The Best Tarot Decks for Beginners

The Rider-Waite tarot deck
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Trying to learn how to read the cards, you probably already have your first tarot deck. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve been struggling to memorize and learn the zillions of different meanings for each card.

There’s literally hundreds of gorgeous tarot decks out there, and odds are you picked one because it was beautiful and interesting, not because it’s easy to use.

That’s exactly what I did, and I struggled for over a year trying to learn the cards.

It wasn’t until I got my hands on a tarot deck I loved that things started to improve. And now I’m using this website to share every tip, hack, and resource I can find to make learning the tarot easier.

Here’s my number one piece of advice: using the right beginner’s tarot deck will make the process easier and more fun.

Qualities of a Great Beginner Tarot Deck

  • It’s a full 78-card deck, not just the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
  • It has clear, simple images & symbolism, not obscure or crowded icons everywhere.
  • It’s based on the RWS tradition, because it is the most popular & easiest to understand.

A Totally Biased List of Great Tarot Decks for Beginners

Instead of listing all of the possible tarot decks that are great for beginners, I’ll give you my totally biased opinion.

Start with one of the classic RWS decks, even if you think it’s ugly.

If you don’t want to spend money on a RWS deck that you aren’t going to love, you can download a free beginner’s tarot card deck with the Major Arcana here. (If you want the full deck of all 78 cards, you can get that in the Learn Tarot With Me Etsy shop).

Both of these are based off of the original tarot deck created in 1909 by Arthur E. Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith, and are perfect to use to learn the meanings of each tarot card. You can even turn them into flashcards.

The Classic Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (affiliate link) from U.S. Games is pretty much exactly as Pamela Colman-Smith illustrated it. The Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (affiliate link), also from U.S. Games, takes the same images and uses more vibrant colors and shading to make them a bit more three-dimensional. Except for the coloring style of the images, the decks are identical.

The Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot Deck (affiliate link) is different, but the illustrations follow the RWS symbolism so closely that it can be used instead of the U.S. Games Rider-Waite deck. This deck is the closest I’ve found to the original 1909 tarot deck in meanings & symbolism, so if you just hate Colman-Smith’s illustrations, this is a good choice instead. I really like this deck & recommend it all the time.