Can I Make Money in Sports Cards?
One of the normal “newbie” sports card questions is on the simple side, but has so much to it. The question is; “Can I make money collecting?” The general consensus on this from most collectors is; “Have you gone mad? Are you serious!?!? You literally think you can make money this way!?!? Impossible!!!! It just can’t be done!” Guess what? It can be. Here’s how.
While of course making money in this hobby is hard, it is very possible. It’s just how you go about it. If you do not know what you are doing, I guarantee you are not going to make money. So before I tell you about what to do to make money, I first must tell you what you can’t do.
If you want to make money in sports cards, DO NOT, AND I SAY THAT LOUD AND CLEARLY, DO NOT OPEN PACKS OR BOXES. THAT IS A FACT AND YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT. GOT IT!?!? Sorry for losing my temper, but you really just can’t. Out of a $100 box, chances are you will get about $20-$50 worth of cards. That is not a good investment of your money and there really is no way to deny that, no matter what lame excuse you think of. So just get it in your head, that by opening even a single pack of cards you are throwing
away money. Yeah, you could get lucky. But you know what? If you want to get lucky, stop by the gas station, buy a lottery ticket and have a chance at winning a hundred million bucks. If you get an amazing pull out of a pack, lets say a Babe Ruth cut autograph or something crazy like that, it is only going to be worth five thousand. Sure you could pull that Strasburg “SuperDuperCapluperfractor” and sell it for a couple hundred grand, but the lottery seems like a better gamble to me. Or better yet, skip the lottery and the cards because they both have losing odds.
Now that I have what not to do out of the way, you shall learn what you should do. Before I begin on the options, let me first give you a piece of advice. When purchasing, always think about what you are getting for your money. Will you be able to resell it for more? Will this card retain its value? Is there some way I can increase its value using time and effort? Well, now that that is done, I will give you option number one.
Option #1. Buy vintage.
Of all the types of sports cards that will retain value, vintage will hold the most. There is a scarcity with vintage that cannot be duplicated with numbered cards or anything like that, because what has been printed is all there will be. But let me explain how you can make money
One way to make money on vintage is to just buy them and hang on to them for a while. As the economy gets better, the cards get older and as time goes by vintage cards should increase in value. These are a long term investment, like a thirty year bond. If you want any change in value, you are going to have to store them well and hold on to them for a long time.
Another option with vintage is to buy cards in near mint condition and get them graded. Go on eBay and find bad listings and such, then
bid bid bid until you win it. Get a lot of cards graded at one time using the longest service they have, or just enter a group submission. This will cut down the costs of the grading, leaving more room for profits. When your cards come back from PSA, which in my opinion is the best option for vintage, you can sell them for far greater than the cost of the actual grading as long as you got a decent grade.
Option #2. Get good deals on eBay.
This one doesn’t make much sense, because if there was a way to always get good deals on eBay then everybody would do it that way, right? Truth is, not everybody does. The best way to get a good deal is to find “bad” listings. Listings listed incorrectly, or in the wrong category or just plain confusing will deter bidders. As someone committed to making money, I assume you have the extra time. A good way to get “steals” is to find auctions where the seller misspelled the athlete’s name. Now, I get what you’re thinking. “There’s no way I am going to search fifty different spellings of “Hank Aaron” just to get a card I think I could make money on!” Well here’s where technology comes into play. There is a website that does all of this for you, search the hundreds of different ways to spell “Hank Aaron.” The website is called Fat Fingers and here is a link: http://www.fatfingers.com. I suggest using that for most of your purchases, as the less people who see an auction the less it will see for. Though don’t get tricked into buying every auction you see that is misspelled, because it isn’t always going to be a discount, especially if the person selling it is a “Power Seller.”
Option #3. Use time and patience to make money.
There is something that 95% of Americans don’t have and that’s time and patience. With our hectic lives, not many of us have the time to do some of the ideas I am about to give you. But if you want to make money in sports cards, you better be prepared to spend time on it. So here are a couple of good ideas.
One way is to send out through the mail (TTM) to players. Now I don’t mean sending out cards or anything, but baseballs, pucks, golf balls, etc. Not to modern average players, but to Hall of Famers. Or better yet, all-time greats! Make sure they sign first, so you don’t waste money on this memorabilia to not even get it back. If the player charges a fee, I recommend against it as it usually is not very cost effective to still send to him. But MLB Hall of Famers such as Joe Morgan and Bobby Doerr who will sign for free seems like a great option to me.
Another way are no purchase necessary’s, commonly called NPNs. For legal reasons, card companies must have an option to send in an envelope with a 3 x 5 index card inside with your name and address on it for a pretty good chance to get some cards. This isn’t always profitable, but a lot of the time it is. A good website for this so you don’t have an excuse to buy a pack to get the address (I knew you were thinking that) is http://www.npnsportscards.com. They have a well updated site there with lots of NPNs. But the best way to do NPN is through Upper Deck, since you can do it online so it is entirely free. For that, follow this link http://sports.upperdeck.com/npn/.
There is one other form of patience that will make you money and this is probably the cleverest of them all. It is pretty simple, actually. Buy redemptions. Yes, the little cards that the companies put into packs that you use to enter a code online and have a card sent to you. With redemptions, cards can often take up to six months to arrive, so they sell for much less than the card that you receive is worth. Other people don’t have the patience for this, but you do. So go on the Bay and find some redemptions and to add an extra discount in, ask the seller beforehand if he will just email the code. Why would you want to do that? Because then you won’t have to pay for shipping. So you get a lot of money off for the fact that it will take a while to get, as well as money off because you won’t have to pay for shipping! Make sure to check with the seller beforehand I should repeat, because if you don’t you will be in a sticky situation if the seller says he won’t email it. (For PayPal reasons or the fact that he/she makes money on shipping)
Option #4. Play the market.
The hardest way but highest in a payout sense is playing the market. What I mean by this, is buy low right before a player or a product goes up, then sell high. So for example, if a Hall of Fame baseball player is about to die, buy a bunch of his autographs. When he dies, they will go up in value. Or you think someone is going to be selected into the Hall of Fame this year? Buy up a lot of his stuff.
While one way to do it is buying old guys, buying young guys is just as good. Figure out what prospects are going to be really good that no one has heard about and buy them up. A good web site for prospects is http://thebaseballcube.com. An even better way is to buy a player when they aren’t doing well. I think an example would do well here.
Let’s say you want to buy a lot of Mark Teixeira cards to resell later on. The question is, when do you buy? If you look at Mark Teixeira’s statistics from most of his seasons, he almost always starts off slow. So when should you buy him? I bet May, since he has just had a horrible April and his stuff is selling in the gutters. Then, come June when he gets hot, sell of his stuff. Next year? Repeat.
This works even better for a player like Tiger Woods, who right now is “shamed” but will likely get to the top of his form again. And you know what? When he does get to the top of his form again he will be even more popular. Why? Because instead of just being a great golfer, he is now someone that someone who knows nothing about golf knows all about. Sure, I bet everyone knew who Tiger Woods was. But only for being a golfer. So here’s my flat out advice: Buy when unpopular, sell when hot.
I had been contemplating whether or not to post any of this, since if everyone knew how to make money all the ways I do it then my ways wouldn’t work so great. But, I guess I should share with my Sports Card Forum community….and wouldn’t it be funny if a player who is about to make the Hall of Fame has a price increase and then it drops when he makes it in? Or if when Mark Teixeira has his customary .200 April his stuff sells for more than it does when he’s batting .350? Well, maybe not, but still, everyone deserves to know how to make money in sports cards, because contrary to many collectors beliefs, it certainly can be done.
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