4 Ways to Save Money on Photo Announcement Cards

by Ben Edwards on 10 January 2013 1 comment

Photo cards are a great way to announce life events or send out family updates because they include pictures, making the message much more personal. We started using them for holiday cards once we had kids so we could show friends and family how the little ones had grown.

Unfortunately, the personalization of the card does cost more than a traditional card. This year, every Christmas card we received in the mail was a photo card, so I thought it was time to share a few ways you can save money on photo cards. (See also: 5 Cheap Greeting Cards That Blow Hallmark Away)

1. Shop Local & Buy in Bulk

I've found that stores like Sam’s Club, Walgreens, and Costco offer lower prices than online services like Shutterfly, Vistaprint, or Snapfish.

They don't offer the customization options the online providers do, but if you're looking to save money, the local stores are your choice. How big are the savings?

Costco will charge you $15 before tax for 50 cards (6 x 7½). Here are the lowest prices for 50 holiday greeting cards from the some of the online services:

  • Vistaprint – $32.45 (5x7) or $23.70 (4x8)
  • Snapfish – $40 (5x7) or $32.50 (4x8)
  • Shutterfly – $42.50 (5x7) or $35 (4x8)

If you need more than 50, you can order additional sets of 25 from Costco for $5.50. One downside to Costco is that the minimum order is 50 cards. Places like Shutterfly and Snapfish do give you the option of ordering cards in varying amounts. They offer tiered pricing, so the fewer the cards you order, the higher the price per card.

Here's a look at the lowest prices for 20 cards:

  • Vistaprint – $12.98 (5x7) or $9.48 (4x8)
  • Snapfish – $18 (5x7) or $14.60 (4x8)
  • Shutterfly – $19 (5x7) or $16 (4x8)

Another benefit of buying local is that you don't have to pay shipping costs. The online photo services offer free shipping, but you have to spend a minimum amount to qualify. Right now it’s a $65 minimum for Vistaprint and a $30 minimum for Shutterfly and Snapfish.

2. Skip the Upgrades

One of the nice things about the Vistaprint, Shutterfly, and Snapfish websites is that they have search filters that let you narrow down the best card for you based on a variety of features.

When you’re choosing your card, the fewer features you choose, the more you’ll save on your cards. For example, Shutterfly lets you pick between Photo Paper and a more expensive Premium Card Stock. TinyPrints.com gives you the option of upgrading to a Shimmer or DoubleThick Matte finish, both of which are more than the regular Matte or Semi-Glossy finish. Adding more options does make for a fancier card, but it will also cost you more money.

We keep all of the cards we get over the holidays on a big ring so we can flip through them later. You can tell which ones are on nicer card stock, but the thing that makes the biggest difference is the picture on the card itself. So choose a great picture, and the options and upgrades won’t make that much difference.

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3. Use Coupons

We saved an additional $5 off our Costco photo card order by using a coupon from the monthly mailer. Many online photo services offer discount codes that you can get if you’re on their customer list. You can also find them by just searching the web for “photo card coupon code.” Some services have a current discounts page, like this Snapfish deals page.

Earlier I mentioned saving on shipping costs by ordering a minimum amount. Some places will also offer discount codes on shipping.

4. Send Some Cards Electronically

My wife doesn’t agree with this tip, but if you’re really looking to cut costs, it’s definitely an option. If you have lots of people you’d like to send photos to but don’t want to spend the money to buy and mail all those photo cards, you can send some electronically.

After you buy and mail physical cards for 10-20 people, you can share the photos on the card with everyone else via email. From their sites, Costco and Shutterfly both let you enter the email addresses you want to share your pictures with. Unfortunately, Costco requires anyone who gets your email to actually sign up for a photo center account before they can view the photos. Shutterfly doesn’t force recipients to join their service to see the photos and they even let you add a message to the back of each photo.

Shopping for Value

When you're buying things like holiday cards or baby announcements, you tend to feel a little more sentimental, and your emotions might try to talk you into spending extra money because "it's your family and they're worth it." I agree that they are worth it, but here are a few ways you can send out great family photos that do them justice but don't break the budget. If you can't bring yourself to spend the money on cards even after cutting your costs with these tips you can always make your own cards.

How have you found ways to save on photo and announcement cards?

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Julie Rains's picture

Start watching for holiday discounts in November; you can often get great deals for early ordering.