Insider: How to Buylist

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Today I would like to discuss how to properly buylist.

Perhaps you've read this article by Chas Andres: A Colossal Waste of Time.

I have nothing but respect for Mr. Andres, but his methodology for buylisting wasn't well thought out. His first argument was the concept that buylisting is leaving money on the table. The problem is that is only the case if you can actually unload the items you're buylisting.

Normally I only buylist cards I can't get rid of or want to get rid of quickly (usually because they have recently spiked and I don't believe the new price is sustainable). In that sense I'm not leaving any money on the table because the stuff I'm getting rid of has little if any demand. I do not advocate buylisting hot cards but rather those with low liquidity.

Some of my favorites are the older uncommons that nobody in my area seems to ask for and aren't worth enough to lug around to major events. These are typically the casual all-stars that stores will pay a decent amount to stock up and then the buylist price drops back to bulk after they have built up sufficient stock.

These can also be some of the more recent good uncommons, as the print run was large enough that they are likely not worth more than a dollar or two and again aren't worth carrying around all the time just in case you run into the one person who actually wants them.

Now let's get into the actual process of buylisting efficiently. First and foremost:

Organize your Collection

This aspect is critical. Chas's attempt at buylisting proved inefficient because his box was unorganized. While it will take a good bit of time and require some maintenance, organizing your collection is well worth the effort. It allows you to quickly search for cards and verify quantities.

I have broken my collection down by set (which seems the most logical). It does take quite a bit of time upfront, but luckily it's one of those things you can do bit by bit. The task for many of us seems quite daunting (if you're staring at 10,000+ cards) but luckily you can do one box a night or so and progress will show quickly.

I will warn you ahead of time that because there are so many sets, making piles or boxes of each set will take up a lot of room. If you're planning on doing a little at a time you'll want to make sure you have space available until the job is complete.

I'm currently in the process of putting each set or block into a 1000-count box with labels on the top and end. This allows me to easily find the set I want to focus on as well as help me build EDH decks.

I have already pulled the Legacy commons and uncommons (Reanimate, Exhume, Innocent Blood, Brainstorm, Aerial Responder, Preordain, etc.) and placed them in a seperate "Legacy Staples" box which allows me to quickly and easily build most Legacy decks. This box is also sorted by color (though a second box for just blue cards was needed).

For each set I then verify I have a playset of each card (which I put in penny sleeves) and then all extras go to the back.

This might be a bit more than most people want to do, but EDH is big in my area and I often get requests from friends for a bunch of random older cards to build a themed EDH deck. They'll trade me well in order to get those cards easily.

Determining Which Buylists to Use

The QS forums are very useful when reviewing various sellers and stores. A quick 10-20 minute read will highlight issues your fellow Qsers have suffered at the hands of various stores as well as which stores have a good reputation. I won't dictate which stores to use, but there are certainly a few that I personally would prefer to focus on.

Once you've determined which ones you want to use, the next step is to take a blank piece of paper, write the names of each store and use them for sorting. Condition is a major factor when selling to buylists.

According to the forums, and confirmed by my personal experience, you must be diligent and thorough in your grading, especially if the store you're sending to doesn't accept LP cards. You may end up getting hammered not only on the price you're paid, but also by a reduction to cover shipping costs for the non-NM cards they rejected.

It's also important to visit each store's site as many have different ways of doing their buylist. For example:

  • Card Kingdom has you use a card search tool and add the card to your selling cart. They request you order the cards the same way you list them in your buylist order.
  • AdventuresOn has you look up the card via set and add to your selling cart. They request you order the cards the same way you list them in your buylist order.
  • Troll and Toad requires you to download their buylist in spreadsheet form, add the cards your selling in the sell qty, and resubmit it to them.
  • ABU Games also requires you to look up the card via set and add to your selling cart. They will list which cards they accept in non-NM condition, otherwise you're wasting your time.

Using MTG.GG Efficiently

The MTG.GG program provided by QS is ideally used in two ways.

If you've isolated a pile of cards you want to buylist you can simply type in each one and place each card in the highest store's respective buylists.

The other way to do this (and the way I prefer) is to filter by set and a specific price. When filtering by set you can quickly run through each set and look for only a few cards at a time.

For my low-end filter I use $0.25. While I can understand the desire to unload those $0.03-0.07 commons (which is a much higher rate than the bulk $0.003), one factor to consider is that each card has a weight which will (potentially) add to postage costs. That's why I think $0.25 is a good cutoff and why I don't really touch the super cheap commons and uncommons.

Mailing Your Buylisted Cards Off

Now that you've isolated which cards you're sending off you need to ship them.

It's important to keep in mind the cost of postage as well as the cost of whatever packaging materials are needed to ship the cards. I bring this up because if you have any buylist piles of 15-25 cards that only buylists for $4-5 dollars you will likely find that after postage and packaging materials it's no longer worth sending.

I've found that you can ship small amounts of cards (four or less) in plain white envelopes in a plastic top loader and penny sleeve with a standard stamp and they'll be fine. More than ten cards and you'll likely need to use a bubble envelope.

These cost considerably more than plain white envelopes. I have yet to purchase them in large bulk (as some of the other guys on here have, so they've likely reduced costs considerably) but you can get these types of envelopes for $0.50 or so.

Your shipping cost from USPS (which from my experience is the cheapest way to ship these smaller packages) will likely be from $1.00 (small orders) to $2.50 (50+ card orders). If you're sending a huge buylist sell off (hundreds or thousands of cards), I would look into the flat rate packaging provided by USPS.

Now you wait. Unfortunately, even the best stores seem to take a while to send payment. Many stores now offer payments via PayPal, so if you pay your bills with PayPal or plan on using the money for online orders that will speed up the process a bit. But even then I hear that a lot of the stores take a bit of time to process payments.

I do want to apologize to all the non-US readers as I don't know how often you guys can buylist--most of the buylists I'm aware of are all US based--and international postage costs can be astronomical. I do hope that the basic principles of the article are universal enough to provide everyone with something useful.

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David Schumann

David started playing Magic in the days of Fifth Edition, with a hiatus between Judgment to Shards. He's been playing Commander since 2009 and Legacy since 2010.

View More By David Schumann

Posted in Finance, Free Insider, SellingTagged , , , , ,

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7 thoughts on “Insider: How to Buylist

  1. There are few good buylists in Europe. I know a few in The Netherlands, but I’ve never found them to pay very well, though I have sometimes traded in stacks of 5 cent commons and similar cards at a shop local to me to pay for an expensive card. This was a lot of effort, but when that helps get you a Beta Demonic Tutor, Mishra’s Workshop and Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale it can be worth the time.

    Shipping to other countries in Europe is more expensive too and not usually feasible unless you’re talking large quantities. Due to the dollar being relatively low versus the euro, sending to American buylists is often not even interesting even if you’d find a way to ship cheaply.

    One could argue that Chas is right if you figure in the sorting time for your collection. I keep mine (mostly) sorted anyway, but, a fair comparison would be to start unsorted as well. Not to say he couldn’t have done some things better, sorting by set would be a good start, as WeQu suggested in the comments to Chas’ article, but neither his article nor yours convinces me one way or another. Assuming you start unsorted, would buylisting be interesting for you?

    1. Valid points and I appreciate the input on the European market. I do understand that we approached it from a different perspective (given I organized everything first), but I also didn’t just look up every card. I chose the set and filtered by a price I felt was worth my time. In that regard buylisting can be a great way to send off a bunch of random cards you have little to no interest in. I specifically went through the last few blocks (as those were already mostly organized thanks to me playing standard while they were legal) and filtered through the suprising uncommons (Lorescale Coatl’s a good one) and my “bulk rare” box because I already have an out at a certain price so I wasn’t going to look for anything that wasn’t decently higher (50%) in there. If you have your collection organized already, than buylisting (here in the states) is a great way to turn low liquid cards into cash or liquid cards. I sent out 2 buylist orders yesterday that I pulled from my bulk rares and bulk commons/uncommons and they totaled about $50, for 124 cards (many were bulk rares I got at $0.1 in trade). Even with the shipping cost (being around $6.00) the total profit for me was ($50-$6 shipping-$12.40 cost of rares (in trade even)=$31.6) which took me about 3.5 hours to go through (though I honestly spent most of it organizing). With a very organized collection, you can burn through a buylist by set in probably 5-10 minutes.

  2. I have a sick hobby of buying collection and sorting cards. My strategy involves sorting in waves.

    First separate Modern and Legacy into two piles. Take one set, throw it in a box. This is a very quick and easy way to split it into two more manageable chunks since you just look at the frames. Just before you put legacy away, fan out the cards to the left so you can see if there are any purple symbols for Timeshifted cards.

    Second separate into blocks. This takes a bit of practice to memorize the symbols. Arrange them in chronological order to help build the muscle memory. Put the deck in your right hand and push them into your left so you’re just looking at the symbol.

    Third is break it down by set.

    Lastly I make a 3×6 grid, commons on top, uncommons, rares on the bottom, then left to right, WUBRG and one pile for other. (The “other” pile gets really big in multicoloured sets.) Commons go in the top row since they stack up fastest and get in the way of piling the other rarities. Skip the rarity piles for old sets that didn’t have colour coded rarities.

    You can choose to alphabetize from here, or just stack them up and box em knowing you can quickly find whatever you need.

    The best part about this is it keeps the bulk of the cards put away so once you’re done a set you have a clean workspace again. Until I got really strict about this, I constantly had every surface of my living room covered in cards. Now I can scoop em up at a moments notice and pick up right where I left off.

    1. Can you please take my subscription off your website, I don’t care if you give me back the money I payed for the 3 months I haven’t even used, just tell me how I unsubscribe.

  3. I know this isn’t where I do this but your support center isn’t of use, I’m STILL getting charged for using this site when I only signed up for ONE month, is there any way I can cancel this? I haven’t even been logged into this place since september. If ANYONE could help me resolve this I’d appreciate it so much, thank you.

  4. If you buylist more cards than can reasonably fit into a bubble envelope, you can move onto a small flat rate box for $5.15. This makes it perfectly reasonable IMO to lower the price of your sort for those C/U that are <$0.25 because you can fit 500 cards into a box and the prices doesn't change on the shipping cost at that point.

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