HP knows that printers are always running low on ink, so they’ve decided to come up with a program that automatically replenishes said ink. Sweet! How do I sign up?

Well, hold your horses, now. While you’ve probably had your share of difficulties with ink or toner cartridges (like every printer user), it pays to assess what the company is offering, even with the free plan.

What is the HP Instant Ink program, exactly?

As we mentioned, it’s an easier way for you to obtain HP ink cartridges once you start running out. You sign up to the program and pick up to five different plans, depending on your needs. From there, your printer will have to maintain a connection to the internet in order for HP to monitor the printer’s ink levels. If you’re having trouble with that, our “Why is my HP printer offline?” guide should come in handy.

After the levels start running low, the company will auto-ship the necessary ink cartridges, free of charge. All of the charges are covered within the plan itself: once you sign up and start paying the monthly fee, you’re set in terms of cartridges, shipping and recycling.

Yes, recycling. After you’ve emptied out the Instant Ink cartridges, HP will actually demand you send the empty cartridges back. We think it’s less for environmental purposes and more to ensure you aren’t making remanufactured HP ink cartridges.

As you can see, the HP Instant Ink program isn’t so instant after all. For starters, there’s no telling how long the ink will take to arrive through mail, making it an inferior option if you have easily-accessible cartridges for your printer model in your local store. When you add having to ship the cartridges back to the company, it can become quite a hassle.

How does HP calculate the costs in the Instant Ink program?

We’ve all been there: carefully managing our expenditure of color ink and opting to go black-and-white whenever possible to reduce costs. Well, the Instant Ink program completely eliminates what is a major hurdle for many printer users.

Regardless of the HP Instant Ink plan you choose, the company will calculate costs based on the amount of pages you print and not the ink itself. That’s right: the pricing is paper-based, not ink-based. That means you can unleash all those vivid colors that your printer can produce without having to worry about the costs anymore.

InkEvolved Tip: The paper limits can come as a serious detriment for some people. A lot of users mass-print black-and-white documents, making color ink a non-issue and this program needlessly expensive. Because of this, you’ll have to carefully gauge the kind of printing you do before signing up. The HP printer setup doesn’t cover this sort of thing. Instead, you’ll only become familiar with your printing requirements after several months of use.

Which printing plans are available in the Instant Ink program?

As of 2019, HP currently offers five different plans based on your needs, ranging from the 15-page HP instant ink free plan to try the program out to a business printing plan that lets you print 700 pages a month for $20.

Although this sounds restrictive, HP has you covered regardless of whether you’re under- or over-printing. In the example of the Business Printing Plan, you can have up to 1400 extra pages that are free to print anytime in case you haven’t been inking as much. If you need to print more than the plan includes, HP allows you to buy an unlimited amount of new pages, with prices ranging from $1 for 10 to 20 pages depending on the plan you chose.

Are all printers available for the Instant Ink program?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, we’ve found the program to be quite restrictive when it comes to printer models. In our HP printer user manuals section, navigate to your printer model and check out the manual for it. Most often, the instructions will tell you whether the printer is eligible.

Alternatively, you can do a quick online search with the specific model number of the printer in order to find out if you’re Instant Ink eligible or not. Past the models themselves, we already mentioned that your printer will need to be connected to the internet constantly in order for the program to work, which leads us to our next question.

What are the biggest cons of using HP’s Instant Ink?

Neat as it is, nothing’s perfect, and we see two major issues with the program that every printer user should consider before signing up.

  • Privacy concerns: This is a major point for a lot of users, as the Instant Ink program is web-based and requires constant connection to the internet. In short, this will mean that HP knows how much you’re printing and when you’re doing it. Depending on how much you trust HP Instant Ink plan reviews, they might also know exactly what you’re printing, but that’s a subject for another discussion.
  • Lack of printing freedom: Yes, HP lets you cancel the plan anytime. Yes, there is no annual billing cycle. Yes, the HP Instant Ink change plan option is available whenever you want to shift gears. Still, the program can feel a bit constraining. Whereas you previously took care of your printing needs, Instant Ink makes it so you have to constantly keep track of how many pages you print. With some programs being limited to as little as 50 pages per month, constantly monitoring your pages can be quite a nuisance. Remember, HP watches pages and not words, so even if you printed a single sentence in black and white, it will still be substracted from the plan.

Should I sign up for HP’s Instant Ink if my printer is eligible?

There are good and bad sides to everything, as our HP Instant Ink plan review can attest. To us, the biggest issue with Instant Ink comes in the form of shipping. As you’d expect from printer manufacturers, HP promises to have the cartridges delivered to your doorstep in no time, but we know that the post service often has other plans. Depending on where you live, the cartridges could arrive within a few days or a few weeks, so it might be good to use the free plan to check the speed of shipping.

Other than that, HP’s Instant Ink is clearly geared towards users who know what they’ll be printing, if not how much. If you suddenly get the urge to print documents with miniscule amounts of ink (or if it’s something you often do), you’ll be overcharged compared to standard cartridge replacement methods.

In most other cases, though, the Instant Ink plan can end up saving you quite a bit of money due to its lack of focus on how much ink you spend. Furthermore, if you tend to run into difficulties when trying to find ink cartridges for your printer, whether online or from local shops, signing up to the program will ensure you’re topped-up and save you the trouble of dealing with vendors.


While all InkEvolved contributors are printer specialists with many years of experience in the tech industry, we will sometimes refer to other articles and websites. This gives our users a chance to both verify the information they’re getting and gives them a chance to explore additional venues of knowledge.

To cite this article, please use:

Bazmarov, Anya in “Read this before signing up for the HP Instant Ink Free Plan” on InkEvolved.com, Published 2/07/2019, Last Accessed 30/09/2019, https://inkevolved.com/hp-instant-ink-free-plan/

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