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Index Card Holder

Who Knew?

There are a lot of different types of index card holders. In this post, we’ll go over every type of index card holder that we know of, explain their purpose, and when you would use each kind.

Before we get started, please know that we are not some shady affiliate marketer looking to make affiliate commissions off of you! There are NO affiliate links on this page. We are ProSimpli and we invented a type of index card holder that allows you to hang index cards on your wall.

The goal of this post is to share with you the many different types of index card holders so you can make the BEST decision for YOU.

Most people don’t spend hours, days or weeks researching index card holders (like we do) and often-times you just want quick answers so you can move on with your life and do more important things.

And, if we’re honest here, index card holders aren’t the most exciting topic for most people! So, let’s dive in!


Learn About the 15 Different Types of Index Card Holders in Under 3 Minutes


What Problem Do Index Card Holders Solve?

ANSWER:

They help you transport, store and organize index cards.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Let’s move on to answering the questions you should be asking yourself.


Top 8 Questions You Should You Ask Yourself Before Buying an Index Card Holder

  1. Does the index card holder need to be easy to carry?
    • Yes – I need to be able to carry it comfortable without a second thought
    • No – I won’t be carrying it too often so it doesn’t matter

  2. Do I need to carry or transport my index cards frequently?
    • Yes – I will be carrying it around with me a lot
    • No – I mainly want it for storage or for organizational purposes

  3. Do I need to access the information on my index cards regularly?
    • Yes – I need to reference them often
    • Sometimes – I need to reference them occasionally
    • No – I don’t need to look at them very often

  4. Do I need long-term storage?
    • Yes – I need a long-term way to store index cards
    • No – I will be cycling through new index cards regularly

  5. How many index cards do I have total?
    • Small – between 1 – 100 or so
    • Medium – between 100 – 300
    • Large – over 300

  6. Does presentation of my index card holder matter?
    • Yes – other people will see it and I want it to look nice
    • No – appearance isn’t very important

  7. Do I need to organize my index cards by topic?
    • Yes – I need to be able to use dividers or have some way to categorize them
    • No – Organizing them is not important

  8. What is my budget?
    • $ – cheapest I can find
    • $$ – somewhere in between, decent quality for a good price
    • $$$ – willing to pay more for the best solution to my need

15 Types of Index Card Holders

Now let’s try to match your needs with the index card holder that’s right for you. In order to do that, you first need to know what your options are.

We will describe each of these options in more detail below, but for now, let’s just list them out:

  1. Cardboard box
  2. Wall-hanging plastic sleeve
  3. Plastic carrying case
  4. Plastic accordion case
  5. Plastic File box
  6. Plastic bins
  7. Mini binder
  8. Metal rings
  9. Specialty binder
  10. Clear acrylic box
  11. Wooden box
  12. Spiral bound
  13. Metal card file drawer
  14. Metal card file box
  15. Board card file drawer

Index Card Holder Comparison Table

Now that you know what types of index card holders exist, and what your needs are, use this comparison table to see which type of index card holder will be best for you!

Index Card HolderEasy TransportFrequent TransportQuick Access to InfoLong Term StorageCarrying CapacityLooks NiceEasy to OrganizeDurablePrice
Cardboard BoxNoNoNoPossiblyLargeNoYesNo$
Wall Plastic SleeveNoNoYesYesSmallYesYesYes$$
Plastic CaseYesYesNoNoSmallDependsYesYes$$
Accordion CaseYesYesNoNoSmallDependsYesYes$$
Plastic File BoxYesNoNoYesMediumDependsYesSort of$$
Plastic BinYesNoNoYesLargeYesYesYes$$$
Mini BinderYesYesSort ofYesSmallYesYesSort of$$
Metal RingYesYesSort ofYesSmallNoNoNo$$
Specialty BinderYesYesSort ofYesMediumYesYesSort of$$$
Clear AcrylicNoNoNoYesMediumYesYesNo$$
Wooden BoxNoNoNoYesMediumYesYesYes$$$
Spiral BoundYesYesSort ofYesSmallYesYesYes$$
Metal Card File DrawerNoNoNoYesLargeNoYesYes$$$
Metal Card File BoxNoNoNoYesLargeNoYesYes$$$
Board Card File DrawerNoNoNoYesLargeNoYesSort of$$$
A comparison of the different types of index card holder solutions.

Index Card Holder Recommendations By Environment

In this section, we’ll give suggestions on the types of index card holders you should consider based on what environment you are in.

The College student

College Students On-the-go - Get it College Students!

If you are like most college students that use index cards, your need is to:

  1. Take them with you on-the-go (ex: bag)
  2. Study them semi-regularly to review for tests

If this is true for you, then these are the top 5 index card holders we suggest and why:

Rank Product Reason

1

Plastic carrying case Small, light, easy to carry, fits in a bag or bag pockets
2 Spiral bound Durable, no loose cards, like a small journal
3 Wall-hanging plastic sleeve Improves memory and recall, promotes active learning, removes studying barriers, helps you study more often
4 Mini binder Easy transport, quick to access info, fits in bag
5 Specialty binder Durable, carrying capacity, fits in bag

In The Kitchen

Woman Cooking In Kitchen With Recipe Card Binder

A lot of people adopt their own system for keeping recipes. Some people prefer online tools whereas others prefer physical, tangible products like recipe cards in a box.

Before buying a recipe box, here are some important considerations (remember: you’ll probably have this thing for a long time!):

  1. Long-term storage for many years
  2. Infrequent use (holidays, parties)
  3. Need to have a place to put it (out of the way)
  4. Needs to be functional
  5. Bonus: ability to organize by meal type

If the above 5 bullet-points generally describe you, then these are the top 5 index card holders we suggest and why:

Rank Product Reason
1 Plastic File box Medium capacity, use dividers, long-term storage, infrequent use, durable enough
2 Wooden box Looks nicer than plastic, durable, long-term investment, medium capacity, long-term storage
3 Specialty binder Easy to store, preserves cards, easy to transport, quicker to find meals and recipes, easy to manage, ability to add more capacity if needed
4 Clear acrylic Small, light-weight, usually has a slit to hold one recipe card for visibility while cooking, looks nice
5 Spiral bound Good if you’re just starting out and don’t currently have recipe cards to store

If you cook more often, or are in the process of learning, having your recipes in plain sight allows you to be more efficient in the kitchen. Our index card holder sleeve is perfect for this scenario if placed in your kitchen, pantry, inside a cupboard, or on the fridge.

Busy Mom

Busy Mom with Family at Breakfast Table

We could have said busy “dad” here, but let’s face it, it’s usually moms holding down the fort. What some busy moms do – stay-at-home moms and working moms – is they use index cards to help manage household tasks, to-dos and schedules.

For example, here’s a post about creating your own index card cleaning system from Amanda M. In her post, Amanda describes how she uses a plastic file box and some dividers to divide cleaning tasks into specific days throughout the week.

Amanda’s system is not limited to just cleaning; it can be applied to many areas of your life for managing and processing tasks.

In general, the busy mom might need an index card holder for:

  1. tracking household projects, tasks and schedules
  2. delegating household chores (chore chart)
  3. planning meals (dinner ideas, recipe cards)
  4. working out
  5. daily to-do lists (what matters TODAY!)
  6. grocery shopping lists
  7. work or home office

If this sounds like you, then here are our top 5 index card holders that busy moms might find most useful and why:

Rank Product Reason
1 Plastic File box Most common, inexpensive, easy, organizable, medium capacity
2 Wall-hanging plastic sleeve Instant real-time visibility, hands-free (no sorting cards by hand), organized, easy to update, helps you prioritize and focus
3 Plastic accordion case Expandable, comes with dividers built-in for a busy mom’s various needs
4 Plastic bins Good for long-term storage, storing kids index cards, large capacity
5 Spiral bound Small, lightweight, easy to carry, convenient, durable

In The Office

Sticky Notes On The Window Of An Office

See those sticky notes on the window? In an office environment, sticky notes are the accepted status-quo.

What do sticky notes do? They make information VISIBLE!

The downside of sticky notes are:

  • they lose their stickiness and fall off
  • clutters your workspace (if you get crazy)
  • doesn’t proJECT the most organized appearance

If not sticky notes in the office, then what? Index cards for the office?

Yes! Here is our top 5 index card holder choices for an office setting:

Rank Product Reason
1 Plastic File box Medium capacity, use dividers, good for storage and occasional use, organize piles and clutter, stackable, can label
2 Wall-hanging plastic sleeve See your priorities, keep top-of-mind, track projects and tasks, access info quickly in real-time, easy-to-update
3 Metal card file box Very durable, long-term storage for decades, large capacity, made for office
4 Metal card file drawer Very durable, good for office desk, medium capacity, long life, made for office
5 Board card file drawer Large capacity, good for storage, cheaper alternative to metal

Programmers

Programmers In An Office Coding At Their Desk

Developers use programming languages to solve problems. They are builders of things, motivated by learning as much as they can. The journey of a programmer requires relentless dedication and a true passion for it.

The reason programming is hard to learn is because you have to become familiar with SO MANY coding languages, concepts, libraries, classes, methods, syntaxes, IDEs, best-practices, and so on.

The average person isn’t willing to go through that pain.

Although developers are generally tech-savvy, many often prefer physical note-taking systems like notebooks or index cards because they are simply more effective for increasing knowledge, retention and learning.

Speaking from my own experience, using index cards to learn to code is not a good idea unless you have a system that allows you to quickly get the information faster that it would take you to look it up online.

If you don’t have a system, your index cards stack up, and the next time you need to find the ONE CARD you’re thinking about, you’ll have to spend time shuffling through them. This manual process is ultimately time-consuming and inefficient.

The optimal way to learn to code with index cards is:

  1. Learn something new
  2. Grab an index card
  3. Extract what you’ve learned to index card (in your own words)
    1. Name of thing
    2. What thing helps you do
    3. Minimal example of how to code thing
  4. Place index card in visible place (not a box or stack)
  5. Keep next to your workspace within sight
  6. Next time you need to remember thing, look at card

Why is this process the best way to teach yourself how to code?

Because the next time you need to remember how to do “the thing”, you just look up in real-time, remind yourself of the answer, and continue coding. No going online or searching StackOverflow for the answer.

Also, by actually using the notes you take, you are strengthening the neural pathways in your brain. A lot of people take notes and then never look at them again, which is a far less effective learning strategy.

What kind of index card holders should developers and programmers use? Here are our top 5 index card holder recommendations we suggest and why:

Rank Product Reason
1 Wall-hanging plastic sleeve Instant answers while you code, active learning, efficient, increase retention, uniquely yours, large info capacity
2 Specialty binder Large capacity, organize by sections, easy to transport and carry, add more capacity as-needed, quick reference
3 Mini binder Good for beginner developers, easy to take notes, more convenient to carry
4 Plastic File box Medium capacity, dividers recommended, good for your desk
5 Spiral bound Similar to the mini binder but more like a small journal than index card system

Types of Index Card Holders

In this section, we will share with you the types of index card holders we’ve mentioned in this post so you have a clear idea of what we’re talking about.

Cardboard Box

A cardboard box needs no explanation. If you chance upon the right-sized box, there you go! Generally “free” with the purchase of something else (ex: shoes), cardboard boxes can last for years depending on how well you take care of them.

Cardboard Box Ideas for Storing Index Cards

You can buy better-fitting cardboard boxes for index cards by searching for 3×5-inch or 4×6-inch kraft / cardboard boxes. Amazon and Uline are good places to start.

Links To Learn More

Wall-hanging plastic sleeve

Wall-hanging Index Card Holder Sleeve Collage

This type of index card holder is something we invented because we wanted a simple, hands-free way of accessing the information on our own index cards quickly, without having to manually sort through them.

We also wanted a way to do it without damaging our walls.

Product Features

  • clear plastic sleeve with pockets
  • hangs on your wall with two push pins
  • various sizes available (between 5 – 20 pockets)
  • primary function is to make your notes visible

Potential Problems

  • not high capacity
  • plastic pockets can rip or tear
  • unrolling step when you first get it

Environments

  • home
  • work
  • office
  • daycares
  • classrooms
  • dorms

Common Uses

  • recipe card holder
  • office cubicle organizer
  • classroom teaching aid
  • studying
  • project and task management
  • much more

Links To Learn More

Plastic carrying case

Plastic Poly Index Card Holder Carrying Case

Plastic index card cases are excellent for transporting and carrying small amounts of index cards around with you. You typically see students carrying these around in their school bag in a classroom setting.

Product Features

  • snaps or loop to keep closed
  • some come with dividers
  • holds up to 100 index cards
  • usually can buy as a multi-pack of 2 – 4
  • various colors
  • lightweight, therefore easy to carry

Potential Problems

  • plastic can be flimsy and break
  • button snaps can come off
  • run out of space (low carrying capacity)

Common Uses

  • great for flash cards
  • other creative uses
    • interstate travel notes
    • classroom management
    • love notes
    • quotes and sayings
    • storyboarding and screenplays

Links To Learn More

Plastic accordion case

Plastic Accordion Index Card File Folders on Amazon

Accordion file organizers can be used to store index cards and many other types of items. They are great when you need to carry a variety of objects and you need to compartmentalize each into its own slot.

These are also known as “expanding file folders”.

Product Features

  • accordion-style expanding divider compartments
  • quality, durable plastic
  • large capacity for holding various items (multi-use)
  • highly portable
  • usually multi-colored tabs
  • strong, secure clip

Potential Problems

  • can be a bit flimsy when empty
  • buckle might have issues closing
  • doesn’t hold as much as you might expect (too tiny)

Common Uses

  • storing receipts
  • money
  • coupons
  • debit / credit / loyalty cards
  • and yes… index cards

Links To Learn More

Plastic File box

3x5 Inch Plastic Index Card Holder File Box

This is probably the most common type of index card holder. A lot of variations of this product exist and not all are created equal. Some consumers need this case to support tabbed dividers – not all of them do so be careful when you buy.

Product Features

  • medium capacity (stores 250 – 300 index cards or so)
  • lid opens and closes
  • made of plastic
  • comes in various colors
  • some are stackable

Potential Problems

  • sticker doesn’t peel off cleanly
  • height doesn’t accommodate divider tabs
  • closing latch mechanism doesn’t close securely
  • plastic hinges become worn and tear
  • can be a bit flimsy or warped

Common Uses

  • at work on or in your office desk for storage
  • in grade school (it’s usually on a school supplies list!)
  • holding non-index card items (cds, giftcards, business cards)
  • seriously, you can use this for a million things!

Links To Learn More

Plastic bins

Index Card Plastic Bin

The idea behind plastic bins is, you find a plastic bin that is the right size to hold the amount of index cards you want to hold. It doesn’t get any more complex than that. Sure, you might be looking for a specific color, or for a feature like “stackable”, but it’s just a container.

Product Features

  • massive capacity (see links below)
  • handles (on select models)
  • latches that securely close
  • stackable
  • usually clear
  • holds 3″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″ card sizes

Potential Problems

  • plastic problems (crack, too thin)
  • locking or closing problems
  • fit issues (too wide for index cards)

Common Uses

  • storing index cards long-term
  • organizing all your flash cards
  • storing arts and craft supplies
  • coupon box for shopping
  • business card holder
  • recipe cards holder

Links To Learn More

Mini binder

Oxford Mini 3x5 Inch Index Card Binder

Mini index card binders actually come in a variety of styles. The one pictured above (by Oxford) is the most common mini binder. It’s a tiny binder, usually with a 2-ring mechanism, and holds a small quantity of index cards.

To use mini index card binders, the cards need to be hole-punched.

Product Features

  • usually durable and well-made
  • various colors
  • 2-ring binder mechanism
  • small, portable
  • usually sold as a multi-pack

Potential Problems

  • cracks
  • 2-ring holes may not align with the holes punched

Common Uses

  • alternative to carrying loose index cards
  • alternative to an index card case
  • school projects
  • great for office use
  • notes, recipes, lists

Links to Learn More

Metal rings

3x5 Metal Ring Hole Punched Index Cards

Imagine your index cards, with hole punches, held together by a metal ring. That’s what these are. Some have one hole punched, others have two. Some rings are colored, the majority are metal-looking.

Product Features

  • one-hole or two-hole punched index cards
  • metallic ring(s)
  • some have a protective cover
  • add more cards or change them out
  • very portable

Potential Problems

  • requires pre-punched index cards
  • rings might come undone

Common Uses

  • class note-taking
  • studying
  • recipes
  • sight words
  • office setting

Links To Learn More

Specialty binder (DIY)

Specialty 3-ring Index Card Binder

In the niche corners of the internet, there exist 3×5-inch and 4×6-inch index card binder page inserts. The concept here is to use a regular binder or an over-sized scrapbooking binder to hold these polypropylene page plastic inserts.

See the links below for all the index card insert pages I could find!

Product Features

  • made of polypropylene
  • most are OK for archival-purposes
  • fits most 3-ring binders

Potential Problems

  • may be too wide for YOUR binder
  • sleeves may be too slick so cards fall out or shift
  • hard to find the right binder

Common Uses

  • storing index cards
  • storing other types of cards (Pokemon)
  • storing coupons
  • storing photos

Links To Learn More

Clear acrylic box

Clear Acrylic Index Card Holder Box

Clear acrylic card file boxes are a bit fancier and more presentable than your standard plastic index card box. These types of index card holders are good when you want a presentable and functional storage solution.

Product Features

  • clear acrylic
  • modern clean look
  • medium storage capacity

Potential Problems

  • potential to be cracked

Common Uses

  • weddings
  • recipe cards
  • as a gift

Links To Learn More

Wooden box

Wooden Recipe Boxes At Amazon

Specially crafted from walnut, acacia and bamboo wood; these ornate boxes are primarily used for storing recipe cards, but you can store index cards in them too.

Product Features

  • finished and unfinished options
  • excellent craftsmanship
  • something you’ll treasure for a lifetime
  • usually very solid and sturdy

Potential Problems

  • wood can get damaged
  • hinge issues

Common Uses

  • storing photographs
  • storing letters
  • storing postcards
  • storing recipe cards
  • birthday and wedding gifts

Links For More Info

Spiral bound

Spiral Bound 3x5 Index Cards

Spiral-bound index cards are 50 index cards held together by a metal or plastic spiral connector. They are often ruled (have lines). You can pick these up in multi-packs fairly cheaply.

Product Features

  • plastic or metal spiral
  • usually 50 index cards per book
  • convenient for on-the-go
  • some have removable divider tabs
  • keeps your index cards together

Potential Problems

  • metal spiral can get malformed
  • spiral can come out of holes
  • metal spiral can get snagged on things

Common Uses

  • studying and flash cards
  • note-taking at school
  • note-taking at the office
  • task-management
  • storing usernames and passwords
  • learning another language

Links To Learn More

Metal card file drawer

Metal Steel Index Card File Drawer for 3x5 and 4x6 Inch Index Cards

Metal file drawers are self-contained cabinets that hold 3″ x 5″ and 4″ x 6″ index cards (or any type of card). They typically have several drawer model configurations. Vaultz and Steelmaster brands are good brands to look into.

Product Features

  • some have lock and key mechanisms
  • large index card holding capacity
  • usually durable and sturdy

Potential Problems

  • drawers can get stuck
  • drawers not opening / closing smoothly
  • drawers catch on something while sliding on track
  • could lose keys to lock
  • metal can dent
  • sold as “stackable” but not usually the case (slides easily)
  • some have thinner metal (unlike 50 years ago)
  • can be heavy when full

Common Uses

  • mostly in a business setting
  • library setting
  • protecting and storing photos
  • storing large masses of index cards

Links To Learn More

Metal card file box

Metal Steel Index Card File Drawer

They don’t make these like they used to!

Back-in-the-day, when companies weren’t trying to squeeze every possible penny out of production, or using cheaper materials, you could find a durable, well-made metal index card box.

Now-a-days, most have been re-engineered to substitute plastic for what used to be metal (because it’s cheaper).

If you can find a good one, these can last a lifetime.

Product Features

  • strong, sturdy metal construction
  • heavy weight (not dainty)
  • durable
  • made to last
  • several colors (black, greenish, grey)

Potential Problems

  • lid not fitting body just right
  • dubious divider issues
  • sharp metal corners
  • might be cheaply made (ex: lightweight metal)

Common Uses

  • place in a drawer
  • place on your desk
  • storing index cards
  • holds any type of card that you need to store
  • family heirloom to pass on
  • stamps
  • scrapbooking
  • storing recipe cards

Links To Learn More

Board card file drawer

Reinforced Board Index Card Holder File Boxes For 3x5 Inch and 4x6 Inch Cards

Product Features

  • label holder to label the box
  • slide rack stopper keeps cards standing upright
  • large capacity
  • simple lift-off lid
  • reinforced board material
  • good for stacking and storing

Potential Problems

  • not as rigid as you might expect
  • lid a bit too tight
  • cards fit too tight
  • might not fit capacity it claims (ex: 1,200 but only fits 800 thicker index cards)
  • not many design options

Common Uses

  • information management
  • studying, flash cards
  • recipe card holders

Links To Learn More

Phew! We’re At The End.

I hope you enjoyed this massive guide to choosing the right index card holder, the types of index card holders that exist, and their pros and cons.

Now I’d like to hear from you: which index card holder are you thinking about buying and why?

Which index card holders did you not NOT consider until today? Did I miss a type of index card holder or link?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

ProSimpli
ProSimpli

We are ProSimpli. Search for our products at Amazon! We specialize in creating innovated index card products that help teachers, self-learners, parents and businesses store notes, recipes, meal ideas, tasks, photos and more! Leave us a comment and tell us how YOU plan to use our products!

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