Insider: Back to Basics – Buylisting

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I’ve become more active than normal in Magic finance over the past few months, and central to it has been buylisting cards to stores. I’ve learned a lot in the process, and felt compelled to write about it today, so I’m going to share some thoughts on how to make the most of buylisting. There’s a lot to cover, but I think a good way to approach it from the basics is to start with the basics, the who, what, where, when, and why of buylisting.

Why Buylist?

Buylisting is a convenient and seamless way to turn cards into cash. There are countless stores with a buylist, and the internet puts many of them at your fingertips. With some clicks, card sorting, and sending out a package, you can turn your cards into cash in a few days. The internet also provides incredible ability to compare prices of different retailers, and Trader Tools makes that especially easy, so you can get the full value from your cards. Traditionally, buylisting is seen as earning less money for your cards than selling yourself on a platform like eBay or TCGplayer, but that’s often not the case on some cards, especially after fees are taken into account. There’s also the value of speed, allowing cards to be sold instantly rather than waiting for a retail buyer, so they bring high liquidity to Magic cards.

Another reason to buylist is to trade into other cards. Most buylists offer the option to take trade credit in lieu of cash, and typically with a significant bonus, in the range of 20%-30% extra value. This puts you at the whims of their prices, which might be higher than normal, but the bonus will often bring buy prices accordingly high. With some careful selection of cards to trade and cards to trade for, you have the ability to find great deals and get what you want at a bargain. It’s a particularly efficient way to acquire cards you want compared to selling cards and then buying them. The liquidity buylists provide goes both ways, and they are a seamless way to acquire cards compared to tracking down a card at a local shop or from a floor trader and then haggling over a trade for it.

When Buylist?

The liquidity that buylists give Magic cards comes because they can be used anytime from anywhere, for any card. They are always available, so a key question is when to use them. The basic answer to when to buylist is whenever you need cash or want to trade into other cards. On the other side of the coin, it’s a good time to buylist when you want to get rid of a card.

One such time might be after a card has spiked in price, and when you can fetch a premium for it, before it beings the natural process of starting to fall in price as others sell. I’ve personally been using buylists to minimize reprint risk. I’ve held a massive Modern collection for years, but reprints have plagued it by frequently devaluing cards. I’ve liked the ability to play any deck, but rarely actually exercised it, and I ultimately decide the opportunity cost of holding cards and being exposed to reprint risk was not worth it, so I’ve turned to buylists to help me get out of my positions.

Another time to buylist is when you find a good deal! By frequently checking buylist prices and staying on top of the market, you can find good opportunities when they arise and cash in for maximum value. This is amplified when trading-in, because carefully watching inventories will allow you to take advantage of bargains when they appear and squeeze even more value out of your cards.

Where to Buylist?

The simple answer to this question of where to buylist is whoever is paying the most. It gets more complicated when considering trading in, because you also have to consider the price of what you’re buying. In practice, the answer to the question will vary in different situations and from card to card. Making the most of buylists means keeping your options open and checking various places for their buy prices and inventory, and then making decisions accordingly. Again, Trader Tools is a quick and easy way to compare buylist prices across some of the key players in the marketplace.

What to Buylist?

One of the best parts of buylisting is that the answer to what to buylist is almost endless. There are a few things that buylists typically avoid, specifically foreign cards, and damaged, signed, and stamped cards, but pretty much everything else is fair game. Buylisting to a person at an event probably means them picking and choosing what they want, but online buylists allow you to move anything you want. For me, it has been a great way to move played cards, especially heavily played staples I’ve used in decks for years, because buylists want them, and I know exactly what I’ll get for them based on the condition pay grades they use. On the flip side, they can also be excellent ways to move near-mint cards, because stores can pay a retail premium for them and often will pay you a premium in return, especially on higher-end cards.

On the other hand, buylists are a particularly great place to trade in small stuff. Not only will they take all variety of small cards, like the random above bulk cards and beyond, but they take it indiscriminately. I’ve taken advantage of this fact to trade-up, meaning trading-in my many low-value cards for higher-end cards. Trading for cards like dual lands and the Power Nine in person might subject you to your trade partner devaluing your low-cards, but making a trade online eliminates any such disparity.

Who Should Buylist?

Everyone can benefit from buylists, but there are some cases that bring them to mind as especially valuable. As I mentioned earlier, they are a great option for anyone who wants to trade their cards into other cards. They are a great way to cash out for traders, who can even use buylist prices as their own price guide and trade accordingly, making money by trading for cards they can buylist at a premium compared to what they are trading away.

They are also a great outlet for cards obtained from buying collections, as they take nearly all variety of the cards one might acquire in a collection, and can quickly convert theoretical profit into cash to be used on the next buy. They’re even a great option for stores and dealers, which can use them to help manage their inventory by getting rid of what they don’t need, and maybe trading-in to get more of what they do.

What, where, when, and why do you buylist?


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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 columnist. Follow him at:

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Posted in Buylist, Finance, Trading

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3 thoughts on “Insider: Back to Basics – Buylisting

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