One of the biggest questions on the mind of most hockey card collectors is whether they should purchase their cards second hand or new. It’s a question that can be a bit polarizing, but there is a time and place for both cards when building your own collection.
Here, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of buying your hockey cards second hand vs buying them new.
For starters, we need to define what second hand and new cards means. Second hand hockey cards are cards which you’re purchasing from another individual or shop after they’ve been opened. These can be in various conditions ranging from torn, stained, and creased to pristine. You can also buy cards individually or buy an entire collection/lot.
Most people think of second hand cards as those you’d find in a garage sale, on eBay, or at a flea market - but some card shops buy and sell second hand cards as well. Additionally, there are several online marketplaces specifically for the buying and selling of second hand hockey cards.
To buy a card new means you’re purchasing a sealed package of cards. They don’t necessarily need to be from this year to be considered new, just unopened. There are many different options here including individual packs, boxes, tins, bulk buys, and more. Some of the boxes and more expensive items guarantee a certain number and rarity of cards.
Second hand cards are interesting because some individuals will only buy second hand, while others avoid them like the plague. Ultimately, they have a few important pros and cons, and these will determine whether you’ll look to build your collection with them or not. Let’s start with the pros:
Second hand cards, more specifically individual cards, are almost always cheaper than buying new. If you’re on a budget, and you’re not looking to spend much to build your collection, it can be beneficial to buy individual cards. This is especially true of 90s era cards and those which aren’t quite old enough to be considered vintage but aren’t new enough to still be found in a box/pack.
The lower cost of buying used is one of the main reasons collectors focused on reselling always buy used!
Another benefit of buying used is that you know exactly what you’re getting. You can build your collection with all the cards you want, and none of the cards you don’t want.
Unfortunately, saying that you know exactly what you’re going to get is a little misleading. There are unsavory people who will sell cards that have quality lower than promised or even send you the wrong card/no card at all. While this can be countered to an extent by only buying in person - there’s still a chance that you’re buying a fake.
Some people are okay with this risk, but for some, this is a strong deterrent.
One of the points often left out in this debate is the enjoyment of opening a new pack of cards. Those sealed packs contain excitement, anticipation, and wonder. After buying new cards, you often can’t wait to see what’s inside. Did you get a rare rookie card? Will this be the pack that gets you your all time favorite card? Maybe you get a signature!
This excitement and anticipation is part of why hockey cards exist in the first place! If they weren’t fun to open, they’d be sold individually from the get go!
Really the only con to buying hockey cards new is that it can be more expensive than buying second hand cards. However, you have to factor in the enjoyment you get from opening a new pack into the value of new, sealed hockey cards. Also, you can sell some of the cards you don’t care for to help balance out the costs (though you shouldn’t expect to break even.)
So, ultimately, it’s up to your personal preference. If you enjoy the anticipation and excitement of ripping into a new box of hockey cards, buy new! But, if you’re on a strict budget and don’t necessarily care about that aspect of collecting, feel free to buy used. Just understand the risks before you do so!