The A to Z of Trading Card Collecting: Your Ultimate Guide

A Beginner's Guide to Trading Card Terminology

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The A to Z of Trading Card Collecting: Your Ultimate Guide

Autograph (Auto or AU)

  • A card bearing the player's autograph. Autographed cards, known as "autos," are relatively rare and typically hold more value
Base Card
  • A standard trading card that forms part of a common card set, often referred to as a base set. 

Blaster Box

  • A package of trading cards containing four to 15 card packs, commonly available at major retailers and hobby stores. Blaster boxes are the budget friendly option to the Hobby Box.


  • The act of opening one or more boxes of trading cards for distribution to customers, often involving charging collectors for the opportunity to receive a portion of the box's contents, or to just witness the opening. 


  • A shipment that holds multiple boxes of cards, shipped by the manufacturer.
Case Hit
  • A special, highly valuable card or one with a limited print run that is included in a case. Typically, a case contains only one case hit, making the card rarer and more valuable.

Chase Card

  • A card that is more uncommon, valuable, and highly sought after compared to base cards. These are cards that are actively pursued.


  • A published list featuring all the cards available in a particular card set or series. Checklists assist collectors by allowing them to know what they could pull from a set.


  • A type of card made from chromium paper, which gives the card a metallic look.

Common Card

  • The least rare, least valuable, and most affordable type of card, such as non-rookie base cards.


  • A card with card stock manipulated by the manufacturer to create a unique design or function, such as octagonal or stand-up cards. These are less commonly found.

Factory Set

  • A complete card set packaged and sold by the manufacturer in a box.


  • Describes memorabilia items that have been used in professional sporting events, such as jerseys, balls and cleats.


  • The process of having a card's physical condition assessed by a specialized grading company. Grading companies are independent companies, the higher the grade the higher the quality. The higher the quality, the higher price the card could be valued.


  • A high-value card.

Hobby Box

  • A box of cards available exclusively through hobby store, often containing a higher number of hits compared to retail boxes.

Insert Card

  • A type of non-base and non-parallel card with its own unique theme, design and appearance.


  • Refers to a printing technology that creates a 3D-like image on a card, with the player's image appearing to move as the card is shifted from side to side.


  • A card featuring the logo patch from a jersey, often autographed. These cards are highly valuable and sought-after.


  • Indicates a card's print run, with the number displayed on either the front or back.

On-Card Auto

  • An autographed card featuring the player's signature directly on the card itself, rather than on a separate sticker. On-card autos are often more valuable than sticker autos.

One/One (1/1)

  • A totally unique, one-of-a-kind card, typically designated as "1/1" to signify its singularity. You want to be pulling one of these!


  • A card similar to a base card but with modifications or distinctive characteristics, such as different borders & different colours.

Patch Card

  • A card containing a multicolored jersey patch embedded within it, sometimes sourced from match worn events.

Personal Collection (PC)

  • A set of cards that a collector intends to keep for themselves in their own collection, without any intention to sell or trade them. Everyone has one of these!


  • Describes cards that are not yet graded.

Redemption Card

  • A card that the owner can redeem with the manufacturer in exchange for a hit card at a later time. You might receive one of these if the card wasn;t available at the time of release/packing.


  • A card that features s a multicoloured-like effect on the card's surface.

Relic Card

  • A card containing a piece of memorabilia, such as a jersey patch or a piece of a game ball, or part of a cleat.

Rookie Card (RC)

  • A card featuring a player in their debut professional season, it is usually accompanied with the abbreviation "RC."

Set Collector

  • A collector dedicated to accumulating every card in a specific set.

Short-Print (SP) Card

  • A card produced in smaller quantities, making it rarer and more valuable.

Slabbing or Slabbed

  • Another term for grading or graded.

Variation (VAR)

  • A card that differs from the common cards in its set, such as having a different colour, unique distinctions, or a different image. 
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