Best Cards to Collect for Profit & Sports Cards to Watch

by Timothy Ronaldson

Updated

Sports cards are as much a national collectible pastime as the actual sports themselves. For a long time now, people have searched for the best cards to collect for profit.

Sports card shows used to be the prime places to find the best sports cards to invest in, but now there are plenty of other sources as well, including the internet.

If you’re looking for the best trading cards to collect, read our complete guide below.

Are sports cards a good investment?

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Collecting sports cards used to just be a hobby. In the 1990s, though, these cards turned into one of the best things to flip.

Sports card shows exploded in popularity, as people were constantly searching for the best sports cards to invest in.

The challenge, though, became that sports cards started to be produced on a massive scale at that time as well, which ultimately limited their overall value.

With more cards in print, sports cards in general became less rare, which made finding the best cards to collect for profit a little more challenging.

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At the time, people believed that simply buying the best players’ rookie cards would result in a profit over time. That simply didn’t happen, though. The rarest of cards were the ones that were bringing in the majority of the profit.

Tactics for Success

  • Rookie cards are always the best cards to collect for profit because they represent the first cards printed for particular players.
  • You may find cards from other years that are less expensive to buy, but keep in mind they’ll also be less valuable in the future.

Today, being successful as a sports card collector is about finding the right cards, and not simply buying a lot of cards for popular players.

The sports trading card market is healthy. Some experts have predicted that the total market for sports trading cards could reach $98.75 billion by 2027, which would represent a growth of 23.01% from its total in 2020.

If we zoom out, there’s been an explosion of selling Pokemon cards online and other cards like Magic the Gathering as well.

Finding the right card to purchase takes some time and research, but if you find the right card, it can pay off in a huge way.

One example of this is the Honus Wagner T206 card. In 1975, one could have purchased the card for roughly $1,500. It’s estimated that the value of that same card today is roughly $5 million.

Tactics for Success

  • One investment strategy is to purchase rookie cards for players while they’re still young. The collective investment will be cheap, and you can just hope that one of the players rises to stardom.
  • You can also buy rookie cards of established players, though, and make a good return. Just keep in mind that the overall value of the card might not increase as dramatically after the player is already established.

Best Basketball Cards to Collect

If you’re looking for the best cards to collect for profit in the sport of basketball, here are three that you should consider.

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All can currently be purchased for $300 or less:

  • LaMelo Ball 2020-21 Donruss – This specific card is listed on eBay for around $70 right now, and if it increases in value at the same rate as some of Ball’s other cards, you could see a huge profit. In fact, some of his rookie cards from the Prizm Draft set have sold for more than $5,000 already.
  • Anthony Edwards 2020 Panini Flawless Collegiate – This is a rare rookie card for Edwards, one of the top prospects in last year’s NBA Draft. If you’re just starting off as a collector for profit, look for the numbered cards in this set, as you can purchase them for about $100. Some of his other cards are going for more than $1,000, showing the immense potential here.
  • Tyrese Haliburton 2020-21 Panini Threads – This card is the lowest cost on the list at less than $10. So, why does it make a good investment? Because other Haliburton cards in this lot are going for upwards of $600. When top rookie cards become too expensive, the value of the lower-cost rookie cards go up, which is what could happen here.

Tips to Make More Investing in Basketball Cards

If you’re just starting out investing in basketball cards, one of the biggest tips is to find a player’s rookie card that is trading for a high value, and then purchase that player’s lower-value rookie card.

Younger players often have one rookie card explode in popularity and value. Eventually, that card becomes too expensive for the general public, so they search for that player’s other more affordable rookie cards.

Not to mention, one of the quickest ways how to sell faster online is to simply sell items in high demand, and this is especially true with sports cards.

If you already own these other rookie cards before the explosion, you can make some good money. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the best websites to sell stuff though, so you maximize your payout.

Another tip is to focus on shooters when you’re searching for players to invest in. These players are often the safest investment when it comes to sports trading cards.

That’s because players at this position often have the best chance of turning into popular players, which increases the value of their cards.

Trends on the Rise

Investing in sports cards is coming out of the shadows and making its way to the mainstream. Investors such as Gary Vaynerchuk is posting to his 8.7 million Instagram followers what he’s doing in the market. One great way to research the best trading cards to collect is to get information from social media.

Best Baseball Cards to Collect

If your interest is baseball, then these three baseball cards could be a good investment for you.

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Again, all three of these cards can currently be purchased for less than $300.

  • Jasson Dominguez 2020 Bowman – Dominguez is a big-time prospect for the New York Yankees. Simply being in that organization raises his profile. He’s an 18-year-old from the Dominican Republican and has only played one year of professional baseball thus far. Yet, this card is already trading for $65. If Dominguez becomes a superstar as many people predict, that could be peanuts compared to what the card would be worth in 10-20 years.
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. 2017 Bowman Chrome – Acuna is already an established superstar in MLB, even if he’s only 24 years old. Because he has seen a lot of success already, the price of this card is higher, at around $300. You might be able to get it for less, though, after he suffered a season-ending injury last year. If he’s able to bounce back from that injury and return to prior form, he could be well on his way to MVP and maybe even Hall of Fame status.
  • Yoan Moncada 2017 Topps Chrome – Moncada was once one of the best prospects in baseball. And although he hasn’t lit up the scorecard in his short career, he still seems primed for a huge breakout. He’ll turn 27 in the early part of next season, and could be ready for big things. This rookie card of his can still be had for cheap, and if he develops into a star, it would be a great investment.

Tips to Make More Investing in Baseball Cards

You can take advantage of the nostalgia associated with baseball cards by investing heavily in it. Focus a good amount of your energy (and budget) into the sport of baseball, and you could see a bigger return on investment.

When you’re collecting baseball cards, always check out the Beckett Marketplace. That’s a great source to find good deals.

Best Football Cards to Collect

Here are some of the best sports cards to invest in for football.

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All three of these can be purchased for $300 or less.

  • Joe Borrow 2020 Panini Mosaic – The quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals has recovered from a major knee injury in a huge way in his second season. The former #1 overall pick could have a bright future ahead of him, yet this card is still only going for around $30. This could be a great investment if his makes a lot of noise in the next few years.
  • Justin Herbert 2020 Panini Prizm – Herbert was taken just a few picks after Burrow in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he’s taken a huge leap forward this year. The San Diego Chargers score a lot of points, and that puts him in the limelight a lot. Because of his huge 2021 season so far, this card is going for close to $300 now, but it could increase even more.
  • Tom Brady 2020 Optic Base – Brady is the greatest ever to play his position, and he’ll make the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible. For now, he’s still playing. This card could be a great investment now at less than $300. It could turn a huge profit once he retires and does become a HOFer.

Tips to Make More Investing in Football Cards

Quarterbacks naturally get a lot of attention in the world of football, and for good reason. There have been a lot of young quarterbacks who have burst onto the scene and had massive success recently.

One good idea is to invest in rookie cards as soon as they’re released for the next crop of rookie quarterbacks, in hopes that one or more make noise early on.

Make sure you are also taking advantage of the ways to reduce seller fees on eBay and other platforms, to increase your payout.

Trends on the Rise

If rookie cards are too expensive, you can turn to second-year cards. This market has seen a resurgence recently, with these cards for players such as Patrick Mahomes selling for as much as $300. When taking this strategy for the best cards to collect for profit, opt for superstar players.

Another good tip is to purchase your football cards in the offseason. The football offseason is longer than the actual season (7 months compared to 5). This means people can lose attention and interest in football in the spring and summer, driving the price of cards down.

Buy when the cards are cheapest, and sell when they’re at their highest value.

Wrapping Up

Sports cards are definitely a solid investment, as long as you do the research into what are the best cards to collect for profit.

By following some tips above, you can find the best sports cards to invest in that will make you money.

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About the Author

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Tim is a classically-trained journalist who loves to share knowledge and information with others. In the past, he has worked in TV, online and print media, and currently works with companies to help design, create and strategize their messaging.