There comes a time in every card flipper’s life where they must part with at least some of the hordes of beautifully adorned cardboard they have. Whether it be for financial reasons, growing away from the game, or just plain needing to clear the clutter that has amassed upon your dresser, most of us will eventually sell some or all of our collection.
In this article I will give you some helpful non-biased tips to help maximize the efficiency and profits of selling your cards as well as some valuable options you may not have known about. I will go over a brief step by step process that should help you be a pro at selling your collection.
Determine why you are selling your collection.
This seems like a really over simplified step, but it is important to make the distinction early on and not lose sight of why you are doing this in the first place. So many people get lost in the sauce and forget that they may not even need to sell their cards and the problem is just a lack of simple organization. Sometimes people really need the money and rush to sell carelessly not knowing what the value of the cards are. Sometimes people sell their cards because they just do not have time to play the games anymore and then they invest time they don’t have attempting to recoup what they spent. Gaining focus and prospective is key.
Develop a plan that fits your goals.
Once you have decided your reasoning its time to get to work. Yes, its work but if you choose the right path it will be worth it. If you need space, start by only keeping the cards that you really like or have a special memory. Consider, for example, only keeping all the cards that depict only your favorite character and/or that one deck you placed first with when you started playing. Whatever works best for you. Everything else get ready to prep it for sale.
If you need money you have a long road ahead of you. Just begin by preparing a nice flat workspace, this is going to be a bumpy ride.
If you are just not wanting to play anymore and don’t really need the money, consider how much you value your time and maybe end the work here. Load your cards up into boxes and bring them to your local game store and ask them how much they will pay for them. This is the short cut way and will get you some quick cash and save you potentially hundreds of hours.
Generally, you are likely going to get less for them this way but truthfully you aren’t getting ripped off. Consider that you are simply hiring the game store to do the work of selling your cards for you and wiping your hands clean of the responsibility. Your work is done here, enjoy your freedom and move on. We’ll see ya in 2 years!
If you have decided to make a go at selling your cards, congrats I am going to give you a crash course on being one of my employees! Obviously, I’m kidding. Seriously this part can easily turn into a full-time job depending on the size of your collection. However hopefully the next few tips I give you will help you save tons of time and effort.
Begin by sorting your cards by rarity and condition. This process is the very first thing you should do. Since card prices are generally determined by rarity, being able to organize them as such will help lessen the amount of time you are spending on the lower priced cards that are not worth anything. Most games have a mark or symbol that signifies whether a card is Common, Uncommon, Rare or better. Usually, a quick google search will help you learn the difference for your cards but also calling your local game store will help you resolve the issue. The next thing is sorting out your cards by condition. This is a bit more difficult as condition can vary based on opinion however it isn’t difficult to tell when you have a condition guide and luckily for you, I have one here on this website @ https://www.bspgamesllc.com/card_condition_guide.
During this process you should be taking the time to make sure that duplicates are put next to each other unless they are not in the same condition. Focus only on the rares or better. Most commons and uncommons are not worth taking the time to fully organize. This will greatly reduce the time it takes to price out all your cards later. Even in the event you find out 1 of the commons you had was worth 4 dollars, and if you had enough of that card to make it worth it, you can go back and find it. For now, stay focused and finish organizing.
Congrats! You are about halfway through your journey and you have probably had, at least, a small panic attack thinking about the prospect of sorting anymore cards for the rest of your life. Maybe, it was about the money you spent amassing all the cards you have. Either way, stay positive things are going to get fun.
Do yourself a favor, charge your phone and download an app called TCGPlayer. This app is simply amazing for the big three card games, Pokemon, Magic: the Gathering, and Yugioh. If you have cards from another game, you can still use their website, but it will be more work. Once you download the app you can simply type the name of the card and it will give you a list of options your card could be. Since some card games utilize the same name for different cards its important to make sure you are picking the exact right card.
TCGPlayer is great because it will include an image of the card, so you know you have the correct one on your list. As you begin building your list you will find that there are options for condition, so make sure you are selecting that option correctly as well.
The greatest thing about this app is that if you have a nice white background you can just use the camera on your phone and directly scan most cards and the app will automatically recognize the card. You do need a good phone camera, lighting, and the card to not be holofoil for this to work perfectly. Watch this video if you need help learning how to use this app https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRVgIlwJ5Yw&ab_channel=TCGplayer You will notice that the fair market price of the card will automatically come up once your card is recognized. You can use this app to make multiple different lists based on the card conditions that you sorted before.
Decide on a sales plan.
So, at this point you have invested hours, if not days, creating massive lists of your cards with the values of all those cards. All of them, meticulously organized by rarity and condition. Hopefully, you had figured out how to make multiple lists and kept your cards organized because now its time to make the next big decision. How to sell. There are multiple ways to sell your collection once you have reached this point. With the new knowledge you have, you can call some game stores and present them with your lists by emailing them or visiting them in person. Ask them what kind of offer they would be willing to give you. Having all this information handy is a godsend for card buyers at stores and will give you an edge in negotiating. It will also allow you to send the lists out to multiple stores at once and find the best offer quickly.
Another option is to send the list out to your old card playing friends. Sometimes, offering your friends a discount below what they could buy the cards for at retail or online and above what you are offered by a local game store is all it takes to offload your collection quickly. The drawback to this is that you will often end up getting rid of only part of your collection and most likely only the valuable cards that are the best deal.
If you were the shark of your pool of friends and nobody wants to buy from you, then consider posting the lists for sale along with some pictures of the most expensive cards on an online marketplace like Facebook. I have found that this is usually better then selling to your friends and requires a good deal of added risk and work, but the monetary gain is far better then selling to your friends or to a game store.
Finally, you can enter the realm of no return and start listing your cards individually online on one of the big three, TCGPlayer.com, Amazon.com, or the dreaded EBAY.com. This path is not for the faint of heart and usually for beginners, will lead you to learn a few things about yourself along the way. Once you cross into this realm you are either holding some bigtime money in cards and need the protection or you have fully gone insane. Like me.
Packaging to Ship
Congrats you have made your first sale and now you need to ship your cards. Do not worry I have you covered. You’ve come this far, and I don’t intend on letting you drown in negative feedback and refunds based on packaging. Shipping can be a bit complicated but I’ll line out a decent procedure for you to follow that works for me. Packaging materials cost money but hopefully you’ll be making more then you spend at this point.
The first thing to do is to determine at what dollar amount you are willing to get ripped off at. This is important because buyer and seller fraud is a real thing in the industry. Knowing that spending 3 to 4 dollars tracking every package is not feasible, you have to figure out what amount of money you are willing to risk just sending cards in a plain white envelope and a stamp.
For us, it’s anything under 20 dollars. For P.W.E, plain white envelope orders under 10 cards, we package the cards inside of a penny sleeve and tape them to a small piece of thin packing cardboard. We have had good success with this method and have a low rate of complaints or damage.
For anything above 20 dollars, we use the same penny sleeve strategy but if it is because there are a lot of cards, we use a bubble mailer or a card box depending on the number of cards. The key is to make sure you are using the packaging that best suits the number of cards you are sending. It is not sensible to use a flat rate box for 50 cards. However, if it is because a single card is awfully expensive then we use a top loader and a penny sleeve to ensure the safety and rigidity of the card during transit, inside of a bubble mailer. For any of these options we like to use PayPal and create shipping label.
You can do the same thing on eBay and you normally get a slight discount through either of them. This way you get a tracking number and do not have to worry about losing money on expensive cards getting lost in the mail. Also, the post office gives out free tracking label holders that you stick to your packages and insert the printed shipping labels into. This will save you tons of time taping and writing labels.
So, you have done it all and now its time to talk turkey. So, let us talk about money. Can you expect to reasonably make good money selling your cards and are there other options? The answer is, yes. At this point if you have followed all the steps above you should have been able to make a reasonable amount of money considering the value of the cards you have. Whether or not the money that you made was worth your time is a call that you will have to make on your own.
Obviously the more valuable your cards, the more money you will make at any stage of the game here. The important thing to determine is whether it is worth doing before you get started. So as a reward for getting to this point in my article, I am going to give you some estimated percentages that might help you make up your mind on whether you really want to take on this endeavor.
Considering that 100% is the fair market value of your cards on TCGPlayer.com here are a few examples of what you can expect in returns. This varies according to things like fees and shipping or even just lack of knowledge, but it is a good place to start from and is based on my own experience.
- Selling to a store unsorted and bulked 10% – 30% Value
- Selling to a store sorted and un-valued 25% - 55% Value
- Selling to a store sorted and valued 40% - 80% Value
- Selling to friends sorted and valued 55% - 90% Value
- Selling to Online Market Places 65% - 90% Value
- Selling on Big Three: Tcg, Amzn, Ebay 75% - 85% Value
You will notice that there is quite a spread on the potential for each entry. As we go down the list the gap in low to high numbers for each entry lowers and this is because of the variance in what you can get for things like bulk cards. Stores don’t take into account the value of a 50 cent card and so they tend to buy those for about a penny or less a card. Places like Ebay have the lowest variance because when you sell the same card for 50 cents you get the 50 cents minus the fees.
The difference is in how much time and effort it is going to take to make that 50 cents. Of course, selling the 50 cent card to your friend is always the best because of lack of fees but you might still take a loss on a stamp if you have to ship it. Or if you want to give them a homie discount to entice them to buy it from you instead of the local card store, they love. There is one final option that I have held onto for all this time.
This option is reserved for only the most special of circumstances and should only be considered when you have no time to sell the cards yourself but happen to come across some absolute baller status cards. Shadow*cough ess First Ed*cough Charizard. At my store we reserve this service for cards valued above 1000 dollars. Yes, you heard that right some of those cardboard pokemans can be worth more then a pack of bubblegum, Rick Harrison!
This is the option where you and usually the owner or management team at a store discuss the potential of helping you sell a card without receiving money up front. This unique interaction means you are willing to wait on getting paid until the card is sold.
Generally, since the store does not have to risk capital, they are willing to do the work of selling the card for a lower percentage of profits or a flat rate fee. Depending on the value of the card you are selling you can expect 80% - 95% of the value of the card depending on the outlet in which the card is sold. Fee’s generally apply but are not as painful on the wallet.
That is it! I wish you the best of luck selling your cards and do not forget to consider your local game store when wanting to sell your collection. If you don’t have a local games store or if my store is in fact your local game store, feel free to reach out and we will be glad to discuss a fair price for your collection today!
Written By: Marco Vazquez 2/16/2021