What to Look for When Buying Sports Cards – 5 Tips

If you’re looking to buy sports cards, there’s a lot of info to take in.

In this article, I’ll go over what to look for when buying sports cards.

What to Look for When Buying Sports Cards – Buy Cards Like a Pro

1. Know What You Want When Buying Sports Cards

Knowing what you want when buying sports cards is the most important consideration. Do you want a specific card that you know? Do you want to buy packs? Do you want to know which players’ cards are worth the most, and what prices they’re typically sold at?

It is important to know your budget before you go into a card store. Keep your eye on the prize while you’re shopping, and make sure that the card is appropriate for your means. I know a lot of people will talk about sports cards like it’s “investing” but don’t spend beyond your means – yes, there’s a way to make some money with sports cards, but there’s still a chance that your cards can lose value over time. Spend wisely.

Know what type of sports cards interest you. Know what set of sports cards that you would like to collect. And most importantly, know what type of player’s card that interests you the most.

There are a lot of cool collections out there that don’t include massively expensive cards – and there’s others that only include rookie cards of players like Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Lionel Messi, and LeBron James.

2. Ask the Seller Questions & Check Their Feedback

If you’re using a tool like eBay, there’s a lot of options. And a lot of eBay sellers out there.

As such, if you have any reservations about the item that you are considering purchasing, be sure to ask the seller any questions that you may have. Similarly, if you’re shopping at a card store, or with a dealer, asking questions is always a good strategy. If the seller isn’t a complete jerk, they’ll be happy to help you out.

Keep in mind that many dealers, especially on eBay or at card shows, are usually super busy and selling dozens of cards at a time. Make sure you’re not asking twenty questions about a $2 card.

Along with asking questions, make sure you check the seller’s feedback on eBay, or whatever you’re selling.

Personally, I avoid sellers with mixed reviews, and buying anything expensive from brand new sellers.

3. Look for the Card’s Condition – is it Brand New or Used?

The condition of the card should impact price. If the card is graded, you’ll be know straight away. However, buying ungraded cards online can be really hard to see the condition.

Checking the condition of your cards is not difficult, and it will help you know what you have and how valuable it is. The cards are categorized under three general groups: Mint (MT), Near Mint (NM), and Poor (PR). Grading companies use other grades in there too. All the way from Gem Mint to Poor.

The first step in checking the condition is to gather your collection.

Second, organize your cards into a stack.

Third, hold all the cards next to each other with their backs facing up.

Lastly, step back from the cards as far as possible while still being able to see them well.

Then, flip through them one at a time while comparing them to each other until you find a card that doesn’t match well with any of the others in terms of color or font wear on its front or back.

Another option is to purchase a sports card grading guide. These guides can help you identify the condition of your sports cards and provide an accurate value.

Collectors should buy protective sleeves to store their cards in. This will help to protect the condition of their investment. Condition matters a lot when it comes to sports cards. The most important thing is storage. If you are not taking care of the card, then it will get damaged very quickly.

Also, keep the card out of the sun! I’ve seen cards worth thousands end up being worth dollars after losing all color in the sun.

4. Check for Authentication – Is the Sport Card Authentic?

Counterfeiting is a serious and growing problem for the sporting goods industry.

There are many ways to check if a card is authentic, but the most common one is to do a visual inspection of the card. The fake ones often have different colors or are printed on different types of paper. They can also have less detail in their images or logos.

When you buy something, always check for these signs that it might be counterfeit: different colors, blurry images, and low-quality paper.

If you don’t know how to authenticate your sports card, then you can always ask for help from an experienced hobbyist or a local sports memorabilia store.

It’s funny in a way – online forums used to be a great resource to finding photos of counterfeit cards and knowing what to look for. However, these posts have become great guides for the counterfeiters themselves, so the fake card quality is always improving.

Also, when it comes to looking at fake cards, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I know because I thought I was the smartest guy out there and getting a mad bargain – turns out, you can’t get a Messi rookie for a few hundred dollars.

5. Take Advantage of All Resources Available

Every sports card collector has a list of favorite places to buy cards. Depending on the person’s needs, they have different priorities in terms of quality and price.

When it comes to buying online, eBay is king; its the single biggest marketplace for sports cards.

If you want to know more places, you can read this article on where to buy sports cards.

But that isn’t the only resource available. There’s plenty of great sites (like this one – how’s that for a self-plug) that has a lot of info about cards. Use these so you know what’s what regarding cards – and the ones you want to collect.


  • Vince

    I'm a big time sports nerd, with soccer being my first true love. I've been collecting sports cards since I was a little kid, and now... well, not much has changed, but I write about it... and I have facial hair.

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.