A question we’re often asked at the ACCCS is why, if collecting credit cards is such a great hobby, would a collector want to wait a long time before their collection is worth anything?
The answer is this: many people believe that the price of an item is directly related to its age. In other words, the older an item is, the more valuable it becomes. This simply isn’t true.
Its value is based on supply and demand. It’s better to own a five-year-old item which has 50 known pieces that 500 collectors want, than it is to own a 100-year-old item with six in existence that three people want.
The belief in age and price exists because it sometimes takes years to generate interest (or demand). Also, as the years go by, more and more of the items are damaged, destroyed or lost, thus decreasing the supply.
The time factor of supply and demand
Suppose there are 50 pieces of an item, and it takes 25 years for 100 people to each want one. But what if we take the same 50 pieces and within one year 100 people want them. Basically, the item is worth the same whether it takes one or 25 years. Very simply stated, to increase an item’s value you must increase the demand (number of collectors) or decrease the supply. It’s even better if both take place!
Physical condition of the cards
Credit cards are an interesting situation. There is a small and limited supply of early (10 years or older) credit cards. Also remember collectors desire the best for their collections, meaning pristine condition cards. Taking only pristine cards into consideration means there is an extremely small supply.
If early credit cards in pristine condition are difficult to acquire now, when there are 25 collectors, imagine the difficulty in acquiring them when the collector base explodes to say 5,000. Even if more cards come out of hiding, the growth of the collector base should out pace them. The question now is, “How long will it take to get 5,000 collectors?” The answer, “Not long!”
Quality of collections
It’s also reasonable to expect the better collections to be valued, at that time, into the tens if not the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But do you have to wait 100 years? No. It’s totally up to us how long it takes to make credit cards valuable. With all of us working together and everyone making a sincere effort, the job can be accomplished within a few years.
Remember, everyone should be a credit card collector because it costs nothing to start, and it takes little effort to build a collection. It’s up to us to make people aware that credit card collecting exists and how easy it is to get started.
Copyright 1986 by Greg Tunks