The Ultimate Guide to Digital Business Cards in 2023 (Summer Update)

Thinking about digital business cards? Learn about the pros and cons, sustainability impact, cost, and more about going digital.

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Business cards have a long history that dates back to as early as the 15th century. While the primary purpose of a business card—to share contact information—has stayed relatively consistent, business cards have taken a new form over the past few years. 

Digital business cards started gaining traction in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic and the expansion of remote work. Since then, their popularity has skyrocketed because of the increased value they offer both individuals and companies. Digital business cards—like the ones provided by HiHello—enable you to create a personal brand, share your card with anyone, and leverage your network to grow your business. Unlike traditional business cards, HiHello’s digital business cards have better functionality, are more cost-effective, and are better for the environment.

So, what exactly is a digital business card? This guide will cover everything you need to know, including how to make and share digital business cards, the benefits of going digital, how to set your entire team up with virtual cards, and more.

What is a digital business card?

A digital business card (also known as a virtual business card, electronic business card, smart business card, and digital visiting card) replaces the traditional business card and is a way to safely and securely share contact information. A digital business card contains all the information on a paper card but does much more. You can embed your picture, make multiple versions with different contact information, and customize it with different calls to action, effectively using the card as a sales, marketing, and customer service tool. Digital business cards often come in the format of mobile and web applications.

Examples of digital business cards for realtors, doctors, and salespeople.
Examples of digital business cards.

You’re probably wondering, “Really, another app?” Yes—and for a good reason! Digital business cards are more customizable, sustainable, and wallet-friendly than their paper counterparts. (In fact, many business card apps are free.) If you want to start using a digital card, we recommend HiHello. With over one million cards received monthly, HiHello is the top-rated digital business card app on the App Store and Google Play Store. With HiHello, you can create and share your card with anyone and leverage your network to grow your business.

Understanding the pros & cons of digital business cards

Everything has pros and cons, and business cards are no different. Going digital may feel like a burdensome undertaking if you’ve used a traditional paper business card for most of your career. If you make the switch, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of going digital.

Digital business card pros:

  • More affordable
  • Easily shared
  • Always on hand
  • Highly customizable
  • Easier and quicker follow-ups
  • Editable in real-time
  • Increased return on investment (ROI)
  • Less wasteful
  • Tech-forward

Digital business card cons:

  • Slight learning curve
  • Mobile phone, tablet, computer, or Apple Watch required to share and receive

In general, the pros of digital business cards greatly outweigh the cons. While there is a slight learning curve, digital cards offer more flexibility, are more effective, and are better for your wallet and the environment.

Price comparison: Paper business cards vs. digital business cards

As we head into a possible recession, making informed decisions is crucial for buyers. Business cards are a necessary investment for anyone looking to grow their business or brand. Most business card apps offer a free version and subscription option (for people who want more customization and advanced features). By going digital, you can eliminate your business card budget or at least get even more bang for your buck.

HiHello conducted a business card price analysis and found that, on average, traditional paper business cards will set you back $64.23 each year. (If you order more than 250 cards per year or opt for cards with premium materials or finishes, expect that number to skyrocket). Comparing this cost to a digital business card, an average 100-person company pays 26% more by continuing to use paper cards. Because HiHello has tiered pricing, larger organizations can save over 50% of their business card budget!

The environmental impact of digital business cards

Did you know that nearly 90% of business cards are thrown away within one week? If everyone switched from paper to digital cards, we could save over seven million trees annually. 

Last year, HiHello published a report about digital business card usage. In this report, HiHello shares the environmental impact that its users made by switching to digital. In 2022, HiHello users helped save:

  • 415 Trees
  • 166,000 gallons of water
  • 25,000 pounds of carbon emissions, and 
  • 25,000 pounds of waste

If you and your organization want a more positive impact on the environment, digital business cards will eliminate this waste immediately. Read HiHello’s Digital Business Card Usage & Statistics 2022 report to learn more.

Environmental impact of business cards infographic with sustainability statistics

The ROI of a digital business card

Digital business cards add ROI-generating features that maximize sales efficiency, create compelling marketing and advertising, support event outreach, and more. In addition to being a more cost-effective solution than traditional cards, digital business cards can have an elevated ROI because they:

  • Are easy to use and distribute
  • Have flexible and unlimited sharing
  • Promote brand awareness
  • Increase lead generation
  • Drive direct traffic to the pages and content that matter most
  • Offer tracking and analytics

HiHello published a report on how going digital can maximize business card ROI. If your organization is considering adopting digital business cards, you’ll want to take a look at the findings—they make for a compelling case!

Infographic of the ROI of a digital business card

How do I make a digital business card?

Choosing the app you want to use is the first step to making a digital business card. While several options are available, HiHello is a solid choice for most individuals and businesses. HiHello is one of the first digital business cards to hit the market and focuses on innovation, user delight, and security. 

If you choose HiHello, you can make a digital business card on your mobile device or a computer. These guides will help you get started:

Because of space limitations, deciding what information to include on a business card is often difficult. Not so with digital business cards—one of the great things about going digital is that you can include anything and everything on your card without running out of space.

Custom digital business card with profile photo, logo, and about me section

These are the following fields HiHello recommends including on your card:

  • Name
  • Pronouns
  • Title, department, and company
  • Basic contact information
  • Location
  • Picture, Live Photo, or video
  • Logo
  • Badges and awards
  • PDFs
  • Website

If you want to enhance your business card even more, consider adding the following fields:

  • Any link in general
  • Social media
  • Payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, CashApp, and Zelle
  • Chat apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, WeChat, and Line
  • Streaming platforms like Twitch and Discord
  • Friend codes and gamer tags on Nintendo Switch, Xbox Live, and PlayStation
  • Creative platforms like Patreon, Behance, and Dribbble
  • Yelp
  • Github
  • Calendly
  • Skype
  • Xing
  • Date
  • Notes

How do I share a digital business card?

Sharing a digital business card is simple and can be accomplished in several ways, like using a QR code, text, email, social media, Apple Watch, Siri, and more. What’s even better is that anyone can receive a digital business card, no app is required. Here are a few guides that HiHello published that cover card sharing:

HiHello digital business card send screen with QR code, email, and text sharing options.

In general, we found that HiHello is the most versatile business card app for card sharing and offers several sharing methods, including:

  • QR code
  • Text/SMS
  • Email
  • Link
  • Apple Watch
  • Apple Wallet
  • iMessage app
  • Siri
  • Widget (iOS and Android)
  • Virtual background
  • Email signature
  • NFC tag

Can I get my entire team set up with digital business cards?

Absolutely! While digital business cards are becoming a standard replacement for paper business cards, you should evaluate what’s important to you and your business before signing a contract with a business card provider. Depending on the size of your organization, these are a few factors you should consider:

  • Functionality
  • Additional features
  • Administrative controls
  • Integrations
  • Security
  • Ability to scale
Enterprise digital business card for marketing professional

There are a few companies that offer digital business cards for teams, but our top pick is HiHello. Not only do their cards have the best customization and functionality, but they also have the most versatile sharing options, offer real-time analytics, and have native CRM, SSO, and Active Directory integrations.

HiHello offers two team plans: HiHello Business and HiHello Enterprise. Both platforms were built to meet large companies' security, scale, and administrative requirements, making HiHello the best digital business card platform for enterprises. You can contact HiHello’s sales team if you are interested in signing up for a company plan.

About HiHello

HiHello is changing how you manage your business. It starts with a digital business card built from the ground up to be delightful, customizable, and secure. HiHello’s digital business cards unlock new opportunities, cut the costs of traditional cards, and have a positive environmental impact. Hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide trust HiHello to grow their network.

This article includes modifications and was originally published on July 21, 2020.

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