Tips for Making Money in Card Collecting

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 One way to check historic pricing is purchasing outdated price guides from Beckett that give you a sense of pricing over time.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.

8 thoughts on “Tips for Making Money in Card Collecting”

  1. I def check @cardmavin and eBay before I purchase on Twitter.Although,as I’ve been told, “a card is worth what someone will pay”,you can end up overpaying a lot if you don’t research prices .That extra $$ could be used to buy other cards.I was interested in 2 vintage cards which a seller offered to me for $35. They were sweet cards,but I found that I could buy those same 2 card on bay for $12 shipped.I have learned that as this article says ,”Do your homework!”

  2. Awesome site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

  3. I buy my current year baseball cards directly from Topps. But I take a chance and go to ebay for the older and vintage cards. The other day I swore some packs had been tampered with but I was wrong and only one of many packs had been sabotaged. I got into this a few months ago when I realized I need another car to get around town. I have boxes and packs from 1987 to the present. Any takers?

  4. What’s the best way for a complete novice to have a gifted collection reviewd and assessed?

    I have a dolly full of baseball cards (10, 12 × 9 ×12) file boxes that my brother collected over the years (1970s to 1996) with his son, who lost interest and energy, and gave to my son, who quickly lost interest.

    My brother amassed his collection buying 100’s of boxes of Bubblegum Cards (just for the cards inside) from Sam’s and cherry picking the rookie cards then trading up …following advice from Beckems and other local traders.

    So, its entirely likely that any rookie cards or other cards of value as of 1996 have been picked clean. I am not sure that I have any long term interest either but would be willing to at least catelog what we have…or complete the cateloging… identify any cards or sets of value if left.

    The problem of course ….is where and how do I begin. What am I looking for? What resources are available? Or, given my brothers previous activity, is there any value to cards by the pound…bulk purchasing options?

    1. That sounds like a lot of baseball cards! There could still be some good cards in the 1970’s and 80’s… but most of the stuff from the 90’s is worthless. It sounds like you have so much it would be impossible to go through and look up each card. You could pull a few examples from each year/brand and look them up on Mavin… see what the highest cards sold for and then see if you have them. But again, this would take a lot of time. You might be better off taking them to a local card shop to have them give you an appraisal. Ask them to thumb through the cards and set-aside the valuable ones. Your best bet is to pull out the good ones and sell them online. Then sell the bulk common cards as a whole “lot”. You may have to pay them a fee if you have hours worth of thumbing-through to do and you don’t intend to sell the cards to them. Good luck!

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