Service of Business Cards

March 9th, 2020

Categories: Business Cards, Business Etiquette, Communications

You may remember that I posted previously about something I overheard at a craft fair in New Paltz a few years ago. A little girl around six chided another child who’d grabbed a stack of business cards from one of the exhibitors. She said: “Put those back! He may be looking for a job and will need them.” She may well have been similarly admonished at home.

Such cards have been around a long time. “Calling cards, also called visiting cards, visiting tickets, or compliments cards, originated in their paper and ink form in France in the 18th century and their popularity quickly spread across Europe and the United Kingdom,” according to Claire Green on

Does anyone use them today? According to Te-Ping Chen the carte de visite “can be used as fire starters or toothpicks, folded into origami or just cherished as ‘a little slice of time.’” Most of his Wall Street Journal article is actually about what people do with cards that no longer apply though the subhead I just quoted leads a reader to think otherwise.

I keep a few in my wallet but I’ve met a few people recently who don’t have a card on them which I find strange. The other day I met a chef/restaurant owner, a guest on a Sunday morning TV news show, who said he’d given away his last card. Nuts. I am not good at remembering names so he and his eatery are lost to me and my friends.

I’m grateful for a card if I visit a new doctor, vet’s office or restaurant. I input the vitals to my phone’s address book when I have a minute. I don’t keep the cards. When I was selling my house I resented it if a real estate agent didn’t leave behind a card to prove he/she had been there. This happened more times than not.

Vistaprint told Chen that sales are growing and that it prints almost six billion/year. Another company, MOO, claims it sells 250 million+ a year.

Do you still hand out and/or take cards from others? Do you save other people’s cards or your old ones? Are there certain businesses–and people–that should continue to use them for the foreseeable future even though some may think that they are old school? Should retired people have business cards?

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27 Responses to “Service of Business Cards”

  1. David Reich Said:

    I travel for business a fair amount, and giving and receiving business cards is a key way of building contacts.

  2. BC Said:

    We have a collection of cards-doctors, lawyers, business folks, etc. We do have calling cards, which are a vestige from our life works, but they do come in handy at times when we met new folks we like. B.C.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Funny how useful a simple tool is.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Homer had a small portfolio in which he kept cards of all sorts. I put everything in my phone which makes me nervous even though the phone frequently backs up to the cloud.

  5. ASK Said:

    When you meet someone for business or in a social situation, it’s so much easier to take a card then enter their vitals on a cell phone or have them text you. A European friend always takes a restaurant’s card when he visits; if it’s a good experience, he shares it with friends. He also shares it if it’s not so good!

  6. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    I get very suspicious indeed if someone hasn’t got a real reason for not having a calling card!

    It is so easy to order them and impress with a nicely engraved (or thermographed) one. So occasionally one can get some insight if the giver hasn’t bothered to make theirs look impressive: For that purpose they are more than a useful tool in business.

    And if you really want to create a bad impression, try buying the Avery card stock and print your own with some ugly sans serifed font with flimsy bits of paper card stock sticking out of all the edges!

    (PS I ran out of them this very week-end!! But as people were trying to buy things from me, it didn’t matter all that much from a reputational viewpoint)

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good point: Take a restaurant’s card if the place is lousy so as to warn friends!

    And I agree: It is so much easier to simply hand someone all the info you want to share rather than go through the “how do you spell that?” or “repeat your email address please” dance. If you need to find your eyeglasses it holds things up even more.

    If I owned a restaurant I’d have a wad of cards with me at all times. The fellow about to go on the TV show had a great pitch/reason to be there. He was so smart in that regard but not practical. He should have given out cards to the production crew, the show hosts–everyone in sight, me included. Details, details!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Years and years ago I tried to print my own cards and they looked as pathetic as you described them–loving hands at home. I wouldn’t have used them for any purpose. Money wasted.

    You can buy perfectly decent looking cards at Staples–their graphics person copied with remarkable accuracy my logo even though the font–it had originally been created by a talented graphics designer–is unusual and not among ones readily available. I think I paid $9 for 500, though that was a year or so ago. It would be nice to have engraved cards or even thermographed ones–especially in some industries.

  9. NSS Said:

    NSS on Facebook: I do!

  10. Hank Goldman Said:

    As a graphic designer I enjoy seeing well designed cards, and keep them for a while. However, I have to be honest, mostly I use them to input the info into an indispensable item… My mobile phone… Also known as a smart phone! And they are.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m just like you–However since I tend to be a magnet for clutter I try to toss even the nicest looking ones as soon as I’ve input the info to my phone. If I lose that phone or it breaks and the cloud hasn’t really saved the info, I’m a goner.

  12. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Some things are what I consider to be “evergreen”; business cards (or just personal ones) are on that list much like “snail mail” we use the opportunity to communicate something about ourselves and/or our business in a more personalized, individual style. The effort to differentiate ones self gets noticed (by some, if not all). IMHO 👍

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree. Isn’t it ironic that such a simple thing has dodged every technological bullet to date?

  14. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: there is no escape from the “personal touch” because we are human beings. Good manners, eye contact, graciousness, generosity – being in the moment, cannot come through electronically. That’s a fact Jack!

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I like to make it easy for others to work with me and a business card is an example. Rather than going through a rigamarole as ASK mentioned above, all the info another person needs to be able to reach you –and confirm the spelling of your name–is on a lightweight few inches big piece of paper. A miracle of simplicity.

  16. Hank Goldman Said:

    I think it’s a great idea to back up to the cloud, I use apple’s cloud, every night, it’s automatic! As you said, one day it will save the day.

    However, one day, if everyone is quarantined because of this virus, there won’t be anyone handing you a card, and you wouldn’t except it anyway! At least not without some wipes or Purelle handy! What a mess this may turn out to be.

  17. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We have had other health scares–mad cow, bird flu, HIV at first and eons ago polio before the Salk vaccine. We’ll get through this.

    But then, if the economy grinds to the halt the stock market appears to be predicting, many of us won’t be able to afford the $9.00 for 500 cards at Staples [which may be out of business] whether or not someone dares take a card from our hands.

  18. Martha Takayama Said:

    Jeannie and Debbie,
    Your observations are not only perceptive, but wonderfully reassuring about human nature!

  19. Martha Takayama Said:

    Computers can hold your information, but business cards have multiple functions and charm:

    **They can be offered and prevent the need for wrestling with difficult names and complicated spelling.

    **They are mnemonic devices.They can be graciously accepted and used later for further reference.

    **They often give a sense of the holder’s taste and style. For the Japanese they are an absolute necessity. For the Japanese, because of the use of Chinese characters and multiple alphabets, they are the only way to truly know a person’s name as well as its meaning. They give a sense of substance or legitimacy to a business. They may be disposed of quickly or kept, but the exchange is also usually a pleasant gesture. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned or terribly passe, I think they continue to be functional.

  20. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That is what is remarkable about the modest business card–nobody has replaced them with something better!

  21. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta wrote on Facebook: I save business cards…..not every card I get, but many of them.

  22. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I may keep a card for a while but when needing to cut down the chaos I toss if I hadn’t already after inputting the info in my phone.

  23. EAM Said:

    Erica wrote on Facebook: I also like business cards! I recommend

  24. Michelle Slovak Said:

    Michelle wrote on Facebook: As a designer I do collect a lot of industry and colleague cards. I tend to save and then edit after what seems to be ‘long enough ‘ and then later discover that I should have saved that one🤣😂🤣

  25. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My phone address book is such a help to me which a stack of cards wouldn’t be. I may remember first name, borough or city of someone I want to reach and up come a range of options, one of which is the person I’m looking for. That’s why I input info from a card to the phone asap.

    Nevertheless I think that cards are essential. BC,who responded above, and her husband are retired yet they have cards, a carryover from their work life and, in my opinion, a smart move.

  26. Moustapha Bin AsLip Said:

    Actually you can use those home made ‘cards’ for certain purposes: When you need to put a card in a “bin” for later throw away or when you need to convey an adequate sense of derision to the recipient.

  27. Jeanne Byington Said:


    1,000 years ago I filled out a slip of paper at Pottery Barn, then near Bloomingdale’s, put it in a fishbowl and won a generous gift certificate! Today, nobody would be able to read my writing–never good and worse now. So the cheap-o “cards” [as they were too flimsy to really be called cards] would be perfect. Trouble is, I don’t see many raffles like that these days except at industry events and there, the floppy, sad, loving-hands-at-home ones would look tacky.

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