Conjured Currency – The Costs of Magic that Aren’t Magic

Welcome back, readers, to [card]Conjured Currency[/card]! Until now, this series hasn’t had a name, but thanks to my roommate and good friend, Sean, that is no longer the case. Although my articles won’t always have an extremely specific common topic, everything I write for this website does deal with specific goals. I always want to be helping you make and save money through Magic: The Gathering. In one way or another, I want to conjure you all some currency.

Grinding the Roads

Every weekend, Star City Games gets hundreds of players to travel and participate in their Open Series. I didn’t exactly survey everyone at the last open, but it’s safe to assume that the majority of players traveled at least a few hours to attend the tournament. If you’re a true grinder who wants to make it to every PTQ or GPT in your area, you have probably traveled upwards of eight to ten hours in order to make it to a specific event. Now, how much did that event cost you? If your answer was “whatever the entry fee was,” then you’re mistaken. Magic tournaments cost a lot more money than just the entry fee, especially when driving long distances. Yes, this is probably obvious to a lot of you: traveling does cost money. However, this is going to be an article that tries to save you money without dealing with trading cards specifically. Today, I will be attempting to give a few tips and tricks on how to reduce the overall costs of your tournament experience.

Gas is expensive these days. One of the easiest ways to save money on traveling is carpooling. The more people you can cram into a single vehicle, the more money you save on gasoline. If you normally travel to events with less than a full car and don’t know of anyone else to invite, ask your LGS owner if you can leave a flyer that says you are looking for people to travel to a given tournament. Put your contact information down, the times you intend on leaving and returning, and estimated shared costs for gasoline and hotel. If you don’t have a car, you can also generally rely on your local Facebook MTG group (if your local area doesn’t have one yet, make one yourself) to look for eager drivers looking to split costs. If you are the one with a car and are looking to reduce gas costs, expect that college kids without a vehicle will be more than willing to chip in their fair share to obtain transportation.

Another concealed cost of traveling for events is parking. Although I have personally never had to deal with it, I have heard of stories where the parking fee was as high as $30 a day. Plan accordingly for potential fees, and call ahead to your designated parking garage and learn how much your wallet is going to suffer.

This same logic applies to hotel costs. If you have any extra space in your hotel room, be on the lookout for anyone who looks like they might be planning on sleeping in their car, or who wanted to stay for Sunday but couldn’t due to lack of availability in the hotel. You’d be surprised how many people don’t think ahead to rent a hotel room until the last minute, and you can capitalize on this, literally. That person gets a room to sleep in, and you get $20 or 30 to mitigate your travel costs. In addition, SCG often has deals on rooms in nearby hotels if you mention the tournament that they are hosting.

Unless the financial costs of playing Magic are negligible to you, I can not recommend flying to tournaments. Not only are airline tickets incredibly expensive, but you incur other hidden costs throughout the trip, such as baggage fees, check-in fees, and taxis to and from the event. As much as I am dreading the eight-hour drive to Grand Prix Richmond in March, my wallet will thank me for not taking to the skies instead. Also if you fly, you risk much more severe delays than if you were to drive. A slight rain can cause a delay of hours, meaning you risk not getting to the event on time.

Finding Sustenance

Fist of SunsOne of the not-so-secret costs of traveling is food. Anyone who has traveled in their lifetime knows that food on the road is largely overpriced, and the convention cuisine is anything but an exception. Six-dollar hot dogs are real, with four-dollar small sodas. Wouldn’t you rather buy a [card]Fist of Suns[/card] with that money? No? Good, I didn’t think so. Don’t buy that card. Anyway, the point is that you can save a significant amount of money and hunger by preparing your own food and beverages at home, so that you don’t get forced into the misplay of seven-dollar burritos that also make your bowels feel like the guy who did buy [card]Fist of Suns[/card] at ten dollars.

If you are in a gambling mood and want to [i]potentially[/i] save money on food, you can always try your hand at the credit card game when eating out with friends. After agreeing with your fellow diners to put your genetalia on the proverbial chopping block, call the server over and have them take each party members’ card, selecting one at random. The unlucky owner of that card has their dinner transformed into a pricey night out, while everyone else lives to eat another day. Attempt at your own risk.

Squeezing Every Dollar

When selling cards to cover costs of a trip (yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about actual cards in this article, but who hasn’t shaved off a bit of their collection to a dealer to feel better about how much they were spending at a tournament?), try to resist accepting the first offer you receive from a dealer, even if it sounds tempting. Make a trip around the room and get a quote from each of the dealers on their buy prices. Printing out buylists in advance can help you make the most money. Also, when planning on selling cards to dealers, expect to get less cash on Sunday. After a long day of buying on Saturdays, dealers will have less to offer. However, this means you can negotiate for a better deal on trade-ins if you are looking for speculation targets or pieces to a deck.

If the tournament you are planning on attending is a Grand Prix, be prepared to preregister for the tournament ahead of time, and potentially sign up for the VIP package to lock in your playmat. As the attendance of Grands Prix (yes, that is the plural of Grand Prix, it’s weird) have increased, the number of playmats given out have not. Not all 4,492 players at Vegas got the [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card] mat, and I doubt everyone will get an [card]Eternal Witness[/card] playmat at Richmond. If you like to sell the mat to recuperate some costs of playing in the tournament, then the initial $100 investment into the VIP package may be worth it in the long run—securing the mat and all the other VIP bonuses certainly has its perks.

Strategic Planning

Have a Plan

Overall, the most important aspect to saving money on any expedition, MTG related or not, is planning. Be sure to figure out who you are traveling with, how much it will cost, and determine your itinerary several weeks in advance. Budget your funds to allow a specific amount for food, fun, emergencies, and travel expenses.

Feel free to leave a comment below with interesting ways you save money, or as always, tell me ways in which I can improve my writing!

Feel free to join in on the discussion on, Twitter, or by emailing me directly. I will reply to every comment!

About the Author
@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

9 comments on Conjured Currency – The Costs of Magic that Aren’t Magic

  1. Theo Manley says:

    This was a great read. I love the title also it made a lot of sense . One way I always save money is by sleeping on the floor of someone else’s hotel room . Also I have a standing relationship with a few vendors that give me a little extra on my cards on day 1 . I told them that I use the money to pay for my room, food, and gas to go home with . They love to have me there, because I always bring cards they actually sell a lot of for the weekend . For example in Richmond it will be modern so I will bring all my extra modern staples, by staples I mean any card that is on a modern list common and uncommons rake me in at least 40-50 dollars . Well I won’t leave all my tips here, I’ll let Douglas do that in the next article .

    Great job and keep it up man ,

    1. DJ Johnson says:

      Thanks for the comment! Hope to see you in Richmond!

  2. jp says:

    Good article! I use Airbnb and you can get a much better deal over regular hotels, and cheaper food (kitchens etc). Always hit up a grocery store instead of just fast food places. And travel in packs, it’s cheaper for everyone (economy of scale), besides PT’s are no fun alone!

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      That’s a good idea, I’ve never heard of that program to obtain cheaper flights. I’m sure that if you are a PT regular who attends a significant amount of large events each year, then flying may be the smarter option due to frequent flier miles and the like.

  3. Reader says:

    weak article

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      Care to explain why?

      1. Jason Alt says:

        I wouldn’t worry. Someone at this same IP address wrote “Suck it, Jason” in my last article. Cowardly troll is cowardly.

        1. Rickits says:

          Jason, to be fair. It’s good advice he gave you.

          But yes, it seems like someone who is just posting negatively for no reason at all. SCG fanboys, gotta love ’em!

  4. Ken says:

    Hi everyone, it’s my first go to see at this website, and piece of
    writing is truly fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting such content.

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