Can I Use Off-Brand Cartridges?

For businesses and individuals that do a lot of printing, the temptation to save money by using off-brand or bargain cartridges is a common reality. But printers are not like medication–if you want to swap out a generic version for a brand name, there’s some very serious things to consider. Failing to do your research can, at best, simply be incompatible. At worst, you will seriously damage or destroy your printer. When looking for generic printer ink and toner cartridges, consider the following.


We all know the headache of buying a cartridge made by the same company that made your printer, but instead of the “N3660”, you bought the “N3661” and it doesn’t fit. The risk of making these mistakes are even higher when you’re buying off-brand cartridges.

Always double check that the specific cartridge you want to buy is fully compatible with the exact printer model you’re using. At we always provide a “guaranteed to work with” section for every cartridge we sell, so there’s no confusion. Often, a simple Google search–”will the HP C4127X Black Toner Cartridge work with the Epson TM-M30 printer” (the answer is no). If all else fails, reach out to a customer service representative or check the product page. While generic brands will often be compatible with various brand names, mixing and matching brand names (like HP with Epson) almost never works.


If you’re buying generic brand ink and toner cartridges to save money, be prepared to sacrifice the quality of your print–after all, you get what you pay for. Every business and individual has a minimum standard they’re willing to accept, so make sure you read reviews of others who have used the cartridge to make sure it will meet yours.

Low quality ink and toner cartridges could lead to streaks on your prints, increased jamming, ink bleeding, less complete coverage, and more, potentially risking your productivity, reputation, and peace of mind. Lowering your overhead for printing is a laudable goal, just make sure you know what you’re buying!


Most ink and toner cartridges come with some sort of warranty, so make sure you check the terms and conditions closely before attempting to save money on a generic brand one. Some questions to ask yourself when looking at the differences in the warranty are:

  • Comparing the duration–which one is longer?
  • Comparing the coverage–is one more comprehensive than the other? Does one cover user error or is it just manufacturing defects?
  • Ease of returning–how easy will it be to return the product if it breaks? If it’s going to take up an hour of your time, calculate what that’s worth and subtract it from the amount you’re planning on saving. You can tell how easy it will be to return a defective cartridge by reading reviews of the company that makes it or reading the fine print in the warranty.
  • Replacement Type–If you have to return it, how do they replace it? Do they give you your money back, replace the cartridge, or give you store credit?
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