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HP Instant Ink: Should You Subscribe?

So, you want to know more about if you should subscribe to HP’s Instant Ink program? Simply put, this program is a monthly subscription service, which changes the way customers buy ink and toner. Instead of buying the cartridges, you pay monthly for a number of pages available to print. The Instant Ink program means HP sends you the amount of ink or toner you need when you need it. This sounds amazing right?! Never having to worry about that LOW INK notification sounds like a dream. Is this too good to be true?! Customer feedback has been mixed. Although the service works for some, others have signed up but canceled soon after.  So why is that? We’ll go over the HP Instant Ink program to help you decide if you should subscribe to this new service or if another money-saving option is right for you.


Who doesn’t like a good pro/con list? Here are some basics before we dive into details:


Pros of HP Instant Ink

  • Possibly save money on ink: If you print a lot and can stay within the monthly page limit.
  • Convenience: You don’t have to worry about running out of ink or constantly purchasing new cartridges. Replacement cartridges are auto-shipped based on your usage.
  • Flexibility: You can change your plan at any time to fit your changing printing needs.

Cons of HP Instant Ink

  • Overage fees: If you go beyond your subscription’s page limit, overage fees may add up. 
  • Unexpected or accidental prints count towards your page limit: Any page upon which ink is placed counts towards your monthly page limit. 
  • Monitoring and sharing of personal information: HP is authorized to remotely monitor page count, ink levels, the type of documents you print, and the type of device you use to print a particular document. They are also allowed to share some of your information with the retailer that you purchased the subscription from.
  • Glitches and errors can cause headaches, some subscribers have had error messages that they aren’t enrolled in the program when they are subscribed.
  • Potential delays: Replacement cartridges may take up to 10 days to arrive via standard shipping, and your printer needs to be connected to the internet for the service to work properly.

Considerations for using HP Instant Ink

  • Printing needs: Consider your printing needs, budget, and potential drawbacks before signing up.
  • Free trial: Take advantage of the free trial period to test the service and determine if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Read the details: There are complaints about the program and many of them have to do with the way the program works and frustration with unexpected charges and delays.


Now that you have an overview, let’s talk about how the HP Instant Ink works. The monthly charges are based on predetermined monthly page limits. You select a number of pages that you intend to print a month and pay accordingly. Ink plans range from $0.99-$24.99 per month. Toner plans are $1.99- $25.99 per month. Instant Ink has five different price points/page allowances, and every page that comes out of your printer counts as one print, regardless of whether it’s in color or black and white. You still pay the monthly fee even if you don’t print that month. If you don’t use up all your pages in a month, HP rolls over a select number of unused pages, so you don’t lose them all. If you don’t print with regularity or consistency, the program may not be worth it. However, if you print a lot of ink-heavy documents, this per-page price could be beneficial.


When it comes to printing, a page is defined as “A PAGE UPON WHICH ANY AMOUNT OF PRINTING IS PERFORMED BY YOUR PRINTER.”  If you print front and back, this counts as two of your allotted pages. Even if you print just one line of text, it still counts towards your monthly page limit. Black and white text pages count just as much as full-color photos. Unintentional prints like those extra pages that sneak in and print headers and footers on a separate page, all count towards your limit, which can be annoying but also impact your bottom line if it happens enough. Recently, I accidentally set my PDF printing size to 150%, so all 30 tax forms were printed completely wrong. Costly mistake! Especially if that impacted my monthly allotted pages.


Moreover, if you go beyond your subscription’s page limit, overage fees may add up. HP charges $1.00 per set for additional pages, and extra pages are available in sets of 10-50 pages, depending on your plan. So, you may want to plan ahead and weigh your options to avoid these fees.


Although you pay monthly, with Instant Ink, replacement cartridges are automatically sent to you when your current one runs out. There’s no long-term contract, just a month-to-month commitment, which means you can cancel at any time. Just make sure to read up on how to cancel, as it can be a bit tricky. And if your printing needs change, you can upgrade or downgrade your plan.


How Does HP Know I’m Running Out of Ink/Toner?


If you enroll in the Instant Ink service, HP is authorized to remotely monitor page count, ink/toner levels, the type of documents you print, the type of device you use to print a particular document, and whether the last cartridge you used was new or used. They are also allowed to share some of your personal information with the retailer that you purchased the subscription from. Not everyone is comfortable with this type of remote monitoring.


Remote monitoring provides convenience while you are using the program, however, if you discontinue paying for the program or forget to pay your bill, HP maintains ownership of the cartridges and can temporarily lock you out from printing with that toner cartridge. When you cancel your subscription, you must return the cartridge to HP and install a new one. Yes, even if there is toner or ink left.


It’s worth noting that replacement cartridges may take up to 10 days to arrive via standard shipping. However, your printer can anticipate when it thinks you will run out of toner and ship it to you in advance. This is not a problem if you print infrequently. But if you have high volume needs or your printing frequency is not steady this could be not as ideal. Say you have a really large printing job come in, it may be nice to have toner on hand instead of having to wait on a shipment to arrive. If you are anything like me, I like to have full supplies and backups of everything for my business. If you do need your ink in a hurry, you can pay extra for expedited shipping.

One thing to keep in mind is that your printer needs to be connected to the internet for the Instant Ink service to work properly. Instant Ink program is not compatible with public or guest networks.  If your internet connection is spotty or disconnected for a period of time, your page count might not be accurately recorded. If you reach your monthly page limit or run out of ink, there could be a delay in getting it if the service isn’t able to anticipate when to ship it out. This internet connected convenience can also come with errors.


Overall, it’s up to you to decide if the HP Instant Ink program is worth it. If you’re considering buying an HP printer soon, you should definitely read up on the program’s disclaimers. Maybe even try the service as a free trial period before committing. 


Affordable Printing Solution


While Instant Ink is cheaper than buying most original HP ink cartridges, there are options for you that don’t require you to have to worry about counting each page. Many people still prefer using remanufactured cartridges as their affordable printing solution. Remanufactured cartridges offer the same print quality as the original ones without any strict requirements like the HP subscription. You can find toner and ink cartridge options for almost every printer model available. So you can start saving money today and maintain your printer autonomy. Check out Green Imaging Solutions here for money-saving toner and ink! All in all, it’s worth considering all the factors before committing to a subscription service like HP Instant Ink.

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