This post may contain affiliate links and I may receive a small commission when you click on those links. You can read my full disclaimer here.
For those who collected Magic: The Gathering (MTG) cards as kids, the passion behind the drive to collect them was more than enough to fuel their interest. But many of those same collectors don’t realize that there’s money in those old magic cards that they stashed in the back of their closets, provided they’re willing to invest some time in learning the rules of the road when it comes to selling them.
So let’s look into how to make money selling magic the gathering cards. We’ll examine the market, the mechanics of selling a card, and some of the details that are involved, like prices, single cards, mythic rare cards, etc. Finally, we’ll look at the difference between selling these cards as a side hustle or a part-time venture versus and stepping up to make it a full-time business.
How to Make Money Selling Magic the Gathering Cards
Basic Market Conditions
Let’s start with the value of the cards. On average, it’s about 10 cents a card, but some can be worth far more. What that means is that if you’re going to try and make money selling a card, you need to put some time into research and homework so you know the cards and where to put your effort and energy.
There are two major sites that will allow you to track the amount of money of the cards you have-MTG Goldfish and Star City Games.
The best way to make money is from selling single cards, but Local Game Stores (LGS) also buy collections or parts of collections at 50-70 percent of market value. They then resell them at a 30 percent margin, although that may be higher depending on the card set and the pricing.
If you do decide to sell card sets like booster packs, the first rule of thumb is not to open the sealed products. Once you do you hurt their value, and unfortunately there’s no way to recover it.
So those are the basics. Now let’s talk about some of the mechanics of buying and selling and what some of the most important tradeoffs are.
Buying and Selling
There are several ways to sell MTG cards, and some are more lucrative than others, of course. Sites like eBay still offer a robust market, and these kinds of sites offer extra levels of protection when you sell your cards to make sure you get the best value.
You can also sell to collectors. This route is more volatile-they’re harder to find, you’ll probably have to haggle and you may wind up with less of a deal than you thought you were going to be able to secure.
Comic book stores are another source of sales, but these are more of a niche opportunity. They may not be as familiar with MTG cards as the other sources listed here, which means you may be able to get a better deal than you would on eBay or from a collector. Or the reverse could be true, i.e., they’re so unfamiliar with MTG cards that you get a low-ball offer that may not be worth taking or even considering.
Finally, you can sell to the aforementioned LGS. The good news is that they’re familiar with the cards you’re selling, and the reputable ones will give you fair value. The bad news is that they’re a well-known source of sales, so you may find yourself with plenty of competition when it comes to getting a good deal.
Specific Card Examples
One of the best ways to get an idea of how the market works is to look at an example of a specific card. We’ll go with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, which was part of a powerhouse set that caused it to open at $30.
But the tendency of buyers to pick up the same cards so they can build a winning deck creates a shortage in supply, and as a result the price of Uro has doubled to $60.
This is a perfect example of a mythic rare card that took off because of a market trend, but there’s obviously no guarantee that this will happen across the board with these kinds of cards.
The Volume Question
On a more global level, one of the biggest issues that beginners have to tackle is the volume issue. LGS usually have a large inventory that allows them to trade in volume, but most individual sellers don’t have anywhere near that kind of inventory.
The best way to go is to try selling cards to make a small amount of money, then ramp up if there seems to be a path to making more money in your particular market.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into volume is to buy crates of cards from those looking to unload a large amount. The plus side of doing this is that they’re usually relatively cheap, but the downside is that you have to spend the time to go through them all. But this can unearth some lucrative cards if you know what you’re doing, and if you’re committed to the idea of becoming a volume seller this is one of the best ways to build your inventory.
What Affects the Market?
There are many other market issues that can affect low-volume sellers, and one of the most important ones to track is speculation.
The market for MGT cards is more volatile than it used to be, and there have been cards that have gone from 10 cents a run to $80 overnight.
But a speculative market is almost always volatile by definition, so you really have to know your cards to be able to capitalize on this particular option.
Side Hustle, Part-Time or Full-Time?
For those who do have some amount of success selling MGT cards, the temptation to go from side hustle to part-time to full-time can be strong.
If you do decide to do this, though, know that it’s a tough business.
You can open your own LGS, but there are high startup costs, including finding and paying for a physical space, buying cards and building up an inventory. LGS also have several revenue channels, including local games, so you likely need the resources to do that in order to succeed.
Like any startup business, it’s not cheap, and an overall startup cost of $100K wouldn’t be considered unusual at all. It’s a good reminder to start small and learn the business, knowing you have the ability to at least succeed at making make some money selling MTG cards.