I’m not new when it comes to trading paper cards online. Traditional trading, even in an online form, typically consists of a peer-to-peer model. There are two people making trades directly with each other. While this can be efficient, you don’t always offload everything you want, and you don’t always get what you want either . . .
PucaTrade approaches online trades differently. It is not a peer-to-peer setup as you would see on forums or in real life. It introduces a virtual currency known as PucaPoints, which you collect by sending your cards to other users. Once you accumulate enough points, you can trade them in for cards you want. Effectively, it removes the peer-to-peer restriction on trading.
The points-based system is important because it makes your collection very accessible to other players. In some ways, you become a reverse store in the fact that you—not the person buying—take the initiative in what you send out. In the end, however, it’s money in the bank . . . the PucaTrade bank.
Yes, PucaTrade is effectively playing banker with your hard-earned points. A person may be concerned with the risk of this, but I feel that risk is low for the value that is received.
Ready to start trading Puca-style? The following information is what I found to make the Puca experience fun and profitable.
I Signed Up . . . That Was Easy. Now What?
Okay, so you sign up, and then you load a few cards into your Haves list. You eagerly click “Send” to find a grid full of cards. Great, people use PucaTrade . . . So you click auto-match to find people who want your cards . . .
Honestly, the empty grid caught me off guard. I simply didn’t know where to go. PucaTrade has made an instructional video on how to get started, and the video does a great job of describing the basic functionality of the site, but it does not really alleviate the empty feeling a new user may have when he or she first clicks “Send Cards.” I feel most of the confusion stems from the possibility that the user base is still somewhat intimate. PucaTrade may not have quite hit the user threshold to meet the demands made in the Want lists.
As a new user, understanding the following will make the service more intuitive:
- The more cards you load, the more successful trades you will have.
- As of this writing, there are usually only around seven hundred cards “wanted” at a given time when auto-match is disabled.
- When cards do pop up in your auto-matched results, they go really fast—about a minute or less.
- You have to watch the auto-match list like a hawk if you want to trade anything.
- When your auto-match list does populate, make sure to take note of the receiver’s total PucaPoints. If the user has fewer than 200 (for example), that’s all you are going to get out of him or her. It may not be worth the packaging and stamp.
The lights turned on for me after I understood this list. The Twitter community graciously assisted me with this information. Shortly after, I had sent about 8,500 points (about $85) worth of cards in just five days after I started using my account. All it required was a bit of organization and automation—and, optionally, a little bit of cash.
Essential Steps for the Greatest Return
PucaTrade is fast. Lightning fast. If you hesitate, you are going to miss out on a lot of good trades or miss out on maximizing value in a single envelope. It’s not uncommon that a user loads up fifteen to twenty cards he or she needs, and you are fighting against another sender for these cards.
After creating your account, I suggest immediately doing the following.
Sort Your Real-Life Collection
Know your cards. You will be required to make snap decisions once a card appears in your auto-match list. You will not have time to check your collection for the card—or even think whether you have it.
To get real value out of PucaTrade, I suggest sorting your entire inventory. This includes all the commons and uncommons you own. In the first two days of being a member, I only had Shards of Alara and Zendikar loaded, and I was able to squeeze 500 points out of random commons and uncommons I have in bulk. (You could have a Cryptic Command in a matter of a couple weeks with that rate.)
Catalog Your Real-Life Collection Online
I don’t care what you use. Whether it’s Google Docs, Excel, or an inventory manager (I use Magpie), it’s important that you have your cards cataloged somewhere you can reference at moment’s notice. Preferably the service you choose has an export feature so you can easily use PucaTrade’s import command.
Use the Auto-Match Feature 100% of the Time
If your collection is completely catalogued, there is absolutely no reason to not use this feature. Never turn it off. Ever.
Download the Page Monitor Chrome Extension
What I found with the first five minutes of using PucaTrade is that cards will pop up for a minute and then disappear quickly. PucaTrade is growing fast, but again, I feel at the moment there aren’t quite enough members yet to hit a certain threshold of Wants that Puca senders desire.
Here is what I did with the Page Monitor extension after installing:
- Go to PucaTrade, login, and click “Send Cards.”
- Turn auto-matching on (and never ever turn it off).
- Click the Page Monitor button in the top-right of Chrome, and then click “Monitor this page.”
- Right-click Page Monitor, and click “Options.”
- You should see PucaTrade in the list. Check “Advanced,” and then check “Custom Mode.”
- Make sure “Selector” is selected, and then click “Pick.”
- Click on “Total: X” as what you desire to track.
- Click “Done” in the lower-right of the page.
What this will do for you is alert you whenever there is a change in your auto-match list. You can even set Page Monitor to make a noise when this occurs, but I am fine with Page Monitor displaying the little green notification that it does. I have mine set to refresh the page every thirty seconds.
Theoretically, at this point, you shouldn’t even need PucaTrade open. However, it appears PucaTrade will log you out eventually, which disrupts Page Monitor. So I tend to keep it open at all times in the background.
Upgrade Your Account to Uncommon
The true power comes from giving other users points. Trust me.
Take this example: Billy has 800 points, but you want to trade 810 worth of cards. One card is 500, and the other is 310. In order to maximize on your stamp (and on getting rid of cards), would you not want to float the ten cents to the recipient to ensure a better trade? I’m starting to realize this happens a lot.
If you really want to maximize your experience, I would seriously consider dropping $45 for the year Uncommon plan. If you do the math, it’s really $30 for the year since you gain 1,500 PucaPoints out of the deal, which is roughly $15.
All said and done, it ends up costing you only $2.50 a month. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty close to “free.”
Ask for Forgiveness Later
One thing I found interesting about PucaTrade is that there is no direct way of communicating with the card recipient. If you wish to, you must “open a case,” which then alerts an administrator. With this, so far, I have found no real “penalty” to your account for as long as you are honest and willing to work with the potential recipient.
Since PucaTrade is lightning-fast, you will at times see a card pop up in requested cards that you may have in your collection . . . or maybe you traded it out a couple weeks ago. You can’t remember (which is why it’s important to have your collection sorted and catalogued).
In these situations, since there are seemingly no repercussions, I say you click “Send” as though you have it, and then ask for forgiveness later if you don’t.
From Bulk to Staples
In five days, I was able to send enough trades to afford a Vendilion Clique—almost two. A decent portion of the points I earned were from sending bulk rares, commons, and uncommons (things I never would have pushed otherwise). This does not include the 1,500 points I received for upgrading my account to Uncommon. Shipping the cards had cost a hair under $4.
It works wonders for me. If you are looking for a relatively passive way of making a few trades, this is the service for you! Happy trading!