Postcards are the perfect, cost-effective marketing tool for reaching your customers and prospects in a way that grabs their immediate attention. They’re extremely effective at promoting discounts, your grand opening, your services, a product you offer, and more while reaching a targeted audience on a local or regional scale.
However, before you take advantage of these amazing marketing tools, you’ll need to know how much it costs to print postcards.
When it comes to printing postcards with commercial printers, there are several factors that influence the price. These factors all have varying degrees of influence on the end cost to print postcards.
To help gain a better understanding of the various cost-affecting parts of printing postcards, we’ve broken them down into categories, below, to help you determine how much printing postcards could cost you.
Quantity – How Many Postcards Do You Need?
One of the top cost-influencing factors to printing postcards is quantity. It seems obvious that the price would increase when you order more of something. This is typically true as printing 100 postcards is cheaper than printing 1000 postcards. However, in certain cases, adding a few more postcards to an order can actually make the price decrease a little.
This is because of the way jobs are laid out on press sheets and with certain quantities, it's more difficult or requires special treatment resulting in more time spent.
For example, if you were looking to print 450 5.5” x 8.5” postcards the price would be around $13.86 more than if you were to print 500 postcards.
Why would the price go down $13.86 if you’re actually getting 50 more postcards? This price drop is because printing those 50 extra postcards results in an easier laying out process for your printer’s production team when they’re laying out the job on press sheets.
Simply adding 50 more postcards decreases the price because it’s easier to just have press sheets filled with one job than it is to find other compatible jobs that would fit alongside your 450 quantity job. Think of it as a puzzle, with 500 postcards you give the production team the full picture, but with 450 postcards, it becomes a puzzle trying to piece your job together with another customer’s so they can save paper and time by working on both jobs at the same time.
Since it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra postcards, it’s highly advisable to stick with nicely spaced intervals of quantity when printing (50, 100, 250, 500, etc.) to get the lowest prices possible.
It’s also worth noting that the price per postcard drops as you increase your quantity. For example, ordering 100 6” x 9” postcards would result in around $0.90-$1.00 per postcard. If you were to order 1000 postcards of the same size the cost per postcard would drop to around $0.20-$0.30 per postcard. This is important to remember if you plan to order more postcards in the future as ordering them all at once would save you money.
Paper – How Do You Want Your Postcards to Feel?
When it comes to printing postcards, they are typically printed to be used in a direct mail campaign. Because of this, you have limited paper options to choose from as the postcards need to be thick enough to withstand the mailing process.
While you do have limited options to choose from, the type of paper you choose when printing your postcards has an influence on the pricing of your print order.
Most printers have a set of house stocks that they recommend using when printing with them which will generally be the cheapest postcard printing options.
For Conquest Graphics, we have “Conquest Preferred” stocks that are our default option value when configuring your postcard order on our product page. While our house stocks include a large variety of paper options that you can choose from, we recommend 10pt, 14pt, or 18pt C2S cover paper for postcard printing to ensure your postcards are durable enough to move easily through mailing equipment and do not encounter any damage during the entire mailing process.
Since these are such popular postcard paper types, we order them in bulk and always have them readily available. Because these paper types are more common, it’s also easier to print your postcards alongside other projects that require the same type of paper.
Choosing one of the non-preferred stocks for your postcards will result in higher prices since it’s harder to pair with other jobs when laying out on press sheets. Some types of paper also require your printer to specially order them which can take time to arrive to your printer so you should be prepared for higher prices and longer turnaround times when printing your postcards on paper that is not included in your printer’s house stocks.
If you have questions on how you can change your postcard paper type to save you more money, feel free to reach out to our customer service team via email or phone at (800) 707-9903.
Turnaround Time – How Soon Do You Need Your Postcards?
Turnaround time is the time it takes to print your postcards and depending on when you need your postcards, there will be varying prices associated with different turnaround times.
In general, just like ordering anything online, the sooner you need your postcards, the higher the cost will be.
This is due to the many benefits there are associated with longer turnaround times for commercial printers. For example, if you were ordering 3,000 postcards, and needed them in 2 days, then the cost would be around $90 more than if you were to give your printer 6 days to complete your order. This is because when you give your printer 6 days vs 2 days, they have more time to receive similar jobs that they can print alongside yours on the press sheets before cutting your postcards out, therefore, saving themselves paper, time, and resources.
However, at Conquest Graphics, postcards are a “Quick-Ship” product, meaning with certain quantities and paper types, they automatically have a turnaround time of just one day without any extra charges. This is because postcards are smaller items that can be printed in bulk more easily.
Overall, to get the best possible postcard printing price, you need to either find a printer who offers 1-day turnarounds on your desired postcard quantity, or you need to make sure to plan ahead so you can choose the most economical turnaround time.
Ink and Coating for Your Postcards
Some companies—typically international brands—require special types of ink to get the colors of their postcard designs to perfectly match their digital renderings. These inks require a certain Pantone Matching System (or PMS) color value. Ordering PMS colors becomes quite costly resulting in the cost to print postcards to increase.
In most cases, the CMYK color system (cyan, magenta, yellow, key(black)) is the best for rendering precise colors which is the standard option when placing orders. And by taking advantage of the CMYK color system, the cost to print postcards will be significantly lower.
Also, if you’re looking to add a coating to your postcards to add additional protection and/or to add a glossy or matte finish, then the price will increase. For example, if you wanted to add a UV gloss coating to your 6” x 9” postcards, the cost would increase anywhere from $10-$25 depending on your paper choice and if you were looking to add a coating to one side or both sides of your postcards.
When it comes to coatings, it’s also important to note that UV coatings will be much cheaper than aqueous coatings since it takes a lot less time and resources to print using a UV coating.
Size – How Large or Small Will Your Postcards Be?
Different postcard sizes also have varying degrees of influence on the end cost to print postcards. This is because the size of your postcards will determine how many press sheets your project will need, and the more paper used, the more the price will go up.
Generally speaking, the larger each postcard ends up being, the more press sheets it will require, which translates to higher postcard printing costs.
Sticking with smaller postcard sizes like 4” x 6”, 4.25” x 6”, and 5” x 7” will be the most economical choice when printing your postcards. However, it is important to note that depending on your message, larger postcards like 6” x 9”, 6.25” x 9”, or 6” x 11” will have a bigger impact and could result in a higher ROI. So, it’s important to analyze your goals so you not only choose the cheapest postcard size, but you also choose the appropriate size for your message. Sizing up at least one size isn’t that expensive either. For example, say you were ordering 100 postcards, if you size up from a 4.25” x 6” postcard to a 5” x 7” to ensure your postcards are larger than everyday mail, you will only pay around $10 more depending on certain factors.
While you can elect to use a custom postcard size, sticking with the standard postcard sizes—4” x 6”, 4.25” x 6”, 5” x 7”, 5.5” x 8.5”, 6” x 9”, 6.25” x 9” (EDDM eligible), and 6” x 11” (EDDM eligible)—is the cheapest postcard printing option. This is because depending on the custom size, it may be more difficult to lay your postcards on the press sheets and because machines are set to cut standard sizes it will take extra time to adjust machinery to match your custom size.
Cost to Mail Postcards
When it comes to the cost to print and mail postcards, there are 3 main factors that will most strongly influence the end price: postcard postage costs, mailing lists, and who you go through to mail your postcards.
Postcard Postage Costs
For postcard postage rates, there are several options to choose from and each method has it’s own benefits and pricing.
First-Class Mail, which you can qualify for when mailing 500 or more postcards, is cheaper than single-piece mailings as it does take advantage of bulk mail discounts. However, it will be the most expensive bulk mailing method with a cost ranging from $0.40-$1.16 per postcard, however, this provides you with the fastest delivery time of around 1-5 days.
Standard Mail is another mailing method that takes advantage of bulk mail discounts, which requires at least 200 postcards to take advantage of. It is much cheaper than First Class Mail but takes a little longer to deliver with a delivery time ranging from 3-21 days.
EDDM or Every Door Direct Mail is one of the cheapest direct mail postcard options with a price of around only $0.20 per postcard. While this is an extremely low-cost postcard mailing option, it isn’t ideal for every message. This is because with EDDM, you choose mailing routes that make sense for your brand, and then your postcards will be delivered to every address on those routes. So, if you’re looking to reach a specific audience or a more targeted one then you should consider First Class or Standard Mail.
Another postcard mailing option is Postcard Commingling. This will be the cheapest postcard mailing method if you are looking to mail a low quantity. This is because Postcard Commingling combines your small quantity (as few as 1 postcard) with other companies so that you all qualify for bulk mail discounts.
If you choose to use a mailing list you already have, ultimately, there will be no extra charge.
If you decide to target a new audience and need to purchase a mailing list, you need to consider the cost of a mailing list which could range anywhere from $0.05-$0.35 per address depending on a variety of factors including whether you are purchasing a consumer list or business list.
Who You Mail Through
If you want to get your postcards in the mail faster and if you want to save yourself time and money, the best way to mail your postcards is to have your printer mail your project from their mail center.
Not every printer offers mailing since they don’t all have their own mail centers like Conquest Graphics, so be sure to ask before placing your postcard order whether or not they will be able to mail your postcards to a list of your choosing.
When mailing with Conquest Graphics, we never charge you more than what the postage would already cost you and all you have to worry about is uploading your mailing list on time and we’ll be sure to mail them when you want them to mail. For more information about mailing, check out our mailing services information page for answers to any questions you might have.
So, how much does it cost to print postcards?
In the end, all of these factors above combined determine the cost to print postcards.
Postcards are often a highly cost-effective and time-effective choice for direct mail marketing. They have quick turnarounds since they don’t have complicated factors like folding and binding, so you can usually expect to have your finished custom postcards back to you in a matter of 2 days or fewer (depending on quantity and shipping or mailing).
Depending on all the specifications outlined above, the cost to print postcards could cost anywhere between $0.69 to $6,000 and beyond.
You can also save money having your commercial printer mail your direct mail postcards if they offer mailing as a service like Conquest Graphics.
Commercial printers are often invested heavily in their customers’ success, so contacting your printer and asking for ways to meet your budget and reach your marketing goals is always an option! Feel free to reach out to our customer service team via email or phone at (800) 707-9903 if you’d like to get started on reaching your marketing goals today.
For more details on the cost to print postcards, click below to take advantage of our postcard price configurator to get an even better idea of how much it could cost you to print postcards.
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