Last updated on January 21, 2022
Serra Angel | Illustrated by Donato Giancola
The more I play Magic, the more I realize that I’m being smothered by an avalanche of cardboard. Fancy cardboard, but cardboard nonetheless. I mention this not to draw ire or feelings that I’m poking fun at the hobby we all share (there will be better times for that), but rather to point out that these items we all enjoy are a couple steps above paper, and paper is fragile.
You need to protect your cards if you want to keep them long term. For play, this means playmats and sleeves. But what about when the cards aren’t in our decks? Surely they can still degrade or get damaged if I just left them out on my bedside table like some ironically placed AOL CD used as a coaster.
Navigating the world of storage can be daunting. There are a ton of different items and ways to store your MTG cards out there. I know. I’ve weighed them. There are a lot.
I’ve been researching and investigating storage solutions for my own collection and found myself overwhelmed with the possibilities, both because of the work involved and the price of some of them. Well, I’m going to talk about what you need to consider when buying or creating card storage, and my recommendations to help protect these oddly pretty and expensive pieces of paper.
The Best Overall
Before I get to the big list and talk you through every point of this and that, I know what you want. Fine, you have the peak of the bell curve first: .
Yep. That’s it. That simple. All the products out there in the world and I’m recommending that you wrap your precious cardboard up in more cardboard. For the everyman, sometimes the simplest solution is the best. I like the 800-count variety myself. All that said, if you want to know more and how I came to this decision, please read on.
Figuring Out Your MTG Storage Needs
Archdemon of Paliano | Illustrated by Evan Shipard
What storage do you need for MTG? Well, this greatly depends on the quality and quantity of your collection. Are we talking about less than 1,000 cards? Between 1,000 and 5,000? Greater than that, like card shop levels?
On the quality spectrum, you may someone who’s looking to store your bulk, the commons and uncommons from past sets that might be useful to build a deck someday (I’m in this category) or maybe you’re a collector who needs to store your very expensive cards safely, but still within reach and organized.
Wherever you fall on either spectrum, you should ask yourself some key questions:
- How much am I willing to spend?
- How much room am I willing to dedicate to this?
- How much time am I willing to dedicate to this?
- How much protection to I feasibly need for this?
The answers to these will help guide you more. Beginners to the game really don’t need much space at all. But you’re going to need to carve out part of a closet or office to store things once you’ve been in the game for a few years .
I’ll use myself as an example as I go through this, both because I know myself best but also because I’m currently going through this. I’m moving from a considerably basic storage solution to one that will be more dedicated and that I can easily expand and customize in the future.
So, for the above questions, I gave these answers:
- I want to spend as little as possible; no more than $100.
- I want it to take up just a few cubed feet in my office (for now).
- I am willing to put in some work. I can sort with the best of them, but I take Gruul’s motto to heart.
- My collection is several thousand cards (small to some, decent to others), and not worth much in the end to anyone but me and other weird collectors like myself, so basic protection is fine.
I know what my baselines for my search will be with this info. This is important since some solutions that you might want are outside of your parameters. It helps to keep yourself focused and not drift toward temptation.
Chasm Guide | Illustration by Johannes Voss
What is it that makes a good storage solution? Since price is always a constraint, I think the better question should be, “what’s a good storage solution within my budget?” There are fantastic solutions that will check all the boxes that you might be looking for but will also cause your bank to call you in concern. Speaking of those boxes, let’s talk criteria!
Looking at storage solutions, I weigh them in terms of:
- Ease of use
- Ease of locating cards
- Look and appeal
Let’s take binders as an example. They’re somewhat flimsy, can only contain as many pages as will fit on the rings but you can add as many of those pages as you like and can always buy more binders. They’re also very easy to use but it can be a chore to find specific cards and they may look terrible unless you get the expensive ones. They offer no real security, but you can find them in any office supply store and they range in price from $1 to more than $20.
I’m looking to store over 6,000 cards, not fill a trade binder, so those are out except for the choice cards that I want ready at hand for trading or to display for others but still have easy access to.
To say I went through a lot of solutions like this is an understatement. For many, it was an easy decision to just toss in the bin but for others it was a little tougher to pick.
It’s pretty easy to quickly and efficiently grade the different solutions as you research. As for bad or cheap storage solutions, some things you need to experience yourself. They tend to not have anything to protect the cards. I recommended the BCW brand of cardboard boxes for a reason.
Other companies I’ve seen in card shops use a very thin cardboard that looks like your fingers would go through just touching it. There are some plastic options that, while transparent, didn’t latch properly. While I won’t be going through each and every bit of criteria for my recommendations, know that these were what I was predominately looking at.
But that’s enough of that. Before we move on to official recommendations, let’s look at some other examples.
Fat Pack Boxes
- Durability: Fairly durable, but packaging can be cumbersome.
- Capacity: Can only store 250 cards at a maximum.
- Expandability: If sources can be found, they do sit well together.
- Ease of use: Good. You pull the top off and there are your cards.
- Ease of locating cards: Not great, but not bad either with some marked labels.
- Look and appeal: Nice art, and if I don’t have a ton of that specific set, it’s already labeled.
- Security: None to speak of.
- Accessibility: Unless you buy the fat pack/bundle, or your LGS sells the boxes, good luck!
- Price: The boxes alone are around $5 a piece, while new bundles are around $40 each
Fat pack boxes are great for a beginner but not good for long term or high-capacity storage.
Stanley 10 Compartment Organizer
- Durability: High thanks to its tough plastic exterior.
- Capacity: Able to store approximately 1,000 to 1,200 cards.
- Expandability: High since they stack very nicely on top of one another.
- Ease of use: Great, and you can pull each compartment out freely.
- Ease of locating cards: Abysmal; cards are stacked vertically on top of each other and you have to pull out the entire stack to go diving.
- Security: Better than other basic solutions as these are heavier to lug around, but it doesn’t lock.
- Accessibility: Available in most big box hardware stores.
- Price: About $16 (don’t buy it on Amazon).
Stanley organizers are great for storing decks or moving them from place to place, but having to pull out entire stacks of free cards to go looking for one hurts it a lot. The price is also a bit high for the amount of storage provided.
The “Cadillac” of MTG Storage
For this category, I’m looking for max protection and security. Make it something that can withstand the elements as well as theft. For that, we have the Mesa Safe Company Burglar and Fire Safe.
Yes, I realize that I’m recommending a safe. At the end of the day, if security and durability are your concerns and price isn’t, this is the way to go. I wouldn’t suggest throwing your bulk in here but a safe this size could easily fit more than 12 of the standard card boxes inside. It would be difficult to open and would survive most disastrous events.
- 2 story impact rating, factory tested
- U.L. Listed Group 2 Combination Lock
- 4 pre-drilled anchor holes (anchor kit included)
- Solid steel construction
Maybe this would be a good place to keep your Power 9?
Best Budget MTG Storage
It’s hard to beat the BCW card boxes. There’s a reason that card shops use them. With card dividers and a flat white front that allows for clear, concise labeling (my favorite is to put the set icon on the front), it’s difficult to find something that works better.
The counts are perfect for a playset of most sets, as well. BCW also offers plastic variants in their Collectible Card Bin and partitions, but it’s hard to beat the price and dimensions of the cardboard ones. I’d highly suggest buying these from your LGS. Not only does it help support them, but they also get them directly from a distributor so they’ll be cheaper.
Best MTG Card Boxes
For larger collections or if you’re someone who wants to maximize your space, the BCW 5k Super Monster storage boxes are king. Just like the 800-count variant, these come in 200lb-test cardboard to protect the collection from outside bangs and damage. Everything I said about the 800-count applies here, although their larger plastic offering is smaller than this.
As an added bonus: with Magic cards being thinner than other collectible sports cards, you can expect to fit closer to 6,000 cards in one of these. I strongly suggest finding a way to put these on shelves, though, as moving them around can get mighty heavy.
- 1-Box Count. Holds 5000 standard sized trading cards or 7000 collectible gaming cards
- Constructed of white corrugated paper and have a 200 lb. test strength
- Exterior Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth):19″ x 16-3/8″ x 4″
- Interior Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth): 17″ x 15-7/8″ x 3-7/8″ | Row Width: 2-7/8″
- Sold Disassembled. Video available for assemble instructions.
Best Storage Hotel: A Box for Your Boxes
This one was tough. There are lots of cube storage options available out there, so I more focused on availability and ease of use for the standard collector which gives us the Ikea KALLAX shelf unit.
Sadly the internal width is 13” so you can’t fit the 5,000-count boxes, but there’s more than enough room for several 800-count boxes in each cube. I ended up getting a 4×2 one of these for my office and it stores my MTG collection plus my record collection pretty nicely.
If you’re looking for anything larger or more specific, you’ll probably need to start looking at custom cabinets.
DIY Storage Solutions
Obviously, buying something and expecting it to work for you 100% is unlikely. Even the best recommendations may not give you the feel or space that you need. While I’m not the handiest of gentlemen, there are definitely some of you out there who are. You’re welcome to take some inspiration from others who have done some great work.
Mini Card Catalog
One reddit user built their own mini card catalog.
Vintage Style Card Storage Box
Other MTG Storage Solutions
15,000 Card Storage Box
Multiple Deck Card Box
Two-Layer Storage Box
Unusual Storage Solutions
This is where we can get into some odd, but overall understandable things to store cards in. One of the classics is library card catalogs. With everything becoming digital, it’s possible to find these at antique stores or other such places.
Taking collecting one step further is another level. A company has created an MTG sorting and pricing robot for resellers. While not a permanent storage solution (tired of that word yet?), where else am I going to talk about this thing?
Clever Impersonator | Illustrated by Slawomir Maniak
The immortal problem of storing our cards will continue to be, well, immortal. But with so many different solutions available to you, it’s hard to know where to start and even more stressful to actually come to a decision.
Don’t want to build your own custom storage solution or spend an arm and a leg? Just go with the quick and easy option I recommended above:
I hope that this one man’s journey through it has helped some of you come to your own decision! In this way, cardboard begets cardboard, which begets particle board in some strange way. BCW would love your patronage and I hope you love their boxes as well. #notsponsored
If you want to share any great solutions I missed or that you love, we welcome them in our Discord or in the comments below. Be sure to follow Draftsim on Twitter and Facebook so you know when we publish more great articles like this one. See you next time!
Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, you’ll help Draftsim continue to provide awesome free articles and apps.