Last updated on September 15, 2021

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 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive ‘Lavom’
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive 'Lavom'
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$36.87
$39.06
$28.42
$49.95
Top Pick
Best Overall
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
$36.87
Highest Quality
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive ‘Lavom’
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive 'Lavom'
$39.06
Best Budget Option
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
$28.42
Best 12-Pocket
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$49.95

A Quick Recommendation

Ultimate Guard 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 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 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
  • XenoSkin Innovative material with anti-slip texture
  • Holds 360 cards in sleeves; Great space for traveling and to have a wide selection of cards at tournaments
  • 20 integrated 9-pocket-pages; Made of extra clear and archival safe polypropylene; Completely free of PVC and acidic materials
  • Elastic closure band; Keeps your FlexXfolio securely locked and holds the pages together
  • Side-loading pocket design; Prevents your cards from falling out of your FlexXfolio when carrying it around

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, 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

Card Codex Zipster XL

The winner of the category for highest quality binder on the market is none other than Dragon Shield’s Card Codex Zipster XL. 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, Dragon Shield sells smaller sizes, down to 9 and even just 4 pockets. I also want to mention that the Dragon Shield binders in smaller sizes would qualify as the best options in their respective categories (aside from budget), so I’ll spare the redundancy and pick the next best options in the coming picks.

Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive ‘Lavom’
  • Ultra-clear polypropylene pockets on a black textured backing.
  • Ultra-clear polypropylene pockets on a black textured backing.
  • Hidden acrylic sheet inside the covers makes keeps portfolios flexible, yet difficult to damage.

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 keep on eye on these. Even with this flaw, this is a solid binder while on a budget.

Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
  • 160 CARD STORAGE – The Dex Protection Zipper Binder can hold up to 360 cards, single or double sleeved, without breaking a sweat. Store your entire collection with Dex Protection.
  • INCLUDES 20 CARD PAGES – The Zipper 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 Zipper Binder is velvet lined for added luxury and a sophisticated, clean style.
  • PADDED OUTER PORTFOLIO – The exterior of the Zipper Binder is a padded portfolio feel. Finished with our Saffiano style, giving this binder w luxurious textured feel while also being durable and standing up to the demands of daily play.
  • DURABLE & DEPENDABLE – With the sturdy Saffiano padded exterior, the Zipper Binder needed a worthy zipper closure that could match its strength. Dex Protection completed the Zipper Binder 9 by using a heavy gauge zipper – 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 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 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
  • XenoSkin Innovative material with anti-slip texture
  • Holds 360 cards in sleeves; Great space for traveling and to have a wide selection of cards at tournaments
  • 20 integrated 9-pocket-pages; Made of extra clear and archival safe polypropylene; Completely free of PVC and acidic materials
  • Elastic closure band; Keeps your FlexXfolio securely locked and holds the pages together
  • Side-loading pocket design; Prevents your cards from falling out of your FlexXfolio when carrying it around

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!

Vault X Premium eXo-Tec Zip Binder – 4 Pocket Trading Card Album Folder – 160 Side Loading Pocket Binder for TCG
  • 4 pocket per page high quality trading card binder. 20 pages holding 160 cards. Made from archival-safe, acid-free non-PVC material. 12 Month Warranty from date of purchase.
  • PROTECT – With a lightweight padded layer built into each page the Vault X trading card holder protects your cards from scrapes and dings keeping them in mint condition.
  • SECURE – Side loading pockets designed to keep your cards securely in place. Premium quality zip keeps the Vault X trading card folder closed. No more card spills.
  • PERFECT DESIGN – The Vault X binder is designed to fit a variety of cards. Compatible with Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, YuGiOh!, Star Wars X-Wing, Force Of Will, Cardfight Vanguard, WoW, Panini XL & Match Attax Football Cards along with many more. Compatible with all standard card protector sleeves, including Vault X Card Sleeves.
  • SIZE – Inner Pocket Size: 2.7in x 3.8in – Folder Size: 7.5in x 9.6in

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.

Sale
Arcane Tinman AT-10301 Portfolio: Dragon Shield 18-Pocket Collectors Black (50)
  • Dragon Shield 18-pocket pages has rounded corners and soft-touch edges that eliminates sharp edges for good
  • The obvious choice for your home collection that fits perfect with you your Slipcase Binders!
  • Side loading, Made for standard size cards, Black backed, clear front and Fits all binders
  • 50 tough binder pages per pack

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 gets 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!

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 commons whose artwork you like? Go for it. Down to build a serious collection that long-time 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 start up a discussion in the comments.

Top Pick
Best Overall
Highest Quality
Best Budget Option
Best 12-Pocket
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive ‘Lavom’
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive 'Lavom'
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$36.87
$39.06
$28.42
$49.95
Top Pick
Best Overall
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
Ultimate Guard 9 Pocket XenoSkin Zipfolio, Black
$36.87
Highest Quality
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive ‘Lavom’
Card Codex Zipster Binder: XL Olive 'Lavom'
$39.06
Best Budget Option
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
Dex Protection Padded Zipper Binder 4 | 160 Card Storage Capacity | 20 Side Loading Paged Included 4 Card Layout | Zipper Closure | Smooth Matte Padded Finish | Velvet Lined Interior
$28.42
Best 12-Pocket
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
Ultra Pro 84722 Deck Builders Premium PRO-Binder-Black
$49.95

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