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How To Start Collecting Cards for Beginners (2023)

How To Start Collecting Cards Today

When you first start collecting cards it can be overwhelming. The common question is ‘what should I start collecting’ and that’s a big question for a beginner in the card hobby. 

However, we have to remind ourselves the following: 

Building a collection is a fun hobby which depends on your interests and what you find valuable.  You can pick any genre of the card, such as sports, fantasy, or anime, that makes you happy and feels valuable to you.

Our article will guide you through starting to collect sports cards today. It will go in-depth on the steps you need to take and provide information about the different types of collecting, such as collecting for nostalgia, flipping for profit, or investing for the long term.

Builds Your First Collection: Step -by-Step.

Before starting, it’s vital to research popular card types and what’s available, decide on a budget, and stick to it. The size of the collection depends on the number of items you want in it. Some collections are smaller than others, but a typical collection would have more than three items.

I will take you through what you need to know to start collecting cards today and build your first collection: 

1. Pick genre (You can pick any many or few as you want)

Sports Cards

  • Basketball 
  • Football
  • Baseball 
  • UFC

Fantasy Cards 

  • Magic 
  • Star Wars 
  • Marvel 
  • Pokemon 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh 

Anime Cards

  • Attack on Titan 
  • Sword Art Online 

2. Decide on What Type of Collecting You Want to Do 

Are you a Collector, Flipper, or Investor? Determining what your goal is, helps you identify how best you’ll engage in the collecting experience and the hobby. 

For example, flippers try to move cards as quickly as possible, which could lead to more money and networking opportunities. However, collectors may enjoy showing off their collection on YouTube or social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram. 

What’s a Collector? 

Card Collector holds trading cards for the long term or forever; they may never sell the card and enjoy completing sets. The act of collecting for nostalgia or a sense of accomplishment. Buying Hobby Boxes to find high end cards is fun and enjoyable. 

What’s a Flipper? (Also known as Resellers)

Card Flippers are finding trading cards for the short term and trying to sell immediately to make a profit. A Flipper comes into the hobby to lowball dealers and makes a side hustle, typically selling wax (card boxes). 

What’s an Investor? 

Card Investors buy trading cards to capitalize on the hype or growing interest and demand for a card in the future. They have a long-term perspective and see cards as ‘assets’ which go up over time. 

While trading cards’ values change constantly and can go up or down, investors feel they can sell trading cards during critical periods within a season. For example, when the football Superbowl and playoffs are happening, there’s a lot of attention on football cards. So, they’ll take cards they bought during the off-season and sell them during that time. 

3. Research Popular Card Types and What’s Available 

Pick which sport, team, or player you want to collect: 

  • Are there rookie players who will blow up in the future? 
  • Are there players who you’ve met or wish to meet? 
  • Are there players who are your favorite to watch? 

Determine what card brands are worth collecting: 

If I had to start collecting cards over and build my collection, I would focus on picking a specific brand of cards and learn about the different parrels available within each. Here’s a list of famous brand cards. 

  1. Panini – Prizm 
  2. Panini – Select 
  3. Donruss Optic 
  4. Panini – Mosaic
  5. Panini – Gold Standard

For example, see our growing card collection of all football gold standard patch cards: 


If you’d like to get more specific, you can – like the year and other commonalities. 

4. Create a Budget and Stick to It

Set a spending limit: If you have a monthly budget or a ‘sports card fund’ you add money into, it helps separate your spending from your hobby spending. Stick to a limit for the year and per month to avoid overspending. 

Prioritize purchases: Understand that each purchase comes with a trade-off, and if you buy something impulsively, it may interrupt your plans later down the road. For example, buying multiples of mosaic 2022 can derail you from your collecting goal when saving up for a big card. Instead, keep to your existing collecting goal. 

Track expenses & adjust accordingly: Use Google Sheets to keep track of which cards are within your collection and how much they cost you. There are numerous options to help you track your expenses but understand the value before making those big purchases. 

5. Go to the Place to Buy Sports Cards 

There are numerous places to buy sports cards to build your collection. We wrote an article outlining the seven best places to buy sports cards. Here are a few places worth checking out and looking for those specific cards you are going after. 

  1. COMC 
  2. Local Card Shop
  3. Target or Walmart 
  4. WhatNot 
  5. eBay or Mercari 

Track Your Collection Growth Using Google Sheets 

As a collector, you begin to accumulate many cards over time. It becomes a large amount of base (or standard) cards and undesirable cards; however, there are cases where you add highly desirable cards. 

We use a Notion Template and Google Sheets to help us keep track of which big cards we have in our collection, where we store them, and other essential attributes related to our collection. 

In each sheet, list the items in that category along with relevant information, such as the date acquired, purchase price, and current value.

Our inventory tracker helps visualize which types of cards are available, which include: 

  • Autographs – Yes/No
  • Jersey Patches – Yes/No
  • Numbered Cards – Yes/No
  • Raw vs. Graded – Which Grade?
  • Player Name – How many?
  • Cost with Shipping vs. Cost without Shipping
  • Variations – Base, Silver, Disco, etc.
  • Type – Football, Boxing, MMA, etc.
  • Personal vs. For Sale vs. Sold

You can use Google Sheets’ built-in functions and formulas to track the total value of your collection and its growth over time and use the data visualization feature to create charts and graphs to see trends.

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