Trading Card Records Set in 2020: Why Prices are Skyrocketing and How to Capitalize on It

Trading Card Records Set in 2020: Why Prices are Skyrocketing and How to Capitalize on It

It’s that time of the year, especially if you’re a trading card collector. 

Recent news has shown an explosion in value for the rarest trading cards for both sports and gaming cards, meaning new all-time records have been set across the board. 

More and more people are looking to capitalize on this growing trend by investing in high-value collectibles. But how can you take advantage of this rise in prices, without a large initial investment of capital? 

In this article, we explain why trading card values have been skyrocketing in 2020, and how you can use fractional ownership to invest in collectibles on virtually any budget. 

Recent record-breaking sales

Several records have been broken this year when it comes to trading card values:

One of the biggest examples is the recent sale of a 2003-04 LeBron James Upper Deck signed rookie Patch Parallel card. The card, which is one of only 23 samples of its kind, sold for a whopping $1.845 million in July 2020. It now holds the record in the Guiness Book of World Records for Most Expensive Basketball Trading Card Sold at an Online Auction.

Coming after this is a 2013-14 National Treasures Horizontal (RPA) #130 Giannis Antetokounmpo NBA Logoman Patch Rookie Card, signed by the player himself. It was sold just six weeks after the Lebron card, and was purchased at a staggering $1.81 million.

However, topping both of these records is the 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfactor Mike Trout card, which sold back in August for $3.9 million! The only one made of its kind, this price makes it the most expensive trading card ever sold. Formerly, the record was held by the 1909 Honus Wagner T206 – which sold for $3.12 million in 2016 – meaning basketball cards have now surpassed baseball cards as the most high-value trading card assets in the world. 

Aside from the meteoric rise of sports trading card values in 2020, the collectibles world was also treated to a surprise this year when an American buyer purchased an Illustrator Pikachu Pokemon card for $230,000 – the most that has ever been paid for a rare Pokemon trading card. While the previous record stood at $195,000, the seller of the Illustrator Pikachu Pokemon card has been said to have several rare Secret Trainer cards, each of which are listed at $195,000. 

So, not only are new records being set, but prices across the board are rising in the collectable trading card world – making now the ideal time for investors to get into the market. 

What makes trading cards so expensive?

From basketball to Pokemon – what makes trading cards so valuable? 

First, the value of a card depends on its variety. There are sports cards (basketball, baseball, football, etc.), which usually display a professional player’s photo. Then, you have fantasy trading card games, like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering, which are generally less expensive than sports cards, although they can still fetch a hefty price.

Sports Trading Card Values

For sports trading cards, there are a few different factors which impact the value of a card:

  • Fame of the player: The more popular the player, the more expensive the card becomes. However, popularity alone doesn’t guarantee a total increase in value, especially for newly-released cards. Their appeal tends to wane as soon as the next big player arrives. That is, unless a player’s fame is cemented over time, and you keep the card until it becomes vintage.
  • Condition: The condition of a sports trading card is scored on a scale of 1-10, with the most pristine cards fetching the highest valuations. Every tear, stain, or mark on the card will detract from its overall score.
  • Signature: If a card is signed (especially by a famous player), this will also increase the card’s value. The signature is graded from 1-10 in terms of quality, just like the card itself is.
  • Age & Rarity: Generally, the older a trading card is, the more valuable it becomes. More importantly, however, a card needs to be rare – either only produced in small quantities, or so old that few examples of it are still available. 

Fantasy Game Trading Card Values

For fantasy trading cards, the basis for value depends mostly on condition and how rare a particular card is. For example, sometimes a huge demand arises when there’s a rare misprint of a particular card. 

Other factors that impact their value include: 

  • Purpose: Every card has a different function when it comes to fantasy trading cards, like “fixers” or “utilities”, which determine how they’re used within the game. The more strategically advantageous a card is, the more sought-after it becomes as a collector’s item. 
  • Game: Whether your card is Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering will also impact its value (with Pokemon being the most collectable).

For both sports and fantasy game trading cards, the amount they sell for will ultimately depend on how much someone is willing to pay for an item. 

But, as long as there are rare items to be sold, there will be buyers for them. Ultimately, this means that trading cards and other collectibles can be used as a type of long-term investment that can yield sizable returns, if done right. 

Why are trading card values rising now?

Because of the recent explosion in the value of collectibles, more and more people are now starting to see the value in investing in them. While the concept isn’t new, the lockdown has made people start looking for new ways to invest and diversify their portfolios to mitigate risk.

There are other factors at play, too. With sports trading cards, for example, according to Sportscasting, the pandemic has likely had an effect on the basketball card market. Fans were unable to attend, or even bet on, basketball games, leaving them with more disposable cash and a desire to engage with the sport however they could. With so many new fans flooding the card market, demand quickly outpaced supply, driving prices through the roof.

How can I invest in sports trading cards without a lot of money?

Fortunately, you don’t need millions of dollars to start investing in high-value trading cards. 

Alongside the growth of values across the collectible assets world, there has also been a rise in the number of online platforms which exist to help people invest in trading cards and other rare items, without a huge capital requirement. 

How do they do this? Using fractional ownership. 

Fractional ownership (as the name suggests) is when you own just a fraction, or share, of a certain item – in this case, a trading card. Here’s how it works: 

Let’s say a vintage sports card of Mickey Mantle is valued at $2.5 million. Using fractional ownership, you could buy a share in this trading card for as low as $25 via an online platform, and other investors can also buy shares, until the total value of the card has been met. 

Once the card is sold at a higher price, the fractional owners receive their share of the sale value with profit, which can then be used to reinvest in other assets. 

Fractional Ownership: an affordable way to capitalize on the trading card craze

If you are an avid collector, it is understandable that you’d want to be able to physically hold the items you collect. But if you see collectibles as more of an investment opportunity than a hobby, then fractional ownership is the ideal way to get in on the record-breaking values that trading cards and other rare assets have been achieving recently. 

For more advice on how to get started, check out our article on the growth and proliferation of platforms that enable fractional investment in collectible assets



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