Sports Card Investor How-to Buy Sports Cards Guide

This two-part series is a sports card investor how-to primer that outlines how to identify the best market mover card investments to buy. Sports card collecting has been around for over a century. What mostly began as a novelty item that kids collected has turned into a prominent financial asset in 2022 for many investors. Buying and collecting sports cards is now big business. And there’s good reason why. Many of the premier sports cards are selling for millions of dollars and that gets people’s attention!

Sports Card Investing is Big Business in 2022!

Read on to learn some sports card buying tips that should help guide you in building a sports card portfolio that increases in value.

Know Your Sports Card Budget

Investing in sports cards and sports memorabilia is highly speculative. That means there is risk for sports card investors, but also reward. It’s important to set a budget and stay within it. It can be easy to get caught up in an auction bidding frenzy for a hot sports card, but this is the quickest way to overpay for a sports card. Keep your head, stay patient, and pass if the price is exceeding your budget. There will always be another opportunity to buy an underpriced sports card.

Long-Term and Short-Term Sports Card Investing

When a sports card investor begins to build their collection it’s important for the collector to determine an investing strategy. Here we’ll outline some “pros” and “cons” for long-term or short-term sports card investments. You’ll want to consider what your goals are. Are you interested in buying and flipping sports card for a short-term ROI? Or are you interested in targeting sports card investments that will steadily appreciate an ROI over time?

Additionally, as your sports card portfolio grows you may want to diversify it. Diversifying a sports card collection helps protect your portfolio against imminent sports card market volatility; large downward or upward spikes in sports card value.

Long-Term Card Investment Pros and Cons

Just like “blue-chip” stocks long-term investment sports cards are cards that have endured the test of time. These are generally sports cards that are well established in the market and have a long track record of steady market value appreciation.

Player cards such as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, or Michael Jordan are all examples of a sound long-term sports card investments. There’s generally less risk in these purchases.

When you purchase these types of long-term sports card investments, the “pro” is that you’re taking on less risk that the sports card will lose value.

The “con” is that profit margins are likely to be smaller, because the acquisition cost is generally high. However, these types of long-term investments will appreciate a return over time.

Baseball: Mickey Mantle | Honus Wagner | Babe Ruth | Mike Trout
Sports Card Icons: Tom Brady LeBron James | Michael Jordan | Wayne Gretzky

Short-Term Card Investment Pros and Cons

If you’re not looking to “break the bank” but still want to invest in sports cards then short-term sports card investments are the way to go.

Rookie cards are largely the type of sports cards to target for short term investment. This type of sports card collecting targets the most prized, up-and-coming player prospect cards you believe are currently below market value and poised to increase. These are the types of sports card investments that could also bring large profits over time. These cards are often the first or second-year cards of athletes that show promise for a long career of success.

The “pro” with short term sports cards investments is less acquisition cost enabling better opportunity for a profitable short-term ROI.

The “con” is there is higher risk that these cards produces a profit. These rookie player cards generally have much less performance history to measure and performance can be highly volatile as they find their way towards a successful career or not.

Sports Card Rookies: Giannis | Lamelo Ball | Devin Booker | Joe Burrow | Mac Jones | Ja’Marr Chase
Baseball Rookies: Bobby Witt Jr. | Jasson Dominguez | Wander Franco | Shohei Ohtani | Julio Rodriguez | Seiya Suzuki

How to Find Underpriced Sports Card Investments

A main goal for a sports card investor is to find sports cards that are undervalued. These are sports cards you believe will rise in dollar value.

How do you find these underpriced sports card investments?

Forecasting the right sports cards to invest in is not an exact science. A player’s star status, overall career performance, and likability can all factor in. The sports card product, card design, card print production, and eye appeal also are factors. These are just some of the basic traits – there’s a lot to consider!

What Affects a Sports Card to Rise or Fall in Value?

There are many factors to consider.

A few examples as to why a sports card might DECREASE in value include:

  • A player is under performing.
    • In buying stocks, if a company starts to underperform, its stock will likely lose value. And the same applies with a player’s performance and their sports card value.
  • A player gets injured.
    • Injured players (unable to perform and accumulate statistics) may display a short-term natural decrease in sports card price. The history and quality of player, extent of the injury, and duration of the injury all play a role here as well.
  • A player moves from a top winning franchise to perennial losing franchise.
    • When you measure some of the most valuable sports cards you’ll note that many times they’re playing for teams that win or have a winning tradition. If you’re comparing players with similar traits and stats look at the team they play for. I think you’ll find that the players playing for the Red Sox or the Yankees are going to command higher sports card values than players playing for the Marlins or the Twins.
  • A player moves from a big market sports town to a small market.
    • Big market sports towns generally have a denser sports card collecting population and generate more interest or demand in sports cards. Add in the additional press coverage, notoriety, and overall media exposure a big market sports town commands versus a small market and this generally equates to higher sports card values for big market players.

Here are examples as to why a sports card would INCREASE in value

  • Limited Print Sports Cards and Unique Designs.
    • Refractors, Prizms, Parallels, Serial Numbered, High Valued or Short Printed Sets are all examples of these types of sport cards.
  • A player has started to realize collector expectations through robust statistical performance.
    • Some players take longer than others to develop and meet performance expectations. However, more and more some of the top draft picks are coming out of draft primed and ready for the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc… Many young athletes today are much more prepared than in the past for the leap into the top tier of the league.
  • A player has started to outperform normal performance standards.
    •  Many times a slower developing athlete will achieve collector’s performance expectations a bit later than anticipated. In example, slower developing MLB players sometimes will start to achieve statistical success when they reach the ages of 25-27 years old. So sometimes it pays to have some patience with players.

This ends our first part of this two part Sports Card Investor How-to Buy Sports Cards Guide series. Part II will detail some of the unique card traits such as condition, rarity, brand and more. These important traits play a vital role in identifying the best sports cards to buy for sports card investors.

Happy collecting and investing!

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