CUTTING EDGE COLLECTION SELLING GUIDE
by Nathaniel Buckley-Wright
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is exactly one thing I want you to take away from this guide - selling MTG cards is a very time consuming process. Unless you use Card Conduit, duh. Also very time consuming? Reading this guide. I have employed all my wit to make this guide funny. Will it be? Will you learn something? Buckle up. Stick with me. It very well may save you a lot of time and money. -NBW
I LOVE BUYING CARDS, BUT SELLING THEM SOUNDS EXHAUSTING
Welcome to my guide about selling Magic: The Gathering cards. If you’re like me, you have absolutely no problem buying cards. Thousands and thousands of cards. But selling them? Some extra cash could be nice, but it sounds like it could be a lot of time and effort. Do I like spending a lot of time and effort? That is most certainly a "no" -- and if you’re still with me here -- maybe you feel the same. Am I willing to sacrifice some profits to avoid the work? Absolutely - but tell me what you’re taking from me to relieve my burden: I want to know I’m not getting screwed.
TL;DR: I’d like to spend minimal effort while not getting scammed.
Sadly, effort is a big part of maximizing the proceeds from a Magic collection. Behold the golden rule of selling cards:
THE MORE EFFORT YOU PUT INTO SELLING YOUR CARDS, THE MORE MONEY YOU CAN MAKE.
For those of us who prefer to avoid effort...this is not exactly what you want to hear. There is good news for the lazy, though! Low effort does not always = lowest proceeds, either. I'm going to go through the various selling options and weigh the pros and cons.
I'D LIKE TOP DOLLAR, PLEASE
Be Walmart: So how can you get the absolute most from selling your collection? Who can sell their cards for the most money individually? Retailers. The folks with major operations and massive inventory, an army of employees, warehouse space, capital accounts, and sophisticated logistics. Retailers can achieve prices well beyond us mere mortals. Why? Retailers operate a business of convenience -- one place to buy what you need without shopping around -- and that kind of customer experience comes at a premium. If you have (at least) a few hundred thousand dollars to spare, and want to put in tremendous effort, perhaps consider becoming a retailer to sell your Magic collection. For most of you...I'll assume this isn't feasible.
STOP WASTING MY LIFE; TELL ME THE ACTUAL OPTIONS
OK, here are the classic options for offloading your cards.
Keepin’ it local: Your Local Gaming Store will buy your collection from you. This option is easy, but you’re typically not going to get great prices. You might also find collection buyers on your local Craigslist. This option is easy, and will often result in tepid prices as well. I’d also urge caution when meeting strangers with your valuable goods. Regardless, anything involving meeting/haggling with people sounds awful; I’m out.
Marketplaces: Absent starting your own gaming store, marketplaces offer you the best option to maximize the value of your cards. If you’re avoiding the middle-people (retailers, resellers, etc.) and you’re putting each of your cards in the hands of someone who wants them, the theory goes that everyone wins - they pay a little less than going to a store, and you get more than simply selling them to a store. Glorious! eBay, TCGPlayer, and - for our friends across the pond - cardmarket are all well-known marketplaces.
Are there downsides? Certainly - the big one is the time you spend sending individual cards all over the place, not to mention time spent just waiting for sales to happen, with you constantly monitoring and repricing your listings to be competitive with all the other folks trying to sell the same copies of the same cards. So, selling an entire collection worth of cards can take months. There are also fees (roughly 20% off the top for seller/payment fees and shipping expenses) - there are disputes (when someone claims they didn’t get something they totally did get) - basically it goes back to our big general rule from before - if you want top dollar, be prepared to pay for it with your time and effort.
Buylisting: This is a fancy way of saying wholesaling - that is, selling your cards to retailers directly. These retailers are of course buying the cards with the intent of reselling them. There are a lot of buylists out there, too, so you’ll want to work with the ones that have big names, good prices, and reliable services.
This option tends to be fairly straightforward, though each particular dealer has different grading requirements and rules about selling them cards. Because of these various protocols, and the sorting and grading required, this can be a very time consuming process. Your time may be well spent here, however, as your payout should exceed what you get from local buyers.
ABOUT GRADING: Grading is an important determining factor for VALUE, and grades range from Near Mint (best) to Damaged. Often the retailer offering the best Near Mint buylist price will not have the best price for lower grades. This trips up a lot of buylisters, and is a good reason to understand the condition of your cards and shop around. Further, the interpretation of conditions can vary by retailer. The grade each individual retailer may determine, therefore, is an important piece of the puzzle when determining who to buylist your card to - for the best possible price. So, it’s complicated.
ABOUT SORTING: All retailers will expect the cards you send them to be sorted according to their unique criteria. Some retailers want cards to be sorted by set, then by name. Others expect the cards to be sorted first by condition.
ABOUT SUBMITTING A BUYLIST: Most retailers have a “buylist” section of their websites, which functions much like placing an order (except that you’re indicating the cards you intend to sell them). In the vast majority of cases, each card must be individually input. When you have a lot of cards to buylist, just composing the buylist order can take hours.
Card Conduit: [WARNING: HERE COMES THE PITCH] If you thought I wouldn’t take the opportunity to discuss Card Conduit, you were sorely mistaken. Think of our service as “Buylisting Plus”: we receive your unsorted cards, catalog and grade them, and find the best wholesale price for each card (factoring in condition and retailer guidelines).
Do we charge you for doing all the work for you? Yes - our fee is 10% of the proceeds plus $0.03 for each card we’ve cataloged for you. Does that mean you’re getting 10% less than just buylisting yourself? Probably not - we’re finding the best price among retailers we work with, but you’re shipping all your stuff to one place. You’re saving on shipping, and we’re getting you the best price for your cards. You’re doing far less work than even selling locally, but you’re maximizing the buylist value for all your cards - which goes a long way to covering our fee. Some might even call this “the easiest way to sell your magic cards.”
THE DEFINITIVE BEST WAY
If you didn’t read the rest of the article, the joke is on you - I’m not going to tell you to do anything other than to sell your whole collection to Card Conduit - THE EASIEST WAY TO SELL YOUR MAGIC CARDS. This is for your own good if you didn’t read the rest - trust me. It’s easy - just ship us your stuff, we’ll take care of the rest, and you won’t get fleeced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nathaniel is a co-owner of Card Conduit, and is also the Managing Member of Cardhoarder - which specializes in digital Magic cards. He has all the passion for Magic the Gathering card game you’d expect from someone in the business of Magic cards for the last 17+ years.