Top 5 Common Mistakes When Buying Cartridges

From losing money of low-yield versions to buying the wrong cartridge (it happens more often than you think), in this article we look as the most common issues and how you can avoid them when buying your ink + toner.

Learn how to avoid headaches and save some money with this simple guide.

People usually don’t give very much thought to buying printer ink but (not) surprisingly with over 8000 different types of cartridges, there are a number of common buying mistakes that are easy to make if you aren’t careful!  Here, we cover all of the common pitfalls to avoid so you can buy the best cartridge for your printing needs.


1. Buying a standard yield cartridge

Most cartridges are sold in a standard yield or high yield cartridge size.  The standard yield is the least expensive option of the two, so many printer users think they are making a smarter buy when they choose the standard over the high yield. On the surface, that cheaper price point appears to be a good decision, but more often than not, the high yield cartridge is actually the better deal in the long run because it prints more pages at a cheaper operating cost. Let’s look at the Brother LC133 black ink cartridge as an example. The LC133 standard yield prints 600 pages and sells for $53.87* while the high yield version (the LC139) prints 2400 pages and sells for $61.97. That’s right, an extra $7.92 nets you four times the amount of ink. If you were to buy standard yield cartridges instead, you would be paying an extra $153.50 to get the same amount of prints as one high yield cartridge. 

Standard yield cartridges are perfectly fine if you don’t print that often and don’t want to invest a lot into your printer but for frequent printer users, the high yield cartridge is the way to go. Some printers even extra high yield cartridges or XXL cartridges that can help you save even more. Check your printer manual or ask us to see if they are available for your printer.   

2. Buying the wrong cartridge (It’s easy to do!)

A lot of printer cartridges look very similar.  For instance, the HP 60, 61, 62, 63, and 65 cartridges are in fact all a variation of the same exact cartridge but they aren’t interchangeable because they are all different cartridge series.  We get a lot of customers trying to use an HP 61 cartridge when their printer uses an HP 62, and vice versa. It’s a similar story with Canon’s PGI-650 and PGI-6770 cartridges, Brother’s TN2250 and TN2350 series and many others. If they look the same, they should work in your printer, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Printer manufacturers regularly use the same cartridge design for dozens of their printers because it’s far more economical for them than creating a unique cartridge for every printer series. Instead of using a new cartridge, cartridges are outfitted with a unique contact chip that only works with a specific set of printers.

Let’s take a closer look at the HP 63 and HP 65 cartridges:

As you can see, both cartridges look identical but because the gold contact chip on the top of the cartridge is different, they are not interchangeable.  If you accidentally install a cartridge that is not compatible with your printer, you’ll get an error message on your machine and won’t be able to print.

To make sure you have the correct cartridge, we recommend consulting your printer’s user guide, or if you have a set of cartridges already installed, simply open up your printer to double check the part number. Or, of course, just ask us! Let us know your printer model and we can point you to the right cartridges.

3. Your printer uses tri-colour cartridges

If you bought an inexpensive printer, there is a good chance that your printer uses a tri-colour cartridge to handle colour prints. A tri-colour cartridge contains all three colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) in the same cartridge and they are convenient for some printer users because you only have to worry about one colour cartridge. However, when one of the colours in a tri-colour cartridge runs out you’ll need to replace the entire cartridge instead of replacing an individual colour. These replacement costs can add up quickly and it’s often better to pay a little bit more for a printer that uses individual colour ink cartridges so you can replace each colour as needed. Individual colour cartridges often have more ink than the tri-colour cartridge so they will last longer too.

4. Your cartridge doesn’t match your printing needs

Different printers and their cartridges are built for different uses. Inkjet printers use ink cartridges, which are best suited for printing occasional text, photos and colour images.  Laser printers use toner cartridges, which are best for printing text and colour in high volumes, but don’t print photos very well. Check out our “Inkjet vs Laser” guide to learn more about printer types and how they can influence what you print. If your cartridge doesn’t match your printing needs, you could be spending more than you need to on replacements!

5. Overpaying for printer cartridges

It’s no secret that cartridges are expensive. Buying high yield instead of standard yield can usually save you a little bit of money in the long term if you print regularly, but it’s not the only way you can save! Low cost compatible cartridges from Inkspot can save you a ton of money, giving you the same number of prints and amazing print quality for a fraction of the name brand price. Let’s revisit the Brother LC139 cartridge talked about earlier in the article. We already quoted the original Brother brand price at $61.97. Inskpot sells a compatible version for 51% less at just $29.95. Why pay more for name brand ink when you get comparable results at a better price?

With similar part numbers and similar cartridge sizes, accidentally buying the cartridge is almost too easy. Now that you know what to look for, you can make sure you buy the right cartridge for your printer, every time. If you have any other cartridge buying tricks you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below!

*Savings based on price comparison between OEM & remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on All prices effective as of Feb 14, 2020.

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