Skip to content
12 Tips for Buying Sports Cards Online

12 Tips for Buying Sports Cards Online

In 2021, the global sports card market was worth $1.19 billion with a value expected to exceed $2.8 billion by 2028. The sports card industry received a large boost in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Housebound individuals were looking for a way to occupy their time and maintain sanity in a global crisis. Maybe a family member passed down a collection to you or maybe it was something you always wanted to do but never had the time.

Whether you're new to the hobby or consider yourself an old pro, this guide will help you learn 12 tips for buying sports cards, whether it's online or in-store. Keep reading to discover where to buy sports cards.

1. Do It For the Love of the Hobby First

As collectors, this cannot be stressed enough. Collect sports cards because you love the hobby, not because you're looking for a fast payday.

So many individuals decided to get into buying sports cards with the expectation of flipping them for pure profit. This is not only unrealistic, but it also takes away all of the fun that comes with being a sports card collector. 

If you're only in the hobby with the interest of finding that autographed hit card and nothing else, you're missing out on the thrill of opening the boxes to find a favorite player or variant card. You're also unnecessarily wasting money on expensive boxes with no guarantees as to when you'll strike gold.

If you're buying sports cards for the love of the hobby first, anything you find afterward is just the icing on the cake.

2. Focus on One Team or Sport

With so many different types of sports and teams to choose from and collect, it can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to buy everything, set your sights on collecting cards from a particular sport, like basketball sports cards.

From there, choose a favorite or popular team you want to focus your efforts on buying sports cards for. Then you can even narrow it down to your top favorite players and go from there. 

Each set has its own unique look and strengths. For example, the Topps Opening Day boxes have mascot-themed cards which can be a fun niche area to collect. Notable baseball-themed mascots include Mr. Met from the New York Mets, Billy the Marlin from the Miami Marlins, and Wally the Green Monster from the Boston Red Sox.

3. Buy the Best Quality Sports Cards Your Budget Allows

If you are looking for a highly coveted sports card on your list and you find it online on a site like eBay, it may be better to just buy that particular card outright. Often, sports card sellers on auction sites will create a listing for a single notable card or a card lot online.

They've already done the work for you by finding the cards, and what may not be valuable to them could be exactly what you're looking for. Check multiple listings to find the best overall quality sports card at the ideal price point. 

Look for both auctions and Buy It Now listings. Auctions on less in-demand sports cards will have fewer bids, meaning you can potentially score a prized card from your collection checklist at a much lower price. 

Graded cards are easier to buy online since they are already graded. This saves you the time and expense of doing it yourself. And you know exactly what condition of card you are getting.

4. Verify the Online Seller's Feedback and Reputation

While most online sites have high selling reputations overall, there are often a few bad sellers in the mix that can ruin the experience for others. Always verify seller ratings and read feedback before buying sports cards online.  

If a seller is fairly new and does not have any feedback or ratings, this could be suspicious. They may be attempting to sell stolen or fake cards under the radar. Don't take unnecessary risks that can result in wasted money and frustration dealing with unreputable sellers.

Before bidding on or buying sports cards, ensure that the seller delivers on the quality and condition of the cards as promised in the description or that they'll make it right if the cards are not as advertised. You should also check that the seller also packages a card well so that it doesn't become damaged in transit when shipping. 

You want to go with sports card sites that are vetted and have the feedback to prove that their products are legitimate and high quality. This ensures that the process of buying sports cards is a smooth and enjoyable experience from start to finish.

5. Check the Quality and Condition of the Card Closely

Buying sports cards online can be a challenge when it comes to determining the quality and the condition of the cards you are looking to purchase. Read the description to find out how the seller describes its condition and if they list any issues or flaws the card may have.

Also, opt for card listings that include many clear and well-lit photos that allow you to see the cards from every angle. Inspect these photos closely for any signs of defects or scratches that can alter a card's appearance and value.

If there aren't enough good photos, it is advisable that you pass on that listing as it could result in receiving a card that is not what you paid for. You can also message the seller to ask for more photos from certain angles or features on the card. Some listings even have videos of the sports card products for even better visibility.

6. Spread Out Your Purchases When Buying Sports Cards

Part of the fun of the hobby of buying sports cards is that you can stretch it out over a longer period. Rushing into getting every single card all at once defeats the purpose of sports card collecting. 

Set a goal or a target of how many cards or sports card boxes you will buy each month, within reason. It'll be a nice treat to look forward to at the end of a long work week. You can build up your collection over time and do your research before you commit yourself to make the purchases.

Not only does this prolong the fun of the hobby, it also helps you to budget out your card spending. Buying sports cards isn't fun if you're going broke while doing it. 

7. Consider a Team's Popularity

Winning a Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or NBA Final can also serve to further catapult a team's popularity, especially when it comes to buying sports cards.

This may impact the value of currently held sports cards as well as affecting the value of looking for certain cards when buying sports cards online. A coveted card on your checklist could suddenly rise in value and demand, making it more difficult to obtain.

The Dodgers World Series win in 2020 proved the team's extensive staying power and cemented them as a seven-time World Series Championship team. In football, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV in 2021, thanks in part to Tom Brady's powerhouse performance. 

The popularity of a team can fluctuate based on big-game events, so it is important to take note and ensure you can roll with the changes when buying sports cards.  

8. Study a Player's Reputation and Talent

When buying sports cards, study their stats, as well as their character.  A player's reputation and talent can also work to their benefit or their detriment. 

When a player performs well, the interest in their sports cards increases and so does their value. This also applies to their personal life. Players who do well to maintain a persona that is viewed favorably in the public eye will reap the benefits of robust sports card values throughout their careers.

On the other side of things, a poor reputation not only hurts a player's career, it decreases card value. For example, Former 1st round NFL Draft Pick Henry Ruggs was a wide receiver for the Raiders.

After a negligent accident resulted in the death of a 23-year-old woman in November of 2021, the Raiders released him from a 4-year rookie contract worth $16 million. The legal implications paired with his release from his Raiders contract can now greatly impact the value of his sports cards in a negative way.

Likewise, the Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer has been suspended from the MLB for two years without pay while a domestic violence investigation continues. Bauer will miss 324 games without pay because of this.

9. Don't Overlook Current Rookie Cards

Rookie cards are some of the best sports cards to buy. It's like being in on the ground floor of a player's career. It isn't always a sure thing, but if that player's career takes off, you already have a piece of history in the making. 

The 2021 Topps Chrome Baseball Hobby Box wasn't popular at first but now it is in high demand. The players are doing well and so the demand is growing because of this.

College-level sports cards are also a hot commodity. College Football sports cards like the 2022 Bowman University Football Hobby Box offer a great opportunity to find a variety of refractor cards with 2 autographs per box.

University of Alabama player Bryce Young, a featured Chrome Prospect autograph in this box, is expected to be the top pick in next year's NFL Draft. 

10. Pay Attention to Sports Card Market News and Trends

As a sports card collector, it is also important to pay attention to sports market trends and news stories. These factors can impact all areas of buying sports cards from product popularity, to availability, and cost.

One of the biggest stories of note is the January 2022 acquisition of the sports card brand Topps for $500 million by leading sports merchandise company Fanatics. Fanatics cites that it will improve the collector experience, though the full effects of this acquisition are not entirely clear just yet.

The deal also gives Fanatics the rights to MLB, NFL, and NBA products. Fanatics no longer has to wait until 2026 to distribute and manufacture sports cards. There is talk that in the near future, they could also acquire the Panini brand as well.

A larger company like Fanatics could help Topps expand its reach and make products more readily available in stores and online.

11. Find a Sports Card Collector Community

One of the best things about being a sports card collector is the vast collector community you can plug into. Visit your local sports card store in person or online to find more like-minded sports card hobby enthusiasts.

There, you'll find a wealth of great product information knowledge from those who live and breathe sports cards. You can even find fellow collectors who will trade sports cards with you to fill in the missing boxes on your checklist.

Card shows are also a great place for trading, selling, and buying sports cards, so you may be able to find that missing card you've been searching for.

Online forums not only provide a fantastic community for sports card collectors who are selling, and trading from near and far, they also give tips on less than reputable sellers so you can be in the know.

12. Always Protect and Store Your Cards Properly

Buying sports cards is only a small part of the hobby. Some still see their card collections as a future investment. Maintaining the condition and value of your cards should also be a high priority to sports card collectors.

Using Toploader protectors and card sleeves are essential items for displaying your cards. They also prevent damage by protecting them from getting bent and scratched. Toploaders and sleeves together give your cards an added barrier so they won't get worn down by fingerprint marks and oils in the skin from handling them over time.

You should also store your cards in a cool and dry area to prevent moisture build-up. Sports cards should always be kept out of direct sunlight and heat to keep them from fading, smudging, or warping. Damp basements and areas next to heat sources are a big no-no for obvious reasons.  

Whether you are considering selling them at some point in the future or passing them down to the next generation, using proper care methods with storage and protection will have them looking in pristine condition for much longer.

For Quality and Selection Buy Sports Cards Online from Breaking Bangers

Buying sports cards is an enriching hobby that allows for so much potential and growth over time. It is an ever-expanding and evolving culture.

At its heart, the purpose of sports card collecting is to enjoy the journey. No matter what sports or teams or types of cards you collect, your collection is a reflection of what you love.

Breaking Bangers has a great variety of sports card items from hockey, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, UFC, and more so there's something for everyone.

Check out more awesome sports card products on our website and start building up your collection today.

Previous article Baseball Cards: How To Start a Valuable Baseball Card Collection
Next article How to Store and Organize Your Pokémon Cards Collection