Here are 10 top card buying tips for 2023 and beyond. I’m focusing on the market as of March 2023, but these tips should be relevant for the next few years.
I’m always buying cards.
I can’t help it. I buy the majority of my singles online via eBay, and I’ve been focusing on parallels and autographs in recent months.
Along with the rarest inserts and vintage options, they always seem to be worth more in the long run. But are there any handy tips or tricks that I’ve picked up over the years?
Top 10 Card Buying Tips for 2023
Here are 10 card buying tips for 2023. If you think we’ve missed out on anything, let us know in the comments below!
- Don’t rush into purchases
Most importantly, never rush into buying a card if you’re just starting out in the hobby. There’s a small chance that you’ll be missing out on a great deal, but most cards can be picked up at a later date, so avoid being pressured into making a purchase. For example, many cards are cheaper than the previous highs seen over the past few years.
If it’s a vintage option that never comes up on the market, that’s a clear exception; but I’ve only regretted pulling the trigger a few times when making snap decisions.
- It’s a buyers market
As of March 2023, it’s a buyers market. There’s a global recession going on, and it’s having an effect on people’s expendable income. Some card sellers have also been forced to part with their collection to pay the bills, so there are numerous bargains to be found.
- Check to see what a card has sold for in the past
Make the effort to see what a card has sold for in the past. If it’s graded, you might be able to find the specific card that you’re looking at, and whether the seller is hoping to make any profit from the sale.
To do so:
1. Open eBay.
2. Enter the card name/grade into the search bar.
3. Using the tab on the left, click Sold Items.
4. You’ll now be shown recently sold cards.
5. You can further sort cards by pricing, such as low to high, or high to low.
- It might be better to ignore sellers with low feedback
I’ve bought a few cards from sellers with little to no feedback, with some good deals available as others are always wary when it comes to sellers with no stars.
However, someone flat out refused to send me cards in February 2023, probably because I snagged them for low prices. I eventually got a refund via eBay, but I did have to wait a week or so.
In any case, it makes sense to stick with trusted sellers, or be prepared to wait for a refund if it all goes wrong. I’ve seen an influx of fake sellers and buyers in recent months, and it’s not uncommon to see a lot selling multiple times as a consequence.
- Overall, values are down since 2020
There’s no denying that values are down compared to the highs seen in 2020. In other words, don’t expect your cards to sell for prices seen a few years ago.
The market was in a bubble back then, but values have settled to more manageable levels since the midway point in 2022.
- But not for all cards and sets
Of course, that’s not true for every card. Some have continued to break records in recent years, including the likes of Pele, and Luka Doncic. The latter’s 2018 National Treasures Rookie NBA Logoman Patch Auto 1-of-1 card sold for a record $3.12 million in November 2022. It is the largest sale of a basketball card via a public auction.
As for another example, a Sabrina Ionescu rookie card set the record for the most expensive WNBA card sold at auction in February 2023, going for $10,800 via PWCC. It was the first time an WNBA card sold for five figures, so it’s not all doom and gloom for collectors.
- Pay attention to the condition
If it’s not a low numbered autograph, pay attention to the overall condition. As you may have guessed, buyers will pay a premium if a card is pristine, especially if it has been graded.
- Learn your card collecting terms
If you don’t know your XRCs from your PSAs, it’s going to be tough to know exactly what you’re buying.
The collectible card hobby is packed full of confusing terminology and acronyms. We’ve put together a glossary with 101 entries that explain everything you could possibly need to know to get started. It can be found here.
- Take care of your cards
At the very least, a penny sleeve and a toploader will get the job done. Don’t make the rookie mistake of only using a toploader, as it will damage the edges as it’s being placed inside.
You can also look at a box for safety, or a one-touch case. Graded cards tend to be preserved well, which is why they sell for higher prices.
- Supply and demand
It’s all well and good buying a one-of-one for next to nothing, but it’s worth considering whether there’s a market for the card in the first place. Often, there’s a reason why it’s selling for such a low price.
There has to be a demand for a card if you want the chance to sell it on for a profit in the future.
No matter your budget, it’s a good idea to have a better understanding of the market before you rush out and spend money on cards. Take a look at sports, athletes, or TCG’s that you’re actually interested in, rather than rushing out to buy on hype, or grabbing ‘the next big thing’.