“Modern credit cards will never be worth anything,” says the collector (or skeptic).
“I disagree,” is my reply.
“Well, maybe in 20 years they might,” is the collector’s response.
Modern credit cards not worthless
Why do some collectors think modern credit cards will be worthless? After quizzing them, here’s what I’ve discovered. It’s based on the belief that tens of thousands of people are becoming aware of credit card collecting! Collectors are concerned that these people will become casual collectors.
A casual collector is someone who reads an article or advertisement about credit card collecting. Collecting doesn’t enter his mind again until his next card expires. Then he thinks, “I’ll just save this card. It might become valuable someday.”
The misconception about casual collectors
Collectors believe that these tens of thousands of casual collectors will, in a few years, accumulate a couple of dozen cards each. These casual collectors will save literally hundreds of thousands of cards! This will be enough cards so that there’ll be a large supply available for years. Thus the belief, modern cards will never be worth anything.
I agree with this line of thinking except that it stops short. The key to understanding this situation is knowing that the casual collectors are saving mostly used cards. The solution is to collect modern mint condition cards.
Collecting mint condition credit cards
When collecting modern mint condition specimens, there’s one major distinction between this hobby and most others. It’s that there’s no easy way to accumulate massive amounts of mint condition pieces.
Among other hobbies, modern mint specimens are easily available. The post office will sell as many unused stamps as people want. Grade one beer cans are available from grocery stores by cases.
Mint condition baseball cards are sold by the box. But with credit cards, I don’t know a way to get 50 or 100 mint condition pieces at a time. This will help keep mint condition cards scarce. Mint condition credit cards are one of the few mass produced items that has a true “limited edition” characteristic.
Limited number of serious credit card collectors
Serious credit card collectors are generally the only people willing to spend the time and effort necessary to accumulate mint condition cards. I would estimate that fewer than 5% of the cards saved today are mint. Of these, probably fewer than 10% are properly stored.
That means, at best, one out of every 200 cards saved today is in pristine condition. This translates into an opportunity for any collector who becomes condition-conscious.
Quality is a must in collecting. Credit card collectors desire the best. They also realize the best is expensive, and are prepared to pay for it. That being the case, acquire multiples of mint condition cards. Future collectors will fiercely compete to acquire the few top quality cards that have been saved.
Collecting scarce credit cards
Many casual collectors, after saving their cards for years, will evolve into serious collectors. They’ll then want to enlarge and upgrade their collections. They’ll only be able to do this with the mint condition credit cards we’ve saved. So keep in mind that in every year, there’ll be hundreds if not thousands of new serious collectors created. It will just take time before their presence is felt.
The making of tens of thousands of new casual credit card collectors is, in fact, a tremendous opportunity. While planting the seeds necessary to form tomorrow’s collector base, we still have the opportunity to gather scarce credit cards. And they’ll be scarce because of their condition.
Copyright 1987 by Greg Tunks