Basketball cards look like something your 10-year old would take to school to swap with his friends. And while that may have been their original intention, these cards can now be worth thousands of dollars if you choose the right ones to invest in. 

With that said, it can often be difficult to know where to start, so I’ve come up with a quick guide to help you along the way.

Making money from basketball cards can be broken down into 7 easy steps:

  1. Choose your investment strategy
  2. Find a player worth investing in
  3. Set your budget
  4. Search for a valuable card
  5. Compare the market and buy your card
  6. Sell your card
  7. Re-invest your profit

I’ll go into more detail on each of these steps below. 

Trust me guys, knowing this information is the very thing that could help you make a decent profit on your basketball cards.

1. Choose Your Investment Strategy

Investing or flipping? These are the two main strategies for buying and selling basketball cards and there are benefits to both, so here are the basics.

Investing in Basketball Cards (Long-Term)

Investing is usually a long-term strategy to make money from your basketball cards. 

It involves purchasing a card at the lowest price possible, giving the card time to appreciate in value and then eventually selling it to make a profit. 

This can be risky and can take years, but it will generally produce a larger profit per card.

Flipping Basketball Cards (Short-Term)

Flipping cards on the other hand is a short-term strategy where you purchase a card and then immediately list that card for a higher price. Because cards do not appreciate in a day, the new listing price is generally within a few dollars of the initial purchase price, and  therefore profits are very small. 

This method is less risky than long-term investments, but it’ll take many sales to make a decent profit.

Of the two strategies, it’s entirely up to you which one to choose. As they both require patience, it really boils down to the risk you’re willing to take on.

One benefit of flipping is that you can pay a very small fee with the purchase to keep the card in a storage facility.  This means you don’t need to worry about storing the cards yourself.

2. Find a Player worth Investing In

Finding a valuable player is the key to making money with basketball cards.

If you fail at this step, no amount of effort is going to increase the value of the player you have chosen.

There are certain attributes you should look for that will increase your chances of choosing a valuable player.

Look for Shooters

Shooters are generally your safest bet when it comes to value. Shooting guards like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan (the GOAT) are prime examples.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Even though other positions can still rise to fame, from my own experience – shooting guards have a much higher chance of becoming popular.

But again, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find valuable cards for players that aren’t shooting guards. 

There’s point guard like Steph Curry (as previously mentioned) – who happens to be the best shooter of all time, small forwards like Lebron James – who is challenging Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever, and then big men like Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar – who currently the all time leading scorer in NBA history.

Investing in Rookie Cards

Rookie cards (‘RC’) are usually the most valuable cards of any player. 

This is because the player is only a rookie for one year, and therefore there is only a finite amount of rookie cards ever manufactured for that player.

Now you can choose to buy a rookie card when that player is still a rookie, or you can wait until they’ve gained some popularity and established themselves as a real player.

Buying a rookie card requires research and is a bit of a riskier option. However, as I mentioned before, greater risks bring greater rewards (profits).

If you have a rookie card of a player that goes on to become MVP for example, well the value of that card will drastically increase. So this is a good long-term investment strategy.

Investing in an Experienced Player

If you choose to buy a card of an experienced player such as a current all-star, the card will likely be valuable instantly. 

However, the downside of this is that it might not increase in value as much from the time you purchase it. 

Additionally, there are many unknowns such as injuries, trades or even performance slumps that can decrease the value of an experienced player

3. Set Your Budget

Basketball cards can be expensive, unless you’re willing to wait a long time for cheap cards to appreciate in value. But even buying cards to flip can start to add up over time.

Your budget should be something you’re capable of paying and willing to walk away from. As a worst case scenario, you might buy a stack of basketball cards that then significantly and permanently decrease in value.

Once you have a budget in mind, consider how many cards you’d like to buy. You could buy hundreds of cards to flip, or just a selection of good ones to sit on until they appreciate.

Whatever you decide, investing in basketball cards is like any other type of investment, there are no guarantees. 

4. Search for a Valuable Card

Basketball cards can be found at either your local card shop or online.

There will likely be multiple listings of the same type of card on trading websites, so it’s important to know what to look for when buying your cards.

Notable online sources include eBay, COMC, StockX, The Pit, Beckett Marketplace, SportLots and StarStock

COMC is specifically designed to accommodate card flipping, but these are all good websites to use for general card investing.

So here’s what to look for.


First and foremost, you will want to buy quality brand basketball cards. 

The ideal brand to go with is the Panini Prizm cards, but Donruss Optic is also a good option. These brands are what collectors are looking for and they’re willing to pay big money for them.

These cards are produced with a particular shine of the card. Most collectors prefer cards with this prism appearance because they look more impressive and they are also harder to copy.

These brands also deliberately produce a limited number of each edition to keep their cards as collectables. If too many cards are produced, as with some of the cheaper brands, the demand is too low and the cards lose their value.


Grading refers to the condition of the card. 

Cards are graded from 1-10. The most common types of grading are the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) or Beckett Grading Service (BGS).

If you have a card that is graded ‘PSA 10’, this equates to ‘gem-mint’ or virtually perfect condition. This is similar to a BGS 9.5. Either of these is desirable for collectors. A BGS 10 means the card is pristine, but this is very hard to come by.

If the listing does not specify the grading, it is probably ungraded or has a poor grading – so be careful of this. 

If you happen to stumble across an ungraded card and believe it is a high grade, you can have it graded for around $20-$300 depending on the value of the card.

Quick Tip #1: Watch out for common tricks when buying the cards. Some sellers might advertise the card as ‘PSA 10?’ or ‘PSA 10 worthy’. These cards are not PSA 10, the seller is just trying to make a sub-standard card sound better.

Card Number

Another indicator of value is the card number. 

Cards will have two numbers on them; the card number and the total number of cards manufactured in that series. For example, if you find a card that is 52/132, this means that it is the 52nd card of 132 cards made.


If less cards are made in a series, your card will be worth more. For example, if you find a card that is 52/249, this will theoretically be less valuable than one that is 52/132. 

5. Compare the Market and Buy Your Card

Before you buy your card, it’s a good idea to assess its true value on the market.

You don’t want to buy something for $250 that’s only worth $100. Just remember that there are other people out there trying to make a profit too.

If the card you’re considering is more expensive than what others have sold for, you run the risk of losing money.  The player would have to increase in value for their card to sell for what you paid, and even more so for you to make a profit.

You can check a card’s value by looking through its sale history. If you use a website such as CardMavin, you can see exactly how much the same card sold for in the past. You can also do this on eBay using the advanced search.

6. Sell Your Card

Once you have bought a card, pick a price that you’d be happy to sell it for. Once the market value reaches that price, list and sell the card, no questions asked.

Unfortunately, there are always going to be times when you sell just before the card spikes in value. It’s nearly impossible to time the market perfectly every time. So having a selling price in mind gives you some ‘rules’ to follow which will make the decision easier.

In saying that though, you might be able to pick up on trends in the worth of a player. 

For example, when a player is playing really well, their perceived value will go up and this means you’re likely to get a higher price for the card.

Finally, make sure you don’t overprice your card. You need to assess your competition. If you are selling something for $250 and there are cheaper listings of that same card in the same condition, people are going to buy the cheaper cards, as they should!

Only if you have no competition (which would be very rare) will you have more flexibility to sell the card above it’s worth.

But at the end of the day, a card’s worth is based on whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

7. Re-invest Your Profit

Once you have made some money from a sale, consider reinvesting your profits. 

You should choose a percentage that you want to take for yourself and then invest whatever is left over in buying more basketball cards. 

This strategy will help put money in your pocket while at the same time allow you to keep “playing the game”.


The bottom line is that making money from basketball cards is a very real thing. Like anything though, it will research, due diligence and hard work.

So I hope this article has taken the mystery out of investing in basketball cards and has inspired you to give it a go. 

If you do become successful enough, this can be a great way of making some good money for yourself.

As always, thanks for reading and come by anytime

Geek, out.

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