Common Sports Card Collecting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
According to Verified Market Research, the global market for sports trading cards checked in with a value of over $13 billion in 2019. Experts anticipate an explosion of growth over the next few years and think the market could value nearly $100 billion by 2027.
This growth comes despite major news last year that Topps, a staple in the industry, lost its exclusive contract to make MLB-authorized baseball cards. Some might see this as the potential death of the brand, but Fanatics swooped in and purchased the company.
Fanatics paid $500 million to buy Topps just months after entering into an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball, the NBA, and NFL as well. This leaves the industry in capable hands.
If you're starting your own sports card collection, you need to know the potential hurdles of this hobby. Here are common sports card collecting mistakes and how to avoid them.
You Can't Collect Them All
Trading cards exist for almost every sport that's played these days. Fans can find cards for baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, as well as pro wrestling and other combat sports. So one of the first sports card collecting mistakes to avoid is trying to collect everything.
Consider focusing your card collection on just your favorite sports. This can help you narrow your collection so that you can complete a given set. Pricing guides can point you to the most valuable sports cards for your collection.
Of course, you can collect cards from as many sports as you want. But narrowing your field may help you expand your collection in the long run.
Don't Assume You're Going to Make Money
Collecting sports cards can be more than just a fun hobby. With the growth of this industry, and numerous online resale and auction platforms, people can buy and sell cards very easily these days. That said, buying a box of cards doesn't automatically mean you're going to make money.
Yes, a Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $6.6 million last year, but that's not the norm for this industry. Sports cards are not the stock market. Card values take months to move meaningfully and resale options remain limited.
Third-party platforms like eBay embed fees for re-selling. There are also shipping costs to consider. Other platforms move slowly with lower profit margins.
Assuming you're going to make money remains one of the important sports card collecting mistakes you want to avoid the most.
Know What You're Collecting
It's important to understand what you're collecting to optimize both your experience and your collection. The trading card market continues to grow, so companies have released a number of different cards and sets to maximize their profit margins.
Trying to collect all of the offerings from Panini and Topps would be an overwhelming task. Thousands of sports cards for MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, and UFC hit the market each season. Knowing the most popular sets and offerings to focus on remains important.
For sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL, Panini Prizm stands out as the top offering. Some of the other valuable sets include Mosaic, Optic, and Select. For MLB, Bowmen and Topps offer the best sets.
Knowing what's overvalued and what's undervalued will help you avoid sports card collecting mistakes. These sets sport particular runs you can explore. Do your research ahead of time to know what you're collecting.
Buying Boxes Versus Individual Cards
Blaster boxes remain a staple of the trading card industry. Although it's hard to find boxes these days at your local retailer, these boxes often provide plenty of value, but limiting your focus to boxes only could be a mistake.
Hobby boxes, like the packs themselves, can be loaded with value, be average, or be duds. The problem with focusing solely on boxes is, you're often left with dozens, even hundreds, of sports cards you don't know what to do with.
To grade each of the cards in a given box would be too expensive. And while you may pull a prized card from the lot, sometimes it's more financially prudent to buy the individual card you're looking for.
It's also worth noting that some companies offer retail exclusive cards outside of the hobby boxes. Also, it can be difficult to find the cheapest basketball card boxes available online.
Ignoring Other Buying Options
The internet has led to a boom in the trading card industry. Auction sites like eBay and many others leave sports cards at the tip of your finger. But ignoring other buying options, like consignment shops, flea markets, and garage sales means you're limiting potentially valuable discoveries.
Navigating these online platforms means the cards are usually better organized and cataloged. You'll often see the complete specs for the card right on the page, and some places let you buy individual cards.
But there's nothing like coming across a hidden treasure tucked away in a consignment store or the back of someone's garage. These cards might not be in perfect condition, but you'll probably get them from a fraction of the cost of an online seller. And it's not uncommon for rare and valuable sports cards to come from these treasure troves.
Also, finding cards in these other places means you might be able to trade for them. Online retailers normally allow purchase only, and you might need to shop several sites to find what you're looking for.
Not Protecting Your Investment
One of the worst sports card collecting mistakes is not protecting the cards you've invested in. Collecting trading cards remains an expensive hobby, so to leave them tossed about could hurt their long-term value.
At a minimum, invest in plastic card sleeves to protect your cards from minor damage. Penny sleeves cost less than their name and can be purchased in bulk online. For cards you really want to protect, you should buy plastic top-loaders.
Top-loaders protect your sports cards from being bent. Screw-down holders provide more even heavy-duty protection for your investment. Magnetic cases provide the most protection, including from UV rays.
You should consider putting all your cards in sleeves or hinged plastic storage boxes for protection. With all of these different options on the market, there’s no excuse to not protect your sports cards.
Not Buying Card Binders for the Bulk
Getting your hands on a card binder can also help in not only protecting your sports cards but also organizing them. You can have different binders for NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UFC if you have that many collections. These are particularly helpful for sports cards collectors buying several hobby boxes at a time.
The binders keep your cards in sleeved pages. They're organized in columns and rows, which makes finding a specific card easy. Card binders also allow for easy transportation.
Most card binders can hold and protect 300 to 400 cards. You can organize your cards by number, series, value, or any other principle you want. You never know which cards in your collection will be the most valuable in the years to come, so you should plan to protect as many as you can.
Storing Your Collection in an Unsafe Place
Another of the sports card collecting mistakes is not storing your collection securely. These cards remain an important investment and should be treated as such. If you're buying every new sports season, you'll soon have a sports cards collection too big to store under your bed or in your closet.
Trading cards should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. No matter if they're merely sleeved, in card binders, or storage bins, find a secure place to store these goods. The cards should remain insulated from light and moisture, both of which could damage the paper.
Prolonged exposure to humidity and sunlight causes cards to fade and smudge. If stored in a basement, a leak or flood could completely ruin your collection. Minimize exposure to the elements, especially fire, humidity, and water.
Not Grading Your Best Cards
Card grading protects and catalogs the value of your sports cards. This is done by submitting your cards to a third-party service that inspects for authenticity and condition. For there, the service assigns the card an overall grade, seals it in a tamper-proof protective holder, and notes it with a serial number.
Grades are based on four factors: centering, corners, edges, and surface. Each attribute is graded from one to 10, then those scores are combined for the card's final grade, between one and 10.
Grading your cards provides collectors with proof of authenticity. It removes the subjective nature of condition assignments. Graded cards often hold more value because they've been evaluated and authenticated.
The top grading companies are Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), and Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC). BSG is preferred for grading modern cards. PSA remains the top choice for grading vintage cards.
Overpaying for Ungraded Cards
Another common sports card collecting mistake is overpaying for a card that has not gone through the proper grading process. Given the subjective nature of condition assignments, you don't exactly know what you've bought until you have the card in your hand. Grading the card removes any doubt of online buying.
The card may look perfectly centered online, with sharp edges, but what you see online might not exactly match what you purchase. And if you're buying a raw card, you'll need to pay additional money to have it graded once you own it.
What you see online might look like a grade 10 card, but once it goes through the process it might only be an eight. The disparity in that grade results in lost value.
Avoid the Impulse Buy
Collecting sports cards remains an expensive hobby. There's inherent value in participating in this hobby, but you have to be careful with what you buy, how much you buy, and how often you buy. Set a budget for yourself to avoid pouring too much money into this hobby.
Avoid purchasing mega hobby boxes from retail outlets just because they're there. You may pull a priceless rookie, but you're more likely to be leftover with dozens, if not hundreds, of common cards. Be careful with auction sites as well, because you may find yourself over-bidding for something you don't actually need.
Also, avoid buying into a player's hype early in their careers. A given players' performance in the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB, even a fighter in UFC, will fluctuate from season to season. These fluctuations could have a serious effect on the card's value.
Avoid many of these sports card collecting mistakes by developing a game plan for your collecting. Do your research, on both the sports card and the players themselves. There's plenty of data online for you to review before making these investments.
Sports Card Collecting Mistakes and More
Sports card collecting mistakes happen to almost everyone, especially when you're a beginner to this hobby. This growing industry continues to capture the attention of collectors and sports fans alike. But if you're new to this hobby, sometimes it's hard to know where to look and what's actually valuable.
At Breaking Bangers, you'll find the best sports cards for NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, UFC, and more! It doesn't matter if you're new to the hobby or a seasoned collector, we have your favorites in stock at low prices. There are card boxes for every budget.
Contact us today if you have any questions about Sports card collecting. Our site features trading card games, comics, and sports cards, as well as toys and board games.