Why Are Football Cards So Hard To Find?

Do you remember the first time you started collecting football cards? Nothing feels better than having an entire stack with all your favorite players. Sadly, they’re no longer as easy to find as they used to be. 

The reason why football cards are so hard to find is because of supply and demand. Football cards are in high demand by collectors, but the supply is increasingly limited. This has led to sold-out signs everywhere and people scrambling to try to find them. 

This article will further explain why football cards are so difficult to find and what you can do if you want to get your hands on at least a few of them. 

Shortage Explained

The lack of available football cards is due to a few factors — mainly increasing demand coupled with limited production capacities.

Due to the pandemic in 2020, people have had more time on their hands to spend on hobbies like collecting sports cards — which caused the community of collectors to balloon.

But with so many people trying to buy new football cards, inventories began to run low. At the same time, production capacities went down due to supply chain issues caused by COVID-19. 

Companies that make sports cards have to deal with shortages in raw materials and labor, making it difficult for them to keep up with demand.

As a result, fewer packs were being produced, and those packs quickly sold out as soon as they hit store shelves. 

Let’s dive into more detail on the factors causing the shortage of football cards.

Increased Demand From Collectors

One factor driving up demand for football cards is the fascination with PSA 10-rated cards fetching high returns. Some collectors buy up entire inventories of these cards to resell on the secondary market, making it difficult for mainstream buyers to get their hands on them.

Hoarding of Cards

Many collectors buy large quantities of certain cards with no intention of selling or trading them (at least, not for the short term). As a result, the average buyer finds that they cannot easily find the cards they want and must resort to other means to do so. 

There are a few reasons some collectors hoard cards.

  • Some do it simply for profit. They buy all the copies of a specific card (especially one that has the potential to become popular) as soon as it comes out and sell them on the secondary market.
  • Others might simply want the bragging rights for having every copy of a particular card in their collection.
  • Still others may just love the thrill of the hunt and don’t want anyone else spoiling the fun by finding that same card first.

Paper Shortages Around the World

In 2022, there was a global paper shortage. The pandemic caused an unprecedented increase in demand for certain types of paper products. This has led to shortages in many areas worldwide as companies struggled to keep up with consumer needs. 

Compounding matters was the war between Russia and Ukraine, which began in 2022. This conflict resulted in disruptions to the global supply chain  — in particular, uncoated paper, as Russia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of the product. 

When the supply of uncoated paper was cut off, prices went through the roof. This made it harder to get the raw materials needed to make paper products, further worsening the world’s paper shortage. 

Many popular football card companies were already struggling with limited production capacities before the pandemic hit. Because the global paper shortage further limited their supplies, they’ve had to limit producing new cards altogether.

Fortunately, steps are being taken to help alleviate this issue. For example, industry associations are working together with government agencies to ensure that essential businesses have access to necessary supplies.

Fake Cards Impacting the Market

Fake football cards are made by unscrupulous individuals looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting buyers. These cards often look identical to real ones, making them difficult to spot even for experienced collectors. They come with features such as fake autographs and Photoshopped images that can make them even harder to detect.

Unfortunately, these fakes can be sold at much higher prices than their real counterparts, meaning buyers often end up losing money without ever realizing it. 

Furthermore, fake cards can drive down prices for genuine cards since people may become reluctant to buy from certain sellers or websites if the buyers get burned by enough counterfeit purchases. This can also result in fewer sales and less trust in the industry as a whole. 

How to Avoid Them

Luckily, it’s possible to avoid fake football cards. Before buying any card online or from a seller you don’t know well, do your research and make sure the item is genuine.

Some signs that the item is real include watermarks, holograms, serial numbers, etc. You can also contact grading companies such as PSA and Beckett to get your cards certified and help prove their legitimacy.

Where Can I Find Football Cards?

If you want to get your hands on new football cards without breaking the bank, there are a few places you can go.

Online Shopping Sites & Marketplaces 

One of the best places to find football cards is online shopping sites like eBay or Amazon. They have a wide selection of new and used cards from third-party sellers across the globe. You can search by team, player, year of production, or even condition if you want something special. 

Local Card Shops 

If online shopping isn’t your style, you might want to check out your local card shop. Most cities have at least one store dedicated solely to sports cards and memorabilia. You can browse through thousands of items in person and get expert advice from shop owners on building your collection. 

Plus, these stores often offer discounts and promotions that aren’t available elsewhere.

Flea Markets

A great place to find interesting options is flea markets. There, you’ll often find dealers selling cards from different eras. Whether you’re looking for something classic or modern, you can usually find something that fits your taste.

If you’re lucky, you can stumble upon rare items like signed memorabilia or collector’s cards. While prices vary depending on the item, the lower cost compared to official store prices makes flea markets a smart choice for any savvy, budget-conscious football card collector.

Sports Memorabilia Shows and Conventions 

Sports memorabilia shows and conventions usually take place in big cities, where vendors from all over the country sell collectibles like autographed jerseys, helmets, programs, and —  of course — football cards. You can meet fellow collectors and swap stories while also browsing through hundreds of different products in one place.

What Is the Rarest Type of Football Card?

The rarest type of football card includes Tom Brady’s Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph from 2000 and Joe Montana’s Topps Rookie Card. Rare cards might be worth more or less depending on various factors, such as age, condition, and demand. 

A football card’s rarity and value can also vary from player to player. Although it may be challenging to come across the autograph and rookie cards mentioned above, it’s worth noting that athletes may be featured in different types of cards. Over time, the value of these other cards may also increase.

Therefore, it helps to become familiar with the various types of football cards to know which ones to look for. Check out the list below:

  • Base cards typically feature a player’s photograph and basic statistical information.
  • Rookie cards are like base cards, except they show players just starting out.
  • Autograph cards feature the signature of the featured athlete. 
  • Memorabilia cards include pieces of game-worn gear. 
  • Parallel cards are alternatives to base or rookie sets. They usually have different colored borders and serial numbers. 
  • Insert cards are put into packs at random and have their own designs. 
  • Short-print cards are rarer than the average card in a set, making them more valuable for buyers.

Potential for Investment

When it comes to investing in football cards, the worth of a card is ultimately determined by its condition, rarity, and player popularity. 

Football cards that are worth buying include rookie cards that have higher values due to their scarcity. Autograph cards are also valuable because they feature a signature from the featured athletes. 

Any card featuring a popular player is likely to have a higher value, like Tom Brady or Joe Montana. Popular card sets from the past, such as 1984 Topps, are also worth investing in. 

Ultimately, it’s important to research before purchasing and only invest in cards you’re interested in collecting. 


Football cards have been around for decades, and they’re still popular as ever. While some cards may be hard to find due to their limited supply, there are still plenty of ways to get your hands on them. Not only can they be a great investment, but collecting them can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

No matter what kind of football card collector you are, it’s important to do your research before investing in any cards. This will help ensure you get the best deal and invest in a quality product.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of DiscoveryPit.com, a website dedicated to tips on finding and collecting precious items. Inspired by reading countless adventurer reports from the oldtimers, Alex is passionate about discovering hidden treasures and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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