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The Easiest Way to Sell Magic Cards? — Card Conduit Review


Card Conduit is a new service from the folks over at Cardhoarder for selling your Magic: the Gathering cards. The idea of the service is pretty simple: if you have a bunch of Magic cards to sell, then rather than spending the time and effort of sorting, buylisting, and shipping your cards to a bunch of different vendors, you can just send your cards to Card Conduit, and it'll do all of the sorting, buylisting (to the best vendors), and shipping (apart from the initial shipment to get your cards to Card Conduit) for you; take a fee for its services; and send the rest of the proceeds to you once your order has been processed. Basically, you pay Card Conduit for its time, and you save yourself the time and effort that goes into sorting, buylisting, and shipping your cards.

As a disclaimer, Card Conduit sponsors the MTGGoldfish Podcast but didn't pay us to write this review. This contains our honest opinion, and we've included actual order data for you to draw your own conclusions. If you do use our links or coupon code to use Card Conduit, we do receive a small kickback. We also received anonymized order data from Card Conduit of actual collections, which we used to numerically analyze whether the service is worth it. You can find the data at the end of the article.

How Much Does It Cost?

Of course, the value of this service depends on the service fee. So, how much does Card Conduit charge for that box of cards you send? The fee is 10% of the final value of your shipment plus $0.03 per card. The 10% fee is pretty straightforward: if your order is worth $100, Card Conduit keeps $10. If it's worth $1,000, it keeps $100. While this might sound like a lot, it's roughly in line with selling your cards on places like eBay or TCGplayer, where you'll end up paying fees in the 10% to 15% range (plus shipping) toward the platform and payment processing. On the other hand, the $0.03 per card complicates the math a bit, but we'll tackle this in a minute.

How Much Will You Get for Your Cards?

First and foremost, it's important to realize what Card Conduit does with your cards: it sells them to several different buylists optimizing for price and sends you the proceeds minus its fees. This means if you are a heavy trader or have another way to sell your cards for more than buylist prices, Card Conduit probably isn't for you. However, this isn't the case for most people, and buylisting is a lot better than people give it credit for, as I outlined in Selling Cards: eBay vs. TCGPlayer vs. Buylists.

With Card Conduit, for non-bulk cards, you'll get the best buylist price available minus 10% minus $0.03. Looking at the data from some completed orders on Card Conduit, you'll see that for near-mint non-bulk cards, you'll often end up getting roughly ~85% of TCGplayer low prices for your order if your cards are near mint. The commission fees to Card Conduit are roughly the same as the marketplace fees on eBay and TCGplayer (for non-bulk cards), so it's as if you're selling your cards for close to TCGplayer low.

One of the challenges of selling cards to buylists is that vendors have different practices for dealing with played cards. Basically, all vendors will dock the price of your card a bit if it's lightly played, and a lot of its moderately or heavily played, but this is something you'll deal with with any buylist order, not just with Card Conduit, so the played card issue isn't really a point in favor or against Card Conduit itself; rather, it's something to keep in mind about buylisting in general. If you send Card Conduit (or a buylist directly) a bunch of beat up cards, you're not going to get full price or anything close to TCGplayer low because of the condition of the cards.

For bulk cards (which is defined as cards that sell for less than $0.10 to buylists), here's a chart showing their value:

Card Value
Common $0.00
Uncommon $0.002
Rare $0.03
Basic Land $0.005
Foil Common $0.03
Foil Uncommon $0.03
Foil Rare $0.05
Foil Mythic $0.13
Foil Basic Land $0.10

The pricing of bulk cards is where the $0.03 fee per card ends up being very important. If you send in 100 rares that are all worth at least a few dollars, the $0.03-per-card fee is fairly meaningless ($3 total). On the other hand, if you send in a massive order of random and mostly bulk commons and uncommons, $0.03 adds up, especially since most of those cards will have very little (or even literally zero) value.

As you can see in the pricing chart, every bulk common, uncommon, and basic land you send to Card Conduit will actually reduce the total value of your order (you're paying $0.03 to send it in and getting back—at best—$0.005), while bulk rares, foil commons, and foil uncommons break even (you pay $0.03 and get back $0.03). The $0.03-per-card fee combined with the bulk prices means that you probably shouldn't just load up a flat rate box with 5,000 random draft-chaff uncommons and send them to Card Conduit—you won't make any money. Card Conduit mitigates this issue by having an option to exclude bulk cards (commons, uncommons, and basic lands), which avoids the $0.03 fee for those cards. If you choose to exclude bulk, Card Conduit will still do a general sweep through your bulk cards for anything high end that might be mixed in with the bulk, but it won't sort and catalog every single bulk card (or charge you the $0.03 fee for those cards). If you choose this option, the unsellable bulk cards will be donated to charity.

Delving a bit deeper into the $0.03-per-card fee, what it means in essence is that you're paying $30 per every thousand cards that Card Conduit has to sort. While $0.03 per card can be a bit hard to compute, looking at a long box filled with 1,000 cards and thinking it will cost $30 to send them to Card Conduit (plus the 10% of final value fee) is a bit easier to understand. Keep this number in mind as you are thinking about what to send in.

A box of 5,000 commons and uncommons that might have a few $0.50 cards mixed in will very likely end up netting you $0.00 in the end (and actually cost you a bit because you have to ship the order to Card Conduit). On the other hand, a box of 5,000 uncommons and uncommons with a bunch of Aether Vials and Eternal Witnesses might make a bit of money, but in reality, paying $150 in sorting fees is going to really drag down the value of your order, even if you have some decent cards mixed in. My guess is that many people sending big lots of unsorted, mixed-rarity cards (especially from more recent sets that don't have many high-value commons or uncommons) will probably come out ahead by excluding bulk rather than hoping that they have enough valuable commons and uncommons to make it worth paying the fee, especially considering Card Conduit will still look for high-end cards like Aether Vials and Eternal Witnesss that might have accidentally slipped into your draft chaff, even if you chose the exclude-bulk option.

Who Is Card Conduit Good For?

Figuring out if Card Conduit is right for you involves a couple of major factors: how many cards you have and how valuable your cards are. Since Card Conduit sells to buylists, if you only have a handful of cards, you might as well just buylist them yourself and save on the Card Conduit fee. While figuring out an exact number is hard, in general, I'd say you'd want to be sending at least 50 or 100 cards for the service to really be worthwhile (although if you have no time or experience in buylisting, the number might be even lower). 

As far as value, you basically want to exclude really expensive and really cheap cards, if at all possible. If you have Power Nine or even high-end Legacy staples, there are probably better ways to sell your cards than buylists (especially considering how big a factor timing, condition, and grading play in high-end card prices). On the other hand, because of the $0.03-per-card fee, sending in that big box of commons and uncommons you've been meaning to get out of your closet is most likely going to cost you shipping but not actually get you any money back at all (although sending them to Card Conduit and choosing the exclude-bulk option is a good way to donate cards to charity you don't want and that don't have much value). If you are going to send a big mess of random cards, excluding bulk is the way to go unless you are fairly confident that you have a lot of non-bulk but not truly valuable lower-rarity cards to make up for the $30/thousand fee.

Taken together, this means that even though one of the perks of Card Conduit is that you don't need to sort your cards at all, you're best off doing at least a little bit of light sorting to remove basic lands and random bulk cards (to save on shipping) or, if you just don't want the bulk cards cluttering up your closet anymore, choosing the exclude-bulk option, sending them with the rest of your order, and having them donated to charity. If you leave them all in and simply send the entire lot to Card Conduit without choosing the exclude-bulk option, these cards will drag down the overall price of your order. 

What does this mean for most players? Let's say you have a box full of 500 (or 100, or 10,000) semi-valuable cards you are looking to turn into cash. Considering the prices that Card Conduit gets from buylists and its fees, you're probably best off sending the cards to Card Conduit rather than buylisting them yourself or selling on a marketplace. I've done more buylisting than 99% of Magic players, and I'll be the first to tell you that it takes a lot of time and effort, even more so if you want to "do it right" by searching several websites for the best price. It might be different if you have unlimited amounts of free time on your hands and enjoy sorting Magic cards, but for most people, paying 10% plus $0.03 per card is a great deal because it allows you to avoid hours of work sorting your cards, typing them into buylists (potentially multiple buylists to maximize your profits), and dealing with the hassle (and cost) of shipping a bunch of different packages around the country. Also, a lot of buylists require you to sort your cards into an exact order (either by set or alphabetically), so "sorting" is a lot more effort than just pulling out high-value cards.

Let's take a real-world example: a decently valuable Commander deck. All things considered, when you account for the time, effort, and risk of buylisting, it's probably higher expected value for most players to simply send the deck to Card Conduit and pay the fee to avoid the work. 

Who Is Card Conduit Bad For?

There are a few groups of people who should probably avoid Card Conduit. First, if you can get more money for your cards than buylist prices (either by trading or selling in person to avoid marketplace fees), there really isn't any reason to use Card Conduit for smaller collections. The most you'll get for your cards from Card Conduit is the best buylist price minus fees. Second are people with just a small number of cards. If you have 10 or 20 cards, you're better off buylisting them yourself and avoiding the fees because it doesn't really take much time and effort to buylist just a few cards. The more non-bulk cards you have to sell, the more value Card Conduit offers because of the greater effort and time it will take to sell those cards on your own.

As we discussed before, Card Conduit might not be the best option if you have a bunch of random bulk cards. Let's go back to the example of a fairly valuable Commander deck. While sending the deck itself to Card Conduit is a good deal for most players, taking that deck and sticking it into a flat rate box full of bulk commons and uncommons is a bad plan because every bulk common, uncommon, and land you send will drag down the value of your order. You'll pay more, either in fees if you don't choose the exclude bulk option or in shipping since you're shipping a large number of mostly worthless cards across the country. Of course, the exception here is if you just want the cards out of your house; then, choosing the exclude-bulk option makes sense. If there's something valuable in the bulk that you missed, you'll still get paid for it, while everything else will go to charity, and you'll finally have some space in your closet.

One other consideration is what you are planning to do with the proceeds from the sale of your cards. Many buylists offer a bonus in the 25% range if you take a payout in store credit rather than cash, while Card Conduit only offers cash payouts. Note that store credit often can only be used for singles. This means if you are trying to trade your cards for other cards by using a buylist as an intermediary, it's best to just use that store's buylist. However, if you're looking for cash or can buy the cards cheaper with cash (e.g. on a marketplace) than a particular vendor's buylist, then Card Conduit will work in your favor.

Sample Orders

Here are some processed orders from real customers for you to draw your own conclusions. Card Conduit gave us access to anonymized order data, which we used for this review, and we chose a few to publish here. The dataset was all orders through the MTGGoldfish Podcast code and was not filtered further by Card Conduit in any way. Note that the majority of the fees are in the 9.5% ballpark; however, one order consists mostly of bulk (72%), and the fees come out to be ~25%.

Order Total Cards Bulk Total Proceeds Fee Discount (10%) Net Payment Fee as % Contents
Sample #1 151 (47 mythics, 97 rares, 5 uncommons, 2 commons)  0 $1,041.02 $108.63 $10.86 $943.25 9.4% CSV
Sample #2 38 (3 mythics, 28 rares, 5 uncommons, 2 commons) 5 $117.14 $12.84 $1.28 $105.58 9.9% CSV
Sample #3 3,0002 (36 mythics, 1,029 rares, 1,682 uncommons, 25 basic lands) 2,169 $485.71 $138.63 $13.86 $360.94 25.7% CSV
Sample #4 107 (22 mythics, 61 rares, 13 uncommons, 11 commons) 0 $552.67 $58.48 $5.85 $500.94 9.5% CSV

Conclusion

Initially, I was skeptical that the service would make sense for most players after paying Card Conduit's fees, but after digging into the numbers and seeing how comparable they are to TCGplayer low, I actually think that Card Conduit offers a lot of value to a fairly large group of players. Buylisting does take a lot of time and effort, and if you don't have a lot of extra time to play around with and have a decent number of cards you're looking to sell, Card Conduit seems like a very solid way to turn cards into cash with little hassle or time commitment. For many players, the time you would spend to buylist cards on your own is worth more than the fees you'll pay to Card Conduit for doing it for you. That said, make sure to keep the $0.03-per-card fee in mind when constructing your order. While no sorting is required to sell cards through Card Conduit and one of the perks of using the service is that you avoid much of the hassle associated with selling cards through buylist, putting in a little bit of work to remove bulk cards is very much worth the effort and will greatly increase your order's final value. 

If you were planning on selling a bunch of cards through buylists anyway but have been putting it off due to the time and effort required to sort, buylist, and ship everything, then Card Conduit might be a very good option for you, offering you most of the value you would have gotten if you had invested hours and hours in the buylisting process but with almost none of the work.

That's all we have for today. If you've had experience buylisting or using Card Conduit, please leave a comment with your experience below!


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