Saturday, October 31, 2009

Business Cards: Staples vs. Avery Print-Your-Own

I use a lot of business cards. I have them for all my blogs, my videography business, and I created some for my (someday...maybe) special education advocacy practice.

I usually make them myself using Avery Clean-Edge Business Cards. Recently I decided to try Staples Copy & Print to make some more professional looking cards for my new blog, AutMont.

The photo above shows cards I made with Avery on the left and the Staples-produced cards on the right.

I have to say, I was not impressed with Staples. First, here is the cost breakdown for each of the above options:

A box of 400 Avery Ink Jet, Two-Side, Clean-Edge Business Cards costs $33.21. Plus you have to add in the cost of ink, and you have to be able to design and format them yourself. I use Photoshop and Quark to do that, although they have free templates you can use as well.

My order for 300 one-sided business cards on basic stock from Staples Copy & Print coast me a total of $44.51. I created my design in Photoshop, although they also have online templates. BUT! If you want to upload your own art and you use a Mac, you are going to have to call the customer service line and get the email address of a customer service rep and send the design to him or her because the Copy & Print website doesn't support Macs.

I have a long story full of sadness, anger, and woe about my Staples business card order. I won't go into the whole story, but here are the highlights: I got my order turned in (through email to a customer service rep) and asked for it to be ready at a nearby Staples store. The website promises same-day pick-up, but I gave them an extra day. When I went in, they said the cards weren't ready, but they would be ready late the next day. I went in two days later to have them tell me they lost my order. So then, I had to wait until Monday when the customer service line was open again, have the guy resubmit my order (to a different Staples), and picked them up the following day.

It was quite a hassle for a "same-day" order.

Once I got them, I still wasn't impressed. I suppose I should have asked for the pricier paper because the basic stock wasn't what I had hoped. I guess I assumed that because they were produced by a print shop that they would be of business card quality. They weren't. Honestly, they looked cheaper and were thinner than the ones I produced at home by myself.

Here I compare a stack of the Avery cards I made (on the left) with an equal number of my Staples Copy & Print cards (on the right).

You may notice that the Staples card stack is shorter, indicating thinner paper.

Then there is the fact that they were inconsistently printed. Here you can see that the cards are not uniformly produced:

The cards I make at home are often like that too, but I make and format the page myself, so I'm okay with it. I sort of figured that Staples would be able to produce a uniform card.

The image quality was pretty good on the Staples cards, however. Here, you can compare cards I made with the same image on Avery blanks (on the left) and the Staples cards (on the right).

After all of this, I will say that I won't be ordering business cards from Staples Copy & Print ever again. Comparing quality, ease, and expense, it makes so much more sense for me to just make them myself.

There are many other options to make business cards that you don't have to print yourself. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to design, upload, and have them shipped to you. Let me know in the comments what is your favorite source for business cards.

Honesty Clause: I paid for both my Staples business cards and the Avery cards. After an irate letter to Staples, they did sent me a $25 store credit (yeah, thanks a lot). When they sent it to me they were all, "Per our conversation..." We never had a conversation—they never got in touch with me prior to emailing the credit. You should probably also know that I am highly pissed at Staples Copy & Print.


Heather said...

I've used the Avery ones before in a pinch and I can't imagine a card even thinner than that--eek! Not sure the $25 credit is worth the hassle. Though very excited that you need the cards in the first place---you will rock as an advocate!

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

Ever since Jessica of APISS did a post on Vistaprint, I've been taking advantage of their "free" offers to get business cards (and postcards and other stuff). You get either 100 or 250 (depending on the offer you take advantage of) really nice business cards for the cost of shipping (usually about $6). There are fewer graphic/design options for the free ones but they've been fine for me. You might want to look into how much extra it is to upload your own design, I bet it is less than what you paid at Staples and the card quality is very good.

De in D.C. said...

I've also been very pleased with Vistaprint (their annoying and prolific spam aside). For BlogHer, I got 500 cards using one of their stock designs on a matte paper (thinner paper, but better than Staples) for $6. I also got 250 cards using my own design (done with MS Publisher that I uploaded as a graphic) in their glossy finish for an additional $12. The glossy cards were gorgeous! Super-thick paper with nice, smooth edges. You just need to plan at least two weeks ahead for cheap shipping.

Tech Savvy Mama said...

Like Aimee and Jessica, I'm a huge fan of VistaPrint's free cards. I do pay the $3 to get their ad removed and could pay extra to have text printed on the back but I don't have enough to say to warrant doing that yet.

I did try uploading my own graphic to VistaPrint though and it looked horrid. Not sure if it was them or me though but for now, I stick with their free templates and always get compliments.

Stephanie said...

I have also used vistaprint, I think its fine for basic decent cards using their design templates. I've gone the cheapie route and left their ad on the back - got a set of those just with my personal contact info for random generic use, which is helpful.

Jen said...

This isn't the point of this post but I feel like I have to warn people about vistaprint. At the very least I urge people to check with the Better Business Bureau before ordering from them. I can't tell everything I know about the company (I did some legal transcribing for them once) but it's pretty well knows that they make their money off of shady practices with occasional business cards thrown in.

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

I get my biz cards at You can get some great quality cards. I've also gotten cards from Vistaprint, just like Aimee.

Join Overnight print's email list. Every now and again, they'll have 100 cards for free. Not as cheap as Vistaprint, but great cards.

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...

I have used Vistaprint too. For business cards and holiday cards. Hmmm... now I am very intrigued by Jen's comment!

My favorite source for business cards though is defintely I've been very happy with their quality. They do take awhile though, as they are based in the UK. But worth the wait, imo.

Plastic business cards said...

Business Cards are still as important as ever for anyone in business or sales.

Sue VanHattum said...

Don't use Vista Print! I'm surprised there are 4 satisfied customers able to reply to this blog. They claim you've joined a 'rewards program' and charge your credit card a monthly fee (about $15). My credit union said I'd need to cancel my card and get a new one, to get the charge to stop. Their scam is well known among credit card companies, apparently.

Jessica Matters said...

Thanks for the printing tip. I have used Scribus a bit. Good to know it works well for printing. Business Cards Printing

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