So you're trying to complete your Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) collection, but you're old like me. Going out and trading isn't really an option for us, more so since we're at the tail end of a viral pandemic.
So what do we do without spending endless amounts of money on Pokémon booster packs that are fairly impossible to find?
We're living in the modern age of Pokémon where we're able to buy what we need online. In this article we'll explore the very popular TCGplayer and how we can use it to buy Pokémon TCG single cards at reasonable, and even sometimes insanely cheap, prices.
Let me start by being clear that TCGplayer isn't the only place to buy Pokémon singles. However, you're gambling every time you buy Pokémon cards from places like eBay and Craigslist because you don't know if the cards are authentic.
Searching, Pricing, and Assessing the Quality of Cards on TCGplayer
The TCGplayer site is an aggregation store where small card shops can list their inventory online. To my knowledge TCGplayer isn't actually selling any product, they are just listing other stores to sell product and giving buys a single place to buy from.
Now I know what you're thinking. How does this prevent me from getting counterfeit cards?
Well the short answer is that you don't. However, TCGplayer approves of its vendors and will make things right if something bad happens. For example, I personally got a card that I thought was fake and TCGplayer took it back and gave me a full refund.
When you're on the TCGplayer website, you'll want to search for the card you want. For this example, we're going to use the Sword & Shield Pikachu Promo (SWSH020).
When you search for this card, you're going to be able to search through all the listed prices. At the time of writing this, there are fifty-two (52) different sellers to choose from. You'll have to opportunity to choose your seller based on the overall ratings, the card quality, and the price.
In terms of card quality, you'll bump into the following:
- Near Mint
- Lightly Played
- Moderately Played
- Heavily Played
Buying a "Near Mint" quality card from TCGplayer does not mean that it will grade a PSA or CGC 10. There likely won't be any scuffs on the cards, but centering could be an issue. Make sure understand this when buying singles.
I've purchased and graded a few "Near Mint" cards and none of them came back with a grade of 10. Most of them came back around an 8 or 9, at least with the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).
Add a few of the singles that you want and feel free to mix and match sellers. You'll have the opportunity to optimize your cart on various factors such as price, package count, or quality.
After you've added a few cards to your cart, view your cart and choose to optimize it. I don't recommend completing the purchase process until you optimize it because you're leaving money on the table otherwise.
Go ahead and complete the process. Every time I've used TCGplayer, my cards arrived in about a week in standard envelops.
I've placed many orders with TCGplayer because the prices have been great and I can't complete my sets otherwise. I just don't have the budget to purchase endless amounts of Pokémon booster packs hoping to find everything I need. So if you're looking for a cheap way to get the cards your missing, buying singles is worth a shot.
Still need some help navigating and buying Pokémon TCG card singles from TCGplayer? Check out the video I posted below which walks through buying a few cards followed by a reveal a few weeks later.