Are Top Loaders Bad or Harmful for Cards?

are top loaders bad or harmful for cards

Contrary to popular belief, toploaders do not damage cards. They are actually some of the best protection that you can get for trading cards…assuming that you use them properly.

You can easily have toploaders holding cards for decades and, assuming that the card is stored out of direct sunlight, it will look just as brilliant as the day that it went in.

However, to get the most out of your toploaders you’re going to have to understand the proper way to use them. This includes placing cards in sleeves before the toploader, reusing toploaders, and the best time to use a toploader.

Properly Using a Toploader

The one thing that you really, really need to do when you are using toploaders, however, is to sleeve up the trading card first. This is because there may be dust inside of the toploader. If you put the card in unsleeved, then this dust can scratch against the surface of the card. This will cause damage.

The one time that you really shouldn’t be using top loaders is if the card is being moved around a lot i.e. if you are mailing it out. This is because cards inside of toploaders bounce around a lot more than if you sent the card out in a card saver.

As a result, a card could end up having the sides damaged when it is in a toploader. However, this isn’t going to be an issue if the card is stationary at all times. 

It is worth noting that there is a tiny, tiny chance that cheaper toploaders can damage your cards. This is because they may have been made from less than brilliant materials.

However, even something like this should be incredibly rare. If you want some suggestions on some toploaders that you should be using, then skip to the end of this page.

How Do You Get a Card Into a Top Loader?

Putting a card into a toploader is a whole lot easier than getting it out.

In most cases, the card will just slide in through the top. You do not have to do anything special.

There may be a small amount of resistance as you try to slide the card in, but this is fine. The whole idea of a card protector is to actually protect the cards. If there is no resistance, this means that the card will just bounce around once it is inside of the toploader and that will cause damage to the sides of the card.

Readjusting the Card

You may have to readjust the card as you are sliding it in. It should be a snug fit, this means that if the card is moved too far to one side, the edges of the card may hit the side of the toploader. This, of course, is going to end up causing a little bit of damage.

As we said before, you should put your card into a decent sleeve, or at least a penny sleeve, before you place the card into a top loader. It will ensure that your card is not damaged if any dust is stuck inside of the toploader.

How Do You Get a Card Out of a Top Loader?

This is where you may run into a few issues.

You see, in order to protect the card, the top loader needs to be tight around the card. It won’t be as tight as a card saver, but it should still be quite a snug fit. When something is a snug fit around a trading card, it can be tough to remove.

Your only real option here is to gently squeeze the sides of the toploader. By gently, we really do mean gently. This should provide the tiniest of openings at the top of the toploader. This will allow you to slide your fingers in and grab the card.

Do not, under any circumstances, use a tool to pull the card out of the toploader. This is going to damage the card. We have seen some people use tweezers to pull expensive cards out of the toploader. Guess what? Not once has this ever ended well. Slow and steady wins the race here!

Ideally, once a card is in a toploader, you will never remove it from the toploader. It is going to save a whole lot of issues later on, particularly if you believe the card could be well-graded. Removing it from the toploader incorrectly could knock down the potential PSA score by 0.5-1 points.

This could be hundreds of dollars on certain cards. However, one would hope you were not storing these cards in toploaders in the first place!

What Are the Best Toploaders on the Market?

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There are a lot of companies that produce toploaders out there. However, there are only two brands that we would ever recommend to people. These are BCW and Ultra-Pro.

We recommend using these top loaders by Ultra PRO. They are high quality, long lasting, and will keep your card clean while preventing damage. It comes with a total of 100 toploaders which is a decent amount depending on the amount of cards you need to protect.

We know that some people will turn their nose up at the price of these two brands. However, you have to remember that the main reason people are using toploaders will be to preserve the value of their most expensive trading cards.

This means that it is worth spending upwards of $1 for a toploader. After all, spending $1 could potentially earn you $100s if you do eventually sell that card on.

Both BCW and Ultra-Pro offer toploaders in a variety of different thicknesses. There are some that will be a thick piece of immovable plastic, while others will be far thinner than that. Obviously, the better the quality of your card, the thicker you will want that toploader to be. 

Final Thoughts

Some people say that toploaders can damage trading cards. Always purchase your toploaders new. Try to not reuse toploaders too.

This is because older toploaders could potentially have dust inside which are likely to scratch your card. They also tend to be stretched out a little bit. This means that your card will be bouncing around a lot more inside of the toploader.

When used properly, top loaders are one of the best ways to protect your most valuable and prized cards in your collection.

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