Start a SPORTS CARD Collection for Under $500 & MAKE MONEY!
June 02, 202115 min read
Well sports cards are starting to get very expensive. Every month it seems like another card is selling for over a million dollars, your favorite player’s rookie cards over a thousand bucks. Now it can just be pretty intimidating just trying to start a sports card collection. Today I'm going to show you how to start a serious sports card collection for under $500. Not just any collection though, a graded card collection of your favorite players but also a collection in which you can buy other players and sell those to help fund your future personal collection. I'm stoked to be able to share this with you guys today. I'm trying to be as detailed as possible so you may want to take out a piece of paper and a pen, take a couple different notes here, but again these are always just my thoughts. Always do what is best for you and your collection. So let's go ahead and get started!
Let's talk about the strategy I have. Now again, you can adjust these numbers to fit any budget. If you want to go up to a $1,000, down to $250, you're just gonna have to adjust them a little bit, but $500 bucks I think is doable for probably most people. So the $500 is going to cover buying the ungraded cards and also getting them graded, and it's also going to be covering the cards that we're going to be getting for our personal collection, but also the ones that we're going to be selling.
Remember, we never go into debt to buy sports cards. I'm assuming this is $500 that you have in your bank account that's not going to be affecting your rent, food, or other financial responsibilities. This is just extra money. We never go into debt to buy sports cards, just to clear that up right off the bat.
So what's the goal here? The goal is to find cheap, ungraded cards. Ones that look good and are of superstars all right. Ones that people actually want to buy and ones that you want to have in your collection, and we're going to get them graded. Now we're going to talk about the cards in just a second on which particular players and types of cards to buy, but first off let's talk about the grading.
The company we're going to be using for grading is CSG. Why are we using CSG? Well first off they're going to have a rather quick turnaround time right now. They've got a 60-day turnaround time which is way faster than PSA right now. Also their grading cost is very cheap. You can get a card graded with them for $8, so if we're on a limited budget getting a card graded for $8 seems pretty good. So what's the downside of using them? CSG is a new grader. Their parent company CGC has been grading comic books for a very long time. They're well respected so they should have some decent systems in place. They should be able to have some consistent grading and they did just sell a LeBron James Refractor card, their first ever card that they graded, for a $100,000. It got auctioned off on eBay so that's a good sign, but again we don't have data for a full year of what their cards are actually going to be selling for. So that is a little bit of a downside.
With CSG you can either submit cards directly to them, however they do have a 75 card minimum for the 60 day turnaround time, so obviously we're not going to have the funds if we're doing $500 to be submitting 75 cards at this time. They have partnered with KK_SportsCards on Instagram. So you can find them out there. They're going to be a submission group for CSG. So how it's going to work is you're going to send your cards to KK_SportsCards and then they are going to send them off to CSG for you. With KK_SportsCards you only have a 10 card minimum for that 60 day turnaround time so that's gonna be huge for us. Again, you're paying that same price at the $8 price.
So another downside is I understand people may not like the CSG slab. It's got that green slab color, it's not my favorite either, but hey we're on a limited budget here okay, and if you want to adjust these numbers and use PSA, Beckett, HGA, or whatever it is you're just going to have less cards to grade. What we're trying to do here is we're trying to again set up our personal collection, but also get some cards in that we can sell that to help fund that our collection. So the more cards we get the better off we're gonna have a chance of doing that. Again, always choose the rating card company that's best for you. I'm just using CSG for this example because I think they're going to have a decent reputation and it's rather cheap.
We're on a limited budget, so which cards are we going to be buying? Our goal is to find cards that number one: we want in our personal collection. We're also gonna be finding superstars that we can sell to fund that personal collection, and we're looking for cards at $5 and under. Now, you might be thinking, “Matt, you can't find quality cards for $5.” Yes you can. I've been buying cards for Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and LeBron James for $5 and under. Good quality cards that look good, that people want in their collection. So trust me, it can be done. If you can buy cards for those three guys you can buy cards for anybody.
Now I'm no smarter than you okay so this is not very difficult. I'm gonna walk you through this process, but if I can do it, you guys can do it. It's gonna be very easy. I'm going to break it down for you guys. Now generally speaking for about every 10 ungraded cards that I buy I get about two that are probably maybe grade worthy. Those numbers can adjust depending on what types of cards that you were going to be buying, but I like that ratio so let's say out of that $500 budget we're going to buy $350 worth of cards. At $5 each that allows us to buy 70 cards. So out of those 70 we're probably going to get about 15 graded. So not too bad right? So 15 graded at $8 a pop, means that's $120 plus the $350 that we spent on the cards, that's $470. Now we're gonna need to leave a little bit of room to maybe buy some supplies and also of course ship our cards off for grading, so that that leaves us for about a budget of around a total of $500.
So the types of cards to buy. I would stick to the big names if possible. The big brand names like Panini, Topps, or Upper Deck. Those are the ones that people really enjoy buying and also since we're gonna be grading these cards let's pick cards that have a good shot at being high grades. I did a video on how I've been able to get more PSA 10s, so go back and watch that video, but again we want to pick cards that are easy to see the center ring, that have potentially a white background, a white back of the card would be great, color cards that don't have any dark borders because we can see the chipping, and stuff like that. It gets very easy to see that, so again let's try and pick cards that have a good shot at getting a decent amount of grades. Also buy cards that catch your eye. This is definitely underrated but don't just go buy any card okay. Take a look at a card and if you scrolling through eBay and you stop and you look at that card, “Wow that thing looks great, oh it's under $5!” If you like that card somebody else will probably have a good chance of liking that card too. So if you don't like the card, don't buy the card.
Next thing, the sports to buy. This is very important. Since our goal is to fund or start our collection but also to buy cards that are going to sell for us to help fund that collection in the future, we've got to be diverse. We've got to be picking up other sports. So I'm recommending that we buy in five different categories. Now what are these five categories? Well first off, 20% is going to be our personal collection. This is going to be any player, any sport. These are the guys that we like, the cards that we like. It can be anybody for these 20. Next sport's going to be baseball at 20, football at 20, basketball at 20, and also soccer at 20. Yes, soccer cards have probably, arguably, the biggest marketing guys in the act in the entire sports industry. These guys are superstars. Now listen, if you live in Canada and you absolutely know hockey like the back of your hand, then substitute one of these sports in for hockey, but these are the main big sports right now. Again, we're trying to be as diverse as possible because we're going to be selling some of these cards. So essentially you're going to be able to buy about 14 cards per section.
Now the players to buy. I'm going to be sharing with you the best-selling players in each sport. This is very important because we want to be buying guys that are popular. That's a no-brainer. All this data I'm going to share with you right now is over the last year and comes from Market Movers which is a sports card investors’ software program. They pull all their data from eBay. You can subscribe to them, it's like $49 a month. You get a whole plethora of stuff to look at. Again, that's if we're on a budget. It's probably not something you want to do right now, but in the future it might be something to take a look at. This is their top 10 list for each sport with total number of sales for each player.
So the top 10 for each particular sport, and again for the 20 for our personal collection you can buy whatever player you want, it does not matter. You have free reign on that, but this is going to be for the other sports. The baseball, basketball, football, and also soccer.
So for baseball the top 10 best-selling guys over the last 365 days are Ken Griffey Jr, Tatis Jr, Ronald Acuna Jr, Mike Trout, Luis Robert, Derek Jeter, Juan Soto, Jasson Dominguez, Pete Alonso, and Frank Thomas. That's the top ten. Now on this list you really can't do anything wrong with Trout or Jeter. Trout and Jeter are consistent easy sellers. Definitely pick up some of those Tatis and Acuna. The same exact thing, those guys are the future of baseball in my opinion. So out of those four of those 10 guys, those would be the four that I would be picking up. Again, Alonso and Thomas just aren't my favorite on that list, but you buy what you think is going to be a good seller for you.
Now moving on to basketball top ten. There’s Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, LeBron James, Luca Doncic, Kobe Bryant, Trae Young, Michael Jordan, Tyler Herro, Coby White, and Jayson Tatum. Out of that list I would focus pretty much on LeBron, Kobe, and Jordan. You cannot go wrong with those three guys, trust me you cannot go wrong with those three guys. Now outside of that I've talked about him on the show, I really like Luca. Zion and Ja are going to sell great for you too. Those cards may be a little more expensive just because they don't have as many cards on the market as some of those other players so you're going to be paying a premium for those guys. They may be out of the realm right now, yes they do sell, but maybe a little too expensive for the budget that we have.
Now football, and you're going to see a theme here okay. Here's the top 10 football guys. Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovalioa, Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, and Drew Lock. Cross Drew Lock off that list, you will not be buying him all right. So do you see a theme on that list? It's quarterbacks. Football quarterbacks sell. You gotta be buying quarterbacks! On that list I've talked about them a million times on the show, I love Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. You cannot go wrong with those two guys. Outside of that I'm a big fan of Josh Allen. I think the Bills have a huge fan base, they just made the playoffs, he's a great quarterback, he's going to have a bright future. I think you can find some fairly affordable cards on him. Justin Herbert may be a little bit more expensive right now, but he's going to be another great player, and then Joe Burrows coming off an injury. Again, he's been a very popular guy. He’s kind of been devalued a little bit since the injury there, but another one if you can find some $5 - $7 cards. Those guys might be out of the range, but you can find Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady for under $5 all day long.
Now let's move on to soccer. These are the top ten guys right here. We've got Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Jadon Sancho, Neymar Jr, Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, Alphonso Davies, Timo Werner, and Phil Foden. Now not on this list is a guy I would definitely consider getting is Erling Haaland. He plays for Dortmund. He is going to be probably making a big transfer this year, maybe this summer, or maybe in a couple years, it depends on what happens. But he is the future of soccer so definitely would be considering picking him up. Anything like Ronaldo and Messi sells, that's a no-brainer. Most people in the world know who those guys are. I would stick to those guys if you don't know too much about soccer. Mbappe is another very popular guy and of course Haaland. Stick with those four, I think you're going to be doing pretty good.
So next topic here, where are we going to be buying these cards at? So now you've got the budget, which players to buy, the types of cards to buy, now you got to go out and buy the cards. Where? Well the obvious answer for number one is eBay. EBay is just so easy to buy off of. You can see the card quality, see the pricing, you get a tracking number right away, you don't have to hound people for it, you've got a huge selection, so that is going to be a number one option for you. One thing to keep in mind when you are buying ungraded cards, double check to make sure the seller doesn't have graded cards. The reason why is sometimes they will sell their ungraded cards on the platform that they looked at and said, “This isn't worthy of being graded.” So we don't want to be buying those cards. We're on a limited budget, we don't want to be buying cards that aren't going to have a chance at being graded, so just something to keep in mind when you are buying on eBay.
COMC is another decent option. Now keep in mind, a lot of people send cards to them that they don't want to get graded either. So you're going to have to be very selective on the cards that you pick with using them, but you can find some really solid deals on COMC. Definitely some good quality cards for good pricing. Facebook groups are another very solid choice. You can probably find the best pricing there because people aren't paying eBay fees, and then of course buying boxes and packs right now is out of the question. We're not going to be doing that. We're just doing a targeted approach on specific players that we want to buy that we're going to be selling down the road or that are going into our personal collection.
So now you bought all the cards, and you got to get your cards graded. What do you? You've bought all the cards, you got them in your hands, now you got to inspect your cards. You’ve got to inspect them for good centering, want to make sure there aren't any scratches or print lines. The edges are nice and sharp. Corners don't have any whiting on them. We want to make sure those are nice and sharp. Those are very important, we want to make sure those corners are looking good. Then now we're going to select our best cards that we think have the chance of getting the highest grade, we're going to be sending them off to CSG. Now you're also going to be needing penny sleeves, and also some Card Saver Ones. If you don't have some of those make sure you buy those. You're going to need those for submitting your cards for grading.
Now that you've got your cards selected you're going to ship them off to KK_SportsCards out there in Florida and you're gonna wait probably about 75 business days. That's from you shipping your cards out to you actually physically getting them back in your hands. Now what do you do with the cards that you didn't get graded? Those aren't just wasted money. What you can do is you can sell them on your eBay page if you choose to or you can just send them off to COMC. They are going to charge you probably about 35 cents a card to do that, but again ship them off there, they'll scan them for you they'll sell them on their platform and they'll also sell them on eBay for you, and then when it sells they ship it. You don't have to do anything all right. Very hands-off approach, I definitely like that. I've done it the other way trying to sell them myself. It’s way too much work. Don't do that to yourself.
So now 75 days have passed, we've got our cards back, we've got some good grades, and we've got some cards for our personal collection. Let's put those in our personal collection and now we've got some extra cards that we need to sell. So what do we do with those? Well eBay is going to be your best option of course. Yes Facebook groups are okay. It takes a lot more work I think doing it through the Facebook groups. With eBay you're going to reach the most amount of buyers so that is definitely the easiest way to go. Just make sure that you're taking good quality pictures of the front and back of your cards. You've got a good description with the player name, the type and set, the card number. Essentially just copy over the information that's on the slab. Double check to make sure you're spelling stuff correctly. Don't be a dummy and spell something wrong. So basically just copy over that information.
So you got your cards, you decided you're going to sell them on eBay, what do you sell them for? Well it depends on the card and of course the grade that you get, but let's just assume with CSG we're going to get in mainly 9s. Maybe we get a couple 9.5s. You can do a little bit of research. First you can check out what other people are selling their cards for. You can check out past sales. All that kind of information. Don't forget to factor in probably about $5 in shipping. You're also going to have probably about $15 eBay fees, so factor that in for your pricing. So let's say we're roughly about $15 into the card with grading, we spent $5 on the card, we spent $8 on grading, and then we got a little bit of shipping costs involved there so we're about $15. Let's say we want to double our money. That's always a good day. So that's going to put us at $30. Now we're gonna have to add in that $5 for the shipping and we're also gonna have to add in the $15 eBay fees, so we're gonna have to be selling that card for about $40 to $50.
So let's say in the low end we're gonna have about 12 cards to sell. We had 15 cards that we got graded, three went into our personal collection, and we've got 12 cards to sell. That gives us, let's say for example, we can sell them for $40 right. 12 times the $40, that's going to put us at about $480 in total sales. Let's say we get $15 profit per card, we've got a $180 dollar profit. That’s super nice. We got $480 in sales, hopefully that takes us about 75 to 90 days to sell the card, so roughly about a card every day or two, which would be in a best case scenario. So look at that. I mean we basically put $500 out there, we've got new cards in our personal collection, and then we got $500 back.
Now that we can do the whole same process again or we can buy cards that are already graded for our personal collections, so you've got a lot of different options. Also remember, depending on how many cards you end up selling, using this process or any other process that you choose to do you're going to probably have some taxes at the end of the year. So I personally would set probably about $20 aside. I'm just saving high. I don't want to be getting a big tax bill at the end of the year and not have money for that, so just something to keep in mind if you start selling a ton of cards. You want to keep some money aside for good old Uncle Sam.
So again hopefully this helps you guys kind of set up a process for yourselves to start getting a personal collection going, but also so you can sell some cards to make some money, and if you choose to keep making money that's fine or if you want to take that and then buy new cards for your personal collection, but this is a great way to do it. Again, you can use CSG, or if you want to, jump around and do some other grading card companies. I like CSG just because I think we can get the most amount of cards graded. We can sell them very quick and easy and we can also get them for a cheap price of that $40 to $50 range, which is in the budget for most collectors.
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