How to Buy and Sell Sports Cards online
Long before the Internet, collectors had just a few options to sell their unwanted cards. Brick and mortar shops would only offer a fraction of a card’s value, while setting up at a weekend card show was, and still is, a commitment in time and money.
Enter eBay and online marketplaces. Since the late 1990s, worldwide audience, simple listing tools and a relatively low start-up cost have given collectors a lot more options for selling their cards.
So how does one actually list trading cards online? What are some of the tips, tricks, and best practices used by top-rated sellers? The purpose of this article is to answer some frequently asked questions and walk you through the listing process, step-by-step.
Places to buy sporting cards online
- eBay– This is still the go to place to buy and sell sports cards. Ebay changed the game when they started back in the day. The ability to buy cards that people couldn’t get at their local card shops really was a huge draw. Also, the amount of cards that were available drove prices down which made cards more affordable. People complain about their fees, but it’s a small price to pay for the amount of buyers they can attract.
- Facebook Groups or Facebook Marketplace – Outside of Ebay, Facebook groups are the biggest buyers and sellers of sports cards. Engage with the community and you will be buying and selling in no time. Please be warned though that there are scammers on there.
Luckily there is a website for recorded scam transaction. Also, as long as you use PayPal for your transactions, make sure you pay Paypal Goods and Services to protect yourself if they don’t ship the card.
- Instagram– A great place to post pictures of your cards to buy, sell, trade, or just show off. Instagram trends towards a younger crowd with newer cards being more popular on the platform. You can save on fees if you put the work into your account. Here is anarticle to help you build your followers and make some easy cash too.
- COMC– This marketplace is only for buying and selling sports cards. You send in your cards and COMC will scan and list your cards for you. If someone buys youcards they ship it for you! The best part of Comc is that you can buy from multiple buyers and pay one shipping cost. They also have a feature that you can buy and then list the card without touching the card.
- Blowout Forums– They have different sections for each sport, there they talk about each release of cards. Also, they buy, sell, and trade cards on these forums. It’s a great place to learn as well as buy/sell cards.
- PSA Card Forums–Similar to Blowout forums but they also have set registries where you can see collector’s PSA sets. Take a look at what they are missing from the set and shoot them an email if you have the card for a sale. No guessing what they are looking for, you already know it!
How to sell your cards on eBay
It is assumed that you already have an eBay and PayPal account. However, if you don’t, you can use the following links to complete the registration process for each.
To begin the process of listing cards on eBay, you will need to register for an eBay Seller Account and upgrade or register for a PayPal Premiere Account. Additionally, to save time and make things easier, it is recommended that you open a new checking account, separate from the one you use for personal and household expenses.
Whether you plan on selling trading cards on eBay to fund other hobby purchases or to serve as a secondary form of income, it is wise to keep track of expenses from the beginning. They may have tax implications down the road.
Some of those expenses will be shipping supplies and card protection. It can be beneficial to stock up on these items in bulk before you start selling so that you aren’t scrambling or recycling supplies once you close your first card sales.
At this point, you have your eBay seller account set-up, your PayPal Premiere account set-up and verified, your checking account set-up, linked and funded, and you are stockpiled on shipping supplies and card protection. It’s time to start selling!
eBay offers several options for selling trading cards: traditional auctions, Buy It Now sales and eBay stores. While setting up an eBay store may be practical, we recommend getting your feet wet with the more traditional auctions and Buy It Now listings. After you’ve been selling for a while and are more familiar with using the site, then you may want to shift into an eBay store.
One of the first and most important things to do when you start listing your cards is to know exactly what card you are listing. This applies to both the type of card and the card’s condition. Once you have determined these aspects, it is time to create your listing.
Writing eBay Titles for Trading Cards
Create your title by using as many characters as possible to accurately state what card you are selling by including the following information:
- Year of Issue
- Card Characteristics (Game-Used, Autographed, Serial Numbered, Card Number)
To help write a good title, take a quick glance at existing auctions. The most common elements are probably what is being searched as well.
Also, keep in mind the often ambiguous nature of memorabilia and relic cards. If the card back disclaimer doesn’t specifically say “game-used” just use the term jersey, ball, shoe, or whatever the item is. You protect yourself from a buyer claiming you sold them a card as being game-used when it actually isn’t.
The Importance of Photos in Your eBay Listing
It cannot be stressed enough how important photos are. You have heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This definitely holds true in the case of buying and selling trading cards on eBay.
The preferred method is to use a scanner as compared to a camera. It’s easier and results in a better image.
Scan one card at a time OR if scanning multiple cards, which can be done nine-up in a vertical format or eight-up in horizontal format, magnify the saved image and then crop and save the individual cards. Do not add a picture of multiple cards referred to as a “gang scan” to your listing. This can easily confuse potential bidders and possibly mislead them into thinking they’re buying multiple cards.
To build trust with your bidders, do not crop your image to the edge of the card. Leave a bit of space to show you are not hiding any corner dings or chipped edges.
Do not Photoshop, edit, or crop the card in a way that enhances the card’s condition. This is a dishonest act and will be quickly picked up on by buyers.
One picture is typically enough unless the card is an ungraded vintage card and you are trying to highlight the condition. In that case, you may want to include separate pictures of corners or one of the card’s back.
Use the description space to add any other details about the item and to reiterate what the auction listing is for. This is easily done by copying and pasting your title and adding information from there that didn’t fit such as the card number, whether an autograph is signed “on-card,” if the memorabilia piece is a multi-color patch, etc. It is also wise to use collecting terms to state the card’s condition. You can also state in this section what the shipping and handling charges are.
List in the Right Category and Utilize Listing Features
For as generally useful as it is, eBay’s quick-categorizing system isn’t optimal for sports cards. This system automatically assigns a category to a product based upon the keywords in its title; the selected category is usually accurate for non-card items, but sports cards’ many variables and keywords often render it insufficient or incorrect. Many sellers don’t notice category errors until long after an auction has concluded. See which category others have listed their items in and make your decision based on that. (This info is available at the top of each product listing.)
Buyers of sports cards often browse one or two categories for new items; incorrectly categorized items can easily fall beneath their radar, selling for less than market value as a result.
Utilize all of the various options in eBay’s template such as “Era”, “Year”, etc. You never know how people are searching and it only takes an extra few seconds.
Picking the Right Type of eBay Listing and Pricing It Appropriately
First of all, we need to find out the current value for your card. At this point, it is a good idea to bring up a second browser window and copy and paste your title into a new eBay search. Here you can see what identical or similar cards are selling for. You can take it one step further and look at recently completed auctions to get a real-time price range for the particular card you are selling.
By clicking on the “Advanced” link next to the search button, this will pull up an additional screen where you can look at the aforementioned “Completed Listings” data by selecting the box accordingly and then clicking “Search.”
The resulting screen will give you details for up to 90 days worth of completed listings. This will allow you to better decide what price to list your card for. It can else help you set reasonable opening bids and reserve prices. Completed listings can also help you barter with an offers received through the “Best Offer” option.
There are two tabs to select from. The default is “Online Auction” with a Buy It Now option. The other is for the “Fixed Price” format, which we will come back to in a moment.
Using the pricing data you discovered earlier, you can now select a starting bid, Buy It Now price, and reserve price. The only one that is required is the starting price.
In this section, you will also say how many cards you have for sale and the duration of the listing. Seven-day listings are the default.
Listing an auction with a large initial price will cost you increased insertion fees and deter prospective bidders. If the items detailed in the recently completed history have a final value within a range of $20 dollars, it’s fair to assume that is where your item will finish as well, assuming all things are equal. By starting with a bid of just $0.99 you will attract bidders, and save money.
It might also be wise to determine the mean value for recent sales and place a Buy It Now price on the item equal to that value. If there is a wide gap between the lowest and highest price paid for the item, you may consider putting a Reserve Price on the auction. Keep in mind, collectors tend to shy away from auctions with reserve prices.
When it comes to picking a listing’s duration and listing type, there is no clear-cut science as different sellers do different things. Special circumstances can change what the best plan might be.
Until you get a better feel for the market and how collectors and bidders react to different aspects of the hobby, use the seven-day format, a low starting bid, no reserve, and a Buy It Now option.
The next step is to select method of payments, which is a bit of a misnomer because eBay only facilitates payments through PayPal. Here you input the email address associated with your PayPal account.
You can also specify if immediate payment is required for Buy It Now items. This is always a good idea as it can discourage unscrupulous sellers from buying your item while they are selling theirs and essentially holding it in limbo. As a seller, you can’t leave negative feedback against a buyer. Requiring immediate payment protects you.
Shipping Options for Selling Trading Cards on eBay
The next part of the listing process is to complete the shipping information section. You need to first decide if you will ship internationally. While this option obviously expands your potential market considerably, it also comes with inherent risks of dealing with foreign carriers when the parcel leaves the possession of USPS. When you first start as an eBay seller it is recommended to keep your market limited to the United States and its territories.
However, for items that have specific appeal to international markets, opening bidding up may be essential. Be clear about your shipping options to international bidders and you may find higher bids, even if shipping prices are higher than you’d like. As a seller, you need protection. Bidders also like to be protected and many international buyers understand this.
If you are selling a card that is going to sell for over a hundred dollars anyway, it might be excessive and seen as greedy to charge for shipping at all. The choice is yours. You will have to decide what’s best for you and your personal situation.
eBay offers an option to create rules for combined shipping. This allows you to discount shipping for a bidder who has purchased more than one card. You can also specify the handling time. This is the turnaround time from when the item is paid for to when it ships. You should allow yourself a 48-hour window to account for the unexpected (late night at work, sick kids, cramming for an exam, etc.) Ideally, you’ll ship within 24 hours and to ship daily.
Don’t forget to set up a return policy. This instills confidence in the buyer and provides a backdrop for any ensuing dispute resolution process.
Things to include in additional instructions:
When payment is expected (ie, no more than 48 hours after the auction’s closing).
Refunds are dependent on being compared to the original image to prevent someone from switching cards, (a practice often associated with unscrupulous vintage collectors), or other information pertinent to a potential buyer.
Finally, take a detailed look at the last sections you will see before submitting your item to be listed.
Congratulations! You’ve just listed your first sports card on eBay. You might have noticed that we excluded some other options along the way like uploading more images and utilizing listing enhancements. As mentioned earlier, these have their place and the more cards you list you may eventually decide that some of them may be applicable to a particular listing. However, the background provided in this guide is more than enough to get you started.