A Sports Card Price Guide

Valuing Trading Cards Like a Pro

a person holding some cash

As a collector, your passion for the game is likely what encouraged you to pursue new sports card releases, get cards signed, and build a massive collection of cards featuring top players and rookies in your favorite sport. But while collecting may simply be a way for you to further your interest in the sport of your choice, every collector is aware that some cards can be a major investment should they be highly sought after down the road. But how will you be able to tell if you have a valuable trading card in your collection?

This trading card price guide will help you understand what makes sports cards valuable and how this translates to certain cards on the market.


Cards aren’t just highly sought after because any collector wants them. There are a number of reasons why a card you own might skyrocket in both price and demand. Some of the factors behind a card’s value include:

  • Condition: No matter what types of cards you own, they’ll only be worth good money if they’re well-maintained. Units that are discolored, rough around the edges, bent, or torn are not going to fetch a good trading card value or find many buyers should you try to sell them. If you’re buying/selling a card, make sure it has a card sleeve on!
  • Rarity: We couldn’t write a trading card price guide without talking about rarity. Rarity or scarcity plays a massive role in a card’s value. This is why cards that are one-of-a-kind or vintage cards that have been lost to time sell for such high prices.
  • Featured Player: The above qualities are important, but they don’t necessarily indicate value if the featured player isn’t a player that someone needs in their collection. The player on the card is just as important as the quality or rarity of the card itself. Cards from a player’s rookie year will typically always fetch higher prices than cards from any other year.
  • Errors or Variations: Trading card value guides may not always include this, but errors and variations can boost the price of a card. If a card has variations that are very rare or if there were mistakes that were corrected later, this can make a card more valuable to certain collectors.
  • Grading (Sometimes): Grading can sometimes end up costing you more than what a card is worth, but it may help you sell vintage cards that are highly sought after, along with rarer modern cards that are in perfect condition (well-centered, sharp corners, clean face, and smooth edges). A PSA 10 trading card price will be multiple times higher than a PSA 9. If you think you might have a 10, it might be worth grading.

a 1965 rookie stars baseball card


There are quite a few high-value vintage trading cards that have sold for millions, but we find that more modern examples can be a great demonstration of how the above factors play into how much your card might go for.

One great example—if you’re looking for a basketball price guide for your cards—is the Luka Doncic 2018 1/1 National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph Logoman, which was a one-of-a-kind Panini card release that fetched $4.6 million. Another more recent example of high trading card prices is the Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket #144 with a BGS 9 grade, which sold for $3.1 million and featured an extremely popular player.

Basketball Cases

We can also dive deeper into trading card values by looking at basketball card boxes and cases as a whole, compared to individual cards.

Everything from the product brand (Panini, Topps sports cards, Bowman), to the relics and the final checklist plays a role in determining each individual card’s market value. Appearances can be deceiving here – just because a new box looks great and features a couple of popular rookies doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to command a high price. Collectors generally target first-year cards for specific rookies when rounding out their collections, and that has a significant effect on final trading card prices.

Take basketball’s favorite Panini National Treasures series as an example. The 2021-22 edition of this series has been at the top of collectors’ lists for a while, with high individual trading card values across the board. The ‘21 box brings together Rookie Patch Autograph cards for top rookies like LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman. An unopened National Treasures case sold for about $17k just recently.

A National Treasures 2021 hobby case

Warning Signs

Look out for these pointers when appraising a trading card – they can affect its value more than you might think!

  • Grading Costs: Your bottom line is ultimately determined by what you spend to actually find the value of the trading card. Newer collectors tend to overlook the cost of having a card graded by a reputed agency – and it can be steep. A single-card evaluation can cost as much as $300 if you choose the express option, and most people prefer sending in multiple cards at once to save on shipping. Take a step back and always ask yourself if a particular card is really worth the grade before plunging in.
  • Price Fluctuations: A PSA 10 from one rating agency might not necessarily translate to a 10 from another one. This can result in extreme trading card price fluctuations when you’re trying to sell them. Always remember that a card is only going to be worth what the buyer is willing to pay, and that can be both higher or lower than what you might initially expect. We recommend joining a community of other collectors and attending trade events to find other like-minded people who can offer you consistent evaluations and prices.
  • Counterfeits: The counterfeiting market for sports cards is massive. Know what to look for when determining a value for trading cards to save yourself the hassle of pawning off a counterfeit. Leading brands like Topps will always feature traits like uniform font spacing, holographic foils, and even serial numbers that can be hard to fake.


No matter what you might have in your collection, always look out for top players, rare finds, and relevant cards that collectors want to get their hands on now.

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