Do you love pretty, colorful printables but hate having to shell out big bucks for color ink cartridges? I used to feel the same way, and after trying many less than ideal options I resigned myself to the fact that simple, reliable color printing on a budget wasn’t an option. I’m so excited that I have finally found a solution that really works!
It’s called HP Instant Ink, and here’s my review of the service.
What I Tried Before HP Instant Ink
First, I have to say that I have definitely tried some budget printing options that did not work out so well! I know some people refill their own ink cartridges but that can be messy and was intimidating to me. I’ve also tried purchasing non-original ink cartridges from places like 123inkjets.com. I know some people do that with great results, and it does save a lot of money. However, I often had trouble getting them to work. It was a major headache, and I’ve even had a situation where I couldn’t ever get my printer to work again with any ink cartridge.
After all that, I just resigned myself to paying lots of money for color ink. I had a $200+ Epson Artisan 837 printer which produced excellent quality prints (when it actually worked), but that’s about the only thing it had going for it. The replacement ink was expensive, and the printer didn’t do a good job grabbing paper (especially thicker, higher quality paper). I would have to fight with it to get it to accept high quality paper, and it would often grab multiple pages of the regular paper. Printing something like this on high quality, thick paper was a pain:
The Solution: HP Instant Ink
Finally, I stumbled across the ideal solution. Some time ago, a reader left a comment on a post telling me about HP Instant Ink. I was intrigued and looked into it. It sounded like a dream come true for a full-color printable lover like myself! I didn’t want to say anything about it here on the blog until I had tested it out for myself. Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Get an HP Instant Ink Printer
You need an HP printer (that can connect to the internet) in order to use HP Instant Ink. At first the thought of getting a new printer held me back from trying the program. However, the printer more than paid for itself very quickly because I saved so much on ink.
Plus I absolutely love the printer! I’ve had for about 4 years now, and it’s still going strong!!! And I print a lot. Several times I have printed close to a thousand pages in one month. (That usually happens when I need to print and proof the Sweet Life Planner before it goes to print.)
The printer is much more reliable than my previous more expensive printer. It prints fantastic photos (you wouldn’t know that they didn’t come from a photo lab) and prints full-color pages on premium thicker weight paper. I haven’t had paper feeding issues even with thick paper. Plus it does automatic two-sided printing.
I even did a side by side comparisons of prints from my expensive printer and the affordable HP printer, and I truly could not tell the difference! The print quality is more than acceptable.
Shortly after finding out about HP Instant Ink, I went to Target and bought an HP Envy printer for $80. I got it there only because I was too impatient to wait 2 days for it to arrive if I ordered in on Amazon, plus it was on sale at the time. However, if you are more patient than I am, Amazon is a great place to order your printer.
Step 2: Choose Your Hp Instant Ink Plan
As soon as you get your HP printer, you can go to the HP Instant Ink website and sign up. It is quick and easy. First, you’ll need to select which plan you want based on how much you print.
Don’t stress about exactly what level of prints you need. It’s super easy to adjust at any time. (I often bump myself up to the highest plan right before I print a lot and then bump back down to save money.)
Also, keep in mind that your unused prints will roll over to the next month (but they don’t keep rolling indefinitely).
The lowest plan is actually FREE!!! If you don’t print much, that’s obviously the plan for you. The highest plan (not shown in the photo above) is 700 pages/month for $19.99. It also includes a spare set of cartridges if you are worried about running out before they send you more. That’s less than 3 cents a print!
It doesn’t matter if you print a full page loaded with color or just one line of text on a 4 by 6 card. Each print still counts as one print. Now this could be a disadvantage if you are printing small items with just a tiny amount of black text (not something I’ve ever done), but it is a huge advantage if you print lots of colorful things.
Step 3: Ink Shows Up At Your Door
Once you sign up, they mail you new cartridges right away (meanwhile there is plenty of ink in the starter cartridges that come with the printer). As soon as you install the new cartridges, your plan begins.
They automatically monitor your ink status and mail you new ink before you need it. In my experience, the new ink arrives long before I’m even running low, and I’ve never run out of ink before the new shipment arrived. You should wait to install the new cartridge until your current one actually does run out.
They also provide postage paid envelopes for you to return used ink cartridges for recycling.
I love how straightforward the HP Instant Ink program is, and that there are no guessing games about how much printing will cost you.
No need to cringe when you want to print something like this:
Step 4: Don’t Forget About The Paper
My favorite paper for stunning, high quality prints is Epson Premium Presentation Paper. It’s amazing what a difference the paper makes in print quality. I also select the highest quality paper in my printer settings, and adore the fact that with HP Instant Ink I don’t have to pay more to get the best quality. The paper is fairly thick and not super cheap, so I only use it for things I want to hang up and admire. If I’m printing a lot of pages (like a whole planner), and I still want impressive quality, I use 32 lb HP Laserjet paper. I know it’s a laser paper, but it works great in my HP inkjet printer.
I love that I can print something like an entire year of a dated planner from the Sweet Life Society (which is about 130 pages of FULL color) for less than $5!
What does HP Instant Ink mean?
HP Instant Ink is a fantastic service that will send high quality ink at a tremendous value straight to your door as often as you need it. The service uses Wifi to monitor your printer and will automatically deploy a shipment of ink as soon as it sees you are running low.
Is HP Instant Ink a good value?
Yes! I spend far, far less on ink than I ever did in the days of buying expensive cartridges every month or so. I can print a full color, year-long, dated planner from the Sweet Life Society (we’re talking over 100 pages) for less than $5.
Do you have to use the ink they send you?
No, you do not. Your HP Printer can still work with plain ole store bought ink.
How do I check my HP Instant Ink?
You can review your subscription by logging into the HP Instant Ink member portal
Is the free plan really free?
Yes! If you print less than 15 pages a month, you really can get free ink!
How long does the ink last?
In short: a really long time. I do a LOT of printing. (Half my business revolves around printables, after all!) And I only have to replace my ink every few months.
By the way, I’m not sponsored by HP, although I am using a referral link (which means that I’ll get some free ink. By the way, when you sign up, they’ll give you a referral link also to share with your friends and you might be able to earn some free ink also! Free is even better than affordable, right.) I just truly love the service and wanted to share it with you. Some other links used in this post are affiliate links. I only share products that I know and love. Thanks so much for supporting my blog. It means so much to me.