Pokemon cards are a symbol of my generation, the 90s. I was big into them back then and I’ve been an on-and-off collector ever since. With a passion for hustling and making money, I was curious to find out if I could combine the two.
I found that it’s certainly possible to make money flipping Pokemon cards. However, the return on investment and amount of leg work involved can vary depending on whether you pick up old collections from the 90’s or new, sealed booster boxes to split and flip.
In this article, I’ll be explaining the math behind both of my scenarios so you can figure out which options are right for you should it be a side hustle you’d like to undertake.
Buying Booster Boxes & Flipping Modern Cards
Pokemon cards are still in production today and are still incredibly popular (hence the reason you can sell them for money). Every year four theme decks are released, these theme decks usually contain anything from 150 – 250 cards for Pokemon fans to collect.
When a new theme deck is released, cards are available to buy in different formats from major entertainment stores, toy shops, and collectible dealers. These include;
Booster Packs – These usually contain 10 cards which are made up of 6 common, 3 uncommon, and 1 rare. There’s also an additional online code to allow users to play the game online. These booster packs are the introductory level product and cost between $3.99 to $5.99 (£3.45 – £4.99) depending on where you shop.
Theme Decks – These are ideal for those looking to play the Pokemon game rather than collect and trade cards. Theme decks include an online code, 60 cards built around a central theme, a playmat and some damage counters.
Gift Tins – These usually contain four booster packs (each with 10 cards and 1 online code), an additional online code, some counters, coins, and a playmat as well as a GX, EX or another rare card which is unable to be obtained from a general booster pack alongside the tin. These tins make for the ideal gift and usually retail for around $30 / £20.
There are some other formats which include a mix up of rare, unique cards which can otherwise not be obtained and booster packs but that’s the general format.
Unsurprisingly, the best product to buy new when flipping Pokemon cards is the booster packs. These are usually always best value for money when purchased individually rather than as part of a tin or other format.
However, the only exception to this is when buying the booster packs in bulk.
Booster packs come inside a foil-wrapped booster box which is often used in toy stores and collectors shops as a display. The majority of these booster boxes contain 36 packs (and therefore 360 cards in total).
Some people weigh individual packets and believe that a holographic card (often a GX or EX) weighs more than therefore removed these packs from the booster boxes. Therefore your best option is to buy a sealed booster box. This will have come straight from the Pokemon factory and have not been tampered with. It, therefore, provides you with the best odds of getting the average ratio of super rare cards (which is where the money is).
Some larger retailers may also sell Pokemon booster cases. Again these will have come straight from the Pokemon factory and will contain 6 booster boxes, which will contain 36 packs each (216 packets in total).
While discounts on Pokemon card booster packs are rare, your best option for getting a potential discount and ensuring you get untampered cards is by purchasing booster boxes or booster cases.
Okay, here comes the math of buying and selling new, out of the packet Pokemon cards.
Let’s assume you purchase a 36 pack booster box for $102.64. Each pack has cost you $2.85, which is around $0.50 less than they are currently being sold individually in the majority of major stores. It’s therefore unlikely you’d want to flip them in that state given the relatively small ROI.
Instead, you need to open the packets and sell the contents. Now, we know each pack of 10 contains, 6 commons, 3 uncommon, and 1 rare along with 1 online code.
The 1 rare card could be a standard rare, it could be a holographic rare, it could be an ultra-rare or it could be a secret rare.
In our example, XY Evolutions there are;
13 Holo Rares
5 Secret Rares
25 Ultra Rares
9 Standard Rares
The most expensive of these cards roughly sells for $20 brand new in mint condition.
However, the prices quickly go down from there, and some rare cards are only worth $0.20 in brand new, mint condition.
This comes down to somewhat of a gamble as to whether or not you’re going to get a rare card worth $20 or a rare card worth $0.20. An what makes a rare card worth more than another rare card often comes down to two things; demand and availability.
In this case, Charizard is an iconic card with a very popular following, especially in the style that was released for the XY Evolutions.
However, take for example the second most expensive card on our list, while it may also be a Charizard it’s also in a unique and incredibly rare style (this is reflected in some of the codes within its name M, for mega and Full Art because the cards artwork goes beyond the outline seen on more traditional cards) which isn’t put into packs as frequently as say the Mewtwo or Exeggutor which are as a result only worth $0.20.
Nobody knows or has reported this exact breakdown (someone probably roughly knows it but it’s not major common knowledge). Therefore for the purpose of our experiment, we’re going to assume the following;
From the 36 packs, we’ll get 36 rare cards with a break down of;
1 Secret Rare
11 Ultra Rare
10 Holo Rare
14 Standard Rares
The average of each of these style cards based on current values on TCGPlayer is;
1 Secret Rare – $0.44 each ($0.44 in total)
11 Ultra Rare – $4.11 each ($45.21 in total)
10 Holo Rare – $2.68 each ($26.80 in total)
14 Standard Rares – $0.19 each ($2.66 in total)
Which would give you a running total of $65.11
There’s still another 9 cards in each of the booster packs, which gives you a further 324 cards in total. Despite making up 90% of the total number of cards, this mix of common and uncommon cards are often worth less than $0.20 a piece.
You can get more if you’re willing to put in the leg work and photograph and sell each of the cards individually or you can get less if you’re willing to sell to a store that does the hard work for you or on bulk in eBay.
The majority of bulk sellers include a rare card. So assuming we throw in some of our cheapest rares you can expect that we’re going to get another $8.50 per 100 (after postage and fees).
If we base this number on our remaining cards it gives us an additional $27.54 ($0.085 per card)
Based on our numbers we’d probably have to sell some of these common and uncommon cards individually to make up our margins into a profitable one. Again you can do this on eBay or on a ‘card market’.
TCGPlayer again as an example shows prices from their online sellers for common and uncommon cards between $0.08 and $0.31
The average of this is $0.14 a card, which would give us $45.36 in total (almost double the amount when compared to selling the cards in bulk on eBay).
Finally, the online codes. Surprisingly these can be worth good money when sold in bulk. Many people don’t even ship these cards and instead simply photograph the codes and send them in a message to save money.
From 36 packs you have 36 online codes.
Codes right now are roughly selling for $0.19 a-piece before fees. Therefore after fees from 36 cards, you could expect to receive an additional $5.00
This gives you a running total of $115.47.
All this provides you with a small profit. Which with some luck could be extended further. However, in my opinion, it proves too much leg work for too much risk, especially considering the second option – selling cards from collections.
For further research, I recommend watching some unboxing videos (which are incredibly popular and could also be another source of income if you choose to flip Pokemon cards in this manner).
Buying Collections & Flipping Old Skool Cards
Personally, when I look to flip Pokemon cards, I look to buy people’s collections because I’m not buying blind.
When you buy brand new Pokemon card booster boxes you could hit a winner (for example buying a booster box for $110 with a $20 card inside) or you could struggle and scrape to make a profit and have to do a lot of leg work to make the numbers work for you.
Most people who have a knowledge of Pokemon and want to make money flipping cards have figured this out by now. Which makes buying people’s old collections of Pokemon cards increasingly difficult. However, it can still be done.
Take for example this bundle which recently sold for $50.
The description states: Huge Pokemon card collection lot of 520 + binder vintage, at least 45 Holos/ reverse Holos, many Rares will include trainers and energy cards also. Condition is Used. Some cards are in better condition than others. The vaporeon is in poor condition as you can see from pics! Great lot! Ranges from poor to excellent condition.
The first thing I look for is a minimum cost by simply selling the cards in bulk. Based on our research from earlier we found we could sell 100 cards for $8.50 (after fees and postage) which means if I was to sell these cards in bulk I’d want to buy them at less than $0.085 a card.
This person says there are 520+ cards (I always ignore the + and I tend to round down) so let’s say 500. At $0.085 a card that’s $42.50.
While there’s also a binder for sale with this bundle, I can’t see if it’s a generic one or a Pokemon branded ones. Even used certain Pokemon binders can be worth $50 so for now, this is something we’re going to have to ignore.
That leaves us looking back at the cards and figuring out which cards could be worth more than $0.085 each.
The first card that takes my interest is the Pokemon Black Star Mew Promo Card. Sadly though the cheapest on eBay is just $1.34, less the fees and the postage you could make an an additional $0.50 or so on this card.
Then I notice and Eletrike. In this case, the cheapest is currently being sold on eBay for $2.00 so after fee’s, I should make around $1.20
I repeat this process with a handful of cards. In most cases not all cards are shown in the images, nor are all the cards listed in the description. The key is to be able to quickly but effectively assess whether or not it looks like you’re going to make some money back from your investment here.
|Card||Profit After Fees + Postage|
|Mew Black Star||$0.50|
|Double Dragon Energy 97/108||$1.00|
|Blend Energy Reverse Holo 118/124||$1.00|
|Assault Vest Reverse Holo||$1.20|
|Kirlia Reverse Holo 69/162||$1.70|
So, we’ve taken 10 of the cards and found we’re going to make $10.52 from them. Add in the additional 490 cards or so at the bulk return rate of $0.085 (after fees and postage) and $55.00 looks like a great deal.
Again, while there’s still some risk in this, it’s a lot lower. We can see that we’re at least going to make our money back off these cards – and in bulk too. If we find some hidden gems in there, we should be able to double our money from selling around 30% of the cards individually and the rest in bulk.
Sadly, the possibility of seeing a major profit in the photos and description alone has got harder and harder over time as the popularity of flipping Pokemon cards has increased.