In many cases, card prices aren’t that different between TCGPlayer and Amazon. Sometimes they may be a bit more on Amazon, but they account for free shipping. You can’t always get free shipping on TCGPlayer, and on Amazon, there’s no minimum order. So, that accounts for some price differences. However, sometimes, a card price will be considerably higher on Amazon, sometimes by hundreds of percentage points. How does this happen?
Amazon Has Lower Supply of Magic Cards, Meaning Wilder Price Changes
When people buy Magic cards on Amazon, each order has much more effect on the supply than say on TCGPlayer. This means that when there’s real demand for a card, the price is going to increase moreso than on sites with larger supply. It’s the same as when a vendor needs to put cards on their buylists to restock. In order to pay for restocking these cards, it’s often necessary to put up the card’s price. This is why popular Magic card vendors such as Card Kingdom and Star City Games will have significantly higher price points than TCGPlayer.
On Amazon, many Magic card vendors will be selling some excess inventory. But what tends to happen is a little micro-economy forms where casual favorites tend to be priced like competitive staples. How does this happen?
Commander and Casual Players Seem to Shop Amazon a Lot
In particular, cards that mostly see play in Commander sell well on Amazon. In the Best Sellers in Trading Cards on Amazon, you’ll see cards over $2 that are $1 or less for a long time in other places. Over time, though, you’ll see most of these cards eventually creep up towards these prices. A great example for me is Grave Betrayal, which is awesome in Commander, and has been selling for $2 or more on Amazon for a couple of years. It was $0.75 to $1.00 for a long time elsewhere. It took until mid-2018 for Grave Betrayal to breach $1.50 on TCGPlayer. But it does happen that cards like this catch up to Amazon prices. It actually happens a lot. But, it usually takes a year or two, though, not always
The Ixalan Dinosaurs are also hot sellers on Amazon. Zacama, Primal Calamity, which is definitely more of a Commander and casual card, has sold for $10 on Amazon, but closer to $8 on TCGPlayer. There are 20 to 50 percent premiums on many Dino cards on Amazon simply because there’s higher demand. Then you have cards like Zetalpa, Primal Dawn which sell for $2 or even $3 on Amazon when its $1 elsewhere. That’s 100 to 200 percent higher!
For me, Amazon is a way to uncover otherwise “invisible” demand for cards. Vendors have learned that on Amazon, certain cards will sell for a premium. This is because a lot of casual and Commander players just want one particular card for a deck. A lot of them will turn to Amazon and just pay whatever the price there is. But players will only pay this price if it’s worth it to them. So, that means these cards are, in fact, undervalued by the Magic card market in general.
I’m surprised that more people don’t talk about this Amazon effect when it comes to Magic finance. It’s a great way to tell if certain cards have a casual market or are otherwise undervalued. The thing about cards like Zetalpa is that there’s clearly demand for it, as you can see by little ups and downs in its price chart. But there’s enough supply out there to not really notice this. But when you have cards selling for that much of a premium on a big site like Amazon, you’d think this is a major signal that a market adjustment is in the offing.
A lot of people are surprised when $0.50 cards become $3 overnight and blame speculation. While speculators certainly aren’t innocent for certain card prices spiking, most price spikes will happen for one simple reason: the supply can’t keep up with demand. The effect is just more obvious on Amazon.
So, How Do We Use This “Amazon Effect” to Our Advantage?
Finding out which cards are signaling big time casual demand come in two types. First, there are the Best Sellers. Most of these are cards you wouldn’t expect big time Magic finance people to be interested in. But someone is buying them. The second type is cards that show steady price gains a few pennies at a time elsewhere, but are nearly bought out or completely bought out on Amazon. These are cards that are going to spike in price elsewhere, but simply haven’t yet. Almost every time this happens with a card on Amazon, there’s a huge jump in that card’s price elsewhere.
The advantage here is simply knowing what cards you should buy now if you want them. I’m talking mostly about the cards with 100 percent or more price differences between Amazon and TCGPlayer market price. It may take a year or two with many of them, so this isn’t always a way to make quick money. But, if something sells out on Amazon, that’s a pretty major signal that you may want to get that card soon if you need it.
Can Amazon Help Reveal Overvalued Magic Cards?
From what has been said here, it seems like Amazon is the best way to predict future Magic card price spikes. But, I’m not so sure about that. However, watching big price disparities between TCGPlayer in particular and Amazon is definitely a signal of real demand that we don’t see in most price charts.
Keep in mind that the opposite is true, too. If a card is considerably cheaper on Amazon - less common than higher prices, but it does happen - then that card is actually overvalued by the market in general. These cards will usually fall in price eventually.
Likewise, if the price is about the same between Amazon and other Magic card retailers, it’s probably at a stable price point. This is a good sign that you can feel safe about buying a card if you need it. If you’re looking to gain financially, it shows you if a card is relatively safe to hold.
Like any tool you’d use to track Magic card prices, Amazon is just one technical data point to consider. There isn’t a science to it, but the demand shown in higher price is real and should always be taken into consideration. It’s pretty hard to track Amazon card prices, but you don’t really have to do much more than watch Best Selling Collectible Trading Cards on Amazon to make Amazon an advantage in building your Magic card collection economically. Also, Amazon’s recommendations will often show you cards you wouldn’t expect to be big sellers.
It doesn’t take much extra work to gain this information. If you want to know if you should buy a card now, just check Amazon. You’ll probably be glad you did