Mixbook offers some of the best-quality photo cards of the services we evaluated. The service offers an excellent selection of holiday and themed photo cards and creates beautiful final products.
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Looking for the best photo cards? You've come to the right place. Be it a holiday, thank you, wedding or Christmas photo card – in fact, any custom photo cards to mark an occasion – we've covered the best photo card services here in this guide, considering price, customizability, shipping fees, template design and card quality.
To test the different options, we ordered two sets of photo cards from 16 companies – one printed on the best-quality paper offered, and one printed on the least expensive paper.
Our experts not only evaluated the paper quality and print quality of each service but also compared the companies’ prices to determine which service was the best value. We tested price and card availability by comparing the prices of bulk and single purchases, as well as shipping and other fees, on specific 5x7 folded cards with three photos.We also noted whether the cards and envelopes arrived in good condition, and the speed of delivery.
Design details were very important in our testing. Some sites offer a greater variety of shapes and paper textures for photo cards and quite literally think outside the box with ornament-shaped cards, glitter or foil embellishments, and scalloped or other kinds of borders.
If you're also looking for the best photo book services, we've covered that too.
1. Mixbook: Best overall
Mixbook proves you can get high quality photo cards at affordable prices
If you're looking for the right middle ground between affordability and quality when looking for the best photo cards, Mixbook is the site we suggest. The cards we ordered were high quality and completed to an impressive standard and the site gave loads of design options and templates to choose from.
Mixbook offers a wide range of styles and themes, meaning you can find cards for birthdays, baby showers, graduation and a wide range of holidays. Mixbook also lets you order one card as a minimum which is great if you're looking to design a specific card for someone special.
- Read the review: Mixbook
2. Zazzle: Best variety
With an exceptional variety of templates and great editing options, Zazzle has something for everyone
Zazzle is not your standard photo card service. The company offers plenty of customizable photo gifts from professional designers and companies, and many of the designs are submitted by users. This means there are countless designs to consider, with all manner of holidays covered.
With great discounts on bulk orders and regular promotions on top of this, we think this is a great choice of photo card provider. You can't customize your envelope, however, which is a limitation when compared to other more premium sites which include this option, sometimes with no added price.
Zazzle didn't rank highest for quality but we still found the cards pleasant and were happy with the finished product overall. Considering the affordability and options for customization, we think this is a service for the best photo card sites.
- Read the review: Zazzle
3. Minted: Best value
There's a minimum order of 25 cards, but if you want great quality on bulk orders Minted is our pick
Minted offers stunning card designs, but there's a catch. You'll have to order 25 cards or more if you want to order with this photo card site. If you're looking to buy in bulk, Minted has a huge range of designs for every holiday imaginable, and you can even pay a Minted artist to design a bespoke card just for you.
These cards weren't the cheapest, but if you're looking for a card with all the bells and whistles included in the price this is a great site for you. Stylish envelope design and countless layout options included for free as a part of your order means this site offers deceptively good value for money if you're looking to impress.
- Read the review: Minted
4. Meijer: More affordable
Lacking in stylish designs but offering many editing options, this is the most affordable site we tested
If you're familiar with Meijer, the midwestern superstore, this photo service will be familiar to you. Like many other photo card services, this one thrives on wedding announcements, save the date cards and Christmas cards. That's because a lot of Meijer Photo cards come with a minimum order of 12, making them more suited for larger orders.
There isn't the largest range of options for templates and paper type at Meijer but what they do they do well. Our cards and envelopes were high quality and the photo editor gave us lots of options to make our card special, meaning it was less essential to have a large range of templates for inspiration.
This was the cheapest site we tested and shipping was affordable too, making this a great option for those looking to spend a little less and still send something special.
- Read the review: Meijer Photo
5. Simply to Impress: Best quality
If you're willing to spend more to get high quality printing and all the extras, go with Simply to Impress
Simply to Impress does exactly what its name suggests: impresses with its selection of beautiful designs and final products. You can choose from six paper options: matte, satin, pearl shimmer, cardstock, double thick cardstock and foil stamping. Simply to Impress isn’t the least expensive photo card service, but it’s not overpriced when you consider the high quality printing the company delivers.
Simply to Impress stores your addresses, and you can pay extra to have the service mail your photo cards for you. This is an especially nice feature if you need your cards mailed quickly or you’re too busy to send them yourself. You can choose from multiple envelope colors and various inner linings. The customization options aren't as impressive as Zazzle, but with a great selection of cards to pick from this won't be an option if you pick a design you love.
- Read the review: Simply to Impress
6. Shutterfly: Best for individual cards
Shutterfly offers great extras as standard
Shutterfly is expensive, but a good option if you're ordering individual cards. There's frequent discounts across the range, with up to 50% off everything, to make up for the steep pre-discount prices, but you won't be impressed by discounts for bulk orders.
Printing is high quality and there's free address printing on envelopes, meaning you get more included for the initial price you pay than some other sites. There's also a great selection of stylish envelope designs and the option to have Shutterfly mail your card for you. Overall, a good option if they cover the holiday you're looking for.
- Read the review: Shutterfly
7. Snapfish: Best satisfaction guarantee
Snapfish has a 100% customer guarantee and the option to pick up designs in-store
We weren't blown away by the pricing with Snapfish, which increased when we got to checkout. This means you don't know how much your card will cost when you start making it, and it ended up being one of the more expensive sites we reviewed. However, there's an impressive holiday selection and the option to print in-store for convenience. Printing was good, but not amazing quality. If you're not happy though, Snapfish does have a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee which offers a full refund or card replacement if you are dissatisfied with your order.
- Read the review: Snapfish
8. Paper Source: Best for designer cards
Featuring Kate Spade, Paperless Post and more, Paper Source features some fancy designs
Paper Source offers some lovely designs for their photo cards, but there's limited holiday coverage and paper options. We thought the cardstock was durable and high-quality, but the printing itself wasn't the best we've seen.
This is an option designed for bulk orders, with many designs having a minimum order of 20 cards. They can print addresses for you on a wide range of envelopes, but be prepared to pay more for this service.
- Read the review: Paper Source
Why trust us?
We’ve been testing photo cards for over 11 years. Our expert testers have backgrounds in graphic design and photography, and they know what to look for when examining photos and design elements. They also evaluated card thickness and envelope quality in their overall assessments. We wanted to make sure that every aspect of the photo card had a professional feel to it. We looked at each service’s card theme options to determine which ones covered the most occasions and themes while still being aesthetically pleasing.
Our goal with reviewing these services was to find decently priced cards that had the best print and paper quality. Services that gave us more freedom when placing photos and choosing fonts scored higher because they allowed us to truly create what we envisioned. We also contacted Lisa Mariko, a professional photographer with four years of experience, to get more insight into photo card creation and learn how to get the best image quality from your projects.
How we found the best photo cards
In our testing, we ordered photo cards from 16 companies, evaluated the attractiveness of the designs and considered the number of holiday and occasion templates.
We ordered two sets of Christmas cards from each company – one printed on the best-quality paper offered and one printed on the least expensive paper. (We ordered only one card from the services that offer just one paper type.) When our orders arrived, we noted whether the cards and envelopes arrived in good condition. All of the services delivered the cards pretty quickly, but we made note of the fastest services.
Design details were very important in our testing. Sites that offered a greater variety of shapes and paper textures for photo cards received higher scores. Some companies quite literally think outside the box with ornament-shaped cards, glitter or foil embellishments, and scalloped or other kinds of borders. We also took into account the options to edit card templates and add personal touches, as well as how accessible this felt for each site.
Once the cards arrived, we had a team of people with graphic design and photography experience examine and compare the cards. For each card, we used the same photo from the same source, and the designers considered how nicely the company reproduced the color and clarity of the photos.
Paper quality was a factor as well. All of the high-quality paper samples were printed on nice paper, but some were noticeably thicker. All of the low-quality paper samples were printed on flimsier stock, but some stood out for being sturdier or making the photo look crisper and closer to the original.
Create customized photo cards
One easy way to create and customize cards for holidays and other occasions is to use photo card services, which often also make photo books and other gifts. You can make unforgettable cards in minutes by simply clicking and dragging on a web-based interface, without downloading anything new onto your computer. If you opt for a flat card, this may not allow for much text, but some allow quite a bit. Alternatively, if you're willing to pay more for a folded option, there are many ways to customize the inside of your card to add more photos and text. Photo card pricing usually includes envelopes too, so you can slip a note into any card before mailing it. The price of photo cards varies greatly from company to company, as does the minimum number of cards per order. Photo card services often offer a lot less customization than photo books because you usually cannot rearrange the graphics and artwork as much.
Lisa Mariko, a professional photographer with four years of experience, told us that it’s best to edit your photos at 300 dots per inch (dpi) because it helps them look crisp. When we asked her what improvements she’d like to see in photo card services, she said it would be more convenient if these services allowed you to create your own designs and graphics. This is definitely a great option for creative people. She also warned that many of these sites don't allow you to use foreign characters in your cards, which can be frustrating when you’re writing locations or names.
Mother’s Day Photo Cards
One of the best ways to greet your Mom on her special day is with a personalized Mother’s Day card.
Mixbook and Shutterfly both have plenty of “Mother” themes to choose from, which is nice since many photo card services do not have specific pre-made Mother’s Day themes. If you end up using a service that doesn’t have Mother’s Day themes, keep in mind that you can always choose a card that you like the look of and change the text to make it Mother’s Day oriented.
Once you have your background, fill the card with pictures of grandchildren, siblings or other family members. We recommend choosing a card that allows you to add plenty of text so that you can add a personalized message for your Mother or maternal figure. Choosing a foil stamped card can also give it a special touch.
When should I order Christmas cards?
If you’ve ever ordered your greeting cards late in the season, you know that prices may go up and processing times may be longer than usual. To get a more in-depth answer as to when we should order our holiday cards, we reached out to Shutterfly and Mixbook. Representatives at both services said that the peak of the photo card season is between Nov. 10 and Dec. 31. Therefore, it’s best to order your photo cards around or before Nov. 10. If you want to include a big family photo, you need to factor in how long it will take to get your family together for a photo shoot. Many photographers are busy during the holiday season, so we recommend getting family photos done by late October or early November. This gives the photographer time to touch up any photos before sending them to you.
There is always the possibility of a printing mistake, whether that be the fault of the printer or the user. As such, try to order your cards with plenty of extra time in case you need to get replacements. Some sites such as Simply to Impress give you the option to see a proof of a card and adjust anything you're not happy with to avoid receiving a box of cards you're unhappy with. Outside of the busy season, it usually takes about three to seven business days for a standard-shipping order to arrive. During the peak season, however, it will probably take longer.
Also consider that, unless you choose a service that can print addresses or mail your cards for you, you need to spend time writing out recipients’ addresses and placing stamps. Depending on how many cards you need to send, this can be very time-consuming, which can be especially inconvenient during the busy holiday season. Then there’s the mailing period before your recipients receive the cards. Considering all of these factors, we suggest ordering your photo cards no later than Dec. 5. To be safe, we advise you to mail your cards no later than Dec. 10. We determined that Shutterfly has the most affordable mailing service of any photo card company we tested, and we suggest having Shutterfly mail your cards for you if you're in a pinch.
How many christmas cards are bought each year?
The overall volume of physical mail in the United States has dropped 43 percent since 2001, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Because young people tend to keep in touch with friends on social media rather than through the mail, fewer people are sending traditional greeting cards. But that doesn’t mean the greeting-card industry is dead. According to Southern Living, about 7 billion greeting cards are sold each year. That’s an estimated $7.5 billion in annual retail sales. However, Christmas is not the No. 1 event for card sales; that honor goes to birthdays, which account for 50 percent of all cards sold. In comparison, only a little over 2 billion Christmas cards are sold each year. However, Christmas cards do account for 61% of holiday cards sent according to TPI Solutions
According to the Hartford Courant, U.S. households sent an average of 15 holiday cards in 2012. This was the most recent information we could find, and the number has likely fallen since then. The same article says 80 percent of all card purchases are made by women, and most are bought by women over 40. Even though younger generations may not be buying as many cards, they are a beautiful way to celebrate the holidays. Greeting cards make great holiday decorations and let people know you’re thinking about them.
Photo cards for weddings & formal occasions
The type of paper and envelopes you use affect the look and feel of your cards. Many services offer more than one paper type; glossy and matte photo paper don’t really fit the feel of a formal event, however. According to Pipkin Paper Co., 120-pound cardstock is the gold standard for wedding invitations. Most photo card printing companies feature gold foil cards, which are perfect for save-the-date notices, graduation cards, Christmas cards and party invitations. Some services let you choose the color of the envelopes; the best services offer at least five color options, allowing you to match the cards with your party or wedding colors. The best services also let you select the color of an envelope’s inner lining, which adds a tasteful touch to your invitations.
How much do photo cards cost?
Photo cards can be expensive, but some companies offer inexpensive options or deals. Many companies require a minimum order of 10 to 25 cards. A pack of 15 folded cards on cardstock cost us between $22.75 and $48.60, depending on the company, before tax. Some companies allow you to purchase a minimum of one or two cards at a time, which can cost between $2.68 and $5 per card.
In addition to the number of cards, the final price is determined by the type of design, cut, paper and envelope you select and whether you choose to have the company stamp, address and ship your cards for you. Most companies charge $2.50 to $10 for shipping, and some can charge up to $10 in taxes. To get the best deal, be sure to use any coupons or special offers the manufacturer has running. During busy holiday seasons, you need to purchase your cards early to avoid paying additional money for expedited shipping. The printers will have plenty of orders coming in, which can make your cards take longer to process and ship.
To compare the prices of each service we created a photo card, choosing the least expensive paper on each site. We selected a card with the specifications of a 5x7 dimension, folded card with three photos on the cover. Then, we saw how expensive this would be for bulk orders of various quantities and single orders (where possible). We also considered whether or not the total price included shipping and tax.
Addressing & mailing
If you plan to send cards to a lot of people, consider finding a photo card service that allows you to print your return address and the recipients’ addresses directly on the cards. This costs extra, but it will save you time because you won’t have to write out the addresses by hand; once they arrive, all you have to do is stamp and mail them. Some services, like Shutterfly and Simply to Impress, even address and mail the cards for you (for an additional charge). Some photo card printing companies even let you create your own stamps, which add some flair for special occasions. Outside of busy seasons, such as the winter holidays and graduation, it usually takes only three to seven days for an order to be processed and printed. Allow for extra shipping time around major holidays.
Personalized photo cards for every occasion
Many people use photo card services for Christmas cards, but these companies also have card designs for other holidays and events. As we prepared our photo card reviews, we saw all types of ideas, including some you may not have considered. For example, wedding thank-you cards with photos of the gift recipients smiling give the cards a very personal touch.
Photo card companies offer many designs to fit a wide variety of holidays and occasions, including Halloween, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, weddings, adoptions and graduations. If you can't find any cards for a specific holiday or occasion, some services – like Minted and Simply to Impress – can set you up with a designer you can pay to create custom designs. Unfortunately, Mixbook and Shutterfly told us there was no way to request additional themes.