Whether you’re an expert tarot reader or just a beginner, choosing the right tarot card deck is one of the most important decisions you can make.
However, with literally hundreds of different types of tarot decks to choose from, it can feel very overwhelming trying to pick the best one. They each have their own energy, mythology, artwork, and symbolism.
So where do you start? How do you choose between so many different tarot decks, especially when they all feel so similar?
In this guide, I’ll show you how to choose the perfect tarot card deck.
Table of Contents
- 1 7 Tips For Choosing The Best Tarot Card Deck
- 1.1 1. Look for a Personal Connection to the Cards
- 1.2 2. Explore the Imagery of the Cards
- 1.3 3. Check the Number of Cards in the Deck
- 1.4 4. Choose a System: Marseille, Rider Waite Smith, or Thoth Tarot Decks
- 1.5 5. Will You Use the Tarot Deck for Public or Private Readings?
- 1.6 6. Explore the Size of the Cards
- 1.7 7. Choose a Deck that Comes with a Guidebook
- 2 Final Thoughts
7 Tips For Choosing The Best Tarot Card Deck
1. Look for a Personal Connection to the Cards
If you feel personally connected to your cards, you’re more likely to be receptive to the messages you receive through them. If there’s a disconnect, you may find it difficult to receive any messages at all. Each deck has a unique energy, and you should find one that speaks to you.
You don’t need to view a deck in person to feel a connection, but if you can, hold the cards in your hands before you purchase them. Look at images of the cards online, both from the seller and any user-uploaded reviews. Some decks even have an app version, allowing you to get a better sense of whether they’re right for you.
2. Explore the Imagery of the Cards
Usually, a particular deck’s imagery will speak to you more than others. Don’t ignore this gut reaction to the art style. If the art speaks to you, that’s part of the initial connection between you and the cards.
You might find yourself drawn to specific themes, or maybe you have a preference for more simplistic, modern card styles. Either way, remember that no one style is better than another. It’s all about how the cards make you feel. Don’t overthink your reaction—trust your gut and your initial response.
3. Check the Number of Cards in the Deck
Tarot decks typically contain 78 cards. If the artist included signature cards, you might count 79 or 80. Other types of spiritual cards exist that appear similar to tarot, but they are quite different and contain fewer cards. For example, Lenormand decks usually have 36 cards, and readers use these cards for more practical life issues.
4. Choose a System: Marseille, Rider Waite Smith, or Thoth Tarot Decks
There are three different tarot card systems, and each has different traditions. You should pick the one that aligns with your experience level.
- Rider Waite Smith: When most people think of tarot decks, they think of the Rider Waite Smith system. These decks work best for beginning readers and use the traditional, illustrated cards. They’re also ideal for public readings as the imagery draws people in and holds their attention.
- Marseille: Using simplistic pip cards, this deck style is slightly more challenging to read, which makes it work well for intermediate readers. It originated in France in 1709, nearly 200 years before the first Rider Waite Smith deck was published.
- Thoth: These decks incorporate elements like Kabbalah and astrology into readings and, making them ideal for experienced readers looking to broaden their skills.
While some systems work better for different levels of readers, you can start with any deck regardless of your experience level if you feel called to a particular tradition. Keep in mind that it might take longer to feel comfortable with Marseille or Thoth decks if you’re a tarot beginner.
5. Will You Use the Tarot Deck for Public or Private Readings?
You should know whether you plan to do readings for yourself or for others, too, and understand the purpose of your new tarot deck before you buy it. Most readers find that they feel a strong personal connection to their deck and don’t like to use it for public readings.
If you plan to use this deck to read for yourself, you don’t need to consider anyone else. Go with the cards that speak to you and make you the most comfortable.
If you want to use this deck for public readings, you must consider other factors before you buy. Vibrant imagery, bold colors, and larger sizes can help others feel more connected to the cards during their readings.
Of course, since you’ll be the one interpreting the cards, you still need to feel a connection to the deck yourself. Many readers choose to have several decks on hand, so people receiving a reading can choose the one they connect with for their reading.
6. Explore the Size of the Cards
Tarot decks come with cards of many sizes, and you may find that you’re more comfortable with one particular size over the rest. As you browse different decks, pay attention to how the cards feel in your hands based on their size.
Small decks might feel more comfortable to hold and work well if you plan on carrying them with you in a small bag or purse. Larger cards, on the other hand, put a greater emphasis on artwork and can make you feel more connected to the imagery as you interpret the messages.
If you purchase a deck online and can’t hold the cards before you buy, try holding different sized cards as examples to see what you prefer.
7. Choose a Deck that Comes with a Guidebook
If you’re just starting to read tarot, make sure the deck you choose comes with a guidebook. These small books contain valuable information about the meaning of different cards and artwork, which can give you more meaningful readings. Some decks even point users to a website or eBook for more detailed information.
Every tarot reader is different. As you do more readings, you might find that you don’t need to consult a guidebook and prefer following your gut to interpret the messages. There’s nothing wrong with approaching readings this way—it’s all a matter of preference.
An old superstition says you should only use tarot decks you received as a gift. However, tarot cards alone have no meaning until you begin to interpret the messages. Don’t let this superstition stop you from buying a tarot deck you feel drawn to.
As you continue to practice Tarot, you may find that more than one deck speaks to you. This connection is natural, and many readers have several different decks for varying situations, intents, and reading purposes. Every deck has a unique voice, and you should continue to explore different ones along with tarot reading traditions as you continue to practice tarot reading.