How to Collect Football Cards


Football cards are collected by fans of all ages, whether for fun, as an investment or to pass on as an heirloom. With the first college football card making an appearance over 100 years ago, passionate collectors now have a growing number of avenues and opportunities for purchasing and trading their wares.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or magnetic card sleeves
  • Focus on collecting players and teams that you like, whether you want to collect football cards for enjoyment or for investment and profit. Card values will fluctuate regularly, but your player and team loyalty probably won't.

  • Set a collecting goal. You may want to focus on collecting cards for your home team, or see how many cards you can find of your favorite player. In the meantime, you may run across cards that expand your collection or redirect your collecting efforts.

  • Buy a football card starter kit at a local hobby shop or online at (see Resources below). These kits come with several packages of football cards, a display binder and acid-free page protectors for card storage.

  • Secure access to a card-pricing guide as a handy reference to the value of the cards you collect, and those you covet. Visit and register for free access to eTopps Card Price Guide and other sports collection information (see Resources below).

  • Visit team fanfare parties and publicized player autograph signings. Having a card signed will not only make it more sentimental to you, but will also increase its sales or trade value, as well.

  • Subscribe to "Tuff Stuff Magazine," a monthly guide to sports cards and other collectibles, so you stay up-to-date on hobby developments (see Resources below). As a magazine subscriber, you can also access its online features, like pricing for active football card sets and new releases.

  • Understand football card categories. Rookie cards refer to the very first card produced for a particular player, while a single is an individual card for an established player. The two primary card manufacturers are Upper Deck and Topps, and each has its own version of player cards.

  • Look for cards that are in excellent, or "mint" condition, as they are worth more than worn or defective cards. Even if you don't collect cards as an investment, you'll prefer cards that are in good condition as opposed to those showing their ages.

  • Balance out your NFL card collection with college football cards. While they won't be worth as much as cards depicting professional players, it is a fun way to show team loyalty and diversify your collection.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that card value increases over time, and those that are in the best condition are worth the most. Make sure you protect your investment with plastic cardholders, magnetic sleeves or display holders. sells a variety of trading card protection items (see Resources below).
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