You’ve bought your hobby box, and as you rip through the packs, something catches your eye. One card is not like the rest. It’s not shiny. No glossy finish. No color, even. All white. Matte paper. It’s a Panini redemption card.
Your heart races because you’ve heard about this—the big cards they could represent—but you also have questions. Thankfully, this post will look at everything redemption-related and get into the detail of Panini’s favorite autograph substitute.
A redemption is Panini’s promise of an autographed card that will come at a later time.
There’s a common perception that redemption cards are all “big cards,” but that’s not the case. Instead, redemptions are created when a player either can’t sign the cards on time or can’t get them back to Panini in time. In that case, Panini puts a physical IOU in the box in the form of redemption.
Typically, a redemption is printed on white paper, and they include the player’s name, the set of the card, the card brand, and the code.
That said, there are occasionally “mystery redemption” that includes a description of the set and the product name, but not the player. If you find one of these, you can almost always bank on it being a high-dollar card.
In the same vein, Panini Select Football has valuable XRC redemptions every year, and since they come out before the NFL draft, the cards represent draft picks instead of specific players. For example, if you pull a WR3 XRC redemption, you can redeem it for the third receiver selected after the draft is over.
You can find redemptions in almost every hobby product, but they’re not common in blasters (Topps will put redemptions in basically anything, but Panini doesn’t do this as much yet).
The companies count redemptions as a card for technical purposes so that a 4-card pack could have three cards and a redemption.
Redeeming a redemption is not a complicated process, but here are good steps and practices to take in the process:
And now, more on that wait…
The wait can be the worst part, especially for a card that you are really excited to get. Worse still, Panini has a bad reputation for excessive waiting times. Keep in mind that while you wait, Panini will occasionally ping you and ask if you want points instead.
To be fair, occasionally, they are waiting on the athlete to sign, but it still can be annoying if the wait gets too long. Unfortunately, it’s out of your control.
You can, at least, console yourself a bit while you wait.
For one, Panini checks with redeemers frequently (usually every 30 or 60 days) with an update. If they cannot fulfill the redemption, they’ll provide an option to redeem it for points instead of the card. You can spend the points on anything, including their “rewards packs.”
Or, better yet, for some redemptions that never get filled, Panini will replace them with a “White Box.” Each white box contains a special autograph, and most are 1 of 1s. Redemptions all have an expiration date, but Panini also occasionally sends white boxes for expired redemptions of big cards.
In truth, the cards aren’t really one-of-ones as Panini denotes them with a sticker. However, they still can bring a lot of money, as this eBay search shows.
Redemptions cards are commonly bought and sold, and eBay is the place where it happens the most. While the payoff for redemptions can be incredible, many collectors don’t like the wait or uncertainty. Therefore, they’re willing to part with their redemptions for a bit less than the actual redeemed card is worth.
That said, here are some dos and don’ts of selling your redemptions:
As a seller:
As a buyer:
If you stick to these rules, you’ll be good to go!
Panini has varied its method for redemption shipping over the years. However, for the most part, they are shipped in a small box containing a protective case of one kind or another. They may use a top loader with a factory-sealed sticker over the top or a mag with the same seal.
Occasionally they come in a bubble mailer, and occasionally they come in a box inside a bubble mailer but don’t worry about Panini’s shipping. While some parts of their business might be frustrating, redemption packaging and security are not one of them.
Now, armed with knowledge about redemptions, enjoy ripping some packs and finding cards to redeem!