I’ve witnessed more than a few conversations from afar based around the best types of holders and cases for sports cards. I’ve seen the arguments for top loaders, while others swear by binders and other methods of protection.
In my mind though, they’re all great, and should probably all be utilized depending on the given situation and your collecting goals.
So, instead of simply running down a list of sports card holders, I’d like to try and provide some value by focusing on the situation as much as the holder.
Best for Storage: Penny Sleeves
Now, I’m not talking higher-value rookies and stars, but more rookies who could be something down the road, and stars who have base cards not worth a ton, but where you might want to package them for sale in bulk down the road.
Penny sleeves are also a must as a “base layer” of protection before placing cards in top loaders, binder pages, and semi-rigid pouches, as we will talk about in just a minute.
Best of Selling: Top Loaders
When I say “best for selling” I mean, most sellers will accumulate a lot of card inventory over time. Their options in doing so is to either keep them in penny sleeves as mentioned above and then when sold, place into a top loader, or, place them in top loaders for added protection while they’re sitting around to be sold.
This also points to the fact that you’ll want to ship cards in top loaders as well. Even when I sell cards with the standard envelope option on eBay, I ship in a top loader, sandwiched between more valuable cards that will be shipped BMWT and then thinner cardboard (think cereal box) for inexpensive cards going “PWE.”
Best for Grading: Semi-Rigid Pouches
I just covered the question of whether or not PSA accepts top loaders in a post last week, and while PSA will accept top loaders, they make strong mention that it is recommended you ship cards to be graded in semi-rigid pouches like the popular Card Saver.
Can you store cards in semi-rigid pouches? Sure, but if you’re going to do so in show boxes, you won’t be able to close the lid. And, as you can imagine, they don’t offer as great of protection when compared to top loaders because they are of a softer plastic.
Best for Showcasing: Magnetic One-Touch Cases
As we move into the at-home PC display and organization portion of the post, I love magnetic one-touch cases for my higher-value cards. This can be stored in boxes, but why! I prefer to pair mine with acryllic stands and then placed on shelving like this.
Like the holders mentioned above, these are available in varying degrees of thickness, and some of these holders are made specifically for cards in a penny sleeve. If not using these specific cases, some suggest, especially for autos, to place a penny sleeve on top of the card while in an open mag case and then place the “top” of the mag on to enclose it.
Best for Sets: Binders and Folders
Last, if you’re a set builder or someone who collects, like me, a ton of inserts and want a fun way to organize and show them off, then binders or folders will be your best best.
Easy to load, but more importantly, easy to flip through and look at, binder pages themselves don’t offer a ton of impact protection, but do so when placed inside of a binder.
Which is what my preference for folders a bit controversial, where they don’t have the ability to show the backs of cards (but do allow for easy loading on both sides of the page) nor do they offer any substantial protection given they are inside of a soft folder. You also can’t add pages to these folders, but I love the look of these that much!