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5 Tips for People Considering Investing in Pokémon Cards

Your friendly neighborhood slacker. Chill Clinton likes to write about film, music, collectibles, and more.

The Pokémon market has boomed, but is restarting your old collection the right decision for you?

The Pokémon market has boomed, but is restarting your old collection the right decision for you?

According to a report issued by eBay in February, the value of the Pokémon Trading Card Game marketplace increased by over 500% from 2019 to 2020. This has a ton of investors, many of whom remember the joy that acquiring these cards brought them as kids, interested in restarting their collections with the hope of their cards increasing in value over the next few years or (perhaps decades).

However, there are several factors you should consider before opening your wallet to purchase that vintage booster pack or PSA-graded holographic Charizard. The Pokémon marketplace is growing, but collectors intent on monetary appreciation need to approach with caution. In this article, I have compiled five tips for starting your collection if you decide that investing in Pokémon is the correct decision for you.

Modern vs. Vintage, Sealed vs. Singles—there are many factors to consider when choosing the focus of your collection.

Modern vs. Vintage, Sealed vs. Singles—there are many factors to consider when choosing the focus of your collection.

1. Remember That Pokémon Cards Are Easy to Acquire but Difficult to Sell

Before acquiring any Pokémon assets, you have to remember that, unless you are ready to launch a card-dealing business, your collection will be a long-term commitment.

After paying buyers' fees, taxes, and shipping, your price entry point will often be significantly higher than the market value of the assets. This isn't even accounting for the fees you will need to pay to sell the asset, be it through an online marketplace (which typically takes about 15%) or at a trade show or convention, where you will need to purchase space from the organizers. One weekend of tabling at an event space can run anywhere from $60 for a small "hotel" show to $500 or more for regional conventions.

So, remember that it may be simple to acquire your collection, but you need to be realistic about the cost and roadblocks that will likely arise when it's time to sell.

2. If You Want to Hold Long Term, Stick to Vintage Products

When you think of Pokémon cards, what images come to mind? Unless you're familiar with modern Pokémon card products, it's most likely that you're picturing cards printed from 1998 to 2003, when Wizards of the Coast produced and distributed the card game for the American market.

This era includes the iconic Charizard from Base Set, the beloved and extremely rare Lugia from Neo Genesis, and the first printing of the most inexplicably odd Pokémon, Mr. Mime, from Jungle.

These cards served as the foundation on which an international trading-card brand has been built and sustained for nearly 25 years, and many consider their values to best illustrate current market interest in Pokémon generally.

Unlike more modern cards, whose values fluctuate wildly based on interest in particular sets at particular times, cards produced before 2003 tend to move more predictably. When the Pokemon brand performs well, the vintage cards tend to perform well, so vintage Pokémon cards are, in my opinion, the most sound investments to make if you believe in the long-term growth of the brand.

Is it better to invest in sealed Pokémon products or individual cards?

Is it better to invest in sealed Pokémon products or individual cards?

3. Consider Diversifying Your Collection with Sealed Products

If you're in your mid-twenties or older, you probably remember how special it felt to crack open a booster pack from Books-A-Million, Toys 'R Us, or EB Games at the mall. Well, fortunately, many of these original booster packs sit unopened in the collections of thousands of Pokémon fanatics across the world.

So, why is it important to consider adding these to your long-term collection? If you're considering seriously investing in Pokémon cards, it may not be a stretch to assume that you're familiar with the stock market. Well, individual cards are a lot like individual stocks. Their specificity offers the highest potential for growth, but it also carries the most risk.

Sealed products are more like ETFs. When you buy a booster pack, you are purchasing exposure to every card in a particular set, offering the most stability and potential for growth alongside the most sought-after cards in the set.

When purchasing sealed products, just be careful to buy from trusted dealers. The high-priced vintage booster pack market does attract scammers who engage in pack resealing and fraudulent listings. Only purchase from trusted dealers on websites with some degree of buyer protection.

While this point is hotly contested among some dealers and collectors, when purchasing vintage packs, I prefer to purchase listings that display the weight of the pack.

Packs from the Wizards of the Coast era tend to weigh between 20 and 22 grams. Of course, the closer you get to 22 grams, the more likely it is that your pack contains a holographic card. Heavy packs tend to draw more interest and higher sale prices for this reason.

PSA is one of the oldest and most trusted companies for grading Pokémon cards.

PSA is one of the oldest and most trusted companies for grading Pokémon cards.

4. Consider Diversifying Your Collection With Graded Cards

Oftentimes, when hearing collectors talk to each other about individual cards they have, you might hear someone ask if a card is "graded". A graded card is a card that has been reviewed by a professional trading card condition evaluator.

These third-party companies assign each card they evaluate a number from 1 to 10 based on its condition, seal the card in hard plastic, and assign it a serial number that links to a public database, verifying its authenticity.

These cards are highly sought after for their exceptional uniqueness and the credible evaluations of their condition, often fetching ten or more times their ungraded or "raw" value even if they score an average grade, such as a 4 or 5.

If you have several months to a year to wait for your submission to return, you can get your raw cards graded for around $30 to $50 per card depending on the company and service you use. Or, you can purchase these cards yourself, which is what I recommend because you can secure the exact grades that you want, and you don't shoulder the risk of paying to grade a card only to receive a grade that you are unsatisfied with.

5. If You Don't Have a Passion for Pokémon, Don't Do It

Despite the impressive growth of Pokémon as of late, Pokémon is not an ideal asset for those who do not have a passion for collecting these strange pocket monsters from our younger years.

Between the extremely high costs inherent to acquiring and selling these assets and the risk of fraud, damage, disaster, etc. that can leave you without cards and without recourse when it comes to getting your money back, there are far safer and more effective investments.

That being said, curating an amazing Pokémon collection can be a ton of fun, and collectible cards can be a reliable place to store your money and see it grow over the years.

If you think you want to share that interest in "catching them all" all over again, and you have the disposable income to invest in these novelty items, becoming a Pokémon investor might be the right move for you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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