Custom Photo Cards 2016
Tips, Deals & Groupons
*Be sure to scroll down for my Price Comparison Chart below to see who offers the best price on photo cards!*
Though most folks think of printing custom cards during the Christmas, New Year's and Hannukah holidays, discounts on cards pop up year round and let's not forget the Groupons. The defining feature of being able to "print-on-demand" is that you don't have to order large quantities to get items professionally printed. Even a single card is possible - and at an affordable price, which makes custom cards for all occasions (or no occasion at all) possible.
Personalized cards aren't limited to the holidays. (See popular card giving holidays for 2016 at right.) Whether you're looking to give your Valentine the sweetest card ever, want to wish Mom or Dad a happy Mother's or Father's Day, scouring for the chicest save the dates for your upcoming wedding, or excited to announce the birth of a bouncing baby boy, take a look at my guide finding the best custom cards online.
I love to scour the Internet for the latest trends, designs (and deals) in photo cards/custom cards. Just when you think you may have seen it all, there's always some new feature or new option out there as well as some old favorites. Here's what's out there in photo cards!
The most common sizes (in inches) for cards are:
5 x 7
5 x 5
4 x 8
They can come in horizontal and vertical formats as well as flat or folded. The 4 x 8 cards are usually printed on photo paper and are one-sided. The photo paper 4 x 8 cards are usually the more economical option. More on pricing below.
Less common are the jumbo 6 x 8 cards found exclusively at Shutterfly, as well as the round ornament shape made by TinyPrints. Another unique format is the 5 x 7 tri-fold card at Shutterfly and the 5 x 5 tri-fold card at TinyPrints.
One of my favorite features - rounded corners - used to only be offered by 1 or 2 companies. Now the majority of the companies on this list offer rounded corners for a minimal up charge of around 19 cents per card. (You want fries with that?) So for a couple dollars total (depending on the quantity you order), you can add this distinctive look to your cards.
If you really want your cards to stand out, take a look at the different types of decorative edges. These are actually cut out, not just borders printed on the card. Options have expanded to include scallops, notched corners, brackets and don't forget the circular ornament cards that come with decorative ribbon and are ready to hang. You'll find these more distinctive borders pictured below, at places like TinyPrints for an additional 19 to 24 cents per card. AdoramaPix also offers three decorative edges at no additional charge. A step above the decorative borders are laser-cut cards with intricate edges or patterns cut out from the card. Laser-cut cards will run significantly higher (about $1.50 more per card), but the effect is definitely unique and eye-catching.
Most companies offer a few different options for paper. Standard paper for most companies will be a satin finish (not glossy, not matte, but somewhere in the middle). Going with matte papers usually mutes colors a bit, but it can make for a more modern look. Premium upgrades generally mean thicker, stiffer cardstock which generally feel more substantial in your hands. Double-thick and even triple-thick cards are also now available, but unless you have the money to spare, those upgrades are going to add a considerable amount to the total cost - but it is nice to have the option. The more choices the better in my opinion!
If you were wondering what all the stats mean, point (pt) refers to how high a stack of 500 sheets of the paper (ream) is in inches. Pounds (# or lb.) refers to how much that ream weighs in pounds. Mystery solved! Don't get yourself confused. All you need to know is typically, higher is thicker. (B/t/w don't compare specs for photo book paper with card paper, it's not the same!)
If budget is a concern, the cheapest option is to go with cards printed on photo paper. This is the same paper that the average 4 x 6 photos are printed on. One reason why it's cheaper is the paper is one-sided and it is a lot thinner than standard cardstock. I'd say about a third of the cards I receive from friends are printed on photo paper. What's nice is that I've seen companies offer more designs and more sizes including the more common 5 x 7 card in photo paper. Check out my price comparison table below. These cards below are available in photo card paper and are offered by Snapfish.
Upgraded papers are typically thicker and feel more luxurious. If you're looking for a little glam sparkle, TinyPrints and Shutterfly offer a pearl shimmer upgrade for 19 cents.
Add a Little Sparkle or Texture
Newer designs include foil accents, glitter and letterpress cards available from TinyPrints. Foil and glitter accents generally run about 30% more than the $2.69 base price for their 5 x 7 cards. Personalized foil accents where you can get your family’s name in shiny metallic print will run considerably more. Letterpress lends a 3D texture to your cards with patterns or lettering that is debossed or sunken into the surface of the paper.
Double-Sided Designs Go Bold
Flat cards are pretty popular now. I'd say the majority of the cards I receive are flat versus folded, but just because they're flat doesn't mean you can't have a fun design on the back. It used to be that cards featured little or no design on the reverse - just the company's logo on a plain white background, but now the backs are getting some attention too with bold patterns and the option of adding additional photos.
This style isn't a new one, but an oldie but goodie. If you have more than one photo you want to highlight, you don't have to choose - there are numerous designs for this type of look from formal to casual and fun. I think these cards look best when all the photos are from the same photo session or event. But, if you have a bunch of photos from different occasions and they don't quite look right together, think about converting them to black and white. Doing so will help make the look more cohesive. One type of collage card that's been one of my favorites is the tri-fold card from TinyPrints and Shutterfly. These cards are double-sided and offer plenty of space to add lots of photos. The more the better!
Newsletter Year In Review Style
I've seen this style becoming more popular in the last couple years. It's a great way to catch up friends and family on the highlights of the past year. Don't forget Fido! Even he may have some news he'd like to share! These three particular versions are from Mixbook, but I'm starting to see newsletter style designs pop up everywhere now.
Vintage is always going to be hot and it never goes out of style. The retro look features handwritten fonts, scrapbook like details, hand drawn doodles and a general crafty charm. Tinted photos made even more popular and more accessible via Instagram, are also featured in many designs. The chalkboard look is another vintage style still going strong. Speaking of chalkboards, if you're looking for chalkboard freebies you can use in your photo book and card projects, I created a couple and posted them on my site. You can download it for free here.
Fast and Easy or Full-On Customization
You can easily make a custom card in minutes. Just pick out a photo (or a few), upload them into the template you choose and personalize it with your name. The companies I've highlighted make it really easy with prompts to help you along the way.
On the flip side, for those who may have something more custom in mind or want to play with different options, some companies give you the opportunity to be your own holiday card designer. Mixbook offers one of the most customizable card editors out there, with access to tons of backgrounds and stickers to make a completely custom card. Picaboo offers a blank card as well. Other companies may not offer a blank card, but it is possible to find cards with no writing on the front allowing you to upload your own design that you may have created in your own software. My preference is to start with a pre-made card template that I like and then just make some tweaks. It's the best of both worlds!
Cards for Every Budget
There are a lot of options that can affect price, but for the average 5 x 7 flat card (versus folded) for 10 cards, prices range from $1.30 to $2.50 per card. If you order more (in some cases 20 to 25 cards and up) the prices drop a bit. As mentioned above, if you go with cards printed on photo paper versus cardstock, the average is about $.90 cents each. If you’re a fan of TinyPrints cards and want a more economical option, be sure to check out their Studio Basics line. The cards are smaller measuring 5.25” x 4.10” and offers a semi-glossy paper with a matte finish. These prices are all regular prices and don't reflect sale prices if any. There are so many deals I'm seeing these days, there's no reason to be paying full price on any of your holiday cards!
To help you find the best deals on photo cards, we will be tracking and posting them on my deals page and the top of this page in my "Custom Card Sale Roundup" box above. Plus don't forget about the daily deals from Living Social and Groupon. We track them so you don't have to! (Remember since these companies are online, you don't have to live in that city to take advantage of a Groupon deal)!
|Card Sizes and Types*||Average Cost (each for pack of 20)|
|5 x 7 flat standard cardstock||$1.30 to $2.50|
|5 x 7 folded standard cardstock||$1.59 to $3.39|
|5 x 5 & 5.25 x 5.25 flat standard cardstock||$1.30 to $2.39|
|5 x 7 & 5.25 trifold||$3.49 to $3.89|
|4 x 8 photo paper||$0.80 to $0.85|
|5 x 7 photo paper||$0.95 to $0.98|
Some card sizes rounded. Not all available sizes or types listed. Prices per card for quantity of 20 as of Fall 2016. Prices may change. Single card prices where available may be higher. Most companies have a 10 card minimum.
Prices do not reflect sales which are very common this time of year. 30 to 50% off is very typical. (Yea for us!)
NEW! Which Company Has the Best Prices?
Note that the prices listed below are before any sales or promos are applied, and with the company's basic paper options. Custom photo cards can be way cheaper than buying a card off the shelf! Store bought cards are typically about $3.00 to $4.00 each and that's just for something standard. Prices as of Fall 2016.
Can I Make Just One Card?
Yes! You can make a buy a single card if that's all you need! There are a lot of occasions where a special custom card would be a nice touch. To name a few: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Baby Shower, Bridal Shower or Wedding. I made a custom card for a good friend who was getting married, but I wasn't able to attend her distant out-of-town nuptials. Since I was sending a monetary gift, it made for a nice and personal touch especially since I couldn't deliver it in person. Custom cards always stand out from the crowd!
Not all companies offer single custom card purchases. Some card sizes rounded. Prices as of Fall 2016. Prices may change. Prices do not reflect sales which are very common year round. Again, 30 to 50% off is very typical!
Check out my deals page for all the latest card discounts and more!
Photo Book Girl
Photo Book Girl's Photo Card Tips
*With collage cards, selecting photos taken in the same session (or same day with the same clothes), will probably look most cohesive, though it's not necessary. As mentioned, you could convert your photos to black and white and that can tie the look together. Cards featuring a single good photo can also make for a beautiful card with lots of impact;
*As for holiday cards, aside from Christmas designs, many of the styles focus on the New Year or offer messages of "peace", "joy" etc. I also saw many beautiful Hanukkah designs a few Kwanzaa designs and cards with Feliz Navidad on them as well.
*Remember that square cards will cost more postage wise ($.70 vs. $.49). If you want to save the extra mailing cost, check if the company offers modified envelopes (the interior opening is shaped to fit a square, but the exterior is still rectangular).
*Want to save time on addressing? Some companies will pre-print your return address and some will even mail out your cards for you (varies $.20 to $.39 per card);
*There are always deals running somewhere - I post them on my deals page along with the photo book deals and be sure to check back here as well! Also be on the lookout for FREE shipping deals - that can also save you some bucks.
If you're looking for gift ideas, I've got the ultimate list of custom photo gifts for you! (it was written for the last holiday season, but any of them would make great gifts for any occasion!)
If you want to read more about a specific company, go to my Photo Company Reviews page.
If you want to hear about all the latest photo book deals and Groupons, the best way to not miss out is to stay in touch!
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*Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a referral fee. Regardless, my opinions are my own and I always give my honest opinion, good or bad.
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