Known as “penny sleeves” because of their low cost, these sealable plastic rectangle-shaped pockets hold one card at a time and protect them from stains, fingerprints, crumbs, and liquids. They also safeguard your cards from becoming ripped, torn, or scratched so that they can be kept in excellent condition for years to come.
Why buy new penny sleeves?
If you’re a card game enthusiast or serious card collector, a pack of penny sleeves is a worthwhile and low-cost investment to help keep your collection safe. Improperly storing or handling your prized cards can diminish their value in a hurry, so it makes sense to protect your investment. Some penny sleeves can even be used to organize your card collection so that you can quickly locate the specific cards you’re looking for.
What should you look for in penny sleeves?
- Amount: Penny sleeves are available in a wide range of quantities. Most are sold in packs of at least 100, but there are higher and lower amounts available as well. Although you can buy as few as one or five sleeves at once, most people choose to buy a lot at a time since bulk packs tend to offer the best bang for your buck.
- Thickness: Some penny sleeves are made of thicker plastic (usually measured in millimeters) than others, affording your cards greater protection. Penny sleeves advertised as “premium” will generally be the ones made of thicker plastic than standard models. You can also buy double-sleeved packs in two sizes: standard ones to hold your cards and slightly larger ones to place those sleeves in. This will protect your cards even better, as there will be two layers of plastic between them and the world.
- Acid-Free: If you’re serious about protecting your cards or have particularly valuable ones, you’ll want to buy penny sleeves that are explicitly marked as acid-free. Acid and similar chemicals may rub off on your cards and run the risk of discoloring or staining your cards if they’re stored in them over an extended period of time. Therefore, acid-free penny sleeves are generally the best option for collectors.
Why is it important to use penny sleeves?
Penny sleeves are an invaluable purchase for several reasons. If you are a collector, even minor damage to a card can significantly diminish the card’s value. As such, you’ll want to provide a barrier between your valuable cards and the outside world. On the other hand, if you regularly use cards for games such as Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon, you’ll want to protect your cards to ensure they are usable in tournament play. Some tournaments will not allow you to use cards that are damaged, even if the damage is on the back of your card. For this reason, protecting the most powerful cards in your deck is a good idea.
Ultra Pro Soft Card Sleeves (100 Count)
These affordable, acid-free penny sleeves provide basic protection to your cards.
Pros: If you’re looking to protect your cards for the lowest possible cost, these Ultra Pro Soft Card Sleeves are probably what you’re looking for. These budget-friendly penny sleeves offer basic protection against smudges and scratches and sport an acid-free finish for safe long-term storage. If you’re looking for a thin penny sleeve that isn’t easily damaged, these have a lot to offer.
Cons: Since these sleeves are on the thin side, they’re not ideal for extremely valuable cards or cards that you plan on keeping for decades to come. That being said, they still offer a good amount of protection.
Bottom Line: While these aren’t the most rugged or protective card sleeves you can buy, they provide an impressive amount of protection compared to other budget penny sleeves in their price range. As such, they’re a great option for casual collectors or those who want to keep their game cards scratch-free.
DeElf Outlet Clear Card Sleeves
These penny sleeves offer a great deal of protection for their budget price and are ideal for game cards.
Pros: Featuring acid-free construction and a thickness that isn’t as thin as you would think given the low price, the DeElf Outlet Clear Card Sleeves offer stellar protection from food oils and scratches. Given this set’s high quantity, it’s a great fit for card games and card-heavy board games. Speaking of a great fit, these sleeves fit like a glove, making them a great option as the first layer of a multi-sleeve setup.
Cons: Due to the sleeves’ lack of slickness, they are not ideal for shuffling. Also, some users noted that they received some incorrectly sized sleeves in their pack, so don’t be disappointed if you get a few duds out of the 1,000 cards you receive.
Bottom Line: While these bulk sleeves aren’t ideal for your prized baseball card collection, they’re a great choice for keeping your game cards looking as good as new. For the price, it’s hard to ask for more than that.
Pro Support Trading Card Accessories Inner Sleeves
These snug-fitting card sleeves are perfect for optimal protection.
Pros: If you need to protect your Pokémon or other game cards, the Pro Support Trading Card Accessories Inner Sleeves feature a snug fit that makes them perfect for double-sleeving your most valuable game cards. These soft, thin sleeves also offer good protection against moisture and oil but aren’t quite as sturdy as standard game card sleeves.
Cons: As some reviewers noted, these sleeves aren’t exactly tailor-made for sports cards in terms of size. As such, if you’re about to cram your Tom Brady rookie card into one of these bad boys, it may very well do more harm than good.
Bottom Line: While this product doesn’t offer the most cost-effective method for protecting your game cards, it’s hard to complain about their snug fit or stellar protection. That being said, you may damage some sports cards by forcing them to fit in these sleeves.
Ultra Pro Extra-Thick Card Sleeves
These robust sleeves offer rugged protection for the most precious cards in your collection.
Pros: Featuring a sturdy design that’s ideal for protecting your most precious cards, the Ultra Pro Extra Thick Card Sleeves score points for their PVC-free and acid-free design and premium protection. These sleeves are also a great option for housing thick cards that are up to 130-point thickness. If you don’t mind spending a little extra for archival-grade protection, these sleeves are for you.
Cons: If you opt for this product, you are likely going to spend much more than a penny per sleeve. While this makes sense for protecting valuable cars or an important collection, it’s probably not an ideal choice for backup gaming decks that rarely get used.
Bottom Line: Whether you need to protect especially thick cards or need the protection that can be afforded by these thick sleeves, you’ve found the right product for the job.
HERKKA Trading Card Sleeve Pages
These sleeve pages are great for protecting and organizing standard-sized sports and game cards.
Pros: If you keep your card collection in a baseball card binder, the HERKKA Trading Card Sleeve Pages provide you with a cost-effective way to secure your cards and keep them blemish-free. This product uses a versatile size that’s perfect for both game cards and sports cards, so if you’re a collector of either type of card, then you’re in luck. Factor in this product’s acid-free, non-glare design, and you can see why it’s so highly rated by those who’ve purchased it.
Cons: Those who prefer to place their cards in a thin penny sleeve before storing them in their card binder page may find that some of the slots are too tight of a squeeze for double-sleeved cards. Also, it’s important to note that the top row of cards can fall out if a page is held upside down.
Bottom Line: Overall, both this product’s price point and quality are incredibly impressive for what you get. Whether you’re a collector of baseball cards or need to store Pokémon cards that are temporarily not a part of one of your decks, these sleeve pages provide a lot of value.
Pro Support Trading Card Accessories Penny Sleeves
These affordable game card sleeves offer a glossy finish and solid protection from moisture and scratches.
Pros: If you’re looking for something glossy and thin, the Pro Support Trading Card Accessories Penny Sleeves provide a fantastic bang for your buck. These budget-friendly sleeves are thin enough for double-sleeving your prized cards, and their acid-free make is unlikely to harm your collection. These sleeves also fit most game cards such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, making them a versatile pick for those on a budget.
Cons: These sleeves will be a little too tight of a squeeze for most sports cards, according to quite a few reviews. Also, they’re not exactly ideal for those seeking something thick and sturdy.
Bottom Line: While these ultra-thin penny sleeves won’t appeal to everyone, they offer a great deal of protection for their low cost and thin design. Also, their glossy finish does little to distract from the artwork or text on your game cards.
Whether you have an expensive sports card collection to protect or simply like your game cards to look like new, investing in penny sleeves is a no-brainer. Just be sure to buy a product that sports a size, design, and protection level that’s ideal for your cards.