HP Instant Ink - A Comprehensive Guide



What Is HP Instant Ink?

HP Instant Ink is a subscription program that provides new printing supplies based on your needs.

Your subscription plan is determined by the number of pages you print, rather than the amount of ink used.

Instead of receiving monthly cartridges, you receive new ink when your current cartridges are running low. The monthly limit is determined by the number of pages you subscribe to.

The cost remains the same regardless of whether you receive multiple cartridges per month or only a few throughout the year, depending on your printing habits.

Instant Ink cartridges have a high yield and are equipped with intelligent chips. When your ink starts to run out, your printer notifies HP for automatic delivery of your next batch of ink.

However, it's important to note that these cartridges can only be used in the registered printer, and if you cancel your subscription, the cartridges will no longer work, even if there is remaining ink.

Instant Ink Plans

Here’s Instant Ink Pricing as of June 2023:

Inkjet Printers (Ink)

Ink Plan Pages per month Price per month
Light 10 $0.99
Occasional 50 $3.99
Moderate 100 $5.99
Frequent 300 $11.99
Business 700 $24.99

Laser Printers (Toner)

Toner Plan Pages per month Price per month
Essential 50 $1.99
Occasional 100 $3.99
Moderate 400 $13.99
Frequent 800 $19.99
Heavy 1500 $25.99

What If I Print More/Less Than My Plan?

If you print more pages than you’re subscribed to, HP will automatically charge you $1 for each set of 15 pages on top of your regular printing volume. Pretty straightforward.

Don’t let it happen too often though - it’s cheaper to upgrade your plan (or cancel and return to good, old full ownership of the cartridges you purchase).

What if I want to change my Instant Ink subscription?

If you notice that you consistently print under or over your subscription plan, you can reconsider your Instant Ink terms.

  • Change your plan to include more or fewer pages whenever you decide to - the change will be effective immediately and charges reflected in your next billing cycle.
  • Canceling your Instant Ink subscription is an option too, but you better have your own cartridge around if you want to keep using your printer.

Some Unused Pages Roll Over to Next Month

Nobody can precisely predict their printing patterns - that’s okay.

If you print fewer pages in a month, your unused pages will roll over to the next month. But only up to a point.

The limit depends on your plan. On average, InkJet printer users can hold up to 3 months’ worth of unused pages, and LaserJet users can accumulate 2 months’ pages on their account at once.

For example, if you subscribe to 100 pages for your ink printer, you can collect up to unused 300 pages.

That should keep you covered for any overdue printing. And after all, if you don’t use your printer for longer than three months, do you really need an ink subscription?

HP Instant Ink Cartridges are Different

One notable aspect of the Instant Ink program is the availability of exclusive, larger cartridges for most printer models. These cartridges cannot be purchased individually and are specifically designed for use within the Instant Ink subscription.

Instant Ink cartridges are larger in size but remain compatible with eligible HP printers.

This design choice contributes to the eco-friendliness of Instant Ink cartridges as they can hold more ink compared to standard cartridges. This is believed to result in reduced  plastic usage and waste.

Is HP Instant Ink Eco-Friendly?

All empty Instant Ink cartridges can be recycled with the associated shipping costs covered.

When combined with the automatic detection of ink levels, the use of high-volume cartridges and less frequent replacements contribute to minimizing waste and promoting  better ecological practices.

Benefits of Instant Ink:

  • Variety of plans: HP Instant Ink offers multiple plans designed to meet everyone's printing needs.
  • Flat monthly fee: to have your toner needs covered automatically.
  • Automatic: no need to order cartridges. Your printer sends a notification to HP before you run out.
  • Unused pages roll over: up to 3 months for ink and 2 months for toner as mentioned above.

Drawbacks of Instant Ink:

  • Cost: If you don't print much, a subscription plan may not be cost-effective compared to buying cartridges as needed. The monthly fee might outweigh the cost of cartridges over time, especially for those who print infrequently.
  • Overage charges: Each plan comes with a set number of pages you can print each month. If you exceed that number, you'll be charged an overage fee. If your printing needs vary widely from month to month, these charges can add up.
  • Unused Pages: If your printing is sporadic, you may end up paying for pages you don't use.
  • Connection Requirements: The printer needs to be connected to the internet for the service to work. If your internet is unreliable or you're uncomfortable with your printer being online, this could be a drawback.
  • Subscription Binding: If you decide to cancel your subscription, you can no longer use any remaining Instant Ink cartridges. They will stop working, forcing you to buy new regular cartridges.
  • Privacy Concerns: In order for HP to know when to send more ink, your printer must send usage data to HP. Some users may not be comfortable with this level of data sharing.
  • Dependence on HP: By subscribing to Instant Ink, you are tied to HP's supply chain. If there are issues with shipping or supply, it might affect your ability to print.
  • Limitations on Cartridge Usage: With HP Instant Ink, you can't use cartridges that aren't part of the program. If you have a stock of regular cartridges or prefer using a different brand, this might not be the service for you.

With the HP Instant Ink service, HP does monitor your printer's  ink levels and printing activities. This is how the service knows when your ink is running low and it's time to send more.

Additionally, HP collects data on the number of pages you print, the types of documents you print (photos, black and white documents, etc.), and the type of device you use to print. This information helps them adjust your service and determine the correct plan for your usage.

While this monitoring helps ensure a smooth and efficient service, it also means a certain level of data sharing that some users might be uncomfortable with due to privacy concerns.

It's always good practice to read and understand the terms of service and privacy policy when subscribing to such services.

What do I Need to Enroll in HP Instant Ink?

Subscribing to the program is very straightforward. Start the process by visiting the Instant Ink homepage and clicking on the “Sign Up Now” button.

You’ll need:

  • An HP Instant Ink-ready printer
  • An email address
  • A payment card or PayPal account
  • A delivery address (where you want to receive the cartridges).

Once you enroll in the program, you’ll receive your first shipping of cartridges in the next 10 days.

FAQ about HP Instant Ink

Is my HP printer Instant Ink-Ready?

You can’t sign up any old HP printer to the subscription. Most newer HP printers come with the phrase “HP Instant Ink Ready” on the box.

Compatibility is important because you get bigger cartridges with the program than anywhere else. If you’re not sure if your printer is compatible, see if your HP printer works with the program on the Instant Ink homepage.

And what if your new printer came with a big blue Instant Ink-Ready sign, but you don’t want to sign up? No worries - you don't need to be subscribed to Instant Ink to use your printer. 

Simply use standard  HP cartridges and ignore the prompts to enroll.

What does “printed page” mean in the HP Instant Ink program?

HP throws ISO standards through the window when defining a printed page for the Instant Ink program.

Essentially, a printed page can have any amount of ink on the paper (single-sided), at least according to HP Instant Ink's terms of service. Yes - that means that a full-color photo print and a few words printed on the sheet count the same - one page.

Setup and printer calibration printouts don’t count towards your pages.

Does HP monitor my printing with Instant Ink?

While you’ll have to keep your printer online and allow HP some insight into how you use your printer, HP won't see what is on the page you print.

They have insight into metrics like ink levels, page count, types of documents (jpg, pdf, Word documents…), your printer’s serial number, and similar technical data.

Is Instant Ink cheaper than buying standard ink?

While HP claims that this program saves you up to 50%, the reality is that it depends on how much you print.

Not only in page count; page coverage is more important. Simply said, you need a lot more ink to print a photo than a text document - so if you use a lot of ink regularly, and you get it for a humble monthly fee, the savings are real.

Basically, if you print many pages with little coverage (short text documents and similar), opting for regular cartridges may be more sensible.

Is HP Instant Ink Worth The Price?

In a nutshell, HP Instant Ink is the cheaper option if your printing habits are predictable and if your pages are highly covered in ink.

So, if you’re a big spender on printing supplies, HP’s subscription service can work for you.

However, Instant Ink is a commitment too.

It’s simply not a good deal for people who just occasionally print - so assess your real printing needs before signing up. Keep in mind that if you cancel your subscription, HP will disrupt your Instant Ink cartridges remotely.

The best way to stay safe and keep printing whatever happens?

Have a regular, genuine HP cartridge as a backup

In Conclusion: HP Instant Ink

HP Instant Ink, a service launched in 2013, has seen a mix of reviews. There's some discomfort regarding its operational style, the amount of control HP has, and the potential privacy issues.

Additionally, people who print only now and then could find themselves paying more than they should with this subscription model. Essentially, the worthiness of HP Instant Ink depends on your printing habits.

If you frequently need to print a high volume of documents or colorful images, it can indeed save you money. On the other hand, those who print less often might find it more of a drain on their finances.

It's important to carefully consider your own needs and to fully understand the implications of the service, including any privacy concerns, before signing up.

Despite its convenience, HP Instant Ink isn't a perfect fit for everyone. It requires a thoughtful evaluation to ensure that it's the right choice for your specific situation.

In all other cases, Toner Buzz is always there for you with reliable, genuine HP toner and ink - that you only buy once and can use whenever!

Further Reading

Dunja Djuragic

Dunja Djuragic

Around 6th grade, Dunja's mother finally let her try to clear out the paper jam on their old Lexmark E120 laser printer. The magnificent world of rollers, drums, powder pigments, laser optics, and ink sprayers unfolded. Some years later, Dunja graduated from the Graphic Engineering and Design department at a local university. Along with being a fastidious home printer user (now using ink!), Dunja earned hands-on experience with offset printing and plotter printers working for a local book and magazine printing shop.

share your printer experience
Toner Buzz BBB Business Review
Amazon Pay PayPal Logo
Net 30 Terms
Braintree Seal