Best ID Card Printer for entry-level users

The best PVC Card Printers if you’re printing less than 1,000 cards a year and what they’ll cost you

If this is your first card printer purchase, it can be rather overwhelming knowing where to start. With so many different printer models on the market, how do you know which is the best ID card printer for you?

Starter ID Card printers – what can you expect to pay?

If you’re only printing a handful of cards at any one time, don’t have any encoding needs and won’t exceed 1,000 cards a year, a starter model will do you fine.

You can pick up one of those for £500-£600 – a bit more if you’re looking for a bundle which includes the consumables (like ribbon, software and cards) that you’ll need to start printing.

Our favourite starter ID card printers based on over 20 years’ experience in the card printing market are:

  1. The Magicard Pronto
  2. The IDP Smart 31S
  3. The Easybadge Bundle

The Magicard Pronto

The Magicard Pronto is one of the best-selling starter ID card printers on the market, and usually the cheapest. You can pick one up for around £500 for the base model, a bit more for the bundle.

Just because it’s a cheap ID card printer doesn’t mean it’s not a quality printer.

Magicard is one of the leading manufacturers of ID card printers in the world. It also happens to be the only brand of card printers that are made in the UK.

Magicard are known for reliability and performance, and for the quality of their support. All Magicard printers come with a built-in HoloKote anti-copying feature, which adds a watermark feature onto your cards for added security.

What’s great about the Magicard Pronto

Aside from the price, the Magicard is a reliable ID card printer that produces a quality of print that’s better than some of its more expensive rivals.

It’s light, compact and portable – making it ideal for reception desks for issuing visitor badges, or at a membership desk when issuing membership cards. Other benefits include:

Rewritable card printer
  • It’s easy to set up
  • It comes with a 2-year limited warranty and telephone support
  • It can produce a personalised colour card in 35 seconds, 7 seconds in mono
  • Four watermark designs can be selected from the driver, to print a transparent overlay on your cards, for extra visual security
  • It has rewritable capabilities – meaning you can print on the same card hundreds of times (though you will need to buy special rewritable cards to do this)

The downsides to the Magicard Pronto

The main disadvantage to the Pronto is its hand feed loading.

It’s also only capable of single-sided card printing and has a USB connection (not ethernet or WiFi).

The hand fed function means you have to manually feed in one card at a time and wait for it to be returned to you before you can add another. If you need to print batches of cards together, this can make the process of printing extremely time consuming.

Not ideal if you have 50 delegates for an event turning up at once and queuing for their card, for example.

However, if you’re only ever printing one card at a time, on one side (for example when a new staff member joins) this shouldn’t bother you, and you’ll be hard pushed to do better than the Pronto when you take into account price and performance.

The IDP Smart 31S

The IDP Smart 31S also combines great performance with great value for money. You’ll pay around £550 for the base model with USB connection.

As well as the low price point, all IDP Smart card printers come with a 5-Year warranty, which is the longest in the industry and demonstrates IDP Smart’s faith in their products.

Its sleek design means it sits comfortably on reception desks in small businesses and schools.

The benefits of the IDP Smart 31S

Unlike the Magicard Pronto, the Smart 31 has an automatic card feed, so you don’t have to stand there painstakingly feeding in one card at a time.

  • Simple to install
  • Prints a full colour card in under 30 seconds
  • Prints up to 128 colour cards per hour
  • Holds 80 blank cards within its input hopper
  • The output hopper collects 25 cards
  • Gives notifications when your ribbon is running low
  • Option to upgrade to ethernet connection from the standard USB
  • Options to upgrade to encoding capabilities.

If you’re looking for a step-up from a hand-feed ID card printer, the IDP Smart 31 is a good alternative.

The Easybadge ID card Printer Package

Easybadge card printer box

The Easybadge is aptly named. Its one of the easiest to set-up, and use, plastic card printers out there.

It claims to have you printing your first card in 10 minutes from getting it out of the box. Whilst we think that may be a little ambitious, you’ll certainly be comfortably settled in after half an hour.

The printer itself is a similar model to the IDP Smart 31, but its key selling point is its easy-to-use and intuitive software, and the fact that it comes with a free app.

You can expect to pay around £700 for the Easybadge Printer Package, but it does include everything you need to start printing, including software, ribbon, blank cards and a UV torch.

The benefits of the Easybadge

  • The cards and ribbon are pre-loaded to make set up even easier
  • It comes with a set-up Wizard that walks you through the steps of setting up a database and creating a card design
  • The software that comes with it is the Professional version, giving you unlimited records
  • The Free App is great if you have staff at multiple locations, as they can take a photo on their mobile or tablet and upload it via the app
  • It comes with a 5-Year warranty.

Don’t forget to factor in your consumables into your costings

Most ID card printers are sold as the base model, meaning you’ll need to purchase consumables to go with it. So unless you’re buying a bundle like the Easybadge, you should also factor the following into your budget:

  • A ribbon (this could be colour or black/mono, depending on what you’ll be printing on your cards) – prices are similar across all brands and you can expect to pay £40-50 for a colour ribbon
  • Blank cards
  • Card Design Software – you’ll need this get your design on screen onto a physical card
  • A cleaning kit to keep your printer running.

If you need any help with choosing the best ID card printer for you, get in touch with one of our friendly team on 01244 526009.