How to Buy Raw Ungraded Cards on eBay

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Buying raw cards on eBay with the intention to grade can be tough. And let me just clarify that buying ungraded cards from anywhere with the intention to grade those cards can be difficult. Well, the buying part is always easy, but you just might have a hard time finding gems.

Can it be done? Of course. I love seeing these types of success stories:

This is just one of many, so have confidence in the fact that buying raw cards on eBay can very well turn into. I personally have not done so yet, but it’s something I’d love to start doing. That said, I’ve purchased on ungraded cards social media, like Twitter, and hit gem. For example, this Trout worked out for me:

So, what’s the best way to go about it? Here are some tips.

1. Check the Seller’s Inventory and Past Sales

If I’m going to buy a raw card off eBay and I know I might want to grade it when it comes when, I want to first make sure the person I’m buying from doesn’t grade a lot of cards themselves.

Why? Because someone who grades a lot of cards probably looks at their inventory with a certain type of eye. The great-looking cards are then moved into the “grade” pile while the raw cards that don’t make the cut might get sold ungraded directly on eBay.

Is this always the case? Of course not, nothing really is. All I’m saying is tread cautiously if it appears the card you’re interested in is only being sold because it can’t be graded.

2. Stick to Modern Cards

Again, a lot of these are just personal guidelines I like to follow and am passing along to you in hopes of helping you dive in or keep out of whatever you’re contemplating. So, for me, I’ll avoid buying raw vintage on eBay, especially if I’m going to grade.

Now, this usually includes anything older than 1970, and especially includes big ticket cards from Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, etc. But, point being, sure it’s tough to tell a real card from a counterfeit or reprint, but might be even more difficult to tell if a card has been altered in some way or another.

3. Look for Semi-Rigid Pouches in Photo Listings

There is a best type of sports card holder for every situation, and one of the top reasons most people use Card Savers or semi-rigid pouches is to submit cards for grading to PSA. I know for me personally, I have a stack of cards in Cards Savers on my desk as we speak. They are the only cards I have in Card Savers, and that’s because they are the only cards I’m thinking about grading.

Now, if I decide I don’t want to grade them and end up selling them, I might just start scanning cards in the holders they are in. Thus, going back to the point above, this could be a sign for cards you want to avoid.

4. Ask for Pictures of the Back of the Card

I can’t believe just how many high-dollar cards get listed on eBay without taking a photo of the entire card, front and back. I also can’t believe how many cards I receive that look pristine from the front, only to be “ruined” by something on the back.

So, don’t leave it up to chance. If an eBay listing has photos of the front and the back, look closely. If there is only a picture of the front, ask for a picture of the back. If the seller is unwilling to provide one, then you might have your answer.

5. Utilize eBay’s Photo Zoom

While it’s undoubtedly tough to tell a card’s true condition without seeing it in person, use everything you have at your disposal. This includes the zoom features on the posted photos, which works quite well in spotting blemishes. Check out this Oneil Cruz auto (and these Oneil Cruz rookie cards!).

Again, like buying cards under any circumstance, look with a discerning eye, and try to find an issue rather than letting your brain trick you into thinking every card is a PSA 10.

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