Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be reviewing several online sites that promise cheap business cards, but we thought we should start with the most prominent: Vistaprint. You can’t turn on the TV without one of its simple “buy us” adverts appearing with its promise of 50% off this and 30% off that. So I put it to the most real-world of tests and bought a set.
The first thing to say is that Vistaprint offers an incredibly slick experience. From the moment you land on the site to when you enter your credit card details, you’re on a conveyor belt designed to sell you not just cards but ancillary products and services too.
That isn’t a criticism: if you want inspiration on how to set up an e-commerce site, this is an excellent example.
How to design cards on Vistaprint
As with all the specialist printing sites, Vistaprint offers a number of business card design templates. But don’t feel you need to use them: Canva offers an excellent and free business card design service, or you can hire someone on a freelance site such as Fiverr – or get it done by a professional designer (thanks Sarah Ratcliffe for our business card design!).
For now, let’s assume you want Vistaprint to design it. From the homepage, click on Business Cards and then select Standard (you can choose different finishes later, so don’t feel you’re committing yourself). You’ll then see the pop-up below appear. Either select “Browse our designs” or, if you already have a logo, “Start with your logo”.
Its tools are adequate rather than amazing, but within minutes you’ll have something presentable to view. You can also switch between the different templates to see how your entered elements look (namely your logo and contact details), which I found useful. I switched from the left image below to the right at the flick of a button.
How to order business cards on Vistaprint
Let’s assume you have a design ready and waiting. Hit the option “Use your complete design” from the pop-up that appears when you press “Get started”.
From here to pressing order is a simple enough process (it’s drag and drop all the way), but do take note of the Safety Line. From my experience, this is where Vistaprint will cut it from, so make sure that everything is contained within those perforated lines.
Clicking Next will lead to the first of many temptations. As standard, the £21.59 price (which isn’t the real price, but I’ll come back to that later) only includes single-sided printing for 100 cards. If you want double-sided printing, and who wouldn’t when you have a dashing logo like our own, you’ll need to spend a further £12. Oh, go on then you devil.
Vistaprint’s slickness then shows itself with a realistic photo of a hand holding your card, as shown below. This is your chance to check for mistakes, blurry text and typos. Click that you’re happy and head to the next upsell. Page, I mean page.
At this point, if you’re not tempted to choose 250 cards rather than the default 100 then you have a heart of steel. As you can see from the below, it costs £8.40 extra to pay for 250, cutting the price per card in half. Bargain!
But Vistaprint isn’t done with you yet. Before you reach the checkout, you’ll be offered business card holders, stamps, mugs, website services and – my personal favourite – mouse mats.
Now, whatever you do, don’t give in at this point and simply press Checkout. It’s time to cut those prices in half.
Vistaprint: How to get a 50% discount
Compare Vistaprint’s prices to its rivals and they seem ludicrously high. Just look at the table below…
But there’s a reason for this: Vistaprint expects you to claim a discount. Indeed, if you type “vistaprint voucher codes” into Google then the first advertised site isn’t VoucherCodes.co.uk but Vistaprint itself:
So you don’t have to be Martyn Lewis to bag a bargain. Simply, at the checkout point, type the code “BC50” into the promo code box and you’ll get 50% off. (If that code doesn’t work, just search for voucher codes as above.)
The final choice you need to make is delivery speed, and thus cost. As is so often the case, the middle option probably makes sense.
So there we go: total cost is £25 for 250 cards, working out at 10p per card including postage. If I’d chosen 100 cards, that would have been £20.80, or 20.8p per card. That’s for two-sided cards: if I’d stuck with single-sided, they would have cost £16 for 250 cards (6.4p) and £14.78 for 100 (14.8p).
Vistaprint business cards: How good are they?
I originally went through this process last Saturday (24th Feburary) and, with Standard delivery, the cards arrived with me yesterday morning (Weds 28th February). That’s respectable speed, but note that I ordered from Instaprint at the same time and its cards arrived a day earlier (I’ll review Instaprint’s service in the next few days). Instaprint cost £8.99 for 100 cards, or 9p per card.
In terms of quality, Instaprint has the clear edge. In the hand, between the fingers, you can tell the difference between Vistaprint’s 300gsm card and the thicker, stiffer 350gsm Silk cards from Instaprint. The thickness isn’t just a cosmetic plus: it means the Instaprint card doesn’t twist so easily, and makes the Vistaprint cards seem more throwaway.
Vistaprint’s cards also feel unpolished by comparison – Instaprint’s have an extra sheen. Obviously, you can overcome this by upgrading to a higher gsm card on Vistaprint, but that pushes the price for 250 cards up by another fiver.
Where Vistaprint wins out – by a nose – is that its colours are a little more accurate. Its cards also proved more resistant to my not-at-all-scientific pour-water-over-the-cards test: the Instaprint card’s edges peeled away, while Vistaprint’s suffered little damage. But really, that’s a minor consolation.
Vistaprint business cards: Should you buy?
While the buying decision might seem simple, I do have some consolation news – because Vistaprint has a slick post-ordering process to match its website.
For a start, because I registered as a business when I signed up to the site, it automatically sent me a VAT invoice. In addition, on the day of delivery, it sent an email with a £10 voucher to be used by 30 March. That’s with no conditions attached, so it can be combined with discount offers.
And yes, I’m going to spend it on a mouse mat.
Read this next: How do I design my own business logo?