HP increases Instant Ink printing prices by up to 50%: What are the alternatives?

HP DeskJet
(Image credit: HP)

Late in 2021, HP decided to end its popular “free ink for life” plan, which allowed its customers to print up to 15 pages per month. 

Now there's a double whammy: HP printer owners that have embraced the Instant Ink subscription service have been told that their subscription price will go up (potentially by up to 50% in some cases) in March 2022.

The changes are two-fold; first, the smallest plan sees a 33% reduction in its allowance (15 to 10), while its price remains the same (essentially a stealth increase from 6.67p/c to 9.9p/c) while moderate and frequent plans (50 and 100 pages) see a fixed increase of £1 or $1 (depending where you are) to £2.99/$2.99 and £4.49/$4.49, a rise of 50% and 29% respectively.

The remaining plans, which are likely to be less popular, have not seen a rise in price yet. The price of extra page sets (usually £/$0.1 each in lots of 10) and unused page rollover have remained the same. At $/£0.03, the most expensive plan also has the cheapest price per page.

What is the best alternative to HP Instant Ink?

The changes appear to be global and have been criticized on HP’s customer forums. “So, all in all I’m disgusted with HP, even before our relationship got off the ground,”  one member wrote -- pretty much summing up how most users feel.

As for all subscription services, Printing-as-a-service (or PAAS) has grown in popularity with HP being the innovator and the main driver, especially in the home printer market.

Instant Ink has been a big success, with HP revealing in October 2021 that it had 10 million users, generated $500 million revenue annually and a 30% annual revenue and subscriber growth. It is the most popular printing subscription services out there, by a wide margin.

The best alternative to subscription services like HP Instant Ink are so-called CIS (continuous ink system) printers and we’ve got a list of the best ink tank printers at the ready. Popular with hobbyists and DIYers at the turn of the century, big printer vendors have embraced them as competition from compatible ink cartridges became more intense.

Most major brands (HP, Epson, Brother, Canon) have at least one of these Supertank printer models: INKvestment, Ecotank, Megatank, Smart Tank. They all share the same philosophy: big ink reservoirs that can be refilled, a steep (but totally acceptable) buying price and a large footprint.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.