You hear it time and time again: networking, networking, networking. It’s the professional crux that most fall into as we transition further into the digital age and begin to rely increasingly more on social networking sites and quasi-professional job boards like LinkedIn and Monster to create our connections. And while they may be fantastic online resources, they don’t carry the same weight in the offline professional world as a good, old-fashioned business card.
Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap alternatives for creating, customizing and printing high-quality business cards should your company refuse to print them or if you simply want more control of what your card says about you. After all, a top-notch business card often leaves a lasting impression — good or bad — well after handshakes and highballs have subsided.
In a way, VistaPrint is one of the pioneers of the business card world. The company made a name for itself a few years back by offering ultra-cheap printing in modest-size batches (250-500 cards) and a free 250-card run for first-time users looking to try out the printing service (shipping costs still apply). The site is easy to navigate, whether browsing free or premium business cards, and boasts thousands of premade designs in addition to the fully-customizable templates that let you add various levels of personalization (i.e. name, photo, contact info, etc.).
The service doesn’t offer the highest quality available — what you pay for is typically what you get — and the cards are thinner and somewhat smaller than your traditional business card. However, VistaPrint is still a great option if you don’t mind dealing with less-than-ideal construction and a watermark on the back in lieu of an expensive price tag. Premium card runs start at $10, but keep an eye out for the various ongoing promotions and specials throughout the week.
Just because business cards are an age-old tradition, doesn’t mean they can’t thrive in a digital realm. The popular card-creating site Moo boasts everything from traditional business and mini cards to free cards tailored specifically for your Facebook and About.me profiles. Hell, they even added a “third side” to business cards with an embedded NFC chips that activates various functions when touched to a smartphone or other NFC-capable device. Like other sites on our list, Moo offers a wealth of elegant designs and premade layouts housed within the site’s Web-based app, providing business cards that can be tweaked and refined for a more personal touch.
A pack of 50 double-sided business cards starts at $20, but the thick cardstock and lavish ink look and feel phenomenal. Plus, Moo will send you a free 10-card sampler and allow you to customize your entire run of cards individually, meaning you can place a different image or design element on every card instead of opting for an entire 200-card run of the same, custom build. They don’t come cheap, but they’re worthwhile given the great quality and decent price point.
There are probably plenty of indie printing companies in the United States, but Canada is likely a different story. Jukebox, although not the cheapest on our roundup, takes customization and sheer design tenacity to the next level through its abundant variety of cardstock types — from traditional and embossed business cards to more obscure mediums such as wood and cotton. The site hosts an easy-to-use business card creator brimming with pre-built design templates, but you can always opt to start from scratch if you want greater control over the background image and overall design aesthetics.
Specialty business cards such as wood and cotton start in the triple digits when it comes to pricing, but you’re standard pack of 500 or 1,000 business cards are competitively priced at an upwards of $60 or $70. The print quality is impressive as well, rigid and accurate, and the company doesn’t completely scalp you on international delivery despite its Canadian roots. JukeBox is the way to go if you’re looking for a moderately priced pack of business cards that stand out from the pack.
OvernightPrints is the Swiss army knife of online printing services, offering affordable options and quick delivery for all manner of printed products. They may specialize in brochures and announcements, but they also tout a wide selection of cardstock, designs and custom finishes accessible through the built-in wizard. Like most printing services, you can always upload your own creation, but the site does host an number of elegant, premade patterns for those of us who are less crafty or quickly need a set of business cards in a pinch.
OvernightPrints is also one of the few services capable of processing small batch runs of less than 100. You can order card runs between 50 and 5,000, with a meager 50-card run costing a mere $4.15 with free UV finishing, and the site is always hosting on-going sales for customers who subscribe to the mailing list or have the patience to wait for an applicable price reduction on a particular style. The cards are weighty and of higher-quality than the similarly-priced VistaPrint, but they’re not superbly crafted either. OvernightPrints is a knockout when it comes to price-quality comparison though, especially if you manage to catch a promotion or just need a few cards to hold you over in a pinch.
Looking to stockpile an abundance of no-frills business cards that ditch the designer chic in favor of something more simple? GotPrint keeps it as basic as it gets, whether uploading your own composition or utilizing the site’s barebones templates, and features several card stock options in varying sizes and styles. There are a few special shapes if you prefer to add a touch of pizzazz and uniqueness to your card, such as ovals and rounded rectangles, but they will drastically increase the printing costs and require you to manually upload your personalized design in lieu of using the built-in web app.
Aside from its simplicity, GotPrint is know for its quick turnaround and rock-bottom pricing. A standard 500-card run begins at around $50 and features great quality printing for the price, with stiff card stock and excellent inking, but it’s not quite as nice as Moo or some of the more expensive services on our roundup. Although the customer service has been known to give clients the run around when issues arise, the pricing and moderate choice selection still make it a great source for cheap business cards.
There’s never enough room on our best-of roundups to include each and every service worth mentioning. Below are a few of the runner ups that offer fairly solid business cards for an affordable price. They might not be as speedy or convenient as your local brick-and-mortar print shop, nor do they offer the kind of stellar quality of our top five, but they’re still not a bad choice given the price.
What did you think of our choices for the best sources for cheap business cards? Which service do use for all your professional printing needs? Let us know in the comments below.