Searching online for the best sports cards to invest in for 2020? You're likely bombarded with lists of some of the most expensive cards in baseball, football, and basketball. You’ll also be told to review the 50 most watched sports cards on eBay to know what’s currently hot.
But, there's a quicker way to find the best baseball, football, and basketball cards to buy right now.
What’s Wrong with Watching the Most Watched Cards on eBay?
There are two problems with watching the most watched cards on eBay.
First, just because a card has a lot of people watching it, that doesn’t mean it actually has a huge market. This is especially the case with cards that are 1/1 or have other low serial numbers. While there’s always a market for these cards, they often make poor investments because they rely on a bidding war taking place to get high prices. If only one highly interested party shows up for the auction, the “hammer price” will doubtless be disappointing to the seller.
Yes, there’s always collector demand for these sorts of cards, and it’s cool to own something so truly rare. But, you need to be willing to bet on what a very small demand pool will give you, since so few collectors have the cash to buy unique or greatly limited cards. Or, you need to hold the card for a very long time. For investment purposes, these aren’t the cards you want to focus on.
If you’re serious about sports card investing, you need cards that are both sought after and can be sold at any time for a fair return.
The second problem with cards that often come up on eBay as “most watched” is that they may represent minor league prospects or players currently on a hot streak. These tend to be more speculative buys, and if you’re fine with gambling, they can either pay off or sink you.
Sure, you’ll see names on this list you’ll recognize like Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady. But, many of these iconic players' cards usually have high price tags already, and have much of their market value already baked in due to their popularity.
While eBay is an established marketplace for sports cards, it isn’t a great place to actually track what cards are great investments... unless you already know exactly what you’re looking for!
There’s also the strategy of watching the cards with the most bids on eBay. While this approach is a more direct way of finding the cards that people are not wanting to let get away, it is also likely to lead to bidding wars. That’s not really a sound investment strategy, as you’ll probably pay far more for the card you want than it’s worth in the long-term marketplace.
So, what’s the best source of recommendations for investment-quality players and cards? You’ll want to check out ThePit 50 sports card indices.
What is ThePit.com?
ThePit.com is a bid/ask marketplace where you can trade real sports cards online like stocks without transaction fees. The Pit50 indices include hot graded rookie cards. Card prices on ThePit are usually lower than the lowest buy-it-now price on eBay by a significant amount.
When you remove the transaction fees, shipping cost and (increasingly) sales tax associated with trading cards requiring physical delivery (as on eBay), you save 15 percent or more on a card right away!
What are ThePit 50 Indices?
ThePit 50 indices are based on the top graded cards in each of baseball, football, and basketball. It takes the current “Sell Now” price of the card on ThePit multiplied by its graded population - which is publicly available information. The idea behind the indices is to establish a total population value (“market cap” in Wall Street terms) for individual cards in specific grades. This allows sports card collectors and investors the ability to truly treat sports cards like stocks.
Graded cards are more valuable than their raw counterparts in grades PSA 9 and 10 & BGS 9.5 and 10, and collectors only grade cards they feel are valuable. So, knowing which cards have both high populations and high sell prices lets you know what cards have the best market and overall value. Thanks to this index, you can take a lot of the guesswork and hours of research that go into figuring out what’s hot and what’s not.
So, what are some of the best sports cards to buy right now? Let’s see what thePit 50 index tells us in baseball, football, and basketball.
thePit Baseball 50 takes a unique approach to finding the best baseball rookie cards currently on the market. The index uses Bowman Chrome Refractor Autographs graded BGS 9.5/10 Auto by Beckett Grading Services. Using population multiplied by the current bid price on thePit, every month this list is updated, giving you the top 50 Bowman Chrome Refractor Autos on the market.
Of course, Mike Trout is #1 and in a league of his own. In July 2019, the other members of the top 10 include Ronald Acuna, Jr., Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Juan Soto, Mookie Betts, and Carlos Correa. There’s also future Hall of Fame players like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, as well as current big stars like Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton, Alex Bregman, and more.
If you follow the game even casually, these names probably all sound familiar. But what’s key to thePit 50 is that it tracks only the key rookie cards of these players. There are so many baseball card products out there today that it’s overwhelming. When choosing what cards are worth putting your money into, Bowman Chrome Refractor Autos tend to hold the best value. In this way. thePit Baseball 50 helps narrow the focus to the top cards you want to own!
Quarterbacks dominate the football card market and always have. Occasionally, a running back or wide receiver will have a big game or strong year and see a nice appreciation in their rookie cards. But if you look at the thePit 50 Football index, you’ll see it dominated by the best Quarterbacks in the league - Tom Brady being far and away the most valuable.
Patrick Mahomes II and his 2018 Panini Prizm Rookie Card jumped right in behind Brady's 2000 Bowman Chrome PSA 10 on the index with his Super Bowl win. He's followed by Aaron Rodgers, and other strong, young quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Baker Mayfield, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson.
Michael Jordan has and probably always will be the best player ever to invest in when it comes to basketball cards. For a time, LeBron James rookie cards were surpassing high grade copies of the iconic 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie in price. "The Last Dance" ESPN Documentary helped Jordan's rookie cards to soar to even new heights, however. Current superstars like Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Trae Young are also at the top of the list.
Kobe Bryant is another name you can’t go wrong with when investing in basketball cards. Established stars like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant make appearances in the Top 50, as well as future Hall of Fame players like Dirk Nowitzki. While vintage players have value (such as the 1980 Bird/Erving/Johnson scoring leaders card), the latest stars are the most actively traded.
Why Trade Sports Cards Online at ThePit?
Since 2000, thePit allows you to build a sports card portfolio and trade online. This also saves you from other realized costs such as sales tax. Then, you can cash out your balance to PayPal at any time (with a 10% fee) or have the physical cards listed in your portfolio shipped to you for a reasonable flat rate. It’s safe and secure. All you have to do is create a free account at ThePit, fund your account with a VISA or Mastercard, and you’re good to start buying and selling.