A guide to types of business card paper

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Embarking on the creation of your business card involves much more than simply placing your contact details on a piece of paper. While design and content are undoubtedly important, the quality and type of paper you choose hold equal weight.

At the end of the day, the business card paper you select is not just a backdrop. It’s a tactile and visual component that contributes significantly to your brand’s first impression.

Here’s where it gets interesting…the world of paper is a veritable buffet of options — matte, glossy, heavy, light, textured…you name it. Each has its own vibe and perks, suited to different brand personalities. 

Think of it like finding the right outfit for a given occasion. The right combination of shirt or top, trousers and shoes can make you the talk of the party. In the same way, nailing that paper choice can make your business card the one people actually remember.

In this article, we explain the importance of choosing the right business card material, walk you through the process of it and explore different types of business paper stock. Let’s find out which type of business cardstock will tell your business story best! 

What is cardstock? 

Cardstock, also known as ‘card stock’ or simply ‘paper stock’, is a versatile and popular choice for business cards. It offers a perfect balance between the light weight of regular paper and the rigidity of cardboard. Durable by nature, it withstands frequent handling, ensuring your business cards retain their form and integrity over time.

Available in a variety of finishes and textures — including smooth, textured, matte, glossy, metallic or pearlescent — cardstock allows for extensive customisation. You can select a thickness that best suits your design needs and brand image, with different weights providing further options for personalisation.

Why does your choice of business card paper matter?

Choosing the right business card paper is more important than you might think! Your business card is often the first tangible piece of your brand that someone receives. It’s not just a way of passing on contact details — it’s a reflection of your brand’s personality, professionalism and attention to detail.

First impressions count, right? The feel, weight and texture of your card instantly communicate something about your business before the recipient even looks at the printed information. A flimsy, poorly printed card might suggest a lack of care or investment in your work, whereas a card with a quality, sturdy paper that feels nice to the touch can convey reliability and professionalism.

Besides, your choice of business card material directly impacts the longevity of the card. The right paper choice ensures your card withstands the journey through hands, wallets and pockets without fading, bending or wearing at the edges. Durable cards are more likely to stay with the recipient for longer, acting as a lasting reminder of your meeting and business.

Finally, with a myriad of paper types available, you really can get creative and choose something that not only represents your brand but also stands out in a pile. Whether it’s a glossy finish for a sleek and modern vibe, or recycled matte paper for an eco-conscious brand, the choice of paper plays a big role in making your business card uniquely yours.

Business card paper factors to consider

When it comes to choosing business card paper stock, you need to be familiar with all the different characteristics it has so that the final product meets your expectations and represents your brand effectively. 

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing paper stock for your business cards.

  1. Paper weight (GSM). GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’ and it’s all about the weight of the paper. In the world of business cards, GSM tells you generally how thick and sturdy a card is. The higher the GSM, the heavier and firmer the card. Business cards usually have a GSM between 300 and 400, striking a cool balance between being lightweight and substantial. 
  2. Paper texture. You can choose between smooth and textured cardstock. Texture affects the tactile experience and visual appearance of the card.
  3. Paper finish. The standard business card paper finish options are matte, glossy or satin. Finish influences the card’s shine and ability to resist smudges or fingerprints. However, there are also several less conventional finishes that can make your business card stand out from the crowd, including metallic, pearlised or UV-coated. 
  4. Opacity. Opacity affects how much printed content shows through the card’s opposite side.
  5. Colour. Your options are white vs. coloured business card paper. Coloured paper impacts the vibrancy and accuracy of printed colours.
  6. Print compatibility. Different papers absorb ink differently, affecting the sharpness and vibrancy of printed images and text.

Depending on the combination of these characteristics, we can see differences between several business card paper types. Let’s talk about them in a bit more detail. 

Types of business card paper 

What kind of paper should be used for business cards? It depends. 

VistaPrint business cards come in three styles: standard, premium and speciality. 

  • Standard cards fit countless business needs and are available in matte, glossy and uncoated options. The standard 300 gsm business card paper weight, with a lower price point, makes creating your go-to card simple and easy. 
  • Premium and speciality cards help make a more significant visual impression and allow you to create a unique brand look. Higher-quality paper stocks come in various textures, weights and types for you to choose.

Now let’s look at the most common and popular types of business card paper.

1. Matte business card paper stock

The classic matte business card is coated with a smooth, shine-free finish. Matte paper is a customer favourite for countless reasons. The smooth, ink-absorbent finish makes words easy to read while still being effortless to mark up or write on.

  • Feel: silky smooth on both the front and back
  • Thickness: 300 or 400 gsm
Business card that uses matte business card paper stock

Business card that uses matte business card paper stock via VistaPrint

2. Glossy business card paper stock

Grab attention with popular, light-catching, glossy business cards. Make your logo pop or lead with bold images to set a strong, confident tone. Glossy cards are excellent for bright colours and photography.

  • Feel: glossy and slick feeling card front, silky card back
  • Thickness: 400 gsm
Business card that uses glossy business card paper stock

Business card that uses glossy business card paper stock via VistaPrint

3. Uncoated business card paper stock

Uncoated business card paper is lightly textured with no additional coatings added to the paper stock. These standard cards make an easy choice for simple projects and business owners that rely on handwritten notes.

  • Feel: like a notecard
  • Thickness: 300 gsm
Business card that uses uncoated business card paper stock

Business card that uses uncoated business card paper stock via VistaPrint

4. Pearl business card paper stock

With a shimmery look and subtle but eye-catching glitter, the pearl card stock makes a statement. This remarkable business card paper adds a shimmering, light-catching surface that creates a soft, visual glow. Pearl paper works best with light colours and simple designs.

  • Feel: lightly coated and smooth, polished feel
  • Thickness: 300 gsm
Business card that uses pearl business card paper stock

Business card that uses pearl business card paper stock via VistaPrint

5. Ultra-thick business card paper stock

The thickest, sturdiest business card paper available, ultra-thick cards make a strong statement. This paper stock comes with a UV glossy finish, so it’s both sturdy and visually clear.

  • Feel: extra-thick and heavy, smooth to the touch
  • Thickness: 600 or 800 gsm
Business card that uses ultra-thick business card paper stock

Business card that uses ultra-thick business card paper stock via VistaPrint

6. Linen business card paper stock

A luxurious card option, linen cards are made from paper woven with Italian cotton. Linen paper stock has an elegant, matte finish, making it a great option for businesses wanting a quality, natural feel to their business card.

  • Feel: a subtle woven texture
  • Thickness: 280 gsm
Business card that uses linen business card paper stock

Business card that uses linen business card paper stock via VistaPrint

7. Natural textured business card paper stock

Recycled materials are essential to many sustainable businesses, making them the perfect option for eco-friendly companies or projects. This business card paper is lightly speckled and made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. The organic look and ink-absorbent paper work well with softer, muted colours and simple, geometric designs.

  • Feel: lightly rippled, sturdy and textured
  • Thickness: 300 gsm
Business card that uses natural textured business card paper stock

Business card that uses natural textured business card paper stock via VistaPrint

8. Recycled matte business card paper stock

An FSC® certified product, recycled matte paper made from responsibly forested materials has a rustic look and feel. This 100% recycled business paper stock is excellent for everyday purposes and projects. The uncoated surface is easy to write on and read.

  • Feel: an uncoated notecard
  • Thickness: 270 gsm
Business card that uses recycled matte business card paper stock

Business card that uses recycled matte business card paper stock via VistaPrint

9. Soft-touch business card paper stock

Soft-touch business card stock has an extra-soft feel with matte lamination on both sides. This type of paper has a velvety, high-end look and feel. Make an added impression with your colourful design.

  • Feel: an extra-thick paper bag-like texture
  • Thickness: 300 gsm
Business card that uses kraft business card paper stock

Business card that uses kraft business card paper stock via VistaPrint

10. Kraft business card paper stock

Kraft paper sports a brown, eco-friendly vibe, but beware — the ‘recycled look’ doesn’t always mean it’s made from recycled materials. The aesthetic comes from the manufacturing process and the type of wood pulp used. To genuinely back your sustainability claim, ensure your kraft paper is authentically recycled and responsibly sourced.

  • Feel: an extra-thick paper bag-like texture
  • Thickness: 300 gsm
Business card that uses kraft business card paper stock

Business card that uses kraft business card paper stock via VistaPrint

11. Bamboo business card paper stock

A tree-free paper option, bamboo business card stock is soft to the touch and thick yet flexible in feel. Made with alternative fibres sourced from 90% bamboo and 10% cotton, this unique woven texture is sure to make a big impression on potential customers.

  • Feel: distinctively textured, soft, flexible feel
  • Thickness: 325 gsm
Business card that uses bamboo business card paper stock

Business card that uses bamboo business card paper stock via VistaPrint

12. Hemp business card paper stock

Hemp business card paper creates a more natural, cream-coloured card. Made from 30% hemp, 30% post-consumer recycled paper and 40% responsibly forested paper, this fibre blend creates a creamy white paper with a unique visual texture and feel.

  • Feel: uncoated, sturdy and lightly textured
  • Thickness: 325 gsm

Business card that uses hemp business card paper stock

Business card that uses hemp business card paper stock via VistaPrint

13. Triple Layer business card paper stock

These extra-thick, unexpectedly colourful cards are bold and attention-grabbing from every angle. Made from 3 layers of paper with a colour in the middle will set you apart from the rest. Choose from 7 different colours for your inlay to complement your eye-catching logo or design.

  • Feel: smooth, matte lamination
  • Thickness: 750 gsm
Business card that uses painted edge business card paper stock

Business card that uses triple-layer card paper stock via VistaPrint

14. Plastic business cardstock

With clear and frosted options, create a business card with the same height and width as the familiar credit card, and choose from 3 material options. These unique, long-lasting cards spark interest with potential clients and help you get noticed. The interesting, waterproof and tear-resistant materials are sure to leave an impression that outlasts the rest.

Due to legal restrictions, we cannot print any design that features elements similar to ID cards, credit cards or bank cards.

  • Feel: flexible or rigid plastic options with an extra-smooth feel
  • Thickness: Comparable to a credit card — available in flexible or rigid thicknesses
Business card that uses plastic cardstock

Business card that uses plastic cardstock via VistaPrint

How to choose the ideal business card paper for your specific business?

We know that having so many business card paper options at your fingertips can be overwhelming. So, which is the best business card printing paper?! 

Long story short: business cards are most often printed on standard 300 gsm card stock. 

But the thing is, as tempting as it is to just go with the standard business card paper, it might not always be the best option for your business. 

To make sure the business card material works for your specific needs, these are the important things to think about.

  1. First up, understand your brand’s aesthetic and the impression you want to convey through your business cards. What’s your style? Sleek and professional or bold and quirky?
  2. Next, set a budget. Like anything, you get what you pay for with business card paper. Higher quality options feels more luxurious and are often more durable, but come with a heftier price tag. So, if you’re on a tight budget, explore more affordable options. 
  3. You should also consider durability needs. If your business cards are going to be passed around a lot, you might want to go for something on the sturdier side. However, if you aim to print business cards for that one event and never re-use them again, it’s okay to opt for a cheaper, lighter paper stock. 
  4. If sustainability is a priority for your brand, consider eco-friendly business card paper options. There are many recycled or sustainably sourced papers available that not only minimise environmental impact but also offer unique textures and finishes.
  5. Finally, always keep the design of your business card in mind. Will the chosen paper stock work with your design? Will it be neat and clean? Will the colours pop? 

VistaPrint tip: It’s advisable to order samples of the paper types you’re considering. Holding the paper in your hand and seeing how it feels and looks with your design can provide valuable insights that you can’t get from online descriptions or images alone.

Should you go green for your business card paper stock?

Sustainability isn’t just trendy — people are demanding it. Consumers expect brands to embody environmental stewardship not only in words but also in action. Recyclable business card materials can visibly signify your commitment. 

Selecting hemp, bamboo or authenticated recycled paper for your business cards sends a clear message about your brand’s commitment to sustainability. These paper stock options align your brand identity with conscious consumerism and environmental responsibility. For businesses targeting an eco-aware audience, these paper types not only strengthen the brand’s environmental ethos, but also resonate with like-minded customers, creating a sense of shared values and community.

However, while these materials offer environmental benefits, consider how they align with your brand’s aesthetic and message. Kraft, hemp-blend and bamboo papers have a distinct look and feel that may not suit all brands. If sustainability is central to your brand, these materials can reinforce your commitment to the environment. But if your brand leans towards luxury and sophistication, you might want to explore other options that offer a premium finish while still considering environmental impact.

The wrap up on business card paper

When creating business cards for your company, every little detail matters. Now that you know how the paper stock you choose for your business cards can impact on your business, it’s time to make the right choice. 
Put all your newly acquired knowledge about business card paper types into practice, pick the best business card paper for your project and start printing your customised VistaPrint business cards today.