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How to Scan Trading Cards: The Ultimate Guide

Scanner Guide

How to Scan Trading Cards: The Ultimate Guide

High-quality digital images let you sort and share your collection while keeping your original cards preserved.

Collecting trading cards is an enjoyable and valuable hobby for millions of people around the world. Some may chase the high of striking it rich by finding a rare, desirable card; others just want a physical representation of something they love. Whatever your reason for collecting, the last thing you want to do is cause unnecessary wear and tear while handling your trading cards.

Digitizing your collection provides an easy way to view, organize, and share your physical cards while keeping them pristine. Read on to learn why you should scan trading cards, what to look for in a scanner, and the best methods for scanning cards without damaging them.

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Why you should scan trading cards

Whether you’re new to the hobby or have been collecting cards for years, digitization is a great way to keep tabs on your collection without worrying about unnecessarily damaging it. Here are just a few reasons why scanning trading cards is worth it.

    Benefits of digitization

  • Avoid damaging your valuable cards: Physical sports and trading cards are delicate and damage easily. Each time you handle one, there’s a chance you could diminish its value. Once digitized, you can admire your collection without worry.
  • Ease of organization: Serious collectors know that organizing thousands of cards is a hassle. With a digital collection, you can easily group cards by type, player, year, or other categories.
  • Determine the value of your collection: Getting a detailed scan of your highest-value cards allows you to examine them up close and directly compare them to cards of similar quality listed on the internet.

How to use your digital trading card scans

Accurately represent your assets

High-quality digital scans provide the best representation of your collection, ensuring you get the most money for the rarest cards in your collection.

Share photos on social media

300 dpi scans are perfect for sharing with friends or other collectors so they can read the card’s stats and admire the fine detail of its quality.

Build more competitive decks

For trading card games like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering, flipping through your collection to build a deck can be laborious and time-consuming. Digitized cards can be easier to search, tag, and group to find the best combinations for competitive play.

Read more about the importance of scanning sports and trading cards in Why Scanning Sports Cards Is the Key to Digitizing Your Collection.


Did You Know? The ScanSnap SV600 provides easy, contactless scans of your trading card collection. Scan multiple cards at once in under three seconds without damaging them.

Picking out a scanner for trading cards

There’s more to consider when it comes to purchasing a digital scanner than cost, especially if you want to keep your trading cards in mint condition. These features will ensure you get the best possible image while helping keep your card collection undamaged — here are a few tips to get you started.

    Types of scanners

  • Flatbed scanners feature a glass bed with a covered lid. Scanning cards with a flatbed is slower, but you can scan multiple cards simultaneously.
  • Contactless scanners operate similarly to flatbed scanners but use an overhead scanning tool to digitize cards laid out below.
  • Automated document feeder (ADF) scanners can speed up scanning speeds thanks to a series of rollers. However, avoid using non-straight path scanners to prevent bending and possibly damaging your collection.

Three features to look for in a scanner for trading cards

Limited contact

The last thing you want your scanner to do is damage your cards. Contactless scanners are optimal, though scanners equipped with business or ID card scanning features will also work as they avoid bends or folds.

High-resolution imaging

Look for scanners that capture images of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi). This resolution perfectly balances image quality and file size and is best for sharing your card collection online.

Scanning software

Some scanners also come bundled with software that can help you organize and share your scanned cards through automation.

Read more about how to pick out a quality scanner that won’t damage your collection in 5 Features to Look for When Buying a Trading Card Scanner.  


Did You Know? The manual, front-feeding ScanSnap iX1300 uses return-path scanning technology to capture fast, double-sided scans of your trading card collection.

How to scan trading cards

Trading cards are more delicate than other objects you might have scanned before — a single blemish can drastically impact their value. The following will ensure your cards look sharp before and after you scan them.

    Scanning tips:

  • For flatbed/overhead scanners: While not necessary, you can remove cards from their plastic sleeves to get higher-quality, more accurate scans. If scanning multiple cards at a time, leave a quarter-inch gap between them.
  • ADF scanners: Avoid non-straight path scanners. A straight path ensures the cards pass through without bending. Keep cards sleeved for maximum protection.

Preparing your cards for scanning

Avoid touching cards

Use nitrile gloves when handling older, more delicate, or expensive cards to avoid transferring fingerprints and oils.

Contactless cleaning

Use compressed air to clean the dust off your cards. If you need to brush off dirt and other stubborn debris, gently use a microfiber cloth to brush it away — paper towels and other fabrics can leave unwanted scratches behind.


Sleeve cards for storage

Store cards in thin plastic sleeves and slot them into thicker card savers for long-term protection.

Read more about proper methods for digitizing cards with flatbed and ADF scanners in How to Scan Trading Cards: Everything Collectors Need to Know or How to Properly Scan Pokemon Cards in 2023.


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

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy-to-use, one-touch ScanSnap scanners and our professional grade fi Series of scanners.

The ScanSnap SV600’s overhead LED makes digitizing your trading card collection more manageable than ever. No trays or conveyor belts are necessary — simply lay your cards out on the included document scanning mat and let the SV600 do the rest. Capture multiple cards in a single scan, and the SV600 will automatically crop, rotate, and separate images into separate files, enabling you to make quick work of your entire collection.

The fi-8250 and fi-8170 are also suitable options for collectors looking to digitize. Both come equipped with blazing-fast ADF — scanning 50-70 pages per minute — and high-quality image data powered by PFU Clear Image Capture. The fi-8250 boasts the added flexibility of a flatbed scanner, allowing for gentler scanning of Pokemon and other TCG cards. Visit our trading card page to learn more about how to scan trading cards. 


Note: Information and external links are provided for your convenience and for educational purposes only. PFU America, Inc. makes no representations about the contents, features, or specifications on such third-party sites, software, and/or offerings (collectively “Third-Party Offerings”) and shall not be responsible for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of such Third-Party Offerings.

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