When I first started learning to read Tarot, I got really confused when I tried to find the right deck to learn to read with. It can be difficult to find the best Tarot deck for beginners because each person you consult will likely have a different opinion. There are so many variations and some decks stray far from the most common type of deck, it can be hard to figure out what to do. Some Tarot decks even have more or less than the typical 78 cards. When I was a beginner, I would buy a Tarot deck that I thought was great, only to get really confused trying to use it.
Don’t get me wrong. If you just absolutely love a deck that you’ve found, you can typically learn to read Tarot with that deck. You may just have trouble if you want to try out other decks after that. What I learned about reading Tarot is that there is a basic deck that is the modern-day “original” Tarot (the history of Tarot goes back a very long time) that most decks are based on. Then, there are variations of Tarot that are extremely far afield of that “original” deck, stylistically. There is nothing wrong with that, but in my years learning and teaching Tarot, I’ve come to believe that there are decks that are easier and more difficult to learn with. So, I’ve compiled my list of the 10 Best Tarot Decks for Beginners that I’ll share with you here.
Rider Waite Smith
The Rider-Waite Smith deck is the OG of modern-day Tarot decks. It is a very classic deck, with classic illustrations, and most likely the most well-known deck in the Western World. This deck was first published in 1910 by Rider & Company publishing in England. It was designed by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith. This deck is the model of a great many modern decks, which makes it one of my top choices for beginners. It has several variants of its own, but you can’t go wrong with the classic deck, which is pretty much a staple in any shop where you can buy Tarot Cards. One of my favorite variants is the Radiant Rider-Waite because it is much more colorful and vibrant than the original version.
The Morgan-Greer deck was created by Bill Greer and published in 1979. This is my personal favorite for beginners learning to read Tarot. My Tarot manual (The Everyday Tarot Manual, which can be purchased HERE) was written with the Morgan-Greer Tarot in mind. It is the deck I used to teach Tarot with, as well. This deck is very close to the Rider Waite Smith deck, but I find that the illustrations are more open and easy to interpret. I teach people to read the Tarot intuitively, and I feel like this deck has a wonderful use of symbology and pattern. Its colorful illustrations, while slightly dated, still make it easy to connect with, which I think is very important for the beginning Tarot user.
Starter Tarot Deck
Starter Tarot Deck by George R. Bennett is a very simple deck to use. The illustrations are in the style of ancient woodcuts. The images are large and simplistic, which may make it easier for the beginner to associate the image with the meaning of the card. This deck has the traditional meanings, both right side up and reversed, printed directly on the card. For many folks, this can be a great way to begin to learn the cards and their associations.
Quick & Easy Tarot Deck
The Quick & Easy Tarot Deck by Ellen Lytle, like the Starter Tarot Deck has the divinatory and reversed meanings printed directly on the cards. The illustrations for this deck are based on the Rider Waite Smith deck but recolored by Mary Hanson-Roberts. The images feel more soothing and they have added details from the original. As mentioned above, having the meanings printed directly on the cards can help the beginner to associate the images with the meanings more easily when they are first practicing reading Tarot.
Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot Cards
This deck, by Barbara Moore and published by Llewellyn, a publisher known for their metaphysical, mind, body, spirit, targeted products, is another good Tarot deck for beginners. It is based on the original Rider Waite Smith deck but updated for today’s Tarot reader. The colors, symbology, and meanings are closely aligned with the Rider Waite Smith deck, however, the artwork is updated, more vibrant, and contemporary. Folks new to reading Tarot may find this deck more pleasing and relatable than older decks.
Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck
When I was first going into learning Tarot on a much more serious basis, the teacher I started with gave me the choice of using the Rider Waite Smith deck, the Morgan-Greer Deck or the Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck. After having taught Tarot for years, now, and having written my own Tarot manual, I can see exactly why this was one of the three decks recommended by the teacher I was working with. Mary Hanson-Roberts is the artist who created this deck. The symbology and meanings are very close to that of the OG Rider Waite Smith, but the images themselves are more appealing, almost playful at times and this makes it more fun and easy to use than other decks. Plus, the deck is physically smaller than most versions of the other decks, which makes the cards themselves easier to shuffle and handle, which is only a bonus for the beginning Tarot reader.
The Essential Tarot
Like the other decks listed, so far, The Essential Tarot by Chloé Zarka Grinsnir is an updated version of the Rider Waite Smith deck. It is inspired by archetypes from that deck, but modernized to be more diverse and inclusive, and much more accessible, psychically, to contemporary audiences. As stated in the description for this deck, it is “full of diverse bodies, races, and genders, acknowledging the spiritual and cultural offerings of people around the globe and throughout history.” This deck is beautiful and easy to handle and would make a great deck for the beginner to learn with.
The Enchanted Tarot
The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber may not typically make it to a beginner’s Tarot deck list, but I still think it belongs here. It is a little more loosely based on the Rider Waite Smith deck but doesn’t stray so far away that you wouldn’t recognize the more base archetypes, symbology, and meaning. This is the first Tarot deck that I ever owned, and I spent several years with it, doing readings for myself and for and with my friends. The fact is that this deck is fun and sweet and romantic and it breeds its own interest to keep the user wanting to practice and learn more. The artwork is beautiful and each card has its own “enchantment” associated with it (something akin to a light and positive type of spell). So, whether it fits the mold of the “typical” beginner’s deck or not, I still highly recommend it for self-learning and practicing with the Tarot.
OK Tarot: The Simple Deck for Everyone
The OK Tarot by Adam J. Kurtz is a pretty new deck. Just published in 2022 it is definitely a Tarot deck for modern times. The deck itself is very pink with simple black and white drawings. The author’s idea behind the minimalist drawings is to keep “depictions of race, religion, or gender to help YOU focus your intention, find clarity, and remember that even if things aren’t perfect, they’re still going to be OK.” The booklet that comes along with it only gives keywords for each card, which lends itself very nicely to the beginner Tarot reader who wants to lean more heavily on their own intuition to read the cards, than the definitions of each card that are found in a book. This deck may not be for everyone, but the ones who take to this more minimalist style will certainly appreciate the simplistic, yet still somehow rich, depictions of this deck.
Tarot for Kids
Last but not least, I offer the suggestion of this Tarot for Kids deck by Theresa Reed. This deck is good for tweens and teens who want to start learning to read Tarot cards. It is still based on the original Rider Waite Smith deck, but updated and with illustrations that younger folk may find more friendly and accessible. It also has some unique and positive aspects with the younger set in mind. According to the description for this deck: “The guidebook has everything kids need to begin, including a brief history of tarot, the meanings of the cards, and how to perform readings. It also includes resources to help kids set goals, build friendships, adjust an attitude, and listen to their own inner wisdom.” When my kids were younger I would have much rather given them this deck than many of the other ones that were on the market at the time.
Finding a Deck That is Right for You
As a general rule, I have found that beginning Tarot readers do best with decks that are based on the foundational symbology of the Rider Waite Smith deck. The reason for this is that once you learn that symbology, once you integrate it into your Tarot reading style, there are so many more decks that can be used quickly and intuitively. If you learn on a deck that is pretty far afield from the original Rider Waite Smith deck, you may have trouble ever really reading from any other Tarot deck than the first deck you learned on. But in the end, each person must choose a deck that is right for them. That includes the imagery, written materials (meanings, etc), and how the deck itself is structured. The deck you choose should make you want to practice and learn and grow and expand in your quest to learn to read Tarot.