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Although most of life is digital, there are still numerous occasions where we need to make hardcopy prints and copies of adverts, CVs, theses, and other important documents. However, how often do we factor in the cost of these copies? Many of us don’t like wasting money on something we could do for free (or at least at a sufficient discount). So, to prevent unnecessary and unforeseen expenses, we’ll investigate where you can make copies near you for free or cheap.
You can make free or cheap copies at the following 22 places below.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- Where Can I Make Free Copies?
- Where Can I Make Copies That Are Not Expensive?
- Ordering And Purchasing Copies Online
- Related Questions
- There are several avenues to make free copies.
- If you cannot make copies for free, there is an extensive list of cheap copying options.
- Many stores offer online orders allowing you to speed up the copying process.
- Most places charge a comparable amount on their prints/copies.
- Purchasing a printer of your own is a good option for small-scale projects and printing work, but going to a professional is best for bulk orders.
Where Can I Make Free Copies?
Sometimes spending money on copies is not an option. Whether you don’t physically have the cash or prefer not to part with your hard-earned bucks, making copies for free is an option for those willing to look (and maybe travel) around.
1. Purchase A 3-In-1 Printer For Yourself
Sometimes the most pertinent option is to equip yourself with the correct tools for the job.
Purchasing a 3-in-1 (copier, scanner, and printer) may be expensive as an initial outlay; however, the benefits of owning a printer/copier of your own are tremendous.
Look for specials and good second-hand printers to save on the initial investment, and make sure that the cartridges are readily available.
2. Apartment Buildings
Some apartment complexes have an office section with basic amenities like a copier and a fax machine; if you’re a resident of the complex, you might be allowed to make free black and white copies.
However, this service is limited to residents and the complex’s rules and regulations.
3. Using The Office 3-In-1 Printer
Many offices have printer/scanner/copier combination machines. Due to most companies’ requirements, they’ll have bigger machines that process many pages quickly. Using the office machine is a great way to save on time, money, and traveling costs.
However, you should always check with your boss/supervisor before making copies, as many companies have policies that might limit the amount you can make for free.
4. Asking A Friend/Family If You Can Use Their 3-In-1 Printer
Most of us know someone who owns a copier/printer. When in an “emergency” situation, or if you have small volumes of pages you need copying, asking a friend or family member is a great way to save some costs.
The catch is when you need to make bulk batches of copies. It might be better not to “abuse” a loved one’s generosity in those instances. Discussing your needs before starting is prudent to avoid future complications.
5. College And University Campuses
For students registered at a college or university, there might be the option to make free copies (especially of textbooks found in the library).
Unfortunately, not all colleges and universities provide this free service; many charge a stipend.
6. Some Hotels Allow Free Copies
Although you probably won’t be able to print off your Master’s thesis, some hotels allow you to print/copy things like boarding passes, Identification documents, and other important documentation.
In most situations, you’ll need to be a guest staying at the hotel to receive this service for free. However, even if you stay there, you might still need to pay for the service.
Where Can I Make Copies That Are Not Expensive?
Unfortunately, we often don’t have access to free copying services. There are, however, many situations where you can find cheaper copying options.
7. Local Community Centers
Your local community center is a great source of cheap (and occasionally free) copies. These centers include religious institutions, meeting halls, and recreation centers. These centers vary between government, non-government, and non-profit ownership.
Find a community center close by and give them a call to find out if they do offer copying services.
You can locate these centers through Google or the Yellow Pages (other online directories).
8. The Local Public Library
Aside from loaning books, libraries often have photocopying machines. They will let you make copies of books (especially if you’re a student conducting research) or documents for a small fee.
Making copies at a library usually requires you to use your library card to sign in to the network.
Most libraries are comparable in costs; however, there is some variation between them, so ask beforehand how much it’ll cost.
Go onto the Library of Congress website and search under the “find your library” page to find your closest library.
Alternatively, you can use World Cat to look for a nearby library.
9. The Local Post Office
The next government institution is also a fantastic place to make copies. Most towns have at least one post office, so the chances are you’ll never be too far from one.
Although post offices charge a fee to use their copying services, it is not astronomical. There is no guarantee that all post offices have/provide these services, so calling ahead is recommended.
The USPS website allows you to locate your nearest post office.
With roughly 2 000 retail locations, FedEx is another popular copy-making destination. Originally called Kinko, FedEx is a one-stop-shop for copies, prints, scanning, emailing, and shipping. So if you need to copy and mail your documents, FedEx is ideal.
You can locate a FedEx branch by using the location tab.
11. The UPS Store
Another “all-rounder,” the UPS store allows you to make copies, print, scan, fax, and mail (ship) documents for a fee.
The UPS store prints in color and black and white and even allows you to print online. I.e., you can set up your printing order from home and then collect your copies from the UPS store on your way past.
There are roughly 4 400 stores across the US, and you can search for the closest store using their store locator tool.
12. Staples Inc.
Staples is a chain of over 2000 office retail stores that usually focuses on selling office supplies, among other services, and offers copies at a small fee.
To locate the nearest Staples inc. store, use their online search function.
Other office retail stores also offer copying services. A Google search for these stores in your area is the most conducive to finding them.
13. Office Depot/Office Max
Office Depot (who “fused” with Office Max) is another store that provides office equipment and additional services like printing and copying.
A benefit of these stores is that they offer an online service. This service allows you to complete the order online and then collect it in person from the store.
There are roughly 1 154 stores in the US. Locate your closest Office Depot/Office Max through their online search tool.
14. Sir Speedy
Sir Speedy is a designated copying, printing, and document handling store. They offer a tremendous range of products at reasonable prices, and they can customize the documents to your needs.
There are roughly 400 stores in 40 states, so you’re bound to have one within range. Finding their stores is easy. Open their website and hit the “Find a location” tab.
Costco, the warehouse club type store, is well known for the affordable “bulk-buy” products on its shelves; however, did you know that you can also make copies and prints from Costco stores?
Although not all Costco’s offer the copying service, many wholesale and business center depots offer the service at a fee. As they are a wholesaler, the rate (per page) is slightly better than smaller amounts when purchasing bulk copies.
With only 574 stores across the states, you might need to travel a fair distance to your nearest Costco.
16. Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club is another example of a warehouse club store that offers additional services like copying and printing. You’ll need to be a member to make copies at Sam’s Club.
The price per item varies on what you want to make copies/prints.
Finding a nearby Sam’s Club store, out of the 600 stores across the states, is easy. Visit the website and click on the “find club” icon.
Another fantastic place to make cheap copies is at local pharmacies (drug stores), like CVS and Walgreens.
Drug stores are widespread, and many offer copying services. The CVS chain alone has roughly 3 400 stores across the states.
A quick Google search or the yellow pages (any other online catalog) will be of great service to finding drug stores near you.
18. Grocery Stores
Traveling to a printing shop, post office, or library is not always feasible for many of us. Fortunately, many local convenience/grocery stores also offer copying and printing services.
Some of these stores include:
- Coborn’s Inc. Although Coborn’s Inc is a grocery store, certain shops offer a copying service in-store. They are mostly found in Minnesota and parts of South Dakota. You can find a nearby store on their website.
- Fiesta Mart. Much like Coborn’s, you’ll find Fiestamart stores in Texas.
- H-E-B. Within select stores, they offer copying and printing services. It is, however, not all of the H-E-B stores. To find the closest H-E-B, use their store locator tool.
- Hy-Vee. Like H-E-B, this grocery store chain also offers copying at certain stores. You can discover the closest store to you with their online tool.
Many other grocery stores offer printing and copying. If you’re unsure, locate your nearest grocery store and give them a call to avoid unnecessary travel.
While many companies offer online orders, we’ll focus on some companies that excel in online copying orders.
Rakuten is a cash-back website that rewards you for ordering online through their site. Rakuten saves you money on copies, and they deliver to your specified address.
The more you use this site, the more they incentivize you with cash-backs.
20. Best Value Copy
As the name suggests, Best Value Copy is an online printing/copying store. They offer a range of services at reasonable prices and the convenience of being online. There is also no minimum order.
Rated one of the best online sites, the most significant advantage with Best Value Copy is that you don’t need to pay a setup fee.
21. Color Copies Today
Color Copies Today is a similar site to Best Value Copy with the disadvantage of a minimum amount of copies. This site is marvelous when you need to print in bulk. The greater the order, the better the price becomes per copy.
The quality that this company produces is also excellent.
Vistaprint is another well-known company. They are based in Lexington, Massachusetts, and print various products.
The size and quality of the copy will determine the cost per page. Unfortunately, standard copies (black and white and color) are not available as this company focuses on marketing products.
How Much Does It Cost (Average) To Make Copies?
The table below compares various average costs to print in black and white or color at different service providers. Note: these amounts are not fixed, and we recommend phoning the service provider to enquire before going through to make a copy.
|Copying service provider||The average cost for black and white copies (per single page)||The average cost for color copies||Comments|
|Community centers||varies||varies||You might be able to get free copies.|
|Colleges/Universities||$0.10||$ 0.30||Registration is required.|
|Public libraries||$0.10||$0.40||Some libraries allow cardholders free copies for up to $2 per day.|
|Post offices||varies||varies||They have a list of accredited printing services.|
|FedEx||From $0.08||From $0.49||Price varies by store|
|UPS||From $0.09||From $0.49|
|Staples||$0.11||$0.53||Bulk orders are cheaper (black and white $0.04 and color $0.13)|
|Office Depot/Office Max||$0.09||$0.66|
|Costco||$0.025||$0.15||When making 1000 black and white copies or 50 color copies.|
|Sam’s Club||$0.28 to $19.96||$0.28 to $19.96||Includes shipping and bulk quantities.|
|Sir Speedy||$0.03 to $0.06||$0.22 to $0.44||Standard paper. Sir Speedy offers many other paper choices for more.|
|Drug store (e.g.) CVS||From $0.19||From $0.99|
|Hy-Vee||From $0.09||From $0.42|
|Best value copy||$0.032||$0.099|
|Color copies today||$20 (500 copies)||$15 (150 copies)||These are the minimum amounts required for an order.|
You’re looking at roughly $0.03 to $0.25 per page for black and white copies and $0.10 and $0.75 per page for color copies.
Is Purchasing A 3-in-1 Printer Worth It?
A printer is always useful; however, it is not without some drawbacks.
Printers break (components have a limited lifespan), and ink cartridges are exceedingly expensive and, in some cases, not available.
If you have a home office/school project and don’t require large volumes of printing/copying, then a small home printer/scanner/copier might be worthwhile. If you need to print off a significant volume of copies often, opting for a printing shop is better.
The unfortunate truth is that replacing parts and ink is often more expensive than printing at a store. A 3-in-1’s convenience is unmatched; however, it’s best to let the professionals do the bigger jobs.
Can I Make Copies From A Digital Device?
You don’t have a hard copy or a cable, but do you have the document/picture on your phone? Not a problem! Most places have a cloud printing system, so logging onto the network and uploading your document is no issue.
Some stores even use an app to streamline the process.
It would be wise to phone ahead and make sure that the store does offer this service to avoid disappointment.