Fountain pens have seen a steady increase in their popularity over the last few years and over the last few months, they have seen almost exponential growth with people reaching out with a wide range of questions on a regular basis. We have lost count of the number of people that we have seen reaching out with questions about the entry level, more budget friendly fountain pen options on the market but one general theme is usually based around if fountain pens are cheaper than the alternative pen options in the long run.
Although there are countless cost breakdowns between fountain pens and other popular pen types online these days, most of them fail to factor in the writer’s goals. The vast majority of people who end up purchasing a decent cheap fountain pen never mind a more budget-friendly fountain pen make the choice as they want a good writing experience as well as the choice of the various inks available to them.
As most fountain pen users are not looking for a long term, budget-friendly pen option, they tend to not care about the cost of their pens and go with the nib size and style that they want in their pen. If you are looking for a budget-friendly writing experience then some entry level ballpoint pens will almost always be the better option for you.
As you have a large number of spare pens when taking the ballpoint route, you are able to lose some or accidentally damage some and simply go over to the next pen without issue. With a fountain pen, if you lose it or damage it then you have to purchase a brand new pen that can end up substantially increasing your costs and pushing ballpoint, rollerball, or gel pens way out ahead of a fountain pen when it comes to cutting costs. This even remains true when purchasing a better, more expensive set of ballpoint pens as their low price simply ends up beating even a cheap fountain pen every time.
Are Intermediate Fountain Pens Cheaper In The Long Run
Another aspect of the fountain pen cost debate that we often see is that a decent intermediate fountain pen can end up working out to be cheaper than a decent intermediate ballpoint pen. Although we have seen some cost breakdowns online going over comparisons for this that can make it look very convincing that the fountain pen may end up working out to be cheaper in the long run, they often missout the various accessories that hike the prices up.
For example, both fountain pens and ballpoint pens require ink refills in someway and although you are able to get decent ink for your fountain pen that can be cost-effective, the refills for ballpoint pens can end up workout out to be cheaper in the long run. Although you can go with cheaper ink options for both pen types, cheaper ink in a fountain pen may damage the nib requiring it to be replaced but cheaper ink cartridges in a ballpoint pen can simply be thrown away and replaced with a better one.
This can also be taken up a level when factoring in the nib size as wider nibs release more ink and some fountain pens write wet even with their extra fine or fine nibs causing you to use ink at a faster pace. This is not an issue with a ballpoint pen as the pen will usually release a constant, steady flow of ink no matter what you are doing with the pen helping to keep your ink costs down.
Speaking of nibs, the longer you use your fountain pen, the more wear and tear the nib has to go through increasing the chances of it becoming damaged over time and needing to be replaced. Thankfully, replacement fountain pen nibs for entry level and intermediate level fountain pens are usually cheap, this still ends up increasing costs for using a fountain pen.
In addition to this, some fountain pen such as the Lamy 2000 do not allow you to replace their nib when damaged. Although we are only using the Lamy 2000 as an example pen, it usually retails for around $150 depending on retailer meaning once the nib is damaged, you may have to replace the whole pen.
This is not an issue with a ballpoint, rollerball, or gel pen alternative as the ball mechanism for the pen is usually part of the ink refill. This means that each time you switch out the ink, you get a fresh ball mechanism included without you having to replace it in the future helping to keep the costs down for using a fountain pen alternative. Although there are some cartridge-based ballpoint pens such as the Lamy Safari where the ink cartridge does not come with a new ball mechanism but this is usually rare.
What About Entry Level Options
Some of the cost comparisons between fountain pens and their alternatives try to focus on the entry level options on the market and try to stress that the lower costs of the fountain pens help their case but in out opinion, this is incorrect. Not only do entry level fountain pens have the same issues as higher price point fountain pens but they are often more expensive to run.
As you can probably imagine, the entry level fountain pens usually arnt built to the higher standards as the intermediate and professional level options on the market. This can mean that the pen itself may break or its nib may require replacing on a regular basis. On top of this, the majority of people using a cheap fountain pen will almost always use cheap ink that is usually not refined to a high standard that can end up causing problems with the nib too.
Then you factor in bulk buying cheap ballpoint pens to try and be as cost-efficient as possible and their low cost per disposable ballpoint pen blows the costs of a cheap fountain pen out of the water with ease. This is why it is almost always more cost-efficient to go with a fountain pen alternative when looking to keep your costs as low as possible.
As we have shown throughout the article, it is very hard for a fountain pen to workout to be cheaper in the long run when compared to a comparable fountain pen alternative such as a ballpoint pen. The ink often workouts to be more expensive than the refill options for ballpoint or rollerball pens and having to replace the nibs of fountain pens can further hike the price up too.
In addition to this, if you are going with cheap ballpoint pens and buying them in bulk to keep the overall costs as low as possible, you will be able to switch over to the next pen when required. If you go with a single fountain pen and end up losing it or breaking it then you have to purchase a new fountain pen hiking its costs up even further.
Although we also touched on this above, the majority of the people who do opt to write with a fountain pen do so knowing that there are cheaper more budget friendly options available but opt to use a fountain pen for the better writing experience. In our opinion, nothing can be writing with a decent fountain pen filled with a decent ink as it feels like your pen is floating across the paper in a silky smooth fashion offering a much better writing experience than using a ballpoint.