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Genuine vs Compatible Ink Cartridges


Have you seen the terms genuine and compatible ink cartridges used when reading about printers, and want to know what the difference is between the two? Or maybe you know a little bit about what each term means, are trying to decide which to buy, and want to know more about some of the pros and cons of each.

You may be wondering what the difference is between compatible ink cartridges and genuine ink cartridges. The main difference is that genuine ink cartridges are made by that specific printer’s manufacturers, while compatible ink cartridges are made by a third party.

Today we explain a little bit about both types of cartridges, discuss genuine vs compatible ink cartridges, and some of the pros and cons of each variant. Read on to find out more about genuine and compatible ink cartridges.


What is an Ink Cartridge?


Let’s start with the basics: an ink cartridge is a container that holds ink and is placed into your printer. The ink within this cartridge is used to produce your machine’s prints. When purchasing ink for your computer, you have the choice between a genuine ink cartridge or a compatible (or generic) ink cartridge.


Genuine Ink Cartridges


Genuine ink cartridges are specifically made by a printer’s manufacturer for that make and model of printer. They are also generally recommended by a printer’s manufacturer as the option to use for their printers. Genuine ink cartridges tend to cost a little more than compatible cartridges. You may choose to buy the non-generic cartridge option if you like a bit of added peace of mind, and aren’t too worried about the monetary savings that cheaper options can provide. Another cheaper option for branded ink cartridges is remanufactured cartridges. Remanufactured cartridges contain recycled or reused parts, making them a nice choice for those who wish to be kinder on the planet.


Compatible Ink Cartridges


Compatible ink cartridges – sometimes also referred to as generic ink cartridges – are those that aren’t made by the manufacturer of your printer. A compatible ink cartridge is a cheaper alternative to the genuine option. These ink cartridges are made by a third party and are not advertised or sold by the printer’s manufacturer. Compatible ink cartridges may be an appealing option for those looking to save money on their printer ink. 


Genuine vs Compatible Ink Cartridges


Each of these types of cartridges has its own pros and cons. 


Pros of Genuine Ink Cartridges


  • Can provide added peace of mind as they are made by your printer’s manufacturer
  • Recommended by printer manufacturers
  • May use refurbished parts (if remanufactured) – a plus for the environment and those that like to help it


Cons of Genuine Ink Cartridges


  • Cost more than generic alternatives


Pros of Compatible Ink Cartridges


  • Much more affordable than genuine ink cartridges
  • May be made using refurbished or recycled parts


Cons of Compatible Ink Cartridges


  • Aren’t supported by printer manufacturers – you will need to check your warranty to learn the details about if or how using a compatible ink cartridge may affect it
  • If you don’t buy from a reputable supplier, you may purchase a faulty product (or worse, one that could cause damage to your printer)


How to Choose Between Genuine or Compatible Ink Cartridges


When it comes to choosing whether a genuine or compatible ink cartridge is better suited for your situation, you should weigh up the pros and cons and decide what matters most to you. If you are looking to save money and cut costs, a compatible ink cartridge may be worth considering. Similarly, if you like making choices to help the environment, a refurbished cartridge could be for you.

Alternatively, if you like the peace of mind that comes with buying a cartridge that is created by your printer’s manufacturer, then a genuine cartridge could suit your needs. Genuine cartridges are also suited to those who are unsure about the warranty implications of using a compatible cartridge. If money isn’t a factor in your decision-making process, this may also sway you towards purchasing a genuine printer ink cartridge.

Buying one type of ink cartridge does not mean you always need to buy that variant in the future. If your circumstances change and you wish to give compatible cartridges a try after exclusively using genuine ink cartridges, you can. Or, if you have always used compatible cartridges, but now wish to try genuine cartridges, that’s okay too. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and will depend upon your circumstances and priorities.


Which Printers Accept Compatible Cartridges?


Many printers accept compatible cartridges. In fact, it’s more about whether a reputable replica of your printer’s cartridge is produced. When printer models are new, it can sometimes be a while before third parties begin producing compatible cartridges. Check with your printer ink supplier to find out if your make and model of printer has a compatible cartridge alternative available. If it doesn’t, you may need to stick to genuine printer ink cartridges until if and when a third party decides to make a compatible cartridge for your printer.


Where Can I Buy Affordable Printer Cartridges?


When buying a printer ink cartridge, you should use a reputable ink supplier (particularly if you are purchasing a compatible printer ink cartridge). Ink Station is a reputable supplier of both genuine and compatible printer ink. We stock a range of printer cartridges in our online store – both genuine and compatible. We also have a large range of printers, paper, labels, and other accessories available. If you have any questions regarding genuine vs compatible ink cartridges, please feel free to contact us. 

Want to learn more about how to save on ink costs? Check out our blog post on How to Save Ink.