No matter how you came into the hobby, or how deep you get into all the splendors of collecting, there will inevitably come a day when you start wondering about how to sell baseball cards for the top dollar possible.

Maybe you are just looking to “thin the herd” and make room for new baubles while also using your cards to fund those purchases.

Or maybe you’re downsizing after a long run in the hobby and hope to pad your nest egg with the fruits of your collection.

Or perhaps something more pressing is driving your desire to sell — college tuition, house payments … life! Any and all of them can amp up your need for cash.

Or, maybe your entire run in the hobby has been financially motivated to some extent. After all, investors enter the field of play every day, and they’re a key part of the modern sports card landscape.

You might even fall into a healthy mix of multiples of these categories — most card dealers spring from the ranks of collectors, for example, and plenty of them get their start just trying to sell off some doubles for a chance to pump a bit more money into their hobby.

Whatever your eventual motivation, you WILL eventually start thinking about selling at least some of your baseball cards, and when you do, you need a plan if you want to make sure to get maximum return for your beloved cardboard.

But it can all be confusing, especially in this helter-skelter modern landscape of ours, with so many different cards and so many players on the field (the hobby field, that is), and with everybody talking about the cards everywhere — on blogs like this one, on podcasts, on YouTube, in forums, at card shows, and on and on and on.

How are you supposed to wade through all of the available information to figure out the right venue to liquidate your cards and make sure that you’re getting top dollar for them?

Well, that’s where this guide comes in.

The following sections give you a step-by-step process to follow in evaluating and selling your cards, as well as bringing together the best resources on the web for each piece to help you both do your own research and reach out to experts when you need additional support.

So, without further adieu, let’s see if we can crack the formula on how to sell baseball cards for the most money possible.

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Identify Your Baseball Cards

how to identify baseball cards

Before you even think about selling your baseball cards, and before you can really even start to get an idea about their value, you need to determine exactly which cards you have.

Back in the early hobby days, and even into the 2000s, that was sometimes a pretty tall task, and the few resources available to help in your research were usually hard to come by and/or very limited and stale in their content:

  • Local card dealers
  • Card shows
  • Hobby magazines
  • Yearly price guides
  • Other collectors

You’d often go weeks or months without encountering some of these, and all of them were tough to “search.”

Nowadays, it can still be daunting to find yourself face-to-face with a card that you don’t recognize, and one that’s not giving up many clues about its identity, but the internet provides a whole host of tools and information that make solving a hunk of cardboard mystery easier than ever before.

Not always easy, mind you, but definitely easier. And, with new resources coming online all the time, your path to discovery becomes more clear by the year.

To get you rolling with that task, we’ve put together a full guide running through the best tools going right now to help identify your baseball cards, and we show you how to use each one to full effect. You can find that guide in this article, but some of the resources we cover there include:

  • Search engines
  • Retail websites
  • Compiled checklists
  • Forums
  • Social media
  • And even the cards themselves.

Check out the full post right here, and then come back here for the next step in the process …

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Grade Your Baseball Cards

grade your baseball cards

Once you know exactly what you have, then the next step toward figuring out the value of your baseball cards is to grade them, or to have someone else grade them.

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about having your cards professionally graded, because that’s an expensive proposition best reserved for pretty special cards. But there may be cases where you do want to have at least some of your cards graded.

How do you decide whether professional grading is right for you and your cards? Well, we put together an extensive guide to help you make that decision (which is usually “no,” by the way) — it’s an 11-page e-book that you can read on your Kindle or as a PDF.

You can download that guide for free over on Gumroad if you’re interested, but we’re going to leave professional grading behind for right now and assume that you WON’T be submitting your cards to be slabbed.

But you still need to figure out what condition your cards are in to get an accurate gauge of their value. And to do that, you need to gain a solid understanding of how cards are graded, and then apply that understanding to your own cards.

Luckily, as with identifying your cards, we have created a full guide on how to grade baseball cards that can help you understand the process and start figuring out the condition of your own cards. In particular, this guide will walk you through evaluating and grading (assigning scores or making qualitative assessments) cards in each of several key areas:

  • Corners: Are the card corners sharp or rounded, or in between? Are they “tight” or frayed? Especially for cards with colored borders, are the corners scuffed or discolored?
  • Edges: Are the edges sharp and straight? Or are they miscut or wavy? Are they dinged or torn or frayed? Are they the right color — white or blue or red? Or are they faded, dingy, or scuffed?
  • Surface: Is the card surface shiny and clear? Or is it scratched, scuffed, or dull? Are there any pits or surface wrinkles?
  • Centering: Is the card centered, or is the image shifted up or down or left or right? Is it tilted so that the borders are uneven, top-to-bottom or left-to-right?
  • Foreign Substances: Are there any foreign substances on the card — front, back, edges? Examples might include gum stains, wax stains, pen marks, crayon scribbles, tape, etc.
  • Structural Integrity: Is the card fully intact, or is it torn? Are there pin holes or creases? Has it been trimmed?
  • Image Quality: Is the image on the card clear and crisp? Are the colors rich and true? Or us the photo washed out or discolored?
  • Eye Appeal: What is the overall visual impression of the card? Does it look appealing and have visual “flow”? Or do condition problems disrupt the visual impact?

All of these factors play into the overall grade — and, ultimately, value — of a card, and they apply to both the card front and the card back.

As you can see, card grading can be a complicated and nuanced undertaking, but you can become fairly proficient with a little practice. No, you may not develop the eye of a seasoned PSA Grader after a couple of passes through the guides above, but by consistently applying these principles to your own cards, you’ll definitely hone your own grading abilities.

And, once you have a general idea of what condition your cards are in, you can move on to …

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Value Your Baseball Cards

baseball cards worth money

There is one last key bit of information you need before you’re really ready to pull the trigger on a deal — how much are your baseball cards worth?

That turns out to be a pretty complicated question with no clear-cut and straightforward answer because there are many, many factors that go into determining the value of a card or a card collection, including but not limited to:

  • What cards are involved (you’ve already identified them)
  • What condition the cards are in (you’ve already graded them)
  • How many cards are involved (more on that in a minute)
  • Your perspective — buyer? seller? observer? dealer? collector? investor?
  • Timing

How much any particular card is worth at any particular moment comes down to how much someone is willing to pay you for it … again, at that moment.

Some cards will hardly ever command much money, no matter what the circumstances, and no matter how much you may *want* them to be worth a lot.

Indeed, many of the “can’t-miss” cards from the hobby boom of the 80s and 90s fall into that category — Gregg Jefferies rookie cards, early ’90s Fleer and Donruss cards, late-career Don Mattingly base cards, non-rookie Dwight Gooden cards, etc.

There are simply too many of these cards on the market to ever really outpace demand, especially since the players involved fell short of lofty expectations.

Then, there are cards that can sell at a significant premium, under the right circumstances — PSA 10 copy of the 1985 Topps Mark McGwire rookie card, for example, will draw plenty of attention, but a raw copy of the same card with frayed corners will be a hard pass for most potential buyers.

And, if you’re trying to sell that Big Mac in a lot of 50,000 cards that mostly consist of 1991 Donruss and 1992 Fleer base cards? Good luck getting more than a fraction of a penny per card for the batch.

Then, when you are able to establish the going market rate for any particular card, or group of cards, don’t forget to factor in the overhead involved with actually moving them.

For example …

If you want to piecemeal your cards on eBay, you can likely get close to full market value … at the cost of lots of your time and various eBay fees.

If, on the other hand, you want to sell a big batch of cards in one shot, you’re likely going to see your per-card rates fall — eBay buyers will have to pay for shipping, after all (or you will), and dealers have to leave plenty of room in their margins to cover operating expenses and making a profit.

Now, with all that doom and gloom out of the way, the good news is that you CAN find out what your cards are worth using — surprise! — various online tools and websites. Some of these inlcude:

We’ve run through some of the best pricing resources and show you how to use them in this handy guide to finding baseball card values.

As with grading, it will take some practice to feel comfortable with establishing card values, but keep at it, because it’s a vital skill to master in your quest to ultimately …

(Return to Table of Contents)

Sell Your Baseball Cards

how to sell baseball cards

Finally!

Now that you’ve identified your cards, graded them, and figured out their approximate market value, it’s time to do what you came here to do … sell your baseball cards!

As with the other parts of this process, you have several options for how to go about liquidating your cards. Among those are …

  • eBay
  • Online marketplaces (COMC, PWCC, Beckett, etc.)
  • Dealers
  • Card shows
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets
  • Garage sales, flea markets, etc.

There are other outlets, too, and there are probably some that are unique to you and your location.

Basically, though, your coarse-grain options come down to:

  • Selling your cards one-by-one on your own to maximize overall revenue (selling singles on eBay, for example)
  • Selling you cards in bulk to a dealer to minimize hassle, while realizing your overall take will be smaller
  • Selling your cards in bulk on your own to try and expand your market — and revenue (selling lots on Facebook, Craigslist, eBay, etc.)

To help you decide on the optimal sales venue for your situation, we’ve put together this complete guide on where to sell baseball cards, with enough details about each option to let you weigh them against each other.

The nice part about some of those options is that they also present opportunities to talk through your selling situation with more experienced buyers and sellers — the social media platforms and online dealers, in particular, offer the chance to ask questions and have conversations around your cards before you sell.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you, of course, but there is no lack of options available to you.

(Return to Table of Contents)

Conclusion

There you have it — a complete guide to selling your baseball cards that will help make sure you’re getting the best deal you can.

If you’ve read this far, you might have come to the conclusion that cashing out your cards can be a tedious and complicated process, and that can definitely be true, especially if you’re doing your due diligence.

You can avoid a lot of that hassle by just going straight to some of the large, trusted dealers in our guide to venues for selling cards, but again, any offer they make to you will have to leave a lot of room to pay for the cost of running their business and a margin for profit.

And doing that from the jump will deprive you of the joy of working through the details of your collection.

Who knows? Once you’ve identified all your cards, graded them to the best of your ability, and determined their value, maybe you’ll have fallen in love with them all over again.

And then … well, and then, selling may be the furthest thing from your mind!

(Return to Table of Contents)

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