If you have a valuable baseball card collection and want to learn how to sell your cards, this guide will help you earn top dollar.
Values of vintage sports cards have increased significantly in recent years, and it's an excellent time for collectors to cash in their prized collectibles.
Selling your cards is intimidating, so we've outlined the most essential steps in as much detail as possible.
This guide should be the only resource collectors need to help sell their sports cards.
Are Baseball Cards Still Worth Money?
Whether you have old cards or modern cards, rare cards, or common cards, there’s a good chance that your collection is worth something.
Of course, the amount your cards are worth will depend on many factors.
One important factor in determining card values is a set's production totals.
For this reason, most baseball, hockey, and football cards produced during the Junk Era of the 1980s and 1990s are practically worthless. Think guys like Bo Jackson, Frank Thomas, Derek Jeter and even Barry Bonds.
Vintage cards remain red hot across all sports. For example, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card has trounced the returns of the stock market in recent years.
Check out our Most Valuable Cards guides below for the most expensive cards in each sport
How Hot Is The Market For Baseball Cards Today?
There is a very healthy market today for baseball and all sports cards.
Cards sell quickly and at or above book value, especially for in demand cards.
The advent of third party graders (like PSA) has brought more uniformity to the hobby.
And population reports make it easy for collectors to check the scarcity of a card.
Collectors can now easily view the latest sales prices on eBay or at auction houses to get a very up-to-the minute picture of card values.
This data has made it easier for collectors to sell their cards online with a good expectation of estimated sales values.
This lower friction and ease of doing business has also led to a significant increase in card prices.
If you're looking to sell your collection, this resource guide will provide everything you need to know, ranging from organizing your cards, identifying your cards, whether or not to get your cards graded and the best places to sell your cards.
Below we can see that an index of PWCC cards has massively outperformed the S&P 500 over the past several years.
High-demand vintage and newer cards with fancy 1/1 designations and limited supply have been very hot collectibles.
Collectors are comfortable knowing they might have the option to sell a recently acquired card at a price close to what they paid.
This has also led to some collectors buying cards (out of their price range) they might not have a decade ago, due to the system's reliability.
This has given the hobby a bit of a 'stock marketplace' sort of feel, which for good or bad, has likely led to the increase in card values in recent years.
How Do I Identify My Baseball Cards?
Before selling your collection, you need to assess the cards that you have.
I encourage collectors to put together a list of their collection before selling.
If you have a baseball card and have no idea what you have sitting in front of you, this section should help you identify your cards.
First, check the back of the card.
Unless it's a strip card (which normally has a blank back), then it likely has some sort of manufacturer and date information on the back.
This gets typically easier the newer the card, but it's a starting place for figuring out what year and make your card.Here's the back of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, one of the most valuable of all baseball cards.
Looking at the back or front, we know we have a Mickey Mantle card (and if you have one of these, you're one LUCKY collector).
Looking at the back, we can see at the bottom that we have a 'Topps Baseball' card, but there is no identifying year.
This is where some of the text on the back can help. If we read the card, it refers to Mantle's 1951 season. Thus, this is likely a card issued somewhere in that 1951-1953 range. And indeed, it is a 1952 Topps baseball card.
A quick Google search can help- if we had typed in '1951 Topps Mickey Mantle' and clicked on 'images' in Google, we would get a bunch of photos of our 1952 Topps Mantle. (note there is no '51 Topps' Mantle). We could also click on one of those images and learn more about the card.One trick many need to learn about is the Google Reverse Image Search. If you go to images.google.com, you can submit a picture, and it will provide any matches to its search database. Just click on the photo as shown in the image below (circled in red)
I tried this with our 1952 Mantle Back and it identified it as 'Mickey Mantle Rookie Card', which is technically not true.
Mantle's 1951 Bowman is his true rookie card, but it gives us enough info to make an assessment that this is actually a 1952 Topps Mantle.
That's a great start if we are selling a Mickey Mantle card worth multiple thousands of dollars.
So, whether it's a 1952 Mickey Mantle or a 1981 Topps Joe Montana, you can utilize this same method with whatever card you might have. If you're having any issues, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help you out.
How Much Should I Ask For My Card Collection?
In order to place a rough estimate on your baseball card collection, the easiest place to start is eBay.
Examining past sales of sold cards on eBay can provide us with a great assessment of the most recent values on the marketplace.
PSA also provides a listing of recent auction sales (including eBay) which can be very helpful in determining the current value of a card.
Here's an example on how to find recent sales data on eBay.
The search results will show us all of the available cards for sale.
While this information looks good, the most valuable information is within the latest eBay completed listings.
Click on the 'Advanced' text as shown in the red circle.
Once you get to the next page, click on 'Sold Listings' . Note I also added a filter for sold items above $500 since there was a lot of junk coming up in the results, and I know from experience that most Jordan rookies sell for over $500.
This will bring up a list of the latest sales that can really help us figure out a price on our card.
Here we can see that the last sale was a PSA 4 Jordan that sold for $1025. So we can filter through the listings to find a good idea of what our card is worth.
In addition, we can also get a good snapshot of recent eBay sales (along with recent auction sales) at PSA's website.
If you google your card and just type in "PSA" at the end it should provide the first link to the PSA page for the card you are looking for.
I did this for 'Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie PSA' and the first link is the PSA Card Facts page.
If you click on the box 'APR' (which stands for Auction Prices Realized) from the PSA Facts page it will bring you to the latest eBay and auction sales.
PSA has made some big improvements on this part of their page, and provides a great breakdown of sales based on card grades. There's even a chart showing recent sales prices by grade as shown below:
For some more information and details into the more important factors on determing card values, be sure to check out our resource guide on determining baseball card values.
Should I Get My Cards Graded Before Selling Them?
A graded card is nearly always worth more than a 'raw' card that is ungraded.
Before sending your cards to a third party grader, you must evaluate the potential increase in value after grading the card.
If the costs to grade outweigh the increase in value, it is not worth grading.
Bare minimum grading costs now run from $25 to $50 at the cheapest levels.
And cheaper levels of service tend to take much longer than expedited, higher priced grading tiers.
If you want to sell your collection quickly, grading your cards might not be in your best interest.
A card worth $50 that might see a $25 bump after grading is not worth the hassle of grading due to the costs (and time) involved.
If it's worth $150 or more, it's probably worth grading, but I'd probably use a bulk submission to get a discount on the grading price.
For premium, high priced cards, the costs to grade will be much higher, but the increased premium from grading will be well worth it.
I will note that a majority of collectors today only buy graded cards, thus a graded card is much easier to sell than a raw counterpart.
I'm usually only in a rush to send my cards off to the grading companies unless I want an immediate opinion on authentication.
One of my biggest mistakes as a novice vintage collector was sending some T206 commons to PSA. At around a $15 average submission cost (I did a bulk submission), it added barely any value in excess of what I paid in grading costs.
The only time this helps is if you buy a card thinking it might be say a PSA 1 (Poor Condition) and it ends up getting graded a PSA 3 (VG) or PSA 4 (VG-EX).
Thus, before you send it in for grading, weigh the costs versus what you think the card might be worth in graded condition (versus raw).
Where Can I Sell My Baseball Cards?
eBay allows you to list 50 items for free per month, but there is a 12.9% charge on the final value for selling your baseball cards.
I usually add a shipping charge that covers my shipping costs, but you are on the hook for any shipping costs not covered by the buyer. The fees can add up quickly.
There are many active Facebook groups that allow for selling and trading cards. If you search for a particular sport and era, you'll likely find a big group engaging in card trading.
Selling in Facebook groups can be done with no fees, but you need to ensure that you are dealing with an honest buyer/seller.
Most groups will vouch for anyone in question, and a quick search of a person's name can provide further information about their past posts/dealings.
How Do I Find Baseball Card Buyers In My Area?
I've never done it, but some collectors will sell cards at a Pawn Shop. I recommend against this unless you're in a desperate situation.
Collectors would be better served by visiting a local card shop if there's one nearby. Due to the resurgence of the hobby, there are more physical card shops where you can sell your old sports cards.
Do a quick search search on google for 'baseball card shops near me' or 'baseball card appraisal near me' and Google will populate local listings with reviews of any local card stores in the area.
Some of the big auction houses can be an excellent way to go for higher-end items.
Ten Tips To Get Top Dollar For Your Card Collection
1. Create A List Of Your Card Collection
It's time to figure out what it is that you own! Go and create a list! We've started a Google Sheet to help you with this. That sheet comes in handy when working with Dealers if selling your cards.
The more preparation you do before you start selling your cards, the better off you will be.
If you need help identifying your cards, go revisit our tips in helping to figure out what it is that you have.
2. Talk To Card Dealers
Go Visit A Local Baseball Card Show or search online for reputable dealers. You might find someone willing to pay exactly what you need in person at a card show. I'd suggest doing a little digging on the dealer in question. Sometimes typing in 'Dealer XYX Scam" or "Dealer XYZ Reviews" can tell you everything you need.
3. Learn About Sports Card Grading
One downfall. Due to the surge in demand for card collecting in recent years, grading backlogs can often build. Thus, based on the environment, you might find yourself waiting a long time to get your card back.
Be sure to check out our resource guide on grading your sports cards.
4. Have a Price In Mind
You won't get the book value if selling to a dealer or at a show, but it's important to understand the value of your card.
An eBay search of completed listings can do wonders in helping determine a card's value. On average, if a card is in high demand, you might get upwards of 80% of the book value for the card if selling to a dealer.
5. Consider Passing On To Heirs If Possible
Might sound crazy, but vintage baseball cards have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 30+ Years.
If you have a high-quality collection and aren't in need of immediate cash, you might consider passing it on to your family.
6. Get Educated On The Hobby
Our writings about vintage sports cards help educate all card collectors. We likely have an article on a set or card that you own. Hopefully, it's on this list of the most valuable cards!
The more educated you are concerning your collection, the better chances you'll have of not getting taken advantage of.
7. Invest In A Scanner For Your Cards
If you have a large collection, it might be worth your while to invest in a scanner. One of the biggest mistakes a seller can make is sharing unclear photos with a willing buyer.
The latest iPhones take great photos, but a scanner image might enhance returns due to the higher quality of the image. There's a great discussion here on some of the better options for use in scanning baseball cards.
8. Consign Your Cards To An Auction House
If you have some really high end items it could be in your best interest to consign your cards to an auction house. We've put together a list of some of the most reputable auction dealers in the market.
9. Facebook Marketplace Is A Free Option
If you want to cut costs on the sale of your card collection, Facebook Marketplace is a good option. First, it's free, and second, it has a huge reach. Usually, if you have cards local to a specific market, they tend to sell better on Facebook. Although there are many buyers looking to scoop up collections as well.
10. Be Careful Of Scammers
If selling your cards to someone online without any prior connection, you need to be careful. Consider places such as Facebook and other for-sale sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up.
If accepting digital payments, understand that Paypal Goods and Services will entail a fee but provides protection for both buyers and sellers.
If meeting in person, find a local police station that allows for online exchanges. Check with your local police dept to see if they offer the option.
If you don't want to list on eBay or work with an Auction House, there are dealers that will pay top dollar for high-quality sports cards.
One happens to be us here at All Vintage Cards (shameless plug). Below is some more information on our buying process:
Selling Your Sports Cards to All Vintage Cards
All Vintage Cards has been dealing in sports since the early 1980s. We are one of the most reputable and trusted buyers in the hobby.
I encourage all sellers to speak with several dealers, but I promise that our offer will be near the top of the list.