Business cards are, to some degree, a remnant of a bygone era. But a flashy business card is a great way to make a lasting impression. For example, the infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick's business card is mode of metal and can be pulled apart to make a lock picking tool. And while that might be outside most people's budget, a professional looking card, designed with a bit of flair, can help people remember you when you next meet.
The good news is you don't have to pay a designer a fortune to create one as there are plenty of sites that print high-quality custom business cards without busting your wallet in the process. Here's a look at five of the best.
Before you start
Some of the services I've listed offer a free option. If you're just starting out in a business, that might be OK but it usually only takes a few extra dollars to do away with branding from the card printing company that might be watermarked or printed on the back of your cards, or to use nicer paper and/or gain access to nicer designs and customisation options.
Many card printers will try to bundle extras - the equivalent of a "Would you like fries with that?" as you go through the checkout process. Look out as there are times when extras are added and you need to remove them. Otherwise, you may end up paying for things you don't want or need.
Pay attention to shipping times. If you're in a hurry, you might find you can expedite shipping by paying a few extra bucks.
One last thing - make sure your details are easy to read on your cards. Many people scan cards and let OCR programs plug the data into their contact lists. Making basic information such as your name, phone number/s, address and position clear can help that process significantly.
VistaPrint used to be all about business cards but they print all sorts of promotional items including Post-It notes, apparel, bags, wedding stationery and almost anything else you can get ink to stick to.
Prices start at $9.99 for 250 cards and there are almost 9000 templates to choose from with all sorts of colour and design options. Cards come in both portrait or landscape orientation and there's scope to add your own company logo to many card designs. But prices jump steeply if you want to use glossy finishes or other fancier features.
If you don't like the templates, you can design your own cards from scratch using images from your Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as your computer or Vistaprint's image library. They also offer design services and have templates you can use with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator if you prefer to roll your own cards from scratch.
Moo offers a variety high-quality card stock including lighter card through to more robust, "luxury" papers. You can opt for the regular, rectangular cards almost everyone has or, to be a little different, you can choose a square card. Prices start at $18.65 for just 50 cards and jump steeply if you choose a square card or add rounded corners. Each of those extra features adds $4 to the cost of 50 cards. Once you jump to 200 cards or more, the price per card starts to fall with 1000 cards starting at $274.30.
Fortunately, there is a try-before-you-buy option as they offer a free sample pack so you can look at the different papers and finishes they offer.
Like Vistaprint, there are lots of designs to choose from or you can use their online designer or you can upload your own design.
As well as business cards, Moo offers a bunch of other print services so you can easily put together a coordinated set of stationary, notebooks and other office supplies.
Click looks a little less fancy than some of the other services I looked at but they do offer a large range of templates as well as the ability to create your own design either by using their online design tool or by uploading your own work.
While their online tools are basic, you can add your own logo and text but there are limited options for customising typefaces and other options. However, if you create your own design and upload it then those limitations disappear.
Their lowest cost option, at $49.95 includes 250 cards printed on 350sm semigloss card and you can add $10 to the cost of you go for one of the higher-quality papers. But doubling that to 500 cards adds just $10 to the cost and shipping, to metropolitan Melbourne, was less than $10.
As I was putting this list together, JukeBox is offering 500 cards with full colour double-sided printing for $49 - which is a pretty reasonable deal.
If you're looking for something different, for a trade show or special event, they offer all sorts of interesting ideas such as printed tea-bags, knives, circular cards - even seed cards that you can stick in the dirt and will grow into plants. Although they're a US company, all pricing on their website is in Australian dollars.
Their card designs are modern and elegant and their card builder lets you start with a basic design that you can customise. And once you've designed a card, you can download a PDF so you can easily share it with colleagues or the boss for approval before committing the job for printing.
If you don't need too many cards, then U Design It's offer of 100 cards for $10 including shipping is probably worth a look. They also offer the same price for flyers and labels.
Like most of the other services, you can choose from a bunch of pre-fab templates that are categorised by different industry verticals such as Fashion, Communications and Security, or upload your own design. The templates supplied by U Design It can be edited as well so you can replace images, change fonts and move things around to suit your needs.
If you have a favourite card printing site that didn't make the list, tell us about it in the comments.