5 Pro Tips to Keep Your Pokémon Cards in Mint Condition

Nerdacity Feb 23, 2024
76 People Read
Evolutions Pokémon Cards
Table of Contents
  1. What is Mint Condition?
  2. Why Does Mint Condition Matter?
  3. Pro Tip 1: Use Quality Pokémon Card Sleeves Immediately
    1. 1. Exact-Fit Card Sleeves
    2. 2. Regular Fit Card Sleeves
    3. 3. A Combination (Double Sleeving)
  4. Pro Tip 2: Invest in Quality Pokémon Card Binders
    1. 1. Ultra Pro
    2. 2. Vault X
  5. Pro Tip 3: Handle Your Pokémon Cards with Care
  6. Pro Tip 4: Store Your Pokémon Cards in a Controlled Environment
  7. Pro Tip 5: Regularly Clean Your Pokémon Card Storage Area
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

Collecting Pokémon cards is more than just a hobby; it's a passion shared by millions of people across the globe. Whether you're a 25 year+ seasoned collector or just starting your journey into the world of the Pokémon TCG (Trading Card Game), keeping your cards as mint as possible should always be your top goal. In this article, we'll delve into 5 pro tips that will ensure your Pokémon cards remain as fresh as the day you pulled them from their booster pack.

Still not decided if Pokémon cards are the right collectible/hobby for you? Visit our Pokémon TCG FAQ.

What is Mint Condition?

In the world of trading card games (as well as most other collectibles), 'mint condition' signifies that a card is virtually flawless. The card's corners should be sharp, its colours vibrant, and its surface free of scratches, scuffs, or any other forms of wear and tear. There should be no bends, creases, or warping of any kind. In short, a mint condition card should look close to perfect; untouched and unplayed, as if it had just been pulled from a booster pack.

Professional grading services (such as PSA or CGC), use numerical scales to grade cards. A card graded 9 or 10 on these scales is typically considered to be in 'mint' or 'gem mint' condition respectively (although additional printing factors can come into play).

For full details on professional grading, visit our comprehensive guide to Pokémon card grading.

Why Does Mint Condition Matter?

Before we jump into the tips, it's worth understanding why keeping your Pokémon cards in mint condition is essential.

First, a mint or near-mint card retains its value far more easily, with truly mint cards often fetching many times more on the market, than a card in say, 'very good' condition. If you ever decide to sell your cards, those in mint condition will generally fetch a better price.

Secondly, mint cards are better candidates for professional grading, which can further increase their worth, often covering the cost of grading in added market value (see the link to our grading guide at the end of the previous section).

Pro Tip 1: Use Quality Pokémon Card Sleeves Immediately

The moment you pull a card from a booster pack, consider placing it in an acid-free soft card sleeve. This protective layers safeguards against scratches, scuffs, and general wear and tear. It's a simple and cost-effective way to maintain the pristine condition of your cards. There are 3 options for soft-sleeving cards, depending on your needs and/or preference:

1. Exact-Fit Card Sleeves

Only 1mm larger in length and width than a standard Pokémon card. As the name suggests, these sleeves fit your cards snugly, but the card edge at the opening can be at risk. Perfect for storing cards in a binder/folder.

Pictured below: We're using Vault X Exact Fit Card Sleeves (63mm x 88mm).

Rare Candy in Exact Fit Card Sleeves

2. Regular Fit Card Sleeves

The standard size of card sleeve. They provide a little bit more room for your card to breathe, are more durable, and have a larger buffer zone to protect the top/bottom edge of your cards. Perfect for cards stored in tins or deck boxes.

Pictured below: We're using Ultra Pro Standard Fit Card Sleeves (67mm x 92mm).

Rare Candy + Regular Fit Card Sleeves

3. A Combination (Double Sleeving)

The ultimate level of protection using both previous options together. Place your card upside-down in an exact-fit sleeve, then place it the right way up in a regular sleeve, squeezing gently down then up with your thumbs to expel any trapped air. Perfect for cards that will be played, or for added peace of mind for super-rare cards being stored in a folder or binder.

Pictured below: We're using a Vault X Exact Fit Card Sleeve inside of a Ultra Pro Standard Fit Card Sleeve.

Double Sleeved Rare Candy CardFully Double Sleeved Rare Candy Card

Pro Tip 2: Invest in Quality Pokémon Card Binders

While card sleeves provide good base-level individual card protection, card binders are perfect for storing multiple cards together safely when combined with card sleeves (see Pro Tip 1). Ensure the option you choose has pockets made from acid-free plastic, and is either side-loading (the cards enter long side first) or has a protective flap to prevent card escape.

Avoid cheap O-ring binders as the curved metal clasps can cause card damage in the long-term when storing. Putting more than 1 card to an individual binder pocket should also be avoided where possible as this can damage your cards and pockets (i.e. you should be able to see the front and back of each and every card when flicking through your folder/binder, unless the pages are double-sided).

Let's take a look at 2 of our favourite options:

1. Ultra Pro

Ultra Pro is one of the best know brands in card protection offering a host of options to help you keep your cards in mint condition. Ultra Pro offer albums (featured below) which allow you to place your own type and quantity of 9 pocket pages (up to 100), whereas Ultra Pro Binders come with non-removable pages included, and are available in 4 pocket or 9 pocket varieties.

Pictured below: For our Evolutions collection, We're using the Ultra Pro Collectors Album (which has a D-ring to mitigate against card damage), with Ultra Pro Platinum Series 9-Pocket Pages (purchased separately).

Pokemon Evolutions Card in Ultra Pro BinderUltra Pro Card Binder

2. Vault X

Whilst still a relative new comer to the card protection scene, Vault X products are second to none with their Exo-Tec Zip Binders quickly becoming the industry standard, incorporating double-sided side-loading pages, thick padding and zipping completely shut with 0 room for card movement. These binders are available in 4 pocket, 9 pocket or 12 pocket varieties.

Pictured below: For our Scarlet and Violet collection, we're using a Vault X 12-Pocket Exo-Tec Zip Binder (Note: the colour pictured is a special edition which is no longer available on Amazon).

Vault X Side-Loading Zip BinderScarlet and Violet Cards in Vault X Zip Folder

Pro Tip 3: Handle Your Pokémon Cards with Care

Always handle your cards carefully even when sleeved, lightly touching only the edges. Oils and dirt from your hands can degrade card quality over time, leave smudges/smears, and/or cause whitening (visible wear proceeding past the thin layered, coloured surface of the card). For high-value cards, consider using cotton gloves for an extra layer of protection.

Pro Tip 4: Store Your Pokémon Cards in a Controlled Environment

Humidity and temperature can adversely affect the condition of your Pokémon cards. Keep your cards and/or binders in a climate-controlled, cool and dry environment which maintains a steady temperature year-round (this means no sheds, garages, attics or storage units!). Avoid damp, humid areas and keep your cards away from direct sunlight to avoid fading and/or bleaching. Never place your cards in a place where they risk heavy items being stacked on them, or 'little fingers' finding them.

Pro Tip 5: Regularly Clean Your Pokémon Card Storage Area

Dust and dirt can accumulate even in the cleanest of storage spaces, so regularly clean the area where your cards are kept. A quick dusting every week can go a long way in maintaining the cleanliness of your Pokémon cards, which in-turn removes the need for a more thorough and invasive cleaning later (e.g. removing/replacing sleeves), helping to preserve the mint condition of your Pokémon cards in the long-run.

Final Thoughts

Collecting Pokémon cards can be a serious (but fun) investment in both time and money, which means the care of those cards should also be taken seriously in order to maintain their peak value. Following these pro tips will safeguard your investments by keeping your cards in mint condition... Whether you aim to trade, sell, or simply admire your collection, a mint card will always be more valuable and aesthetically pleasing than a worn one!

Related Articles

Table of Contents
  1. What is Mint Condition?
  2. Why Does Mint Condition Matter?
  3. Pro Tip 1: Use Quality Pokémon Card Sleeves Immediately
    1. 1. Exact-Fit Card Sleeves
    2. 2. Regular Fit Card Sleeves
    3. 3. A Combination (Double Sleeving)
  4. Pro Tip 2: Invest in Quality Pokémon Card Binders
    1. 1. Ultra Pro
    2. 2. Vault X
  5. Pro Tip 3: Handle Your Pokémon Cards with Care
  6. Pro Tip 4: Store Your Pokémon Cards in a Controlled Environment
  7. Pro Tip 5: Regularly Clean Your Pokémon Card Storage Area
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure:  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.