You have been sitting on your Mickey Mantle cards for years and have finally decided it is time to sell everything off. You want to go on vacation, buy a new car or home, of a number of other reasons. Since you don’t have the cards on display, you will never miss them anyway, right? Well, maybe not. We cannot promise you that your heart will not grow heavy when that last card changes hands, but we can show you how to get a fair price for your sports card collection.
Buy a Price Guide – Beckett is the Holy Grail when it comes to sports cards. Beckett also has an online tool that may be easier when it comes to tracking the value of all of your cards. You are going to need either the online guide or the actual magazine to get a rough idea of what your cards are worth.
Evaluate the Cards – first, you will need to break your cards out into commons, or fillers, and the high-ticket cards, such as rookie, autograph, and memorabilia cards. Once you have them separated, you will need to look at each card individually to decide the condition. Things such as off-center cuts and dinged corners will take away from the value of the card.
Set a Price – now that you have a condition and a book value of the card, you can figure out roughly what the open market will bring for each card. As a rough estimate, figure $.50 on the dollar for mint cards, going as low as $.10 on the dollar value listed for Excellent to Excellent Mint cards. If a card looks like it warrants a Gem Mint 9.5 or a Pristine 10, it may be worth paying the price of grading, as you can get full book value or more, depending on the demand of the card. In addition, you have the advantage of looking the cards up on eBay, which will give you an indicator as to how much people are willing to pay right now.
Sell the Cards – you have several ways to sell the cards: collectibles store, eBay, or online postings (such as Craiglist). eBay will often fetch the best price, but you must take into consideration the fees involved (about ten percent). In addition, if you are using PayPal as a payment source, there will be more fees (roughly four percent of the transaction). Online postings are okay, but you will be setting your price in stone. You could be short changing yourself and leaving money on the table. Finally, there is the collectibles store, which is where you will probably get the lowest offer. Remember, these guys need to resell the card and make a profit, so they cannot buy it from you for what the market is currently dictating.
If you are unsure as to the value of the card, you can always take it to a shop first. Let the dealer look at the card and make you an offer. Regardless of his offer, even if he tells you it is only on the table right now, walk away and then do some research on eBay. Track the auctions posted for the same card and see which outlet will provide you with the best price. Just remember, don’t fall in love with the book value, as few cards will sell for the actual posted price. In most cases, if you are getting $.50 on the dollar for an ungraded card, you are doing very well.