How do I help my kid sell pokemon cards?
May 4, 2021 9:02 AM   Subscribe

My kid would like me to help them sell their box of pokemon cards. I'd like to help out, but not make this a big project. Are there resources to help my kid quickly sort the more valuable from the less valuable and to easily sell the cards?

I imagine there's a range of options from perhaps some places that buy unsorted bulk cards for not much money (but what places, and how much do they pay?) to perhaps places you pay lots of money to sort/grade for you (but again, what places, and how much?).

Does the hivemind have any suggestions about a middle ground where my kid might do some sorting to get a fair price for a reasonable amount of work?
posted by another_20_year_lurker to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Fyi apparently the grading services have a 6+ month backlog on grading pokemon cards. Due to lots of other people having this idea.

I'd start searching ebay for completed transactions for some cards to get a ballpark.
posted by TheAdamist at 10:11 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Maybe tcgplayer would help? I think it supports Pokemon cards but maybe not as many features as it does for Magic. I think it would help with identifying actual value from filler cards. It might be able to hook you up to stores looking to buy large swaths of cards instead of having to wait for individuals to buy singles.

Maybe the middle ground is scanning with TCGPlayer and then pulling out the actual valuables that might sell as singles and then selling the rest in bulk to a local shop?
posted by cmm at 11:30 AM on May 4

A place like has prices listed for the different types of cards, you sort them into piles and send them in. Often you can only get store credit, but things like booster packs/boxes are pretty easy to resell.

TCG card value is heavily concentrated into very few cards, so if your kid is inclined they should check the values of rare+ cards on ebay or tcgplayer to make sure they don't have any randomly valuable cards. If there are any worth $10+ it's worth selling these on ebay. You can also take all the cards worth $5+ and sell them as a lot. You'll be selling at a discount, but still get a higher price than any store would give you.
posted by hermanubis at 12:26 PM on May 4

Response by poster: @hermanubis - so does that suggest something like:
1) sort cards by rareness? (e.g. things on this page vs not)
2) look at TCG or ebay to see if any of the rare+ are selling for $5+, $10+, or more (very time intensivne)
3) sell $5+ as lot, sell $10+ as unique cards, give away >$5 as lot on local buynothing group

posted by another_20_year_lurker at 1:13 PM on May 4

Best answer: I've sold my share of collectible cards and, yeah, you're really going to need to decide how much your time is worth. You can spend an almost infinite amount of time maximizing the value you get, and there are a bunch of options for spending less time, but almost always at the cost of missing out on value.

Your proposed order of operations is very close to what I would do.


1. Throw anything that's common or uncommon (i.e it's not holographic or full art and it doesn't have a star in the bottom right corner) into a "junk" box. If you're willing to add a little bit of work to this stage, you could also arm yourself with the lists on this site in order to avoid junking any of the "rare" commons or uncommons that are worth $5+.
2. Take all of the cards that aren't in the junk box, and type them into TCGplayer to get a price. If the cards are "Moderately Played" (as in, you can see pretty much any degree of scuffing or border wear with the naked eye at arm's length), you can cut the value in half. And if they're bent, creased or more significantly damaged, you can essentially set the value to $0 unless its list price is over about $50. At this point, I'd throw anything that comes up at less than about $2 in the junk box.
2b (optional). Pull out individual cards worth more than a set amount (it's around $50 for me) and list them online on TCGplayer or Ebay.
3. Take all the cards that aren't in the junk box or individually listed to your local gaming store, at a time when they aren't busy, and ask how much they'll give you for them. As long as it's within an order of magnitude of the total price you found in step 2, say yes.
4. Post a "free to good home" listing on your local board for the junk box.
posted by 256 at 5:28 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Oh and, if you've gone to the trouble of presorting out the commons and uncommons, you should expect most gaming stores (of the variety that have a showcase of individual MTG/pokemon cards) to be willing to take the time to go through your pile of cards with you (again, at non-busy hours), give you a specific quote based on the actual cards you brought, and pay you in cash (though they'll give you a much better rate if you're willing to take store credit).

If the store isn't willing to look through your singles and give you a quote, just say thanks and carry on to the next store. This is a service most but not all stores offer.

Expect the price they offer you to be between 25% and 50% of the total value you saw online. They're not ripping you off. There's a lot of overhead in inventorying and selling cards. I've done the sell-all-the-individual-cards-myself thing, and the time investment is absolutely not worth it for me compared to just taking the store's offer.
posted by 256 at 5:35 PM on May 4

Best answer: I own a FLGS but some of my recommendations are market specific. You can simplify the card ID and pricing by using the TCG Player app and scanning them to check how valuable the cards are. You can also sell them there if approved or on eBay, if so inclined, which will get you the most money but will also be the most time consuming.

Don't be the jerk that comes into the local store with 100s of unsorted cards. There are tons of people trying to sell their collections right now and it's a huge amount of work to sort through that many cards. Besides you want to know what's money and what's trash so you aren't robbed blind. They may offer anywhere between 50% and 20% of "market price" or "TCG mid" or even have their own pricing with no relation to the market. This is the easiest way to sell your cards.

There's also selling them to Channel Fireball or their ilk (not a fan of theirs, I don't like their previous support of jerks and abusers but here's an article about selling stuff here) but this will be more like selling to a local store and may not get you a lot of money.

One word of note: card grading is very conservative. If something looks played, it's not going to be near mint. Beckett has a guide for grading that I can recommend.

Honestly the sorting and grading might be the most fun for your kid and the money just a cherry on top.
posted by fiercekitten at 6:21 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I just answered a similar question on Reddit the other day. I'll repeat what I said over there.

Not sure about Pokemon cards but when I recently sold off my old Magic card collection, I found Groups for doing so on Facebook. I did especially well with misprints. If you go on there and search for "pokemon cards - buy/sell/trade" you'll find quite a few groups. I can't vouch for the Pokemon community on FB but the people in the Magic groups were really helpful, even telling me when someone else was lowballing me.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:26 PM on May 5

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