Average Cost of Color Copies

Many factors go into calculating the average cost of color copies. Thrifty shoppers can find discounts by going online or by purchasing discounted ink cartridges for a home printer. Additionally, laser printers come with a higher upfront cost, but may prove more economical in the long run since a laser cartridge tends to last significantly longer than an inkjet cartridge. Other factors that you must take into account include the size of the paper, type of paper, extra charges for rush delivery services and whether the customer needs single-sided or double-sided copies.

inkjet printer cartridges in a row
Close-up of color ink cartridges inside a copy machine
credit: zefart/iStock/Getty Images

Single or Double

Many services typically charge the same cost for double-sided copies and single-sided copies. While this may seem counterintuitive since double-sided printing uses less paper, the reasoning behind it is that double-sided copies tend to wear down the machine more quickly. For example, 100 single-sided copies generally cost the same as 50 double-sided copies. According to a price sheet from the Florida Department of Management Services, single-sided copies at FedEx can run you 89 cents per page up to the first 1,000 copies. Anything over 1,000 copies only costs 49 cents per page.

Printer Models

Quality Logic, a firm that specializes in quality assurance test tools, released a 2012 report that detailed the cost of ink per page for various inkjet printer models. Kodak printers tended to have the lowest cost per page, coming in around one cent per page. Canon printers came in a little higher at midway between one and two cents per page. Most Epson models came in close to two cents per page, with some models such as the Epson 800 coming in lower at just over one cent per page. HP printer models range between one and two cents per page. Lexmark printers were among the highest at over two cents per page.

Home Users: Laser vs. Ink

Laser printers come at a higher initial cost that might prevent some home users from entering the laser printer market. A color laser printer can cost several times the amount of an inkjet model. A low-end model HP Color LaserJet Pro costs about 10 times that of the cheapest HP DeskJet 1010 printer. Once you pay for the initial printer, a laser printer can print between 1500 to 3500 pages per cartridge. Ink-based printers tend to get approximately 200 pages per cartridge. While the laser printer cartridge can cost four to eight times more than a standard inkjet cartridge, the laser printer cartridge still provides a more efficient page yield. An inkjet printer averages about nine cents per page. Laser printers average about five cents per page.

Paper Size and Weight

Printing on common paper sizes and weights, such as an 8-1/2-by-11-inch, 24-pound sheet, can save you some money on the average cost of color copies. Using an unconventional paper size can drastically increase the cost of your project. As of 2014, Staples charges almost eight times more for a 20-page presentation printed on 28-pound paper as opposed to one printed on 24-pound paper. The 28-pound project comes with a coil bind that adds a small amount to the cost, but the overall cost of the project is increased by using a premium-style paper. If you need custom paper sizes, the cost for your project can go even higher.