The Pros and Cons of Business Card Embossing, Spot UV and Foil Stamping

Business card enhancement features like spot UV, embossing, and foil stamping can truly help differentiate your business in the minds of your customers and clients. But which one is the best? Read on to find out.
Embossed Business Cards
Embossing is where certain elements of your business card are raised by virtue of them getting pushed through from the opposite side of the card. The effect is similar to a credit card, where the account number is raised on the front and recessed on the back.
Embossing works well for text or even a “water seal” type of logo effect, however it does have limitations.
For one, you do not want artwork in the embossed area; you want the embossed areas to be clear of artwork on both sides or else the artwork and embossing will become jumbled and will look awful.
Additionally, most printers are not able to precisely line up embossing with ink. The exact embossed areas could shift 1/16″ – 1/8″ during the production process. So for example, if your card has a black background, the embossed areas must be black as well. You would not be able to have, say, white text embossed because it is not feasible for the embossing to line up with the underlying white text perfectly every time.
If you want your business card enhancement feature to allow for color that is different from the card’s background color, consider either spot UV or foil stamping.
Spot UV Business Cards
Spot UV is where specific areas of your card are treated with a glossy coating. This effect does not impact the underlying color, it only makes the treated areas slightly raised and shiny relative to the non-glossy business card stock.
Typically, spot UV does not have the same alignment problems as embossing. With today’s technology, spot UV can be precisely lined up against any ink-based design element. So here, if you had a black background with white text, you could have the text treated with spot UV so that it is shiny, raised, and white.
Spot UV works only on non-glossy cardstock, as doing spot UV on glossy business cards will not create a visible effect (everything is already glossy). Silk business cards are the best option for spot UV, because they are non-glossy and extremely durable.
Foil Stamped Business Cards
Foil stamping is where specific parts of your card are coated with a layer of metallic foil. It is typically offered in gold, silver, green, red or blue.
The foil stamped areas are not limited to only the card’s background color like embossing. However, although color can be utilized, you are limited to the foil colors offered by the printer.
Also, foil stamped business cards are usually subject to the same shifting that could occur with embossed business cards, so it is important not to have any artwork in the stamped areas.
Which One Should You Use?
Generally speaking, none of these enhancements are available on glossy business cards. All 3 are most effective on silk business cards, so if you plan on utilizing a silk cardstock, your options are wide open.
Of the 3 options discussed, embossing is typically the least preferred because of the aforementioned color and artwork limitations. Additionally, embossed business cards are usually the most expensive of the three.
Foil stamping is also relatively expensive, but at least this feature offers more color options. The downside is that the foil can sometimes flake, peel or appear blotchy. Additionally, foil stamped business cards tend to become worn at an accelerated rate as they get pulled in and out of a wallet.
Most often, spot UV business cards provide the best bang for your buck. This option is by far the least expensive of the three, offers the full gamut of color availability, and is not subject to the same flaws as foil and embossing.