sports card show

How to Buy Sports Cards at a Sports Card Show

There are a lot of things you need to do prior to a card show.  Proper planning will make sure you are not ripped off and will put you in a better position when negotiating. Being prepared will make you confident and enable you to make the best deal possible.

Do your research and figure out which cards you want to purchase before the card show.  Have a goal with the cards you are targeting and make sure you get to the card show early.  Make sure you have cash, sports cards to trade and sell, and your phone is charged.  Most importantly build a rapport with dealers and collectors!

I recently went to a card show and I did some but not all of the items below.  One of the biggest mistakes I made was not pricing the cards I wanted to sell.  I had to hurry and price out each card while the dealer waited.  I started to get nervous and I wasn’t prepared.  When negotiating I wasn’t confident because I felt like I was rushing.  The worst part was  I didn’t write the card associated with the price.  So, when I went to another dealer I had to do it again.  Doh!


Do your Research and Create a Budget!

The worst thing is to go to a card show and just walk around looking at cards with no plan.  If you are looking to get great deals and make maximize your time you need to do research. Figure out which cards you want to buy and know your prices.  You can check sold comps on Ebay or apps like Soldfor, Card Ladder, or Market Movers.  You should also know the PSA population of the cards, Click Here, you are looking to see if they are more scarce than other cards. The same with BGS, SGC, or CSG card grading companies.  Is the card limited or rare?  If so, knowing this will help you with the next part.    To price more scarce cards, look up comps for a more rare version of that card and a less rare version so you have a middle ground to shoot for.

We all wish we had unlimited funds to buy the cards we want.  But that isn’t the case.  Doing your research is important because you will know how to better deploy the funds you have.  How to spend the most money with getting the biggest bang for your buck is essential.  Whether you are flipping cards or adding to your personal collection, you need to set the amount of money that you are willing to spend and have a plan for each dollar.  It sounds basic and it is.  But if you do this you will maximize your experience.

What is your Plan with the Sports Cards you’re Targeting?

The first question you should ask when targeting a card is what am I doing with this card?  Are you flipping, short/long term hold, or PC (personal collection)?  Based on this, you can make better decisions with regard to negotiating prices.  If you are flipping a card in, 1-2 month range, the purchase price is the most important thing.  You have to be more strict because the higher you pay the less profit you are going to make.

If you’re buying a card for a short-term, 3-8 months period, you should still be strict with pricing but you will have a little more flexibility with pricing.  This is obviously because you will have more time to recoup.

If you’re buying a card for the long-term, over a year plus. you can be a little less strict with pricing.  You will have more time to recoup your profit.  Also, if you have faith and did your research you should have confidence in the player and card.

Please note – if a card is rare or isn’t available too often, pricing somewhat goes out the window.  If it’s a card you truly want you will have to pay up to get the card.  But if you did your research you should have a good idea of where the price should be.


Are looking to buy raw cards or player lots? Here is a great article about this topic – Click Here 

Who Is Attending the Card Show? Will there be a Trade Night before or After The Show?

If you have Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter it’s much easier to find out who will be attending these shows.  You can make connections with dealers or other collectors prior to the show.  Wouldn’t it be great to already have a deal worked before the show even starts?  If you make connections prior to a show then it can happen.  Also, some of the best deals are amongst collectors who are attending the show.  Many times in bigger shows they will have a trading night either the night before or at night right after the show.  If you are attending a card show for the entire weekend this is a must place to go.

If you are attending these shows make sure you are making connections.  You can create a business card.  On the business card, you can give your contact information and which cards you are looking to purchase.  Make it easy for people.

Make Sure You Have Cash! 

Cash is king.  So make sure you create a budget and you have that amount of cash on hand.  Another way to pay is Paypal, Venmo, and Cash app all mobile phone payment apps.  If you find a great deal and don’t have enough cash these are payment methods that people accept. Even though people do accept it, I wouldn’t pay with a credit card.  You will typically have to pay a fee which may hurt the deal.

It’s is critical that you create a budget and stick to it.  You can easily spend thousands of dollars and if you are not disciplined you can spend more than what you have.


Subscribe and Get Real Information you Can Use!

* indicates required


Get there Early!

If it’s a big show you will want to be there on the first day.  You will want to be one of the first ones at the show. Once you enter the show see where the flow of people is going.  If everyone is going to the right, go left.  You want to be the first one to a table so you can see the best deals.  Sure people miss deals but don’t take that chance. Some of the best deals are done right in the beginning or prior to the shows.  So get there early. Wait wait, prior to the show?  How?

When dealers are setting up prior to the show starting, other dealers walk around and snag the best deals. What can you do about this?  If you’re spending a lot of money, it might make sense to buy a table at the card show.  You can walk the area before anyone else and get some great deals.  Also, people will be stopping by your table where you can buy cards as well.

Bring Cards to Sell and Trade 

cards to sell at a card show

Card shows are a great way to move sports cards.  If there is a deal, where you need more cash, these cards will come in handy.  Make sure you know the price!  Get stickers from the dollar store and write the prices on it for the latest comps from eBay or Soldfor app.  There is nothing worse than looking up the prices for 10 cards and then the dealer says he’s not interested.   What a waste of time and energy.  Do the work prior to the show.

Trades are also a big part of card shows.  It may be the difference between doing a deal or not.  You don’t know who people will want compared to your opinion of a player or card.  So when trying to make a deal make sure you ask would you be interested in trading and showing all of your cards.


Make Sure your Phone is Charged 

Prior to the show make sure your phone is fully charged to check on comps for cards that you didn’t research prior to the show.  Check to see if they have wifi and connect to it prior to the show.  A lot of times, I will get a poor signal, which will slow down my ability to look up comps on cards you didn’t plan on getting.  So make sure you have a signal prior to entering the show.  Also, bring a phone charger or buy a case that has charging capabilities.

Talk to Dealers and Collectors!

This may be the most important part of the show. Talk to dealers whenever you can.  You will want to build a rapport so you can find out what they are looking for.  Let them know which cards you want.  You will also want to ask if they have other cards that they haven’t put out on their table.  Take their contact information or business cards.  Write down what they are looking for and the deals you made with them.  You will want to build a Rolodex of dealers and their wants so you have ways of moving cards.

Talk to other collectors at the show.  The best part of the hobby is meeting other collectors that have the same interest as you.  At the last card show, a collector saw I was trying to sell a 2019 Topps Chrome Fernando Tatis PSA 10 rookie card to a dealer.  The dealer wasn’t willing to negotiate.  We started talking and I ended up selling the card to him for more money!  I could have said no thanks and scurried away, but I decided to make a connection.  Always, always try to make connections. The more contacts you have, the more hooks you will have to buy/sell/trade your cards.  Also, you will build friendships that might last a lifetime!

You have any tips or tricks to get the most out of a card show?  Comment Below and Let me know!

Also, Check out My Podcast!  You can listen to it on all major platforms, including YouTube! 

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts