By Anna Perling. This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Ladders may earn affiliate commissions.
After 20 hours researching 13 business card printing services, and testing seven of them, we think Vistaprint is the best option for most people looking for professional-looking business cards. Vistaprint’s print quality is among the best we tested, its website offers the best design and ordering experience, and you can order a run as small as 100 cards. You can design a card from scratch or choose from an extensive variety of premade templates—more than almost any other site we looked at—and Vistaprint offers a range of card stock and finish options.
Should you need design or purchase assistance, the company’s customer service is helpful and responsive. And Vistaprint’s card prices are in line with those of the other services we like, with shipping rates that are some of the least expensive.
If you need to print complex custom designs, we recommend Jukebox Print. It offers far fewer premade templates than Vistaprint, so it’s best for designers who want to start from scratch, and the design process can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with graphic design. Jukebox also has a larger minimum order (500, versus 100 for Vistaprint), a longer turnaround time, and, in part because the company is in Canada, among the highest shipping costs we found. However, the print quality is excellent, and if you want to venture away from traditional cards, Jukebox offers the most choices for customization of all the services we looked at, with options to print on materials like cork or add 3D embossing.
Staples produced the best cards of the services we tested that offer widely available same-day, in-store pickup—the company has over a thousand stores across the United States. Print quality is above average considering the fast production time; the simple online design tool can save you a trip to one of the company’s local branches during the ordering process (FedEx requires you to go to a store to order); and Staples’s customer service provides consistent pricing information, timelines, and design help.
Why you should trust me
For this guide, I spoke to four experts with different backgrounds to learn about what makes a great business card and a great business card printing service: Kate Bingaman-Burt, a designer, illustrator, and graphic design professor at Portland State University; Stephanie Hooper, a senior account manager at creative staffing agency 52 Limited; Alan Henry, senior digital strategist and Smarter Living editor at The New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company), who’s reported on this topic; and Wirecutter’s own creative director Ryan Hines, who oversees all of our graphics, illustration, and Web design. I also interviewed fellow Wirecutter staffers, many of whom have been freelancers and printed their own cards before.
I test and write about home-office products for Wirecutter; I also used to work as a freelance writer, and I’ve found myself in need of business cards for networking events at the last minute. In 2017, I had to print cards on a day’s notice for a filmmaking conference. I ended up with boring, flimsy, black-and-white, plain-typeface cards because overnight printing from a higher-quality service would have cost me another $50. My cards didn’t reflect my work or personal brand, so I was ultimately too embarrassed to hand out cards to people I met at the event, defeating the point of networking. While researching and testing for this guide, I was excited to learn about the best services to help others avoid this very situation, and get some snazzy new cards myself.
Who this is for
Anyone who wants to market themselves or their business can benefit from having business cards. They’re helpful for networking with vendors or potential clients, and in some cases you may even need a card to enter an industry event or conference. They can be useful even if recipients prefer storing contact information in a digital database: Most card printing services offer the option of adding scannable QR codes or chips. For this guide, we focused on services for small-business owners, independent contractors, artists, consultants, and anyone who works for a company that doesn’t provide business cards for its employees.
We looked for the best services for people who want great-looking cards at a reasonable price, and who are willing to design and order cards online. A person with no design experience should still be able to create a standout business card using one of these services. Although you may choose to work with a designer to create a logo or customize your branding, it’s not a requirement.
A good business card “is one that expresses your personality, industry, and company well, and that you’re proud to hand out to people you meet,” Alan Henry, senior digital strategist and Smarter Living editor at The New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company), told me. It should highlight the essential information you want to share with a new connection so they can easily reach out to you in the future. But how you present that information is intensely personal: Some people in more creative industries may prefer eye-catching designs, while those working in more traditional fields may prefer a more standard, muted card. The services we tested all give you the option to customize your cards for a more personal design.
Business card design has come a long way (as Alan Henry of The New York Times pointed out by sending me this tongue-in-cheek video). But no matter what, a good card should be one you’re happy to hand out to future contacts.
Ordering cards online might not be best for you if you’re creating an extremely detailed design with fine lines or borders, you need a suite of branded materials, or you’ll be using the Pantone Matching System. In these cases, our experts recommend going to a print shop or letterpress studio in person. There, you’ll be able to see and feel materials, and get a digital or physical proof of your design. (We ran into an issue while printing our own Wirecutter cards because our official branding uses Pantone colors and many online printing services don’t offer Pantone matching.) Whether you’re designing your own cards or working with a designer, consider if you’ll be using Pantone or CMYK colors before deciding where to print your cards. (We’ll get into what these colors mean in a bit.)
Even though you can rush-order business cards with an online service, our main picks are for people who have allotted enough time for designing and ordering cards with standard shipping. Some sites manually process proofs for your review, which takes longer and may involve some back and forth to get your design just right; we don’t recommend rushing through this if you want your design to be accurate. Give yourself ample time to order a sample pack from a company to evaluate paper options, design your cards, look at a proof, and place your order. But just in case, because sometimes procrastination happens, we have included services that offer same-day printing and in-store pick-up, and rush shipping options.
How we picked
I started by looking online for reviews of business card printing services. I consulted roundups by Business.com, Lifehacker, Reviews.com (the article is no longer available), and Hiveage. I also researched how to design cards that stand out, so I could compare features from various printing services.
I then consulted with our four experts to find out what makes a great business card and a great business card printing service. I also interviewed a panel of Wirecutter colleagues, many of whom have been freelance writers and have designed and printed their own cards.
Based on my research and interviews, I created a list of criteria that a great business card printing service should meet:
- Good print quality: The service should print cards with accurate colors, crisp images, fine lines, and consistent trimming around the edges.
- Intuitive Web interface: It should be easy to figure out how to navigate a service’s website, and upload your own design or tweak a template. Once you start the design process, site navigation should flow intuitively from step to step. The best sites will make it easy to view and compare options for paper stocks and finishes, quantities, and pricing.
- Templates and custom options: The service should offer a range of well-designed and curated premade templates, along with add-on features such as finishes (like glossy or matte), paper stock, sizes, corner shape, and spot gloss (to make certain areas shiny).
- Responsive customer service: The service should have customer support available during the design and ordering process. Email and live chat are helpful, but being able to talk to a real person on the phone even better.
- Digital proofs: The service should offer digital proofs to preview designs before you commit to ordering.
- Card samples: You should be able to request sample packs before you start designing and ordering, with examples of card stock, finishes, and card sizes and shapes.
Based on these criteria, I chose 13 sites to compare: Moo, Vistaprint, Elite Flyers, GotPrint, Jukebox Print, 48HourPrint.com, PS Print, UPrinting.com, 4over4.com, and 123Print. I wanted to include options for same-day or next-day turnaround, so I also considered services from UPS, FedEx, and Staples that require in-store pickup.
How we tested
I eliminated sites that had bad Web interfaces, glitchy or difficult-to-use design tools, few or no premade templates, or limited customization options. I also eliminated sites that didn’t have multiple ways to reach customer service or thorough information on customer service availability. This narrowed the model list to the following finalists: Moo, Vistaprint, Elite Flyers, GotPrint, Jukebox Print, FedEx, and Staples.
|Service||Cost per card (100 cards)||Cost per card (250)||Cost per card (500)||Shipping costs (estimate, based on minimum order)||Estimated turnaround time (days)|
|Jukebox (Wait and Save)||–||–||$0.07||$9.50||9–14|
|Staples (Premium)||–||$0.11||$0.07||–||< 1|
|Moo (Original, standard)||$0.40||$0.35 (for 200)||$0.30 (for 400)||$5.50||9|
|Elite Flyers (Short run)||–||$0.10||$0.06||$9.50||6–8+|
From this group, I started by ordering sample packs from the sites that offered them to compare materials and finishes. To see how well each handled printing challenging designs, I worked with Wirecutter creative director Ryan Hines to create a print test. This card let us test how well each service rendered colors, fine lines, and photos, and how consistently it trimmed cards.
Then I anonymously ordered cards from all sites. For consistency, I tried to order cards with the same specifications, when possible: standard-size cards (3½ by 2 inches) with square corners and an easy-to-read matte finish. We also went with 16 pt stock, as it feels sturdier than printer paper but is still inexpensive and common. (The thickness of paper is measured in points or pounds, shortened to “pt” or “lb.” Pounds refer to a paper’s weight relative to the whole ream, points indicate thickness of a single sheet of paper.) Staples and FedEx do not offer 16 pt card stock, so I picked the closest equivalents in these cases: 13 pt for Staples, and 110 lb paper for FedEx (at the suggestion of a store employee).
I uploaded and adjusted designs using each service’s Web-based design tool, looking for clear instructions and prompts throughout the ordering process and noting if a service offered a digital or PDF proof before ordering. I took note of uploader tools that didn’t work, wouldn’t let me upload designs before paying, or tried to upsell me on items besides business cards as I tried to complete my purchase.
I interacted with representatives from each of the printing services, noting the length of email response delays and the helpfulness and consistency of customer service over phone and live chat. I had a few weird things happen during testing (like an order stolen from my porch, and a printer’s broken cutter that delayed printing), so I evaluated how the services responded to these incidents too. I also called and asked each of the finalist services to outline its customer satisfaction policies. Finally, I noted when cards arrived relative to their estimated turnaround times.
Once I received the cards, Ryan and I evaluated printing quality by comparing the cards side by side. This is what we looked for:
- Accurate colors: Most printers print with CMYK ink to create a range of colors (this color range is actually different from what you see on a screen, and is converted during printing). Some people prefer using the universal Pantone color matching system, however, to ensure greater color accuracy. Not all printers offer Pantone matching, and those that do will not offer digital proofs because Pantone colors can’t be printed digitally.
On the back of each card, we added blocks of both CMYK and Pantone colors to see how each service converted and printed these colors, along with a color gradient to see how the services handled changes in tone. Ryan compared the color swatches on the cards we received with the Pantone Color Bridge Coated book.
- Fine detail: We included on our test cards typefaces ranging from 2 pt to 8 pt, on white and black backgrounds, to see how each service handled fine print; fine lines in a range of thicknesses from .125 pt to 1 pt; and a semicircle with fine lines. We checked for wavering lines and small text bleeding.
- Clear photos: Grainy, pixelated photos are a dealbreaker for a business card, so we included photos in grayscale, RGB, and CMYK colors to see how printers handled each.
- Trim accuracy: Most printing services have design templates that break down a design into three parts: the safe area (indicating where your design will be on the card), the trim line (where a card will be cut) and the bleed (extra space that extends beyond the safety line and your design to prevent any white space and account for trimming inconsistencies). Some sites denote this differently, and all have different dimension specifications. Ryan created designs for me to account for each site’s required bleed areas. Most services recommend against using designs with borders because they’re hard to cut, but we added a colorful border and arrows at the edges of cards to see how close each service came to aligning the design correctly and delivering clean, even lines.
Our pick: Vistaprint
If you’re looking for basic business cards and want a straightforward design and ordering process, Vistaprint is the best service for most people. Vistaprint’s cards were among the best in our printing test, with relatively accurate colors and trimming, and readable smaller type. Vistaprint has one of the easiest websites to navigate, and you don’t need a graphic design background to handle the design process. The company has quick turnaround times, great customer service. Vistaprint frequently runs promotions that lower the cost of cards and shipping, too.
Vistaprint’s cards came in third overall in print quality behind Jukebox (our upgrade pick) and Elite Flyers (which we eliminated based on the company’s poor Web interface and ordering process). Ryan said Vistaprint did the third-best job rendering fine details like small typeface and thin lines. Colors were mostly accurate, although a tad dark. Our design was centered properly on Vistaprint’s cards, and the company did a decent job cutting the edges in the same place consistently. A few cards in the batch had slightly rough edges, but they weren’t too noticeable. Our printed border was not aligned properly, but this was the case with every service we tested, and because most people will print white or single-color cards (without borders) we don’t think this will be an issue. Although the card stock we chose isn’t as thick or soft feeling as Moo’s sturdy stock, the Vistaprint cards still felt nice in my hand, with a smooth, matte finish.
Vistaprint provides a better overall experience in creating a business card than any other service we tested. Compared with our upgrade pick, Jukebox, Vistaprint’s design process involves fewer steps that flow intuitively from one to the next, and doesn’t require navigating to and from different pages. When designing your cards with Vistaprint, you can start by choosing cards based on shape (standard, rounded, square, slim, or folded), paper stock (glossy, matte, uncoated, pearl, soft touch, brown kraft, linen, recycled matte, or colored paper), special finishes (like metallic or spot UV to make certain areas shiny or glossy), or specialty stock (plastic cards, ultra-thick 32 pt stock, or ColorFill for a colorful center). Paper weight options are helpfully included in descriptions of paper stock. Once you choose a feature as a starting point and click on the respective thumbnail, Vistaprint has buttons to fill out the rest of your order details, with available options for shape, size, stock, paper weight, and finishes based on your selection.
Vistaprint’s minimum order of 100 cards is one of the lowest we found, something that people who don’t give out cards very often will appreciate. The site’s interface and ordering process have changed since the time of writing; we ordered the minimum of 100 cards with 16 pt stock and a matte finish (the closest equivalent is Matte Premium cards), and used standard shipping.
Vistaprint offers 8,830 premade templates (at the time of our testing, at least) categorized by industry, the most of any service besides FedEx (which has 9,146). Designs range from sparkly and geometric to understated. Although the pool is overwhelming, the site gives you many different ways to find something you like: Templates are divided by industry, style, or theme, or by available additional features. You can choose a template already designed for add-ons like spot gloss or metallic finishes, and you can upload photos from Facebook or Instagram to your card design.
Vistaprint provides the best visual tools to review your design. After creating your cards, the website shows you your proof by rendering your cards in someone’s hand, as shown in the photo below. I appreciated this image because imagining how the bleed and trim lines affect your design can be difficult for people without design experience. Only one other service I tested, FedEx, has this tool, and I think it is the best way to view a proof. If you select a template with an add-on like spot gloss or metallic finishes, Vistaprint lets you preview these effects with a video.
Vistaprint’s customer service was also among the best; representatives were responsive, helpful, and friendly. My original order was delivered but stolen from my porch over the winter holidays. When I called Vistaprint in a panic, the company quickly reprinted and shipped my order for free, and the new batch of cards arrived four days later. Should you find printing errors with your cards, Vistaprint claims a “100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee.” The company will evaluate how to handle each situation “on a case by case basis,” but will reprint cards for free if errors are the company’s fault, a customer service representative told me.
Vistaprints cards cost $32, or 32¢ per card at the time of writing (not including shipping, but including an $8 charge for printing color on both sides). A Vistaprint representative confirmed that the site often has significant discounts that include cards and shipping costs, so we recommend checking for promo codes before ordering. Prices are consistently lower if you order more cards: When I priced an order of 500 cards (Jukebox’s minimum order) at Vistaprint, the cost per card went down to 10¢, slightly more than Jukebox and roughly the average cost of the other services we tested.
Vistaprint’s standard shipping is among the least expensive of any service we tested, and I received my initial batch of cards on time, eight days after ordering. For even faster service, Vistaprint offers three-day Express shipping; the cost varies based on the order, but my estimated Express costs were around $20. If you truly need cards immediately, we recommend going with a service that offers same-day in-store pickup.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
During our testing, Vistaprint charged us $6 to print colors on the back of our cards, an extra cost that didn’t present itself until I was already designing (this surcharge may vary based on card quantity, and with the site’s standard pricing rises to $8). The cost isn’t unreasonable, but it would be nice if it were obvious up front.
Like many services we tested, Vistaprint prints products beyond business cards. After designing your card, you can proceed directly to checkout by clicking a checkout button, but if you click a “next” button instead, you will be prompted with several pages of additional products, including caps, pens, car magnets, and lawn signs. If you are starting a business and want coordinated swag, that might be convenient, but if you aren’t, it’s annoying to wade through.
Upgrade pick: Jukebox Print
If you’re printing intricate custom designs, we recommend Jukebox Print. Jukebox aced our print test with vibrant colors, sharp fine lines, readable small typeface, and precise trimming. The company also has the most options for paper stock and extra features to customize cards. But Jukebox’s design process can be confusing, and we recommend leaving yourself ample time to account for designing cards and shipping from this Canada-based service. Jukebox also has one of the highest shipping costs of any service we tested, likely due in part to international shipping.
I ordered Jukebox’s Wait and Save standard cards, with 16 pt stock and a matte finish, using our custom design. Ryan quickly identified Jukebox’s cards as the best from our test pool. He speculated that Jukebox used the finest screen, so photos and color swatches didn’t appear coarse or patterned with dots like they did on some of the other cards we received. The Jukebox cards’ fine lines were crisp and flowed continuously, and these were the only cards we ordered whose 2 pt typeface was legible as both white text on a black background and black text on a white background.
The Jukebox cards were also cut consistently (along the same lines) and cleanly (without jagged edges). Jukebox did end up scaling our design to fit into the card, thereby altering it slightly, but when we compared them side by side with other cards to look for uneven edges, look for white spaces above our colorful border, and see if the fronts and backs of cards matched up, it was clear that Jukebox did the overall best trimming job.
Jukebox offers the most custom options of any service we tested. You can choose from standard cards made from regular paper, recycled paper, or specialty material (including wooden, sparkle, cork, 3D embossed, and more). And Jukebox’s Same Day cards have a few different paper stock options. For more complex features like foiling, however, Jukebox recommends using one of the company’s own designers. At the time of publication, Jukebox had a starting quote of about $37 (USD) to help add spot UV and about $207 for a complete design.
Parts of the design process are frustrating, however, especially compared with Vistaprint’s. Jukebox’s process has more steps, and they don’t flow as intuitively from step to step as they do for our main pick. Jukebox provides templates and guidelines for uploading your own artwork, but these confused me as a non-designer because they don’t clearly state design measurements. For example, I thought I followed the instructions to add .125 inch to each edge of the card, but Jukebox really means to each of the four sides—so my design didn’t cover enough of the “bleed space” to ensure my card would be printed and cut accurately. (Jukebox caught this after I placed my order, and resized the design for me.)
You also have to pay for your cards before uploading your design and viewing a proof with Jukebox. This was confusing to me, and I had to ask about it via live chat—it felt odd to add the cards to my online cart and check out when I hadn’t actually made or seen the card. However, Jukebox emails you a proof before your order goes to production, and you have three chances to tweak your design; after that the company charges about $10 for each extra proof. To make sure you get your design right, I recommend using Jukebox’s customer support representatives via phone, live chat, or email.
I spoke with Jukebox support over live chat, email, and phone. As with Vistaprint, the representatives were consistently helpful and responded quickly via live chat and email. Jukebox has a handy FAQ section, which the company strongly recommends using to help prevent errors. Customer support representatives also said that in the event of a misprinted order, Jukebox would reprint and send cards as quickly as possible.
Jukebox offers a relatively low number of templates (122) with themes ranging from woodworking to wildlife photography. This smaller pool is easier to search through than Vistaprint’s nearly 9,000 templates, or even Moo’s 332 designs, but it’s more limiting. (Jukebox’s basic editor tool lets you customize the background colors and fonts on templates, and add images, shapes, stripes, Clipart, or a QR code.) That said, we wouldn’t choose Jukebox to use the service’s templates—we recommend it as the best option for printing your own more-detailed designs.
If you use one of Jukebox’s templates, you will need to download the file after you’ve added your own information and save it as a PDF, and re-upload the PDF after ordering; if you’re using your own design or artwork, you’ll be able to upload those files using the same email link. You’ll get a confirmation email with a link and instructions on how to upload.
Jukebox’s cards cost 7¢ per card for the required minimum order of 500 cards, which is about average compared with prices for an order of that size from other services. Jukebox provides estimated shipping costs; at the time of publication, the standard shipping cost for our order was about $10 USD, twice as much as shipping for our top pick. (Both card and shipping costs are based on CAD, and the exchange rate can fluctuate.) The company estimates the turnaround time as nine to 11 days, but our cards actually arrived about three weeks after we ordered, though this was during holiday season.
Jukebox does have a same-day printing option, which requires your proof to be approved by 9:30 a.m. PST, and shipping still takes one to three days. Same-day printing has fewer paper stock and finish options, but you can get a batch as small as 100 cards because the cards are printed digitally. (Although digital printing quality is similar to offset printing, offset printing costs decrease with volume if you need more cards.) My estimated shipping cost for the cheapest Same Day option of 100 16 pt semigloss cards—shipping costs vary depending on quantity and paper weight—was about $30 at the time of publication. You can also pick up cards for free at one of Jukebox’s offices in Toronto, Vancouver, or New York City.
When you need cards printed ASAP: Staples
For last-minute business card printing, we found Staples provided the fastest turnaround, lowest prices, and best and most consistent customer service. The print quality and cutting consistency on Staples’s cards were adequate, but not great compared with our top pick’s, but Staples’s same-day service is truly same-day: An easy-to-use tool lets you design your cards online and pick them up later that day at one of the chain’s more than 1,300 copy and print locations throughout the United States.
If you place your order before 2 p.m., you can pick up cards by 8:30 p.m. at your local Staples retail store. FedEx, in contrast, requires you to order next-day cards in person at a FedEx store. The information I received from Staples, from calling several local stores and the number on the company’s site, was also consistent, whereas I was told wildly different things about my printing options with FedEx over the phone and in one of the company’s Portland, Oregon, stores.
Staples’s shorter turnaround time costs less than FedEx’s, too. Staples charges $30 for 250 same-day cards (11¢ per card), while FedEx has a 24-hour turnaround time and charges $55 for a pack of 100 cards. (I also researched UPS’s same-day printing, but was told that capabilities vary by store.) Staples also impressed when, oddly, all of the cutting machines at local Staples stores were out of commission for a week: A local Staples store managed to do a good job hand-cutting the cards, and provided a free machine reprint later.
As you might expect, there are limits to what you can get at the last minute. Staples offers 12 pt and 13 pt card stock for same-day printing, which is pretty flimsy and not what we would recommend if you have more time to spare. The print quality of the cards we received also wasn’t anywhere near as good as cards from Jukebox and Vistaprint, but for a rush job, the colors looked fine, and photo clarity was comparable to Vistaprint’s.
What about Moo?
Moo’s services have solid reviews online, and our experts and peer-review panel were all familiar with the company. It has some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced, the overall best Web interface and design tool, and features that other services lack, such as the option to upload photos straight from Instagram or Etsy. But the resulting printed cards were disappointing relative to their high cost.
Specifically, the printing quality of Moo’s cards was the worst of all the services we tested. We ordered the minimum of 50 cards, choosing 16 pt standard cards with matte finish and square corners. Even I, a non-designer, could tell that the smallest white typeface had completely melted into the black background, that the fine lines wavered, that the photos had clearly discernible patterns of dots that made them look grainy, and that colors seemed off compared with cards from Jukebox and Vistaprint.
When I called to ask about the quality of our cards, a Moo representative told me that the company doesn’t recommend printing smaller than a 7 pt font, or printing borders. At 40¢ per card for a minimum of 50 cards, Moo’s were also the most expensive of any we tested. Although Moo was a convenient and easy service to work with, that didn’t outweigh the poor printing quality and high price.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendations or availability updates, you can read the full “Best Business Card Printing Services” guide here.