If you are looking for the best low-cost cartridge refill service, take a really close look at Costco’s printer refill service, which is a great, but not well-known, operating out of Costco warehouse photo departments. We go to Costco when we need cheap, easy ink–though the free food samples are a nice bonus, too. Here is what happens: You drop off your cartridges and they’ll refill them while you troll for a lunch (uhmmmm, samples), he says. The cost: $8 to $10 per cartridge, which is about one-third of the price of buying new — and about half the price of remanufactured cartridges. It’s not quite as cheap as refilling your own, but there’s no mess or learning curve.
Costco refills dozens of specific Canon, Dell, HP, and Lexmark cartridges; you can get a list of the models in a paper brochure as well as on Costco’s Website. Prices range from $8 to $10 per refill, which is considerably cheaper than buying a new cartridge. In my case, the cost to refill HP 60 black and tricolor cartridges was $8 each, or $16 total (plus tax). That’s less than half the cost of buying the HP 60 black ($15) and tricolor ($20) cartridges separately. (Buying the HP 60 Ink Cartridge Combo Pack saves a few bucks at $32.) Costco generally promises to refill cartridges in 1 hour, which proved true in my case. Pickup times may vary, however, depending on the number of cartridges you need refilled, and how busy the photo department is when you arrive.
One trick you should know: You should refill the cartridges promptly when they run low of ink. That ensures that they don’t dry out and gum up the print heads. Each cartridge usually can be refilled 5 to 10 times. After that, you’ll need to spring for a new one.
Costco Inkjet-Cartridge Refill Service: Quick and Convenient
* Costco inkjet refills ($8 to $10, plus sales tax where applicable; HP 60 refill for black or tricolor cartridge, $8)
Worth trying? Yes
Hassle factor: Low
Print quality compared with OEM ink: Satisfactory, but not as good as OEM
Yield (mixed set of samples): 148 pages
Cost per page: 11 cents (OEM: 27 cents)
Conserve: Another way to save on ink? Use less. Instead of printing with the standard quality settings, set your printer to “draft” or “fast draft” mode, which uses less ink per page. You wouldn’t want to do this with photos or a color resume that you’ve designed to impress. But if you’re printing out a recipe, letter or boarding pass — anything that doesn’t require photo quality — the difference is insignificant but can significantly increase the number of pages you can print with each cartridge. To set the printer quality, go into “settings” or “preferences.”