Best Sports Cards to Invest in 2021
Here, we will discuss the best sports cards on which to invest your hard-earned money. You will also want to read our “Ideal Sports Card Investing Portfolio” write up to determine how to allocate your sports cards in terms of risk (i.e. there is much less risk in a Hall of Fame player such as Ken Griffey Jr. vs a second year player such as Zion Williamson).
“We cannot guarantee a positive return (and always be skeptical of someone who does!) but we are very confident in our picks and sleep soundly at night”
We may update the list below from time to time for freshness sake but many of the HOF names should remain (for example the top 3 Tom Brady rookie cards should all have a similar ROI and make for a great long-term investment… we may change the Tom Brady RC listed but his name will always be part of the list).
We may however remove an active player entirely if his performance warrants the removal (for example if Tatis Jr. has a terrible year he would be removed from the list).
So…. without further ado, here are the must-have cards for investment purposes.
2020 Justin Herbert Panini Prizm RC #325 Buy on eBay
Drew Brees and Tom Brady are on their way out but we have some great young talent at the QB position ready to take over… one of those young bucks is Mr. Justin Herbert… this kid is the real deal.
Not only do we feel Justin Herbert’s rookie cards are undervalued but severely undervalued based on his long-term potential. A great card to capitalize off this young phenom is the 2020 Justin Herbert Prizm rookie card… thank us later when he is awarded his first MVP award.
2000 Tom Brady SP Authentic Rookie Card #118 buy on eBay
This card is the GOAT of Tom Brady’s rookie cards and is one of our favorite (if not our best pick) for long-term card investing.
It is numbered #118 and has a print run of only 1,250 copies. This card is on another level, combining rarity and artistic appeal.
2018 Luka Doncic Panini Opulence RPA Holo Gold /10 RC buy on eBay
We have not seen anything like Luka or these Panini Gold Opulence cards in awhile. Both are unique one of kind gems.
Top Investment: Best Luka Doncic Rookie Cards
The 2018 Panini Opulence Luka Doncic Gold Patch Auto Rookie Card is a thing of beauty and in our opinion is the best-looking card ever created.
“The Luka Doncic Panini Opulence Rookie Card is a MUST-HAVE for collectors and is one of the best investments if not the best investment in the entire hobby”
On top of the card beauty, Luka truly has it all and we would be SHOCKED not to see him walking around with multiple NBA Championship Rings and MVP awards 15 years from now.
1993 Derek Jeter SP Foil #279 buy on eBay
We love love LOVE this card as a short term investment due to the likely price break out once he is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The MLB HOF introducee ceremony will take place in July of 2020.
The back of the card reads “The first high school player has taken (and the sixth overall selection) in the 1992 draft, Jeter hit a .324 clip for Class-A Greensboro in the first half of 1993.“… We suggest investing in PSA 6, 7, 8, or 9’s and BGS 8, 8.5, 9 or 9.5.
2019 Wander Franco Bowman Chrome #100 buy on eBay
Here is a solid SOLID prospect card for those wanting to get on the Wander Franco HYPE train.
We’re buying this card in all parallels.
2017 Ronald Acuna Jr. Bowman Chrome Rookie Cards #BCP127 buy on eBay
We absolutely LOVE this Acuna Jr. card for the next 10 years.
“Sure, he can be a little flashy but the talent is right up there with Mr. Trout”
Not only can Ronald Acuna Jr. blast the ball out of the park (great power), he also hits for a high average and even has a good deal of speed – very Trout-like!
We like his 2017 Bowman Chrome card as a great long term investment (Chrome base and Refractors).
1986 Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie Card #57 buy on eBay
Michael Jordan Rookie Cards are some of the best investments in the hobby if not the best and the 86′ Fleer is the king of the hill when it comes to Jordan RCs.
Not only is it one of the top-rated cards for investment purposes but it also one of the best-looking cards on the planet with the classic Jordan Tongue Out Dunk!
BUY BUY BUY and make a hella good ROI year in year out.
1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Baseball Factory Sealed Unopened Box buy on eBay
Looking to buy a hot hobby box?
We recommend this one, as you have the chance to walk away with the 1993 Derek Jeter SP Rookie Card!
We have bought 4 of these and pulled 4 Jeters total.
One box had two, two boxes had one, and one box had zero.
The cards were graded 9, 8, 8, and 7.
Get real lucky and pull a 10? $100K
Ty Cobb T206 Red Portrait buy on eBay
Ty Cobb T206 cards are an excellent investment and should steadily rise year in and year out. The red and green backgrounds are some of the more popular versions and are a MUST for all collectors.
Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card #1 buy on eBay
This a true no-brainer. This is an iconic card to millions of kids who came to age in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It’s the signature card of an era when the hobby reached its highest highs. We have seen the card steadily climb in value every year since we started tracking it.
2018 Topps Ronald Acuna Jr. Bat Down Rookie Card #698 buy on eBay
This card may very well end up as the most popular Acuna rookie card.
Numbered #698 this card has exploded in value and is quickly becoming a must-have for Ronald Acuna Jr. collectors.
The card is an error as the normal card has the bat pointing up.
We love this card and actually prefer this over the Acuna 2017 Bowman Chrome card.
Mike Trout Topps Update 2011 #US175 buy on eBay
This is the most iconic card since the 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck card in our opinion and the price jump over the last few years reflects that.
“Now a PSA 10 graded card will go for well over $1,000”
When we first started this blog, the Mike Trout Topps Update Rookie Card PSA 10 was going for $400 to $500.
Ty Cobb 1909-11 T206 BAT OFF SHOULDER #350 buy on eBay
The iconic Ty Cobb “bat off shoulder” T206 card is another great long term play. We love the multi-color background and his stone-cold stare off into the distance.
2005 SP Authentic Alexander Ovechkin Rookie Card #190 buy on eBay
This is the only hockey card on this list (for now) and is a must-have for long term investors in this hobby.
In our opinion, Ovie is already the best player to ever lace up the skates in our opinion and is a scoring machine even in the “dead puck era” (imagine what he would have done in the ’80s and ’90s).
The 2005 SP Authentic Alexander Ovechkin Rookie Card will cost more than 2k but is worth the price long term as this card will only go up over the years.
The card is numbered #190 and the back reads “The top overall pick in 2004, Ovechkin can play both the physical and the finesse games, blending blazing speed with a 212-pound frame”
1996 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Rookie Card #138 buy on eBay
We are utterly and completely in love with the 1996 Topps Chrome Kobe rookie card and for good reason 🙂
Not only is it an absolutely gorgeous card but it should be an ROI beast over the next few years especially if a Kobe documentary similar to the Michael Jordan doc is released… the value of this card will blast off!
2009 Kobe Byrant LeBron James Topps Chrome Refractor #24 buy on eBay
Although not officially a LeBron James card it might as well be as the 2009 Kobe LeBron Topps Chrome Refractor and in particular the Orange Refractor has broken out from its cult following into the masses.
We named this card one of our best looking cards of all-time (see the article at goldcardauctions.com/bestlookingsportscardsofalltime) and with good reason.
The 2009 Kobe LeBron Topps Chrome Orange Refractor Basketball Card may go down in history as one of the most iconic cards in the hobby
The card obviously looks amazing but it also seems to hold a hidden, deeper message in the image… two of the best of all-time, one on his way up, one on his way out, and the honest passing of the old guard to the new guard with the ball being the key… maybe were reading too much into this but none the less we WANT THIS CARD more than anything.
2013 Giannis Antetokounmpo Panini Prizm Rookie Card #290 buy on eBay
The Giannis Antetokounmpo Prizm Rookie Card is a sick card and is one to own for the next 10 years.
We like the Panini Prizm Orange but it is hard to find, not to mention it will set you back a pretty penny!
“The Giannis Antetokounmpo Prizm Base is a good bet for most investors”
We would not be surprised to see three or four more MVPs from Mr. Antetokounmpo although Luka may have something to say about this in the future.
2003 Topps Chrome Refractors LeBron James RC #11 buy on eBay
Every collector in this hobby should 100% have this card in their investment portfolio.
The 2003 Lebron James Topps Chrome Rookie Card is on fire and the ROI in the last few years is really disturbing unless you owned a few of these cards back then.
It is still not too late to buy this card as, like fine wine, the price will only go up and up and up and up… 🙂
2017 Patrick Mahomes II Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket #303 buy on eBay
Mr. Mahomes may be ushering in a new era in football – out with the old (Tom Brady) and in with the new (Patrick Mahomes)!
We fully expect Mahomes to win at minimum one more Superbowl and maybe even run a string of them together and move the dynasty West to Kansas City (bye-bye New England).
All of Mahomes rookie cards are great investments but we particularly like the Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket and feel as though this one has the greatest ROI relative to his super expensive rookie cards.
2016 Fernando Tatis Jr. Bowman Chrome Refractor RC #CPAFT (buy on eBay)
Fernando Tatis Jr. is proving his rookie year was no fluke as he has been the best player in the game in 2020 and just last night literally smacked a home run off the rooftop of a warehouse building at Petco Park… this kid is loaded for bear and he is only 21 years old!
His 2016 Bowman Chrome rookie card or the 2016 Bowman Chrome Refractor RC are two great options for long term investors.
Anthony Davis 2012 Panini Prizm Rookie Card #236 buy on eBay
We love this card as a short-term investment as we are all in on the Lakers winning the NBA title next year.
If that happens, we could see a HUGE return on this card (100%, perhaps?).
Even if the Lakers fail to win it all the Anthony Davis Panini Prizm Rookie Card should still increase drastically in value plus there’s a decent chance Mr. Davis could win the NBA MVP.
1987 Greg Maddux Leaf Rookie Card #36 buy on eBay
We really like this Maddux Rookie Card for a few reasons the number one being the Stache! A young, baby face Maddux with a mustache beyond awesome.
Second when was the last time you remember seeing Leaf mentioned with one of the best baseball cards… never
Third, we have always loved that light blue “rated rookie” icon printed on the bottom of the card.
On top of all that this card is super cheap when compared to the rest of the cards on this list (for now). Currently, you can get this card in PSA 10 for around $230/240.
2018 Panini Contenders Playoff Ticket Lamar Jackson RC AUTO buy on eBay
The NFL has not seen anything like Lamar Jackson, “aka Smiley Face”, in a long, LONG time.
Not only can he chuck the rock downfield with the best of them, but he also has the uncanny ability to make guys miss tackles in the backfield, and now he is gone for a 45-50 yard scramble.
We absolutely love his 2018 Contender “Ticket” cards as a great investment that could easily double if the Ravens go on to win the Super Bowl.
If the Ravens can someday win the Super Bowl and Lamar Jackson is awarded MVP… LOOK OUT!
Best Sports Card Investments For Maximum Return on Investment
If we only had one card to invest to earn maximum profits it would have to be Luka Doncic rookie cards.
Combine the up and coming popularity of the NBA with a 20-year-old who appeals to a worldwide audience and you have the best modern card investment in the industry.
If Luka goes on to win a few NBA Championships and League MVP’s in the next 10 years… lookout! Were talking Trout-like prices for his rookie cards.
Other Top-Rated Trading Card Investments
We feel the below players have the best short term ROI combined with a very strong likelihood of a good season for the player in question… these players are not yet a household name but have a strong potential to become one…
Best Baseball Rookie Cards
Right now we are buying the following baseball cards…
- 2018 Luis Robert Bowman Chrome Prospects #21
- 2019 Wander Franco Bowman Chrome Prospects #100
- 2017 Jo Adell Bowman Chrome Draft #BDC95
Best Basketball Rookie Cards
Right now we are buying the following basketball cards…
- 2019 Ja Morant Panini Prizm #249
- 2018 Trae Young Panini Prizm #78
We’re leaving Zion Willamson rookie cards off this list for now for two reasons; one, his cards are already valued at sky-high prices and two, nagging injury concerns… but feel free to check out this Zion best rookie card video…
Best Sports Card Investments In Football
Right now we are buying the following football cards…
- 2019 Kyler Murray Panini Prizm #152
- 2019 Drew Lock Optic Rated Rookie #153
Best Sports Card Investments In Hockey
Right now we are buying the following hockey cards…
- 2019 Jack Hughes Young Guns #201
- 2019 Cale Makar Young Guns #493
Best Cards To Buy Now: Advice
If you have any concerns or are nervous in regards to buying an expensive card ($1,000 or more) feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a second opinion on the purchase 🙂
If you have any general questions in regards to sports card investing please do not hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Card Grading: Before you get a card graded please read PSA Grading vs BGS Grading vs SGC Grading
We will email you back within 24 hours or even call you on the phone if you would like (just leave your phone number and good call time).