What’s the Deal with the Columns in the Price Guide?

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About a month ago, a friend in the hobby reached out to me on Facebook. He was in the midst of a debate with a fellow collector over what the two columns meant in the Beckett Price Guides.

In my 15 years in the Pricing Department at Beckett, I’ve heard many collectors’ passionate thoughts on what exactly the two columns mean.

“The HI column is for a card in Mint condition and the LO column is for a card in lesser condition.”

“The HI column is the trade value, the LO column is the eBay value.”

“The HI column is the retail value, the LO column is the wholesale value.”

“The LO column is the eBay value and the HI column is just two times that number.”

“The HI column is the highest price the card has sold for and LO column is the lowest it’s sold for.”

“The LO column is a suggested buy price and the HI column is the suggested sell price.”

While all interesting theories as to what the columns mean, none of them are actually correct. The true answer to the question can be found in the “How to Use and Condition Guide” that runs in Beckett Baseball and in our Annual Price Guide books:

“The LO and HI columns reflect current retail selling ranges. The HI column generally represents full retail selling price. The LO column generally represents the lowest price one could expect to find with extensive shopping.”

In somewhat simpler terms, the HI column is generally the price one might find at a card store or show. The LO column generally represents the lowest price one could find where there are a lot of buyers and sellers, like on eBay or at a heavily attended card show.

The Price Guide columns are meant to guide collectors by providing a range of values for their cards. More often than not (myself included before I worked at Beckett), collectors’ eyes go directly to the HI column. Inevitably, then, we hear things like, “Beckett says this card is worth $50 but it’s selling all day on eBay for $20 to $25.”

In fact, we likely say the card is worth “between $20 and $50.” Internally, we’d say a $20-$50 card that is selling online for $20-$25 is “within range.”

The Pricing Team does their best to keep up with the pricing of millions of cards across all of the databases – the new, the old, the hot, the cold – but we aren’t perfect. Year to date, we’ve gathered and analyzed over 1.7 million secondary market sales from sources such as the Beckett Marketplace, eBay, major auction houses, and dealer and collector reports. We always welcome feedback, especially constructive feedback regarding pricing that needs adjusting.

“Your pricing is terrible!” or “The Price Guide is irrelevant,” is not constructive feedback. It doesn’t offer up anything to focus on that you’d like to be better or specifics on what could be improved.

“You book this 2003 Fleer Derek Jeter card at $50 and it seems to be selling online in the $10-$15 range,” is much better feedback that will allow us to take a closer look at the card(s) or player(s) in question to make the necessary adjustments.

Have some feedback that you’d like to offer? Please feel free to reach out me at bfleischer@beckett.com and I’d be happy to get your comments in the hands of the correct Senior Market Analyst.

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Brian Fleischer

A collector since 1986, Brian has spent the last 15 years working as an Analyst in the Beckett pricing department. A vintage baseball card collector, he also collects vintage European soccer cards and pre-war Fordham University sports memorabilia. Have a question? You can reach him by email.

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  1. richard martin 5 December, 2018 at 09:28

    You left out the “often heard complaiant”, if the listed price for a card seems low it’s because Beckett wants to buy them up for resale.
    Stupid but true.

  2. Brian Fleischer 5 December, 2018 at 12:45

    If that were the case, Rich, I would have hammered the Trout Update RC and retired long ago!

    In all seriousness, that is a complaint that I have heard. I wouldn’t say I’ve heard it “often'”, but it’s something that has been brought up.

    In my 15 years with the company, I can’t think of any time that Beckett, as a company, has purchased cards on the secondary market to resell. Many employees are collectors and purchase unopened boxes and singles, but I can promise you that we’re not trying to manipulate Price Guide values so that employees save some money.

  3. Jason Steele 10 February, 2019 at 10:24

    Hi, is the High / Lo range specific to a certain card condition, for example mint condition? Thanks.

    • Ryan Cracknell 11 February, 2019 at 23:00

      @Jason – The idea of the range can work with any condition, however prices would be lower on both sides for lesser-condition cards.

  4. Javier Torres 26 July, 2019 at 08:45

    I would like to know if the high and lo is for graded cards as well. Is this just for raw cards only or is there another price guide for graded cards for a certain grade.

    • Ryan Cracknell 14 August, 2019 at 15:01

      @Neil – The print versions are in US $. The online guide can be set to many different currencies.

  5. MITCHELL WELBORN 24 February, 2020 at 23:48

    I always thought it meant if a person is selling 1 card the Hi price is what he follows. But if a person has 20-30 card lot then the lo price is the norm for all of them.

  6. Laurie 2 June, 2020 at 01:29

    I just bought a price guide and I see a “Condition Chart” at the beginning of this price guide, with year ranges for the columns, and grades in the row columns. I can’t find anywhere what the percentages listed in the chart mean. I’m sorry if this is an inept question, but I am super new to this and I just don’t get it!

    Thank you for any help you can give me. ?

  7. Brian Fleischer 2 June, 2020 at 15:29

    @Laurie – You use the percentages to give you a rough estimate of the value of your card based on the condition.

    For example, if you have a “1981-89” card in “Good/Fair/Poor” condition, you find the “HI Column Value” of your card in the Price Guide, multiply by 5% and that’s a rough estimate of the value based on the condition.

    So, if you have a card in Poor condition from 1985 Topps that is worth $10 in the Price Guide, your card would be worth approximately 50 cents. If it were in EX-MT condition, it would be worth anywhere from $4-$6 dollars.

    Hope that helps!

  8. Michael Ramseyer 9 September, 2020 at 07:56

    I understand what the hi and lo columns are. One you did not mention I heard quite often from many collectors over the years since I was a kid is when there is an up or down arrow it means the card is going to go up or down. Hopefully everyone know that is not true, it simply means the card has already gone up or done since the last issue of magazine, or recent change for online guide.

    Brings me to my question. As far as the arrows go, it is a major help for seeing which cards have moved. I sell cards, and I only use Beckett online guide. The process for seeing if, any, of my cards have gone up or down in value is horrible, to be honest. There seems to be no set date as to when all/any cards move in value. Althouth, there is a search feature in the online price guide, it is horrible. 1) I do not want to look through hundreds/thousands of pages every day to see if anything I might have, have changed. 2) I could search by player, but that is only useful if I have a couple different players. Even if this were the case I would then have to know which couple/several hundred cards of the player I have so I know what to look for. 3) There is no way to search within “My Collection” for price changes. 4) Scrolling through hundreds of pages in “My Collection” looking for arrows every, single, day is extremely time consuming.

    How easy would it be for Beckett to simply add a feature in “My Beckett” that you could click on and it would only show the cards with recent price changes. Or automatically add them in to a folder for recent price changes.

    I think this is something that should be very simple to accomplish, and would be extremely helpful for buyers, sellers, and collectors, and is definitely needed.


  9. Mike 7 December, 2020 at 19:20

    I just bought a Beckett price guide. I was hoping to get price estimates for gems and mints. I’m not clear about the method of estimating which you describe above. For example, the price guide has a 1981 Montana rookie card (#216) at a high of $100. I understand how to estimate down the scale (e.g., to Poor) but can I use the price guide to estimate cards in mint/gem condition? Is 20x the high roughly reliable for mints (https://www.ebay.com/itm/1981-Topps-Joe-Montana-ROOKIE-CARD-216-MINT-PSA-9-beautiful-color-centered/203206142394?hash=item2f5007a9ba:g:aNMAAOSw061fx-Ss)?

    What multiple do you recommend for gems? Thanks!

  10. Brian Fleischer 17 December, 2020 at 13:46

    @Daniel – The asterisk indicates that the print run listed is an announced print run from the manufacturer and not actually serial numbered on the card. Some times, there may be a serial number on the card, but the actual print run is less than what is on the card, according to the manufacturer.

    So, for example, you may have a card numbered to 999, but the manufacturer said that the first 50 are autographed. In this case, the non-autographed card would be listed at /949* and the autographed version would be listed as /50*.

  11. Brian Fleischer 17 December, 2020 at 13:53

    @Mike – When pricing professionally graded cards, we do not have a multiplier. There are way too many factors – rarity of the card, rarity of the card in a certain condition, etc – that would make the multiplier pretty much useless.

    You have several options for pricing your professionally graded cards. If you have an Online Price Guide, we price thousands of professionally graded cards, including the Montana RC. If you’d prefer something in print, The Beckett Graded Card Price Guide lists values for thousands of cards, including the Montana RC. Below is the link to purchase Graded Card PG #18, but the 19th edition should be on sale in the next month or so.


    Finally, if you come across a card that we do not price in professionally graded condition, your best bet would be to look for the card in the condition that you’re curious about on the secondary market (eBay, Beckett Marketplace, etc) and see what it’s selling for. This will give you a rough idea of a value.

    • Ryan Cracknell 15 June, 2021 at 21:26

      @Keith – Likely means that there isn’t enough data to accurate calculate.

  12. Yoza Fried 11 October, 2021 at 17:22

    Hola! Tengo una colección de tarjetas desde hace muchos años y me gustaría tasar su valor. ¿Saben de alguien que haga esto?

  13. geronimopj 22 November, 2021 at 01:18

    Hi! from the Issue 71 June 1996 Beckett Basketball Edition, we noticed there is a Table called Priced Percentage Suide, it shows the percentage multiplier if the Raw card was graded. Is there something like updated ones for todays market?

  14. Gregory Bennett 8 January, 2022 at 16:03

    Hi Brian. I was wondering if you could help me understand multipliers for parallel cards? If it says 1x – 2x base does that mean it’s double the high but only equal to the low? And hot about ones that say .5x – 1x? I can’t believe that a numbered parallel would be worth 1/2 the low colum and equal to the high. That doesn’t make sense to me. Can you help shed some light on this for us?

  15. Troy Bell 29 July, 2022 at 11:31

    just inquiring as to why not all card numbers are listed in the price guides? I look at Beckett basketball guide for 1991-92 Upper Deck and several cards are not listed?


    • Ryan Cracknell 31 July, 2022 at 07:22

      Space. There’s only so much room available in the magazines. There are new sets coming out every month with big checklists. There are annual books and the online price guide that have everything in a given sport.

  16. Denny 14 May, 2023 at 20:40

    Most of the pricing in just about all the recent years has disappeared out of Football Beckett monthly magazine. I have 36 Peyton Manning autograph jersey and autograph cards but can only find a Beckett BV for 2 out of the 36 cards. Really don’t see any reason to continue buying Beckett Price guides anymore. Even the current year has lots of cards and pricing left out of the book. This must be a attempt to get people to pay for the online version of Beckett pricing. I am hoping if I pay for the online version of Beckett monthly all of the missing pricing from previous and current year will be included.

    • Ryan Cracknell 11 September, 2023 at 19:35

      It’s impossible to have every set in the monthly magazines due to space. There are the annual books and the online price guide that have the most comprehensive information.

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