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8 Expert Tips for Collecting Pokémon Cards

8 Expert Tips for Collecting Pokémon Cards

There is no trading card game as popular or as profitable as the Pokémon TCG. The past few years have seen a massive surge in interest as people return to a favorite childhood hobby. 

Collecting Pokémon cards isn't just a fun hobby, it can be a smart investment strategy as well. But to make money buying and selling Pokémon cards, you have to be familiar with several aspects of the game. 

In this guide, we'll go over eight expert tips for anyone who wants to get started collecting Pokémon cards. 

What Kind of Collector Are You?

Most people who collect Pokémon cards do so with a goal in mind. You can break the different types of collectors down into three general groups. 

The first type of collector collects Pokémon cards for happiness and nostalgia. These collectors are motivated by personal taste and preference. They may want to collect cards of their favorite Pokémon, or ones that they remember playing with when they were kids. 

The second type of collector is the competitive player. These are people who enjoy playing the game portion of the Pokémon Trading Card Game or TCG. These collectors often prioritize finding the most useful and powerful cards to play with. 

The third type of collector is the investor. These collectors are interested in buying and selling Pokémon cards to turn a profit. It's no wonder that these kinds of collectors exist, as Pokémon is one of the highest growing media franchises of all time. 

Pokémon Trading Card sales have topped $10.25 Billion. In 2020, rapper Logic dropped $226,000 on a 1st Edition Charizard. Although the average investor isn't going to make two hundred thousand dollars on a single sale, there is certainly money to be made. 

What's more, the buying demographic for Pokémon cards are between the ages of 24-36. As this group continues to advance in their careers and make more money, their spending threshold will increase. 

This makes investing in Pokémon cards extremely safe. Prices are predicted to increase steadily over the next five years. The growing interest, nostalgia, and rising popularity of competitive play make the Pokémon TCG an excellent option for investors. 

Turning a Profit by Collecting Pokémon Cards

There are three basic ways to turn a profit by collecting Pokémon cards. The first is to grade collectible Pokémon cards

Grading is the process of rating a card's condition and encapsulating it in a case. The better the condition, the better the grade. And the better the grade, the higher its value. 

There are three companies that are big players when it comes to grading Pokémon cards. These companies are PSA, Beckett, and CGC.

If you find an opportunity to purchase a vintage Pokémon card in good condition, you can send it off to one of these companies. Their specialists will analyze it based on many different factors to determine its grade. 

A high-quality graded card sells for significantly more than a non-graded card of the same quality. You can resell the cards you've had graded for a higher price than you bought them at. This is where you start to turn a profit. 

There are four primary factors that affect the grade of a particular Pokémon card. 

The first factor is centering. This refers to how well centered the artwork is on the card. Grading services work off of specific centering ratios to determine the card's grade. 

The second factor is the condition of the corners. Flaws like nicks, whitening, and asymmetrical cutting lowers the grade of a card.  

The third factor is the condition of the card's edges. Nicks, whitening, and general wear all affect the card's grade. 

The fourth and final factor is the surface. This refers to the condition of the card's surface. Nicks, scratches, print lines, and holographic bleed all affect the final grade. 

Be Aware of Wait Times

The pandemic caused a massive surge in the need for professional card grading services. Many people took up buying Pokémon cards, having them graded, and then reselling them as a way to make extra money after losing other sources of income. 

Many others sought joy in returning to a childhood hobby. Others took up competitive play as a way to enjoy themselves and connect with new people. 

This huge uptick in interest has lead to massive backlogs in nearly every grading company. Because of this, you're going to have to deal with pretty significant wait times if you send off Pokémon cards to have them graded. 

If you're interested in getting into the business of reselling graded Pokémon cards, approach it as you would a long-term investment strategy. If you are prepared to wait several months to have your cards graded, this is still a viable business strategy. 

Flipping Graded Pokémon Cards

If you don't want to wait four to five months to get your graded cards back, flipping cards that have already been graded is a good strategy. 

Because the value of Pokémon cards is continuing to surge, the cards you buy today are likely going to be worth more tomorrow. If you can find a good deal on a graded card, you can hold on to it for a few months, see if the value increases, and resell it at a higher price. 

For this strategy to be successful, you have to watch the market closely and keep your eyes open for good deals. It may take some time to find a graded card that will turn you a real profit, but patience and observation are the keys. 

Buy Modern Pokémon Cards

The final strategy for making money by investing in Pokémon cards is to gamble on pulling hyper rare cards from sets that are being released now. 

Vintage cards aren't the only ones that sell for hundreds. New sets of Pokémon cards are being released every year. These sets contain rare and powerful cards that many competitive players want for their own decks. 

Buying modern Pokémon cards can be an extremely fun investment strategy. You get to tear open brand-new packs and see what you get. It's a lot like gambling, the potential for a big payday is there but you have to play the odds for the chance to get it. 

Buying modern Pokémon cards is an exciting investment strategy that's great for new collectors. If you want to get into buying and selling as quickly as possible, this is an excellent choice.  

Understanding the Pokémon TCG 

Now before you jump straight into buying your first pack of cards, it's important to understand the fundamentals of how the Pokémon Trading Card Game works. This is extra important for investors and competitive players. 

For investors, this helps you know which cards are worth purchasing based on how well they perform competitively. Some cards might not be super rare, but they might be competitive staples that you can still sell for a good price. 

For competitive players, understanding the basics of how the Pokémon TCG works is crucial. If you want to play competitively, it's also worth spending some time learning about the meta of the game. 

There is an overwhelming amount of information out there, so don't pressure yourself to learn everything all at once. Remember, the point of the TCG is to have fun! Start with this guide to the basics of the game and work your way out from there. 

First, let's break down the three different categories of cards: Pokémon cards, trainer cards, and energy cards. 

Pokémon Cards

Pokémon cards are at the heart of collecting and playing the game. These are the cards with actual Pokémon on them. 

The first thing to check on a Pokémon card is its rarity. There are symbols at the bottom right corner of every card that designates its rarity. 

A black circle indicates a common card. These are the ones you'll run into the most, and will likely have multiple copies of the same common card in your deck. This is not a bad thing, as competitive players need a total of 60 cards in their deck. 

A black diamond indicates an uncommon card. You'll end up with a lot of these, but not nearly as many doubles as you'll have with common cards.

Most booster packs contain about three to four uncommon and four to five common cards. There are many uncommon cards that are incredibly valuable in competitive play, so keep your eye out for those. 

A black star indicates a rare card. These are the strongest and coolest cards. They sell for the highest prices and perform the best in competitive play. 

In addition to these first three, there are additional stages of rarities.  

A holographic or holofoil rare is a rare card that has shiny artwork. Pulling one of these cards is a big deal, as they are randomly interspersed among packs and there's no guarantee of getting one. If you're unboxing modern Pokémon cards for a profit, these are the ones you want to shoot for. 

A reverse holographic or holofoil card is the opposite. Instead of the artwork being shiny, the rest of the card is. These don't have the same prestige as holo rares, but are still valued highly. 

Ultra Rare Cards 

Ultra rare Pokémon cards are in a category of their own. These cards have particular features that make them extremely uncommon. 

EX and GX cards are ultra-powerful versions of other cards. Legend and Prime cards have special mechanics and were exclusive to the Heart Gold and Soul Silver sets. LV. X and BREAK cards also have powerful mechanics for competitive play. 

Pokémon Star cards are the TCG's version of shinies. The Pokémon in the artwork has a different color scheme than their traditional variants. Of all the ultra-rare cards, these typically sell for the most money. 

Some of the most expensive Pokémon cards in the world are promotional cards. These cards are only offered as a part of exclusive promotions and are denoted by the black star that says promo. 

Some promo cards end up being worth thousands of dollars, while others are worth basically nothing. The variation comes from a few factors including how long the promotion was available, and how expensive the promotional products were in the first place. 

Trainer Cards 

Pokémon aren't the only thing featured on cards. Trainer cards can be extremely useful in competitive play, and many sell for a good amount of money. These cards are divided into four categories, all of which can be found in the rarities we talked about before. 

The first category is supporter cards. They feature art of a particular character from the Pokémon games or anime. Ultra-rare versions of supporter cards that feature full art are the most popular and sell for the most money. 

The second category is item cards. These create particular effects in-game that can be useful for competitive play. 

The third category is stadium cards. These cards add an effect to gameplay and set conditions that both players have to deal with. Some stadium cards are extremely rare and sell for a high price. 

The final category is Pokémon tools. These cards attach to Pokémon cards in play and are often very useful. Some are extremely sought after and can sell for a high price. 

Energy Cards 

The last type of card is energy cards. These are very straightforward and provide your Pokémon with a particular type of energy during play. 

Regular energy cards are very common, but they're the heart and soul of the game. It's important for competitive players to have a good amount of them at their disposal so that they always have the ones that they need. 

Alternate artwork energy cards come with exclusive artwork. These cards have a heightened sense of prestige but aren't worth as much as other types of rare cards. 

Special energy cards are the rarest type. They work differently than standard energy cards and can be extremely valuable if they are useful in competitive play. 

Energy cards also come in common, uncommon, rare, and ultra-rare varieties. The higher the rarity, the more valuable the card. 

Shop Pokémon Cards Today

If you're wondering where to buy Pokémon cards, we have an incredible collection of trainer boxes and booster packs at Breaking Bangers. These are great products for anyone who is ready to get into collecting Pokémon cards. 

If you're ready to start your collection, shop our full stock of Pokémon cards today. 

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