Suppose you’ve got a collection of playing cards or trading cards. In that case, you will know how easily they get damaged in storage, especially if you keep them in that drawer with your paperwork, which is constantly getting rummaged in.
Trading cards are not going out of fashion soon, especially with Pokemon cards remaining so popular, so we must take care of the ones we’ve got. After all, who knows what they’ll be worth in the future, especially if they’re kept in immaculate condition?
As someone who has been collecting cards for over 15 years, I have gone through my fair share of damaged cards and also come to realize which sleeves are the best ones to prevent them from getting damaged.
The list I have put together below is my personal choice and the ones I have found to be the best quality and value for money.
I have also made the mistake of purchasing cheap sleeves in the past and having them split within a couple of weeks, which can end up costing more money and being incredibly infuriating.
Some of these are brands you will already be familiar with, and some are less well-known or new to the market.
Best Card Sleeves: Protect Your Cards
Some of the sleeves I have mentioned below will also need other forms of protection to ensure the complete preservation of your trading cards.
So, let me share with you my top picks for some of the best trading card sleeves for keeping your cards in good nick. When you’re done here, it might interest you to check out these 7 Best Waterproof Playing Cards.
1. Ultra Pro Pro-Matte Sleeve
These non-glare card protectors from Ultra Pro are generally marketed to those who use their cards regularly, mainly because they are easily visible and non-reflective inside the sleeve.
This means you don’t need to constantly remove the cards from their sleeves to give your traders or opponents a good view of them. Also, in my opinion, I want to see my collection for myself without the glare, even if I’m not using them for gameplay.
The non-glare feature also comes in handy if you want to take photographs of your cards, as the view is not disturbed by light.
One of the main USPs of these sleeves is that they don’t use PVC or acid, which means they are much more environmentally friendly than other popular brands.
This sleeve is also one of the more attractive ones on the market, and it can be acquired in several different colors, so if you have more than one collection, this is an excellent choice because it means you can easily pick out the cards you’re looking for.
2. VaultX Soft Binder Card Sleeve
VaultX is probably one of the brands you’re already familiar with, as they are one of the leading names in this area. Though they might be somewhat of a newcomer in this area, they’re quickly moving up the list as one of the most popular.
I think these are probably the best card binders you can get your hands on now, and they don’t come with a ridiculously high price tag, either. You can pick one of these up for around $25.00.
One thing that goes without saying about these card binders is that their quality is extremely high. If you’re looking for something that will last you in the long run, this is the one you want to be looking at.
The clarity of the sleeves within the wallet is super transparent, giving you perfect visibility of your collection. It’s also fragile, just 40 microns, to be precise. I find this makes it a great one to store as it lies pretty thin when closed. Perfect if you lack storage space.
3. Dragon Shield Trading Card Sleeve
Another one that you will undoubtedly be familiar with already if you’ve been in the card collecting game for a decent amount of time is the brand Dragon Shield.
Dragon Shield would come up in the conversation if you approached any avid collector and asked them to recommend a brand for a card protection sleeve.
The brand is solely devoted to manufacturing the highest-grade card protectors for anyone in the game, whether they are avid collectors or regular card players.
I can’t say there is anything massively different in the sleeves they produce from any other good-quality ones on the market, but what I can say is that they’re durable, strong, and excellently made.
One of my favorite things about this brand is the novelty color coding of the dragons, which adds to the uniqueness of their branding and makes them recognizable within the market.
4. Titan Shield Bulk Sheet Trading Card Sleeve
As you have probably already found out while shopping for the perfect sleeve to protect your cards, they come in various shapes and sizes, including how many cards each can accommodate.
Also, many of the sleeves on the market mean that you have to store all of your cards in their pockets, which isn’t necessarily what you need, especially if your cards aren’t extraordinary or for general use.
One great thing that Titan Shield offers is the ability to store your cards in bulk sheets, so if you have some cards you aren’t overly bothered about storing and displaying separately, this can be easily achieved.
I have used these many times over the years, and I have to say the quality is top-notch. I have never experienced any troubles with them deteriorating or splitting, which can happen much with some lesser-known budget brands. You also won’t find yourself getting sliced on the edges, as I have found with other brands because their reinforced corners are sturdy and dense.
5. Ultra PRO Clear Sleeves
You may have heard of these cards under the name Penny sleeves, and this is because, at the time they were manufactured, that’s what they cost.
Only now, due to inflation, is this no longer the case. However, they remain to be one of the best card protection sleeves out there.
Suppose you’re on a budget and looking to protect your cards for a lower price. In that case, these will probably be your option because I can personally vouch for their quality in low-budget card protectors.
If you plan on sending your cards away to be graded, then you will notice that the PSA or Beckett will request that you send them in a “penny sleeve.” So if you ever wondered what that meant, now you know.
In my opinion, despite being a budget buy, they are still one of the most reliable and robust forms of card protection while remaining flexible, completely transparent, and pliable.
6. Top Loaders 35PT Pack for Penny Sleeve
Finishing with a bit more of a controversial recommendation, Top Loaders. Now, while these may not have been manufactured to protect gaming cards, this doesn’t mean they aren’t perfect for doing just that.
I would go as far as to say that these sleeves are up there with some of the biggest brands on the market regarding quality.
Top loaders can be used as a form of double protection for your cards, so if you already have your cards stored in sleeves, such as the penny sleeve, these folders allow you to keep the protected cards inside.
The best thing about these is that they come in pretty much every shape, size, and price range you can think of, and if you shop around, you can find them reasonably cheaply.
Other Ways to Protect Your Cards
Overall, card sleeves are the best way to protect your cards from damage, without a doubt. Still, below I have listed a few other handy tips to ensure your cards are protected.
- Handle your cards as little as possible – The oils in our skin can be highly damaging to our cards, so the best advice I can give you is not to handle them constantly. If you can help, don’t handle them, especially the rare collectibles.
- Keep away from heat, sunlight, and water – Paper/card does not react well to elements such as intense heat or dampness. Suppose your cards are left near a radiator or in a damp corner of the house.
In that case, they will eventually turn brittle or disintegrate. The same goes for direct sunlight; if exposed for too long, your cards will fade in color, which is not what you want for any collector’s item.
- Store in a safe place – The best thing to do when storing your cards, even when they’re concealed in a binder, is to make sure they’re out of reach of anyone who might knock them, damage the pages, or drop them on the floor.
So, if, for example, you keep your cards in a drawer with all your take-out menus, the chances are someone will go carelessly looking through the drawer and can easily damage your cards.
To Sum Up
So, that’s that. Hopefully, after reading about my experiences with these card sleeves, you will know which ones suit you and your card collection. If you found it helpful, you may also want to look at The 7 Best Rugs To Put Under A Pool Table.