Players of Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-G-Oh, and most any other mature trading card game all have one thing in common: They tend to accumulate extra cards as time goes by. Every TCG player eventually asks: What am I gonna do with these?
Beyond your usual collectibles, these bulk cards are the inevitable chaff that comes with any trading card game. Most every player starts out with a trades binder, only to realize after awhile that anything good enough to trade is usually so good you’re keeping it. Everybody’s trade binders eventually fill up with tons of jank that never moves.
The booster pulls, the 13 copies of a common you drafted somehow, the junk foil super rare that’s pretty but not fit for competitive play, and the oddball dregs and flotsam. All cards from any game have somebody who wants them, even just for casual play. We’ll go over the various ways to trade these bulk cards off for some kind of benefit.
#1: Good Karma Trades
Giving extra cards away is an obvious, efficient solution. There’s lots of ideas for doing this:
* Give boxes of bulk to a local orphanage, halfway house, summer camp, school, or children’s hospital. If they’re a qualifying charity, you may be able to even write off the donation as a tax deduction if your country allows it. Perk up the day for some local needy children!
* Build casual decks and give them out as gifts. Round up some cheap cardboard deckboxes at your local card shop and give out decks for Chistmas to your friends with kids.
* Hold jank Cube drafts with your friends. To build a Magic: The Gathering Cube, select from 360 to 720 cards for the “set,” bundle them into makeshift “booster packs,” and hold a draft. Cube is fun to build and play, since it lets you make your own custom block. And with jank Cube, just let everybody keep the cards they drafted.
* Pity-prize for the low-scoring player at competitive events. Next FNM, find the player who ranked at the bottom; it will usually be a kid or somebody new to the game. If they won no packs, a box of your bulk trades is like a gold mine to them.
If you count the warm feel-goodies from your generosity as a worthwhile return on your card expenditure, then we’re done right there.
#2: Bulk Sale
Selling cards in bulk is the least fun way to get rid of them and also shockingly low return. Money-wise, even a tax deduction for charity contributions will beat the money you make selling bulk cards, since the deduction is based on some metric like TCGPlayer mid-price. To sell cards in bulks, most dealers will have a metric such as “fill a box of this length with M/NM cards and no land,” for which your lordly sum is a whole two dollars or so.
Many stores just flat out don’t buy bulk. Remember that they pull just as much bulk as you do since they usually crack packs of sets in order to pull enough single product to sell. If your store has an overflowing 25-cent box of loose bulk cards, chances are they’re not going to be excited about buying yours. Online stores may buy bulk at a rate of about $6-to-$7 per 1000 cards – but factor in the cost of shipping and you’d be money ahead if you simply used them for kitty litter.
There is a whole post at MTGPrice about bulk selling online, although it’s dated.
#3: Online Trading
This is the best option, and one that most people don’t fully realize.
Yes, you can sell cards on eBay, but you didn’t need this article to tell you that. Selling cards on eBay tends to be a great option for cards that are worth money anyway, but a terrible option for bulk. You’ll end up with the same problem, low demand no matter what the price lists say a card is worth. However, eBay is just scratching the surface…
A lot of players aren’t aware that you don’t have to be a retail store to sell on TCGPlayer. A few years back, TCGPlayer changed their policy to allow just anyone to sell cards through their site. You do have to deal with ‘seller levels,’ however, which is like probation for new traders until you’ve completed a couple transactions and gotten a decent rating.
TCGPlayer’s economy stacks up pretty close to eBay. But TCGPlayer is a specialized community, where more card gamers go and hence, there’s a lower bar for what’s possible to sell on eBay. You might not be able to move outright jank, but it’s certainly a great opportunity for anything niche / casual playable.
* Pucatrade.com and other online trading posts.
Online trading kiosks are the same concept as your trades binder, but now it can land in front of thousands of people worldwide. The bar for in-demand cards is much lower here, since even jank trades at a measurable pace. Sites that cash in for points have a better economy than trading purely on the barter system. Pucatrade only trades Magic. So far, we have yet to discover a site that does the same for Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Vanguard, or any other card game (if you know of one or start one, please comment here so we can add it!).
MTGSalvation also has a trading post for Magic cards. Deckbox.org has a way to both inventory your cards and offer them for trade while you’re at it. Checking into forums devoted to other games is likely to unearth a trading system of some description.
Buyer beware: Commercial sites that just trade cards have a shaky reputation. One concern is what happens when the site shuts down, you lose your points and trade score. Dealing with people one-to-one to trade cards through the mail runs the risk of meeting either a scammer or just somebody plain inept at trading, with little repercussion.
Finally, here’s the site your humble author has used to great success. Listia is sort of like eBay, in that anything and everything can be posted for auction. But Listia uses points, which you can then use to bid on other items on the site. There is a measure in place to sell points for actual cash to other users, and it’s sanctioned by the site, but that’s not really a viable option.
Points, however, can be spent on just any old thing. We use Listia to snag the same sort of items you’d get off Amazon or eBay – books, gadgets, toys, apparel, knick-knacks. This lets you liquidate your bulk cards and turn them into other non-gaming goods. It also lets you move other stock you’re looking to get rid of and turn it into more cards.
The biggest plus of all is, I have literally never seen the card that will not sell on Listia. Some sell mighty cheap, yes, perhaps not worth the stamp to mail it, but even your most bulk jank will move. Listia also deals in everything under the sun – Pokemon, YuGiOh, Vanguard, and even figurines, D&D miniatures, dice, deckboxes, playmats, you name it. If it’s printed on cardboard, it can be sold on Listia.
I hesitate to state the exact rate of exchange because it will likely become outdated, but currently the rule of thumb for card trades seems to be about 16,000 points per $1 USD of the card’s value as determined by TCGPlayer mid price. A 25 cent card should go for 4000.
Now, it’s not a perfect system. Like any online trading site, watch out for scammers or the Homers who don’t know how to conduct an online transaction. There is a very good dispute system and accounts have a reputation score like eBay, so there’s that. Like Pucatrade-type sites, there’s also the question of what happens if the site quits. However, Listia auctions typically end in a week and you can simply post an item for a flat price, so it ends immediately. So it’s easy to keep a low exposure in this regard.
How I flipped two bulk decks into a Nahiri!
It’s really quite simple. First this UB Zombie tribal deck:
Then this Naya Allies tribal:
Equals more than enough for a Nahiri:
- Cost of cards going by average bulk rate of 1000 cards per $7 (excluding basic lands): $0.60
- Cost of mailing (protective bubble-wrap envelope + tracking): $10.
- Current TCGPlayer mid price for Nahiri, the Harbinger : $22.43
- Profit: $11.83
Which just goes to show what’s possible with ‘leet deckbuilding skills and a little market savvy.