It may come as a surprise that there is still money to be made in card collecting. While it is true that the value of most cards has declined since the 1990s, you too can make good money in collecting as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. In fact, a few cards have surpassed traditional forms of investment in the past few decades. Here are our top five tips for collectors looking to turn a profit.
Do Your Research
Whether you’re looking to buy a card or are trying to sell one, make sure you do considerable research on the historic price and current market value. One way to check historic pricing is purchasing outdated price guides from Beckett that give you a sense of pricing over time. For real-time prices on the values of cards, Mavin.io gives you the most comprehensive way to find the value of your card of interest. Simply search for your card and we give you the value based on similar cards that have sold recently (more tips for using Mavin can be found here).
Buy the Best Card in Your Budget
“Set a card budget and live within it,” is one of the top pieces of advice we received from supercollectors on Twitter. If you’re in this for the long-haul, then buying a higher end card is usually safe from economic slumps and is likely to only go up in value. This is especially true for professionally graded cards on the higher end of the scale.
Buy Cards like Wine
Buying sports cards is like buying good wine: they only get better with age. Older cards that are in good condition are likely to be the most profitable down the line. New cards aren’t likely to be much value because the market is often saturated with them and they’re more likely to be in great condition. Look for cards that are pre-1960s, especially tobacco-company cards. These cards will be more expensive if they’re already graded. But if you have a keen eye you might be able to spot a steal at trade shows, estate sales, or even in your own attic to turn the biggest profit.
Become a Scout
Chances are if you’re into card collecting, you’re also a sports junkie. That can really work to your advantage. Rookie cards are some of the most valuable, especially considering their age. Mint condition Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky rookie cards are some of the most valuable and most sought after on eBay and other auction sites. Do your scouting on rookies each season… if you think someone is going to be a star, track down their card for cheap, get it graded, and hold onto it for awhile. As the player becomes more successful or beloved in their career, the value of their card can skyrocket.
Get it Graded
If you do happen to snag a card that is already worth a good amount or you expect it to be worth something in the future, get it professionally graded! Graded cards from a reputable source (PSA or BGS) command a much higher price. It costs about $10 to get each card graded, so this is a no-brainer on higher end cards where you have larger margins. Once it has a grade, your card becomes a commodity in the sense that it can be bought, sold, and compared to cards with the same grade.
Too Good To Be True? Probably
Everyone wants to make a quick buck, especially in card collecting. Beware of scammers and frauds who sell fakes or reprints and market them as the “real deal.” This is especially common online since the number of brick-and-mortar card stores has declined significantly. If you’re desperate to turn a profit, looking for “steals” is an easy way to waste your time and money. If you’re buying a higher-end card, only do business with eBay sellers with tons of positive feedback or reputable sports auction sites. The worst feeling is to spend a lot of money on a card only to find out it was a scam.
The more time you spend collecting and researching the industry, the more familiar you’ll become with fair prices, reputable sellers, and reasonable deals. Collectors who are willing to dedicate the time and effort to making money can actually turn a decent profit over time, even make a living buying and selling cards. As much as we love making money, at the end of the day it’s important to remember that collecting is supposed to be a fun hobby for people of all ages. With that being said, we hope these tips were helpful and you too can start investing in card collecting.