I put this guide together to teach you how to buy trading cards online in the most effective way possible. There are many ways and places to buy a variety of trading cards. Some are good and some are not. So let’s take a few minutes to explore some different things to consider.
Know Your Goal
What’s Your Reason?
Why are you buying a trading card? Choose the mini-guide that applies to your interest.
The first thing you need to decide is why you are looking to buy trading cards online. There are a few reasons that people may look to purchase cards. Ask yourself which of these applies to your situation:
- Are you looking to add cards to your personal collection to enjoy or keep in your family for years to come?
- Are you looking to purchase a trading card as an investment to sell in the short term?
- Are you looking to get a card as a gift for someone else?
Depending on your reason for purchasing a trading card, there may be different personal considerations to think about.
Tip: When you buy trading cards online as an investment, be sure to leave room to resell at a profit. This can take some time and patience, but you don’t want to lose money in the long run.
Places to Buy Trading Cards Online
There are literally thousands of places you can go to buy trading cards online. The key is to find a place that has a large supply of sellers. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that relates to supply and demand, right? The bigger the supply, the lower the price. However, if there’s a large demand, it can raise the price. I personally look at three major websites for the majority of my card purchases.
- Heritage Auctions
I’ve had the most luck with eBay, but you can also find good buys at Heritage Auctions and even Amazon from time to time as well. Let’s dig in and talk about the pros and cons to each.
I know that many people don’t like using eBay to buy trading cards because they get nervous that they will be scammed, but if you follow these tips, you should be fine and will probably come away with some great deals:
- Avoid buying from someone who has a brand new account with eBay.
- Buy from members with a feedback of 100 or greater.
- Make sure that they have a high percentage of positive feedback. Don’t be afraid to take some time to read about what people had to say about their personal experiences with sellers.
I like to look for the “Buy it Now” listings that have the “Make an Offer” feature. I will find out what the actual value is for that card and make an offer lower than that amount. Depending on why you’re buying, this amount may vary. For example, if it’s something that I’m looking to keep for my personal collection, I’m usually more flexible on the price. If I’m looking to resell it in the short-term, I’m more aggressive with my offer. I might try to buy trading cards on eBay at 50% to 60% of its actual value. Although offers are usually countered, be careful if it’s a card that you really want. Why? If you look for too much of a discount, you may turn off the buyer, who might not even bother responding.
The other strategy that I use is by looking at auctions. I’ll sort the listings by what’s ending the soonest. I know what I’m willing to spend ahead of time. When an auction is about to end, I’ll put the amount that I’m willing to spend at the most as my “high bid” price. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t. If I don’t, I just go on to the next and wait until about ten seconds before it ends.
Heritage Auctions is a great place to buy trading cards online because they are very strict with what they allow to be sold on their website. They do their research to protect the buyers. They also hold regular auctions as well for some items.
You’ll also find great information about what you’re looking to purchase as well. I love the detailed section that shows what a card has sold for in the past. This can really give you a good feel of the market for a specific card. I sometimes just use this as a tool to get a better grasp on a specific market. Sometimes a card may only have a “price guide” value of $100, but if no one is selling, they can go for significantly more. The opposite can be true as well. I’ve been stuck buying trading cards online well under “price guide” value, only to find that there were hundreds for sale and I couldn’t get a fraction of what I spent on it.
Try a search for a card at Heritage Auctions.
Every once in a while, I’ll find a good price on a card at Amazon. There is less inventory here, but you can find some good buys every once in a while. And because fewer people search Amazon for trading cards, you could be the first to stumble upon a great buy. However, the majority of cards sold on Amazon seem to be overpriced. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find that hidden gem.
Search for a trading card at Amazon.
A Word About Graded Cards
If you are looking to buy trading cards online, you should look for professional graded cards only. Otherwise, you’re relying on the seller for the actual condition of the card. They will almost always tell you that it’s in better condition than it really is. So be careful. In many cases you can tell the condition of a non-graded card by looking at the picture
Use PSA When You Buy Trading Cards Online
Although there are several great professional grading companies out there, I almost always look for PSA graded cards. I find that these are the most popular amongst other collectors. This means that if I look to sell it, I will probably get a little more.
Tip: Always get the highest grade you can afford. I usually look for PSA 10s unless there aren’t many available.
Try “Paper Trading”
You may have heard the term “paper trading” if you’ve ever been involved with the stock market, FOREX, or other trading markets.
Don’t be afraid to try this strategy before actually investing in trading cards.
So what is “paper trading”? In the case of trading cards, it’s when you research the lower prices that cards sell for and pretend that you were the one purchasing it. You can even put together a spreadsheet of “fake” purchases. Then you watch for what they sell for in the future to see if you would have made a profit.
This can be helpful when trying to become familiar with a new trading card market that you might not be heavily involved with. When it actually comes time to really buy a trading card online, see if you can get a lower price than what you “paper traded” it for.
So get started and soon, you’ll be on your way to buy trading cards online.