Fountain Pen Converter vs. Cartridge: Which is Better?

There’s nothing better than writing with your favorite pen. What are you going to do when the ink runs out? Are you going just to buy a stockpile of the same pens to use forever? That can be costly and take up space. If you are looking for a pen you can use forever, consider a fountain pen.

When it comes to fountain pens, you will usually be offered a cartridge or converter filling system at the time of purchase. If you are just buying your first fountain pen and you’re confused about what they are and which one is better, you’re not alone. It can be hard to figure out which filling you should get. 

In my opinion, fountain pen converters are better than cartridges because of the infinite number of color inks you can choose to refill your pen, converters are better for the environment than the cartridges you have to throw away once empty, and converters are more cost-effective.

In this post, we will go over a converter filling and a cartridge filling in depth. We will talk about what they are and their pros and cons. When you are finished with this article, you will be able to decide which one will make the most sense for you and your specific needs.

fountain pen inkt

What is a Fountain Pen?

A fountain pen is one of those fancy looking pens that remind you of feather and ink writing. The metal nib used for writing gives you smooth and perfect writing each time you use it. This type of pen uses a cartridge or converter to supply your pen with the ink it needs continuously, so there is no need to repurchase a new pen.

Fountain pens were first introduced in the 19th century to replace feather pens. They were created as a way to avoid having to dip into an inkwell every few seconds to keep up your ink supply. It is even said that fountain pens can help improve your handwriting by making you slow down, much like old feather pens. 

Ink Converter

Ink converters are a newer, more modern way to fill your pen than the old bottle-filling system. The purpose of the converter filler is to fill your fountain pen traditionally without worrying about needing your pen repaired at some point. 

Converters are detachable, and they hold the ink for your fountain pen. It attaches with the help of a small piston that runs inside and draws the ink from the converter into the pen. Converters are also incredibly easy to fill because all it takes is dipping the nib into a bottle of ink.

Every fountain pen that takes a cartridge will also have a compatible converter. This means that it doesn’t matter what kind of fountain pen you have. You will very likely be able to find a converter that will fit. However, converters are not universal. You will need to find a specific converter to the pen you have.


Converters allow you to use just about any color you can think of. You can also choose different brands and types because the ink isn’t specific to the converter.

Converters are also cost-effective. It is much cheaper to fill your pen using an ink bottle instead of continually buying new cartridges. 

Ink bottles can last you several years, depending on how much you use your pen and how much ink you buy. One ink bottle will last you longer than one cartridge of ink. 


Converters are not ideal if you travel a lot. Ink bottles do not travel well, especially in a plane. Bottles tend to spill no matter what precautions are taken, making a huge mess over everything.

Converters are also pretty messy. If you are not careful, you can get ink everywhere when you refill the converter. This could lead to you getting ink everywhere.

Ink Cartridge

An ink cartridge for a fountain pen is the easiest way to fill your pen between these two systems. An ink cartridge is a disposable capsule that is filled with fountain pen ink. In most cases, the cartridges hook right onto the pen and constantly supplies it with ink.

When you use up all of the ink in the cartridge, all you need to do is take out the empty one and replace it with a fresh, full one. This is super convenient because all you need to do is throw away the cartridge when you are finished. However, this is not the most environmentally-friendly option because the cartridges create waste. 


Fountain pen ink cartridges are convenient. You can take them with you anywhere without worrying about ink spilling out.

Changing out an ink cartridge in a fountain pen is an easy way to avoid messes. You don’t have to dip the pen into an ink bottle; the cartridge is already filled with ink.

Cartridges are straightforward to use, you just click the cartridge into the pen, and you are good to go.


Ink cartridges are not universally compatible. Certain types of fountain pens only use certain cartridges, meaning you can only use specific brands for specific pens. You will need to know the exact cartridge your pen takes before buying any. 

Ink cartridges are usually smaller and have less capacity than an ink converter. They will run out quicker than converters, and they cannot be refilled. 

Cartridges create waste. When the cartridge is empty, you can’t refill it, so it gets thrown away. 

Converter vs. Cartridge: Which is Better?

Converters and cartridges are both good options when it comes to refilling your fountain pen. The type you choose will depend on your personal preference and what kind of pen you have. 

If you are looking for something that allows you to choose between several different colors, you would want to go with a converter. This allows you to use any brand or type of ink for your pen. You will have a wider variety of what you can use to write with. This option is also more cost-effective because one ink bottle can last you years.

If you are looking for convenience and variety is not that important, you will likely prefer a cartridge. Cartridges allow you to take your pen with you anywhere without worrying about the ink spilling. You will likely spend more money using cartridges because you have to buy more every time you run out.


Choosing which method you want to take to fill your fountain pen can be intimidating if you are a first-time user. Cartridges and converters may be confusing, but they aren’t as scary as they seem. After you gain an understanding of the differences between a converter and a cartridge, you will quickly find your new favorite pen.

Most fountain pen manufacturers will offer both a converter and an ink cartridge when you buy a new fountain pen. This will allow you to test them both out and determine which one is better for your needs. You can then go on to use your preferred method in the future.

Choosing the method depends completely on what your preferences are. If you find you like to fill your pen with the converter, you can purchase some ink to keep on hand. If you prefer the convenience of the cartridge, make sure you know what type you need for the pen you purchased. 


My name is Jaap, and I am a passionate collector of pens and stationery. I am excited to share my knowledge and love of this hobby with you through my website. From fountain pens to notebooks, I strive to provide in-depth reviews and information on all things stationery. Whether you're a student looking for the perfect notebook, or an artist searching for the ideal sketchpad, I am here to guide you through the process of finding the perfect items to suit your needs. Join me on my journey of exploring and documenting all things pen and stationery.

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