Differences between flipping sealed product in Europe and the United States

In this article I’ll cover the biggest differences between flipping sealed product in Europe and the United States. I got the idea because of my Why you should invest in Draft Booster Boxes post, I got some feedback that for short-term investments it’s not worth it for most boxes, and that is correct. However when writing the article I was actually thinking about long-term investments, for example shelving a box for five or ten years.

For those unaware, flipping is the act of buying an asset and quickly reselling it with the intention to make a profit. One could flip entire collections of cards, individual cards, or as this article covers, sealed product. There are different kinds of sealed product for different franchises, but I’ll focus on booster boxes, which usually are shipped wholesale in booster box cases containing four, six, or more booster boxes. Prominent examples of trading card games are Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Flesh and Blood and Final Fantasy. Examples of non-game cards are for example Formula 1 and Star Wars cards from Topps.

I’ll try to cover all aspects of flipping in order to get a bigger picture. So far it seems to be that Europe has a slight edge over the United States. Read on to figure out why.

Buying in Europe

  • Finding the best deals may be harder as the supply is lower, but there still is plenty of supply.
  • The buyer pays for shipping, there is often no free shipping with the cheapest sellers. This can be countered by buying entire cases. Sometimes sellers actually do offer free shipping if you buy a case.
  • There are no extra taxes as long as you buy within the European Union to avoid customs charges.

Selling in Europe

  • Selling happens at a slower pace because there are less active buyers than in the United States.
  • The buyer pays for shipping yet again, which means that as a seller you pass on the shipping fees to the buyer.
  • Platforms like Cardmarket charge a low fee of 5%. In certain countries, like The Netherlands with Marktplaats you can even sell without fees, though it often does involve more work and more risk.

Buying in the United States

  • It is easier to find the best deals as there is a lot more supply. Also for some product auctions on eBay are a good way to get nice deals.
  • More often the seller pays for shipping so it can be interesting to buy single boxes. However booster box cases are always a good idea as well, even if only to make sure the contents are not tampered with.
  • Some platforms need to charge additional taxes by law, keep this in mind when you work with the listing prices.

Selling in the United States

  • Sales can be made very quickly depending on the price you set, there are a lot of active buyers in the United States.
  • Generally buyers expect the seller to offer free shipping, this means that you will need to subtract the shipping fees from the sale price.
  • Fees on moderated market places, like eBay and TCGPlayer, are high. As a default you can work with a 13% fee, this is often roughly correct. Certain premium options like a professional store can lower these percentages however.


In order to breakeven when selling in Europe you only need to make a profit of 5% plus the shipping costs on purchase, whereas in the United States you need to make a profit of at least 13%, but in reality it will be a lot higher because of shipping fees and other fees. Therefore Europe seems to be the best flipping environment at first glance.

One downside however is that sales may take longer and product may be scarcer, but on the other hand you often don’t have much choice on whether you are flipping in the United States or in Europe, more often than not it simply depends on the country you live in.

Of course there are other alternatives like buying in Europe and selling in the United States or buying in the United States and selling in Europe, but they are more complex and depend a lot on the currency conversions factors. And they also may involve customs charges.

And lastly there are different trade-offs imaginable. You can for example sell whole cases instead of boxes, however often that comes with a price. In general you can make more profit if you put in more work, and visa versa. So if you want to put in less work then you need to be prepared to make less profit as well.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, and we may earn a commission on purchases you make, at no additional cost to you. Read more about it in my How do affiliate links work? article.

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