The Loupe app for sports cards is a groundbreaking new service. It looks to change the way collectors buy cards. But should you join? We have the full Loupe review for your perusal.
For years the online sports card marketplace has been dominated by eBay, Facebook, and other domains for third-party sellers. None of those services, however, are explicitly designed with the sports card buyer/ seller in mind.
Loupe is trying to change that. Indeed, over the past year, it has been aggressively advertising itself as the first retailer to bring cutting-edge digital retail technology for the exclusive use of the hobby.
*Users will have $10 charged to their card on file before the $20 free credits are used.
In recent months they’ve generated a lot of chatter in the industry. But are they here to revolutionize the world of buying and selling sports cards? Or are they just another unnecessary middleman driving up resale prices?
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the Loupe app.
In the words of CEO Mark Doty, “Loupe is a card show in your pocket.”
Loupe is a marketplace for established card retailers to sell directly to customers through live streams. This service isn’t entirely new – retailers have been doing live breaks on several different social channels (Instagram, youtube, etc.) for years. But Loupe puts the buying process in one place and allows you to buy with a single click.
Only verified retailers are allowed to sell on Loupe. And just like at many brick-and-mortar retailers, you are buying unopened packs and boxes. So, it isn’t a hunt for graded singles like on eBay. Instead, it is a digital trip to your local card shop.
Any user signing up using the Cardlines affiliate link will automatically receive a free $20 credit added to their Loupe wallet! You will immediately get the credit if you hit the link through your iOS or Android device. Here is the link: https://loupe.cards/CardLines
*Note: There will be a $10 charge to the payment method on file before the $20 credits are used.
Loupe is trying to align itself with modern tech companies’ sleek, minimalist look. As a result, their website is sparse. It includes a few sentences about what the app does, some headshots of their staff, and several links to download. That is really it.
This threadbare theme extends to the app itself. It’s an interesting contrast to many “real-life” card stores, cluttered with products and memorabilia. When you open the Loupe app for Android or iOS, you’ll see a list of live streams happening that day. Each live stream tab includes the type of cards they’ll be selling and all available presale items.
The Loupe app feels professional. Finding the streams for any retailer takes just a few. In addition, the app enables notifications to remind you when your favorite sellers are live streaming.
So, what are the live streams like? It varies considerably based on the individual retailer and the time of day.
Live streams are happening all the time – from 7 AM until almost midnight, 7 days a week. So naturally, the streams with minor retailers in the middle of the day will be much less engaging than bigger ones at night.
Entering a live stream is similar to walking into a card shop. There might only be 2-3 other people for the smaller retailers on the chat. In those cases, you can expect a fair amount of attention from the seller, even if you aren’t buying anything. The intimate setting is great for asking questions about specific products. However, these smaller affairs lack the energy of bigger streams.
Streams for larger retailers include anywhere from 15-100 people and they tend to be a lot of fun. Usually, someone will buy something every 5-10 minutes, and everyone on the stream gets to watch as the product is ripped live. The community celebrates the hits and commiserates with buyers of terrible packs.
In between rips, users and sellers talk about a lot of non-card stuff. People argue about who was a better athlete in high school or whether the Bengals are just a fluke. Even for those not interested in buying cards, watching the rips and joining the community is a fun experience.
From our experience, the stream quality is top-notch. Of course, if the app continues to grow, latency and glitches could eventually become a problem. But with the current size, chatting and streaming are as smooth as Instagram live.
Loupe has also done an excellent job by offering high-profile, must-watch breaks for users. For example, they do a recurring stream called “Celebrities and Cards.” In addition, they feature live breaks with big names (most often athletes.)
They’ll also do periodic rips on exciting older products. For example, last October, they opened a 1999 Pokemon TCG box. The contents of that box ended up being valued at over a million dollars.
Loupe uses a “one-click” purchasing method in the app. As of now, they only accept Apple Pay or Google Pay. If you already have these on your phone, you’re ready to buy them as soon as you download the app. Once you do, it’s a pretty convenient process. You hop on a live stream, find the product you want, and press your thumb to activate apple pay.
There are a few drawbacks to the quick payment process. For example, we’ve seen retailers put in the wrong prices in a rush to get all the items uploaded before a live stream. In a shop, a seller would realize this problem as they check out.
But on the app, the buyer purchases an item, and the seller has no idea until they are alerted that a product has sold. If the price was entered incorrectly, it creates a problem. Loupe’s terms of service have a strict “all sales are final policy.”
The few times we’ve seen this happen, the seller and buyer were able to come to a resolution on their own. Still, in the case of a pricing mishap on a costly item, the one-click method could result in a messy situation.
Most users buy full boxes or several packs within a box, and some of the more creative retailers will have fun with multiple users. Here customers sign up for specific teams, divisions, or even uniform colors. Here the buyers only keep the cards from their assigned designation.
For example, let’s say a baseball pack costs $100. Instead, a seller might offer each division for $20. So, if you buy all the “AL West” cards, you only keep players’ cards in that division. These breaks are entertaining, allowing users to get in on the action at a lower cost.
It’s important to remember that Loupe is just a “card show in your pocket.” They take responsibility for the retailers on the platform. However, their primary service is just connecting you with sellers. So, shipping is the responsibility of the seller. However, Loupe asks that their sellers ship within 2-3 days of breaks. Indeed, they claim that most of their sellers ship even faster.
Loupe does offer free tracking through the app, which is pretty convenient. For example, once you buy something, a little orange truck will pop up in the app, letting you know when the cards will arrive.
There’s no denying it. The Loupe App is a lot of fun. There are a lot of places where you can find a community of other hobbyists. There are a lot of places where you can watch live breaks. There are a lot of places where you can buy cards online.
But there aren’t many places bringing them together like Loupe. They’ve built an enjoyable community. You are just a click away from having dozens of strangers around the country cheering for you to rip a Zion auto on a Tuesday morning. Loupe has the feel of an old card shop, with the convenience of 21st-century tech. It brings a human touch to what would otherwise just be buying sports cards through a screen.
Buying through the Loupe app also guarantees quality. Currently, they only have 55 retailers who have been accepted onto the platform, so we know Loupe has been reasonably rigorous with its vetting process. As a result, you don’t have to sift through sketchy sellers or retailers who don’t have the product you want. Instead, everyone who sells on this app is legit.
The Loupe app is excellent at what it does. However, it only services the specific niche of live breaks.
So, when you buy your product, it will be ripped on the live stream. So, if you’re looking to buy and hold wax, don’t use the Loupe app to do so. Loupe offers nothing for the singles market and doesn’t allow non-approved members to sell. So, unless you’re a big retailer that can handle scale, you’re out of luck.
There’s also the concern about the price. No user fees are associated with using the app, meaning the additional cost is shifted to the retailers. In turn, the retailers are selling products for more. It’s nothing out of control, but it is more.
An immaculate hobby box that might normally cost around $2,000 will typically go for 50-100 bucks more on the app.
The Loupe app claims they’re revolutionizing how people buy sports cards. We think the better word is that they’re optimizing it. They didn’t invent the live break or the one-click purchase, but they’ve brought them together to make it accessible and fun for anyone.
Whether you’re looking to buy wax products, a specific team on a box break, or join in on the community of users cheering for the big hits, we think the Loupe app is worth trying out for anyone in the hobby.
The Loupe App and website is an innovative way to buy sports cards and other cards online. Specifically designed for the card collector, the app aims to be a “card show in your pocket.”
You can get a $20 free credit through the Loupe app to spend on your first purchase when signing up to Loupe.
Yes, you can download the Loupe App through the Google Play Store.
Yes, collectors can download the Loupe App through the Apple App Store.
Yes! Loupe launched a web version of their product in July 2022.