There was a time when the business card conveyed quite a bit to someone when it was given to them - our brand, image, quality, reputation, competency, and marketing message - all by the look and feel of it. While that could still be true in some professions, it generally is not true for us.
Gone are the days of a people having a beautiful Rolodex that they kept on their desk with all of the business cards displayed and arrayed in various ways before them - depending on the style of the device. Some were trays, and some more of a Ferris wheel style. There also were attractive leather wallets and planners made for this purpose. Depending on the size of the Rolodex or wallet (and some people had more than one) and the number of cards one needed to store, the system could be quite sophisticated.
For instance, a card for John Smith of Acme Construction could be file under "S" for the last name, but a duplicate card could be filed under "A" for the name of the business Acme Construction. A third card could be filed under "construction" or a category that meant something to the person arranging the cards and needing access to them.
All of this was prior to CRMs, PDAs, and smartphones. There were no computerized records - just cards or notebooks. Therefore, a well-done, expensive business card was worth the investment because it could have a very long shelf life. Spending the money on a special card stock, extra colors of ink, raised printing, and even metal foil (gold, silver, or bronze, for instance), was considered necessary by many. Even cards that carried advertising copy or sales messages on fold over cards were used as miniature brochures.
If we fast forward to today when we do have smartphones and CRMs, our business cards just need to convey contact information long enough for the person receiving it to transfer it to their system and have a permanent electronic record of it. Even for consumers who carry our card around in their pocket or wallet or post it to their refrigerator or bulletin board, a simple card with our contact information on it is all that is needed.
Business cards can still be pretty and convey the quality of our business, but they no longer need to be designed for long-term use, storage, reference, and display. Sometimes, the business card is taken from a stack of cards that we have prominently displayed or given to someone when there has not been a personal connection or introduction, but generally there has been an introduction and connection when we give someone our card. It does not need to be expensive or fancy - just enough to convey the important contact information to remind the person receiving it of us so they can take the card home or back to their office and then transfer our contact information to their database.