Tips for Buying Trading Cards Online

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In this blog I want to give Tips for Buying Trading Cards Online. As the hobby of trading cards grows, buying online is becoming more common. I see a lot of people concerned with buying online, and rightfully so. I want to list a few tips so you can be more confident when purchasing trading cards online. The goal is to have the transaction go as smoothly as possible, cover all bases and make sure both parties have a full understanding of the deal.

1. Check for Seller Feedback or References

The first entry in Tips for Buying Trading Cards Online is seller feedback. When you find a trading card you want the first thing you should do is check feedback of the seller. If there is no feedback system, make sure to ask for references.

On eBay this is not hard as it is listed. Make sure the seller has a high percentage of positive feedback. If the seller has a lot of negative feedback or a lower percent, this could be a red flag. Go into their profile and see the cause of the negative feedback. Some sellers will get feedback based on shipping times which can be out of their control. However, if there is issues of wrong item, damaged item or item never shipped, that is problematic. See how the seller responds to the negative feedback. if it is nasty or aggressive, this is also a sign to stay away as well.

Also, be careful of sellers who have brand new accounts or no history of selling trading cards. If someone is selling an extremely rare card, but has no other trading cards listed except that one very expensive card, that would be cause for concern.

When it comes to references, check to see if there is a feedback forum on the platform you are using. If the seller has done business with others, other buyers can post their experiences with that seller. If the seller is reputable, people will have no problem vouching for them. Check to see if the sellers are active on other social media sites with the same username and if they have a long post history. If the seller is a known member of the community it will help with their credibility. It is extremely easy to create a new account with a fake name so make sure to double check the seller is who they say they are.  

2. Use a Money Transfer Service with Buyer Protection

Make sure to carefully read the buyer protection policy for the site or service you are using. Some services have buyer protection already built like eBay. If anything goes wrong with the eBay transaction, you can just file a claim with them and they will look into it.

PayPal however has two services you can send through. Make sure to always send through Good and Services on PayPal as that is treated as a business transaction. This will charge you a small fee, but the piece of mind can be worth it. If there is anything wrong with the transaction you can request PayPal looks into it. However, if you use Friends and Family, this is treated as sending money as a gift and has no protection if anything goes wrong. You will have no recourse to try to get your money back.

There are many money transferring apps so please make sure you are familiar with which service you are sending through. Some have buyer protection and some do not, so it is best to be informed.

3. Review Everything Prior to Sending Money

This tip can be a tedious process but to me is a critical one. Make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to details of the transaction. What I mean by that is every step of the transaction make sure both parties agree and know how the transaction will occur.

Some follow up questions that both parties should agree on are as followed. Will there be tracking? What is the shipping company? What is the shipping method? When will the item be shipped? Will there be a signature for delivery? Will there be insurance on the package, if so, how much?

You may want to ask for a picture of the package to confirm the address is correct and it is packaged well.

This can be annoying to go over but you want to make sure everything is buttoned up before making a purchase. The one thing you do not want to happen is to have a trading card shipped out and then have a disagreement on the details of the shipment.

4. Ask for Better Pictures and a Timestamp

I am sure you have seen it before. A picture taken 10 feet away. In horrible lighting, in a sleeve reflecting the little light there is. On an angle on the ground and you can barely see the outline of the card. That is totally fine, if you are interested in the card, just ask for better pictures.

Ask for pictures of the back, close-ups and different angles. You might see something you do not like, so ask for more pictures of that specific area. Maybe you see a small scratch you want to look into further. If the seller does not want to send more pictures, that is their choice, but you have a right to walk away.

Read Also: My Top 10 Favorite Modern English Pokémon Cards

This does not pertain to just raw cards. Even if a card has a grade be confident that when you buy it you are getting your definition of a that grade. Your goal is to make sure you have the most accurate assessment of condition on the card possible. It would be a shame if you paid for a perfect card and when you received it, see it has many flaws, because you did not ask for additional pictures.

Ask for a timestamp of the card. A timestamp is just a picture with the sellers name and date on a piece of paper next to the card. This is just to verify that the seller actually has the card they are trying to sell.

5. Do Your Research on the Card Before Purchasing

This is a big one. Make sure you know what you are buying. It sounds simple, but is it really? There are cards that have multiple variants, variations, print runs and other variables that change the value.

A lot of the times cards can be mislabeled or the seller could just not know what they have. Many times, people think they have the more expensive version of something. Make sure to know all the variations of that card so you can make the most educated buying decision. It would be a shame if you bought a first print run of a card and paid that price, then realize it was a second print run and the value was half.

Knowing the current market price of the card you want to buy is key as well. You can check on TCGplayer for the current market price of many cards. There could be a chance the card dropped in price since you last checked. Price changes constantly so make sure to always know the current price. Also, check sold listings on eBay and sort by newest to see the range of prices the card has been selling for.

When purchasing a card, make sure you know as much about the card and the price as possible before sending money.

6. Use a Middleman

If you are concerned about the transaction going bad, there is always the option of a middleman. There are many valued members of the community that provide this service.

Essentially what a middleman does is what it sounds like. Both buyer and seller send their ends of the deal to the middleman.  That middleman then checks and confirm both parties send what they agreed upon. The middle man then completes the transaction and send both parties their new items. Make sure the middleman you select has good feedback and can be trusted. Use tips from the Check for Seller Feedback or References above to help.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Let a Card Go or Wait for a Better Deal

Admit it, we have all bought something based on the fear of missing out (FOMO). This tip is probably going to be the most difficult tip to digest as it plays off your emotions. There can be a lot of anxiety when it comes to buying trading cards when you fear you might never get that chance again. If you see an auction of a card you want. You think, what if I never see this again. What if it goes up in price? The FOMO can cause you to make an irrational decision that you might regret.

Take a step back and think of a few things before making that impulse purchase. Ask yourself a few questions. How difficult will this be to obtain if I let this go? Would you be able to find another one? What is the population report of this? Is the demand high for this card because it is scarce or rare? If you think one could pop up in another few days, maybe a week, then set a price in your head and don’t go over that price.

If you break that price you set, you could find yourself in a bidding war. Bidding wars are a very real thing and you could get wrapped up in and pay way more than you want. All because the need to win overshadows the card itself. Most of the time you don’t even notice this happening.

Be patient, I have seen many cards sell for less the next time it came up for auction. I have even seen cards sell at auction for more than current buy it now prices all because two people got into a bidding war.

Next, did a new set just come out and you need the newest card? When a set comes out everyone opens packs and rushes to put the hits online for crazy prices. They sell at that price for about a week or two, but then quickly start dropping. They will drop even more as more cards come onto the market and more packs are opened. As soon as the next set is announced the interest will be on that set, and you can buy the cards you want for cheaper than when they were just released.

Do you feel more confident?

After reading the list of Tips for Buying Trading Cards Online, I hope you feel a bit more confident when making an online purchase. These tips should help and assist in making a transaction as smooth as possible as a buyer. Let me know if I missed anything in the comments and if you have any tips of your own!

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