Unlock the value of your cherished baseball card collection with this guide on selling baseball cards for the best price.
With the recent surge in vintage sports card values, now is the moment to convert your prized collectibles into cash.
Are Baseball Cards Still Worth Money?
Whether you have old or modern cards, rare or common, there's a good chance your collection holds value, depending largely on several factors.
A key factor affecting card values is the production totals of a set. This makes most baseball, hockey, and football cards from the 1980s and 1990s Junk Wax Era practically worthless, even those of notable players like Bo Jackson, Barry Bonds and Derek Jeter.
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.
See Our Most Valuable Cards guides below for each sport:
The Baseball Card Market In 2023
The appeal for collecting sports cards has surged, driven by the allure of both high-demand vintage and unique newer cards with 1/1 designations and limited availability.
This has morphed card collecting into a venture resembling a 'stock market,' with a dynamic that led to a rapid rise in values, with a more recent correction in pricing.
Several factors have contributed to the hobby's increased popularity and recent over-heated market.
- Cards sell quickly and at or above book value, especially in-demand cards, showing a massive increase in the number of buyers in the marketplace
- Grading companies (such as PSA) have brought more uniformity to the hobby.
- Population reports from the grading companies 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 estimate of card values.
- Transparency in sales data has made it easier for collectors to sell their cards online with a good expectation of estimated sales values.
- Many speculators have entered the hobby, leading to many just looking for a quick flip to make money.
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.
How To Sell Baseball Cards
If you are looking to cash in your card collection, there are a few important steps in getting your cards sold. Follow along here for guidance to help maximize your returns.
1. Identifying Your Cards For Sale
Before selling your collection, you need to identify the cards that you have.
Here's a simple google spreadsheet we created to help arrange a list of your collection.
If you have a baseball card and aren't sure of the year or manufacturer, sometimes its as simple as finding the card number on the back of the card.
Here's the back of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, one of the most valuable of all baseball cards.
Looking at the back of the card, we can clearly see the #311 in the top left corner. We also can see at the bottom that we have a 'Topps Baseball' card, but there is no identifying year.
A quick Google search can help- if we had typed in 'Topps Mickey Mantle 311' and clicked on 'images' in Google, we would get a bunch of photos of our 1952 Topps Mantle.
Another trick to use is the Google Reverse Image Search. If you submit a picture, Google will provide any matches from its database.
To try this out, go to images.google.com and click on the photo as shown in the image below (circled in red).
I tried this with our 1952 Mantle Topps Back photo 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.
2. Valuing Your Baseball Card Collection
To get a rough estimated value on your baseball card collection, the easiest place to start is eBay.
Examining past card sales on eBay can give us an excellent assessment of the most recent values in the marketplace.
Here's an example of how to find recent sales data on eBay.
Click on the 'Advanced' text as shown in the red circle.
Once you get to the next page, click '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 brings up a list of the latest sales that can help us figure out a value of 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.
PSA is also a great resource for valuing cards.
Go to Google, type in your card name with"PSA" at the end, and it will provide a link to the PSA page for the card in question.
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 here and provides a great breakdown of sales according to card grade.
For more information and details on the most important factors in determing card values, check out our resource guide on determining baseball card values.
3. Grading Your Baseball Cards
A graded card is usually worth more than an ungraded ('raw') card. In order to optimize the value of your collection, it could be worth grading your baseball cards.
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 are about $25 for cards worth $500 or less. However, the more valuable the card, the higher the grading cost. Cheaper grading tiers take longer, not ideal for quick sales.
For premium, high priced cards, the costs to grade will be much higher, but the increased premium from grading will be well worth it.
One of my biggest mistakes as a novice collector was sending some T206 commons to PSA. At around a $15 average grading cost (via bulk submission), it added barely any value in excess of what I paid in grading costs.
Thus, before grading a card, evaluate the grading costs against the potential value increase of the graded card versus its ungraded state.
4. Deciding Where To Sell Your Baseball Cards
Selling Cards on eBay
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.
Selling Cards in Facebook Groups
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.
Selling Cards At Auction Houses
Some of the big auction houses can be an excellent way to go for higher-end items. Some auction houses will tour the country, picking up collections, while many will just have you ship your cards directly to them.
Fees vary widely when working with an auction house, but it is highly dependent on the quality of items you are trying to sell.
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.
Ten Tips To Selling Baseball Cards For Top Dollar
1. Create A List Of Your Baseball 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.
2. Talk To Sports 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.
3. Learn About Sports Card Grading
4. Have a Price In Mind For Your Collection
You won't get market value for your cards if selling to a dealer or at a card show, but it's important to understand the value of your card. 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 Your Baseball Cards 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. The more educated you are concerning your collection, the better chances you have of not getting ripped off when selling your card collection.
7. Invest In A Scanner For Your Cards
If you have a valuable card collection, it might be worth investing in a scanner. Today's iPhones take great pictures, but high quality scanners can help enhance returns. There's a great discussion here on some of the better options for use in scanning baseball cards.
8. Consign Your Baseball 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 For Selling Cards
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. Places such as Facebook and other for-sale sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up are often filled with questionable characters.
If accepting digital payments, understand that Paypal Goods and Services will entail a fee but provides protection for both buyers and sellers.
Tip: If meeting a buyer 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.
Selling Your Sports Cards to All Vintage Cards
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:
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.