How Much Are Old Records Worth? Here’s What We Found Out

Money sits on top of a record in a record player.

Getty Images and Ken Lyons/The Penny Hoarder

When it comes to selling your old records to make extra cash, don’t get your hopes up.

And know this: Condition matters most. Frank Sinatra matters least.

“At one time the shelf that held all the Sinatra albums was 70 feet wide,” said Doug Allen, owner of Bananas Records, which is based in St. Petersburg, Florida. “We have way too much of that.”

What Bananas Records buys and sells the most are classic rock ‘n’ roll, punk and jazz albums. And that’s for around $5 — if the album and the cover are in great condition.

“Records don’t compare to coins and stamps and books,” Allen said. ”There’s not really anything that’s worth $100,000 or more.”

Many records that sold in the millions are still popular with collectors and album buyers, but so many copies are still in circulation that they don’t sell for much.

On the other hand, records that only sold 20,000 copies — jazz from the 1950s, early punk rock — may be worth more. Allen has seen jazz albums from that era, such as early Miles Davis, go for $500 to $700 a piece, while classic punk might sell for $50 to $100.

Most record collectors these days are between the ages of 18 and 35, and used record dealers will try to buy records that will appeal to both avid collectors as well as other, more casual buyers.  That includes artists like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and John Coltrane.

“There are still some Beach Boy fans out there,” Allen said. “There’s some country that’s worth something. Early Hank Williams. Some Johnny Cash.”

Allen would pay around $3 to $5 an album for these in good condition. He noted that Michael Jackson albums in good shape are selling.

“Two weeks after his death you could sell anything you could get your hands on for $30 to $40,” Allen said. “Now they are worth about $7 to $10.”

However, don’t bother bringing your Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow or Elvis Presley records.

“These kids who are buying records today, many of them have never heard of Elvis,” Allen said. “That era is gone.”

This three part photo shows the album cover and the actual record of Sonny Rollins, who is considered one of the most important jazz musicians in America. The record retails for $1,000 at Banana Records. Then there is a portrait of Doug Allen, the Banana Records owner, with his warehouse full of records. Some are on shelves while others are in boxes.
Doug Allen, bottom, co-owns Bananas Records with his wife, Michelle Allen, not photographed, which is one of the largest vinyl record retailers in the world with about 3.5 million records. Sonny Rollins, top, is considered one of the most important jazz musicians in American history. His sixth album, Saxophone Colossus, is selling at Bananas Records for $1,000. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

An Album’s Value Is About More Than the Music

Other factors affect the value of an album, including a record label or address of the recording studio, which can indicate if it’s a first or second pressing; the country in which the album was released; and whether the album was autographed.

The condition of the album cover is as important as the vinyl itself. Water damage, tears and marks can all decrease an album’s value. However, Allen and other collectors frequently buy the album alone if it’s in good shape and the cover isn’t, and vice versa.

Allen advises anyone who is trying to sell their collection to take it to their local vintage record store and have them take a look and let you know what’s worth money.

One couple recently brought two wheeled suitcases full of albums into Bananas Record, and they were able to sell many of them for a total of $60.

Here’s What Your DVDs and CDs Are Actually Worth

What about DVDs, CDs and even 8-tracks? Allen and Genny Stout, manager of Bananas Records,  have some guidance for anyone trying to unload their old movies and music.


CDs are less popular each year, as there are fewer cars with CD players. Stout usually pays 25 cents for them.


Stout will offer up to 50 cents for DVDs from the ‘80s and ‘90s that aren’t very common. This does not include romantic comedies and blockbusters like “The Matrix.”

“Nobody wants to buy romantic comedies, or all the Adam Sandler movies,” Stout said.

A Disney classic in good shape might bring $1 or $2.

“Most of those are destroyed because people let their children put them in and out [of the DVD players],” Stout said.


“We haven’t purchased those in 5 to 6 years,” she said, adding that it’s hard to find non-profit retail stores that accept them.


“I would say there’s no market for them with the exception of a cult following,” Allen said. “Maybe a KISS 8-track, something you wouldn’t expect.” Those might bring in $10 to $15.

Katherine Snow Smith is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.


Paid Sleep Studies Guide: How One Woman Made $12,000

That said, Mom has faith in you. She wants you to succeed, and if you blow curfew a few nights, you probably won’t be kicked out of the study.
You’ll also keep a physical sleep log documenting your progress as you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. To help ensure accuracy, you’ll call your new “mom” as you’re doing this.
Read the specifics of each study carefully so you only apply to ones you qualify for. You’ll often need to take a survey, sharing your personal information and confirming you understand the study’s goals and compensation. For example, the questionnaires I filled out included:

How to Qualify to Make Money While You Sleep

Plus, when you’re not giving blood or following instructions, you can do pretty much whatever you want outside of activities that would raise your heart rate.
Some cities have a higher concentration of facilities that pay sleep-study participants, but it’s easy to find facilities in your area.
Or, put your time to work. A technician told me another participant worked on his architecture senior thesis during his time in the study!

  • An age window: Most studies look for volunteers in a specific age range.
  • Length of in-hospital time: Whether it’s a few hours or several nights, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
  • Payment: You’ll want to make sure a study is worth your time and effort before joining.
  • Specific lifestyle or medical requirements for study: Some studies look for volunteers with specific needs or qualifications, such as people with sleep apnea or those who work shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5.
  • Comfort with the study methods: Recruiters want to make sure you’re up for the challenge. While the questionnaire won’t tell you everything about the study to make sure you don’t tailor your answers to what you think the recruiters want to hear, they want you to know what they’re aiming to observe.

If you want to relax, simply hang out in your comfiest clothes and listen to music, write letters, draw or paint. I finished several books that had been collecting dust on my shelves.

What Happens After You’re Accepted to a Sleep Study

You may have to maintain a “constant posture” for part of the study. In some cases you may have to sit in the same position for six hours, or you may be kept awake at a 45-degree angle in low light for two days. It depends on the study. Be sure you’ll be able to manage it before you sign up.
Don’t fudge your answers. Being honest is the only way to successfully get through this process — and to contribute to the collection of accurate scientific data!
At this point, you’ll likely take two exams:

  • A psychological exam: The goal is to make sure you can handle isolation and a hospital environment in general.
  • A physical exam: Like a standard physical, a nurse will weigh you, take a small blood sample, ask you to pee in a cup, etc.

The technicians and researchers make all of these procedures and measurements as easy as possible. The thermometer helps them make sure you’re maintaining a normal body temperature, and it’s not as big of a deal as it sounds.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
Here’s what I learned in the process, and how you, too, can get paid to sleep.
Next, you’ll go to the hospital for a series of briefings and tests. You’ll likely meet the doctor conducting the research, who will give you a thorough explanation of the study and its processes.
Most facilities are really good about explaining the payout, but if yours doesn’t explain it at the beginning, ask. This is also your opportunity to discuss when and how you’ll be paid, as well as how your payment will be taxed.

What to Expect When You’re… Sleeping

Jillian Shea is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
No, it’s not all comfy pillows and sweet dreams; researchers pay participants because these studies have a few downsides.


Several million people in the United States regularly suffer through sleepless nights, which many researchers agree greatly affects overall health. Numerous hospitals dedicate entire divisions to studying sleep — and they’re willing to pay you several thousand dollars just to watch you nap.
After your exams, you’ll meet the recruiter who you will call every day for the duration of the study. At this point, I actually stopped calling her my BFF and started calling her “my mother.” She gave me a special watch to monitor my light and activity patterns, keeping an eye on what I was doing.

Unusual Positions or Challenges

Most studies want healthy adults with consistent sleep patterns. I checked both boxes, and earned ,000 participating in two studies at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital..
You will likely be completely cut off from the outside world during the study’s observation period. You usually won’t have any time cues, meaning you’ll be without  a clock, a computer and a phone. You also won’t have any windows to observe light patterns. While you’re in the study, the doctor determines night and day, which can be a bit unsettling.

Needles and Other Medical Devices

You’ll enjoy a complete technology cleanse, you’ll interact with interesting technicians and researchers, you’re contributing to science, and best of all, you’ll get a big fat check. Not bad for a few nights’ work!
The best part? This is paid time. If you get cold feet and decide to quit at this point, you’ll still make money for the parts of the process you completed.
Once you’re accepted, you’ll find you have just become the recruiter’s best friend! She’ll want to talk to you and see you all the time.

The Rewards of Participating in Sleep Studies

Ready to stop worrying about money?
In my experience, they sound worse than they actually are. Here’s what you should be ready for:
Did you just say rectal thermometer?! Why yes, I did. There’s a reason these studies pay the big bucks.
I’ve taken part in studies as short as four days (for which I earned ,000) and have seen others as long as 31 days (typically paying ,000). Start small and work your way up once you’ve tried it once or twice.
And no, I’m not kidding about the “constant” part — you don’t get to get up or change positions to use the restroom, so you might need to use a bedpan. That was the most difficult part of the studies I did!
During at least part of the study you may have to endure an IV, a rectal thermometer and electrodes attached to your head. <!–


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3 Simple Ways to Make $652

Everyone would love a little bit of extra money, but there always seems to be a catch that comes along with it.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. That’s why we created this list of three simple ways to put a few hundred dollars back into your account.

They range from plain old fun to super practical — either way, they are simple ways you could make more than $600 without too much effort on your part.

Which easy-cash opportunity will you start with?

1. Get Paid up to $80/Month — Just for Sharing Your Opinion

Taking surveys might not sound like the best way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or pretending to be interested in your partner’s new favorite show — why not click a couple buttons? It could earn you up to $80 a month. Seriously.

There are a bunch of paid survey sites out there, but one of the best we’ve found is Survey Junkie.

They’ll ask you questions about things like, what kind of laundry detergent you use, or if you prefer Pepsi or Coke. You get points for answering, and many people accumulate enough points to request a check within a few hours.

More than 10 million people already use Survey Junkie, and it has 4.5/5 stars on TrustPilot.

Give it a try by visiting Survey Junkie and clicking the “Join Now” button. It’s free.

2. Let This App Pay You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it?

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

3. Here’s How You Could Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using, people have saved an average of $489 a year. That’s more than $40 off your premium every single month

Yup. That could be nearly $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.




Do You Qualify for Any of March’s Class-Action Settlements?

Several class action settlements are accepting claims through the end of the month, many open to consumers nationwide. Check out these settlements involving BMW, HelloFresh and others to find out if you are owed some money.

Major Class-Action Settlements for March 2021

Jeffrey Epstein Victims Compensation Fund

Jeffrey Epstein’s assault victims still have time to file a claim for compensation.

The Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund Program was established to benefit survivors of the sexual abuse perpetrated by the multimillionaire.

Epstein, who died in his jail cell in August 2019, had abused young women he recruited to his Palm Beach County home.

Experts estimate Epstein may have abused hundreds of women since the 1990s, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Many women have reported abuse since the fund was established, increasing the initial estimate of the number of victims, with some victims feeling safer coming forward since his death, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Victims are able to benefit from the fund “regardless of where they were harmed” or “when they were harmed.”

Claimants’ benefits will depend on the circumstances of the alleged abuse, but the settlement administrator estimates some victims could claim thousands or millions of dollars.

The claim deadline for those who are already eligible or who have registered a claim is March 25, 2021.

BMW Coolant Pump Settlement

Vehicle owners affected by an allegedly defective BMW coolant pump may be able to claim up to $1,000 in reimbursements thanks to a class action settlement.

Anyone in the U.S. who owned or leased certain 2007 through 2019 BMW vehicles is eligible to make a claim.

The class action lawsuit argued that BMW knew of the defective coolant pump but failed to fix the problem or reimburse vehicle owners and lessees for repair costs.

Consumers are eligible to claim up to $1,000 in out-of-pocket repair costs, as well as an extended warranty.

The deadline to file a claim is March 20, 2021.

HelloFresh Settles over Marketing Calls

Consumers who received marketing calls from HelloFresh may be able to claim a portion of a $14 million class action settlement.

A class action lawsuit had claimed HelloFresh’s marketing calls violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Anyone in the United States who was called by HelloFresh, either directly or through a third party, from Sept. 5, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2019, may be eligible to benefit from the marketing calls settlement.

In order to be eligible for the settlement, consumers must have had at least one call placed to their cellphone via a dialing platform. They also need to have received at least two marketing calls during any 12-month period in which the numbers were listed on the National Do Not Call Registry for at least 31 days before the calls, and must have have received at least one callafter their number (wireless, landline, cellphone or mobile) was registered on HelloFresh’s internal do-not-call list.

The estimated payout amount is expected to be $30 to $50, but the actual amount to be awarded will depend on the number of claims filed.

File your claim by March 29, 2021.

Western Dental Services Late Fees Suit

Western Dental Services has agreed to a $3 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit that claimed the company improperly assessed and collected late fees.

Anyone who entered into any installment contract with Western Dental Services for services performed in California and has been charged or paid one or more late fees between Feb. 20, 2014, and May 8, 2019, is eligible to file a claim.

Class Members who do not file a claim will qualify to receive a $25 voucher, while those who do file a claim are eligible to collect up to $15 per late fee paid, up to a maximum of $225.

Western Dental also has agreed to waive outstanding late fees charged between the relevant dates.

The deadline to file a claim in this settlement is March 19, 2021.

Accordia Life Insurance Settlement

Policyholders with Accordia Life and Annuity Co. and Alliance-One may be eligible to claim a portion of a class action settlement.

The class action lawsuit accused Accordia Life and Annuity Co. and Alliance-One of failing to properly administer certain life insurance policies.

Anyone who owned an insurance policy from Accordia Life and Annuity Co. on or after May 1, 2014, or from Athene Annuity and Life Co., Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Co. of New York, or First Allmerica Financial Life Insurance Co. in force after Aug. 1, 2015, is eligible to file a claim.

A range of monetary and non-monetary relief is available, and individual awards will vary.

Claim forms in this settlement must be filed by March 20, 2021.

Roadrunner Transportation Data Breach

Roadrunner Transportation Systems employees may be eligible to claim up to $5,000 thanks to a class action settlement over a 2018 data breach.

All current and former Roadrunner employees whose human resources information was compromised in a data breach that occurred between April and May 2018 may file a claim.

Employees’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birthdates, payroll information, among other personal data, were compromised during the data breach.

Class Members may file claims for ordinary losses, such as costs related to credit monitoring services, or extraordinary losses, such as those associated with identity theft or other misuse of their personal information.

The losses must not have been previously reimbursed and must plausibly have resulted from the breach.

File your claim form by March 22, 2021.

Mountaire Farms Parent Co. Pollution Suit

The parent company of Mountaire Farms’ has agreed to pay $65 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging its Millsboro, Delaware, poultry processing plant contaminated the surrounding groundwater and air.

Anyone who, on or after May 1, 2000, owned, leased, resided on, or were employed full time at a property lying in whole or in part within the Groundwater Area, and not the Air Area; at a property lying in whole or part within the Air Area, but not the Groundwater Area; and at a property lying whole or part within both the Groundwater Area and the Air Area may be eligible to benefit from the Mountaire Farms settlement.

A map of the Air and Groundwater areas is available here.

Allegedly, Mountaire Farms and Mountaire Corp.’s other subsidiaries generate more than 2 million gallons of sludge and wastewater each day that contains blood, fecal matter, animal fat, and other contaminants.

That water then allegedly enters plaintiffs’ properties.

The amount awarded to each claimant will depend upon how many people submit a valid claim and the severity of iinjuries and damages.

The claim form deadline is March 22, 2021.

Homeowners Depreciation Settlement

LM Insurance Corp., Liberty Insurance Corp., Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and Safeco Insurance Company of America have agreed to a settlement that would compensate holders of some commercial property and residential homeowners insurance policies whose nonmaterial depreciation was improperly deducted.

The companies had allegedly improperly deducted depreciation attributed to labor and other nonmaterial item costs when adjusting homeowners insurance claims in Tennessee and Mississippi and commercial property damage claims in Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Eligible claimants are all policyholders under any residential, manufactured home, condo, dwelling or rental property homeowners insurance policy issued by LM Insurance Corp., Liberty Insurance Corp., Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and Safeco Insurance Company of America who made a claim for structural loss for property in Tennessee or Mississippi during the applicable time periods that was a covered loss.

In addition, policyholders also may file a claim if they were under any commercial property insurance policy issued by Ohio Security Insurance Co. who made a claim for structural loss for property in Tennessee, Mississippi or Ohio during the applicable class periods that was a covered loss resulting in an actual cash value payment from which nonmaterial depreciation was withheld, or that would have resulted in such a payment but the nonmaterial depreciation withholding caused the loss to drop below the deductible.

The relevant time periods are:

  • Tennessee LM policyholders: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after May 31, 2018
  • Tennessee Liberty, Liberty Fire and Safeco policyholders: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after Oct. 17, 2018
  • Tennessee Ohio Security policyholders: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after March 2, 2018
  • Mississippi policyholders of LM, Liberty, Liberty Fire, and Safeco: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after Oct. 17, 2016
  • Mississippi policyholders of Ohio Security: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after March 2, 2017
  • Ohio policyholders of Ohio Security: Structural loss claims with dates of loss on or after March 24, 2018

Payouts will vary. Consumers to whom all nonmaterial depreciation hasn’t been paid will receive 100 percent of the estimated nonmaterial depreciation withheld and not later paid out, in addition to 5% interest on that amount from the date of the last actual cash payment to the settlement’s preliminary approval date.

Claimants who had their nonmaterial depreciation withheld and then later paid will receive 5% interest on the estimated nonmaterial depreciation initially withheld, from from the date of the last actual cash payment from which the depreciation was withheld to the date it was paid.

Claims must be submitted by March 23, 2021.




Why Rental Properties are the Best Real Estate Investment

I have been in the real estate business for many years. I have flipped houses, wholesale properties, been an agent, own my own brokerage, and I have bought single-family rentals, multifamily rentals, college rentals, and even commercial rentals. After almost 20 years in the real estate business, I can tell you that rentals have been far away the best investment for me. And that is after flipping more than 200 houses! You can make a lot of money in real estate, you can make a lot of money as an agent, wholesaler, and flipper. But rentals can create generational wealth and will keep paying you long after you buy the property and put the work into it. With the other real estate activities, you usually must keep working or do deal after deal to bring the money in. I have created millions of dollars of net worth with my rentals in a relatively short amount of time and with a relatively small amount of money!

Why are rentals so awesome?

It took me a while to invest in rentals. I started in real estate right after college in 2002 but I did not buy my first rental until 2010. I had good timing buying right after the housing crash, but I am still buying today 10 years later in a much different market and still doing very well. Here are some of the main reasons rentals have been an awesome investment for me:

Rentals can be bought below market value

Every time I buy a rental property I get a great deal. That means I buy a property that is worth $200,000 for $150,000 or $100,000 or even less. Sometimes those properties need work or they are vacant commercial properties that need tenants. It takes work to build equity with the properties, but it puts you ahead of the game from the very beginning when you get a great deal. With every rental I buy, I increase my net worth significantly and if I am inviting in value add commercial, I can increase my net worth by millions with one property.

Rentals make money every month with cash flow

A good rental property will make money every month after paying all of the expenses including the mortgage. Even after assuming there will be maintenance and vacancies, you should have a profit. That profit will increase over time as rents rise with inflation and eventually loans are paid off. This is why rentals are an amazing retirement vehicle because you can build a steady monthly income that increases over time without eating into your savings.

Rental shave amazing tax advantages

While you own the rentals it is possible to make money but actually show a loss on your taxes. This is not illegal or tricking the IRS, it is how the IRS set up the tax code. Through depreciation and all of the deductible expenses (interest, taxes, insurance, etc), you can make that money every month, but not pay taxes on it!

Rentals will go up in value

I do not depend on my rentals to go up in value to make my money but it is a nice bonus! Some of my rentals have tripled in value over the last 10 years which is not typical but it happens. Over time, real estate will rise with inflation (2 to 3%) or higher. That does not seem like a lot, but it becomes much more when you factor in leverage.

Rentals are easy to leverage

Leverage means that you use financing. I get loans on my rentals and that increases the returns because I am buying more properties and have all of the above advantages on more properties. As I said leverage makes appreciation more valuable because while a $200,000 property increasing 5% in value increases the price by $10,000. If you put 20% down that would be a 25% return on your investment ($40,000 investment making $10,000).

Loan balances decrease with time

While you own the properties not only are you bringing in cash every month, but you are paying down the loans every month. This increases your returns greatly. While that money is not in your pocket tor usable, you can access it with a refinance and HELOC.

How much money have I made with my rentals?

I bought 16 single-family rentals from 2010 to 2015 and they all did very well. I made millions from those rentals through the advantages listed above and they brought in more than $7,000 a month in cash flow. The market changed in Colorado and it was tough to find great single-family rentals so I switched to commercial properties. I have since bought 17 commercial properties and bring in more than $15,000 a month in cash flow with the potential to bring in much more.

On one commercial property, we were able to create almost 2 million dollars in value in less than 2 years!

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While I have been in an amazing market for appreciation my rentals would have done amazingly without that as well.

I have a free book on this site that goes over exactly how and why I bought my rentals: How I Made Millions with Rentals.

Why are rentals better than other investments?

I have done very well with flips and being an agent as well, but that’s earned income that seems to disappear as fast as it comes in! I have to keep buying houses or selling houses to make money with those two businesses. Wholesaling is another way to make money in real estate that is similar to flipping where you have to keep selling deals as well. With rentals, one deal can keep paying you for life.

There is one other type of real estate investment that may beat rentals at times and that is development. Some of the richest people in the world have been real estate developers, but there comes huge risk with developing, and in most cases, you still need to keep developing and selling properties to make money.

How can you start investing in rentals?

While investing in rentals can be an amazing way to get ahead in life it is not easy for everyone. It takes time, money, and persistence to buy good rentals. A lot of people want to invest but give up after they encounter a few obstacles. While it can seem difficult to start investing in real estate here are a few pointers:

  • Look into house hacking where you buy a property to live in and rent out part of it.
  • Look into buying a house to live in for a year and then turning it into a rental later on.
  • Looking into refinancing a property you already own to get money to invest in other properties.
  • Check out my book Build a Rental Property Empire which goes over how to invest in rentals.
  • My article 101 rental property tips has a ton of advice and links to other articles as well.


Rental properties have been an amazing investment for me and while I do many things in real estate, they have been the best. It is easy to get distracted by the quick money, but having steady cash flow come in month after month and year after year is hard to beat!


Everything to Consider Before You Sell Pokemon Cards

The resurgence of Pokemon has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards. 

And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune.

The 1997 Japanese anime-turned-trading-card-game-turned-video-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. 

For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world.

“I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings.

Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million.

Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Pokemon Cards Worth Selling

The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition.

In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur.

A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth.

A graphic compares rare and common Pokemon cards
Illustration by Chris Zuppa and Adam Hardy
  1. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo.

  2. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards.

  3. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance.

  4. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card.

The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of.

If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). 

Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth. According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000.

So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated.

“It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.”

In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering.

“There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia.

Especially so online.

Where to Sell Pokemon Cards

After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell.

“The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.”

The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top.

As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight.

“It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says.

Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare.

Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.”

“If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.”

But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. 

After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 




Here’s How to Make Money on Your iPhone

If time is money, then how much cash are we burning with all the time we spend on our phones?

Try not to think about it too hard — that dollar amount is likely higher than iPhone owners can imagine.

Thankfully, it is possible to make that time worthwhile. We’ve compiled a list of the best iPhone apps that will make you money.

1. This App Pays You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it?

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

2. Spend $1 on This App to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.

But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

But with an app called Stash, it doesn’t have to be. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.

That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1

It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2

Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*

3. Earn $225 Cash Watching Videos on This App

If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your phone, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious.

A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips on your phone (or computer). One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

4. Save Your Digital Receipts to Score Cash Back

It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued?

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, Paribus will scan your email archives for any receipts.

If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Target, Best Buy or one of 20-plus participating retailers, it will track the item’s price and issue you a refund anytime there’s a price drop. You don’t have to do anything!

Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.

2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.

For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.