The online world has opened up so many different doors for baseball card collectors—of all ages and interests.
Depending on when you were growing up, you might have only had your local neighborhood spots to visit when it came to places to buy cards.
(I’m referring to card singles or collections that weren’t sealed packs or boxes, and being able to specifically seek out a certain card or type of card without leaving it up to chance and the luck of busting wax.)
That means the card shop of course, but then maybe only “hit or miss” options like garage sales, flea markets, or potentially antique stores.
An equally tough process, then, was selling cards, or even the act of advertising you had cards to sell. Classified ads? Poster boards directing traffic to your yard sale? Times were tough.
But luckily, times have changed, and for the better in terms of both sides of the hobby population.
So here are the best, most popular ways to sell your cards online in today’s hobby landscape.
How to Sell Baseball Cards Online
Selling baseball cards online will differ depending on where you’re selling—meaning, there is no “one tip fits all” model here. That said, you’ll want to follow a few basic principles regardless of sales venue or format.
1. Be Descriptive
When selling cards online, you have to remember that potential buyers obviously can’t see or hold the card(s) you’re selling. If it’s a card that has been in your collection for a long time, you might know it inside and out, and if you’ve recently acquired it, you have the base knowledge from the original seller before you.
But the potential buyer? The only things they know about the card(s) are those details that you communicate to them.
For instance, think about the impact of providing a photo versus leaving it all up to the imagination. Many potential buyers can look at a single picture of a card and not only know who the player is, but also from what set the card was born.
But in a time of parallels, prizms, refractors, and a number of other variations, even a great photo (more below) won’t be enough, and thus there is no harm in being clear and obvious with your listing titles and descriptions.
Probably more important, you’ll need to also point out any flaws your card might have. Yes, doing so might turn some buyers off, but selling a flawed card that appears to be perfect can lead to potential headaches like refunds and returns down the road, and unhappy customers who might not want to purchase from you again (and who leave bad feedback scores).
How clear is clear enough? I’ll even go as far as to put “READ” in the main listing title, because some buyers don’t look past that point when it comes to purchasing. So, at the very least, doing so lets buyers know that they’ll want to read the longer description to glean valuable information about the card they might soon be purchasing.
Here is an example of one of my past listings:
2016 PANINI PANTHEON RICKEY HENDERSON Relic 3000 HIT CLUB /49 Oakland A’s
- Set Name
- Insert Name
- Serial Number
- Team Name
I probably should have included “jersey” if possible. Others include “game used” or “gu” if the enclosed piece of material is actually game used, but you get the point.
2. Take Good Photos
If you’ve ever shopped an online marketplace, you’ve probably viewed a range of quality when it comes to photos. With many items, photos might not make a huge difference as long as the thing being purchased still functions and serves a purpose, and any damage is disclosed.
But with cards that carry value, a single white corner or small surface blemish can mean the difference of hundreds of dollars down the line. Thus, good photos help put buyers at ease when purchasing and allow them to make their own decisions, and when paired with a detailed description, helps with reducing the risk of return, and improving buyer satisfaction.
Not to mention that you want to be as appealing as possible with your photography. Some treasure a card’s beauty as they would a piece of art, so showing off a card’s essence via photography is a good way to increase your chances of a sale.
Messy backgrounds, pieces of dog hair, cards pictured without protective sleeves, and more can be enough to turn a potential buyer off from wanting to purchase.
When it comes to taking photos, some prefer to take pictures with their phone, which can be an easy option, but it really depends on the available lighting. Thus, others prefer to use a lightbox, or even scan their cards in.
Here are a few examples of different photos I’ve used—you can tell the first two, Rickey Henderson and AJ Brown were scanned, and then the Bellinger was taken with a camera.
3. Price Your eCard
This might seem like no-brainer, but it’s also something many fail to do, and instead rely on pure offers and the art of negotiation to get the card sold. Some platforms like eBay, COMC, and StarStock will require a price, but on others like OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, or other social media outlets, sellers can put a dummy price or can simply state “make an offer.”
Again, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes—would you be more willing to purchase a card or even negotiate when there is a starting price point versus none at all?
Some buyers simply don’t want to interact with sellers, and not having a price forces them to interact to simply get a piece of basic information, whereas they might much rather just purchase a card that is priced and then be on their way.
So, what price do you choose?
It’s totally up to you, however, you’ll obviously want to price realistically if you want to make a sale. Some cards make this easier than others, but either way, there are usually ways to find “comps” (comparisons) that will help you arrive at a dollar amount.
Check sold eBay listings: Go to eBay and search for the card you’re selling. In your filters, select “sold” to view those cards which have already been sold, and to see the price for which they sold.
Now, you might notice some prices have the number with a strikethrough. That means the card was purchased via eBay’s “Best Offer” feature, where the seller listed the card at the price you see, but the purchaser made an offer and bought at a lower price, which you can’t see.
So, for instance, here is one of my sold listings:
From first look, you might think the card sold for $45, right? And I wouldn’t blame you. But in reality, the card sold for $30.
For the most part, you’d be reasonable in expecting the true sales price to be within $10 of the listed sales price, give or take?
This is also a good way to find what might be a hot selling player—go to eBay sold listings and then sort by date sold. You can filter down by category or set if you wanted, but either way you might be able to spot some patterns.
But, either way, it’s a guessing game without the assistance of additional tools.
Use Free Apps: From the scenario above you can see that it’s easy to be led down an incorrect pricing path. But one way to find a more accurate sales price is to use certain apps that help you find card values.
For instance, apps like Sold For are analytical tools that help buyers make more informed purchasing decisions, and allows sellers to have more info at their disposal when it comes to selling similar cards.
This way, you can see the true sales price, and not have to guess just how much lower the sold for price ended up being.
Use Paid Tools: One last method for uncovering accurate pricing is to do so with a paid tool like eBay’s own Terapeak, which according to their site, is:
“…an exclusive eBay insights tool, is an effective way to research what your competitors are doing, how they’re doing it, and how you can improve your own listings on eBay.”
The cost to access is $12 per month on an annual plan, and then $19 per month to go month-to-month without commitment.
4. Ship Appropriately
Once your card sells, congrats, but your job isn’t done! Shipping is obviously a major part of selling a card online, but shipping safely will help the chances of positive feedback and repeat buyers.
This is my preferred method:
- Place the card into a soft penny sleeve
- Put the sleeved card into a toploader
- Insert the loaded card into a team set bag
- Seal the team set bag
- Sandwich the bagged card in between cardboard
- Use painters tape to tape the cardboard sides
- Place the card into a bubble mailer
Now, of course, this is going to vary depending on the type of card you sell and the volume. Meaning, there is also a PWE shipping option, which is cheaper, but less secure and can’t be tracked. And then, if you are selling and shipping large groups of cards, you’ll have to opt for different packaging.
Where to Sell Cards Online
So, given the above, where do you put these best practices in play? There are a number of places to sell your cards online, ranging from traditional to new up and coming platforms.
The biggest and most popular way to sell your cards for years and still today is eBay. The reach of the platform is incredible, and most people are still very much accustomed to going to eBay first when it comes to purchasing a card.
That said, there are some other potential downsides to take into consideration, but first, the process.
Listing a card for sale on eBay is fairly straightforward—here are a few of the bigger pieces.
Craft a title that accurately describes your card, while also hitting on important keywords. In most cases, you’ll want to include:
- Player name
- Set and year
- Player team
- Card number
- Features (RC, Auto, etc.)
Again, be sure to think about how people are searching for cards to buy. Some search with “auto” and others with “autograph” while “RC” is also popular, but “rookie” is used as well.
Here you’ll choose from a number of different specifics like condition, manufacturer, player, team, year, and more. Some people search by keyword, others browse by category, so completing both the title and item specifics section hold valuable in maximizing visibility.
When you think eBay, you probably immediately think auction, which, for first-time or new sellers, can be a little intimidating. That said, there are a few different options when it comes to pricing.
First, you can start your auction at any price. So, if you’re hoping to get $10 for a card, you can start the auction at $10 if you wanted.
On the other hand, bidders might be drawn to a $.99 starting price, and by getting eyeballs on your listing upfront, a bidding war could push the price over $10.
Either way, it’s hard to know, and a number of factors (scarcity, time of year, etc.) will help you determine.
Buy it Now Pricing
Second, you can completely bypass the auction and go with a “buy it now” price, which is basically a set price a buyer can essentially take or leave. On top of that, the seller has the option to list as “buy it now” but also with “best offer” enabled so that potential buyers can make offers on your card if they’re not wanting to pay full price.
Buy it Now with “Best Offer”
Third, you can do a hybrid approach where you run out an auction with a buy it now price that remains available up until the first bid.
And guess what? There is more you can do when it comes to pricing so be sure to review all of your options.
Be sure to take clear and well-lit photos of your cards for sale. Some prefer to scan their cards, others prefer lightboxes, and some do neither.
No matter your preference, you’re going to want to be sure to capture and showcase the card’s beauty, while also highlighting any flaws.
Multiple photos, as in the front and back of the card and then zoomed-in shots of corners and flaws can help.
When the card sells, package it up and send it on its way to the buyer, just as you would with any other eBay transaction.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to shipping out your eBay sales, but you’ll need to make your mind up before posting your card for sale.
In many cases, sellers choose to either ship PWE (plain white envelope) or BMWT (bubble mailer with tracking).
As the name suggests, you can only track bubble mailers, which is a safer option in ensuring the card arrives, or if it doesn’t, knowing where along the way it might have gone off track. Tracking also gives the buyer peace of mind that yes, you shipped the card, but it may have gotten lost along the way.
Once the seller receives their card, they should hopefully leave you feedback.
When selling on eBay, you will encounter different fees, and these fees even differ between accounts that are set up with eBay managed payments and those that are not.
Not to mention that fees will vary by category, thus there isn’t really any definitive answer here. So, take this as a general guideline, and be sure to do your own research for specifics.
The standard fees for most categories are broken down as follows:
Listing: 200 listings free per month, and then $.35 per listing after that.
Final value: 10% of final selling value which includes shipping (max of $750).
So for example, I recently sold a 2019 Topps Holiday Mike Trout bat relic. The price purchased for was $13.00 and shipping paid was $3.90. Thus, the total price paid to me (excluding taxes) was $16.90, and I paid $1.69 in fees.
PayPal: Then, if you’re being paid via PayPal, which is the preferred method, there is an additional fee of .29%+$.3 on the total amount paid. So, going back to the Trout example, the total:
Card price: $13.00
Tax collected: $1.33
Shipping charge: $3.90
Gross Amount: $18.23
Paypal Fee = $.83
Another option is to consign your cards for another to sell on your behalf. One of the more popular options of the last few years to do so is Check Out My Cards, COMC.
The basic way it works is, you gather your cards and ship them to COMC. (COMC also offers a mailbox service if you’d like your cards to be shipped directly to them once you purchase).
Once received, the cards are processed and added to your inventory. You then go in and price the cards however you’d like, or hold them as “not for sale” until you are in fact ready to sell.
Then, buyers search the COMC marketplace to purchase, or can even buy via eBay from COMC listings that are automatically imported on your behalf.
Alternatively, you can start out as a buyer on COMC, adding credit to your account to purchase cards you’d like to resell.
COMC makes it easy to “flip” cards in this regard, allowing you to purchase cards and then immediately list them for resale on the COMC platform (and avoiding the cards being shipped to you and then you having to ship to COMC).
Sending cards to COMC
There are a few steps to sending cards into COMC, and here is their stated process via video below:
Step 1: Confirm your return shipping address, just in case.
Step 2: Confirm the cards you’re sending are supported by COMC.
If you’re wanting to sell cards via COMC, chances are your cards are supported. However, there are still specific guidelines to follow, with the biggest probably being they are single cards (no sets, sealed packs, etc.), licensed by a production company, authentic, and family-friendly.
Step 3: Select a service level.
Next you’ll select a service level, which means the level of processing in terms of when COMC receives your cards and when they process them for selling on the site.
As with most things card-service related these days, there are delays, but the stated standard card options include one week guaranteed, three weeks guaranteed, and three weeks estimated.
Step 4: State quantity and value.
After that, you’ll input how many cards you’re submiting and then the estimated value of those cards, for which you can look to current and past eBay sales to get a general idea.
Step 5: Select a submission center.
The next step is simple in that you’re choosing to submit your cards to either the COMC headquarters in Washington, or to COMC Canada.
Step 6: Package and ship.
Last, you’re ready to ship, and this video walks you through that process:
Selling cards on COMC also comes with fees, as expected. Here is a blog post from them on their “selling rates” but the breakdown is as follows.
(Again, there are different variables, so accept this as a general guideline, and do research upfront with COMC before sending your cards in.)
1-week guaranteed turnaround: $1.00 per card.
3-week guaranteed turnaround: $.50 per card
3-week estimated turnaround: $.35 per card
Again, COVID is causing delays, so if you want your cards processed closer to the at least 3-week window, the guaranteed options are probably your best bet.
Sales Fees: 5% of sales price
Cash-Out Fees: 10% of amount
Similar to COMC, StarStock is emerging as a new and popular marketplace for the buying and selling of rookie cards.
The process is similar to COMC in that you send your cards, however many you want, to StarStock for processing. Once the cards are processed, you can price them as you wish!
(Quickly, if you aren’t on StarStock yet, check it out. If you enter ballcardgenius in the promo code field when signing up, you can get a $10 credit to buy cards once you make a $10 deposit. I get $10 too, so thank you in advance.)
What’s different? Well, as mentioned, the StarStock platform only allows rookie cards, and there are even stricter guidelines within that category as well (check their FAQ for more info).
In addition, there are currently no processing fees, and sales fees are lower (more on that below).
Last, there seems to be more readily-available data, and a different pricing and offer setup.
Here are the details.
Sending Cards to StarStock
Becuase StarStock is a bit newer, the platform still utilizes Google Sheets when it comes to submitting your cards. When you visit that link, you’ll see a number of different instructions and guidelines, mostly pertaining to the types of cards StarStock will sell.
From there, completing the form is fairly straightforward, requiring your email address, StarStock username, full name and mailing address, the number of cards you’re sending in, and then an actual list of the cards you’re sending (which is optional, but recommended).
Then, in terms of packing your cards for shipment:
- Place cards in penny sleeves
- Sort by sport, set, and player
- Bubble wrap graded cards
Again, there is more to consider, but those are the basics.
As mentioned, there are not currently any fees to have your cards processed and put up for sale on StarStock. There is a sales fee, and that is 3% on each item sold.
4. Twitter & Social Media
Another option for selling cards is to join communities on Twitter to try and sell your cards. On Facebook this might mean joining different trading card groups or simply using Marketplace, and on Twitter it’s just a matter of following (and potentially getting followd back) by related accounts.
Compared to the first few options above, there will be a lot less structure when it comes to social media selling, which if you’re a newcomer, you might want to avoid, or at least avoid any larger deals until you have a good system in place to help vet buyers.
Either way, the process itself is pretty straightforward, as you’d post a card for sale and then interested parties would hopefully purchase. Between those two points, though, here are some of the more important pieces to consider:
Shipping: when it comes to shipping, you’ll see other sellers mention either PWE, which stands for “Plain White Envelope” or BMWT, which stands for “Bubble Mailer with Tracking.” Typically lower value singles are better suited for PWE, while larger value items for BMWT. Some are just more comfortable sending everything BMWT.
Price: Some people choose to include a price while others ask for offers. Personally, I won’t purchase anything that doesn’t have a stated price, and many buyers feel the same, so to give you the best chance at a sale, post a price. If you’re not sure, check sold and current eBay listings to get a ballpark idea.
Payment: In any transaction, the buyer wants to feel comfortable that they are going to receive the item they paid for. PayPal is of course one of the more popular payment options because it offers buyer protection to an extent; that is, if payment is sent as “goods and services.” So, it might be a good idea to advertise this fact.
All in all, there is a lot of info to consider when it comes to selling cards online—and this isn’t even an exhaustive list! I’ll continue to add to this information when I can, but please feel free to be in touch with questions or comments.