Got Magic: The Gathering cards sitting around collecting dust? Maybe you picked up a shoebox full from a yard sale, or just opened your very first pack? I bet you wanna know what those cards are worth, so your friendly neighborhood SquidlyNerd is here to help you find out!
If you only have a couple cards, grab your phone and open up the TCGplayer App (it's absolutely 100% free!). You can use the app to scan cards and instantly see what they're worth.
Make sure you have a clean white background (you can totally scan more than one at a time!) and a good light source.
When scanning the cards, make sure to double check:
Be sure to watch the sets when scanning. The app uses the artwork to identify the card, and some arts are printed over multiple sets. You can manually adjust after scanning the cards—this will help ensure you get the most accurate pricing.
Also check if you're looking at Market Price or Buylist Prince. The Market Price will show the average of what the card is selling for, while the Buylist Price is what you could get if you sell to stores, who then sell it on the Marketplace.
Got questions about the App? Check out the FAQs.
If you have a lot of cards or a huge collection, you can save time by sorting out the cards that are more likely to be worth serious money.
When a set (also known as an expansion or edition) is printed, some cards get less copies than others, making some cards worth more than others. You can tell what rarity a card is by looking at the color of the set symbol, found under the art to the right.
There are four rarities:
Most commons and uncommons are worth less than a dollar, usually pennies at most. If you have a lot of cards to sort, you'll save time by setting those aside and focus on the rares and mythics.
"But Squid… some sets don't have color-coded symbols, and some don't have symbols at all!"
WotC didn't start using colors to identify rarity until the Exodus expansion, released in June 1998 (the 14th set released!). Pre-Exodus, players had to learn the rarity from card lists. If you have a pre-Exodus card, you can search for it on TCGplayer. The description will note what rarity it is.
If you have a card with no set symbol, read on!
One-in-six booster packs (a sealed pack of 15 random cards from a specific set) come with a foil card. But does that make them worth more? Like their non-foil counterparts, it depends on their rarity. Despite being less common than the non-foil printings, many foils are still worth less than a dollar. Best to focus on the rares and mythics.
For a full list of set symbols, check out WotC's Set Archive.
The $$ Cards
If you have a lot of older cards, you can start by looking for the more valuable sets—Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Antiquities, Legends, and Arabian Nights.
Antiquities, Legends, and Arabian Nights have set symbols, so they'll be easier to identify. Just make sure the border is black! White borders with these symbols are from Chronicles, and aren't worth as much (tricksy hobbitses).
Alpha and Beta cards are black bordered with no printed copyright date or set symbol.
The best way to tell the difference between an Alpha and a Beta card is to check the corners. Alpha card corners are much more rounded than typical Magic cards.
Unlimited cards also lack a copyright date and set symbol, but have a white border. Revised cards look similar, so you'll need to look closely at the frame and name of the card (many of the same cards are printed in both sets). Unlimited frames have a double-beveled look, while Revised have a single black line. If you have both to compare, you can also see the name on Unlimited cards is printed closer to the frame than Revised.
Other Tricky Cards
White Borders—Besides Unlimited and Revised, we also have Fourth and Fifth Edition. Neither of these have set symbols, but they do have copyright dates. Fourth is 1995, and Fifth is 1997.
Reprints—In addition to Chronicles, other sets that are tricksy are Battle Royale, Starter 2000, and Duel Deck Anthologies. They're reprints and have the original set symbols, but are not part of the original sets. Best way to identify these is by looking at the copyright dates on the bottom left of the cards.
Special Markings—Let's talk Promos. If you have a card with no text, a symbol of a shooting star (either where the set symbol should be or under the text), a gold date printed in the lower corner of the art, promotion details by the copyright date, or foil watermarks, you're likely looking at a promo.
You can find more details in our Identifying Sets Guide.
A more recent promo symbol marks cards from Mystery Boosters or "The List." These cards will have a tiny white planeswalker symbol in the bottom left corner.
Once you sort the cards likely worth something, it's time to take a look at their condition. The best way to check is under a light source. You'll want to look at things like wear and tear along the edges or scratches in the art, any ink or misprint markings, folds or creases, water damage, etc.
There are generally five conditions:
Crisp edges, with minimal to no wear from handling or playing.
Minor wear on edges or corners, and minimal scuffing from play and shuffling.
Border/corner wear, shuffling creases, scuffing. As long as the integrity of the card is still stable.
Severe wear, but can still be sleeve playable.
Tears, bends, creases, water damage, signatures, ink marks, etc.
For fuller descriptions of what to look for, check out our Card Condition Guide.
Alright. So you've sorted out the cards likely worth the most. Now what? Time to start scanning! (Remember you can scan more than one card at a time!)
Make sure to have some product-hover id="154417" (thin, clear plastic protectors) and product-hover id="168524" (thicker plastic protectors) ready for any high-value cards. If you're looking to sell, you'll definitely want to keep them in the best condition you can.
Pro Tip: Anything going into a toploader should get a penny sleeve first, and no more than two cards per toploader.
Do you want the easy money, or do you have time to make your own seller account?
Remember that Buylist Price? If you have all your cards scanned into a list on the App, you can just send that right in and get offers on your cards! Here's our Trade-In/Buylist Guide.
Looking for that sweet Market Price? It's super easy to set up a seller account on TCGplayer, and we offer Seller Safeguards to make sure you're as protected as our buyers.
And there you have it—a crash course to finding out how much your Magic cards are worth. Easy peasy, taco cheesy. (Mmmmm tacos…)
Thanks for reading!