One of the first questions potential business card customers want to know when they enquire is: How much do business cards cost? In short the cost can vary from Free to hundreds of pounds, depending on quality and the finishes required.

Whilst there are a number of ways this question can be answered, I will try and do my best here to explain some general pricing guidelines, the options and further considerations available to you in a few minutes.

The purchase of a business card is in principle much like the purchase of a vehicle or a kitchen. With so many options available, prices can range drastically. Just as a BMW 3 series can start around £26k with a basic package, it can easily cost upwards of £70K once a customer decides on the model, the engine and adds options such as panoramic sunroof, adjustable suspension, satellite navigation, auto parking, etc.

Just like researching a car and the extra options available to you, the chances are you are reading this since you want to pick a business card that is personal to you and you want to get it right the first time. The chances are you are going to be using these in meetings and in front of potential customers.

You’re likely to be giving your business card out almost every day, and picking the right options are important to ensure you give the right impression first time. Because of this, most customers elect to research and take time to conclude the decision that will make them happiest in the long-run.

Unfortunately, some people only focus on the initial price and speed with the goal of finding the cheapest and quickest printer, therefore sacrificing quality and aesthetics, which inevitably leads to regret.

If you are in a rush and you need an “anything will do” solution to get you out of trouble, there are a number of providers who can help you, usually same day. We would suggest trying a high street copy shop, such as a Prontoprint or Kall Kwik.

Some of the most common options that affect the cost of business cards are:

  • Thicker Premium Boards
  • Duplex and Triplex Boards
  • Laminations – Gloss/Matt/Velvet/Soft Touch
  • Spot Varnish
  • Rounded Corners
  • Foil Blocking
  • Letterpress
  • Embossing
  • Thermography
  • Coloured Edging
  • Die Cutting
  • Perforations
  • Metallic Inks
  • Laser cutting

As you can see there are many options available. When someone receives an estimate from Print Worx, we consider each option as to educate the customer on the option’s and benefits.

How the options affect the cost of business cards

  1. Business Card Boards

Budget 300gsm, Premium Silk Board, Premium Gloss Board, Uncoated Board, Textured Boards, Luxury Boards.

This is one of the most important decisions you will need to make – start with the basics. Which business card board should you use? Business cards are generally printed on anything from about 300gsm to 400gsm then upwards to almost 1,000gsm for luxury bespoke business card boards. For further explanation on these boards and what they mean just click on them above to see an explanation in the knowledge base

Taking a basic budget 300gsm board you should expect the following to influence the overall price of a basic printed business card, before considering further options.

  • Silk Board – 40/50% uplift
  • Uncoated – 100% uplift
  • Textured – 300% uplift
  • Luxury Boards – 400% uplift and upwards
  1. Printing Options

How your business card are printed will depend on the quantity of cards you require and to a certain extent the type of equipment available to the print company you decide to use.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both the most common printing methods.

Digital Printing

For small quantities that need to be produced quickly and cost effectively business cards are likely to be printed on a digital printing press. With no requirement to make printing plates and with minimal set up this helps keep costs to a minimum and helps speed-up production. A digital printing press should not be confused with a digital copier which is found in most high street copy shops, the two are very different and the difference in results are usually clearly visible due to the limitations of copiers.

Lithographic Printing (Litho)

For larger quantities and multiples of business cards (from a few thousand upwards) the conventional litho printing process is likely to be a more cost-effective method of production. Litho printing is still deemed to be a superior to digital and gives great results especially when printing complex images, large solid areas and spot pantone colours. This process can print on boards up to about 400/450gsm.

Letterpress Printing

For luxury and bespoke business cards you should consider using letterpress printing. This process prints on to the thickest of boards up to 1000gsm. Conventionally a metal die is created, this can significantly add to production time and cost. The cost of a simple die is usually somewhere in the region of £100 upwards, with set up frees from about £50+ before printing commences. The results are very unique, the printing process is very simple but effective. It is not suitable for imagery or complex colour logos.

  1. Finishing Options

You should give consideration to the finishing options you require. As our example of the car options earlier in this post, these range from small cost add-ons to a significant increase in cost. They listed below from cheapest thru expensive to help you gauge the difference. There cost will depend on the quantity of cards required so it is therefore hard to give an exact cost.

As a rough guide for approximately 250-500 cards

  • Rounded Corners – £20+
  • Perforations – £45+
  • Laminations – £20+
  • Spot Varnish – £30+
  • Thermography – £100+
  • Die Cutting – £100+
  • Embossing – £150+
  • Coloured Edging – £150+
  • Metallic Inks – Request a quote
  • Laser cutting – Request a quote

Because a number of finishing options require a forme or a tool making, small quantities of business cards can look expensive. Larger quantities may the lower the unit cost, since all the set up and originating costs are included within the order whatever the number of business cards you require. 

  1. What is the standard size of a business card?

Final consideration must be given to the business card size required. There is no format set in stone for the size of a standard business card, however as a general rule cards are 55mm x 85mm. For this reason, business cards of this size tend to be the most cost effective size to print. Therefore, multiple orders of more standardised cards can be printed on one large sheet of board at once and then trimmed down to the same size. This makes it more cost-effective for the customer since the set up costs are spread of all orders, with each customer sharing the cost of the set up and printing charges, lowering the cost.

Business cards typically vary plus or minus 5mm in either direction depending on customer requirements, however they can be produced whatever size the customer desires.

  1. How long do business cards take to print?

The time it takes to print and deliver business cards depends on a number of factors which are impacted by your choice of preferred card, however as a general rule most business cards can usually be delivered within 2 working days from approval of artwork.

More complex cards with bespoke material and finishes can take longer. The finishes which will impact this due to the time required during manufacturing are:

  • Spot Varnish +1/2 days
  • Thermography + 1/2 days
  • Die cutting + 2/3 days
  • Embossing + 2/3 days
  • Colour edging + 4/5 days
  • Laser cutting + 5 days

Specialist papers can add anything from a couple of days to a couple weeks, depending whether the material is a “stock item” or if it specifically needs to be ordered and produced by the paper manufacturer.

Business cards cost comparisons

As mentioned at the beginning of this article business cards can cost anything from free to a few hundred pounds. There are some companies that will print your business cards for free in return for allowing them to advertise their company on the reverse in return. Others such as Vista Print offer budget cards from about £8 upwards if you can wait a week or so, however expect to add on further cost options for a faster service and further costs for delivery. They are ideal for small quantities of cards.

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