How to Pack and Ship Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic the Gathering, and Sports Cards to Prevent Damage

Learn how to protect your precious shiny cardboard from nuclear attacks.

The secondary market for various collectible (and tradable!) cards from different games (mostly Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: the Gathering) and various sports cards and stickers (whether it’s baseball, basketball, soccer, or any other popular sport) is really unfathomably big. Trades are being done in-person and online, on various trading forums, and social media groups, and cards are being sent from one end of the planet Earth to another. The subject of this article is the actual process of packing and shipping cards, as it is very important to prevent any damage and keep the high-value cards in pristine (mint) condition as much as possible, because the shipping process can be merciless toward your packages. This is why Prima Games is here to help you with a guide that will show you how to pack your cards, with a fairly low investment.

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How to Securely Package Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering, or Sports Cards for Safe Shipping

There are different techniques on how to securely package your Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Sports cards so that safe shipping is ensured (at least on your end). In essence, there are products that are made specifically to act as protection for your cards while you’re storing them or sending them by mail, and they are called toploaders.

Related: How to Spot Fake Pokemon Cards: Tips and Tricks

Now, we do not endorse any manufacturer specifically (and we do not have any sponsorship deals), but realistically speaking, everyone that has set foot in this industry knows about Ultra Pro, and to some extent, BCW. Here are some links for you, from an informational standpoint.

Where can you buy toploaders for cards?

We have chosen five sources for this occasion:

Related: Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Base Set: Full Cards List

When you inspect the prices, you will establish that they are not that big, when you consider the fact that that small investment can save you dozens, if not hundreds of dollars of value on the card by just doing its job of protecting your card from damage during shipping. Now, the toploaders are cool, but they are not remotely enough for you to ship a card safely to the other party in your trade.

How to Safely Ship Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering, and Sports Cards by Mail

In order to safely ship your Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Sports Cards by Mail and prevent damage that may occur during shipping, you will need some more stuff in order to maximize the protection of your cards.

  1. Painter’s tape (or ducktape)
  2. One-touch resealable bags
  3. Bubble-wrap bag and/or Bubble-wrap envelope
  4. Garbage, junk, common, basic cards that have no actual value
  5. Cardboard (literally any cardboard)
  6. Sleeves

Related: What is the Most Expensive Pokemon Card in the World? (And Why)

Now, you may be wondering why you need all of this. Here’s why:

  1. Tape is there to seal off the top of the Toploader. You don’t want your card escaping from its safe haven, do you? A lot of people just tape the middle to ensure that the card can’t go anywhere, but if you can spare another inch or two of the tape, you can seal the top altogether. Why? Because you never know when some fluids might attempt an attack on your precious possession. And please, don’t squeeze the top of the Toploader much as you’re doing this, as it may slightly bend your card.
  2. One-touch resealable bags are there for an additional layer of protection, during shipping. It can be used to hold all of your stuff together, and can also mitigate attempts of fluids to get in.
  3. This is an obvious thing to have in stock when you’re dealing with cards. It’s an additional layer of protection against impacts, and envelopes with bubble wrap are a norm for mailing stuff these days. You can reuse smaller ones to fit them in bigger ones. Just cross out any (personal) information from them.
  4. The idea of these “throwaway” cards is to use them as shields for the main prize. You can put 2, 3, 5, however many you can reasonably fit in the front and in the back of the high-value card you intend to send. It provides an additional shield structure for your card and reduces the bending capabilities of your package as a whole. It’s easier to break one stick than a bundle of dozen sticks, right? (Same goes for bending paper vs a 100-page notebook but you get the picture already).
  5. If you don’t have junk cards, cut out some cardboard in the dimension that’s the same or greater than the Toploader dimension.
  6. In addition to using a Toploader, you may put your card in a Sleeve before putting it in the Toploader. I put the card in a sleeve, then I put the sleeved card in a Toploader but with the top of the sleeves going in the Toploader first (additional fluid damage mitigation)

Also, be mindful of our planet. These plastic containers can be reused a lot of times, no need to throw them away just because they’re dirt cheap. You’ll send some, you’ll get some back.

Best Ways to Pack and Send Valuable Trading Cards via Mail (Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering, Sports Cards)

Be creative, be innovative, treat your cards with respect and as an investment, and not some “shiny cardboard”, and invent a new “There I Fixed It” moment if you like. You can use the tape to further reinforce the cardboard contraption that you’ve made, to ensure that the card inside literally doesn’t go anywhere. Back in the day when my local scene was starting out, I set standards with the way I was shipping cards to people I traded with. People were constantly joking that my packages would survive a nuclear apocalypse and/or that I am packing them as if I were shipping something illegal. But none of them were unhappy, and that’s all that matters. Building a good reputation in trading communities goes a long way and you should always strive to trade with reputable members.

Related: I Made (and Ate) Cursed Pokémon Scarlet & Violet Sandwiches in Real Life

Jokes aside, I’ve never had a problem with the stuff I sent, even internationally. Once, and only once, my package got lost, but luckily, I had tracking, security, and all that, and I got reimbursed by the carrier after weeks of brawling with their administration. One last thing, if you’re sending a bulk of valuable cards, try to protect each card individually and ship them in a box in which they won’t “wiggle” much. If necessary, stuff the box with sponge, toilet paper, or any other soft material you can spare. If you just put “naked” cards in a deck box (that’s of course, slightly bigger than the dimension of the cards) the cards will rattle during transport and you might end up with damaged/bent corners, etc.).

tl;dr – rule of thumb is to ask yourself “What can go wrong with this packaging?” and try to think against that scenario. There are many videos on YouTube to help you find ideas!

Thank you for visiting Prima Games! Stick around if you will, there is a lot of fun Featured articles, and guides/news about a lot of popular games. See you soon!

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Nikola L
Nikola has been a Staff Writer at Prima Games since May 2022. He has been gaming since being able to hold an Amiga 500 joystick on his own, back in the early 90s (when gaming was really good!). Nikola has helped organize dozens of gaming events and tournaments and has been professionally attached to gaming since 2009.