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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Card Stocks & Finishes

Each type of stock or finish brings out different vibrancy in plastic cards, adding a shine or flat look. You can add two different finishes to cards, one on each side, bringing out different colors or making it a writable surface. Some stocks are only available on one side (pearl) due to the way the stock is created before it is printed on. The most popular finishes are; Matte, Satin, and Gloss. The stocks we offer in house are Frosted Clear, Metallic, Clear, and White. I'll walk you through a few examples of cards we have made with each stock and finish so you can get a sense of what stock/ finishes you want to use.


1. Matte Finish

Matte is a flat, gritty-textured finish that could be applied to one or both sides of your plastic cards. It has a muted, non-shiny feel and could even change the tone of the printed color. Matte is the best finish if you need to write on your card, maybe for an event pass or signing a reward card.



2. Satin Finish

Satin is a smooth, semi-gloss finish. It is less-shiny than gloss but not as flat as a matte finish, the perfect in-between. You can use satin on either or both sides of your plastic cards. Satin shows vibrant colors very well, and is a good choice if you don't want an extremely glossy or flat look.


3. Gloss Finish

A gloss finish is extremely slick with the highest amount of sheen compared to the other finishes. Gloss is one of the more popular finishes, it's common for credit cards and gift cards since it's easy to clean. Gloss can be used on either or both sides of your plastic card.


4. Pearl Stock

Pearl stock is extremely unique with its sparkle-like shine. It adds a shimmery effect that adds an elegance to the plastic card. Pearl is only available on one side of the plastic card, and can have any finish over top.

pearl finish

5. Frosted Clear Stock

Frosted clear stock allows you to see partially through the card, making it a more challenging stock to work with if you want different designs or information on both sides. Frosted stock makes for an extremely creative card, as most cards you cannot see through.


6. Metallic Stock

Metallic stock is extremely shiny, when you move the card it gives a shine that is similar to a rainbow. Metallic stock makes for a remarkably eye-catching card, especially for event passes.

metallic cat

7. Clear Stock

Clear stock is another very creative stock to work with. Depending on the artwork, you can have information on both sides or just one. You can see fully through the stock, making it challenging but rewarding to work with. If you want to create a clear card but don't know where to start- don't worry. We have an excellent graphic design team that specializes in designing clear cards.

clear business card

8. White Stock (Regular)

White stock is the most commonly used card stock. You can use whichever finish you prefer on either or both sides of the card.

Abstract Gift Card 2


When it comes time to pick out the card stock and finishes, think about the functionality and end goal for your card. If you need your consumers to be able to sign their name on the card, choose a matte finish. If you want a vibrant, shiny finish; choose gloss. All the finishes will complement the design of your card while being extremely durable to withstand normal wear and tear.

If you have any questions, or want to see samples of each type of card stock and finish, let us know! We are happy to send you a sample kit so you can see and feel the differences in stocks and finishes. If you want to see more examples of charming card designs, follow us on Instagram or take a peek at our gallery.

Jade Beaver
Marketing Coordinator
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