I know we spend a lot time talking advanced concepts on here, but I think it’s important that we go back to basics every once in a while. After all, not everyone is an old pro at this MTGFinance thing, so I find it pretty helpful to keep it simple every now and then. For those of us who have been at this for awhile, I still find it helpful to review these things myself from time to time.
So today we’re going to talk about buylists, the art of selling your cards to a dealer for money. Jason did a great piece on this topic last week, and I want to elaborate on how I handle some of these steps.
Let’s get the basics out of the way. Yes, you’re going to make less money than if you sold on TCGplayer or eBay. Yes, dealers are going to be more strict on condition. Yes, it sucks to see your cards go at lower prices.
Yes, you’re going to spend much less time buylisting. Yes, you’re going to make much less on TCGPlayer than you think you are. Yes, buylisting is easier than ever thanks to Trader Tools 3. Yes, buylisting typically offers the most reward for the least effort.
It’s really not that easy of a decision, is it?
What Works for You?
I say that with the utmost seriousness. Maybe you plan on selling enough cards on TCGPlayer that it becomes worth it for you. Maybe you don’t move enough cards at a time to really make shipping to a buylist worth it.
Hell, maybe you proxy every card you own with a sharpie so no dealer will accept them. I don’t know, but it can be true that buylisting isn’t always the best option.
But I’d wager that most of the time it is. Moving $200 dollars to a buylist in two hours using Trader Tools 3 is a hell of a lot more profitable than spending six hours to move $300 cards through TCGPlayer, at least for me. If you have enough free time that spending the extra hours is worth it, more power to you. But I know that for a lot of us this is a side hobby, so those hours are usually better spent at “real” work or with our families.
Choosing a List
We have some great stores in Trader Tools 3, and there are a lot of great stores out there that aren’t yet on our list. By shopping around and finding all the highest prices you can really start to increase your numbers.
But don’t spread yourself too thin.
This is a mistake I made several times when I started. I would sort a pile of cards into five different stacks only to find at the end that I’m paying $5 shipping on a $30 order when instead I could roll it into an already-existing pile for $27.
There’s a rule (that I can’t recall the name of) that states it’s better to find the point where time and money peak. In other words, you should find the point where the least amount of effort nets you the most return. Like I stated above, if you can spent an hour to get $75, is it really worth it to spend another two hours to dig out that last $25?
This is how I approach lists. Usually CardKingdom or one of the other top lists on Trader Tools is where I send my cards, because even if I can squeeze a few bucks out of another outlet, it’s not worth the extra time.
What to List
I apply the same rule here. A wise man once said “only buylist nickels if you hate yourself.” If you have 10,000 cards to sort through and you’re checking on every quarter card to find out if a buylist is paying a nickel, you’re going to start eating up time very quickly. It’s just not worth it.
In my earlier days, I used to limit myself at a dime. I’d pull every card I could that I thought might buylist for a dime. Something they did, sometimes they went for 15 cents and sometimes they weren’t worth anything at all.
The more I’ve done it, the more I’ve started to set my sights on things I might fetch a quarter on a buylist. All change adds up quickly, but I decided to set my own line a little higher.
It’s hard to say what’s right for you. It’s something you’ll find out after you’ve done it a few times, and it also depends on the size of the collection. Inputting a single Dimir Charm may not be worth your time, but if you come across a dozen sitting together it suddenly looks much better.
Moving up the chain, you also have to decide what to do with the expensive cards. I’ll buylist $5-10 cards all day, but if I come across an Underground Sea I’m probably going to find another outlet. The reason for this is that, even if the percentage of a buylist order for a Seas is the same as a Relic of Progenitus, the raw numbers reach a point where it is better to find a direct seller. Again, this is something that is different for anyone.
When to List
Remember that buylists drop before retail value does. So while we may not see the retail numbers on Standard staples like Sphinx's Revelation drop for a little while, buylists will always be ahead. And, just as rising buylist numbers indicate increasing demand, declining buylist numbers mean the opposite.
The time when this is most relevant is with Standard rotation. Retail values won’t really dip until the end of the summer, but buylist numbers will drop a month or two before that. That means, if conventional wisdom says to out your rotating Standard cards in September, the optimal time to buylist is likely in July and August.
Likewise, Modern cards typically reach peak buylist numbers near the beginning of PTQ season, even if retail prices don’t peak until the middle of the season. If you plan on buylisting those Modern specs, that’s the best time to do so.
Shipping the List
Everyone has their own tricks for doing this, and I typically work like this:
- Use fatpack boxes or 1000 count boxes to sort cards.
- I don’t want cards to shift. At all. The delivery process is rough on your box, and you don’t want the cargo to be damaged. Something like bubble wrap is optimal, but I’ve definitely used paper towels to pack the contents in a box before tightly taping it up. If I can shake the box and hear no movement inside, I know I’ve done a good job.
- I ship in padded envelopes with tracking and insurance. While this whole process may be slightly more expensive than other methods like flat-rate boxes (particularly good if you have a ton of cards to ship), it does guarantee everything arrives where it’s supposed to in the best condition possible.
One more tip: Always take a check if possible. Many stores will offer you the choice between a check or a Paypal payment. The small percentage fee they charge for using Paypal may not seem like a big deal on a $100 order, but by the time you scale up to $1,000 it starts to become quite relevant. Just take the check and wait a few more days for your money to come in.
Between Jason and I, I feel like we’ve covered this topic pretty well in the past week, so I imagine it will be a while before we revisit it. So if you have any questions just let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer!
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter