Why Investing In Sports Cards Is A No-Brainer (Cards vs Stocks)

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Investing in Baseball Cards

For a lot of us, trading cards was our first brush with investing. We understood the basics as a kid. Buy low. Sell high. 

Back in the 80s, kids treated card collecting as just a fun hobby with no real expectation to gain anything from it.

But now that that generation of kids has grown up to be middle-aged investors with hefty pockets, this trend is making a huge comeback. Except for this time, people are taking it as a serious investment and not just a hobby. That’s because sports card investing has proven to show extremely impressive returns for traders. 

While most cards don’t end up being worth much if you have a knack for selecting the right cards you could be in for some serious money. People are finally beginning to give this hobby credit as one of the best alternative investment strategies out there.

 

You Could Have Taken Home Double The Returns If You Invested In Sports Cards (And Not The Stock Market)

Let me show you how.

Take the S&P 500, which most people use to judge the overall stock market performance. If you invested $10,000 in this index on December 31, 2007, you would be sitting on $71,000. Not bad at all.

But consider this.

If you invested the same $10,000 into an index for trading cards, you would have turned that into a stunning $165,000. 

That’s DOUBLE the return.

Now, that’s obviously not enough money to retire on. 

But it will set you up for a much more comfortable lifestyle and could help you enjoy the finer things in life.

And that’s just considering the average market returns – if you put in a bit more effort into selecting the right cards, you could easily increase those returns even more.

If we could only invest in one card for the rest of our lives it would be the 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card Upper Deck #1. This iconic card is a legend with just about every red-blooded American boy who came to age in the 80s and 90s. This Ken Griffey Jr. RC has actually more than double in 2020.

Consider the 1910 “Jumbo” Honus Wagner card. In 1995, the card sold for $500,000. Just 5 years later, in 2000, the card was sold for $1.27 million. 

Today, that very card is worth 3.12 million dollars. 

This shows you just how much potential there is in this market to make money.

In fact, if you look at this chart you’ll see that sports card investing didn’t lose much value even during market downturns. Not even in 2008. 

Still not convinced?

Take a look at some of these examples… 

  • The Honus Wagner T206 card could have been purchased for around $1500 in 1975.  Today that card would conservatively be worth around $5 Million. That’s a 333,000% return. Returns like this are unthinkable in the stock market. Granted that might be over a long 40 year period.
  • The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle sold for $282,000 back in 2006. The same card in 2018 was sold at an auction for $2,880,000. That’s almost a 1,000% return. 
  • The 1963 Topps Pete Rose card was bought by an investor for $157,000 in 2012. Just 4 years later, in 2016, it was sold at an auction for $717,000. The value increased by 100% every year.
  • Huge returns are possible even in the short term. Over the past decade, the Mantle card has appreciated 590 percent, the Aaron card 829 percent, and the Ruth card 305 percent.

You may be thinking that this is just past performance. 

And if you’ve learned anything about investing after collecting cards as a kid, you’ve probably heard everyone tell you past performance doesn’t necessarily indicate future performance.

But I’m about to show you… 

 

Why Sports Card Investing Is Only Going To Get Bigger In The Coming Years

Sports Card Investing

The momentum with which the value of cards is increasing is tremendous. In fact, just over the last year, there has been an increase in another 25% in the value of these cards from all-time highs.

Legendary investor and millionaire Gary Vee has been very vocal about his belief in this alternate investment. He believes that in the next 24 – 36 months, we are going to see enormous growth in the sports card market. Even more than what we’ve seen in the past 2 – 3 years. 

But, what exactly is bringing about this sudden growth in values?

Here are some of the factors that point towards the massive growth coming up in this strategy.

 

Sports Cards Have Become An Investing Option

Back in the 80s and 90s when most of us first started collecting, there wasn’t much of a difference between supply and demand. As demand increased, makers printed more and more cards and the value remained pretty much unchanged.

That has undertaken a drastic shift. Now, sports cards are built in a way that ensures that they’re seen as rare and valuable. This is done by printing serial numbers and limiting the number of cards that are printed. Take the 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Card. Only ONE exists in the world. And it sold for a  shocking $612,359 in August of 2016. 

Pro-Tip: Sportscard makers are also now printing limited edition and autographed cards to add to scarcity but be careful in regards to buying raw cards and stick to sports cards that have already been graded.

 

Card Grading Has Completely Changed The Game

The market has quickly realized the need for a way to ensure the authenticity and quality of cards that are being traded. This might have been based solely on trust before, but with the rise of online selling, the systems behind this have transformed completely. PSA, SGC, and Beckett’s BGS grade cards from 0 to 10 and even disclose how many cards they grade at each level. 

This means more and more people feel safe trading cards. And it has also increased the value of older cards. It’s extremely rare to find a card graded 10, so if you’ve got one that you think might fit the bill, get it graded immediately and you might be rewarded with a sweet bump in value.

 

Sports Cards Are Incredibly Easy To Sell

The trouble that came with finding the right buyer at the right price is a thing of the past now. In fact, there are now tons of sellers and auctions that take place all year round where you can comfortably find a buyer.

If you need to do it more urgently, there are a number of websites that allow you to sell your cards. You can even do it in the simplest way possible by just listing your card on eBay and waiting for a buyer to approach you.

I could keep listing more and more reasons why sports card investing is about to give investors life-changing returns.

But it all boils down to this:

Supply will never meet demand. 

The way this instrument is built, sports card makers have placed strict limits on the number of cards that are printed. And the number of buyers just keeps increasing exponentially. 

That itself could make this the most lucrative investment of your life. But of course, that’s not to say that you should pull out of stocks completely and stick all your money into rare cards.

Pro-Tip: If you don’t have the stomach for risky investments stick to buying older Hall of Fame-type players such as Wayne Gretzky rookie cards, Brett Favre rookie cards, and Mike Trout RCs.

 

How Should You Incorporate This Into Your Portfolio?

If you’re a beginner and it’s your first time buying cards, I’d suggest doing one or two transactions to get a feel of it first and see if it’s the right fit for you.

There are people who dedicate as much as 20% of their portfolio to trading cards. But we generally suggest investing 10% of your annual income into cards. 

Of course, you’re free to play around and figure out your sweet spot for investing in cards. To get you started, we’ve put together an extensive list of cards we’re adding to our portfolio here: “Best Sports Cards To Buy Right Now (Best Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey Cards to Buy)”
Feel free to go through the list and find a card you like. You can also find the reports we’ve written about individual cards.
If you have any questions, or just want to chat with a fellow sportscard enthusiast, feel free to email us at info@goldcardauctions.com. We’re always looking forward to having a chat with our readers.
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Patrick Theurer
3 months ago

Thanks for the tips and beginners knowledge. Just started buying again since about 30yrs ago.

Roland
Roland
2 months ago

I jumped back in the card game a year ago. Thank god I did ! Bought a psa 6 Unitas rookie for $475 , psa 8.5 Montana rookie for $167 for my first card purchase in 30 years. Both cards have more than doubled

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

Ummm I’m sorry to say but this whole article is rubbish. Here’s why. The main reason that prices are sky rocketing has everything to do with people having way too much cash. Its been proven that 70% of people who have taken a mortgage forebarence don’t need it and aren’t struggling financially. On top of that nobody is required to pay their student loan payments. Then you add in all of the stimulus checks. With this sudden increase in demand from all this extra cash that ppl have the card companies are maxing out how many cards that they are printing. Welcome back to the junk wax era x10.

This is a bubble. Pure and simple. Once people have to start paying back their mortgages and student loans again the demand will fall off. Add the fact that topps is printing the cards to oblivion and we have a huge problem. Then add in the fact that most “investors” are much older and there is barely any kids that will replace them when they pass. That means that once these “investors” choose to sell their investments there likely won’t be the demand that there is currently. So they will have in fact wasted a ton of money “investing” in cardboard.

This is the reality of this situation. Plain and simple. Anytime someone pays 250 for an unopened jumbo box of 2021 topps base and the expected value is maybe $30 for that box before the “chance” of getting an outlier auto or special card this is a bubble. Its going to pop. Its just a matter of time.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

You sound like a hater that got in late. I got hundreds of Kobe’s I’m profiting on. This market is here to stay for a while. Even if what you say ends up happening, it won’t be for a few years. Any real smart person would take advantage of that in the mean time. Unless you don’t have anything real to sell but some cheap retail rips from Walmart.

LukaCardCollector
LukaCardCollector
24 days ago
Reply to  Paul

I understand where Scott is coming from. Take for instance, 2020-21 Donruss basketball. Panini was selling a box for $1K. I watched someone open a box & pulled three Lamelo Ball rookies. At the time, they were selling for $160. He also pulled a couple Wiseman & Edwards rookies. Spending $1K for $500 dollars worth of cards, is a stupid investment. This is something that I’ve been seeing more & more. It’s not a coincidence that this started when states started shutting everything down. I guarantee you that the bubble pops when the pandemic does.

Beth Wilkie
Beth Wilkie
2 hours ago

I get it Luka Card Collector, this Covid has caused Boredom even for the very wealthy

Salvatore Puccini
Salvatore Puccini
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Iconic vintage cards will always be a good long term investment . The new stuff is huge risk.

James
James
26 days ago

Great Article!

Beth Wilkie
Beth Wilkie
2 hours ago

I had started a collecting in the 70’s , all sports, how does one sell their collection?