With the Pokemon Trading Card Game exploding in popularity in 2020, new collectors may be wondering how to properly handle and store their cards. Here is everything you need to know on taking care of your rare items.
While the Pokemon TCG initially made its North American debut in 1999, the beloved game has now become a serious collector’s market decades later. Some cards have even sold at auction for the price of a house.
New collectors may be wondering how to handle rare collectibles the second they get them out of a fresh booster pack. We will go over the several steps to take to make sure your holographic preserves its value.
How to handle & store Pokemon cards
The first thing that a new collector should know is that there are certain factors that can impact your cards’ worth that are completely out of your control. Unfortunately, cards can ship with damage ranging from off-center art to scratches on the holo background.
However, what is in your control is how you handle the item the second you take it out of the booster pack. And it can not be stated enough how crucial this time is. To put things into perspective, the value of a PSA 10 graded card compared to a 9 can literally be $30k depending on the card.
Below we will go over some of the most common ways you can protect your valuables, and have the best chance at getting a good grade back from a grading company.
Step 1: Penny sleeves
These incredibly cheap plastic sleeves are a must. The second you tear open your booster pack and lift your rare holographic card out, immediately put it in a penny sleeve. We know there is a natural instinct to scream and dance and then look at the card. But first sleeve it, then you can look at it.
Step 2: Toploaders
After your card is secured in a penny sleeve, we then recommend you to put it into a Toploader. While not as cheap as the sleeves, they can still be bought for an affordable price. Not only will this harder shell protect the card from bumps, many grading companies require you to ship the item in it.
Step 3: Grading
Not everyone can afford to get their cards graded right away. But simply put, the best way to ensure your card keeps its value is to send them off as soon as you have secured your card in a Toploader. We recommend either PSA or Beckett BGS. Check out their sites for instructions on how to send your items off.
Step 4: Storage
While the first three steps are the most important, you will need a place to store your protected cards. Collectors have different opinions on this, but we will list below what we find is the best options for storing your cards.
- PSA/Beckett Grading – Without sugar coating it, the best way to store your cards is getting them graded. Not only does the number increase your cards’ value dramatically, your items will be sent to you in a secure hard case. Once your cards are in this shell case, it will be much safer to store.
- Tins – Many Pokemon products actually come in tins. Storing your Toploaded holos in them is a cheap alternative way to recycle TCG packaging.
- Binders – If you are going to use a binder, it’s preferred you don’t use ones that allow you to slot your cards in back-to-back. There should be a backing that separates one card from another. DO NOT use ring binders, and instead use one with the pages secured to the spine. We recommend binders for non-holographics, or lesser rare cards that you are keeping in penny or card sleeves.
- Box – If you are going to use a box or metal case, make sure there isn’t too much room for the cards to move around. This is less of a problem if your card has already been graded by PSA or Beckett.
What you shouldn’t do
While this can be a hotly debated subject, most collectors agree that wearing cotton gloves or any type of covering is a bad idea. Just like antique books and paintings, the general wisdom is that handling delicate collectibles with gloves on can do more harm then good. With Pokemon cards, even the slightest scratch can bring your card down a whole grade, and that can cost you thousands of dollars.
You should also keep your rare Pokemon cards in a cool area. If they are stored in a place with too much heat or moisture, it can damage the cardboard. Again, this will be less of a problem if you have the item in a hard shell case, but it’s genuinely good practice.
- Read More: Top 5 most expensive Pokemon Trading Cards
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is to have a set of penny sleeves and Toploaders next to you before opening a booster pack. Just doing these steps alone will go a long way in making sure your TCG collectible stays in the condition it was the second you got it.