Matte vs Glossy Business Cards: Which is Better?

In today’s digital age, business cards may seem outdated, but they still hold a valuable place in networking and making a lasting impression. When designing business cards, one crucial decision to make is whether to go for a matte finish or a glossy finish. Both options have their own unique characteristics and advantages. In this article, we will explore the differences between matte and glossy business cards and help you decide which option is better for your needs.

Understanding Matte and Glossy Finishes

Before we dive into the pros and cons of matte and glossy business cards, let’s first understand what sets them apart. Both finishes utilize a clay-based coating, but the application process and amount of coating applied differentiate the two.

Matte Finish: Matte business cards have a muted, non-reflective surface. They lack the sheen and shine of glossy cards, offering a more subtle and sophisticated look. Matte cards have a textured feel, similar to cardstock, and the ink is absorbed into the paper, resulting in a softer appearance.

Glossy Finish: On the other hand, glossy business cards have a smooth and shiny surface that reflects light. The coating on glossy cards gives them a polished and vibrant look, making colors and images appear more vivid and eye-catching.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the two finishes, let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Matte Business Cards: Professional and Elegant

Matte business cards are known for their understated elegance and professional appeal. Here are some key advantages of choosing a matte finish:

1. Professional Look:

Matte business cards are widely perceived as more professional and modern. The muted finish exudes a sense of sophistication and elegance, making them ideal for professionals who want to make a subtle yet impactful impression.

2. Eliminates Glare:

One major advantage of matte business cards is that they eliminate glare. Whether your card contains extensive information or minimal text, the matte finish makes it easier to read under various lighting conditions.

3. Easy to Write On:

Matte business cards are easy to write on, which can be beneficial in various situations. If you need to jot down additional contact information or personalized notes, the texture of matte cards allows for easy writing without smudging or rubbing off.

4. Resistant to Fingerprints:

Unlike glossy cards, matte business cards are less prone to showing fingerprints and smudges. This means that your cards will maintain a clean and professional appearance, even after being handled regularly.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider when choosing matte business cards:

1. Less Durability:

Matte cards are generally less durable compared to their glossy counterparts. They are more prone to bending, breaking, and showing signs of wear and tear over time. To ensure their longevity, it’s advisable to store matte cards in a protective case.

2. Higher Cost:

In some cases, matte business cards may be slightly more expensive than glossy ones. The higher cost is often attributed to the perceived premium quality and the additional coating required for the matte finish. However, the price difference is usually minimal.

3. Compatibility with Design:

If your business card design heavily relies on bright colors, intricate graphics, or images, a matte finish may not be the best choice. The muted texture of matte cards may not showcase these elements as effectively as a glossy finish would.

Glossy Business Cards: Vibrant and Eye-Catching

Glossy business cards are known for their vibrant colors and shiny appearance. They offer a striking and attention-grabbing look, perfect for businesses that want to make a bold statement. Here are the advantages of choosing a glossy finish:

1. Enhanced Color and Image Pop:

Glossy business cards have a reflective surface that enhances the colors and images printed on them. The glossy coating makes colors appear brighter and more vibrant, making your business card stand out from the crowd.

2. Durability and Protection:

The extra coating on glossy business cards provides an additional layer of protection. This makes them more resistant to damage from moisture and general wear and tear. Glossy cards are a great choice if you anticipate rough handling or exposure to the elements.

3. Professional and Polished Look:

Glossy business cards have a polished and professional look. The reflective surface gives them a high-quality appearance, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses in creative industries or those aiming to make a strong visual impact.

However, glossy business cards also have a few considerations:

1. Glare and Reflection:

The glossy finish of these cards can create glare or reflections under certain lighting conditions. This may make it difficult for recipients to read the text or view the design details. It’s important to consider the environment in which your cards will be used before opting for a glossy finish.

2. Smudging and Fingerprints:

Glossy cards are more prone to smudging and showing fingerprints due to their shiny surface. This can make them look less clean and polished over time. Regular cleaning and handling with care can help mitigate this issue.

3. Writing Difficulties:

The glossy coating on these cards makes it challenging to write on them with pen or pencil. The ink may smudge or wipe off easily, making it difficult to add personalized notes or contact information. If you anticipate the need for writing on your cards, a glossy finish may not be suitable.

Choosing the Right Finish for Your Business Cards

When deciding between matte and glossy business cards, there is no definitive answer as to which is better. The choice ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the image you want to portray. Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:

1. Brand Image:

Consider the overall aesthetic and brand image you want to convey. Matte finishes are often associated with elegance and professionalism, while glossy finishes are seen as more vibrant and attention-grabbing. Choose the finish that aligns with your brand’s values and target audience.

2. Design Elements:

Evaluate your business card design and the elements it incorporates. If your design relies heavily on vivid colors, images, or intricate details, a glossy finish can enhance their impact. On the other hand, if your design is more subdued and minimalistic, a matte finish can complement its simplicity.

3. Practical Considerations:

Think about how and where your business cards will be used. If you expect frequent handling, exposure to moisture, or a need for writing on the cards, a glossy finish may provide better durability. If you prioritize readability, especially under different lighting conditions, a matte finish may be more suitable.

4. Budget:

Consider your budget and the cost difference between matte and glossy finishes. While the price gap is usually minimal, it’s important to factor in any potential additional expenses, especially if you’re ordering business cards in large quantities.

Ultimately, the decision between matte and glossy business cards comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your business. Both finishes have their own unique advantages and considerations, so take the time to evaluate your requirements and choose the option that best represents your brand.


When designing business cards, the choice between matte and glossy finishes can significantly impact the overall look and feel of your cards. Matte finishes offer a professional and sophisticated appearance, while glossy finishes provide vibrant colors and a polished look. Consider your brand image, design elements, practical considerations, and budget when deciding between the two options. Remember, your business card is a reflection of your brand, so choose the finish that best represents your values and resonates with your target audience.

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