How To: Order Business Cards
by: Jen Udan | ChooseWhat.com
Business cards are one of your most effective and inexpensive forms of marketing.
When you give someone your business card, you immediately legitimize your business. You also give that person a physical reminder of your meeting with information that allows them to contact you and learn more about your business.
Main Uses for Business Cards:
Promotional materials for your company
Networking (hand out at conferences or trade shows, or simply when meeting with people for lunch)
Stay in touch with business contacts and customers
Before you order business cards, you should:
Assemble the information you want to appear on your business card.
- Plan your basic business card design.
You should know generally how you want to lay out the information on your business card. The images and text you choose for your business card can convey professionalism, creativity, or uniqueness. For a crash course in designing your business card, read our STARTicle: A Guide to Designing and Printing Your Business Cards.
Online Printing Services
Online printing services are our recommended choice for ordering business cards because they offer low-cost cards and a simple online design editor to help you create your cards. These services offer a variety of card options and upgrades. They usually send you a "proof" or sample of your design as a PDF. After you’ve designed your cards, they will print and ship your cards to the address you specify.
Many online printing services offer other printed materials such as booklets, brochures, calendars, greeting cards, posters, signs, and letterheads.
Business cards from these services usually start at $15 for 250 double-sided cards. Most services include printing on the back side of your cards for free, while some may charge an additional fee. Online printing services save you significant time and money as they often have seasonal discounts, promotions, and coupon codes.
The only disadvantage is shipping time and fees. The standard turnaround time for your business cards is 1-2 weeks. If you need your cards in 24 hours or in 1-2 days, you’ll have to pay extra.
See our Business Cards Comparison and Reviews page to compare top service providers.
Copy & Print Shops
We recommend copy and print shops to people who need their business cards printed in 1-2 days and want in-store pickup. Copy and print shops are typically part of large chains, like FedEx Office (formerly Kinko’s) and OfficeMax. You can walk into any copy shop and give them a design or proof (they usually ask for a PDF file) that they will print for you on card stock. Many of the large chain shops also offer a design center, where you can design your cards from scratch using their software.
At these shops, business cards will cost about $30-$60 for 250 front-only color cards, which is double what you'd pay with an online printing service. It will cost roughly 50% more for double-sided printing.
The biggest advantage of copy and print shops is that you won't have to pay for shipping and you can pick up your cards in the store. Additionally, some places offer custom card designs that they outsource to contract designers. OfficeMax gave us a quote of $22.99 per custom design, but this option may take longer than 1-2 days.
The disadvantage of copy and print shops is that you have limited business card options. We found that most of the shops offer only 10 pt. or 12 pt. card stock, which are on the thin side, and a choice of only matte or glossy finish.
Top Service Providers:
Specialty Print Shops
We recommend specialty print shops for those wanting highly customized business cards or special options. Specialty print shops have special printing equipment and offer a variety of print services such as digital printing, offset printing, wide-format printing, and display graphics. They typically offer a wide range of paper and print options.
You can walk into any specialty print shop and give them a design or proof (they usually ask for a PDF file) that they will print for you on card stock. Some places have in-house graphic designers who can design custom cards. We were quoted $85 / hour for in-house design work, but this option may take longer than 1-2 days.
We called a specialty print shop in Austin, TX, and were quoted $85 for 250 front-only color cards, which is more than four times the cost of business cards from an online printing service. It will cost roughly 50% more for double-sided printing.
Where to Find Specialty Print Shops:
Search Google for specialty print shops in your area.
- Put QR Codes on your business cards. People can scan a QR code with a smartphone mobile app and download information about your business. There are lots of free QR code generators online, so just search for them. Here is a good list of QR code generators.
- Use business card Smartphone apps. Since many business people are now using smartphones, the new trend is to use apps for quickly sharing contact information. One of these apps is Bump, a contact info sharing app, which is available for iPhone and Android.