Last updated on February 18, 2024

Bury in Books - Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Bury in Books | Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Collectors, traders, and competitive players. While we all have different reasons to enjoy Magic, we all like to take care of our collection. One of the best ways to protect your collection and show it off at the same time is a binder, and believe me when I say that you’ve got tons of options.

With so many types of binders out there of varying quality and style, you’re probably wondering which is the best one for you. You’re in luck! That’s what I’m going to help you out with today.

We’ll go over all that you need to consider when looking for the right binder for your precious cardboard, and hopefully set you on the right path to finding exactly what you need.

Top Pick
Best Overall
Highest Quality
Best Budget Option
Best 12-Pocket
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$33.90
$29.99
$21.53
Price not available
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
-
-
Top Pick
Best Overall
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
$33.90
Amazon Prime
Highest Quality
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
$29.99
Amazon Prime
Best Budget Option
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
$21.53
-
Best 12-Pocket
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Price not available
-

A Quick Recommendation

Ultimate Guard XenoSkin Zipfolio 9 pocket binder

If you’re looking for a binder that does its job for a decent price, I’d recommend looking into the Ultimate Guard XenoSkin Zipfolio binder. It’s not the cheapest on the market but it’s not the most expensive either.

Zipfolio offers good protection from most of the worries you might have about your collection and has a zipper to make sure that your cards don’t accidentally spill everywhere while you’re traveling. There are different sizes available ranging from 4 pockets to 12 pockets so you can get exactly what you need based on what you’re planning to use them for.

Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
  • Side-Loading Pockets for Easy Access: The Ultimate Guard Zipfolio is ingeniously designed with side-loading pockets, offering an incredibly convenient way to access your cards. No more struggling to slide cards in from the top; simply insert and remove them from the side with ease. This user-friendly feature ensures that your cards remain easily accessible, whether you're organizing your collection or preparing for gameplay.
  • Acid-Free and PVC-Free: Ultimate Guard card sleeves are crafted with premium materials that are completely acid-free and contain no PVC. This ensures that your valuable trading cards are protected from harmful chemicals that can cause deterioration over time, preserving their condition for years to come.
  • Designed for Double-Sleeved Cards: Ultimate Guard Zipfolio is engineered to comfortably accommodate double-sleeved cards. This feature is especially valuable for those who prioritize card protection and preservation. It ensures that your valuable cards remain in pristine condition, even when double-sleeved for added security.
  • With Zipper Closure: Ultimate Guard Zipfolio features a secure zipper closure mechanism. This zipper provides additional protection for your cards, preventing them from accidentally falling out or getting damaged during transport or storage. It adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind, knowing that your collection is safe and well-contained.
  • Resistant XenoSkin Material: Crafted from XenoSkin material, the Zipfolio is not only visually appealing but also highly durable. It provides superior protection against wear and tear, ensuring that your valuable cards remain in pristine condition over time. Count on the Zipfolio to safeguard your collection with its resilient construction.

Binder Buyer’s Guide

Things to Look For

Sorcerous Spyglass - Illustration by Aaron Miller

Sorcerous Spyglass | Illustration by Aaron Miller

There are several things to consider before everything else when looking for a binder for your Magic cards. You should mostly make sure the cover is rigid and stiff rather than flimsy and flexible. While you might find a reason to use a flexible binder, I don’t recommend it. If the binder bends, then your cards will bend with it.

You should also make sure that the cover material is durable. A stiff cover isn’t enough if it wears away and allows other damages to find their way in to ruin your precious cardboard. Faux leather covers like the ones that Dragon Shield produces or XenoSkin covers like the Zipfolio from Ultimate Guard are usually the way to go here. Both of these material types offer high quality protection for your collection and are worth heavy consideration when shopping around.

Other things like the capacity, color, weight, and aesthetic are also important as they’re what define your collection more than anything. A good binder can still feel bland if it’s a basic black with nothing interesting. Even the worst Magic art would help separate your binder from math, science and psychology binders, so always make sure to check if the product you’re considering offers options that you really want. It isn’t usually that hard to find different sizes of binders from the same manufacturer. Some sellers don’t offer that many color options while others do.

Do You Need A Binder?

Well, no. You technically never need a binder. I’ve had cards that have never seen a sleeve or binder. They’ve just been carefully packed away and they’re still in great condition. But finding cards when you’re building a deck or offering trades can be difficult if that’s what you do with all of your cards. A binder is strongly recommended for the cards you want to trade and expensive cards that you want to keep in pristine condition.

What to Avoid

Worst Fears - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Worst Fears | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Cheap binders are as plentiful, if not more so, than good binders. They damage pretty easily with scratches showing up after just a few days of use and the rings usually bend pretty easily or the spine might start to fall apart.

I used to use an office binder with pages I bought to fill it. The pages helped more than the binder did since the binder started falling apart after just a month. So unless it’s a high-quality binder, I’d avoid any DIY solutions. Always keep in mind that a cheap binder with poor design and quality can leave your cards susceptible to the same damages that they’d get just lying around.

Types of Binders

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a fair number of binders on the market, and not all of them are the same style. Different binders have different uses, and different players use different types in different ways. It’s all just very different.

For example, I like to use my 9-pocket binder to store expensive and tradable cards. Some players use the Dragon Shield Codex 2- or 4-pocket binders to bring popular trades to their LGS for events. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Looking for a trade binder specifically? You’re probably trying to grab a Dragon Shield Codex of some sort with either 4 or 9 pockets. If you need something to store bulk for decks you plan to build or playsets you like to have on hand, you might be more inclined to search for an Ultra-Pro Deckbuilder.

The “Cadillac” of MTG Binders

Vault X Premium Exo-Tec 12 Pocket Binder

The winner of the category for highest quality binder on the market is none other than Vault X Premium Exo-Tec 12 Pocket Binder. It offers the largest capacity with high-quality binder pages that have 12 pockets on each side. This binder is one of the best (if not the best) options to protect your cards.

And, hey, if you’re not looking for something quite that big but want the highest quality around, Vault X sells smaller sizes, down to 9, and even just 4 pockets.

Sale
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
  • VAULT X PREMIUM EXO-TEC BINDER WITH ZIP FASTENING - Our flagship premium quality zip-up trading card binder has padded, extra rigid front and rear covers made from water-resistant and non-slip textured Exo-Tec material, boasting 20 double-sided pages with 4, 9 or 12 pockets per side for 160, 360 or 480 card arrangements.
  • PROTECT & PRESERVE - With a lightweight padded layer built into each double-sided page your cards will be cushioned from scrapes, dings and bends keeping them in mint condition. Ideal for multiple uses from archival storage to portable trade binder.
  • SAFE & SECURE - Precision stitched side loading pockets keep your cards securely in place and prevent spills while a high-quality zip on 3 sides keeps your Vault X trading card folder closed and drastically reduces ingress of dust or humidity moisture
  • PERFECT DESIGN - All Vault X Binders and Card Protector Sleeves are designed to fit the majority of Board Game, Collectible and Trading Cards for Games as well as many Sports Cards. If in doubt, send us a mail to check compatibility!
  • DIMENSIONS - Card Pocket: 6.8cm x 9.7cm (2.7” x 3.8”) - Folder Sizes: 4-slot: 19cm x 24.5cm (10.2in x 13.8in), 9-slot: 26cm x 35cm (10.2” x 13.8”), 12-slot: 33 x 35cm (13” x 13.8”). Made from archival-safe, acid-free non-PVC material.

Best Budget Binder

Dex Protection Zip Binder

If you’re looking for a budget binder for your collection, look no further than the Dex Protection Zip Binders. These feel great and have a sturdy cover and interior. They also come in a variety of colors. You can pick from sizes ranging from 4 to 12 pockets per page with great capacity.

The Zip binders unfortunately suffer from pages not sitting flat when the binder is completely filled with cards. This can cause damage to the cards near the spine in the form of bends and creases in some cases, so make sure to keep on eye on these. Even with this flaw, this is a solid binder while on a budget.

Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
  • 160 CARD STORAGE – The Dex Protection Card Binder can hold up to 160 cards, single or double sleeved, without breaking a sweat. Store your entire collection with Dex Protection.
  • INCLUDES 20 CARD PAGES – The Card Binder comes with 20 side loading, acid, and PVC free, 4 grid card pages. Before and after these card pages are fly leaf layers for added protection.
  • VELVET INTERIOR – The interior of this Card Binder is velvet lined for added luxury and a sophisticated, clean style.
  • PADDED OUTER PORTFOLIO – The exterior of the Card Binder is a padded portfolio feel. Finished with our Saffiano style, giving this binder a luxurious textured feel while also being durable and standing up to the demands of daily play.
  • DURABLE & DEPENDABLE – With the sturdy Saffiano exterior, the Card Binder needed a worthy band closure that could match its strength. Dex Protection completed the Card Binder 4 by using a triple reinforced band closure – built to repel the strongest scrying spells you enemies can muster.

Best 12-Pocket Binder

Dragon Shield 12 pocket

Like I said, Dragon Shield wins it all. If you’re looking for a couple of other options or maybe you had a bad experience with Dragon Shield in the past, check out the Ultra Pro Deck Builder’s Premium PRO-Binder. This binder features 4-column storage and the pages sit flat.

While its sturdy cover doesn’t boast the best aesthetic, it’s perfect for home collections that don’t travel much. It only comes in black and just the one size, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as a fantastic pick.

Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
  • Collectable folder for trading cards
  • Premium Collection folder
  • For your your precious cards
  • Model number: 84722

Best 9-Pocket Binder

Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket Zipfolio

Here sits our winner of the 9-pocket binders: the Ultimate Guard Zipfolio. It has a sturdy XenoSkin cover to avoid most bends and a zipper to keep everything in place during travel in the event that some cards might slip out of the pages. Its edges are even rounded which means it can easily be slipped into bags and other luggage to take on the go.

The only negative that I can think of would be that, while the cover is solid, it’s not completely solid. It can bend a little bit, but you’d really have to try to make it happen. Overall I wouldn’t worry about too much as long as you’re careful with it.

Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
  • Side-Loading Pockets for Easy Access: The Ultimate Guard Zipfolio is ingeniously designed with side-loading pockets, offering an incredibly convenient way to access your cards. No more struggling to slide cards in from the top; simply insert and remove them from the side with ease. This user-friendly feature ensures that your cards remain easily accessible, whether you're organizing your collection or preparing for gameplay.
  • Acid-Free and PVC-Free: Ultimate Guard card sleeves are crafted with premium materials that are completely acid-free and contain no PVC. This ensures that your valuable trading cards are protected from harmful chemicals that can cause deterioration over time, preserving their condition for years to come.
  • Designed for Double-Sleeved Cards: Ultimate Guard Zipfolio is engineered to comfortably accommodate double-sleeved cards. This feature is especially valuable for those who prioritize card protection and preservation. It ensures that your valuable cards remain in pristine condition, even when double-sleeved for added security.
  • With Zipper Closure: Ultimate Guard Zipfolio features a secure zipper closure mechanism. This zipper provides additional protection for your cards, preventing them from accidentally falling out or getting damaged during transport or storage. It adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind, knowing that your collection is safe and well-contained.
  • Resistant XenoSkin Material: Crafted from XenoSkin material, the Zipfolio is not only visually appealing but also highly durable. It provides superior protection against wear and tear, ensuring that your valuable cards remain in pristine condition over time. Count on the Zipfolio to safeguard your collection with its resilient construction.

Best 4-Pocket Binder

Vault X 4 pocket binder

In this spot, I want to recommend a brand I myself am becoming fond of: VaultX. Specifically their zipper binders. I’m using a 9-pocket binder but I wholly recommend the 4-pocket version based on its performance. It’s less susceptible to the issues that 9- and 12-pocket binders can have. It also has a sturdy cover and a zipper which make me feel that much better about my higher-end trades and collections being stored in these. And they come in some pretty sweet colors!

Sale
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder - 4 Pocket Trading Card Album Folder - 160 Side Loading Pocket Binder for TCG (Black)
  • VAULT X PREMIUM EXO-TEC BINDER WITH ZIP FASTENING - Our flagship premium quality zip-up trading card binder has padded, extra rigid front and rear covers made from water-resistant and non-slip textured Exo-Tec material, boasting 20 double-sided pages with 4, 9 or 12 pockets per side for 160, 360 or 480 card arrangements.
  • PROTECT & PRESERVE - With a lightweight padded layer built into each double-sided page your cards will be cushioned from scrapes, dings and bends keeping them in mint condition. Ideal for multiple uses from archival storage to portable trade binder.
  • SAFE & SECURE - Precision stitched side loading pockets keep your cards securely in place and prevent spills while a high-quality zip on 3 sides keeps your Vault X trading card folder closed and drastically reduces ingress of dust or humidity moisture
  • PERFECT DESIGN - All Vault X Binders and Card Protector Sleeves are designed to fit the majority of Board Game, Collectible and Trading Cards for Games as well as many Sports Cards. If in doubt, send us a mail to check compatibility!
  • DIMENSIONS - Card Pocket: 6.8cm x 9.7cm (2.7” x 3.8”) - Folder Sizes: 4-slot: 19cm x 24.5cm (10.2in x 13.8in), 9-slot: 26cm x 35cm (10.2” x 13.8”), 12-slot: 33 x 35cm (13” x 13.8”). Made from archival-safe, acid-free non-PVC material.

Best Binder Pages

Dragon Shield Binder Pages

Here I want to recommend Dragon Shield binder pages. I honestly can’t find anything better than Dragon Shields. If you’re using pages and have the ability to spend the money, you should definitely get these. They offer the best that’s out there with their unique and durable material to protect your most precious cards.

Arcane Tinmen AT-10301 Portfolio: Dragon Shield 18-Pocket Collectors Black (50)
  • IDEAL DESIGN - 18 sideloaded card pockets per page
  • FLEXIBLE - Our pocket pages are made with a special technique in which the clear polypropylene is folded around the right edge of the page, making these pages uniquely soft to touch and pleasant to flip through
  • ULTRA CLEAR POCKETS - These pages feature ultra clear pockets on a black textured backing
  • CONSISTENCY AND QUALITY - The professor's #1 pick for storing sleeved cards
  • DAMAGE RESISTANT - Protects gaming cards against wear and tear

Custom Binders

Inked Gaming custom binder

While not many options exist when it comes to custom binders, Inked Gaming is one of the best out there for customizing your showcase binders. Your own image and design get slapped onto showcase binders that sport 9-pocket pages to show off and keep your favorite cardboard safe. It’s definitely a product I’m looking forward to trying out myself, especially if I can find Inked Gaming stuff at a discount!

Deciding What to Store in Your Binder

Blightsteel Colossus MTG card art by Chris Rahn

Blightsteel Colossus | Illustration by Chris Rahn

This is more of your own choice than anything else. Want to store altered cards or commons whose artwork you like? Go for it. Down to build a serious collection that long-time Legacy players will be jealous of? Absolutely.

If it’s what to put in what type of binder, the best I can do is recommend storing playsets in either 4-column or 4-pocket binders for the sake of organization. After that, I’d say your collection of expensive cards and trades are well fit for 9-pocket binders or even 4-pocket ones for easy travel.

Maybe you’ll have a binder for each color, or maybe you have a small binder for some of the pricier uncommons in circulation. At the end of the day, it’s your collection and you get to decide what goes where. If these suggestions help out then that’s awesome all the same!

A Large Collection of Information (And Cards!)

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales MTG card art by Chase Stone

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales | Illustration by Chase Stone

All right. We’ve finally reached the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this rundown of the variety available for card binders. Are there any brands you specifically enjoy? Anything, you’d put up there as a usurper to Dragon Shield’s Codex?

With price in mind against the Card Codex’ I definitely recommend Ultimate Guard Zipfolio or VaultX brand binders. They aren’t the cheapest things on the market, but they’re super solid choices for a sensible price relative to the product offered. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to start up a discussion in the comments.

Top Pick
Best Overall
Highest Quality
Best Budget Option
Best 12-Pocket
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$33.90
$29.99
$21.53
Price not available
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
-
-
Top Pick
Best Overall
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
Ultimate Guard Zipfolio 360 – 18 Pocket Xenoskin Red
$33.90
Amazon Prime
Highest Quality
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
Vault X Premium Exo-Tec Zip Binder 12 Pocket, 20 Double-Sided Pages for 480 Side-Loading Slots for Board, Collectible or Trading Card Game Protective Folder Album (Black)
$29.99
Amazon Prime
Best Budget Option
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Dex Protection Card Binder 4 | Stores 160 Gaming Cards | Includes 20 Side Loading Card Pages | 4 Card Page Format | BandClosure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
$21.53
-
Best 12-Pocket
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Price not available
-

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