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Collecting sports cards is a hobby for many people.
Many of us just love having some of our favorite sports cards in our collection and keep them tidy so one day, we’ll be able to recollect the memories of our favorite sportsmen.
Others are in the business to make a profit. With a bit of wheeling-and-dealing, it’s possible to make a handsome amount of money – if you know when and what to buy.
Sports cards are bigger than ever today. Many people see it as an investment opportunity.
And it’s a bit like buying stocks – sometimes, the prices will go up, other times, they’ll go down. It can be quite unpredictable.
If you’re wondering how to make money from sports cards, we’ll show some great methods that you could use to make some money while collecting your favorite cards along the way.
Method 1: Buying and Selling Cards
The most obvious way of how to make money from sports cards is to buy cards cheaply and sell them at higher prices.
This method requires you to have some knowledge about the cards but also the players that are involved in the cards. Often, you’ll see that cards of young players that have great potential for the future will get a lot of attention since their values might increase over time.
But as with almost any type of investment, you simply can’t be sure that you’re always going to make a profit.
Players will have their streaks of form; sometimes, they’ll play well, other times, they might get injured, which can cause prices to crash.
You’ll have to be strategic about it, and more importantly, you’ll have to know the market.
Knowing when prices for a particular card are low is crucial for deciding to buy a card. The key with this method is to buy cards at lower prices than usual and then sell them for a profit once the prices increase again.
This requires patience, and it’s a long-term game, as well.
You can test the waters with some smaller purchases at first to see how it goes. If you keep making profits on most of your purchases, then it’s time to move up a bit and buy more valuable cards until eventually, you’re making tidy profits with almost every purchase.
Alternatively, you could also buy boxes with cards and sell cards inside individually. These boxes can be quite expensive, but you’ll have a good chance of pulling that one gem inside that will repay for the box and leave with a bit of cash left.
There’s a bit of gamble to this method, though, as you never know for certain what you’re gonna get inside the box.
How to Get Started
It is not particularly hard to get started with buying and selling sports cards for a profit.
If you have little to no experience with buying and selling cards, then I’d suggest that you start small.
Start with research. Decide which player you’d like to invest in first. Then, it’s time to take a look at the listings.
See which cards are worth buying of this particular player. You’ll also want to consider the potential of this player – the younger the player, the more potential the card has to sell well in the future.
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Some of the most important factors when deciding which card to buy include:
- Card brand – some brands are more popular than others, and will thus command higher values. For example for basketball cards, National Treasures cards will almost always be more expensive and valuable than Panini Prizm base cards, for example.
- Type of card – there are several types of cards you can buy. In essence, we have base cards and parallels. Also, rookie cards tend to be the most valuable card of a player. A rookie card is a card that comes from a player’s rookie year so that one is almost always going to be more expensive.
- Grade – the higher the grade, the more valuable the card is. The grade simply tells us how well the card is preserved, and if there are any errors with the card. Cards are graded by professional grading services like PSA or Beckett.
- Player form, age & other things – analyze the player that you’re buying, and see at what point they are in their career. If you believe that the player can still do better in the years to come, then buying their card could be a good long-term investment.
Method 2: Buying and Grading Cards
Graded cards are usually worth more than ungraded cards. If you have a good eye and are experienced, you can buy high-quality ungraded cards and have them graded, which will increase the price of the card.
If you believe that the card has a chance of being graded highly, you send it to a grading service to have it graded. If the card receives a high grade, you’ll be able to sell it for profit.
It is a great method for making a profit on sports cards. Most collectors prefer to buy graded cards because the quality of the card is certified by a professional grading service.
Ungraded cards are often hit-and-miss, and it’s really hard to tell if a card is well-preserved solely from the image you find on the internet.
The most reliable way to go about this is to meet with the one who’s selling the card in person and inspect the card yourself. However, this will not always be possible, but you can always demand that the seller sends you additional photos of the card before you buy.
But before you go out and buy ungraded cards, you should know that there are a few factors that could make this method a bit unpredictable:
Firstly, the grading prices. Some grading services can be quite expensive, especially if you send high-value items. And you’re not always going to get the grade that you desire, as the grading might sometimes be unpredictable as well.
Secondly, the turnaround times. Grading will take quite some time, so by the time you have your card graded and ready to be listed, the price of the card might have already changed.
How to Get Started
To get started with this method, you’ll want to have at least some experience with sports cards.
That’s because you’ll need to know what factors the grading services are looking at when they’re grading the cards, which will give you a better idea of which cards are kept well, and which cards are not worth investing in.
Some of the more important factors for grading include:
- Corners – are they chipped, or are they as good as they were when the card was released.
- Centering – some cards, especially older cards, can have centering issues. This means that some cards might not be aligned properly, which decreases the card value.
- Edges – the edges should be nice and straight, and as soon as they’re bent or damaged, the values are going to go down.
- Surface – lastly, the surface – is it damaged, or is it as good as new? If there are some signs of aging or damage, the values are going to go down as well.
Selling Cards Wholesale
If you’ve been in the hobby for a long time and you have the right connections at card companies, you might be able to become a re-seller of cards.
This involves buying cards at wholesale prices and selling them at retail prices.
This requires you to have good connections with card companies to get you the deal. Also, you’d need to make sure that you have enough demand for buying cards from potential buyers, or else you could be left with a stock of cards that will not sell.
With this method, you will have to buy cards in bulk, which means that you’d want to have some money to invest in the first place. Ideally, you’ll want to see all of your stock getting sold, but this might not always happen.
You’re always risking being left with stock, which could mean that you’re stuck with these cards that nobody wants to buy, and you’ve already spent some money to get these cards in.
Selling cards this way and making a profit will not be for everyone.
But if you get it right, you could be making big sums of money. Now, if you already have a good base of customers and you believe that there is sufficient interest for buying cards, then you could start to think about adding cards as a re-seller. There’s huge potential in this method if you hit it big.
You’ll also need to find methods of selling and promoting your cards, which can include online marketing as well as offline marketing. And if your business does well, eventually, you could try and grow it, so there’s some scalability in this method as well.
Card breaking happens when an individual like an influencer or someone from a card company opens (or breaks) card packs. Before the breaking, the packs are put on an auction where online members on channels like Youtube can buy cards from the pack that is to be broken.
For example, if the pack of cards costs $300, you would need about 30 people buying one card for $10 to cover the costs of the pack.
There are different methods for breaking cards. In some breaks, customers can buy cards inside the pack from a particular team. And the customer would, in this case, get all the players inside the pack from that team.
There’s a bit of randomness about this method for the consumer, but it can also be hugely rewarding. Some people have won thousands of dollars from small, $10 or $20 investments. It’s all about luck.
As for you, it’s an opportunity to earn additional money as you break these packs. You could charge higher fees than normal to cover the cost of a pack and then have something left once the pack is opened.
But for this method to work, you’ll need to have a solid following on social media channels such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, or other channels. Ideally, you’d want to have at least a few hundred loyal followers who will be ready to buy cards from your breaks.
Breaks are highly popular for baseball and basketball, but also football. All of these breaks need to happen live, which also adds a bit of thrill and excitement to the proceedings.
Sports Cards are a Speculative Business
Sports cards, like any collectable, are a speculative market. A card’s value is linked to what someone is willing to pay for it as it generates no revenue on its own.
That’s why you need to know that none of these methods is a 100% guarantee that you’ll be able to make money with sports cards – just like with other methods of investment, there’s always a degree of risk.
Card values and prices change constantly; they’ll depend on the player’s real-life performances, the demand for the cards and how the market is fluctuating, and many other factors.
Before you dip your toes into sports cards as a way of making money, you need to set your expectations right.
You must not expect to see results instantly or overnight, because you need a lot of patience and sometimes a bit of shrewdness to make it work.
Instead, making money from sports cards is often a marathon; it will start slowly, but once you gather enough knowledge, skills, and revenue, it can start to pick up quickly if you know what you’re doing.
I’d strongly suggest collecting cards before attempting to make money in the hobby.