Get it to the customer in the same shape you sent it.
I have shipped items through the mail that I have sold on eBay and other places since 2010. I got my start by selling vinyl records. Below I will highlight the types of sports card supplies you will need to properly ship.
Eventually I moved on to DVDs, CD’s, and really anything I could make some money on. I then branched out into the sports card market.
With those aforementioned media items you can use the very cheap USPS Media Mail rate. Unfortunately though, you can not ship sports cards using this ultra cheap method. You are relegated to Parcel Post, First Class Mail and Priority.
Below I highlight how the good sellers ship, and how I learned to ship as well. Also some things bad sellers do, perhaps this will help you void those same mistakes?
Absolute musts to safely ship sports cards
When shipping single cards use…
- Penny Sleeves: This will protect the surface of the card, and create a snug fit into the top loader. Here’s the penny sleeves I use.
- Top Loaders: The top loader basically just keeps the card from getting bent. Here are the top loaders I use.
- Team Bags: These are very effective at holding up to 50 cards. I like to use a team bag with the top loader and penny sleeves. These will also protect the card from sliding out of the top loader in transit.
- Stiffeners: Honestly you could make your own stiffeners by cutting cardboard to fit your needs. I decided that just buying card boxes is the way to go. Customers like them, it looks professional and does a fantastic job protecting the cards.
- Bubble Mailers: A good small bubble mailer works perfectly, as long as you follow the steps above.
It should cost you less than $4.00 to ship one properly protected card of any size First Class Mail. 13 ounces is the First Class Mail limit.
Shipping larger lots
The BCW specific count card box is collector and sellers best friend. These boxes come to fit 100 cards, 200 cards, 300 cards, and on and on up to 3000 count or more.
These boxes are very handy and can be used to ship other items as well. The 200 count box seems to be the one I use the most. Many times I will ship a smaller lot wrapped in bubble wrap. and place it in the box and ship it that way.
Note: You can get a better deal on these boxes at your local card/hobby shop. The shipping charges on these tend to jack it up a little. But if you buy in bulk you could conceivably get as good of a deal.
The dreaded plain white envelope or “pwe”
I must admit I have purchased hundreds of cards shipped this way, and if a 95% success rate is good to you, have at it! The seller just places a card in the top loader and places in a white business envelope and writes “non machinable” on it.
This does make it very cost-effective when you are selling low dollar cards. You can charge .50 cents shipping, or a dollar at the most. You put a first class stamp on it and ship it. Obviously thicker relic cards or base cards like Topps Tribute would need 2 stamps. These also have a higher damage rate, I have been burned 2 out 3 times, I don’t buy them now unless they use mailers.
I have to say as of April 11th 2021, It has been years since I have had a damaged card shipped the pwe way. Hundreds of cards easily… So that tells me as long as you are dealing with the low dollar stuff why not ship this way? I would consider some sort of eBay tracking service which now does exist for these plain white envelope sales.
Oh those naughty bait and switch shippers
Have you ever had I guy charge you $3.00 shipping and then ship in the plain white envelope? I have, and believe me they get an earful for ripping me off. This type of dishonesty is really petty, and just mind-boggling to me.
As I mentioned above, about 1 in 10 of the “pwe” shipments arrive damaged. There is absolutely no seller worth his salt that would send a 20 dollar card in a white envelope… yet it has happened more than once. Why would a seller skimp on stiffeners and a mailer just to save a few dollars? Yet idiots do seem to camp out on eBay.
Not all plain white envelope shippers are crooks
Not every plain white envelope seller is a crook though. As mentioned, it is indeed a cost-effective way to ship low dollar cards. I buy a lot of singles this way for my collection, and yeah 1 in 10 arrive damaged, so I live with the consequences…I don’t ask for a refund, unless they don’t use a top loader. Yes, that does happen, ugh!
A seller does have to accept however that if you ship like this, you had better be ready to refund 10% of your orders. Also since tracking isn’t used, you are relying on the honestly of the buyer… which in my experience is not always the best option on eBay… I would never ship anything without a tracking number, period. All weighed packages now come with free included tracking.
This is why I mainly sell card lots. People like getting a bunch of cards in one shipment, and the shipping charge for 1 card is nearly the same for 25 cards.
Flat rate mailers and boxes
Personally I won’t ship more than 400 cards in one shipment. I can use a padded Priority Flat Rate Mailer, which as of this writing is $7.20. This includes up to $50 insurance as well.
I use a 400 count box, pack well wrap some bubble wrap around the box, or some card board for extra protection and place inside the mailer.
You could ship many more cards using the Flat Rate Priority boxes, but those can run up to $18.00. Would be a good option for a set lot or a bulk monster lot of cards… it’s all about what you buyer is willing to pay for shipping.
Really dumb examples of bad sellers shipping cards
If you see an eBay seller with a feedback rating less than 99.6 percent, do your homework. See what the complaints are…I see a lot of shipping issues, cards arriving damaged etc…
I mentioned a few sellers who shipped the plain white envelope route not using a top loader, cards arrived creased in several spots. What else would happen? I could not believe one guy shipped a high dollar auto card in the pwe, despite the top loader the card was severely damaged.
I paid $3.50 cents shipping too on top of the 50 bucks for the card its self. The seller said he promised first class mail, and 2 stamps were first class mail. Needless to say he got a red negative, and a PayPal claim. By the way, it is the sellers responsibility to insure a shipment on eBay, not the buyer. He could have shipped in a mailer with insurance for about $4.50. Why take a chance shipping a high dollar card that way?
Number 2 dumb example
Another example was a best offer I made on a 240 count lot of Pete Rose Cards. This 96.5% Positive seller was an absolute disaster.
First of all, 10 of the cards pictured in the listing were missing. Of course the higher dollar cards. Half the lot was VG/EX at best… when he said Near Mint.
To add insult to injury was the perplexing packing job. This is a seller with a lot of negative feedback too… I took a gamble. He put the cards in rather loose-fitting plastic container of some sort. I wasn’t even sure what it was… it kind of looked like and old first aid kit box. with the top torn off.
He just taped some card board over the cards. Some of the cards got stuck in the tape during transit, I still laugh at how unprofessional that packing job was. The cards were not even stacked. just loose sliding all over the place, no penny sleeves, no team bags, nothing.
All he had to do was put the cards in a 300 count card box and put some bubble wrap or extra commons in there to make them not slide around, tape and ship. Just some crazy people out there. People, you really do need to read that feedback.
Exceptions to the rules
Obviously you won’t use penny sleeves shipping larger lots. That’s up to you, if I ship a 400 card lot, I certainly will not include a penny sleeve for every card.
I will say this, it’s always nice when a seller goes the extra mile with the penny sleeves on a larger lot. Your main goal is to get the cards to the buyer in the same condition they were before you shipped them.
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.