My Review of VistaPrint and VistaPrint's free Business Cards

Vistaprint Free Business Cards

VistaPrint is a fairly well-known online seller of printed products (and now electronic products, too.) They are most famous for their "Free Business Card" offering, which you'll see ads and emails for virtually everywhere. A few months ago, I became a customer of VistaPrint, and I figured I'd share my experiences, and how you can get the most out of your purchases. There are definately some tricks and some gotchas, but they are easily avoidable if you know how. Overall, my experience was overwhelmingly positive, and I would suggest them to anyone. But you need to pay attention to what you are dong.

I'm going to break this VistaPrint Review into 3 sections:

  • What to Buy
  • How to get through their site
  • Gotchas & Service

First Question : Is Vistaprint a scam?

Since I posted this page, I've gotten a lot of comments and questions. One of the more frequent ones is, "Is Vistaprint a scam?" People don't understand how they can get so much of what Vistaprint is offering, for free or nearly free. The simple answer is, "Absolutely not, Vistaprint is not a scam." It's a pubilcally traded company, worth over $2 Billion Dollars, and couldn't get away with being a scam.
Other than the rewards program (updated below) everything they do is on the up and up. Their system encourages you to upgrade your products, that do cost quite a bit more money, but if you just want your free products, they seem okay with it. Nothing to fear here.

What to Buy at VistaPrint

People are drawn to VistaPrint for their FREE business card offering. There really is no catch here, the business cards are free, and if you don't mind getting them by parcel post, shipping is only about $5. For full-color printing on cardstock, that's as close to truly free as I can imagine anyone expecting to get. The printing itself is pretty good, the cards come on 80 pound paper, which is fairly sturdy cardstock, and the colors come out just as you see them on the screen. If you figure that a color copy at Kinkos is 39 cents, you get 250 of those for your $5. Pretty good deal. The catch, though, is that the back of your card has a VistaPrint advertisement on the back. Check it out:

To remove this, you need to pay $4.99. Now, I didn't really mind having their ad on the back, it's not all that intrusive, and it subsidizes the purchase. But then I discovered an even better VistaPrint Deal. Their FREE business cards not only have their ad on the back, but they are also limited in templates to 42, fairly plain designs. And if you want the ad off, then it costs $4.99, not free. However, they also have something called Premium Business Cards (Click on Business Identity on the left, then Premium Business Cards) which are a much, much better value. If you use this link (or any banner on the page), you'll get the cards for $3.99, and they come without the ad on the back, for free, and they have thousands and thousands of designs. Shipping is the same $5, so that's no different, but for $9, you now have a much better looking card, with no VistaPrint on the back. If you use the Free Business Card path, this will cost you $10, and your designs aren't as nice. Neat trick, no?

Once you've designed your card, you should be looking around their site for other things to add to your order. For instance, they have address stamps for free, custom printed pens and t-shirts, and some other things to search around for. The link above will also give you some free samples of their lowest quantity, so 100 free post cards, 140 free return address labels, etc. Often, you can add these for free, and pay no additional shipping. Good stuff.

How to get through the VistaPrint Site

So, one thing that VistaPrint does that can be annoying, is to continue to try to upsell you. If you buy business cards, they'll offer you a business card holder. Then a stamp. Then a t-shirt. Then a magazine. Then a matching website. Then return address labels. Etc. Here, I'm torn. These offers from VistaPrint are often extremely good ones. Entrepeneur magazine for free, with no committment (I checked it out.) Why not? A free t-shirt that matches? Okay. Etc. Their business card holders are actually okay. But enough already. They make you cancel out of about 10 different offerings, before they even show you your shipping price.

Well, I found a trick. After you create your business card, if you don't want anything else, you can skip all that. You may not want to, honestly, as the offers are good. But you may want to just place your order and go. First, after you have created your card, you MUST check off the box that says you approved the design. I think this is in case you have a typo or some other issue, the company can prove that you approved it as is. The next thing they show you is quantity, you probably want to choose that. After that is paper stock and backside (I got glossy, they look pretty nice, too.) That's all you need to do. Everything after that is an upsell. After you select your quantity and your stock, on the top right, click "Cart." This will skip all the upsells, and take you right into purchasing. Also, check your cart here, to make sure you are buying what you want, as after this page, they make changing your selections difficult.

Gotchas and Service, VistaPrint Review

Okay, I already told you the first gotcha. Your FREE Business Cards have the VistaPrint ad on the back. You also know they they are going to hit you with every upsell they can think of (though I showed you how to skip those.) There is one final gotcha. After you buy, you'll be offered $10 cash back on the purchase if you fill out a survey. At the very bottom of the page, it tells you that you will get your $10 back, but you will also be enrolled in a monthly program that costs $14.95, if you don't cancel in the first month. Do NOT sign up for this. You will get your $10 (I know a few people who have) and the program is okay, but it's not worth $180/year. Make sure you read what you are agreeing to, before you submit!

I didn't actually get caught by this (since I read the fine print), but a friend did, and they were intially angry with them. There's a phone number to call, and you get the VistaPrint Service department, who seems used to dealing with these. They cancel you out of the program, and give you your $14.95 back, and it seems to work just fine, but it's a bit annoying to have to do. But this brings me to a Review of VistaPrint's service. Honestly, I was amazed. It seems that most of their service folks are not only call-takers, but they are also graphic designers, or artists. For the most part, the person you get on the phone can either fix your problem (Like sending out another batch if your first batch of cards got lost) or they can actually fix your card itself, if there was a typo, or wasn't centered, etc. They were super helpful, which was surprise to me.

As of December 1st, 2009, Vistaprint has announced that they no longer will be partners with these rewards program companies (the ones that charge you $14.95.) While there may be a few month of people who are still noticing charges from past orders, no new customers will get caught in this program. Great news!!

VistaPrint Review, conclusion

So, to conclude my VistaPrint Review, I have to say I'm a pretty happy customer. For $10, I got great looking cards (and you can get them for $5, if you don't mind the ad) and for virtually nothing more, I got a t-shirt, pen and business card holder, and some postcards, all that match. Once you get used to the quirks of the site, you can easily create whatever you want, and it's somewhat fun to do. And, as long as you watch what you are buying (only buy upsells on purpose!) and read what you are submitting, I expect you're going to have a great purchase.
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Last updated: 16 October 2011