Best Way To Buy Cheap Pokemon Cards (Ultimate Guide)

Collecting Pokemon cards is still hugely popular with new sets being released each year.  Recently I decided to try and collect the original pokemon cards which includes the base set, fossil set and jungle set.

I was stunned by some of the prices these classic cards go for.  

Whether you are looking to collect the latest set or pick up the nostalgic originals this guide will give you a step by step walkthrough on how I completed my collection at a fraction of the cost.

Are Pokemon Boosters Worth It?

If you are looking to pick up older sets than you can skip this section as boosters will no longer be available or be extremely overpriced.  However, those of you looking to snap up the latest cards read on.

Boosters are the usual way many people collect pokemon cards, they include a random assortment of 10 cards.  The problem with boosters is that you are only guaranteed one rare and you don’t know what you are going to get.

Boosters provide a good start to any collection but once you have most of the cards it makes little sense to keep buying packs because you are going to get a huge number of doubles.

If you are starting out a collection then buy boosters if they are still available until you get all the commons and uncommons at least.  To complete the set you should buy singles using the following different methods.

Tips For Buying Cheap Pokemon Cards on eBay

eBay is a great way to pick up pokemon cards for cheap prices.  You can get some serious steals for sets if you know how to look for them.  I am going to give you a few eBay tips to not only bag you some bargains but also to ensure the price you are paying is fair.

#1 Start Off With Bundles

If you are looking to pick up a set then it is always a good start to look for bundles.  For example, to start my collection I looked for ‘base, jungle, fossil set bundles’. This gave me a list of results that contained bundles with each of these cards.

Complete sets are usually overpriced but you can get lucky depending on how and when they are listed.  I will go into more detail about how to snag a bargain in the tips section later.

It is often cheaper, however, to go for near complete sets as these go for a fraction of the price allowing you to fill in the blanks after.

The advantage of Ebay is that listings include exactly what sets the cards belong to.  If done correctly this can help you narrow down your listings even more to help you grab a bargain.

#2 Look For Holo Bundles

Once you have your collection started it is worth checking eBay for holo bundles.  These usually go much cheaper than if you were to buy the holos individually.

However, this should not stop you from checking out some auctions for the less popular holos as these can often go for really low prices.

How To Find Pokemon Card Bargains On Ebay

There are a few hidden tricks on eBay that most people don’t know about that can be a huge help towards finding cheap listings.

 Use The Advanced Search

This is the biggest trick in buying on eBay and barely anybody uses it. When on the eBay homepage, click the advanced link next to the search box.

This provides you with a list of different search criteria to help you find what you are looking for.  Here are a few tricks you can use the advanced search for.

#1 Filter By Start Time

Use the filter by start time alongside the buy it now checkbox to filter results by listings that started within 3 hours.  This is a great method to find undervalued cards.

People sometimes list their cards incorrectly or they just want rid of them.  They often put up a buy it now for a low price or don’t know the real value of their cards.  You can be the first one to see the listing and buy it.

#2 Find Auctions With Awkward End Times

Find auction listings that have inconvenient end times.  For example, a listing that ends at 4:00 am in the morning isn’t going to have many people bidding on it compared to one ending at 8:00 pm on a Sunday.

This gives you the advantage towards winning the auction or finding a bargain.

#3 Find Out What Price You Should Be Paying

In the advanced search select the ‘sold listings’ checkbox and search for your desired set or card.  This will give you a bunch of listings that have sold recently and how much they went for.

Use this to get an understanding of what price you should be expecting to pay.  That way you can be sure if you are in a bidding war that you don’t end up paying too much.

Sell Your Duplicates

If you follow these steps it is likely that you will end up with some duplicates, particularly if you are buying multiple bundles.  A great way to reimburse yourself is to sell these duplicates back on eBay. It is simple to set up and the postage of cards is cheap.

Depending on what you are selling I would recommend you set the listing to buy it now especially if they are older cards.  If you do an auction style listing what tends to happen is that not enough interested buyers see the card and it sells for much less.

TCGPlayer For Single Pokemon Cards

A second option that can be used alongside Ebay is TCGPlayer.  They have a huge library of cards from not just pokemon but other trading card games. Here you can often find individual cards at cheaper rates that what you can get on Ebay.

I used TCGPlayer to finish off my collection when I only needed a select few cards of each set.  Unfortunately you don’t get to see the card you are paying for like you would on Ebay. However, TCGplayer have a detailed guide on how they assess a cards condition.

The customer support is also great.  Two of the cards I received were not in the condition described so I contacted supported and they refunded me the cost of the cards the same day.

Misprints and Error Pokemon Cards

You might be unaware but there are a huge variety of cards that are worth significantly more than others due to them having a misprint or an error on the card.  These are classed as collectors items and even though they have an error on them are valued extremely high.

Keep a lookout for any cards that you buy as you might accidentally find yourself getting a misprint or error card which you can sell on for more and redeem the cost of your collection.

I did something similar by using the tricks described above.  I needed an original base set blastoise and searched by buy it now and listings that started within 1 hour.

I found a listing of a stage misprint blastoise for $30.  You can see the word ‘stage’ is missing in the top right corner 

Original Blastoise 2/102

I instantly bought it and I am going to sell it on for more since they usually go for $100+.

Final Word

Collecting Pokemon cards is an expensive hobby especially if you are trying to get your hands on the original sets.  Follow the steps I have outlined above and I guarantee you will save some money.

If it is a new set you are collecting then look to buy a booster box to start it off.  Then fill in your blanks through eBay or TCGplayer. Otherwise, start off with a cheap eBay bundle and then finish the collection through holo bundles or cheap singles.

2 thoughts on “Best Way To Buy Cheap Pokemon Cards (Ultimate Guide)

  1. Hi
    Ive got a few Pokemon cards from when I was a child but now grown of age. I do want to get rid of them of which someone has seen them and said specifically do not throw!

    Would you know on how a card can be valued? I have sen ebay and others but the prices fluctuate so really struggling to know how to value them.

    Any help would be great.

    Thank you

    • Hi Ranbir, you are better off using the method I discuss in the article. Use the advanced search and search for your card and make sure you select the ‘Sold Listing’ checkbox so that it shows you listings that have already sold. That will give you an idea of the value of your card.

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