Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holiday Photo Card Review - Deals & Differences

xmas 2008

Have you started to think about your family photo holiday card yet? Although there's no rush, now's a great time to order them because many sites have discounts if you order in November.

Over the years we have ordered our photo cards from Pictage, Snapfish, Shutterfly and this year, Vista Print. I've also dreamed about ordering them from Tiny Prints and have checked out their samples. Here's my review and low-down on costs and quality across these different photo card sites. Full disclosure: I do not have partnerships with any of these sites for this holiday card review - all information here was learned through my own real life purchasing of photo cards since 2003 and lots of clicking ahead to checkout to get the true prices for you all so that you don't have to. Please note that none of my price calculations below include shipping.

Pictage and other professional photography sites: If you have your children or family's photo taken by a professional, your photographer may host the images on a professional site like Pictage. Just like professional photography, these sites are going to produce great quality cards and images but you are going to pay a premium. The cards we purchased from Pictage had the highest quality photo paper, great resolution, and the hefty price tag of $1-$7 per card. You have the option to design your own wording on several of the card designs.
Pictage prices for a 5 x 7 flat photo card, the least expensive option:
$2.40 per card for 50, $1.61 per card for 100, $1.23 per card for 200
your photographer may give you an additional discount

Tiny Prints: Tiny Prints has the most whimsical, creative and modern designs. The cards look as if you had a graphic designer personally create a modern art holiday card for your family, but you can set it all up at home in your pjs. Tiny Prints gives users plenty of options for personalizing your greeting and text, uploading multiple photos and making the cards wholly your own. And though Tiny Prints is awesome with the coupons and discount codes on the mommy blogs and parenting magazines, you will still pay more than some other sites for the high design look.
Tiny Prints prices for a 5.25 x 5.25 flat photo card with 1-4 photos,
the least expensive option:

$1.34 per card for 50, $1.19 per card for 100, $1.09 per card for 200
Coupon codes for $5 off 50 cards, $10 off 100 cards and $20 off 200 cards
Free shipping on orders over $99

Snapfish: It's hard not to love Snapfish, as one of the first and most popular online photo sharing sites. This is the company that showed us how to use our first digital cameras and converted generations of people used to "turning their film in" to the pharmacy or photo shack in the grocery store parking lot. It's also the way my parents still prefer looking at pics of their grandkids, since they already have their logins memorized and the accounts are very user friendly. The photo quality is hit or miss, and I don't think Snapfish's software or printing centers provide the best resolution possible.

But my biggest complaint is that on the 4x8 cards Snapfish barely allows me enough room to type "Merry Christmas" and all four of our family's names. But this year Snapfish has improved their variety of designs and options, allows for multiple photos on even the 4x8 cards and on the 5x7 cards users have ample room for personal text. Snapfish is also generous with the coupon codes to existing and new users and offers a great discount for the big sender that needs over 240 cards.
Snapfish prices for a 4x8 photo card with 1-4 photos, the least expensive option:
.55 per card for 40-60 cards
.45 per card for 80-160 cards
.39 per card for 180-220 cards
.29 per card for 240+ cards

Shutterfly: I think Shutterfly cards are awesome quality, fabulous price and there are tons of design options. The resolution that translates to the cards is solid, if not as crystal-clear perfect as Pictage's (but that probably has more to do with the person taking the photo.) If you like sending religious Christmas or Hanukkah cards, there are many great choices. You can also do Kwanzaa, New Year's, Winter Solstice, Peace on Earth - whatever greeting fully reflects the message you'd like to send your loved ones. You can also really personalize the text - Shutterfly allowed us the room on our cards for the last two years to add our favorite verses from the Gospel of St. Luke. Uh, that's a lot of room! You can also choose to upload 1-4 photos of your family and their graphic art designs are fabulous.
Shutterfly prices for a 4x8 flat photo card with 1-4 photos,
the least expensive option:

.52 per card for 50 cards, .44 per card for 100 cards, .36 per card for 200 cards
Existing users of Shutterfly can receive $10 off a $50 order (login to your account for your code), new customers can receive a 8x10 collage poster and all users get free shipping for orders over $25 and save 20% off their order and get free address labels.

Vista Print: I've been loving Vista Print for business cards and other personal stationery products, so this year I tried them out for our holiday cards. They turned out great! They are fabulous quality paper and the photos are super clear with pretty resolution and color. You could add as much text as you like, which I love. And the neatest thing? You can include a SECOND small photo on the back of your card with another greeting to be printed in grayscale at no extra charge, and just a $4.99-14.97 charge if you'd like the image on text or the back to be printed in color. (See below for the back of our card.) The white space will be the perfect place to scrawl to friends and family. However, on the 4x8 cards there is not the option to use multiple images on the front of the card.

UPDATE: A commenter below stated that Vista Print might charge customers per month without their explicit authorization. I called Vista Print to check this out and it is not true. They do offer partner deals after the checkout of placing an order, which might incur monthly fees. If this has happened to you accidentally, Vista Print is happy to provide a full refund, just contact customer service. Additionally, Vista Print is offering all APISS readers lots of free stuff HERE with free shipping. No joke, totally free stuff! I just ordered myself free sticky notes, address labels, a photo wall calendar for the grandparents = free family holiday gifts!!

Vista Print prices for a 4x8 flat photo card with 1 large color photo on the front and a grayscale photo on the back - the least expensive option:
.24 per card for 50 cards, .21 per card for 100 cards, .13 per card for 250 cards

xmas 2008

My final opinion: Vista Print has the best prices and the free-photo-on-the-back option is cool, Shutterfly has the best variety and photo quality for the price, great coupons right now and has the lowest price if you'd like to use multiple images on the front of the card but do not need more than 200 cards.

Graphic design by Jeannine Marie Soden of ROYGBIV Design

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