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Is there an agreed upon standard on how cards should be packaged and shipped when they're sold online on places like Cardmarket or similar websites? I have some valuable cards I'd like to sell, but have never done so before.

Do I simply ship them in a sleeve with an envelope? Or is something more secured the standard? We're talking single card sales here, so each card is out on the market individually.

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A soft plastic sleeve (like the ultrapro or dragonshields used when playing a deck) in the mail is not enough support, and cards shipped that way that I have received have come in damaged. The best way to ship is in the rigid plastic top loaders, after that between two pieces of cardboard or poster board, something more rigid than the card(s) in the middle that will protect what you are shipping. Almost all cards I have received are one of these two ways, and none of those have ever been damaged during shipping.

If you use cardboard or poster board, you need to tape the pieces together, so they do not slide apart and the card slide out during shipping. A single piece of tape over the opening of a top-loader can also help, particularly with some top loaders that are larger than others. There is less risk of the card sliding out of the top-loader than there is of it sliding out from between two free floating pieces of cardboard, but the risk is still there.

As for what you ship them in, any envelope card size or larger will do. Magic the Gathering cards are Poker* sized cards are 3.5" by 2.5" and top-loaders are 4" by 3". The smallest envelope according to USPS rules that qualifies as a letter (for standard stamp usage) is 5" by 3.5" so anything around that size works perfectly to fit a top-loader.

Shipping cards

*Yu Gi Oh cards are slightly smaller Bridge size cards at 3.5" by 2.25"

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    If using a toploader, you should also tape shut the top of the toploader. It's fairly uncommon and difficult, but not impossible, for a card to slip out the top of a toploader in transit. A simple piece of tape can eliminate that possibility altogether. – Ertai87 Feb 19 at 20:31
  • @Ertai87 true, I've gotten most toploaders in the mail taped, I'll update the answer. – Andrew Feb 19 at 21:38
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    Are the description of bridge and poker card sizes here backwards? Everything else I am seeing is that the wider (MTG-sized) cards are the Poker sized cards, and the narrower ones are bridge sized cards. – Kevin Cathcart Feb 19 at 22:18
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    I order a lot of cards, and I can say the normal sleeve/tight sleeve/penny sleeve inside of a hard sleeve/top loader that is taped shut usually works nicely. They usually put that in a bubble wrap package. I have not had an issue with any cards I have ordered. – Shadow Z. Feb 20 at 16:29
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    @Andrew in the case of taping the toploader, do so with the card upside down...I hate getting my boarders sticky... – fireshark519 Feb 21 at 13:58
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In addition to Andrew's answer, which is 100% correct, you can write "Do Not Bend" on your envelope. I have heard that this will tell the post office not to put your envelope through the sorting machine, which can bend or fold your envelope, and hence damage your card. Usually your card will be safe even without the "do not bend", but for extra safety you can add it.

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    Also feel free to add the 'Fragile" sticker too, but that just means "toss underhand"..., and if it's a significant amount of money, get insurance! – Nelson Feb 20 at 1:07
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    This may help in the sorting process, but the moment you cross borders all bets are off even in that regard. Besides, the moment your card encounters a mailman that's annoyed at who-knows-what the envelope won't be safe anyway. Never trust the mail system to care for your package. They don't. Wrapping up your cards is the only good solution. – Mast Feb 20 at 10:54
  • "Do not bend" is surely just an instruction to the person delivering the mail not to bend it while putting it into the letter box. Everything is sorted by machine; if "Do not bend" was going to mean "Don't put this through the machine", then they'd have to pre-sort all the mail by hand to find those. – David Richerby Feb 21 at 16:31
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    @DavidRicherby I'm not sure, but I've heard from people who do a lot of shipping (personal via TCGPlayer and/or have experience working for online stores) that "do not bend" means "do not put this through the sorting machine". – Ertai87 Feb 21 at 16:38
  • "Do not bend" probably wont hurt you, but it doesnt seem to be recognized by USPS to have any sort of officially recognized meaning. If you dont want an envelope to be treated like a regular letter, it seems like you need to send it as a package or pay a surcharge. At the end of the day, the best protection against bending is to just ensure that the package cant be bent in the first place. If it can be bent, assume it probably will be. – Tal Feb 22 at 17:40
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I would like to add, its always better to ship valuable items with tracking and insurance. So a normal USPS letter wouldn't be the best. Maybe use something like FedEx, UPS, DHL and so on. Its more expensive but way more safe*
(*citation needed)

  • If the buyer is willing to have it shipped by a more expensive option I would not mind, but I don't imagine my cards are quite that valuable. – Gentlemoth Feb 20 at 22:04
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    @Gentlemoth it's more about to prevent the "seller shipped, buyer said it didn't arrive, wants money back" thing. It's protection for you and your money too – undefined Feb 21 at 7:18
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I usually put cards in soft plastic sleeve like ultrapro, and use bubble mailer instead of normal envelope. For more expensive ones I prefer to use rigid plastic top loaders. You can also add some cardboard for better protection. Few layers of paper also work.

You also should make sure that cards will stay in center of envelope and do not accidentally move. Bubble mailer is thin on side where it is sealed and offer less protection there, so cards should not move in this area.

Another thing to keep in mind that people who are stamping envelopers may hit it hard with stamp, what may damage card inside. Because of this card should not be directly under post stamps to reduce this risk.

  • Is a bubble mailer a padded envelope? Are people usually willing to pay the extra cost for that, or is it assumed on the seller to stand for the cost? – Gentlemoth Feb 20 at 22:05
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    If you don't offer free shipping, it's not unreasonable to include the cost of shipping materials. Shipping fees aren't strictly pass-through freight costs. If you're not really in the business of it, just be up front in your posting. – Alex H. Feb 21 at 5:24
  • @Gentlemoth: yes, this is this kind of envelope. S&H costs are specified separately, so buyer has to add then to final price. And of course you can do like Alex said, offer free shipping and increase price to cover these expenses. – Daniel Frużyński Feb 21 at 7:42
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The Cardmarket webshop has a FAQ answer for this.

How should I pack my order? If you are selling 1-16 single cards, you should:

  • Put the cards into sleeves (max. 4 cards per sleeve)
  • Seal the sleeve with adhesive tape.
  • Use a piece of paper between tape and the sleeve opening to prevent the tape from touching the cards.
  • Fix the sleeve(s) on rigid cardboard (e.g. a postcard, but not "normal" paper).
  • Use another piece of cardboard to "cover" the cards from the other side.
  • You may of course use a toploader, but only 1 card per toploader. And you need cardboard in addition. Send in a normal envelop.

  • Bubble envelopes are not a suitable protection for trading card shipments. We do not recommend to use bubble envelopes

  • For larger orders, we recommend to use piles of cards that you wrap into paper (like a present ;-)) to form a block. Make sure to fix and protect the block in a box or big envelope.

Using the FAQ like someone else but adding a few things. If using a toploader, place card inside a sleeve, place sleeve upside down in the toploader and tape it, tape toploaders together if sending multiple cards.

Very important: Tape the toploader to the envelope! I can't stress enough how this makes a difference, I had some cards arrive the other day (through the breach, engineered explosives and a noble hierarch) that the envelope was shredded to bits on one side but the cards were fine.

Always ensure that the type of postage is adequate, if you are sending 0-20$ worth of cards, use postage that covers that amount, you may risk without it as the risk-benefit (cheaper price) might be worth it for you.

If you are sending individual cards worth $50 or more, make sure the insurance will cover this

This might sound stupid but...don't use the money you got from the cards until you are sure they have arrived safely, the last thing you want is to have to refund $300 to someone while you wait for insurance (or not) but you are unable to as you already bought something else with it.

Be smart, keep safe!

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    Please source your quote. – doppelgreener Feb 21 at 16:02
  • The quoted instructions are worded in a way that makes it sound like bubble envelopes are strictly worse than normal paper envelopes. That is wrong. I think what they really meant is that toploader + normal envelope is better than just a bare card in a bubble envelope. This I agree with. Also I see no problem with having multiple cards in a toploader as long as then fit without having to be forced in. That said, 4 cards per sleeve seems a bit excessive and can damage the cards (depending on the sleeve of course; penny sleeves, for example, are huge). – SamYonnou Feb 21 at 17:07
  • @SamYonnou those are the instructions from cardmarket shop. I agree that bubble envelopes are ok, to be honest it is not as much the bubble wrap but the amount of glue it has, makes the outside better. But definitely needs the toploader inside. I would not put more than 2 cards in a sleeve inside a toploader. That said, penny sleeves can fit a ton of cards specially of lower value. If you ever order from SCG, I recommend using their small cases to ship valuables as they are simply the best! – fireshark519 Feb 22 at 9:20
  • @doppelgreener added now. – fireshark519 Feb 22 at 9:20
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The Cardmarket webshop has a FAQ answer for this. Let me just copy it here.

How should I pack my order?

If you are selling 1-16 single cards, you should:

  • Put the cards into sleeves (max. 4 cards per sleeve)
  • Seal the sleeve with adhesive tape.
    Use a piece of paper between tape and the sleeve opening to prevent the tape from touching the cards.
  • Fix the sleeve(s) on rigid cardboard (e.g. a postcard, but not "normal" paper).
  • Use another piece of cardboard to "cover" the cards from the other side.
  • You may of course use a toploader, but only 1 card per toploader. And you need cardboard in addition.
  • Send in a normal envelop.

Bubble envelopes are not a suitable protection for trading card shipments. We do not recommend to use bubble envelopes

For larger orders, we recommend to use piles of cards that you wrap into paper (like a present ;-)) to form a block.

Make sure to fix and protect the block in a box or big envelope.

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