What Are My Sports Cards Worth? Using eBay to Find the Value of Your Collection
Want to know what your sports cards are worth? Most of us think of eBay for buying and selling items. But the site is also a great pricing tool. It offers a free and easy resource that should help you get a ballpark figure of not only what your cards are worth, but what people are actually paying for them. Whether you're a returning collector wanting to know the value of your stash of Michael Jordan cards or a long-time collector looking to set up at a local card show, referring to eBay's Completed Listings is simple and extremely handy.
Below we'll outline exactly how you can find the value of your sports card collection using this tool. You may want to have a second browser tab or window open so you can practice as you read.
1. Doing a Search
Go to almost any eBay page and you should see a search bar at the top.
Type in what card you want to know the value of. Be as exact as possible so that you're not overwhelmed with irrelevant results. When I'm searching for a card, my search string usually includes the following:
- Other attributes, if applicable, like insert, serial number, card number, rookie, professional grade
If you want to know what your 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is worth right now, just typing in "Ken Griffey Jr." will get you thousands of results. Searching "1989 Ken Griffey Jr." or "Ken Griffey Jr. RC" are both better, but you're going to get tons of Topps, Donruss and other irrelevant results. Type in "1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey" should get you pretty close without getting overly complicated.
A good search string is the key to finding the value of your sports cards with eBay completed auctions.
Click the 'Search' button.
Here's an example to a basic 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. search that we'll use as an example and work with throughout this piece.
2. Find the Completed Auction Listings
After an initial search, you're going to see all of the active auctions. Those are nice, but they don't necessarily let you know what your cards are worth. Just because someone is asking $1 million for their 1984 Topps Ron Kittle doesn't mean that it's worth $1 million. We want to see what things have actually sold for. And with eBay's latest redesign, they've made it even easier.
Just below the eBay search bar you'll see how many active listings there are. Next to that are the two links we're most interested in: sold listings and completed listings.
Clicking on sold listings shows only items that received bids or sold via Buy It Now. Completed listings show all items, whether they sold or not. If you're looking for strictly values, the sold listings link is the simplest option. If you're wanting to research an item a little more, you may want to go with completed listings.
3. Using Sold Listings to Find Out What Your Sports Cards Are Worth
Now you've got a bunch of listings. How do you take that and figure out what your cards are worth. The easiest way is to simply scroll and look at prices. This will give you something to compare with. The online market is very different than a traditional store. The same card can sell for different amounts, even on the same day. Low Buy It Now prices, seller location, end time and feedback are just some of the variables that can cause a broad range.
That said, by scrolling through a few listings, you should see some patterns emerging. This will give you an idea of what you might expect if you were to sell your cards on eBay or on the open market. Even then, there are variables. We're concerned with getting a good real-time estimate. Completed listings will do this.
4. Filtering and Sorting Options
eBay has a couple of ways to arrange listing data, which can be helpful when digging a little deeper. Hover over thesort drop-down menu (at the top-right of the screen under the search bar) and you'll have the following options:
- End Date: recent first
- Date Listed: oldest first
- Price + Shipping: lowest first
- Price + Shipping: highest first
- Price: highest first
- Distance: nearest first
All of these can have their benefits, particularly if you're tracking trends or want to look at ranges.
It's important to look closely at the data. A PSA 10 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. is going to sell for a lot more than one that isn't professionally graded. As you scroll through the data, look for cards that are most like yours. Because so many listings have thumbnail pictures listed in the search, this shouldn't be too hard.
It's also important to be looking in the right category, particularly if you're researching an item. A good search string should get you close, but if you don't know the card that you have, you might be getting a lot of hits you don't need. Filtering unwanted stuff might be as easy as a click of the mouse.
On the far left side of the eBay search is a heading called "Categories." If you're looking up cards, you'll likely want to refine your results to "Sports Mem, Cards & Fan Shop" and then "Cards." You can also be even more specific by clicking on a particular sport.
For the basics, this is all you really need to know about using completed eBay auctions and sales to find out what your sports cards are worth.
5. eBay Completed Search Limitations
Like any price guide, eBay completed searches aren't perfect. For starters, eBay doesn't offer data that's more than a few months old. For things that are regularly available, this isn't a problem. You want the latest info anyways.
For rarer cards, there might not be any sales data. For this, you could check a print guide. Sites like WorthPoint and Terapeak offer historical data, but they're subscription-based services that come with a cost.
It's also important to note that while eBay sales data are among the most accurate for tracking sports card values, it's not perfect. As previously mentioned, these prices are in constant flux. What's important is that they tell you, based on a large collecting audience, what people are paying for cards right now.
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