Puca Pals – The Joy of Selling and Trading Cards Overseas
The first time I sent cards overseas was when I was in Junior High School. I had started playing Magic back during Revised and Fallen Empires, and had gotten a few of my friends into it. One of those friends’ names was Takeshi. I had known him for about 5 years and we had become good friends. Such good friends that after he returned to Japan, we started corresponding by letters each few months or so as Pen Pals. At one point, we decided to send each other a package of Magic cards in the mail. I sent a package of 4th Edition I believe, and he sent me a package of Japanese Chronicles (which I still have back at my mom’s house I believe along with all of the letters he sent me).
Before the advent of the internet and the instant messaging of people all over the world, if you wanted to keep in touch with a friend that moved away and calling them on the phone was out of the question, your only choice was by sending letters. When you received a letter post marked from a foreign country as a kid, it was the coolest feeling in the world. All your life you had believed your world to be the city you lived in or the area within one or two hours of it by car. Seeing a Japanese stamp and Japanese writing was probably one of the best memories I had in Junior High School.
Readers, I want YOU to experience that feeling. I want you to feel the joy of receiving something in the mail that ISN’T a bill or junk, as well as to expand your world a little bit farther at the cost of one international stamp. Today I’ll be talking about Puca Trade.
What is Puca Trade and how do I use it?
Puca Trade, simply put, is a FREE online trading place for anybody with Magic the Gathering cards. If you’re like me, you have a trade binder but you never really get a chance to use it. I’ve been working on building a respectable trade binder for years, but it still pales in comparison to those that have been playing since Magic’s early days. I find myself time and time again totally out of my league at events such as a Grand Prix trying to peddle my shock lands and modern staples with other traders that have pages and pages of Dual Lands, Force of Wills, and Wastelands. It is disheartening to say the least. All I want to do is to trade away my cards to get ones that I need to finish a Legacy or Modern deck, but there is simply nothing in my binder that other players want, or they couldn’t find enough for it to be an equal trade. I know how frustrating it can be for new players just starting out in Theros or Khans of Tarkir block. All you want is to get some standard format rares without having to pay an arm and a leg for a playset of them. With Puca Trade, this becomes much, much easier to do.
Setting up an account and making trades
You can click on this link to visit Puca Trade’s website and to sign up for an account. It’s rather easy. As I said before, it’s free, but if you want to spend a little extra money for a silver or gold level account, you can receive special benefits only allowed to those type of members. For a full run down of what each level entails, please click this link. The biggest difference between a common and uncommon account is that you can receive foil cards. For those people that are into pimping out their decks or just wanting to invest their Puca Points into a rarer card, this might be the account for you. Gold members gain access to card data and trends as well as alerts that help you to buy or sell a card as it spikes to maximize your value. Gold is great for somebody who has a large amount of cards and wants to move them efficiently. I would recommend this for people that work at or own a store that sells MTG cards. Both Gold and Silver accounts let you transfer points to other members as well, which is good when you’re negotiating rarer cards or foreign foils that might have a higher value than the price listed.
Once you choose your account, you’ll fill in your screen name, email, and address. The address is the most important part as it determines where the cards you trade for will be sent. Make sure you fill it in correctly and carefully! After your basic account is set up, you have a few courses of action. While somewhat intrusive in my opinion, you can add your phone number to your account in order to verify it. Doing so will give you 200 points, which is basically $2 for free. If you’ve already put in your mailing address, you get another 100 points, and if you add an avatar you get another 100 bonus points. Just by signing up and doing these things you get 400 points.
The next step in the process is adding “WANTS” to your profile. To do so, go to the “MY CARDS” tab and click on WANT. Once you’re on this page, you can type in the name of any card you are looking for (even tokens) and it will be added to your WANT list. If you need to finish your playset for standard, get some cards for your EDH deck, or merely trade your low value cards into some that are worth more money, add them into your wants. Each card has a point value assigned to it based on a collection of different prices from various online sellers. By the way, you also get another 100 bonus points from adding cards to your want list.
Word of warning though, as soon as you add it to your want list people will send you cards to get those points. Make sure you absolutely want the card before adding it to your list so you don’t regret it later. You get points when you send cards to another person, and they are taken away when somebody sends you cards on your want list. It’s good to have an objective so that you can work towards that goal. I’m personally looking to get cards that aren’t worth much in the USA but command a premium over here in Japan so I can turn a profit.
Why should I use Puca Trade?
Just for signing up for a free account you get 500 points, worth about $5. You could get a nice sideboard card for your modern deck, maybe get a somewhat pricey standard card to improve your standard deck . . . but do you really want to stop at this point? Puca trade is all about taking cards you have no need for and turning them into something much more valuable. Do you really want to be stuck with a binder full of $3-$5 cards that nobody wants when you go to a Grand Prix? You might not be able to trade up to a Dual Land on Puca trade, but you could possibly get a playset of Snapcaster Mages that could get that dual land easily.
Maybe you don’t live close to a game store or there’s only one within 2 hours of your house. You get MAYBE one or two chances to trade per month if your lucky, and even then it’s hard to get the cards you want. Puca Trade lets you get around these problems. Trade away those cheaper cards, get the cards you want, and build a sweet trade binder worth of stuff that is not only easier to get rid of at big events, but also has higher growth potential.
Okay, you convinced me. What do I need to start sending cards?
Before you even think of sending a card, you need to be sure you have something to send them in first. The most important thing for sending cards is top loaders. These are tough, hard sleeves that you’ll be putting your cards in before you send them. If you send your card and it’s damaged in some way, you just spent money on shipping and all these materials just to get 20% of the value you thought you were getting. Only Near Mint cards can be sent in Puca Trade (unless the person you trade with says otherwise), so make sure you protect it.
Most people say that you should use tape to keep the cards from slipping out while it’s in the mail, but I did one better. Tape tends to be very difficult to take off and makes removing the card a challenge sometimes. I’ve even seen people go overboard and make the top loader look like it was attacked by a tape monster. I went to the dollar store and got these small baggies used for traveling that come in packs of 40. The baggies protect it from moisture while also keeping the card from sliding out and getting bent or damaged during transit. I usually throw in my business card to promote my blog as well as to stabilize the card in the top loader, but you can throw in bonus cards such as tokens if you want as well.
I also picked up simple white envelopes at the dollar store as well, and as you can see you get 50 to a pack there. Between the envelopes, baggies, and top loaders you will probably be spending about 35 cents to ship out each card. Prices will vary depending on your access to these materials, but once you find them and buy in bulk you can really reduce your shipping costs. International shipping can cost anywhere from 90 to 110 cents depending on where you’re sending the cards to, so all in all you should expect to spend 130-150 cents in shipping (if you want to add tracking to expensive cards, that might cost more). You have to spend money to make money, right? This is why it’s probably good business sense to only ship out things that are worth more than the shipping cost.
Of course you need to have a collection of cards to send as well, but I think it’s also a good idea to use a notebook to keep track of things such as how much profit you make on each card (I have how much I bought the card at, how many points I received through Puca Trade for it, and then what my overall profit will be after shipping). With each card you send, it’s also a good idea to put the trade number on the back of the envelope and with the top loader itself. The Puca Trade website addresses this very well with this link which you have to check out before sending off your first card. A trade number is something you will get when you click on a card somebody wants and agree to send to them. Once you do, you’ll get their address, and then under the TRADE tab, you can go to ACTIVE trades and see which cards have been sent and which haven’t. Next to each trade is a trade number, which is pretty much one number for each card sent. Even if you are sending multiple cards to the same person at the same address, each card will have a different trade number. Speaking of sending multiple cards . . .
Tips on how to get a lot of points
I have been buying EDH cards for cheap here in Japan and sending them overseas at a profit. Utvara Hellkite is about 50 yen here (40 cents) but can be traded on Puca Trade for 321 at the moment. After shipping, it nets me around 120 points. This should be a good rule of thumb to use when sending things out. It’s also a good idea to ship more than one thing to the same person if you can. Once you’ve locked in one trade, you should look at that person’s profile then see if there are any other cards you could add to the shipment. It will save you money on shipping and net you more points in the long run.
Now don’t get the wrong idea about Puca Trade being a “sellers” paradise. The website still operates on the fundamental system of supply and demand. You’re going to have A LOT more people asking for Snapcaster Mages and dual lands than you are for your Hooded Hydras and Door of Destinies. You might have a card like Tamiyo, the Moon Sage that is worth 1500 points or so, but you’ll have to be quick in order to capitalize on those points. The key is to go to your TRADES list and refresh the list every once in a while. I know you won’t be able to sit in front of your computer and do this for 5 hours straight, but if you’re playing an online game, watching a movie, or just goofing around you can keep the list minimized and refresh it from time to time. As soon as you see a card that you have that somebody else wants, click that SEND button!
I’ve also learned that the best time to send cards out and make trades are Monday through Friday. This is simply because post offices aren’t open on the weekends in most places and even fewer deliver on Saturday and Sunday. People will be getting all their points from the week before on Monday and Tuesday and that means tons of their WANTS will suddenly appear in your feed if you have them. If you act quickly, you can send out a lot these first few days of the week. I wouldn’t even waste your time on Sundays. Speaking of when you’ll receive your points after sending a card, some people are notoriously slow and take 1.5-2 weeks to finish the trade, but others I’ve had finish the trade in as little as 3 days. Again, it’s better if you send stuff out on Mondays and Tuesdays because the transit is interrupted by the weekends.
Just remember that speed is important!
Will I actually be able to get good cards out of this?
Some people are hesitant about sending expensive cards in the mail, and to them I say don’t (or at least don’t do it until you feel comfortable doing so). You can do well just sending cards that are worth $3-$9 in the mail. You’ll send them out and before you know it you’ll have enough points to get a really nice card like a Griselbrand or Snapcaster Mage.
I started out sending 170-200 point cards to test the waters and to get used to going to the post office and packaging the cards. You’ll actually be limited to only 10 trades until your first card is received. This is to test how quickly it takes you to send a card after agreeing to send it. If you say you’ll send a card but take a week to go to the post office, you’ll probably be limited for quite some time. If you send it the day after you agreed to, it should be no problem.
I’ve sent out Mindcrank, Gilded Lotus, and Runed-Scarred Demon amongst other things and now have some Scavenging Oozes and Deathrite Shamans to show for it. I’m slowly but surely moving away from harder to move trade items and getting staples in my binder that will be easier to get rid of later on (not to mention go up in price too).
Dealing with Problems
Puca trade is all about trust. There are some people that will be too worried about losing their cards in the mail or that somebody might receive it but then say they didn’t receive it in order to keep their points, but to those people I say “take a leap of faith”. If you’ve played Magic a long time, then you no doubt know how great the Magic the Gathering community is. The vast majority of players out there are great people, with an almost infinitesimal amount of them being vicious, lying a-holes. People that use Puca Trade want to believe in this wonderful community and want it to work.
But let’s say you do run into somebody that you think has taken advantage of you or perhaps sent you a fake card. If that’s the case, you can open a case by clicking on the “report problem” tab located next to each card in your history/receiving list and let an administrator know. If it ends up that this person did wrongfully take advantage of you, they will be marked and most likely stopped from ever using Puca trade again. I’d also like to note that in your account settings you can click a box that says “Prevent interactions with difficult traders”. This will stop those that have caused a problem before from ever dealing with you.
A Brand New World
Hopefully this article has opened your eyes up to a new world of possibilities. No longer do you have to decry the lack of people to trade with in your area. No longer do you have to pay incredibly marked up fees on cards because of where you live or the shipping (I feel you players in Brazil and other expensive countries). No longer do you have to lose an arm and a leg in a trade just to get a card you need. Puca Trade gives us a fair system that puts everybody on the same level. So what if all you have are 100s of $3 cards? Those cards can easily turn into a Dual Land or two with enough effort.
Sure it might take you a week or two to put together a standard deck or modern deck, but it will let you remain competitive by recycling your cards at a competitive value if you don’t need them anymore instead of losing more than 50% of the value by buy listing a card you don’t want anymore. Puca trade has a bright future ahead of it, and the more people that sign up for it, the better it will become.
Hopefully this article did an alright job of answering any lingering questions you might have had about Puca Trade, but if any doubts/questions remain I’d be more than happy to answer them or direct you to somebody that can help. If you want to thank me for all the information and insight, please click on my invite link and sign up so I’ll get bonus points! I look forward to posting my Puca exploits from week to week regarding what I’ve sent, what I’ve traded, how much profit I’ve made, and any other insight I might have learned. Thanks for reading and see you next time!