With deck building games at the apex of popularity and no signs of slowing down, more and more gamers are looking to protect their collection with card sleeves. While not as prone to damage as shuffle heavy games like Magic The Gathering, Dominion, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, even board-game geeks are looking to protect the cards in their pricey game collections.

Ever since I got into deck building games like Magic The Gathering, I quickly learned that card sleeves were pretty much a must have accessory. Over the years I have probably tried over a dozen different card sleeves and manufacturers but only a few were worthy of protecting my rarest cards.

If you have already invested money into card sleeves but they weren’t quite right or you are just starting to search for the best card sleeves and don’t know what to look for we have you covered. There are just a few things to keep in but I will cover these things in detail below. Once you learn what to look for and what makes a good card sleeve you shouldn’t have any trouble picking a set that will work best for you.

Personally I use a variety of card sleeves for different purposes and decks. There isn’t a one size fits all card and quite frankly, and it can also depend heavily on your personal preference. The best advice is to try out a few different picks and you will likely find that some cards are preferred over others for different decks and card types.


Best Card Sleeves: Buyer’s Guide 2018

With all the different manufacturers out there it can be over whelming choosing a set of card sleeves to protect your best looking foil cards. The good news is, there isn’t much to card sleeves. Of course, this also means there isn’t much that separates the best manufacturers from the worst.

The guide below will help you in your search as I go over the important aspects you should keep in mind. These are all of the same criteria used to evaluate all of the top card sleeves on our list.

1. Card Sleeve Types

A card sleeve’s main attribute is their finish. The finish of the card sleeve will have some effect on the way the cards looks through the sleeve. This will also give them different feels depending on the finish. This is an attribute that will be mostly determined by ones preference.

  • Gloss Finish: Glossy card sleeves are just as the name suggests. A glossy sleeve is not textured and will have a very clear front with a shiny back that may or may not feature art designs. Glossy finishes can sometime cause sticking between cards which hampers shuffling and pulling form the deck. Not a huge deal but something to consider.
  • Matte Finish: These sleeves have a textured feel on the back of the sleeve with the front having a matte finish that not quite as clear as the gloss sleeves. Matter finishes are less prone to sticking and affect shuffling and pulling from the card stack less.
  • Double Matte Finish: Double matte sleeves will feature both matte fronts and backs of the sleeves. It will have an even more texture and slightly frosted appearance on the front. This will very between manufactures.

2. Card Sleeve Durability

A card sleeves durability is determined by how well it holds up to regular use through game play. This includes shuffling, pulling cards from the deck and laying them out, loading and unloading from the deck boxes.

Durability is also how resistant the card sleeve is to rips and tears. Whether accidental or deliberate, a tear resistant card sleeve will hold up longer and protect your most valuable cards from damage or rage, because I know I’m not the only one who has ripped up a card in a fit of rage.

The most durable card sleeve manufacturers include, Ultra Pro, Dragon Shield, Player’s Choice, and Ultimate Guard.

3. Card Sleeve Thickness and Size

Card sleeve thickness is going to affect both durability, feel, and price. Most penny card sleeves are about 40 microns thick thick. As you get into the more premium card sleeves they normally start at 50 microns and are as thick as 160 microns for the most premium sleeves.

Below are the thickness for some of the most popular card sleeves. Ultimately, it will come down to balancing your preference of feel and durability. The thicker the sleeve the stiffer they will be, not to mention anyone who double sleeves will really increase the stiffness. Consider how sleeved cards will also impact how well they fit in your existing deck boxes.

  • BCW: Board game sleeves – 100 microns.
  • Docsmagic: Regular – 50 microns. Premium – 100 microns.
  • Dragon Shield: 120 microns.
  • Fantasy Flight: 105 microns.
  • KMC: Standard and Mini – 100 microns. Perfect Fit – 45.5 microns.
  • Legion: Comparable to Fantasy Flight.
  • Mayday: Standard sleeves – 40 microns. Premium sleeves – 90 microns.
  • MTL: Soft sleeves – 40 microns. Thick sleeves – 90 microns.
  • Ultimate Guard: Classic Soft – 40 microns, Premium Soft – 50 microns, Supreme sleeves – 115 microns, Master sleeves – 160 microns.
  • Ultra-Pro: Deck Protector – 110 microns.

Most card sleeve manufacturers make several sizes in their different lines of card sleeves. It is more important to know the size of your collector cards and match that size to the card sleeve. If you are double sleeving your cards, you may need a slightly larger size to ensure a good fit.

Some manufacturers abide a color code system for their card sleeves but not all so this method of size identification can be hit or miss if you are relying on colors for quick size identification. Board Game Geek has one of the most comprehensive Card Sleeve Size guides for determining which size cards your specific game needs.

I have also listed the sizes for some of the most popular trading card games below.

Popular Trading Card Game Sizes

best card sleeves

Other Card Sleeve Considerations

A few other considerations that should be made when deciding what the best card sleeves are and whether they are right for you and your collections.

For starters, Fantasy Flight sleeves are measured by the maximum card size that will fit, not the actual sleeve size itself. Fantasy Flight Print-on-Demand expansions may not fit in the standard sleeve size, Fantasy Flight or other slightly oversized sleeves are a good choice.

Sleeves can sometimes vary in size, especially the non-premium versions. Getting extra packs of sleeves is advised, this will ensure you have enough sleeves to account for any size issues. KMC and Dragon Shield only make 63.5x88mm and 57x89mm sleeves, at the time of writing this guide, of course this could always change. Matte-finish sleeves with clear (rather than opaque) backs are available in standard size from KMC and Ultra-Pro.

Finally, ask yourself these questions before buying your card sleeves.

  1. Should I even sleeve my cards?

    Not every game warrants spending the extra investment to protect your cards. Determine their value, whether it is how much replay value they will have or how rare cards may be which will usually be worth more. Ask yourself how much abuse they will take, are they shuffled a lot, in play a lot, etc.
  2. What size cards do I need?

    As I said above in the size section, double check the size of your game cards and the card sleeves to make sure you are purchasing the correct variation. Account for anything like double sleeving and special edition sizes that may be slightly different.
  3. How Many Cards Do I Need?

    This is most important when buying card sleeves as the same time as new decks. You need to know how many cards come in the packages and make sure you order enough sleeves. Sometimes you will find that card packages often have more cards than card sleeve packages. If you already have a collection that is rather large, you can usually find good deals on bulk card sleeve purchases.

Last tip I can offer is when actually sleeving your cards, if you are using sleeves that are clear or opaque on both size make sure to orient the cards in the same direction in the sleeves. Some sleeve manufacturing processes leave a visible seam at the bottom of the card. Make sure that seam is oriented the same direction every time you sleeve more of the same cards. This will avoid issues where a seam facing forward catches a seam facing backwards keeping your cards from sticking together.


 

The Best Cards Sleeves – 2018 Reviews

Below are some of the best and most popular card sleeve options. Again, no card will meet every expectation perfectly so choose the ones that are right for you. I always like to try a few different sleeves before loading up to sleeve my entire decks. If you have a preference for a sleeve not listed, be sure and leave a comment below letting us know.

 

Dragon Shield Matte Review

best card sleeves for mtg

Dragon Shield Mattes are really great card sleeves and held has the best MTG sleeves by many. They are durable, they feel nice, and shuffling with them is great after a little break in time. These are certain to hold up to hours of play and card use. They are one of the thickest sleeves on the market which lends to their durability but can also pose a challenge to double sleeving.

Dragon Shield mattes are much like the KMC Hyper Mattes and a great alternative. The cards also fit great and are capable of double sleeving without much issue. As great as they are, consistency in production quality can be an issue in my experience but this is a small number out of numerous packages. These issues range from color and size inconsistency to durability issues. That said, they are still great sleeves and I continue to use them. Note that the darker colors are better in the opaque-ing than the lighter colors.

Dragon Shield Matte Features

  • 120 Microns
  • Color Options Available

  • 100/60/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Dragon Shield Classic Review

best dragon shield card sleeves

The Dragon Shield Classic sleeves are very much comparable to the matte option but usually offer even more durability being more resistant to tearing and stretching. If you aren’t a fan of matte sleeves these Classic sleeves are great as they are not too slippery after a little use and not too grippy either. These do get tend to get a little dirty so it is best to use a playmat with these.

A lot of card collectors are extremely happy with the performance of these cards and feel they hold up nicely. I prefer matte cards but feel that these hold up even better. With all of the available colors, these are great for sleeving cards of different styles and categories in different colors for quick identification. A great option to try out if you have yet to give Dragon Shields a go.

Dragon Shield Classic Features

  • 120 Microns
  • Color Options Available

  • 100/60/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Ultra Pro Eclipse Card Sleeves Review

best mtg card sleeves

No doubt everyone is familiar with Ultra Pro and their Classic and Matte card sleeves which are known to be extremely affordable but unfortunately not that durable. Well, The Ultra Pro Eclipse is their answer to a premium and extremely durable card sleeve. These Eclipse card sleeves run a very tight race with Dragon Shield as they are as durable but at a better price.

Where these sleeves come in behind the Dragon Shields is they can be prone to marks. This hasn’t been a huge issue but I have noticed they mark more easily the Dragon Shields which could certainly pose an issue in tournament. Aside from this, they feel extremely nice and shuffle quite well. The Eclipse are also fully opaque throughout the color options. If you are looking for a durable option at good price these are great keeping in mind the minor marking issues. Certainly one of the best MTG sleeves in the penny sleeve category.

Ultra Pro Eclipse Features

  • 110 Microns
  • Many Color Options

  • 100/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Ultra Pro Standard Card Sleeves Review

best card sleeves for mtg

One of the most popular and well know offerings of card sleeves, Ultra Pro are also one of the cheapest card sleeves out there. Don’t expect these to hold up at all but they are a very great buy if you are looking to sleeve a ton of cards. Great for drafts but I advise something a bit more robust to protect foils or built decks.

These are usually easy to come by and extremely cheap to load up on. Again, their price is very indicative of their quality as they rip and tear easily. The reason they make the list is because they are cheap and easy to find. If you are okay with the lack of durability and protection in the long term than you should be able to get a ton of these for a great price.

Ultra Pro Standard Features

  • 110 Microns
  • Many Color Options

  • 100/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Ultra Pro Pro-Matte Card Sleeves Review

best ultra pro card sleeves

Ultra Pro Pro-Matte Features

  • 110 Microns
  • Many Color Options
  • 100/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

KMC Hyper Matte Review

best card sleeves for mtg

KMC Hyper Mattes are a mid-range card sleeve that at one point was on par with Dragon Shield in terms of durability and quality but like the Dragon Shields, quality concerns have arisen lately. That said, they are still one of the more durable card sleeves that have a very nice feel to them. Hyper Mattes also have a nice shuffle feel if you are looking for that.

The great thing about the Hyper Mattes is they can be found bundled with the Perfect Fits at a great price. This is great for those needing to double sleeve a collection at an affordable price.

KMC Hyper Matte Features

  • 100 Microns
  • Many Color Options

  • 80 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

KMC Perfect Fit Review

best penny sleeves

KMC sleeves are one of the best options out there for folks wanting to double sleeve their best MTG foils. The snug fit allows you to pair them with virtually any other sleeve that has been deemed a compatible outer sleeve. These are slightly more expensive than other inner sleeve options but the price lends to their quality making the best inner sleeve on the market..

If you can find KMC perfect fit sleeves this is one of the best inner sleeve options. If you pair these with the KMC Hyper Mattes above you will be extremely pleased with the outcome. Your cards will have the utmost protection. The only unfortunate thing is the KMC Perfect fits come in 100 packs and the Hyper Mattes are only available in 80 packs. The best “penny” sleeves out there for sure though you can’t really say they cost a penny.

KMC Perfect Fit Features

  • 45 Microns
  • Many Color Options

  • 100 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Mayday Games Premium Review

best premium card sleeves

The Mayday Premium card sleeves are my pick for Dominion cards. These are better than “penny” sleeves but are very affordable and durable. Mayday Games makes cards sleeves in virtually any size you could think of which means they are also a great option for Pokemon as well.

Mayday Premiums have a pretty standard feel to them and shuffling isn’t bad or great. An average card at a good price, certainly great for sleeving large collections that are in need of standard protection.

Mayday Games Premium Features

  • 90 Microns
  • Clear

  • 80 count packs
  • Many Size Options

 


 

DEX Protection Hyper Mat Review

best dex card sleeves

These Dex sleeves are a great fitting card sleeve for Magic The Gathering cards. They fit perfectly and resist stretching over time. Not only do they resist stretching, they are highly durable and are extremely hard to rip and tear. The Dex Sleeves are a great option for those wanting quality and great protection.

Aside from durability, the shuffle feel of the Dex Sleeves are great and a joy to shuffle. The fronts are clear and offer great card visibility with little to any distortion and the backs are matte black. Interesting thing about the matte back is it’s actually fairly shiny for a matte card. Not a big deal but good to note. All in all another great choice if you can get your hands on these card sleeves.

DEX Protection Hyper Mat Features

  • 90 Microns
  • Clear Front/Black Matte Back

  • 100 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

BCW Double Matte Review

best matte card sleeves

BCW card sleeves are fairly comparable to the Ultra Pro sleeves. In terms of quality and price there are certainly on the low end of the spectrum with the Ultra Pro cards but having a slight edge on the Ultra Pros. The positives about the BCW sleeves are both the feel as well as the shuffle feel. They feel great in both regards.

Another positive thing about these is the size seems to be fairly consistent in size and cut. That said, this is a great option for folks looking for an inexpensive card sleeve that you aren’t expecting a lot of durability out of.

BCW Double Matte Features

  • 100 Microns
  • Many Options

  • 100/50 count packs
  • Fits 63mm X 88mm cards

 


 

Fantasy Flight Card Sleeves Review

fantasy flight card sleeves

Another budget card sleeve in the list, Fantasy Flight offers a wide variety of sleeve sizes so you are sure to have an option for your card size. The backs are glossy and quite slippery but as this is certainly a matter of preference don’t let that deter you. Shuffle feel is about average for a budget sleeve and on par with the Ultra Pro.

If you are looking to try a different option in the budget card sleeve category the Fantasy Flights will fit the bill. Last

Fantasy Flight Features

  • 105 Microns
  • Color Options

  • 100/50 count packs
  • Many Size Options

 


 

Conclusion

With manufacturers constantly entering this space there are new options constantly popping up and we would certainly like to hear about those. For now these are all great options in varying qualities and price points. Manufacturers seem to change up the plastic formulas and processes sometimes so it is always a great idea to monitor quality on an ongoing basis.

We will try to keep our list updated as quality shifts also. Leave us a comment if you feel quality has slipped on any of the options beyond what we have already acknowledged.