Insider: Grinding Value Out of My Magic Collection

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This week has been a relatively quiet one for Magic finance, and the focus on Unstable spoilers isn’t exactly having a big market impact. Nothing inspired me to write until I realized that I could share what finance work I have been doing this week. Last week, I shared my story of processing an old box of bulk cards that yielded fruit, and I have continued the process of cleaning out my collection with the goal of selling cards.

I had built up a box with a few hundred cards I wanted to sell, so I set out pricing it and finding the best route to sell each card. Not all cards are created equal, and the best way to sell one card may not be the same as another. In order to eke out the full value for each card, I checked multiple things.

First, I used TCGplayer as a quick and dirty price guide to see its general value. I wanted to stick to the advice David Schumann laid out in his article, where he got into the details of pricing and explained why selling anything less than $5 was a losing proposition. The numbers themselves – plus the tedium of selling a large number of orders for small amounts of  value – meant I would keep cards I posted to TCGplayer above $5, which is at odds with how I have used it in the past. Rather than use it as an outlet for anything and everything, it’s a way to extract maximum value from a card by selling it as close to retail as possible.

It may be even more valuable to post cards, especially higher-end cards, on Facebook groups as a way to reduce transaction costs. I’ve had a difficult time gaining any interest posting cards there, except when I advertised dual lands, which saw a ton interest, and I ultimately did not sell, so it leads me to believe it could be a great way to sell the highest-end cards.

Before I posted any near-mint and very lightly played cards to TCGplayer, I checked its buylist price on Trader Tools. The spread on some cards is small enough that the buylist price will equal or even exceed the price you can get on TCGplayer when fees are considered, and it’s an immediate option that helps insulate against price changes, so it’s a preferable outlet. The ability to sell played cards on TCGplayer is one of it’s best strengths, so it should be seen as a complement to buylists.

Trade Routes

I began to list some Return to Ravnica block shocklands that I have been hoarding for years, but I realized that they might have more value in my trade binder. I haven’t done any trading over the past few years after binging on it locally a handful of years ago, but I’ve been thinking about taking advantage of large tournaments I travel to play in by doing some trading.

Staples like shocklands are like currency in a trade binder, and might be some great ammunition to kickstart my trading. Shocklands should also hold up better to trading-up , and I can argue for not marking down their value like other cards often are when trading into high-end staples.

I realized that trading could also be a great outlet for played cards, like my set of lightly played Through the Breach. Like some other relatively expensive cards, these have significant discounts on price compared to near-mint versions, but will likely hold higher value in a trade to someone who needs a playset for gameplay.

The trade binder is also an outlet for cards that dealers and buylists aren't typically interested in, specifically foreign cards, and cards that can't really be sold in good faith on TCGplayer, specifically signed and event-stamped cards, which might actually gain some value in a trade to the right person.

So now I’m set on a project of making a simple but effective trade binder to take to events and try to trade-up into some higher-end cards. I’ll definitely report back about my trading experience once I get some time on the floor.

Seller of Cardboard

The majority of my sell box didn’t meet the $5 threshold for TCGplayer, or anywhere near it, and many cards were too played to want to buylist, so I have to explore other options.

It’s possible that buylisting played cards could still be the best option in some cases, so I’ll have to further investigate individual stores for their policies and prices. A simple way to sell these cards, and the method I used last time I sold many similar cards, was to assess their buylist value if near-mint and organize them by price in a box, with the intent to shop it around to dealers at events and offer the cards for sale. David Schumann laid out how he did this process at GP Atlanta, and by employing it I’ll ideally get more value and sell more cards more quickly than any other method.

Where I am struggling to find an outlet is for cards that are above the price of bulk, but a bit clunky to be carrying around to shop around to dealers, many who probably aren’t looking to transport or deal with such low-value cards. Last time I shopped around a box of sorted cards, the price went down to 10 cents, but there are a ton of cards worth around five cents I pulled when I ran bulk through the Ion Scanner, which when taken all together are worth more than a nominal amount.

It may be that shopping these around is the best plan, but rather than offering them to be picked, offer them as a package deal, like a thousand-count box for $50. The buyers could look through them and make an offer on the box, which would allow me to move the cards immediately for a significant amount, and might be a good deal for a store that can move the cards at retail.

There’s also the matter of true bulk, and one way to eke a little extra value is to sell them on Craigslist. I’ve done it before and earned more for my cards than I would have selling to a dealer, and they could also be a boon to a new player looking for a cheap buy-in.

What's your strategy for getting the most value from your cards weighed against efficiency and minimizing time spent?


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 columnist. Follow him at:

View More By Adam Yurchick

Posted in Buylist, Finance, Free Insider, Selling, TCGPlayer, TradingTagged

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2 thoughts on “Insider: Grinding Value Out of My Magic Collection

  1. Thanks for the references. I really like your idea of shopping out the boxes of “just above bulk” cards for a flat rate to dealers/stores…I have tons of cards like mana leak, which are definitely better than pure bulk, but have been reprinted so much that dealers don’t really want to buy them individually…but I imagine a box that had 50 of them and other cards that typically sell for a quarter or so might be something that would entice them. I may give that option a shot as well, but let me know your success (or lack thereof) with that method.

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