Cashing Out Your MTGO Collection
One of the hallmarks of a collectible card game is that when it is time to move on, you are able to sell your collection to recoup some, or if you are lucky/savvy, all of your investment in the game. Making the decision to sell your MTGO collection is a very personal one – and it is hard enough to decide without having to worry about your options, pitfalls and risks. Whatever your reasons for cashing out may be, it is extremely common to be unsure of your options – but don’t fret; this guide is intended to lay out your options clearly and discuss the pros and cons of each.
This guide is written by a dealer, Nathaniel at Cardhoarder. It is designed to be an unbiased look at all of your available options. If you find yourself with additional questions after reading this guide, I am always happy to assist you further – just email me at email@example.com with your questions – this is still true even if you’re planning on selling your collection to someone else … I’m here to help.
Seller Beware: Common Pitfalls
Sell Your Collection, Not Your Account
Selling your collection on MTGO is allowed. Selling your account on MTGO is not allowed. This is an important distinction, and you should be clear as the seller than you are only selling the items in your collection and not your account itself.
No Safety Net
Online marketplaces sometimes offer seller protections, but it is difficult or impossible to use such protections for digital objects, like your MTGO collection. Although WOTC can help prove that you delivered your items to another MTGO account, PayPal does not accept this as proof of delivery because these are digital items – and therefore there is no buyer or seller protection eligibility. There are multiple ways to scam on both sides of a transaction when PayPal is involved. Be wary of anything that seems too good to be true, and be vigilant when determining who you deal with.
There are three primary ways you can sell your collection:
|Sell to a dealer/individual|
|Self-liquidate your collection for tix|
|Utilize the redemption feature to receive paper cards and then liquidate those.|
From the seller’s perspective, selling to a dealer / individual is typically the easiest method of unloading your collection. You sell everything to one person, and typically speaking you don’t really have to do anything to complete the transaction. Because dealers and individuals can vary significantly, we will discuss each option separately.
Selling to Individuals
From a monetary perspective, finding a person looking to get into MTGO by buying a collection very similar to yours sounds very convenient for both sides. In reality, the likelihood of this match ever being made is extremely, extremely low unless you have a friend or acquaintance in real life you can sell to. When people buy collections, they are trading almost exclusively on their reputation – after all, someone is going to have to “send first” in the transaction. Typically the seller of the collection has not previously engaged in transactions like this – and therefore does not have a reputation to trade on. This is why the seller will almost always provide his/her collection up front prior to receiving payment. In transactions with other individuals, they likely do not have much of a reputation, either. This makes this option fraught with risk on both sides. I highly recommend that people avoid this route unless other assurances can be made (i.e., you know the person in real life). There are perfectly reliable and respectable individuals that buy collections – but the risk in doing so does not outweigh the benefit you might get (in the form of a higher offer). This approach is NOT RECOMMENDED
Selling to Dealers
Selling your collection to a dealer is the most common approach taken by people looking to avoid spending any significant amount of time selling their collection. Although this is typically the easiest approach of the 3 options, it is also usually the option which nets you the least amount of money for your collection (usually 3-15% lower than option 2 – self-liquidation).
The best approach when deciding to sell to a dealer is to solicit quotes from at least three different dealers, but preferably five different dealers. The reason for this is that even dealers with similar prices will price collections differently based on their current inventory and needs. This is an important point. If you are very used to using a particular dealer, you might feel some amount of loyalty to selling to that dealer – this is perfectly fine – however, my recommendation for people who take this approach with Cardhoarder is to at least get offers from other people – that way you can quantify the exact amount you are leaving on the table for loyalty’s sake. Let me clarify here – all dealers love loyal customers – it is how we are successful in our endeavors – but my personal approach to dealing has always been to be as upfront as possible so that customers can make an informed decision. People might wish to take our offer which is $20 less than their best offer because they want to support our business – I much prefer this to someone not even getting offers and not knowing how much they are giving up when they choose to sell to us.
The process for soliciting orders from dealers is relatively straight-forward. You need to pull down a CSV file of everything you wish to sell and then submit that file to each dealer individually using whatever mechanism they use (usually there is a form on their website to use). If you are unsure how to get this file, you can find instructions in the left sidebar of our Collection Appraisal Tool page. Usually you will get a quote within 1-2 days from active dealers – waiting much longer than that can subject you to price changes in your collection value because MTGO prices can change so rapidly.
As mentioned above, dealers trade on their reputation almost exclusively. If you are taking this approach, you should be looking for well-respected long-time dealers with a history of purchasing collections – this ensures that the hallmark of this approach, that is, very low risk, is available to you.
The following is a list of dealers I would recommend and trust when selling a collection:
- Cardhoarder (big surprise, right? Small plug here: we have a very unique Appraisal Tool which gives you a very accurate estimate of the price we would pay for your collection – this tool is automated and near-instantaneous, so is always a great place to start)
- MTGO Traders
- The Card Nexus
- Clan Team
- Marlon MTGO
- MTGO Academy
Each of these dealers is capable of purchasing collections of any size, though the pool of people that buy very large collections ($10,000+) is probably significantly smaller. If you have a collection of this size, I’d recommend getting quotes from at least us (Cardhoarder), MTGO Traders, and CardBot.
Selling to a Dealer / Individual – The Process
This is usually the first question I get asked by the wary seller. The typical process is as follows:
- Solicit Quotes
- Choose Quote and Payment Method
- Provide your payment information
- Dealer and customer transfer collection to dealer's account
- You receive payment from Dealer
While not a process we do here any longer, occasionally, some dealer's request you provide your login information. If this is requested of you, it is absolutely, 100% normal. If you’ve chosen a name from my list above, you should have no concern that you will be scammed in any way. If you’re selling to someone not on the list – you need to be sure you’ve chosen someone trustworthy. There are two reasons dealers typically want access to the account – (1) it facilitates transfer of the cards logistically – most dealers use a bot to control both accounts and this saves everyone time and (2) it allows the dealer to easily confirm that everything priced is included on the account prior to transfer. #2 is the most important part here. Some people are still uncomfortable with the approach even after it's been explained to them, which is perfectly fine. If the collection is small and can be traded in one trade (400 cards or less), you might get an exception here. If it is any larger than that, I recommend you choose option #2 (self-liquidation).
A final note on the process – you are the one sending first in this scenario. The reputation of your buyer is paramount. You can break down a transaction into smaller, bite-sized chunks (say a $1000 collection in increments of $200) to reduce the risk, but as I mentioned above, if you are using Paypal to receive the money, there is no guarantee you won’t get hit with chargebacks or other schemes after you’ve received the money – sometimes as long as 6 months down the road.
When I say “self-liquidation”, what I really mean is that instead of selling your collection in one transaction, you liquidate all the money cards you have to the person offering the most tix for it. Once this is complete, you find a buyer for your event tickets and sell those for cash. In nearly every case, this approach will yield more net money for your collection – how much more will depend on how long you’re willing to spend on this approach to find the best buyers for each card – but typically it results in 3-15% more money, depending on your collection mix and size.
The amount of time it takes for this approach is really up to you. The best way to do it is to make a list of your money cards and then research 10-20 dealer/bot buy prices for each card and determine the best place to sell each card. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate daily – or even hourly – at many dealers. Time the trades right and you will eek out that extra amount for your collection. A word of caution on this approach – make sure you don’t spread your remaining credit over too many bots; if you’re quitting or leaving the game, leaving credit on bots is most likely money lost. This is why sites like MTGOWikiPrice, which house hundreds of small bot owners, may not be the best approach for sales; so, if you find a good price at a bot, make sure you ignore the remaining credit you’ll have after the trade – focus on the tix you will have in hand for each trade and write the remainder off (example: a bot on MTGOWikiPrice is paying 3.5 for a card you own; the next best offer is 3.2, but it is from a bot you will sell other cards to – although the first bot is paying more, the 0.5 credit is really lost after the transaction, so you’d be better off selling to the bot where you can use the 0.2 in other transactions).
The truly committed can also try to sell their bulk items for tix as well. Finding good bulk pricing is very difficult, and the bots seem to come and go that specialize in this field (the effort typically doesn’t make it lucrative enough to bother, plus the sheer amount of bulk in the MTGO system means it vastly outstrips demand). It’s not impossible, though – it just takes more time and effort.
Once you’ve sold what you can, the next step is turning those tickets into cash money. Again the principle of trust is extremely important, especially when dealing with event tickets, which tend to attract the most fraudsters. There are significantly more individuals/non-dealers that buy event tickets, so this can be a tricky situation. As always, the safest method is to sell to a well-known dealer. Most big dealers (like Cardhoarder and MTGO Traders) are always buying tickets, even in large quantities – the price being paid is what fluctuates. Generally speaking you should get at least $0.90 per Event Ticket. If you are looking at non-dealers (or smaller dealers), you can get that number up to as much as $0.96 or $0.97 – but some element of risk comes into play. If you time your sale right, you can get a better payout for your event tickets (e.g., during set releases/pre-releases, tickets usually become more scarce and bigger dealers will raise their price to $0.95 or $0.96 each).
A final note on self-liquidation: eBay and other marketplace sites are a possibility as well. Given the low margin on MTGO through bots and risk noted in selling using PayPal, I do not recommend using these types of sites to self-liquidate. Someone very familiar with eBay – specifically in selling digital products – might find this a more comfortable approach. For the other 99%, the method I described above is far better.
Redemption is the link the between paper and online cards. In a nutshell, you pay a $25 processing fee plus shipping ($3 in the US, $30 internationally) plus any applicable import taxes and tariffs and trade in a complete redeemable set on MTGO and you will receive that exact set in paper from WOTC. The sets available for redemption cycles over time, but you can redeem either foil or non-foil sets.
I am including this option in this guide because it likely yields you the most total value; however, if you are reading this guide and it is the first time you are reading about redemption, I would strongly advise against taking this approach to cash out of MTGO. The redemption market and paper market economies are significantly different from the MTGO economy. Your ability to sell the cards quickly enough (prior to prices changing) is extremely important, and potentially out of your control (you can’t control how quickly the sets arrive – redemption is processed only once a week, etc.) – you probably don’t have many or any complete sets already, so you’re likely doing a lot of legwork to begin with to create those sets using the self-liquidation approach noted above.
In short – redemption is messy, time-consuming and complex – stick to the other two options unless…(1) you are using the money you get from MTGO to invest into paper cards – redemption is likely a cheaper alternative for you than buying singles or (2) you don’t mind price risk and you are willing to put in as much time as you need to in order to squeeze out every last cent you can from your MTGO investment. If you fall in either category, there is a great primer on redemption you need to check out on MTGSalvation.
Although our community is sad to lose you, the good news is that you can leave the game with as little or as much effort as you’d like – and with some money to go along. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut, and if you’re ever unsure – people in the MTGO community (including myself) are always here to help you with this important decision. Lastly, and most importantly, if you decide to come back someday – we’ll be here waiting.