Football Trading Cards Buying Guide

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Football Trading Cards Buying Guide

Football is the world's game. It is the most widespread and internationally popular sport so not surprisingly, there is an active market surrounding football trading cards. Both collectors and casual fans alike have an interest in trading cards either as memorabilia, or as a valuable commodity. Many famous players are memorialised on trading cards, which can be a great way for fans to show their loyal support. Other cards are rare or unique, and may accrue significant value over time.

The two most important features of football trading cards include the player featured on the card, and the condition of the card. Other factors to consider are the uniqueness of the card and the age of the card. Certain players may be more desirable to casual fans but less appealing to collectors. Conversely, rare and unique cards featuring lesser known players may be very valuable, assuming that they are in good condition. Shoppers should familiarise themselves with the market for football trading cards and clearly identify which type of card they desire.

Condition of Cards

Without a doubt, the factor that most significantly impacts price and desirability of a card is the condition. A rare and unique card is rendered virtually worthless if it is in poor condition. On the other hand, seemingly pedestrian cards can be very valuable if they are in perfect condition and are a rare or limited edition. The chart below shows the various card condition classifications.


Main Characteristics

Pristine Condition

Perfect condition, no noticeable damage.


Near perfect condition, almost no noticeable damage.


Minor damage may be noticeable upon close inspection.

Very Good

Damage is visible to the naked eye.


Damage is obvious and usually in the form of a tear or significant creasing.

There are a variety of factors that go into determining which classification a card's condition falls under. Centreing, edges, corners, and surfaces are some of physical characteristics of a trading card used to determine its condition. Other imperfections that can affect a card's value are blurriness, tears, scratches, or creases. Avid collectors often have strategies for protecting valuable cards such as cases or displays. Some extremely valuable cards are kept in closed environments where temperature and humidity are kept constant to slow down any natural degradation.

Pristine Condition

Pristine condition is the best possible condition for a card. It would be difficult to tell the difference between a new card and a card that has been kept in pristine condition. Pristine condition cards have no imperfections visible to the naked eye and should not have any issues upon closer inspection. Another critical characteristic of pristine condition cards is that they retain the shine that is usually only present on brand new reading cards. Any sophisticated collector is unlikely to want any card that is neither pristine or mint at the very least.

Mint Condition

Mint condition is a small step down from pristine. There may be some damage, but it should be difficult to see or negligible. It should not impact any of the critical components of the card and should retain the majority of its original shine. For mint condition cards there is a small tolerance for printing or physical imperfections but again, they should be absolutely minimal. Mint condition cards are the lowest level of quality that is acceptable to more sophisticated collectors.

Near Mint Condition

Near mint condition is a slight step down from mint, and only seasoned collectors can usually detect the difference between mint and near mint condition. Near mint may have slightly more cosmetic damage than a true mint card. The original shine should still be readily apparent though the level of gloss and does not have to be at pristine levels. Near mint condition is usually too far below acceptable standards for avid collectors, although in certain instances, it may be sufficient especially if the card has intrinsic value.

Excellent Condition

Excellent condition is the next step down. It is also worth noting that cards can be classified as in between two categories. For example, it is not uncommon to see cards classified as mint, or excellent. Excellent condition cards have noticeable imperfections and moderate wear. They typically do not retain the shine that is seen on newer or better condition cards. There may also be minor scratching on the surface of the card. Scuffing and corner damage may also be present.

Very Good Condition

Very good condition cards are perfectly suitable for casual fans, but have little value to collectors. There is usually obvious wear on the card, whether that be reduced gloss, creases, crushed corners, or other. Very good condition may even include cards that have minor tearing. Very good condition cards are usually relatively inexpensive as demand for them is usually limited to shoppers who have an interest in the subject matter of the card and are unconcerned with the card's condition.

Poor Condition

Poor condition is the lowest level of quality for trading cards. Poor condition cards have obvious and severe imperfections such as tears, creases, crushed corners. They typically have no gloss left and may have heavy scuffing. Poor condition cards are really undesirable even for casual collector's as often times the subject matter portrayed in the card is difficult to understand due to the severe damage. Poor condition cards should be avoided unless there are other compelling reasons to buy.

Popularity and Scarcity

The next factor that impacts the price of the football trading cards is the popularity of the player or team featured on the card, or the scarcity of the card. Some cards may be limited editions or unique prints, so despite the subject matter they portray, they are still valuable amongst collectors. Vintage trading cards that have been kept in good condition can be especially valuable since the card becomes more rare over time. For certain limited edition cards, serial numbers may be included, game worn memorabilia may be featured, and autographs may also be affixed to the card.

The popularity of the card may also affect price. If the player featured is a popular player, has recently reached a milestone, or has made a significant accomplishment, the popularity of the card can quickly fluctuate. Popular cards are extremely marketable, and they can usually be found for a premium price. Popular cards in the present day may also accrue value over time, as others are damaged or lost. This increases the scarcity of an already popular card.

Digital Trading Cards

Digital trading cards are a new trend that attempts to capitalise on the rising growth of technology. Digital cards are strictly bought and sold online at websites like eBay. They are usually bought directly from the manufacturer, and in some cases, a physical counterpart may even exist. In other cases, the cards are strictly virtual. The benefits of digital cards is that they can never be lost, stolen, or misplaced, but it does lack tangibility.

How to Buy Football Trading Cards on eBay

Buying football trading cards is easy and straightforward when shoppers use eBay.. With eBay, shoppers can simply type in basic keywords to the search bar on every page of the site. This provides shoppers with a wide range of results and options. These options can also be accessed by navigating eBay's intuitive categories. Once the results are displayed, shoppers can then refine, sort, and organise them in order to better focus in on desirable products.

Results can be refined by feature, condition, and a variety of other relevant characteristics. The results can also be organised by price, time left at auction, and buying format. This makes it especially easy for shoppers to narrow down their search to only items that meet their needs and that are within their budget. Trading cards are easily shipped, which should reduce costs for the buyer. eBay has such a broad selection of football trading cards, both casual buyers and collectors alike are sure to find the football trading card they've been looking for.


Football trading cards are a great purchase for fans and collectors. They can memorialise players, events, and teams, or they can be a valuable piece of memorabilia. When shopping for football trading cards, the condition is going to be the most important thing to consider. The condition is the factor that most influences the price of the football trading card. Poor condition cards should be avoided unless the buyer is well aware of what they are buying ahead of time. Collectors are only interested in high quality cards, as are most buyers in general.

The popularity and scarcity of a football trading card can also impact price. If the card features a very popular player, that can increase the value greatly over time. Also, rare or limited edition cards are often sought after by collectors. The fewer cards that exist, the more valuable the card is likely to be. Digital cards have also begun to grow in popularity as society becomes more digitised. Buyers can be sure eBay is the place to find great deals on a wide range of football trading cards.

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