How to Sell Baseball Cards [& Other Sports Cards] Like an Experienced Pro
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Collecting baseball cards as a hobby or for pure pleasure is the easy part, but knowing how to sell baseball cards to make a fair profit is where the hard work comes in!
If you're interested in making good money selling to baseball card collectors there's a lot you need to learn.
But whether you've amassed a sports card collection and have outgrown the hobby, or just curious what this side hustle is all about, we've got you covered!
Here's what you need to know when it comes to buying and selling sports cards to make more money.
- Understanding the Baseball Card Market
- Where Can You Sell Baseball Cards?
- What Makes Baseball Cards Valuable?
- Selling Baseball Cards FAQ
- In Conclusion
Understanding the Baseball Card Market
First of all, baseball fans are passionate. This is important to know. It is possible to make money buying and selling trading cards without following the game closely.
However, you are definitely putting yourself at a disadvantage. So if you're not a fan, learn the basics of the pro game.
Being able to talk baseball builds a lot of trust with both buyers and sellers. Showing you understand the hobby makes it more likely that collectors are willing to trust you.
Second, even if you're a huge baseball fan, you still have a lot to learn. The business side of baseball cards not only requires you to know about the sport, but also the hobby, the card companies, the history of an individual card, and more!
Don't let this be intimidating. If you look at it as an exciting new area to learn about, you can do very, VERY well. Plus even vintage sports cards and vintage sports collections in general can be pretty fascinating.
So if you have that right mindset before diving in, you'll find yourself in the beginning of an exciting new journey!
Where Can You Sell Baseball Cards?
The biggest part of learning how to make money selling baseball cards is learning the best places and times to sell different types of cards.
There are some basic rules of thumb that make a huge difference on whether you lose money, make money, or just break even as you learn the ropes when selling off your baseball collection.
And mastering this knowledge is critical for your success!
Once you have these down you can move to advanced strategies. Seeing what options are available to you, what opportunities.
But even understanding the basics of how card collecting works will make a huge difference.
So now you have the cards. Where should you sell them?
Sports Collectible Shops
This is one of the more obvious spots, though finding a good deal will be one of the better challenges. A card dealer isn't there as a collector. He/she is looking to make a profit on a particular card.
That means it's a very rare situation where you can get more money on your baseball card collection.
This can make it harder to find easy wins. But working with a card dealer has its advantages, too.
The owner of a card shop will have connections. They likely have spaces at conventions or shows you may not have access to.
On the plus side you will be able to get cash immediately. A card dealer can offer you a price right away. This goes for individual cards, sets, or wholesale.
However, they need to make a profit, too. That means below market prices so they have room to mark up the cards and stay profitable.
While not always the best first option, many card sellers use at least one or two dealers as part of their business strategy.
- You can sell your cards directly
- You can sell your cards immediately
- One on one negotiation is possible
- Potential for cutting a deal as a supplier
- Prices offered on a baseball card will almost always be below market value
- Many areas do not have a sports collectibles hobby shop nearby
- Some dealers may be untrustworthy
You can't underestimate the power of a good online auction site to help sell cards online. And eBay is still the online king.
One of the amazing things about eBay is your ability to buy, sell, or flip. This is one of the few places where you can do all three!
One of the major benefits is audience reach. You can pretty much rest assured eBay has a much wider reach than you do.
That means more people who can find your listings and potentially buy your sports cards!
If a bidding war starts, that can be a great thing.
On the other hand, listing fees are a thing. If you're selling a baseball card collection and have many auctions without a sale that can cut into your bottom line.
There are multiple pros and cons to using eBay to sell your (sports) baseball card collection. That said, this is a handy platform where you always have the options to sell your cards online.
- Very wide audience reach
- Has an established buying process
- Can sell your cards fast
- Can sell cards directly
- Can locate mis-listed cards, buy cheap, and then flip for a profit all in one place
- A great place to sell vintage sports cards
- Have to be wary of fake or incorrect listings
- Listing fees
- Must deal with shipping and handling, as well as processing payments
Facebook Groups (Social Media)
Social media in general can be a great place to advertise high demand cards. Facebook groups in particular have exploded surrounding the hobbies of baseball card collecting.
These are groups where collectors are looking for specific cards, open to buying modern cards, and open to members selling cards.
This provides a huge opportunity!
Keep in mind that every group is going to have its own rules, social norms, and best practices.
You need to learn how each group does things before pushing or selling too hard. You'd hate to get banned by an Admin from a group that would have been eager to buy what you had to offer.
If nothing else being active in some of these groups could give you good opportunities or leads for buying cards.
Hopefully at a great price, so you can then resell for a profit.
- Eager knowledgeable group of potential buyers
- Ability to connect and network
- Great place to learn more about the hobby from enthusiasts
- Finding great deals can be difficult considering there will be many knowledgeable hobbyists here
- Not all groups open to buying/selling
- Time in groups is time not spent finding deals elsewhere
Special Shows or Events
These fall in one group but can look very different depending on the area. Whether wrestling meets in the Midwest, a local flea market, or anywhere you can rent a table, there's potential here.
And while local sports card dealers may be a dying breed. When you have a space in a high traffic area sales can follow.
No doubt having the ability to socialize and pitch in person helps, but it's not necessary. Enough people with an interest will lead to some sales.
You could also put down garage sale, which might be required for commons. Or any cards of players who aren't all-stars or future hall of famers.
Make sure the venue is one that is good for selling baseball cards.
You want the best match possible because if you're spending several hundred dollars for a table, you want to make your money back.
- Potential for some big selling days
- Great way to bundle commons & good (but not great) players to sell excess stock
- May bring more customers than you could find solo
- Usually pay to play scenario
- A bad fit might mean low sales or even losses
- A lot of work to set up and tear down
Direct Selling to Online Hobby Shops
This is pretty simple. Some of the biggest card dealers out there have websites that give quotes online for cards or collections.
This would be on sites like Sports Collector's Daily or Just Collect for vintage baseball cards.
- Very simple way to sell baseball cards
- Can get estimate before having to show up in person (if at all)
- Generally very low price offers compared to other options
- Often only interested in a limited number of baseball cards
Direct Selling to Customers Online
If you have a big enough collection, are great with websites and SEO, this could be an option. Build your own website, sell your baseball cards.
For most of us, it's not practical.
Especially if you're not going to make this a full-time source of income.
- Control your own selling platform
- Potential to build up worldwide organic traffic
- Not realistic for most beginners
- Requires a huge skillset
- Long-term investment that may or may not pay off
Auction or Auction House
This is almost never going to be the best option for selling your card collection. Unless you have a number of extremely valuable vintage cards.
Like a Mickey Mantle rookie card, a rare error rookie card, or the famous t26 Honus Wagner.
In other words, unless you have cards worth a minimum of four figures, this isn't going to be the best option.
They may not even take the lot if the collection isn't inspected, verified, and valued high enough.
- Best place for extremely rare or valuable cards
- Can get high purchase prices for a rare vintage baseball card
- Usually takes a very high cut
- Generally only sells extremely rare or high value cards
What Makes Baseball Cards Valuable?
In a simple word: demand. While that's a bit simplistic, the value of a sports card really does come down to that one word.
So what makes one baseball card high in demand while another isn't?
- Is there a rare error that was quickly connected?
- Is the card a rookie card?
- How common/uncommon is the card?
- What condition is the card in?
- How popular is the player right now?
- Is that player in the hall of fame or will he be in the hall of fame eventually?
- Is there a regional or local demand (Hometown hero, or one-off great season?)
- What company produced the card?
- Is the card autographed?
These are all factors that can make a big difference. Vintage cards are much harder to find, much rarer, and harder to find in good condition.
Some years companies produced fewer “rookie decks” than other companies. This is why an Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is worth way more than Fleer or Donruss rookie card.
And if you ever find an original copy of the rare Honus Wagner (pictured below), congratulations, you're a millionaire.
Baseball Card Grading Guide
Grading baseball cards is crucial to knowing what the actual value is.
The order of grades from best to worst are:
- Mint Condition – A card in absolutely perfect condition
- Near Mint – A card that is nearly perfect
- Excellent – Surface gloss might have a slight fade, corners might be slightly rounded
- Very Good – Wear apparent, rounded borders, some small creasing
- Good – A lot of wear and use, including creases
- Fair/Poor – Heavy wear and damage, for collecting only (if even that)
Higher graded cards are worth more.
For a real deep dive into grading, check out this article.
Selling Baseball Cards FAQ
Some of your most important questions when it comes to learning the sports card collection business!
Are Autographs Valuable?
Yes, but from a practical standpoint ONLY if they come with certification. Without that there's a lot of suspicion about fake and counterfeited autographs.
If a card was autographed at a game or event versus for a card seller, getting certification can still be possible. But it may be a costly process.
For very casual collectors, an autographed card of a player who isn't an All-Star might be worth a $10 or $20 bet without certification. They're great gifts for kids and young collectors, after all.
How many eras of baseball cards are there?
Most recognize three, although some would say four.
- Pre-war cards are those before World War II
- Vintage cards are considered 1946-1970 or 1979
- Semi-Vintage cards 1970-1979 (not everyone recognizes this as its own era)
- Modern baseball cards are 1980 on
Generally speaking the older the card the more valuable it is likely to be however there are modern cards that can bring you a pretty penny at card shops or an online marketplace.
So while the common goal is to sell your vintage sports cards, there is profit to be made from rare cards of all eras.
Are Counterfeit Baseball Cards a Problem?
Generally no. Vintage cards are hard to fake and any scam generally comes to light quickly.
Your biggest concern would be making sure listings (and photos) are accurate when buying online.
The scammy switch-a-roo is unfortunately a grift that still happens when it comes with buying/selling baseball cards.
Or selling sports card in general: football cards, hockey cards, basketball cards, and really any sports memorabilia, etc.
Making sure autographs are authentic is the other concern. But there are ways to get your cards graded by a professional sports authenticator.
Buying, collecting, and selling baseball cards (and sports cards in general) is not only a great way to stay up with the sport, but also a great way to learn math, statistics, and make those subjects fun for kids who might not otherwise be so inclined.
This is a hobby that can also be very lucrative. Once you know the current market value and know how to sell sports cards for a nice profit, it's hard to go back!
You might not be able to make a living being one of the elites who can swing a bat or pitch a 90 mph fastball, but that doesn't mean you can't make money off of professional baseball.
If you love the sport, have a safe place to store cards, and do some work to find great deals you can make really great money flipping baseball cards as a side hustle!
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