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Insider: Converting My Collection to Cash

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I enjoy trading, and at different times in the past I have been a very active trader. There was a period of time when people at the local shops knew me more for my eagerness to trade than for my ability to play the game.

Over the past year or so, however, I've only played live Magic at major events where my focus is on the tournament. So my trade binder has been accumulating a lot of dust. The biggest problem afflicting my collection has always been stagnation, and I have often failed to get rid of a card when it was at its peak.

I decided I had to keep my cards moving somehow, and eager to accumulate some cash, I sought to liquidate my trade binder.

I also have a huge assortment of extra staples that aren't doing anything for me. I organized most of my collection into decks or playsets, which left me with a ton of extra cards to sell.

Weighing the Options

I knew there were a lot of ways to sell my cards, and I explored the options.

The first thought many players have is one that sounds easy, selling to a dealer. I knew that a little bit of time spent exploring the dealers at a major constructed event would allow me to quickly turn my cards into cash, but I would pay a premium for the experience.

Dealers come to events with a lot of cash, but their goal is to buy as many cards as cheaply as possible. Many employ teams of buyers paid on commission. These buyers' job is to offer you as low a price as possible while still getting your cards out of your binder.

Anything they buy will be sold to the dealer at their buying price, and anything extra is profit for the employee. This situation does not often lead to the best offers.

TCGplayer

Seeking to make the most from my collection, I elected to sell the cards on my own. In the old days I sold plenty of cards on eBay, but more recently I've switched to TCGplayer. Listing huge numbers of cards is an easier prospect on TCGplayer, and you reach an audience of buyers more specifically looking for Magic cards.

So I set out to list my cards on TCGplayer.com. I went through my binders and listed all cards worth more than a few dollars (or less, if I had multiple copies to list at once).

Selling a lot of cards on TCGplayer means sending out a lot of envelopes, so be prepared. I take a minimalist approach to packaging, placing them in a sleeve and top-loader, taping the top, placing it in the envelope and taping it closed.

I write the addresses by hand, but I could easily type out and print address labels if I had more sales volume. I have moved towards printed return address labels to make my process more efficient. Keep in mind that the price of these shipping supplies are a cost for tax purposes.

Setting Aside Cards to Buylist

For cards in Near Mint (NM) condition, I checked the buylist price on Trader Tools first and set aside anything I'd make more on by selling to one of the listed buylists.

Online buylists are an excellent way to sell cards because prices are typically higher than those offered at live events, even from the same store.

Buylists contain a huge range of cards, so they are a great way to sell those obscure cards that have value but might takes months to sell otherwise. They are also an ideal out for low-price cards that are inefficient to sell on your own, but which can add up quickly.

The downside to buylists is they demand cards be in NM condition. Condition policies are usually laid out on stores' websites---they may make you a revised offer or simply pay you a reduced price if they find the condition unsatisfactory.

Either way it's at the buyer's discretion. Rather than put your cards at risk, just be strict with the condition of cards you sell to buylists.

Finding Buyers Directly

Beyond my trade binder, I also have a small collection of various high-end cards and foils. I have sold cards like this on TCGplayer on the past, but they often take a while to move. Cross-listing on eBay is a good strategy for posting expensive and slower-moving cards, because the more exposure your card has, the more likely it is to sell.

Selling through a third-party site always involves accepting fees. These fees are a cost of doing business for moving smaller cards, but staples and higher-end cards may be better off moved through peer-to-peer transactions.

You can find these on trading boards, specifically Facebook groups like High End Magic stuff for sale! and MAGIC THE GATHERING buy/sell/trade, along with any local or regional Magic groups. These groups offer the ability to sell a card for a fair price and retain the full value by avoiding any fees.

There is some safety that comes with a third-party seller compared to selling to someone you met online, but the reference system means you can have some confidence in your transaction.

~

Regardless of how you buy and sell cards, keep good records for tax purposes. TCGplayer provides great tools for tracking your sales history and eBay provides some ability to view your sales as well. Otherwise, spreadsheets are a great tool for organizing transactions.

I'm still not sure how to handle the huge amount of above-bulk, played cards I have. They don’t seem worth listing online, but they're definitely too valuable to bulk out. Perhaps selling bulk lots on eBay is a good idea. I've also heard that selling lots of cards on Amazon is an option, but I have no experience with it.

What methods do you prefer for selling cards? Is my view of dealers too pessimistic? Where do you draw the line for bulk cards? What about bulk rares?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

- Adam

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Adam Yurchick

Adam started playing Magic in 1999 at age 12, and soon afterwards he was working his trade binder at school, the mall food court, FNM, and the Junior Super Series circuit. He's a long-time Pro Tour gravy-trainer who has competed in 26 Pro Tours, a former US National Team member, Grand Prix champion, and magic.tcgplayer.com columnist. Follow him at: http://twitter.com/adamyurchick

View More By Adam Yurchick

Posted in Finance, Free Insider, Selling

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2 thoughts on “Insider: Converting My Collection to Cash

  1. First of all, congrats on your sick winning streak lately. I didn’t see you at the event or I would have stopped over to say hi. To answer your question about dealers, your thoughts are true for sending cards in the mail. The dealers grade harshly and drastically devalue the buy prices you thought you were getting. If you sell to dealers in person though, you will get much better numbers. I’ve been writing about this very thing the past couple of weeks. I sold a lot to dealers at gp Pitt and the tcg event. Hope that helps.

    1. Mike I remember seeing you at the event and throwing you a smile but I didn’t stop and say hi either, because you looked busy at the dealers!I went back and read your GP Pitt article, that’s great advice for navigating the dealer tables.

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