If you sell or trade cards on eBay, Amazon or any other website, it's easy to overlook the resources required just to get them in the mail. Don't plan right and buying shipping supplies for trading cards can quickly become a large expense.
But what if you could easily save money buying the same supplies you have to get anyway?
You can save several hundred dollars per year with the right planning. This guide to buying sports card shipping supplies shows you some ways to save money and time while ensuring that you are using top-quality materials that will stand up to most postal system smackdowns.
You might only save a few cents per package. But if you spread that out over a year, five years and further, it can add up to a lot.
Shipping Supplies Shopping List
Most collectors selling trading cards online, sell a mix of singles, sets, lots and miscellaneous items. Having the correct shipping supplies for each item is important. No matter what you sell, here is a basic list of essential shipping items requires.
- Penny Sleeves
- Top Loaders
- Team Bags
- Padded Mailer Envelopes
- Storage Boxes
- Packaging Tape
- Mailing Labels
- Postage Scale
- Return Address Stamp
Ultra-Pro carries a wide variety of penny sleeves, top loaders and team bags. Using the right top loader is particularly important so as not to damage the card. For more information on choosing the right card protection, read our comprehensive guides.
The most accepted way to ship a card safely requires three things:
- Placing the card in a penny sleeve.
- Inserting that into a top loader.
- Sealing the top loader in a team bag.
If you have just one or two cards, #000 bubble mailers are the way to go. They're small, so you can't get many cards in there. But, they're also cheaper. That means you save money on postage over bigger, bulkier envelopes or small boxes.
The next size up, #00, is good for slightly larger lots of cards.
Really, it's wise to have a variety of sizes of bubble mailers on hand. Keeping packages flat is a great way to keep postage rates down.
Bubble mailers usually cost $0.50 to $0.75 a piece when you purchase them singly or in small bundles at office supply and dollar stores. Buying a case of 250 online can mean a unit rate of less than $0.20.
If you're paying $0.50 per bubble mailer at the dollar store, getting a case of 250 at $0.20 each means a savings of about $75. It's also a lot more convenient to have a large supply on hand rather than having to buy them constantly.
Whatever you do, unless you're sending a couple of commons to a friend, avoid using plain white envelopes to ship cards. They're not durable and are prone to tearing and bending. Even if a card makes it safely to its destination, buyers and trading partners could frown upon such practices and not not want to deal with you in the future.
Standard white corrugated cardboard storage boxes can also double as shipping boxes. Just make sure the cards are packed correctly. Trading card storage boxes vary in size. They work best when shipping more than 100 cards. However, they can safely ship upwards of 800 cards at a time, which is great for sets an large lots.
When shipping a number of single cards that will not fit in a padded envelope, using a storage box is a safe and cost-effective alternative. You can safely secure the cards in a storage box by using packing peanuts and decoy cards to prevent the cards from moving during transit. It's also wise to put a folded piece of paper along the inside edges to protect the card corners.
If you're shipping less than 75 cards, try to avoid using boxes. They are on the bulky side. If you can, use up to four team bags and stick with a bubble envelope. This will keep things flatter, which cuts down on shipping costs. Also, bubble mailers are cheaper than cardboard storage boxes so it's a potential savings on two fronts.
While they may look the same, tape used for storage and moving is different from mailing tape. Packaging tape is cheaper, which will save you money shipping trading cards.
Want to save even more? Pay a little extra up front and invest in a tape gun and buy rolls of packing tape in bulk. They usually come in packages of six rolls.
If you don't buy or trade much, you can write out envelopes the old-fashioned way -- by hand. But if you're doing any quantity of business, it's too time-consuming. It's also easier to make a mistake. Enter the mailing label.
There are several companies that produce mailing labels. One of the most popular is Avery. They produce labels in a range of sizes, are formatted for all printers, and can be purchased in multiple quantity assortments.
An alternative to labels is to print your shipping information onto standard printer or copier paper. You then simply cut the label out and affix it to the envelope or box with packaging tape.
A postage scale reduces the amount of gas you use driving to the post office. It also cuts the amount of time you waste standing in line once you get there.
They are very affordable and can be purchased for less than $30. Be sure the scale has a weight limit in excessive of 10 lbs. and also measures to the tenth of an ounce. This will guarantee that you are able to ship anything from items needing nothing more than a plain white envelope to those requiring a large storage box.
Yes, you could write your return address over and over again over the course of the year. Or, for a small cost, you could get a custom self-inking stamper and save tons of time. Rather than taking a minute or so to write a return address, it takes a second. A basic stamper can be found on eBay for under $10. It might be an added cost, but the time saved can be better used for better things.
Got more tips and pointers on how to save money on trading card shipping supplies? Let us know in the comments below.
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