If you are the type of person who prints more than 100 pages per month then it will save you 16% off of your monthly printing budget, but if you print less than that amount then prepaid cards and even some printers would be a better deal for you.
Overall, the HP Instant Ink is a good service for home users who print at least 100 pages every month or so. You can also add some small benefits such as discounts on online photo services or free shipping on orders from some stores to make it a little bit sweeter.
In conclusion, if this doesn’t sound like you, we recommend checking out our printer buyer’s guide for more information about which types of printers best suit people with different lifestyles and needs. If you have any other questions, be sure to visit our community forums.