I am a very erratic user of printers. I’ll go for months without printing anything at all, and then suddenly I’ll have the urge to print loads of photos. And then every December I go berserk and print loads of Christmas newsletters (don’t judge me – my relatives love them!). So it’s very rare that I actually run an ink cartridge down to empty, I’m much more likely to have to change the cartridges each time I need to print because they’ve dried out due to under-use.
Hewlett Packard invited me to try out their new Instant Ink service. This is a monthly subscription service whereby you a pay a regular amount and they send you new cartridges whenever you need them. You have to have a compatible HP printer to use the service. There are three different subscription levels based on the volume of printing you expect to do – 50, 100 or 300 pages per month. You can roll over unused pages to the next month up to the limit of your plan (so a 50 page plan can roll over up to 50 pages). In any month you will use up your plan pages first, before any rolled over pages. You can also buy extra pages for a one-off cost of £1 for 15/20/25 pages (depending on your plan) if you find yourself suddenly short one month.
The costs and allowances of each plan are summarised in this graphic:
Because I am such an erratic printer I have found it really difficult to work out if the HP Instant Ink service is value for money for me or not. In an average year I would expect to buy probably 2 sets of cartridges, which for my HP Envy 4500 would cost me less than £50. So thinking about it logically, I would say the Instant Ink subscription would save me money, because either of the two cheapest plans would be less money than I currently spend over the course of a year. But I’ve found it very difficult mentally to adjust to committing to a monthly payment whether I print anything or not, over just paying for new cartridges when I need them.
Thankfully the HP Instant Ink service gives you lots of information on the website about how many of your pages you’ve used. You can see an up-to-date view of your current status at any time, and also see your month-by month history. Having now been using the service for a few months I find it reassuring to look through the numbers and see that I have stayed easily within my allocation.
The printing history view lets you see for each month not only how many pages you’ve used from each allocation, but also how many pages you printed each day!
I’m now into my sixth month of using the HP Instant Ink service, and once I got over my initial (completed unfounded) concerns about running out of pages I have found it an extremely easy to use service. The replacement cartridges arrive in a very timely fashion packed into a neat box, accompanied by a postage-paid envelope to recycle the old cartridge as well. The usage information available on the website has reassured me that I really am saving money using the service, and although it’s taken a while to get my head around the idea of a monthly ink subscription, I have now decided I’ll continue with it when my free period ends. I no longer have to worry about whether I’ve got enough ink in the printer, or have any problems not having ink in the printer when I need to print a large document. And because I’m not worrying about the cost of printing so much, due to having a monthly allocation, I have subscribed to a couple of the HP printables – weekly activity pages delivered and printed automatically. This also means my printer is being used regularly, so the ink isn’t drying out. It’s all working really well for me 🙂
It’s definitely worth checking out this service to see if it might save you money on your printing as well.
Disclosure: I was provided with a one-year subscription to Hewlett Packard’s Instant Ink 100 page per month service for review purposes. My HP ENVY 4500 printer was previously provided for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own.