5 Features to Look for When Buying a Trading Card Scanner

How to find a scanner that can digitize your collection without damaging rare cards.

After a decades-long decline in popularity, collectible trading cards are bigger than ever. Whether you’re a longtime fan or you’ve just torn open your very first card pack, one of the best things you can do to preserve your trading card collection is digitize it. Trading cards are notoriously fragile, and turning to a digital scan for day-to-day reference is a great way to preserve the original and protect a precious collection. This article covers some features you should consider when shopping for a trading card scanner.

Digitizing your trading card collection is a great way to organize and share it while preserving your most valuable cards. Discover everything you need to know in our guide.

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What are the benefits of scanning trading cards?

There are a number of reasons to scan trading cards. For one, you may want to sell the cards at some point, and having a clear image of the card’s condition makes it easier to get a fair price for your prized possession. If you trade cards often or own a small hobby business, scanning cards is particularly helpful because it allows you to take stock of your inventory quickly and list it online. As a bonus, you get to retain a digital catalog of your collection for your records, so you always know which cards you’ve sold, traded, or retained.

On the other hand, you may choose to hold on to your cards, but still want to have a “just-in-case” digital copy of any valuable pieces. If your collection is especially valuable, you may want to send the cards to a secure location, such as a bank safe. Scanning your collection before safely stowing it away allows you to review it at your convenience without a trip to the storage facility.

While there are no specialized trading card scanners, some are definitely better for the job than others. Technically, you can use a multi-purpose scanner, or even a scanner printer to scan your trading cards. If you only have a few cards, buying an entirely new device probably doesn’t make sense. However, if you’re a serious collector, and especially if you’re looking to regularly sell or trade cards, you may want to consider investing in a dedicated photo scanner to get the highest-quality image.

Here are some other considerations to help you find the best scanner for trading cards.

5 features to look for when shopping for a trading card scanner

Gentle or contactless scanning

Damaging a rare card is every collector’s nightmare. That’s why choosing a scanner that will handle your cards gently is essential. Scanning trading cards using an auto document feeder (ADF) is fast, but for older, thicker or more delicate cards consider a contactless scanner or flatbed scanner. If you’re concerned about a scanning project taking too long, look for contactless scanners capable of capturing multiple images at once.

Did You Know?:With 40 million cards in stock, Burbank Sportscards conducts 80% of their sales online using crisp and clear scanned images captured by one of our high-performing desktop scanners. Watch the customer story here.

High-resolution imaging

Look for scanners capable of capturing images at 300 dots per inch (DPI) or above. The higher the DPI, the sharper the resolution of the image will be when it appears on the screen. If you’re planning to sell a card, having a clear image that shows every detail can make an enormous difference in whether or not buyers are interested.

Double-sided scanning

If you’re using an ADF scanner and have a vast trading card collection, consider choosing a device with double-sided scanning to save time. Having to flip over cards for a secondary scan can get tedious quickly when you have boxes of cards to go through.

Intelligent paper protection

For a trading card collector, a paper jam means that one of your cards has been scrunched up, bent, or otherwise irreparably damaged, making it lose its value. Look for scanners that provide paper jam protection and note specifically that they can scan thicker paper materials, like cards.

Did You Know?:The fi-8270 has both a flatbed and a sheet feeder, which gives you the option to scan trading cards in bulk or a few at a time (it works great for PSA slabs!). Watch this video to see how it works.

Robust scanning software

Once you’ve scanned your trading cards, you’ll want to be able to manage the digital copies, make notes on the files, and easily share and upload them to a seller’s marketplace or to cloud storage. Having a scanner that comes with a software solution that allows you to save trading cards as editable documents on your computer can make organizing your digital collection much more seamless. Additionally, there is specialized trading card software available to make selling cards easier. Card Dealer Pro or Kronzio.

Our recommendations: fi-8170, fi-8250 and ScanSnap SV600

Those in the market for a high-speed trading card scanner have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing, and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi Series of scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi Series scanners are capable of processing tens of thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.

One such example is the fi-8170 which is capable of scanning up to 70 trading cards per minute. Its automatic document feeder (ADF) operates on innovative proprietary technology that prevents paper jams. If you are looking for an ADF scanner with a flatbed for delicate cards, we suggest the fi-8250. For those who prefer a contactless solution, the ScanSnap SV600 can capture multiple cards at once while ensuring that these fragile, valuable collectibles stay in top condition. Learn more about trading card management and shop the rest of our production scanner line.