Are trading cards just for kids?

More than 4 million sports, trading card games, and entertainment cards were sold on eBay in 2020 – 142% increase year over year. Records of all kinds were broken last year. This Mike Trout baseball card sold on May 21 for $900,000. It was the highest price for a modern baseball card ever. This Lebron James 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite rookie patch autograph sold in June for $1.845 million – setting the record for the single highest price for a modern-day sports card.

It’s not just baseball and basketball cards that are setting records. According to eBay, sales in soccer trading cards increased more than 1,500% last year – compared to a 300% increase in basketball cards and 73% increase in baseball cards.

Even trading card games increased last year. Pokemon card sales increased almost 600% which is the leader in the trading card game category.

Why the sudden interest in trading cards?

It’s not so sudden actually. The trading card market has been building over the last five years. 2020 saw an acceleration in interest, largely due to the pandemic with many people spending more time at home and having more time on their hands. The increased interest is also largely a result of individuals in the 30s and 40s who collected cards as kids now having more disposable income to invest in investable collectibles as adults.

What to look for in a trading card?

Profitability in trading cards is driven by scarcity and condition. Simply put, the harder it is to get, and the better condition it’s in, the more value the trading card will be worth. A difference in grade could translate into a couple of hundred dollars or several thousand dollars.

The two largest grading companies are PSA and Beckett. It is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with their grading standards before submitting your trading cards for grading so you know what result to expect. It is helpful to understand how each flaw is downgraded. For example, centering requirements may result in a trading card being downgraded 2 levels (e.g., from an ‘9’ to ‘7’).

Why are we betting on sports cards?

Sports cards have proven to be a profitable investment vehicle for decades. But not every trading card is created equally.

For example, as you may have guessed, Michael Jordan is the most collected player, followed by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Zion Williamson and Mike Trout.

Michael Jordan’s career started at a time before trading card manufacturers were able to produce multiple rookie cards of the same player. As a result, Jordan has only three rookie trading cards. The most popular Michael Jordan rookie card is the 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC #57 – which set new records recently by selling for $738,000. Jordan’s lesser known rookie cards include the 1986-87 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan #8 and 1984-85 Star Company Michael Jordan XRC #101. Jordan’s 1986-87 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan #8 sold this year for over $10,000 – significantly less than the Fleer card, but still profitable.

People invest in sports cards for many different reasons, including nostalgia, passion for a player or profit.

If you are investing on sports cards because it reminds you of your childhood or have a favorite player, it is important to be strategic about the type of card and year for the player’s cards you are buying.

If you are investing on sports cards for a profit, it is critical to delete your emotional bias and use a data driven approach. You may enjoy watching NFL games, but the most profitable trading card today might be Lionel Messi. Tomorrow it might be Christian Yelich. Betting Kings leverages artificial intelligence and unique data to identify the most profitable alternative assets, including trading cards, around the world every day. We scour the word’s markets using a proven, data-driven approach to identify profitable alternative assets.

The market for sports cards is on the rise. This asset class isn’t going anywhere. We are betting that it will continue to be profitable for the next 3-5 years.

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