Ordering Printed Plastic Cards vs. Blank Plastic Cards

Jan 15th 2021

Plastic cards, also known as PVC cards, are a popular tool that can be used to create ID cards, member cards, gift cards, VIP cards, loyalty cards, and more.

PVC cards can be printed with black ink, spot color, or in full color. In some cases, all cards are printed with the exact same information like a business card. Other times, the overall card design is the same but each card contains variable data to make them slightly different. For example, each card could contain a unique name, account number, photograph, barcode, or QR code.

Here are the 4 most popular options to print custom plastic cards:

1. Order custom printed cards

Printed Plastic Card ShellsFor companies that do not print cards often, it is most cost effective to order printed plastic cards from a company such as Print Robot. Here you are able to order cards printed with the exact information you'd like. They even offer variable data, magnetic stripes, etc.

This is a full service option. Just select your quantity and card options, upload your artwork, and receive your custom printed plastic cards. Print Robot even offers free design services on orders $250+. Let them know what you have in mind, send over your logo, and they'll take care of the rest. Best of all, all cards are manufactured in the USA.

It typically takes 10 - 15 business days to produce cards using this option.

2. Order plastic card shells that are personalized as needed

Plastic Card ShellsPrint Robot can also provide an option where they print all of the information on your card that does not change. They can then store these "plastic card shells" on a shelf for you and personalize them as needed. For example, you could order 2,500 plastic membership card shells and send an Excel spreadsheet containing the names and/or numbers each time you need a batch. A batch could contain 50 cards, 200 cards, however many you require. Each time you submit a new data file, the shells will be pulled from the shelf, personalized, and shipped out. 

The entire batch of cards could be shipped directly to you, or if fulfillment services are purchased, each card could be adhered to a letter and mailed directly to the recipient. Talk about a full service solution!

It typically takes 10 - 15 business days to produce the initial card shells. From there, additional batches can be personalized and shipped out in less than one week with this option.

3. Order plastic card shells that you can personalize yourself

If you own a thermal plastic card printer, you could opt to order pre-printed card shells and personalize them yourself on-demand. There are a couple benefits to this option. First off, most thermal card printers can't print edge-to-edge so if your design contains bleed or a background color, it will add a white border around the edge of your design. Second, color ink is quite expensive on thermal printers. Ordering professionally printed plastic card shells from a company like Print Robot will be more cost effective. For example, you could order cards printed with anything that remains the same from card to card like the company logo, etc. and then simply run the cards through your thermal card printer to personalize them. 

Ordering the initial batch of shells would take 10 - 15 business days plus shipping but you could then personalize them immediately as needed.

4. Order blank plastic cards that you can print entirely yourself

Blank Plastic Cards

If you own a card printer and would rather print the entire card yourself, all you have to do is order blank plastic cards. It is cheaper to order your plastic cards direct from the manufacturer rather than a middle man. BlankPlasticCards.com is one of the largest manufacturers of blank PVC cards and proudly produces its cards in the USA.

In addition to incredibly low prices, it offers the largest select of blank plastic cards including a wide range of colors and magnetic stripe options.

Keep in mind that blank PVC cards can not be printed using a regular inkjet or laser printer. They require a printer that is designed to work with thick 30 mil plastic cards. Some of the most popular thermal plastic card printers are made by Zebra, Datacard, Fargo / HID, Evolis, and Magicard.

BlankPlasticCards.com has most of its plastic card colors in stock and ready to ship. More unique colors and magnetic stripe options are made to order and ship out in less than a week.