The 5 Worst Mistakes Card Collectors Make
For those who buy baseball cards, the hobby has its own rewards, whether you strike it big with a find from a wax pack or simply buy a baseball card that increases in value exponentially. And the same is true if you buy basketball cards, buy football cards or buy hockey cards. They all deliver valuable moments and collectable gems.

Anyone, especially inexperienced collectors, can make mistakes. Lumping a valuable card into your box of commons. Buying a card for way more than it’s ever going to be worth. These things happen. It’s one of the ways you learn. So, go ahead: buy football cards by the pack. By hockey cards by the box. Buy basketball card for the star players. No matter what you buy, learn from the following mistakes.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Collecting Cards

Little errors won’t hurt your collection, or your wallet, too much — but the head-bangers really leave you cringing with regret. In descending order, watch out for these common blunders:

5. Buying too much retail. Those boxes are easily available at your local big box store. They even seem inexpensive. Ultimately, unless you’re looking for full sets, which no longer appreciate in value, you’re wasting your money. Even though unopened boxes of wax packs may net you a single card worth keeping, you’re going to end up with lots and lots of commons worth less than a stick of bubble gum. It’s OK to buy football cards for fun, but you’re better off saving your money for the cards you really want. Build a collection of players, not seasons. Another great way to find rare sports cards is bidding in online sports auctions.

4. Storing your collection in an unsafe location. You’ve got a lot invested in your cards, both financially and emotionally. You buy hockey cards every year to add to your collection, and now it’s grown too large to hide under your bed. If you store your cards in cardboard boxes in the basement, you risk disaster. A leak, a flood or a broken water main could spell devastation. Don’t do that to yourself. Store your cards properly and in a safe place, where the risk of damage from water, humidity or fire is minimal. See our article: 3 Tips for Protecting Your Sports Card Investment.

3. Picking one player to collect. While it may be fun — although expensive — to decide to collect all cards of LeBron James, for example, it’s also a little dangerous. You’re not just investing in his career; you’re investing in his personality, too. You want others to buy basketball cards of his career; that’s what gives them value. For James, it’s good so far, but for every James, there are 10 players who never made it or got injured. The point is not to put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your risk around.

2. Approaching the hobby as a business. If you think of your cards as assets to buy and sell, you may make a small profit, but you’ll be missing the greatest charm of the hobby. Buy baseball cards because you love the sport. Get the players you’ve always admired. If you find a card you really like, you don’t have to sell it unless it becomes so valuable you can buy a house with it —which is unlikely. Investments are fine, but there are countless stories of “the card that got away.” Besides, if you sell a valuable card for potential, you have the potential of losing out, too. Be a fan first; it makes a difference.

1. Jumping right into card collecting. Learn the hobby before you start. Talk to shop owners and participate in online forums. There’s a lot to learn: grading, value, potential and risk. Some cards continue to go up in value while others skyrocket in price before falling back to earth. Do you buy baseball cards because of the history? Do buy hockey cards because they’re not so popular? Do you buy basketball cards to ride the tide of popularity? Do you sell while the market is hot or bet that the price continues to climb? Learn all you can to become a successful —and happy — sports card collector.

By Jason C