Card Saver I vs. Card Saver II

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In the hobby of card collecting – which comes with more than enough questions simply about the cards themselves – the least of your worries should be your card holder or how you’re going to store and organize your collection. But, here we are.

That said, it’s not a complicated answer, but one that needs to be spelled out with info and examples, so let’s get into it.

What is a Card Saver?

The Card Saver is a semi-rigid card holder with a lip and a pouch. It’s thought of to be a step up from a penny sleeve with a harder plastic, but not as rigid as a top loader. When it comes to PSA grading, the Card Saver is the recommended holder when sending in submissions.

As to why, PSA has this to say:

“Place each item in a protective flexible pouch (Ex. Card Saver I®). The flexible pouch you choose must be sturdy enough to allow us to remove the item safely.”

And then specifically regarding top loaders:

“PSA advises against submitting in top loaders, hard acrylic cases or screw down holders.”

I believe the reason is that cards could shift around too much in top loaders, and when sending your cards in to be judged on their condition, that’s the last thing you want (and screw down holders simply take too much time to take apart).

This might be a surprise to you given that top loaders are commonplace in the hobby, and often used when shipping cards between buyers and sellers. Not to mention that during the pandemic, PSA actually lifted this guideline:

Now that we are back to normal, I often see people questioning the difference between two main types of Card Savers, I and II. Most of this comes from the fact that they want to send cards in for grading, but might only have a Card Saver II supply on hand and are wondering if it’s OK for them to be used in the grading process.

Card Saver I vs. Card Saver II

Comparing the Card Saver I to the Card Saver II, there isn’t much of a difference on the surface. The Card Saver I measures 3 5/16″ x 4 7/8″ while the Card Saver II is slightly smaller at 3″ x 4″ 1/2″. Both have 1/2″ lips.

Card Saver ICard Saver II

That said, the smaller size is going to result in a much more “snug” fit.

The disadvantage here is that when the card is held tighter in the holder, it’s a lot more difficult to pull out, and a tighter grip on the card opens up room for error and damage.

In most cases, then, it’s the Card Saver I that is recommended by PSA, as is mentioned in their packaging guidelines quoted above. That said, though I did find a mention here where PSA mentions either the I or the II:

“Instead, please slip your cards inside a penny sleeve first before sliding them into either a Card Saver 1 or 2 for safekeeping.”

*Going back to the differences between the two options, and the tighter fit of the Card Saver II, I personally wouldn’t even chance sending cards in for grading in anything but the Card Saver I. As someone who is sending your cards in for grading, you want to make things as easy as possible for your graders, not to mention avoid potential damage.

(Not to mention if sending thick cards to PSA, you might want to rethink the Card Saver altogether.)

If grading isn’t a concern, but card storage is, you should also know that most people are reporting the best luck with graded card boxes like this:

About Ryan from Ballcard Genius 332 Articles
Ryan is a lifelong member of the hobby and sports card expert. Specializing in baseball cards, and showcasing a love for flashy 90s inserts and all things A's, Ryan enjoys sharing the ins and outs of collecting, while highlighting the best cardboard options to add to your collections. Last Time Ago LLC dba Ballcard Genius.