Online Trading Sites
Over the past few years, I've mainly been building my collection by purchasing cards off of eBay or by buying boxes from either online dealers or card shows. Last Summer, I had some extra time on my hands, so I decided to join an online trading site called Sportscardforum.com. Since then, my personal collection has more than tripled in size. The best part about it was that I was able to trade cards that I didn't want to someone who could appreciate it more than I did.
At first, I was a little worried about getting ripped off. But, I took a chance and quickly found out that it's a very reputable site with tons of great collectors. They have forums broken down into sports and categories (ex. trading, buying & selling, hobby discussion, show & tell, box breaks, and of course product reviews) and great moderators who do their best to keep people's posts respectful and appropriate. SCF also has a great feedback system that allows you to leave a positive, negative, or neutral rating for all transactions. It's very similar to eBay's feedback system and you're allowed to write comments as well.
To protect people, new members are required to send their cards first until you reach a +20 feedback. This might sound extreme, but it weeds out people who might want to scam. I know nothing is foolproof, but I've made over 100 transactions over the past 9 months and have never been ripped off.
Of course, there are some downsides to these trading sites. First of all, there is the issue of shipping methods. Sometimes you'll receive cards in plain white envelopes (PWE), which can be damaged in the postal machines. Another thing that I get frustrated with is people who don't send their cards out when they're suppose to. In other words, they wait until they receive your cards before they ship out. Obviously this isn't an issue if you're a new trader and must send first (or if you've been busted and labeled a "must send first" trader), but if you're an established trader, then you kind of expect that your cards will arrive in a timely manner. Luckily this only happens ever so often. Most people abide by the rules and ship out within a couple of days. The final problem that I've encountered on these trading sites is condition of cards. Every once in awhile, I'll receive cards that are slightly damaged, or smell like smoke. It's never been a major issue, but I could see where I might eventually run into a problem where I'd want to send the card(s) back.
Online trading sites have changed the hobby for me. It's allowed me to build my personal collection, trade unwanted cards, talk to fellow collectors about the hobby, and of course, make new friends. So if these are things you're interested in, I encourage you to check out online trading sites like:
If you decide to join, look me up. My username is sanjosefuji and I'm a member on most of these sites, although I primarily trade on sportscardforum.