How to buy Pokemon Cards on eBay.
This guide contains tips and suggestions for collectors, players and novices on getting the best value for money when shopping for your Pokemon cards on eBay covering stores, auctions and buy it now.
There are three types of Pokemon card buyers on eBay-
Those serious collectors who use eBay extensively to complete full sets of every card
Those who have an existing deck and wish to add to it and are tired of getting doubles from booster packs.
The player that has bought a lot of cards retail and swapped with friends and just needs the one or two cards to complete their deck.
- There are also three types of sellers
Those who have found a niche market and sell a large range regularly
Those players and collectors who regularly sell of their 'spares' to fund more purchases
Those who have a collection of cards but have lost interest and want to sell them off.
The followings hints apply to all three groups.
WHAT TO BUY
First decide exactly what you want to buy. Ok so it’s Pokemon cards, but are you going to buy individual cards, booster packs, or by the box load.
The person who just wants one or two cards has it easy, they can just search for the cards they want. If you need lots of cards then you can look around for groups of cards being sold together. You need to be careful that the ‘groups’ contain worthwhile cards and they are not just padded out with lots of the more common or older cards. For tournament play only certain decks can be used so if that is what you want cards for don’t spend up on old cards.
You can buy booster packs on eBay cheaper than most stores, but watch the postage here to make sure you are not getting a cheap pack and paying $3-4 for postage!. If you are a serious collector you may be thinking of buying boxes of 36 booster packs. These are generally available on eBay and are a considerable saving over individual packs but be aware that buying one box or several boxes won’t get you the whole set. It depends on your luck of course but the odds say that you will still be missing a few cards unless you buy a lot of boxes. You can of course sell the ones you don’t want on eBay, but if you are keeping all the good cards for yourself, selling the commons won’t get you your money back.
Do your homework and 'shop' around before you hit the bid button. The best time to do this is before you are actually ready to purchase, when you can make decisions without having the pressure of needing cards ‘right now’.
All the usual eBay tactics apply of course. Check out the seller's reputation, via their feedback. Look at how they present the items. Are the photos clear and are they of the items that are for sale, this may sound silly but a lot of people use illustrations that are not of the actual objects for sale. The pro sellers will of course have this sorted out, so you will have to judge them by other criteria (see below).
When you have decided on two or three sellers who appeal to you, put them in your eBay favourite sellers list and watch their activity over several weeks.
With the amateur sellers it’s a bit more difficult. Many offer a very good service, but as with all categories there are some rough ones. Incredibly I have seen cards for sale with totally different photos used as illustrations, with a small print footnote that the cards on sale are 'similar to these'. One seller put up a heap of cards with no photo and said in the item description that they 'couldn't be bothered taking a photo' One has to admire their honesty, but do you really want to buy from them? Maybe, but it would have to be absolute bargain and meet all the other buying criteria for me to consider it. In this case the price was at the top of the range and I wasn’t going to hand over top dollars for something I hadn’t seen.
I have also seen on a number of occasions photographs taken of cards face down. Why would anyone think this would help their sale? Perhaps they are hiding the fact that the cards are of foreign origin? Nothing wrong with Japanese cards if you are in Japan or if you are collecting them specifically but you may not welcome them in your mailbox if you were expecting normal cards.
Here again the question of feedback is more problematic. If they have it, good, if they are new to eBay proceed with caution but don’t automatically rule out the newbies. Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s a good idea to use the eBay ask the seller a question feature for more information. Don’t waste their time by being frivolous, but if you say straight out that you are interested in their item but are wondering about their new status, their reply can tell you a lot about the type of service you may get. If you don’t get a reply, that says it all.
With all groups read the fine print and take a moment to digest what it actually says. It’s so easy, especially for those caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment to read what is NOT there. I have seen two examples recently where the wording suggested that the deal was much better than it really was.
The first listing features large, fairly good quality photos of three (3) Pokemon Ex cards with the names and details of each card underneath. The description in large colourful type overwhelms the buyer with the advantages of these three cards. The price often looks quite reasonable particularly to people who know that these cards can individually sell for high prices. So people jump in and buy and are then surprised and disappointed when they only get one (1) of the three cards delivered. Complaints are only met with ‘didn’t you read the description’ – it clearly (that’s their opinion) said only one card was on offer. The point here is that people often DO NOT READ the small print. They see what they want to see- a bargain.
The other example was someone selling boxes of (36)booster packs and suggesting that a box contains a minimum of three (3) Exs. They do NOT! I have had boxes with 3, boxes with 1, and boxes with 2 or 4. The point is there is no guaranteed number of Exs in a box. To be fair this listing didn’t say it definitely did contain three but the description was worded carefully, clearly with the intent of putting the idea of multiple Exs in the buyer’s mind.
STORES, AUCTIONS, BUY IN NOWS (BIN)
Stores are handy for buying cards on the spot and you will find many of the more common and hence cheaper cards in eBay stores (because it’s much cheaper to list an item in a store than to auction it) There are exceptions, some stores specialize in rare cards. To check out what stores are selling Pokemon cards do a store search.
Click on the ‘Buy’ button at the extreme top right of an eBay’s page and then click on ‘Find stores’ in the middle of the column on the right hand side of the page that comes up. In search box, under enter ‘Key words of Store name’, type pokemon card (N. B. make sure you type ‘pokemon card’ singular not ‘pokemon cards’, otherwise you will get a much shorter list.) From here you get a list of all the stores selling pokemon cards. I suggest you spend some time checking them out.
Generally the rare and ultra rare cards are put up as auctions, sometimes with a BIN option. The price that cards go for is totally unpredictable, that’s what auctions are all about. The best advice is to decide the maximum amount you are prepared to pay for a card, before you place any bids (and before you get caught up in the euphoria of it all) and let go if the card exceeds your price (easier said than done). Do not declare your hand too early. If you are prepared to pay, say twenty dollars for a card, wait a while a see how it goes. There is no advantage in putting a bid in early. All you are doing is declaring your hand. If someone else is after the same item they are forewarned and you may end up in a bidding war (Why am I saying this? As a seller I love bidding wars). This is fine if you really must have something and have deep pockets you can blitz the field. You get to have your name as the winning bidder for a few days and you get the item.
The downside is that you may have paid more than it was really worth. If the item is still in your price range is far better to put your maximum bid on just before the auction closes. This severely limits the time you opponents have to rethink their bids. You may still be out-bid of course, if someone has a bid higher than your maximum already in the system, but a lot of people increase their bids as they go along. It’s these people a late bid will beat. You also remove yourself from the emotional involvement of having to constantly defend you place as the winning bidder.
This late bidding is a science all of its own and the pros use software or specific websites to do it for them (Google –Sniping on eBay). If you lose out, don’t despair, most cards are not unique and you will most likely get another opportunity.
It’s also a good idea to keep a particularly close eye on auctions that finish at ‘off peak’ times, like the early hours of the morning. These generally attract less attention and hence less bidders.
POSTAGE AND PACKING
It doesn’t cost much to post a Pokemon card.
Having said that, sellers are obviously entitled to recover postage costs and it’s fair enough to add a percentage to cover the cost of envelopes, packing, stationary, printer consumables as these hidden costs can add up (believe me). There is also a case to be argued for some compensation for the time the seller spends doing up parcels and running to the post office. Every seller will decide these things and list accordingly. A friend of mine who sells small items on eBay (not trading cards) often charges ten to twenty dollars to post an item across town. I can only wonder what people think when the parcel arrives with a fifty cent stamp on it! But then who am I to question it, they are a power seller I’m not!
It’s up to the buyer to compare and consider what they are prepared to pay. A good piece of advice here is to take advantage of any offers the seller makes regarding combined postage. Once again if you have done your homework and really know what you are after and not just doing it on the spur of the moment you can purchase cards together and save.
If you are buying from overseas this is particularly important. If you forget to check you can end up paying heaps if multiple charges apply.
You can really only judge a seller’s service once you have dealt with them. In the first instance you have to rely on their feedback to make you feel comfortable. At the very least make sure the seller has some sort of return policy.
IMPORTANT POINTS IN BRIEF
Check out what is available when you are not in buying mode.
Then decide what you or your child really wish to buy before you get back on the net.
Have a few second choice cards to make up postage discounts if they come up.
Then go on eBay and go to the sellers that you have checked out previously and see if they have what you want.
If what you want is available in a store or as a BIN you can purchase right away, note any combined shipping offers and go for it.
If the card you want is only available at auction bid late in the auction (I still can’t believe I’m saying this) and good luck!
Let me declare an interest as I have an eBay store selling Pokemon cards. However I believe I have written a fair and unbiased guide.
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