Why Sports Cards Make Great Gifts

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Last Updated On: April 13th, 2023

Most collectors of sports cards start in their teenage years, usually after they’ve become a fan of a sports team, and a particular player or two. For example, I started collecting when I was around 10 years old, and became obsessed in my teenage years as I watched the Chicago Bulls of the 90’s growing up in Chicago. I would try to get my hands on as many MJ cards as I could, and I have some cards that I’ve held onto for almost 30 years!

While sports cards are probably not what you’d expect as a common gift idea, there are several reasons why they make a great gift.

Sports Cards Increase in Value (Usually)

Sports cards can go up in value if held for a prolonged period of time. I wrote about the Michael Jordan Fleer Sticker RC at length as a good example of holding a card with the expectation it will increase in value over time. Even at a 15% compound annual rate of return.

There are countless cards I’ve collected over the years that have had a dramatic increase in value. Usually if you’re buying cards of the greatest players of all time (shout out to this blog’s name Only Greats), it is common for those cards to increase in value over time. Players such as Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Aaron Rodgers, Wayne Gretzky, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, the list goes on…

Part of the reason for this increase in value is that the supply of cards is limited. Once a company rolls out a product in a given year, that’s the only production run that’s going to hit the market for that card, ever.

If 10,000 cards of a player’s rookie card are produced and sold, fans, collectors, and investors buy these cards and sometimes store them away for years! This results in less supply available in the overall market, and existing buyers need to pay more to convince someone else to sell theirs. Don’t forget inflation as well. Economics 101.

Sports Cards are Tangible and Last Forever

This is more like two reasons wrapped into one. Most gifts have a shelf-life, but sports cards last forever. For example:

  • Technology eventually dies, or simply obsolesces and needs to be replaced.
  • Concert or event tickets are enjoyed in that moment in time only. While memories will remain, it’s just a one-time enjoyment for the most part.
  • Ever been gifted shoes? I used to love a good basketball shoe, but they only last for up to a year, give or take.
  • Video games get boring after you beat them.
  • Dinner? Flowers? Clothing?
  • A vacation?

To be clear, I’m not saying these gifts are bad at all, or that I wouldn’t appreciate any of them. One of my favorite gifts of all time is the AirPod Pros I received a few months back. I can’t live without them, never mind the weird rattling sound coming from my right earbud already (see, technology obsolescing!). I’m just making the point that these types of gifts don’t have a long life.

Art has the most comparable gift qualities to sports cards. Particularly longevity, tangibility, and the potential to appreciate in value over time. Other gift ideas such as photography, or even keepsakes tend to have longevity as well, but rarely any financial value.

Sports Cards Are Collectible

Another benefit to gifting sports cards to friends or family is the potential for them to become future collectors as well. Just like collecting coins, stamps, or even Starbucks coffee mugs from every city you travel to, sports cards can turn into a life-long hobby.

Collectors will often times form complete sets for a given brand and year, or simply try and get their hands on as many cards of their favorite player as possible (e.g. Michael Jordan). There is an undeniable excitement that comes with hunting down a rare issue card, or buying, selling, and trading to add new cards to your collection.

Sports Cards Encourage Investment

Many people I know do not invest their money.

Nothing frustrates me more than friends or family saving their money in a checking/savings account, storing cash under the mattress, or saving nothing at all. Why? Because you’re doing yourself a disservice NOT investing your money.

Investing your money allows it to grow and earn compound interest day after day, month after month, year after year. You’re putting your money to work for you by passively investing it in assets that increase in value over time.

One of the more interesting side effects to collecting sports cards is learning what it means to invest. Learning to invest your money is arguably the single most important lesson in your financial life. Sure, you may take a course on investing in school, but it’s hard to appreciate its importance until you realize some kind of gain after buying your first home, buying your first stock or mutual fund, or buying your first sports card collectibles.

By gifting sports cards, nothing will make the point of investing any clearer than watching a sports card worth $100 climb to $200 without any real effort at all. This will encourage further investment and reinforce the greatest financial lesson in life.

In Summary

Hopefully this post has given you a few good reasons to consider gifting sports cards to your friends and family.

Price points range from just a few dollars all the way up to super high-end, rare issues in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

If you’re wondering how to buy sports cards, what to look for, and see what they sell for, be sure to subscribe to OnlyGreats blog in the right rail of this post to receive an email of our latest post as soon as it goes live!

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