How to Start a Sports Card Collection
By Brendan White aka SteakNchop

You have just recently gotten into card collecting and are happy and amazed to see that you can trade, buy and sell online! But when you actually go online, nobody wants to trade for your cards! That’s because you don’t have very many cards. Rather logical, since you just started collecting so recently. So how will you start your collection? Do you just go to the hobby shop and buy a lot of cards? Or is eBay better? Or should you just buy packs? Read on to find out.

Option #1. Buy Boxes, Cases and Packs Online
The most fun of the options for starting a sports card collection is by opening up packs. Go to an online dealer with good prices and buy as many boxes or cases as you can afford. When you get them in the mail, open them up. You now have a sports card collection. Chances are you won’t get your money’s worth of cards, because if the cards in a box were worth more than the price of the box than card companies would just sell singles!

Option #2. Buy Boxes, Cases and Packs at a Card Shop
This is similar to option #1, but with this you get to experience and learn quite a bit if you open up the cards at a card shop. Other card collectors will high-five you if you pull a good card, knowledgeable people might say interesting things about the cards you are opening and overall you will learn quite a bit as well as have a great time. This is by far the most costly method, though.

Option #3. Buy Singles at a Card Shop
While convenient, buying singles at a card shop is not very cost effective. The cards will probably be sold for more than twice the price you could purchase them online! The card shop owner must pay rent and everything, so he or she must sell at such high prices so they can gain some sort of profit. It is great to support local card shops, so money spent here is probably the best place to spend it. But it is quite costly, so this is not the greatest option.

Option #4. Buy an Entire Collection from a Garage Sale or From a Local Person
This is actually a pretty good option. You get a lot of cards for an inexpensive price, if you make sure you get a good deal. A plus with this method is that all you have to do is drive over and pick the items up. A lot of the time people will overvalue their collection and accidentally give outrageously high prices. So make sure to prepare and remember that most cards printed from the 1980s to the late 90s are pretty much worthless. (Not all of them are, just the majority)

Option #5. Buy an Entire Collection Online
This has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. You know you can’t pay much more than the collection is actually worth, because somebody else would have paid just a hair less than you did. On the other hand, an entire collection weighs a lot; expensive shipping charges. So buying an entire collection online will work fine if you can’t buy a collection locally, but if given the chance most would choose option #4. It is also going to be a large purchase and a number of things can go wrong on the journey of the collection from the dealer to you.

Option #6. Buy Singles Online on eBay
This works well because you know exactly what you are going to get and what you will pay for it at a maximum. There are numerous problems with buying on eBay, though. Shipping can get very expensive unless you always buy from one or two sellers. You may get angry when somebody snipes away the auction you were about to win. You also must use PayPal, a service which is very good but does have its troubles. You never know if the cards will come undamaged and if they even will come, but eBay does have very good buyer protection and almost always favors to the buyer rather than the seller.

Option #7. Buy Singles on Sports Card Forum
Of all the options, this is the most interesting. Sometimes you may find a seller who will sell cards for much less than they are worth, while sometimes they are just trying to make money off new members like you. You must also post want lists and reply to offers, which can be very time consuming. Also, you will have to send first to most of the sellers, which can be problematic. Overall, this can be a very good option as well as an extremely bad one.

Option #8 Enter Group Breaks
This is quite a different option than what many people would think of, but it does have its logic. A group break is when a group of people buy a large amount of boxes or cases and then one person opens them, dispersing the cards based on which “slots” a person purchased. Usually, you will not get a very good deal on a group break. It is similar to opening packs in the way that you are paying extra for a chance of pulling an expensive card, which you probably won’t pull. You also must calculate in the shipping fees from the person who opened all the packs to you. In reality, money wise this may be the worst other than buying at a card shop. The good thing about group breaks is that you get to experience the break with other card collectors, learning things in the process. This is certainly helpful for someone new to the hobby.

There is not one option that is clearly the best, but options that are better based on what you want out of the collection. If you want the experience, go to the card shop or join a group break. If you want to save money, either buy an entire collection or singles online. If you want to gamble a bit, then buying boxes or cases of cards is the way to go. In all truth, it is really your own preference that decides how you begin a collection and with all the ways to do it I am sure one will fit your personality perfectly.