How to use YouTube cards

As people watch YouTube videos, they might want to take additional action – learn more about a topic, click over to another playlist, or visit the creator’s website. This is the perfect place to use YouTube cards.

YouTube cards show inside videos, offering clickable calls to action. Maybe you’ve seen a card teasing to learn more about a topic, pre-order a book, or something else. They usually show in the top right corner. Here’s the card goes to more episodes of “The Business Storytelling Show.”

example of youtube card popup


Cards provide clickable value to viewers at critical moments of high engagement. Unlike hoping viewers pause to write down verbal calls-to-action, cards require just a simple tap to get what they want. The spice recipe, the merch link, instant gratification.

Let’s explore how to use YouTube cards to drive more traffic, conversions, and sales directly within your own videos through:

  • Understanding types of YouTube cards
  • Strategically timing cards for max impact
  • Creating effective card copy and visuals
  • Linking cards to playlists, channels, sites, and more

YouTube cards eliminate friction and give viewers precisely what they want in the moment. Let’s explore how we can leverage cards to boost views, subscribers, and sales!

Read next: Why do you like marketing?

What are YouTube cards?

YouTube cards are calls to action that show up on the screen – usually in the top right corner.

Once clicked, the YouTube card shows more content and can be clicked on to a landing page on an approved website or within YouTube (like a playlist, another video, etc.):

This example goes to my podcast playlist with all prior episodes.

youtube cards click example

YouTube cards vs. end screen

YouTube cards and end screens are two features that allow you to add clickable elements within and at the end of your YouTube videos to help drive traffic and views. Both serve similar purposes but have some key differences:

YouTube Cards

  • Cards appear as pop-ups/overlays during the video itself. You can have multiple cards per video.
  • Cards are best for promoting other videos, playlists, subscriber prompts, website links, and calls to action during the video.
  • Cards can direct viewers to other YouTube content or external sites. You control when cards appear and how long they stay on screen.

What is an end screen on YouTube?

  • End screens only appear in the last 5-20 seconds of the video. You’re limited to using one end screen per video.
  • End screens are specifically designed to promote other YouTube videos and playlists from your channel, not external sites.
  • You can link to videos, playlists, subscriptions, and funding links like Patreon or channel memberships.
  • End screens are a dedicated space to promote your channel’s content and encourage viewers to continue watching more videos you’ve created.

The main difference is that cards offer more flexibility in terms of timing and the types of content you can promote, while end screens focus specifically on promoting additional YouTube content from your own channel when viewers reach the end of your video. Determining which is better depends on your goals – use both if they serve complementary purposes!

The different types of YouTube cards

Not all creators have a link YouTube card available. To use this type of card, apply to the YouTube Partner Program.

Other cards, ones anyone can use from the start, are:

  • Video: You can link to another video on YouTube here.
  • Playlist: This is a great way to highlight specific playlists.
  • Channel: Highlight another channel

Read next: How to publish podcasts on YouTube

What I love about YouTube cards

I can easily add them at the right spots in the video within context:

  • Talk about my book, add a card to my book landing page
  • Talk about podcasting, add a link to a blog post that dives deeper into the issue
  • Do you need to share a visual that wasn’t shared on-screen or link to it?

The key is to make it relevant to the viewers and guide them down the journey with your content.

Read next: Podcast website examples to help your podcast reach even more people

How to add YouTube cards to your videos

Click on the icon for your channel on the top right. Then click on YouTube Studio.

adding YouTube cards in YouTube Studio


Go into the video that you want to add cards to. Find the Cards section – on a desktop browser, it should be on the right.

add cards to a YouTube video

Choose the type of card you want to add and then place it on the timeline where you want it to pop up.

adding youtube cards at a specific time

From there, you fill out the copy for the card. The teaser is what shows up as people watch the video at the time code when you set it to start. The call to action is shown once people click on the teaser. The YouTube card automatically pulls in the page’s preview image – like most social media channels. Don’t like the preview image? Click CHANGE IMAGE to add a custom image.

The types of YouTube cards

One strategy might be to watch your video again and think about what other content you have that you can link to on your associated website. You can add links via cards to:

  • Other videos
  • Playlists
  • Other YouTube channels – a good strategy if you interview or mention another YouTuber or company with a YouTube channel

My YouTube channel’s associated website is, so I can add cards linking to here without a problem. YouTube doesn’t just let us connect to any website but only to things internal to YouTube or approved external sites.

You can add many more cards. YouTube recommends not to put them too close to each other as the video plays.

Read next: Unleash Success with a Comfortable Work Space

Why YouTube cards may not work for you

There’s a place to use YouTube cards; when your videos get a good amount of traffic, they may even show results. In the overall scheme of social media channels, YouTube is by far not my highest-performing channel. I don’t expect my videos to drive huge results right this second.

With that in mind, I add some cards, but don’t spend hours on this strategy. As I was working on this, I thought of older videos and went to look at which videos were my highest-performing ones.

Read next: What is a First Amendment auditor?

Can I add YouTube cards to older videos on my channel?

Yes, and I would recommend doing that with videos related to your current goals and business. I went to my channel and sorted videos by “most popular” (i.e., most views).

Videos with most views

You can also use the TubeBuddy to edit YouTube cards in bulk.

From there, the process is the same as outlined above.

Read next: How to keep new connections from conferences straight

YouTube cards wrap

If you upload videos to YouTube, there’s really no reason not to add cards and calls to action to something else that is relevant. Just don’t overdo it.

tubebuddy - YouTube growth

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