How to tell if sports cards are worth money: A detailed guide to finding out the worth

How to tell if sports cards are worth money: A detailed guide to finding out the worth

A sports card is a printed piece of art with a picture of an athlete, which usually has some value depending on various factors. People are often curious to know how to tell if sports cards are worth money before they decide to keep or trade them. This article explains what you need to know about the value of your item.

How to tell if old sports cards are worth money
Topps' baseball packs from the 2016 season are on display during the "Open Topps Baseball Series " event at the Topps' offices on 10 February 2016 in New York City. Photo: Kris Connor
Source: Getty Images

The collection of sports cards began as early as the 19th century. It was a simple pastime activity that has transformed into an investment initiative. Many people try to collect and trade them with friends in exchange for something else. But how do I know if my cards are worth money?

How to tell if your sports cards are worth money

Most of the techniques of how to know if sports cards are worth money have been used and helped many people. You need to consider the quality, condition, and features of your item. Therefore, before deciding to discard your one, you can go through the steps below to understand its value.

What makes sports cards valuable?

How do I know if my cards are worth money
A collector shows a small bunch of trading printouts he uses while on tour on the pro fishing circuit on 25 June 2007 in Chatham County, North Carolina. Photo: Harry Lynch
Source: Getty Images

The number of championships and MVPs won by a player are two of the most important things that make cards valuable. Players featured in them are well-known in their respective sports and have probably won multiple trophies.

Are sports cards worth anything?

Cards have fetched up to millions of dollars when traded. The most expensive one is Mickey Mantle's, which holds the record, after selling for $12.6 million. Baseball and basketball brands are the most selling than other games.

Mickey Mantle1952 Topps SGC 9.5Baseball$12.6 million
Honus WagnerT206 SGC 2Baseball$7.25 million
Honus WagnerT206 SGC 3Baseball$6.6 million
Mickey Mantle1952 Topps PSA 9Baseball$5.2 million
LeBron James2003-04 Rookie Patch AutoBasketball$5.2 million
Luka Doncic1:1 Logoman AutoBasketball$4.6 million
Patrick Mahomes2017 Rookie Auto BGS 8.5Football$4.3 million
Mike Trout2009 Superfractor AutoBaseball$3.9 million
Honus WagnerT206 PSA 2Baseball$3.75 million
Wayne Gretzky1979 O-Pee-CheeIce hockey$3.75 million

How to tell if a sports card is worth money

Condition, age, colour, and print quality are key determiners of a card's worth. So, how do I know what my sports cards are worth? Here is a breakdown of the various aspects to guide you.

1. Condition

Torn, ripped, or faded items are not worth anything. It is difficult to read and, therefore impossible to sell.

2. Type of player on the item

The value also depends on the success and popularity of the player on it. Popular and successful players increase the value of a printout. You can tell the most popular player by researching online to see those trending.

3. Number of prints

How do I know if my cards are worth money
A set of football prints bearing caricatures of World Cup star players ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup on 16 November 2022 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Photo: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

According to the supply and demand theory, cards with a low print number are likely to be worth more than those produced in large numbers. You can tell the number of copies printed by looking at the serial number on the corner.

4. Unique features

Features like autographs, memorabilia, and jerseys make an item more viable than those without such images. They are even more valuable if signed by top stars.

5. Age

Modern prints are likely to be valued higher than older ones because of the emerging technologies in producing them. However, it still depends on the player printed on them. An older one with a legendary star could cost more than a modern one with the face of a rookie.

6. Rookie cards

Although such items may not fetch much, they are crucial to keeping in the hopes that they may be worth something extra down the road. Their value increases depending on the performance of the players.

How to tell if a baseball card is worth money

Baseball cards of Hall of Famers and stars will be worth more than those of 'common' players, who have not achieved much in the sport. Legends like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and Roberto Clemente will make your item worth more.

Meanwhile, older ones are also likely to cost more than modern ones. Since they are low in production, people are likely to look for them. In this case, the demand pushes the price tag to go up.

How to tell if a basketball card is worth money

How to tell if a basketball card is worth money
NBA star Michael Jordan's printouts are displayed at Bleecker Trading in New York on 6 July 2021. Photo: Kena Betancur
Source: Getty Images

Besides the above steps, other people use online shopping platforms and specific software to determine the value of basketball cards. Ladder, Slabstox, and eBay are some of the most reliable sources for determining the value of basketball cards.

How to tell if old sports cards are worth money

Older printouts of legendary stars could be worth thousands of dollars if they are in good condition. However, what makes them less valuable is the tear and wear.

How do I know if my card is worth grading?

People often take the items for grading to increase their values. However, some cannot be graded, like old ones. Three factors to consider before grading are availability, desirability, and liquidity.

  • Availability - Items with low supply could increase in value when graded.
  • Desirability - Printouts with more popular and successful players will attract more demand and increased value.
  • Liquidity - Refers to the value an item will sell for when put on auction. Therefore, scarce items that are not in high demand may fetch much.

You now know how to tell if sports cards are worth money and the key things to consider. They remain a lucrative business that many people have ventured into globally. What started as a hobby and pastime has now become an investment opportunity.

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Source: Sports Brief News