Need business cards for your new company? Not sure where to start? Only have a small budget for your print materials? You should think about using online printing services. These services can make brochures, menus, postcards, and most importantly, business cards.
Why Print Business Cards Online?
There are several reasons why you might want to print business cards online: it’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it’s a great solution if you either don’t have a nearby company that does printing or you aren’t sure if they do good work or not.
By the way, I’m not a graphic designer.
This is a review of 3 online printing services from my own experience. And I want to let you all know, I am not a graphic designer. I don’t do logos, business cards, and print materials for a living. I don’t even consider myself artistic. I’m strictly a website guy who needed business cards.
With that said, allow me to show my personally-designed cards to demonstrate the print quality of 3 online printing companies I’ve tried.
1. VISTAPRINT – “Good value, but varying quality.”[caption id="attachment_599" align="aligncenter" width="640"] My very first business card. This is the basic card from Vistaprint (no back). Thin and dull, but good for a starter card.[/caption]
Vistaprint was where I got my very first business cards. I started working as “Ron’s Website Magic.” Both the ridiculous business name (I chuckle a bit looking back at it) and the card were made in a hurry because I needed something to pass out to prospective clients. So I ordered a free set of business cards and paid $10 shipping for them. The colors were dull and the paper was thin, but I couldn’t complain.
About a year later, I used Vistaprint again for another card design. This time, I used the premium matte option (see below). It was a lot thicker and extremely smooth to touch. It was actually had the ideal physical features of a business card, in my opinion.[caption id="attachment_600" align="aligncenter" width="640"] This card, from Vistaprint as well, was in their “Premium Matte” style. The thickness and the smooth touch were absolutely perfect. The back was not so pretty though.[/caption]
The back came out horribly though (see below). It looked discolored and the not-100%-clean-cut-white-edges were painfully visible against the black background. The back was a solid black when I designed the image digitally, but it came out many levels lighter in print. It made me wish that I avoided solid colors with Vistaprint, because it came out great otherwise.[caption id="attachment_601" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The back of my card was quite awful. The “black” was more like dark gray (the lighting here makes it darker) and the color was not solid at all.[/caption]
I contacted customer support, who were very understanding. I showed them the awful job on the back. They gave me store credit without putting much of a fight. I was happy, but still a bit annoyed because it meant I would have to wait some more for a reprint. So I ended up saving the store credit for my next design.
When I used my store credit for a new card design, I found that the card quality did not match my previous premium matte order at all! It wasn’t awful, but it was definitely not the same as what I had before. And the front of my card had a paper texture. I was told by the staff that only one side is premium matte, while the other side is regular. Not sure how that makes sense.[caption id="attachment_602" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Vistaprint try number 3. The front was a rough, papery texture and did not feel at all like my previous premium matte order. It looked like a car that had a new paint job but someone forgot the clear coat. Not bad, but not anywhere resembling my last premium matte order.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_603" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Meanwhile, the back was smooth, but it was actually a bit shinier than my previous order of Premium Matte. I suppose it’s because of all the ink. Either way, it was different from the last premium matte.[/caption]
- website: Vistaprint.com
- 250 cards with front and back color design + premium matte = $30+SH
- Sample Pack (for resellers)
- They ALWAYS have 25% off somewhere
- good customer support
- prompt shipping
2. Overnight Print – “Nice photo print, but slow, defective print, and no response from customer support.”
Overnight Print was the biggest disappointment. I had gotten their sample pack after 3 weeks of waiting. The samples were quite nice. Their matte finish, in particular, caught my eye, so I put in an order. Waited another 3 weeks for my shipment. When I opened my package, I was absolutely disappointed at what I saw.[caption id="attachment_597" align="aligncenter" width="640"] There’s a faint, green ink residue on the edges of every card I got from Overnight Prints.[/caption]
There was ink residue on all of my cards. You can’t really see it, but the edges of every card I got had a faint ink residue, as if someone had touched ink and then rubbed their fingers against the edges of the card. Furthermore, that ink residue was green, so it was painfully obvious against my white background. I’m guessing the residue was caused by smearing of the heavy black and white ink print on the back. Speaking of which, the back , which was a black and white photo of a cool office, came out perfect, ironically.[caption id="attachment_598" align="aligncenter" width="640"] I had a picture of an office on the back of my card. It came out flawlessly.[/caption]
The card quality I got was not the same as in their sampler pack. The card actually felt like a manila folder. I emailed their customer support about my ink residue issue because something big as that should be considered a defect, or at least someone in their production line is not paying attention! I never got a reply.
- 250 cards, double-sided = $22+SH
- Sampler pack (here)
- Round corners available
- Don’t buy from them. Read their Yelp reviews if you don’t believe me.
3. MOO: “Superb quality, but weird sizes.”[caption id="attachment_595" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Moo’s cards are nice, but they don’t offer standard U.S. sizes.[/caption]
Moo is a bit more expensive, but they offer the highest-quality cards you’ll ever see for reasonable prices. The cards are silky smooth, solid colors are flawlessly printed, and their Luxe style is a perfect suit for people who want a more refined, business card with a paper-feel to it. If you look at the edge of the Luxe, you can even see that it’s made of 3 layers of paper. Moo’s cost-per-card is a lot higher than others, but I feel the price is justified given the high-quality.[caption id="attachment_609" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Part of Moo’s sample pack. From left to right, Luxe-style, matte-style, and glossy-style.[/caption]
There is one major problem with Moo though: their cards are NOT standard U.S. sizes. Moo’s biggest flaw is that their cards are narrower and taller than regular business cards. Some might think of it as a way to stick out from a batch of business cards that people receive, but I just find it annoying when somebody has a creative card size. Unfortunately, this was a deal-breaker for me.
- 100 cards, front and back design = $40+SH
- Sample packs available (here or here)
- round corners available
- website: Moo.com
- the company has a very fun, quirky culture
So where’s the best place to print business cards online?
Actually, you should try and see if you can find a quality printing company near you. Most of them probably want to protect their reputation and make sure that their products are good quality before passing to their clients. A lot of online printing companies don’t share the same sentiment. Also, it’s always a good idea to establish work relationships with local companies. You may pay more than you would online, but knowing someone local who can do quality and punctual jobs is worth much more than what you would save by buy online.
If you need to buy online though, if you want nice cards and don’t mind odd sizes, go with MOO. Otherwise, VISTAPRINT is decent and provides good support. OVERNIGHT PRINTS is just 50 shades of awful.
Any other opinions? Have you tried other online printing businesses to print business cards? Please let me know.