Querent Tips

For the Seeker: What Kind of Tarot Reading Service Should I Choose?

What Kind of Tarot Reading Service Should I Choose?

By Alana

Is an online Tarot reading right for you?

Whether you’re looking to get a Tarot reading for the very first time, or you’re experienced with one type of reading and feel unsure about other delivery methods, this article will aim to help you understand the differences between types of readings so that you can make an informed decision. You may be considering a free computer-generated reading, a free online reading by a human reader, or a paid professional reading offered online or in-person. To a certain extent, you do “get what you pay for,” and you can expect, for the most part, that the cost of the reading will increase with the quality of the reading. However, there are many different factors to consider, and situations where the highest-quality and most expensive service may not be the best choice for you. Here is a guide to choosing a service and setting your expectations for each kind of reading appropriately.

Free Online Computer-Generated Tarot Readings

This type of reading offers instant gratification – you don’t have to wait to hear back from someone after asking your question. The drawback is that this kind of reading may be much more “instant” than it is “gratifying.” A computer isn’t able to take any context into consideration when providing a meaning for the card or cards selected. Every Tarot card has many possible interpretations, but a computer will have to have been programmed to produce just one. That meaning is likely to be quite general or vague in an attempt to fit many different contexts and questions. It is also worth noting that some people believe that a computer cannot possibly draw a card that is truly relevant to your situation, because the act of drawing the right card results from receiving energy about your situation through a human channel. Others believe that there is no transmission of such energy and the cards are always random anyway, but that any card can be useful to reflect on in any situation. In that case, the randomness of the card is what helps you “think outside the box” when reflecting on your situation. It’s up to you to consider what you believe about how Tarot works.

Is there ever a situation where a free computer-generated reading would be the best choice? While I wouldn’t recommend it for an in-depth and accurate reading, I think it could be a good choice if you’ve had personal reading from a human reader already and you’re tempted to “check in” on the progress of what is happening with your question. Normally a reading will cover a period of months or possibly even years, depending on how big the issue is that you’re asking about. It’s not advisable to keep asking the same question, either hoping for a different answer or just to check to see if anything has changed. It’s more productive to go back to the original reading that you received and see if it makes more sense to you or applies in a way that is different from what you first understood after some time has passed. You may very well get different answers with repeated questioning, but think about how your own answers might change when a child keeps asking “are we there yet?” After awhile, you might start to give silly or sarcastic answers, or just stop responding, and it’s really no different with the Tarot.

However, if you feel you must check in, having an automated card draw is one way to satisfy that urge without taking the time and energy of a person to address something that has already been asked. Similarly, if you are asking a question for which you are only willing to hear one answer, you may choose the computer-generated method which will be vague enough for you to “hear what you want to hear.” When you’re in a mindset where only one answer is acceptable, you will most likely be dissatisfied with a more complex response from a human interpreter of the cards, and you should wait until you are more open to hearing a potentially challenging answer before you request one from a human interpreter of the Tarot.

Free Online Reading Written by a Human Tarot Reader

Here’s where you can potentially hit the sweet spot between quality and value. Many professional readers volunteer their time to offer free online readings, which is the case with TABI’s Free Reading service. Not all free readers will be experienced professionals, but you may very well get a professional-level reading for free! When you get a TABI Free Reading, a reader who has not yet been endorsed by TABI will be supervised by an experienced mentor, so you’ll have the benefit of your reading reflecting the knowledge of an experienced reader either way. You will also be assured that any reading you get from the TABI Free Reader service complies with TABI’s code of ethics. You should familiarize yourself with these standards so that you know what to expect. If you want an answer to a question that lies outside of a reader’s ethical standard, the reader will likely rephrase your question, and this may or may not be acceptable to you. For example, if you want to know how someone else feels or what they will do, TABI readers will rephrase your question to be about you, because the ethical guidelines prohibit reading for third parties. Setting your expectations appropriately will go a long way toward ensuring your satisfaction with any Tarot reading.

Getting a reading by email means waiting a few days to get a response to your question, but that’s because there is a human being taking the time to focus on your question, connect to the energy surrounding you, and thoughtfully consider the context of your situation when contemplating many possible interpretations for each card. A free reading might consist of drawing two or three cards, which may not seem like much, but there is surprisingly rich meaning that a person can glean from each card. A human reader will not only interpret each card separately, but also examine the interplay between the cards, and draw meaning from the context of your question (and possibly additional information like your birthdate). So even with just a couple of cards you can get a detailed, personally relevant, and accurate reading of about 500 to 1000 words in length. If you are serious about gaining real insight to a situation and are open to hearing a complex and potentially challenging answer, you will want to get a reading from a human reader rather than a computer (and it’s important to remember that even though your reading is being done “online” in that you’ll be receiving it through your email, there’s a real person on the other side of the screen doing this work for you!).

Choosing a free reading runs the risk that you will not know the experience level, skill, or style of the reader beforehand, but it’s a great way to try out different readers to find someone you like working with or to determine what qualities you would look for, should you decide that you want to pay for a professional reading.

Paid Professional Online Tarot Reading

If you’ve received a few tarot readings for free, then you most likely will have seen a difference in readers’ styles and skill levels. If you find a reader you connect with, you find their readings for you to be accurate and useful, and you like the type of advice they give, you may want to consider their paid service, if they offer one. If you’re shopping around for a professional reader and don’t have a particular reader in mind, most readers who offer their services online will include information about themselves and their experience, which you should read before ordering a reading. Even more valuable than what a reader says about her or himself is a recommendation from someone who has received their services before. If the professional reader that you are interested in working with offers both online and in-person readings, then some reasons you might choose an online reading could be: the location of the face-to-face reading would be difficult for you to get to, you prefer written communication to in-person conversations, or you want to retain a record of exactly what the reader said to refer to later. Having a tarot reading set out in writing lets you return to it again and again without relying on your memory of what was said or what your feelings or biases might have been at that moment – you can look at it again and again with fresh eyes. Something to keep in mind about an online reading is that it usually does take the form of a product you receive – the written reading itself – rather than being a back-and-forth conversation between you and the reader. The exception would be a video chat reading, but this form of “online” reading is really more similar to a face-to-face reading. If you just want to see what a reader would say about your situation with minimal input from you, then an online tarot reading is ideal. If you want to be able to ask questions or supply additional information as a reader is guiding you, then a face-to-face reading could be more your style.

Paid Professional Face-to-Face Tarot Reading

Someone who is paid for the work they do is, by definition, a professional. Depending on where you receive a face-to-face tarot reading, you may or may not know anything about the credentials of the person who is reading for you. There’s no guarantee that a person offering a reading at a shop or a fair has years of experience or offers the kind of advice that you are looking for. Getting a reading on the spur of the moment with friends can certainly be fun, and worth the “price of admission,” regardless of how pertinent that reading ends up being. If you’re serious about investing money in a meaningful, personal reading from someone in-person, it’s best to find out something about the reader in advance or get a recommendation from someone.

One of the biggest advantages of getting a face-to-face reading is that you can directly influence the quality of the reading yourself and get more of what you want out of it. If you see requesting a reading as a “test” of the reader, to see how much they can know about you without you telling them, then you’re missing out on the magic of co-creating a reading and getting the most insight possible about your situation. A reader may pull a card and have a couple of guesses as to who that card may represent in your life. Could it be your mother, sister, or best friend? If you are sitting across from the reader, then you can see the cards for yourself and, because you know your own life and your perceptions of the people in it better than anyone else ever can, you will probably know exactly who that card refers to, which could make interpretation of the surrounding cards much more specific. There’s nothing wrong with clarifying things as you go along, just like you would in conversation with a therapist or a friend. If a reader says they sense the influence of your father, and you’re thinking “they’re wrong, my father’s deceased,” then letting the reader know that can open up a conversation about whether the card might indicate someone else, possibly someone you didn’t realize was filling the role of a father in your life, or whether there is a way that your history with your father is still influencing you after his passing that needs to be brought to light. These kinds of insights go much deeper than simple “fortune-telling,” and require some receptivity on your part, to be open enough to hearing about what might be going on inside you.


Ultimately, it is your belief about how Tarot works, the expectations you have, and the receptivity that you bring to the reading that will determine your satisfaction with your reading, at least as much as the skill and style of the reader you choose. You, as the “querent” or “seeker”, bring a lot to the table. More than just a passive recipient of the reading, you have both the power and responsibility to make a Tarot reading effective and meaningful for you. The Tarot readers who volunteer for TABI all want the best Tarot experience for you and wish you the best in your search for the right kind of reading for you!

If you’d like to request a free online tarot reading from a human tarot reader through TABI’s Free Reader service, click here!

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