How To Safely Ship Sports Cards In The Mail

As most of us know by now, the condition of a collectible card has a big impact on its value

The slightest scuff to the corner of a well centered card can be the difference between a PSA 10 and a PSA 9 which in a lot of cases equals the difference of thousands of dollars!

It doesn’t take a lot to damage a collectible card or (soccer) sticker, so when it comes to shipping them for grading or selling we need to make sure we’re packaging them properly and safely.

Even if you’re not sending the card through the mail then it’s worth following the first 3 steps below to protect your sports card while storing them.

The following steps are a cost-effective way to make sure your collectible cards are shipped safely.

What You’ll Need To Package Cards

Step 1

If you haven’t already, carefully put your sports or trading cards into a card sleeve (sometimes known as a penny sleeve) before doing anything else. 

When doing a box break or pack opening, most collectors will place a card into a sleeve straight away to preserve its mint condition

It’ll stop any direct handling of the card which could cause scratches or scuffs… it basically gives a first layer of surface protection for your card.

A Landon Donovan soccer card inside a card sleeve

Step 2

Now it’s best to apply a sticky index tab to the outside of the card sleeve.

This makes it super easy to slide the card sleeve containing your sports card out of its toploader (which will be the next step).

Not having a sticky tab means trying to open the toploader and pull the card sleeve out directly, which can bend or cause damage to the card if not done right.

A Landon Donovan soccer card inside a card sleeve with an index tag

Step 3

Now that you have your card protected by the card sleeve, and the index tab stuck on for easy access, it’s time to give the card an extra layer of protection.

This one comes down to a bit of personal preference… you have the option of either a toploader or a semi-rigid cardholder.

A Landon Donovan soccer card inside a card sleeve and toploader

Toploader Or Semi-Rigid Cardholder?

To be honest, there isn’t a huge difference between them.

A toploader is probably the safer option – they are more rigid and therefore your sports card is less likely to bend or crease.

A semi-rigid cardholder takes up less room because they are thinner, so you can save space and stack more cards. They still give the card extra protection but there’s a small chance of the card bending if the package isn’t handled correctly.

I personally go with a toploader, unless i’m sending a card off to be graded – grading companies, like PSA, prefer for submissions to be sent in a semi-rigid cardholder… it can also lower the price of a submission so that’s what I go with.

It’s all down to your own risk tolerance – the safest bet is to go with the toploader but there are pros to using either.

Step 4

An extra step that I take when shipping any collectible card is to then place it into a clear poly bag.

This’ll help stop any sliding or moving during the mailing process… it’s not an essential step, I just like making sure the card is as protected as possible. 

Step 5

The final step of the packaging process before your card is ready to be shipped safely.

Place the card, which by now is already in a card sleeve (with sticky index tab applied), a toploader and a clear poly bag, inside a bubble mailer and seal it up.

Brown bubble mailer

How To Ship Multiple Sports Cards

When sending multiple cards through the mail, let’s say 5-10, I would recommend putting the cards into penny sleeves and toploaders. I would then stack the toploaders between 2 pieces of cardboard and keep that secured using rubber bands – make sure the rubber bands are in contact with the pieces of cardboard and not the toploaders with the cards inside.

If the stack of cards becomes too big to use a bubble mailer, use a small box and make sure any free space is filled with bubble wrap so the cards can’t move around when being shipped.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, taking the necessary steps to protect valuable sports cards, either when storing them or shipping them, will help preserve their condition which makes them more valuable.

The last point I would like to make is the importance of making sure you send your package with signature confirmation from the recipient – this leaves a paper trail and avoids the potential for your sports cards to be left unattended on a doorstep, for example.