How to Make Money Selling Trading Cards
Did you know you can make money selling trading cards?
If you have a horde of old trading cards burning a hole in your closet, selling them could be a great way to make some extra money with them.
Or maybe you grew up with your old trading cards and began buying them up again out of nostalgia or curiosity. And now you realize that some of those super rare cards are actually worth a lot more than you could have ever thought.
Whatever the case, we’re here to help you sell your trading cards.
How to Sell Your Trading Cards
If you’re interested in learning how to sell and ship trading cards — or if you want to get reacquainted with a hobby you may have loved as a kid — this could be a great way for you to make some extra money.
How Much Money Can I Make Selling Trading Cards?
You can absolutely make quick money selling your trading cards. Though it is totally up in the air how much and how fast.
For instance, if you have the prized original Base Set Charizard — a very popular Pokemon card — it currently goes for $300 on average. There are some that are going for as low as $90 and others priced in the thousands. This is a card that moves fast. As of this writing, 25 cards have been sold in the past week. That means somewhere around 15% of this specific card for sale is sold weekly.
For a counter-example, and to use another Pokemon card since most will be familiar with it, this Misty’s Seel from the Gym Heroes G1 set has only sold 24 cards in the last three weeks, most of them priced under a buck. There are over 200 listings for the card right now on tcgplayer.com, so that means only 3% of cards are being sold a week.
So, the trading card market works like any other market: If you have something super sought after, it will probably be worth more money and be sold quicker. If you don’t, it will probably take longer to sell and be worth less.
You likely do have a few rare and valuable cards stored away. Though we all know that is not the bulk of the cards, most are likely very low value.
This is to be said because, while you can absolutely make quick money, it more than likely will be a bit slower than something like selling your car in a busy area.
To be upfront: You most likely won’t be rolling in the dough selling your trading cards.
Where Do I Sell Trading Cards?
Marketplaces are your best friends when it comes to selling trading cards. Some are better than others. And some are specifically designed for selling trading cards.
eBay is likely the first place you think of when selling random items online.
eBay isn’t exactly the Wild West when it comes to selling trading cards, it’s more of a fast-paced bazaar. eBay is worth it if you either can’t find somewhere else to list the card, or if it’s more valuable than about $5-$10. The few drawbacks eBay has is that it is generally hard to find data on what kind of price you can sell a card for directly on-site. Though you can find out off-site thanks to SportsCardsPro. It is just not upfront like on TCGPlayer. The other drawback is that low-value cards cannot be listed, really at all. The only exception would be in bulk, which you don’t really want to ship around.
You only have so many listings you can use per month at eBay, so there’s no use in listing a card that’s worth a couple of cents each. But you can do that on a site like TCGPlayer. And why would you list such a worthless card instead of selling it in bulk? Well, it provides an opportunity to get as much money as you can from it and more orders. More orders, especially with good ratings, is better than fewer.
Seller’s fees for using eBay include a 10-15% charge on the final value of the purchase. You also can list 250 items each month for free. But for those of you with extensive card collections, there’s a $0.35 fee per listing after 250.
As far as shipping options, eBay only provides recommendations.
Facebook Marketplace is absolutely the Wild West when it comes to selling trading cards. You could list items for sale at prices that are about as random as a garage sale. That could be either good or bad depending on the card and the price.
With Facebook Marketplace, you can choose to advertise your listing just locally, or offer the option of shipping. So, if your card sells quickly, you may either have to ship the card or meet the person somewhere to trade said card. Just about every form of shipping fulfillment option appears valid, as long as the customer gets their purchase.
Facebook marketplace is free to list items on, but there is typically a fee for selling. Currently, fees are waived for all shipped orders until June 30, 2023. But the typical selling fee is 5% per shipment or $0.40 for any shipment that is $8.00 or less. Anything past that is yours to keep. Shipping fulfillment options are totally up to you, whether it is local or through any of the various shipping options. Payment options are also various, as you could use PayPal, credit or debit card, cash, Zelle, etc.
There are also Facebook groups of fans, collectors, and players of whatever trading cards you are selling. It is possible to join a local or more widespread group, such as the Sports Card Marketplace (Buy/Sell/Trade) group run by Talon Sports Cards that connects sports card sellers and buyers.
Most, if not all, of these Facebook Groups simply connect buyers and sellers to make sales easier. However, payment, terms of payment, shipping options, etc. are to be determined between buyer and seller.
With Facebook and eBay, things like purchase protection, seller’s protection, shipping protection, tax and accounting handling is a little more up in the air. So keep that in mind.
For example, basically none of these marketplaces will advise you on dealing with tax, but most will automatically collect the necessary sales tax for where you are located. Facebook has purchase protection, which is free, but only on purchases through Facebook.
If you live in America, this is most likely the best one for you when it comes to selling gaming related cards. TCGPlayer (TCG stands for trading card games) specializes in selling trading cards. From Pokemon to Yu-Gi-Oh to Digimon to Magic: the Gathering, there’s an opportunity for a majority of trading card games. There are even plans to begin selling sports cards.
TCGPlayer lets you upload cards, with images if you’d like, and sell directly to the consumer. They will deal with sales tax and process payments to you. So once you have the cards up for sale, you pretty much just sit back and wait for a sale.
You will only be able to start selling with 50 listings, however. But once you hit 50 total sales, you will level up and have access to a ton of other options, like hosting sales on your own website, which is what I did.
Selling on TCGPlayer will result in a 10.25% fee per sale across the board if you are Level 1 through 4. You will start at Level 1 so this is what will be taken out most of the time. However, if you have a Pro Account, like I do, then it is 9.25% +2.5% for the website which totals 11.75%. There is no fee to list any card on the site, though there is a limit depending on your Level.
Shipping options are up to you, as they are for most of these, whatever gets the patron their order.
TCGPlayer has Fraud Protection in place but there’s not really a way to stop a dishonest person from claiming your $5 order didn’t make it to them and having to issue a refund. The only way to maintain confirmation is to use something like USPS’s tracking. But that costs $5. Regardless, TCGPlayer is rather fair.
COMC is a website that sells tons of varying kinds of collectibles. They sell all kinds of sports cards from baseball to soccer to gold and more. They also sell gaming and trading cards like Star Wars, Pokemon, and Magic: the Gathering. If you are looking to sell sports cards online, this is one of the options more specialized in that niche than eBay.
To sell cards on COMC, you will have to go through the process of making an account, just like other websites. However, this one is a little different than a site like eBay or TCGPlayer because you “sell” your cards to COMC and then ship the cards to them.
You can then set the prices for the cards as well as correspond with buyers. However, this is where it differs because COMC basically takes care of everything from there. They automatically create an eBay listing under their store on eBay. They can also provide historical sales data, which is hard to come by in the sports card niche.
COMC touts no shipping costs for sellers, they insure your items, and they even can suggest prices. They do, however, have a rather complicated list of fees for working with them. Among the fees are $0.01 per item with an Asking Price over $0.75 per month, 10% plus $1 if under $250 for a cash out via PayPal, 5% of the sale price on a fixed-price transaction fee, and 3.5% of the final price of an Auction Fee among a few more.
SportsCardsPro is a website focused on, naturally, sports cards. They have immediate tabs for baseball, basketball, football and more. They also allow listings for trading cards, video games and comic books.
This website itself doesn’t seem to be as popular as COMC, eBay and others for selling sports cards. But that does not mean there’s no one on the site. The volume and amount of postings do appear to be significantly less as seen with this Derek Jeter search. There were only four cards for sale directly on their website, however, you can access other marketplaces and their data from SportsCardsPro.
This is because SportsCardsPro is actually a great provider of what’s actively listed on eBay. They automatically create a market price graph for ungraded cards and their graded variations, making it the most important feature on the whole site.
However, they also have a pretty good deal for sellers. Creating an account is free. Listing an item is free. Selling an item is free. You only have to pay a processing fee for your payment. Which they show to be between a 2.9-9% fee for a more expensive item to a less expensive item.
You will not be able to charge for shipping, however. It will have to be factored into the price of the item, which is not true of sites like eBay and TCGPlayer. And you will need a PayPal business account to process the payments. You also will be mailing the purchased card or cards directly to the buyer through whatever means you choose.
How Do I Price Trading Cards?
Pricing your trading cards is mostly based on the market and condition of the card. For the most part, set your prices at market prices, and they will sell relatively quickly and easily.
Market prices can sound difficult to figure out as a one-person operation. Especially if you are choosing to sell a card on eBay or Facebook. The data is simply harder to come by or figure out on those websites. There is the option on eBay to review last sold listing for similar cards. But depending on the type of card, there are two quite reliable sources of market prices that will give you a very quick price to run with, and we have already touched on both.
For gaming cards like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Magic: the Gathering, TCGPlayer is generally better for market pricing. For the Charizard from the Base Set mentioned above, it goes for about $300 based on market price on TCGPlayer. However on PriceCharting, which is directly associated with SportsCardsPro, an ungraded Base Set Charizard is going for just under $200. PriceCharting, too, appears to pull all of its data from eBay, so TCGPlayer is not accounted for at all, or the price would be higher.
Sports cards’ values are much harder to determine compared to gaming cards like Pokemon or Magic. That’s because market prices are hard to pin down and there isn’t really an authoritative marketplace for selling them besides eBay. Fortunately, there are a few ways to pin down the price of your card if you’re not sure what to set it at.
The crudest way is to go on eBay and search for your card, where you can apply a “show only” option towards the bottom of the search options on the left side of the screen. Under that “show only” option, click on “sold items.”
You could find your exact card sold for, say, $10, such as this 1992 TOPPS Derek Jeter Rookie Card, then maybe that’s a fair price to list your card for. Meanwhile, this listing of the Derek Jeter card has been for sale for almost two weeks at double the price of the sold listing.
Or you can do it simply by checking out the price chart for your card on SportsCardsPro where you can see the market price for an ungraded Derek Jeter Rookie Card is around $10.
This is the ungraded price, which most of your cards will be unless you pay for grading. It’s also free to get this information from SportsCardsPro, whereas to get it from COMC, you will have to work with them or buy the information for $99.
Of course, if you sell cheaply, they will move far more quickly, but at the lower cost. And if you try to sell too far above the market price, the cards may not even move at all, or very slowly.
Understand Conditioning vs. Grading
You may have also heard of or seen graded cards. These cards are officially graded by a company like PSA or CCG. If you have graded cards or want to sell graded cards, eBay or Facebook may be the better option for you. TCGPlayer’s catalog generally does not have graded cards on their marketplace.
To get a card graded, you will have to pay money and send it in for grading. And it’s not exactly a quick turnaround, and it’s usually not that important or helpful except for ultra rare cards. A good example of a card you may be better off grading is that Base Set Charizard card mentioned above. The good part about grading is, if you have a card that will be worth a lot, it almost always boosts the price of the card above an ungraded one.
You will have to consider the price of the grading service for this. To go back to our beloved Derek Jeter, an ungraded 1992 Rookie Card is worth $10. But a Grade 7 card is worth $13. At PSA, grading costs $25 by itself, so your card better be pristine if you want to grade it before selling it. If it is, a PSA 10 could go for $355.
Conditioning is what TCGPlayer uses to assign the condition a card is in. It’s a system that should be implemented to nearly every other platform to describe the condition a card is in. Near mint means the card is essentially flawless, right out of the packaging. Heavily damaged, of course, means the card is heavily damaged, lots of scratches or a bend.
Each tier of conditioning has an explanation on TCGPlayer’s guide so you know what condition a card is in. Honesty is better in this case, and you will have to condition each card individually.
If I ever uploaded a card to sell on another marketplace, I would personally use TCGPlayer’s guide to provide a condition for the card since it’s something to work with and most other places lack conditioning guides. (Note that I am also not selling graded cards, which are essentially paid conditioning.)
This is another reason why it’s better to keep note and even provide pictures of more expensive cards to justify their condition, and therefore, price. This is especially true in case a card is damaged en route to the buyer.
How Do I Ship Trading Cards?
Which brings us right to how to ship your sold trading cards.
This might be the hardest ordeal of the selling saga, especially if you don’t use the mail that often. But it definitely depends on what the buyer ordered and the value of the cards.
For example, if someone ordered a $50 card from me, I would do the following:
- Take that card out of storage. (I personally like to use card binders like this one to store the cards I prefer see-through laminate pages because it’s much less likely to scratch the surface of the cards.)
- Place the card into a sleeve; here is my favorite.
- Put the sleeved card into a thin hard plastic Toploader for maximum protection, especially if the package gets tossed or damaged.
- Place the card into a plain white envelope, write the buyer’s shipping information, put a stamp on it, and send it out.
If you are going to be selling a lot of cards per order, you will need to adjust this.
For example, you still may be able to fit 20 or so cards into a plain white envelope, so then you don’t have to buy a bigger package. You’d still sleeve each individual card and place those cards into a special plastic packaging called team bags. Include a single Toploader to give the bag a backbone. You should use two stamps because of its weight and size.
Per the USPS one stamp for one plain white envelope can carry up to 1 ounce of weight. A single card in a Toploader will be covered by this. However, more than a few may weigh over 1 ounce, which means you will have to use 2 stamps. If, for some reason, you use an irregular or large envelope, you will automatically have to use two stamps.
So even if you might be able to get away with fitting, say, five cards into an envelope and it’s under an ounce, you are safer with using two stamps. This is because when an envelope gets a little too fat, it becomes nonmachinable. When it’s nonmachineable, there is a surcharge for processing the mail. There are a few ways an envelope becomes nonmachinable, but the most likely situation with selling cards is that the envelope becomes too rigid or bulky to sort automatically.
If you are looking for more help on how to ship your trading card package, you can refer to TCGPlayer’s shipping guide or go to a local post office or shipping store.
Note that in most cases, it won’t make sense to spring for tracking, which is often $5. It may make sense when the card you sell is uber valuable, like $50 or more.
So, go dust off those cards, do some research, and cross your fingers that you’ll find some paper gold.
Dennis Lynch is a civil engineer turned freelance writer with a passion for personal finance. While young, he acts as the spearhead of personal finance to just about everyone in his life, passing on his knowledge from the perspective of financial independence. You can find Dennis over at colossicus.com between his freelance ventures.