The Dos and Donts of Buying Ink Cartridges

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Ink Cartridges

Buying ink cartridges for a printer, especially a new one that has not needed new cartridges yet, can be frustrating or confusing. Buyers can alleviate the hassle of purchasing ink cartridges by shopping for ink cartridges to fit many brands and types of printers on eBay. Retail prices of ink cartridges vary and may be expensive, so shopping online for ink cartridges is often a better deal.

To purchase the right ink cartridges, consumers need to know some information about the existing printer to shop successfully for the right cartridges. Consumers should not wait until the ink is completely empty to shop for new ink; there is nothing more frustrating than running out of ink in the middle of printing an important project or document. Most printers offer a spot to gauge how much ink is left so consumers know it is time to buy ink on eBay, which offers a variety of affordable ink cartridges for every type of printer.

Do Purchase the Right Ink Cartridges

The most common mistake that consumers make when they are purchasing ink cartridges is to buy the wrong type of ink cartridges. It is important to know exactly what is needed, since many model numbers and types of ink cartridges can be easily confused with each other, resulting in frustration when consumers try to actually insert the cartridges only to find out they are the wrong ones.

Inkjet, Laserjet, or Laser

First, consumers must know if they have inkjet, laserjet, or laser printers, because these types of cartridges are quite different. Inkjet printers use cartridges that actually use liquid ink, and laser printers use what is called toner, which is actually a type of powdered, solid ink. Typically laser toner cartridges are more costly than inkjet cartridges. LaserJet printers are a type of laser printer made by HP.

Colour or Black

Some cartridges are only meant to replace black ink cartridges, and some are meant to replace only colour. There are even printers that offer each colour separately, so buyers do not have to purchase a whole colour cartridge when they are only out of one or two colours. This saves money and is better for the environment. The packaging specifies whether the ink is colour or black, so buyers need to ensure they are getting the right colour of ink that is needed.

Printer Model and Number

Buyers need to note the brand and model of printers they have, such as HP, as well as the number that is on the ink cartridges. Every type of printer uses ink cartridges that are numbered so it is easier to purchase the right type of ink. Usually black and colour cartridges have the same number for each model of printer. The model number of the printer itself is generally located somewhere on the outside of the printer, usually on the front.

This number combined with the number that is on the actual ink cartridges helps buyers zero in on the specific replacement cartridges that are needed for the printers. Printer inks do not work on printers that are not compatible with the ink, and this is frustrating. Consumers can avoid this issue by getting the right information before shopping for ink.

Don't Purchase the Cheapest Ink Cartridges

It is very tempting for consumers to buy ink cartridges that are inexpensive due to the high cost of ink and toner cartridges. However, these ink cartridges may not be as compatible as brand-name ink, and can result in ink cartridges that cannot be read or installed by the printers and will ultimately not work at all, which would be an overall waste of money.

There are a few kinds of cheap ink cartridges, and for buyers who want to ensure they have the correct ink cartridge that should work without problems, it is best to stick with the new, name-brand type of cartridges.

Do Only Buy the Ink That Is Needed

It is true that sometimes buyers want to buy more of a product to save money, and to have this item when they run out. When it comes to ink, that is not always a smart idea. Though some buyers may have the need for a large amount of ink, home users most likely do not need to purchase as much.

Buying Ink in Bulk

Though buyers may be tempted to buy ink cartridges in bulk, even though they may not use all of them for a while, this is a bad idea. The reason is because ink dries out over time, and having a stockpile of ink cartridges may lead to the buyers not being able to use them when the time comes that they are needed. When it comes to buying ink cartridges, it is best to buy in small quantities even if the price is higher, because it is more frustrating to have dried out ink cartridges that cannot be used at all.

The only case in which buyers should purchase ink in bulk is if they use the ink at high volume for work and replace cartridges consistently. For buyers who are purchasing ink for home printers and do not need it for high volume jobs, it is not a good idea. Buyers should gauge their needs before purchasing bulk amounts of ink cartridges.

Don't Throw Away Old Ink Cartridges

When consumers receive their new ink cartridges and go to change them out, it is a habit to toss the old cartridges into the rubbish bin. The ink that is left inside the cartridges is bad for the environment, and ink cartridges should be recycled just like many other items in today's planet-friendly world. Some office supply shops take recycled ink cartridges or have recycling pick up spots. Ink cartridges can sometimes be mailed to the manufacturer, such as HP, to be recycled to create new cartridges. Toner cartridges can be recycled, as well.

Do Buy the Cartridge That Fits the Job

Some printers may require a different kind of cartridge to print on photo paper, or to print out special items. For buyers who are using the ink to primarily print documents, special ink is not needed. Some photo printers or printers that print photos may need special ink called photo ink. This is specified on the cartridge packaging.

Photo ink prints best on glossy photo paper to create high-quality photos. For consumers who have photo printers, they may want to use photo ink for the best quality when printing photos on their home printers.

Differences Between Ink Cartridges

When buyers are looking for ink cartridges to replace their existing ones, there are a few terms that they will come into contact with. This can be confusing, so it is easier to shop for ink cartridges knowing what these descriptors mean.


Generic (third party)




Less expensive

Original Equipment Manufacturer is name-brand ink made by the same brand as the printer

Similar to remanufactured

Old cartridges that have been refilled

Lower quality than OEM or remanufactured

Highest quality of ink available

Old cartridges that are reconditioned and resold

May or may not provide quality ink

Sold by companies other than the original name-brand companies; may not be compatible with certain brands

Made to fit that particular brand's printers perfectly

Quality may vary

For best quality when it comes to ink cartridges, it is recommended to buy OEM ink, but some purchasers have good luck with remanufactured ink. If they are remanufactured or reconditioned by the actual OEM, they have a better chance of working than those from a third party.

How to Buy Ink Cartridges on eBay

Buying ink cartridges on eBay is a great option to reduce the hassle of going from retailer to retailer and pricing replacement cartridges. It is also easy to find what you need on eBay's user-friendly site. To find the right ink cartridges for your printer, simply navigate to ink cartridges. From there you can narrow your search based on the brand of your printer. You can also do a specific keyword search using any internal page and type in your search, such as "Canon photo ink" to bring up the most relevant results quickly.

You should check to ensure that the ink is brand compatible with your model number of printer, such as HP Officejet 4500, and find out how many cartridges come with the purchase. Communicate with the seller and ask questions about the ink cartridges by clicking "Ask a Question" on the seller's page. Before you purchase ink cartridges from a seller, check his or her feedback to make sure the seller has had many successful transactions on eBay, and do not forget to leave your own feedback after your purchase and transaction has been successfully completed and you have received your new ink cartridges.


Consumers should check the levels of printer ink once in awhile to see if it is time to buy replacement cartridges, so they will be there when the need arises. Since there are many different model numbers and brands of ink that are compatible with various types of printers, it is smart for consumers to know all about their printers and ink cartridges before shopping for replacement cartridges. The world of ink cartridges can be confusing to navigate, but knowing the model and number of the printers and the ink alleviates shopping hassle and frustration.

Buying replacement ink cartridges from retailers and office supply shops can be an expensive experience, and buying replacement ink and toner cartridges from eBay is a more affordable alternative. As long as buyers are careful about getting quality ink cartridges, and purchase the right ink cartridges for their printers, shopping for ink and toner does not have to be a hassle.

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