If you’re holding onto a couple of expensive rookie cards it can be hard to identify the right time to sell. After all, nobody wants to be the guy who sold a Jordan rookie for $50,000 in March 2020, only to see the same card go for almost double the price less than two months after.
It’s an extreme example, but it’s clear that knowing how and especially when to sell rookie cards is the most important aspect for many investors and collectors when it comes to parting with their prized RCs.
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As well as when to sell cards, where is also incredibly important. If you’re planning to sell your collection online, there are lots of options, but which is best, and where should you go if you’re hoping to get the highest prices?
Here’s everything you need to know about where and when to sell your rookie cards, including some of the best vendors and platforms, and the difference between short and long-term investments.
Where to Sell your Rookie Cards
There are varying levels of difficulty involved depending on how you plan to sell your cards. From whether or not to get them graded, or if they’re worth selling individually or as a set, there are lots of different aspects to consider.
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Aside from heading to your local hobby store or trade show, where can you go to sell your rookie cards? We’ve listed some of the best online options below, with info about the process, as well as more about the major players in the game.
The largest online marketplace and arguably the best place to buy and sell cards online, eBay allows users to list up almost anything. In recent years, they’ve managed to position themselves as the go-to source for online buying and selling; although there are a number of pros and cons to consider.
- Third-party resellers such as Probstein123 and COMC will do the work for you if you don’t want to go through the process of listing the card/s yourself, and their large user base is second to none.
- This tends to lead to higher selling prices, as there are so many eyes on an exciting rookie at any given time.
Most users have a positive experience overall, but there are some issues to consider.
- There are various fees to take into account, while you have to list the card up yourself, write a description, take images, and send it off when all is said and done.
- It’s a fairly lengthy process if you’re not used to it, or if you plan to sell 50 RCs in a short period of time.
- You will also have to make an eBay account if you don’t have one already.
- A large number of users can also make it more difficult to get an RC for a cheap price, as hyped players are sure to receive multiple bids at any given time. However, it’s great if you plan on selling cards frequently. You can take a look at recent sales for a better idea of what’s expected on the platform, while information about eBay fees can be found here.
Check Out My Collectibles (COMC) is another platform that can be used to sell rookie cards. With a clear focus on the hobby, there are a number of clear benefits, while the process to sell your RCs is fairly simple;
- Create a free account & send COMC your cards and collectibles
- Set your asking prices & respond to offers from buyers
- Once your cards have sold, you can either:
- Convert store credit into cash
- Redeem store credit to buy sealed boxes & cases
- Use store credit to buy other trading cards, or collectibles
- It’s a reasonably painless method and you do get to choose your prices, although you will have to send COMC your cards first. Of course, this also means that you won’t have to worry about forgeries, and it won’t be your fault if there’s a problem with shipping afterward.
- They also offer an eBay listing service, if you’d prefer to auction your items off instead. Known as ‘COMC Auctions on eBay’, they list new 7-day $0.99 eBay auctions every week.
- One clear benefit is the fact that you’ll be able to immediately relist a card after purchasing it on COMC, without having to worry about any additional shipping or listing fees. This makes it easier to flip cards if you’re sure that they’re a dead cert.
- The same is true for bulk items, which can be bought and listed again piece by piece. It’s not a bad tactic if you see a set listed for a discount price.
- You’ll also have to pay a lot in terms of commission. They want 5% of the total sale price, as well as a ‘Cash Out fee’ of 10%.
- Add that on to a processing fee of roughly 35 cents per card, and it’s easy to see how prices begin to add up quickly. While 5% doesn’t sound like a lot, it can be a significant amount if you’re selling numerous expensive options. You’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the additional expense compared to something like eBay
Dave & Adams Card World
DACW is a website dedicated to selling cards and memorabilia. Unlike the others, you can sell rookie cards directly to them, although you won’t get the best prices compared to a traditional auction. The process is as follows;
- Search: Browse our buy list and click Sell to us for the items you’d like to sell
- Review: Click the Your Sell List button to review your list. Fill out your contact information and preferred payment method.
- Ship: Ship your items via UPS or FedEx. Packages must be received within 7 business days.
- Get Paid: Get paid within 24 hours after we receive your shipment
- If you’re hoping to sell your cards as quickly as possible, it’s another decent option.
- They have an A- rating on the Better Business Bureau website.
- You can get in touch to sell individual pieces, while they’ll even send a box, tape, and a prepaid shipping label to your house to collect the items. DACW will make you an offer after collecting some basic info.
- Prices aren’t always competitive compared to others on the list.
You can find testimonials on their website, as seen below.
Dean’s Cards is a similar service to DAWC that will “buy just about any pre-1970 sports or non-sports cards”. For example, when it comes to basketball, they’re on the lookout for the following;
- Pre-1978 basketball Cards
- Pre-1985 Complete Sets
- Pre-1973 Graded basketball Cards from PSA, BVG, and SGC
They have a list of prerequisites for every sport, which can be found on their website.
- With one-day response times, you’ll be able to get an idea of their offer quickly, and it’s not like you’ll be pressured to go with them if you decide you’d rather auction off your items instead.
- Dean’s Cards promise to pay a fair market price and they make over 1,000 purchases per year so they must be doing something right.
- In fact, they claim to “pay more than other dealers for vintage basketball cards, because we sell directly through our website and eliminate the middleman.” You can check out testimonials from recent sellers here.
- They do focus on older cards, so it’s not worth checking out unless you have a couple of old school sets in decent condition.
- As a reseller, they plan to make a profit on any price they agree on. Would it be better to look to make that sale instead?
Best known for their grading service (BGS), and their price guides, Beckett is an industry leader in the collectible hobby. You can sell cards via the Beckett marketplace after making an account, but it’s generally not the best option if you only have a couple for sale.
- They offer monthly online auctions as well as eBay consignment services, but there are lots of fees involved. It’s decent if you’re hoping to pick up a card or two, but it’s not cost-effective if you just want to sell or trade an RC.
- In the interest of balance, it is worth noting that the Better Business Bureau has received over 50 complaints about Beckett since 2017. They’ve given the company an F rating, mentioning that a failure to respond to 25 complaints filed against the business factored into their decision.
When to Sell your Rookie Cards
Now you should have a better idea of where you can sell your rookie cards, but when is the correct time to sell? Here are the various types of investment strategies you should be thinking about when it’s time to part with your best RCs.
Short-term investing, otherwise known as making a quick buck. It’s not impossible to use RCs as a viable investment over a short period of time, as long as you carefully select the player beforehand. Holding cards for a while might seem like the best option, but it’s not like every RC out there will magically increase in value forever. The majority are almost worthless.
Flipping is the process of buying cards and selling them straight away. (Think of COMC, and the ability to relist any cards you’ve bought.) If you flip something successfully, you’ll be able to make good money, and there’s nothing to stop you from picking up multiple versions to maximize profits. Examples of short-term rookie card investing include:
- Buying a card before a big milestone game or event, and selling straight afterward
- Even a great performance alone can be enough to turn the needle
- Grabbing a hyped rookie before prices begin to stabilize
- Selling a card after a player retires, or picking one up just before they enter their respective Hall of Fame
It can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing, so take the time to identify the best options out there.
As the name suggests, mid-term investments are typically going to take a little longer to pay off. That’s not to say that they’re not worth it, in fact, they can often be the best overall in terms of ROI.
Consider the off-season. Attention is normally at an all-time low, which is also reflected in terms of sales. (Casual fans aren’t that bothered, and they begin to pick up towards pre-season.) It’s the perfect time to capitalize on second-year players that you suspect are ready to break out, or even hyped rookies who could have an unexpected run in the team. Think injuries, or players in poor form. It does require some basic knowledge about the players and the teams, but it’s worth it in the long run.
If you have the patience and the expertise required to sit on investment or two in the mid-term, they do have a tendency to work out if you can truly understand the market.
The easiest to understand, and arguably the hardest to do, long-term investing involves keeping rookie cards locked away for as long as possible.
How long is ‘long-term’? Typically, it can take years. A recent example would be an ultra-rare unopened 1986-87 Fleer Basketball Case, left untouched for over 30 years. As well as the elusive ‘86 Jordan Fleer rookie and sticker, it’s sure to have multiple copies of Hall of Famers like Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing, among others. The expected price at auction? Over one million dollars.
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The long term really means long term. Of course, many of us don’t have 30+ years to wait, while you could probably fill an ocean with tears shed by investors who waited just a little too long to pull the trigger. If the price seems right, there’s no shame in taking your hard-earned profit and enjoying it.
The best long-term rookie card investments tend to be expensive, such as the Jordan RC mentioned above, or any of the more iconic options out there, such as the GOATs of respective sports. Prices tend to ebb and flow, but the only way is up for the best of the best. The only problem is the exceedingly high entry point, which keeps most investors out of reach.
When and Where to Sell your Rookie Cards: Tips & Beginner Mistakes
Buy low, sell high. The old Wall Street axiom is still relevant, and it’s supposed to be as simple as that. On that note, one beginner mistake that I see time and again is greed. Some folks just aren’t willing to part with their favorite cards, even if the price offered is fair considering its current market value. It’s not uncommon to see cards that normally sell for half a dollar listed many times more, even though they’re never likely to sell.
Then there are bad investments, which happen to every serious RC collector in some shape or form. Let’s say you buy three rookies for $100 each. Due to misfortune, they’re now selling for $40, or $120 for the trio. Everything points to prices continuing to drop, so do you get rid, despite losing out on roughly $180? The simple answer is; yes. There’s no point in hanging onto losers, especially if they’re likely to keep hemorrhaging money in the long run.
If you can use the money to reinvest in a couple of RCs which are on an upward trajectory, you’ll minimize losses in the long run, although it can be difficult to accept at times. It’s important to keep your expectations in check, especially if you’re just starting out.
Graded cards are always more valuable, as they give some guarantee in terms of the overall condition and current price. It’ll also ensure that you know exactly what card and variation you are buying or selling, while you’ll be able to stay away from cut cards, forgeries, and options that are being mis-sold. If you’re unsure, here’s a detailed look at PSA Grading vs Beckett Grading vs SGC Grading.
You can look at obscure cards for investment purposes, but there are generally tried and tested sets and products which are more likely to make profit compared to others. Consider the addition of autographs or player patches, while it’s always worth checking out the prices of rare parallels. Look for the cards which are considered to be the ‘true’ RCs, or their first signed prospect options for the best possible results.
The most important advice to remember is that the market can be volatile, so it’s best not to invest with more than you can afford to lose. Unless you’re planning to sell cards as a full-time business, it’s best to use the time you spend as an opportunity to learn more about the market, and it should be treated as a fun hobby.
When and Where to Sell your Rookie Cards: Summary
It’s hard to tell when to sell your prized rookie cards, but there are steps you can take to give yourself a better chance of making a profit. No card is going to be a dead cert, but it’s better than taking a scattergun approach to buy and selling your rookie cards, as you can only rely on luck and your gut instincts for so long.
Considering the length of your investment is something that every serious collector will do. You should now have a better idea about the differences between all three types of investment length, as well as the pros and cons associated with some of the biggest names in the hobby when it comes to selling.
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eBay is probably your best bet if you’re hoping to sell your rookie cards for the highest price online. Of course, card shops and shows are still great if you have the ability to get out there, while there are other options we haven’t touched on such as the Facebook marketplace, Reddit, or almost any form of social media. Even so, while eBay does have its flaws, it’s still the ideal place to sell your cards for a fair market price.
Once you’ve established the where and the when, you’ll be better equipped to earn regular profits, rather than hoping to flip every hot RC that you find. After all, flipping cards isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be loading up with a couple of copies of the latest prospects each year, like they were during the height of the junk wax era.
You’ll also be competing with professional resellers who can afford to work with lower profit margins, so it’s not like it’s a Wild West, with gold waiting around every corner.