Do free business cards really exist?
We have seen the claim for free business cards from a few different companies, so we decided to investigate to determine if you can really get business cards for free. We spent hours researching, and the answer we came back with is a definitive no. When we looked into it, some cost is always involved.
In this article we are going to tell you the truth about the major “free” business card offers. In most cases, going with the “free” option is not the best choice. Instead, choosing an offer that does not claim to be free ends up being less expensive. In this article, we will show you where you can get the most affordable business cards.
Tip: Having a personal email address on your business cards will not look professional. Learn how to get and set up your free business email address with our in-depth guide. And don’t worry, when we say free, we actually mean it.
The Truth About Free Business Cards
The offer for free business cards is more of a marketing ploy than a real promise to provide anything for free. The main way they get you to pay is by charging for shipping. This is a cost that you can’t circumvent, so it’s important to make sure you’re not getting gouged on shipping costs. For example, if you’re paying $14 for shipping and the expected delivery date is in 21 days, it’s likely that some of the shipping cost is covering the cost of your “free” business cards.
A lot of times, the free offer is a way to get you to go to their website, so that the company can charge you for other things. Besides charging you for shipping, here are a few ways in which the company will seek to make money from you:
- They charge you for speed. If you need the cards for a meeting, tradeshow, or convention in a few days, you may have pay an additional fee for express printing and even more for shipping.
- They will try to convince you to buy premium cards or add-on items. Some companies offer only a handful of free design templates for free business cards, but hundreds of business card design templates for premium buyers.
- They will use your contact information to get you to buy in the future. Even if you don’t buy a card at that moment, by obtaining information such as your email address, the company will be able to market to you in the future.
Comparison chart of the most common “free” or low cost business card options:
|Company||What They Say||What They Mean||Actual Cost of Lowest Cost Option|
|Vistaprint||“100 business cards for $1.99”||“We will try to upsell you on everything during checkout.”|
$6.98 for 100 cards
$1.99 for 100 business cards
$4.99 for shipping (8 business days)
|1-800-Postcards||"250 free business cards"||“We will charge you an unreasonable amount on shipping, and it will take 3 weeks to get the cards.”|
$14 for 250 cards
$0 for 250 business cards
$14 for shipping (21 business days)
|Moo||"Free business card samples"||“Get a feel for what we offer, but your contact information will not be on the card.”|
$25.49 for 50 cards
$19.99 for a pack of 50
$5.50 for shipping (9 business days)
|Avery||"Free business card templates"||“You can customize and design your business cards for free, but we hope you brought your own paper and printer.”|
$19 for 250 cards
$19 for paper with 250 blank business cards (you have to print yourself)
Factors that Influence Cost
When buying business cards, there are a few different choices you can make that will affect the cost.
- Paper stock – Most companies that offer business cards will have a few different paper options such as matte, glossy, metallic, raised letters, thick paper, etc. Usually the mid-tier thickness option is best, as it is still affordable without being flimsy.
- Design/color on front and back – Having a design on the front and back will cost you more, so consider just having your design on the front. Color will also sometimes cost more depending on the company. Go for color on the front to make sure your logo stands out.
- Shipping time – This all depends on how quickly you need your cards. Business card providers realize that people procrastinate and forget to order their cards until right before a networking event, so they tend to charge a lot for quick delivery.
In my opinion, it is best to skip over the “free” option, and pay a little bit more to have a nice quality card that represents your business well.
Our Recommended Business Card Provider
We use and recommend Vistaprint as our business card provider for small business owners for their affordable, yet high quality business cards. You can get 250 quality cards for less than $20 with shipping. Note that the pricing in this article may differ from the pricing you see if you visit their website. Vistaprint will often automatically apply discounts, so pricing varies depending on which promotion is applied.
We don’t recommend going with their offer of 100 business cards for $1.99. The quality of these cards is poor, and by spending a little bit more, you can get way better cards from Vistaprint.
Recommended Options from Vistaprint:
|Basic Cards||Sturdy Cards||Fancy Cards|
|Quantity||100 cards||100 cards||100 cards|
|Paper Quality||Signature 16 pt - $13.98||Ultra thick 32 pt - $19.99||Signature 16 pt - $13.98|
|Front of Card||Full color (included)||Full color (included)||Full color (included)|
|Back of Card||Blank (included)||Grayscale - $2.99||Full color - $5.99|
|Paper Stock||Signature matte (included)||Uncoated matte (included)||Signature glossy (included)|
|Specialty Features||None||None||Raised print or metallic finish - $8.99|
|Total||$13.98 + shipping||$22.98 + shipping||$28.96 + shipping|
View our in-depth comparison of the top business card providers to learn more.
If you want a custom design on your business card that sets yours apart from the standard design options that come with business card providers, consider hiring a designer. You can get someone to design your business card for as little as $5 using Fiverr.
Can You Print Your Own Business Cards for Free?
Yes, there are a number of programs that provide free online templates (word and PDF formats) for business cards. Assuming that you have the following tools, you may be able to print your own business cards for free:
- High-Quality Inkjet or Laser Printer
- High Quality Paper (i.e. 100 lb cotton paper)
- Free Business Card Printing Software
If you want a professional looking card, you can buy heavy-stock pre-cut paper. Literally, you can pop-out a card with a perfect edge. Unfortunately, this paper doesn’t come cheap. You can buy business card paper to print 250 cards for $15 to $20. Avery provides free business card templates that work with its paper products.
What Should Go on Your Business Card
When creating your business cards, you will definitely want to include the following information:
- Your name and business name
- Phone number – You should have a business number that is separate from your personal number. We recommend using Nextiva for your business phone system.
- Email address – Make sure to include a professional email address (email@example.com) instead of a personal email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Having a personal email address on your business card will hurt your credibility. Learn how to set up a free business email address here.
- Website – If you want people to be able to learn more about your business after you give them your card, then make sure to include your website. If you don’t have a website, learn how to set one up for $3.45 per month or less.
You should also consider including the following (though choose carefully because you don’t want your business card to look crowded with too much information):
- Logo – Including your company’s logo will help brand your business card. If you don’t already have a logo, learn how to create one here.
- Physical address – If you have a local business with a physical address, then you definitely want to include your location. However, if you only operate online, you may consider using the space for other information.
- Title – Include your job title, so people know your role at the business.
- Slogan – If you have a catchy one-liner about your business, it might be a good idea to include it on your card. This will help people get a better sense of what you do.
- Social media accounts – Include your Twitter handle or Facebook page to get more engagement on your social media.
- Fax number – This may seem old school, but if you operate in a business that uses fax machines often, consider including the number on your card.
- Your picture – If you operate in a line of business like real estate or insurance sales where you and your business are one and the same, then using your picture is not a bad idea.
The Bottom Line
When do you give out business cards? When you’re meeting someone for the first time and making a first impression. While your business associate may not remember a great looking business card, there is a chance that they will remember a “bad” business card or a business card that gives the impression that your company is struggling or cheap.
That’s why we recommend paying a little bit more to get business cards that are affordable, yet still professional. View our step by step guide to getting the perfect business card to learn more about the considerations that go into buying business cards.