In the football card collecting hobby, many different NFL products are released every year – If you’re new to football card collecting, you’re probably wondering what are the best football card boxes to buy.
It can be tough to work out the best football card boxes and packs to buy, because of the wide array of choice that’s on offer these days, from lower-end and cheaper brands all the way to the most premium and expensive football card boxes and packs. In my opinion, the best all round football card box to buy for regular collectors is Panini Prizm.
However, picking the right football card products for you is dependent on your goal, so I’ve put together this guide looking at the best football card packs from a pure collecting and having fun ripping packs perspective, a potential return on investment perspective and the best products for the most premium and high-end football cards.
Table of Contents
Best Football Card Boxes At A Glance
In a hurry? The list below shows a quick summary of the best football card boxes to buy, depending on what you’re after.
Score – Fun to rip
Prizm – Fun to rip, potential ROI
Donruss Optic – Fun to rip, potential ROI
Mosaic – Fun to rip
Prestige – Fun to rip
Absolute – Potential ROI
Select – Potential ROI
Flawless – Premium
National Treasures – Premium
Immaculate – Premium
Now let’s take a look at the list of the best football card products in more detail:
The Best Football Card Boxes For Collecting And Having Fun Ripping Packs
Some of the following football card brands don’t necessarily command much value on the secondary market, but the football card hobby, for many, isn’t all about selling cards for profit.
The sets below are usually easily accessible, and generally cheaper retail options, with a lot of packs and cards, which often have a decent design – They’re perfect for anyone new to the football card hobby, or just wants to have some fun opening boxes and packs of cards.
Panini Score has been around in the football card hobby for a long while – It debuted as a set in 1989, and it’s considered one of Panini’s cheapest and lower-end football card products.
While you won’t be hitting any blockbuster cards, the boxes and packs are loaded with cards, so I’d recommend it as a great option for beginners or those who just want the enjoyment of ripping packs. Boxes are cheap, with the amount of cards being high, but the cards don’t hold much value.
Score is an early release, which will be loaded with new rookies, many of which will feature in their college team uniforms. The designs in Score sets generally opt for a more classic looking football card.
Panini Prizm is arguably the most well-known football card brand – It’s considered by many to be the GOAT of mainstream football cards.
You won’t get as many cards per box as you would with a product like Score, but the sets generally have nice card designs (which are chrome), with numerous rookie specific lines, as well as an array of popular inserts, like Color Blast, and the wide selection of parallels to chase.
Prizm is a set for any football card collector to enjoy ripping.
Donruss Optic is another staple brand in the football card hobby. The highly popular Panini set offers collectors nice chrome card designs.
With highly popular lines like Rated Rookie to chase, and a decent amount of packs and cards in a box, it’s a set that makes for a fun rip.
There’s also autos, parallels and popular inserts like Downtown to chase as well, and the sets generally have a better ratio of rookies in the checklist than a product like Prizm too.
Panini Mosaic is a football card set that debuted in 2020, making it a newer product than others in this list.
The set has been compared to Prizm, with a wide array of parallels, and the chromium cards have really sharp, nice-looking designs – The Mosaic sets generally resonate well with collectors, and are great to open.
There’s numbered parallels, autos and rookies for collectors to chase, so I’d consider it a fun set to rip.
In my opinion, Panini Prestige is a bit of an underrated football card product.
The set is usually a fun rip, with a decent number of cards in blaster boxes, and the chance to pull autos and numbered parallels. The cards usually feature college uniforms, and don’t tend to hold great value, but it’s generally a fun set to open packs.
The Best Football Card Boxes For Potential Return On Investment
When it comes to buying football card boxes, from an investment and profit making perspective, it’s worth knowing that it’s not necessarily a good idea to open sealed wax (sealed card boxes).
There’s often more potential profit in buying a sealed retail or hobby box, and selling the sealed box later on the secondary market – Collectors are willing to gamble and pay for the chance to hit a big card.
Buying football card boxes to open and sell the cards inside is very much like playing a slot machine, high-risk with high-reward – Most of the time, the cards inside usually have less value than the sealed wax itself, but there is the chance of hitting a big card which can sell for more than what was paid for the box, in some cases far more, with life-changing money involved.
Having said that, let’s look at the best football card boxes to buy for the best chance of a return on investment.
Although they cost more to buy than retail products, hobby boxes offer better odds of getting a big hit, because they’re more loaded with the rarer and higher-end cards.
Panini Prizm base card values are generally higher than similar football card sets.
However, in some years, Prizm blaster boxes have disappointed with a pretty low ceiling on what can be packed, with a lack of the big hitting numbered cards in those boxes.
With the hobby boxes, although you’ll have to pay more for the box, there’s the chance of big-hitting numbered parallels, autos and inserts like color blast.
As I mentioned before, often the value of what’s inside the sealed Prizm box will be less than the value of the box itself, but there’s definitely a case to say it’s one of the better sets for potential return on investment, with the base card values, and the potential big-hitters in hobby boxes.
Donruss Optic is another popular football card product, which is one of the better sets for potential return on investment – It rivals brands like Prizm in terms of quality and style.
The set includes the very popular Rated Rookie cards, which can hold good value. Blaster boxes of Optic also give collectors the chance to hit a valuable (although ultra-rare) Downtown insert, and a variety of parallels and memorabilia cards.
Optic is one of my favorite football card products personally; I rip packs of it every season, because it’s generally a solid brand, like Prizm.
Panini Absolute Football is a solid product, and perhaps the biggest appeal of Absolute football card boxes is arguably the best and most sought-after insert in the hobby, Kaboom! cards – Not only are they hugely popular for their style and flair, but they hold huge value.
Of course, the Kaboom inserts are incredibly rare and hard to pull, which is largely why they’re so valuable, but Absolute also has stylish prizms, which can also hold decent value, to look out for. There’s also the chance at pulling a top rookie and the occasional autographed card.
Panini Select is a set that thrives on high-quality cards and an impressive collection of autographs and prizms.
Blaster boxes of Select generally have a high ceiling when it comes to potential pulls, with low numbered parallels and auto cards included. The Hobby boxes also have an exciting array of prizms, inserts, and autographs which hold resale value.
With a lot of valuable cards to chase in the retail product alone, Panini Select is another set with a decent potential return on investment.
The Best Football Card Boxes For Premium Football Cards
For those in the hobby with a bigger budget than the average collector, Panini has some premium yearly football card sets.
The sealed boxes for the premium sets cost thousands of dollars, some even in the tens of thousands, so they’re not feasible for the majority of collectors in the football card hobby. Many of these boxes will not be worth opening in terms of ROI, but for those with the budget, they’re fun to open, with some potential massive hits.
Packs from the premium brands include high-quality cards with classy designs and often on-card signatures and memorabilia patches, sometimes match-worn.
Let’s take a look at the best football card boxes and packs for the top-end, premium football cards.
A favorite of many when it comes to premium football cards is Panini Flawless. Flawless cards generally hold very high values.
With numerous low numbered gem base cards to chase, auto cards and RPAs, the set has some of the highest value cards in the hobby, with their classy designs and high-quality finish. Overall, Flawless is considered one of the holy grail sets of the football card hobby.
Panini National Treasures is considered by many in the hobby as the GOAT of premium football cards.
The Rookie Patch Autograph cards, which are usually numbered /99 with some additional parallels, include a jumbo patch and are usually the most valuable RPA cards in the hobby.
With a wide range of big-hitting premium cards to chase from this expensive product, it’s certainly near the top, if not the top, of the bunch for premium sets.
While Panini Immaculate doesn’t quite hold the same brand prestige as National Treasures, it’s still one of the best football card sets to rip.
Immaculate sets include a variety of very limited auto cards, memorabilia cards, as well as valuable RPAs to chase. It’s definitely one of the best football card products for top-tier premium football cards.
What Is The Best Football Card Set?
With all factors considered, Panini Prizm is the best all-round football card set, in my opinion.
Card designs are generally nice, with chrome finish. Prizm sets usually also have a large selection of parallels of the base cards (including the popular Silver Prizm), to add more color and varying levels of scarcity – There’s different price-entry points for all budgets.
Prizm has also included some of the best football card insert lines in the past.
For super-premium football cards, the best football brand is Panini National Treasures – The cards from these very high-end sets are second to none, but they’ll cost a lot.
What Is The Most Expensive Football Card Box To Buy?
The most expensive football card boxes in a season are generally the Panini National Treasures and Flawless brands.