‘Instant Ink’ could save you money

Most of us have printers at home, and if you’re like me, the trip to the store to buy ink sets you back $55 plus tax. Heck, I know some people who go printer shopping when it’s time for new ink.

Now, HP has rolled out a new service that does away with that. If you can stand one more monthly bill, it might save you some cash.

What’s the pitch: Buy an eligible printer and sign up for HP’s Instant Ink service. The subscription levels and monthly fees are based on the number of pages you print, not on the amount of ink you use. You can print up to 50 pages for $3 a month, 100 pages for $5 a month or 300 pages for $10 a month.

How does it work? The printer is connected to the Internet and reports your monthly usage to HP. The printer also reports its ink cartridge levels. When you start running low on ink, HP automatically sends you a set of replacement ink.

Can it save me money? The $5-per-month plan includes 100 pages per month, so it costs $60 per year, which is just about what I pay for one set of ink for my printer. We go through at least two sets of ink cartridges per year.

What printers are eligible? Right now there are three HP all-in-one printers that are eligible for HP Instant Ink — the HP Envy 4500, the HP Envy 5530 and the HP Officejet 4630. Prices range from $100 to $130 on HP’s website.

What happens if you use only 50 pages or 150? Unused pages can be rolled over, with some limits. Here’s how HP explains it: “If you do not use all your plan pages in a month, the unused pages will be kept in your account as rollover pages. Your rollover pages are available as long as you are enrolled in HP Instant Ink. You can continue to roll over up to the number of pages in your monthly plan (for example, you can roll over up to 50 pages if you are enrolled in a 50 page plan).” If you go over your monthly page limit you will be charged based on your plan level. Additional pages are available in sets of 15, 20 and 25 pages, depending on your plan, for $1.

What counts as a page? For the purposes of the subscription, any page that you use ink on is counted, whether it’s one paragraph of text or an 8-by-10 color photo. It all is treated as one page.

When does the monthly fee start? The printers ship with ink cartridges. Once you sign up at http:///www.hpinstantink.com, they’ll send you a set of ink. Once you use start using the replacement ink, your monthly fee begins.

Is there a contract? No. You can cancel or change your plan at any time.

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