Whether you’re ready to let go of your private collection or flipping sets to turn a profit, here’s what you need to know about selling Pokémon cards.
As Pokémon cards have steadily increased in value over the years, collectors all over the world have been diving into the backs of their closets to dig out their shoe boxes full of childhood memories. Selling Pokémon cards can be so lucrative in today’s market that some people even see buying and flipping cards as a viable investment strategy. A booster box of first-edition Base set cards broke all Pokémon records when it sold for $432,000 in 2021. A single card — 1999 Charizard in gem mint condition — sold for a whopping $420,000 at auction in 2022. Ready to find out if any of the cards in your collection will enter that stratosphere? Here’s our Pokémon card selling guide to help you get started.
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Everything You Need To Know About Selling Pokémon Cards
#1: Sort Your Pokémon Cards By Set
When it comes to collectible cards, finding one that’s valuable can be a little like searching for a needle in a haystack. That’s why it’s a good idea to get started by baling your hay — or sorting your Pokémon cards, in this case — so you can see what’s what.
First, look for a symbol either below the bottom right corner of the image or in the bottom right corner of the card itself to determine what set your card belongs to. Cards that don’t have a symbol are considered Base set cards, which was one of the first sets originally released in the U.S. You can do a little internet sleuthing to determine which Pokémon set is which, and cards from some sets are already going to be more valuable than others. Next, organize the cards within each set by number. The bottom right corner of each card should show two numbers: the card’s identifier followed by the total number of cards in the set. For example, numbers like “12/56” would indicate card number 12 in a set of 56 total cards.
With your cards sorted and organized by this system, the final piece to note is the shape. Before you look up the going rates for every individual card in your collection, searching for circles, diamonds, and stars will help you prioritize which cards are most likely to be valuable. Cards stamped with solid black circles are considered common, diamonds are uncommon, and stars are rare. You can also have a card with up to three stars (indicating increasing rareness), and certain super rare Japanese sets were released with white shape stamps instead of black ones. These rare cards are a safe bet for where to focus your selling efforts.
#2: Protect Your Pokémon Cards
With any luck, your Pokémon cards were already stored in protective sleeves to keep them from deteriorating. If not, take the time to keep your cards safe immediately while you move through the remaining steps of selling them. Next to rarity, overall condition is another critical factor in the value of any collectible card. You’ll want to start with soft penny sleeves and then store each card in its sleeve in a plastic card sheet that you can sort into a hard-cover binder. Those three layers of protection will help keep your cards safe from the tell-tale signs of wear, like dents, nicks, scratches, fading, water damage, bending, etc. If you do end up deciding to have your cards graded by professionals, investing in a system to keep them in the best condition possible will serve you well.
#3: Do Your Research On Pricing
Once you’ve decided to sell a Pokémon card, it’s always a good idea to do your due diligence about how similar cards are being sold. There are a lot of resources you can use to assess the value of your card on your own before putting it up for sale, or you can work with a professional service that will take care of all the logistics of selling your card for you. Here are some ways to assess your Pokémon card’s value so you can list it for the highest possible price:
- Search eBay listings: Not every eBay seller is an expert, but searching for similar listings will help you get a baseline idea of what your card is worth.
- Study price guides: Collectibles authorities and marketplaces issue price guides for popular Pokémon cards; make sure to find the most up-to-date version possible.
- Partner with a dealer: If you don’t want to put in the legwork, work with a professional collectibles dealer who will research, value, grade, and list every card in your collection.
- Fractionalize your asset: Dibbs vaults, insures, and mints your Pokémon card to the blockchain as an NFT so you can sell it through the fractional asset market.
#4: To Grade, or Not to Grade
Grading is an expensive process, but it can be worth it if your cards are already high on the rarity scale and look to be in good condition. The Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grades Pokémon cards on the same 1-10 scale it uses to grade baseball cards, with 1 being the lowest quality and 10 being the highly coveted “gem mint condition.” Grading can cost $20 or more per card, so if your card is common or clearly shows marks or dents, it’s probably not worth it. Some experts say you should only grade cards that are worth $100 or more, some suggest $500 as a more appropriate benchmark. In the end, the decision to have your Pokémon cards professionally graded is really up to you, what you believe your card is worth, and how you want to proceed with selling it.
#5: List Your Pokémon Cards For Sale
One of the benefits of having your cards graded is that in addition to assessing condition, organizations like the PSA use authentication techniques to make sure that cards are real and untampered with and to weed out knock-offs. List the professional grading in the card description, or if you opted not to grade your cards, provide all the details you can about set, number, and shape, special features like holographic effects or artist signatures, and any visible signs of damage. Because truly rare and high-quality Pokémon cards can be so valuable, there are a lot of scams out there. Collectors willing to fork over the big bucks are going to want to inspect every detail about the card, set, or box they are considering buying.
Going through your collection one by one and listing each card individually has been an option as long as eBay has been around, at least. But for collectors interested in a more modern method of selling Pokémon cards, Dibbs makes buying, selling, and trading more accessible by minting cards to the blockchain as NFTs. Fractionalizing assets gives sellers access to even more fans and collectors, who can all get in on the action on the same card together. To learn more about the fractional collectible market and start trading Pokémon cards on Dibbs, sign up for an account today.