A pastime which introduced many of today's collectors into the trading card hobby, is the childhood memories of trading sports cards with your friends in the playground, each trying to complete their sets! And while those memories will always remain, the current ecosystem of sports cards is completely different to that of yesteryear.
Simply put, many cards are worth significantly more today than in previous years, which has left the innocence of trading a more difficult prospect! However at Card Authority, we want to reiterate the importance of being able to trade your sports cards with other members of the community. So we’ve decided to create this resource to remind everyone of the benefits of trading for both the individual and card collectors as a whole!
To start off, it’s probably helpful to define ‘trading’ and the different motivations behind why people trade their sports cards. Put simply, trading involves the swapping of cards between two or more parties, in an attempt for all parties to achieve a desired outcome. It can involve as many cards necessary, as long as all parties are adequately remunerated in the value of what is traded!
People’s motivations for trading vary, with nowadays people looking to try 'trade up' by “flipping” sports cards they may have purchased at a discount. However in this article, we’re more focused on the traditional viewpoints of trading! An easily explained reason as to why people trade cards is because collectors want to swap out duplicates of cards they already own for cards they don’t already possess.
This refers back to the days of set collecting, as people try to piece together an insert set they find desirable! The AFL market is very tribal in their collecting style, so many collectors opt to collect cards from their favourite teams. It’s common practice for collectors to try trade cards that aren’t considered part of their “PC” (Personal Collection) for those that they are very much interested in adding to their collection!
When asked about what types of cards are normally traded, it depends on a variety of factors! It must be admitted that the cards which are traded more frequently are usually low-end inserts you find in your Series 1 releases such as Footy Stars and Prestige. However, even though Series 2 inserts often go for considerably more than their Series 1 counterparts, if the ability to swap ‘like for like’ cards is present, it’s not totally out of the question that expensive cards are able to be swapped freely.
And it’s that notion of commonality which facilitates most trades, as collectors don’t feel like they are getting ‘hard done by’ as most cards on the checklist fall within the same value. Other ways people are able to trade is by trading multiple smaller cards into one bigger card of the same collective value. Also, for those that dislike the gamble of opening packs,, trading sealed stock for higher end chase cards!
All this information is great, however trading requires a minimum of TWO parties to secure a deal. So how can I go about finding suitable trading partners? Developing connections with other people in the community is vital to the success of your collecting endeavors, and you can begin to establish those relationships in a multitude of ways. Facebook groups and other social media platforms are a great way for many like-minded people to connect and trade sports cards. Posting something along the lines of ‘looking to trade abc for xyz’ is a perfect way to get the ball rolling in hopefully securing some trades and making some ‘card friends’ along the way! Other good places to try trade cards are either at card shows or even at your local card shop.
Another important aspect of trading is knowing the worth of the specific cards within the deal. If you’re currently only trading ‘like-for-like’, then this section isn’t probably relevant right now. However it's ALWAYS beneficial knowing the value of your sports cards regardless of the types of deals you’re involved in! At Card Authority, we have a tailor made resource for putting values on trading cards to help facilitate any future deals.
Something to keep in mind, which isn’t fully explained above, is the idea of ‘trading currency’. Particularly in the AFL market, there is a definite 'hierarchy' in terms of certain teams being worth considerably more than others. Like-for-like, Richmond cards are worth considerably more than GWS cards due to the size of their collector base, individual player popularity, etc. Many of the big Victorian clubs (Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon) are considered to have the strongest trade currency, whilst interstate teams or teams from traditionally non-footballing territories (Gold Coast, Brisbane, GWS, Fremantle) normally have the least amount of trading power.
Choosing to trade your sports cards as opposed to buying and selling definitely has its benefits! For instance, transactions are normally a lot smoother due to the lack of cash present in the deal. As trading doesn’t usually involve money, you’re more likely to garner greater interest in your card compared to trying to sell for a flat fee. This is definitely more apparent during off-season or just before new card releases! Following on from this point, trades can create genuine win-win scenarios for collectors trying to build upon their collection, because as they say ‘one’s trash is another’s treasure’!
Trading helps fastrack those card community relationships that was touched on earlier, which leads us to our final point of being able to negotiate a trade in a civil manner! Sometimes deals take days, weeks, even months to eventuate, and other times they can fall through. That’s why it's important to remain patient and civil with the people you’re trading with, as not only can it derail the progress you’ve made on your trade, but realistically it only takes one bad experience on either person's behalf to alter their experience in the hobby!