Grading Cards for Beginners

Grading -

Grading Cards for Beginners

Why Grade Your cards?

Grading sports cards is a common practice among collectors for several reasons:

  1. Protection: A graded card is encased in a plastic slab, which safeguards it from physical damage1.
  2. Authentication: Grading services verify that the card is genuine and not counterfeit1.
  3. Value: Graded cards often have a higher market value, especially if they receive a high grade2.
  4. Quality Assurance: The grade reflects the condition of the card, which can be important for buyers and sellers in assessing its worth3.
  5. Preservation: The encapsulation process helps preserve the card’s condition over time4.

These factors contribute to the appeal of card grading for many in the sports card hobby.


Why are collectors hesitant to send their cards out for grading?

People may hesitate to send their cards for grading due to several reasons. Here are a few:

  1. Cost vs. Value: The cost of grading might not be justified for low-level cards or non-star rookie cards, as the potential value increase may not offset the grading fees1

As a general rule of thumb try to look up prices of the cards you would potentially send out for grading before you put together an order to send out. Make sure "The juice is worth the squeeze" as they say.

2. Grading Time: Grading services can take a long time to return cards, and during this period, market values can fluctuate, leading to potential losses1.

This is especially true with newer releases which tend to drop in value after a few weeks or months after release when the next new product releases and collectors attention is tied up with that. There is also typically less fluctuation in pricing for retired players as there are no performance based factors that can effect pricing as you wait to get your cards back from the grading company

3. Fear of cards being lost or stolen during shipping

Unfortunately this is a risk we all must take if we are going to get our cards graded & maximize value/collectibility. While it is possible something can happen in the shipping process it is extremely rare. Personally I have never had any issues with sending or receiving back my orders to & from grading companies nor do I know anyone else who has. While those stories surely do exist it is incredibly rare and I personally think a necessary, albeit minor risk


4. Fear that the Grading company will steal or won't send back the cards you send them:

I personally see zero risk with this one so long as you send to one of the major companies: PSA, SGC & BGS being the first 3 that come to mind. Each of these companies has had cards valued anywhere from a few dollar to cards in the millions sent to them & have always sent them back to their customers. This should be a non factor in your decision making on whether to send your cards out to grading



Why Grade with PSA?


PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) is the largest and most respected third-party authentication and grading company in the world for trading cards and memorabilia. Here’s what you need to know about PSA grading:

  1. Service Levels:

    • PSA offers various service levels with different turnaround times and declared value limits:
    • Please note, prices below do vary & are subject to change by PSA each month: 
      • Value Bulk: $18.99 per card (Declared Value: $500 or less, 45 business days turnaround)
      • Value: $24.99 per card (Declared Value: $500 or less, 45 business days turnaround)
      • Regular: $74.99 per card (Declared Value: $1,500 or less, 10 business days turnaround)
      • Express: $129.00 per card (Declared Value: $2,500 or less, 5 business days turnaround)
      • Super Express: $249.00 per card (Declared Value: $5,000 or less, 5 business days turnaround)
      • Walk-Through: $499.00 per card (Declared Value: $10,000 or less, 5 business days turnaround)
  2. Benefits of PSA Grading:

    • Established Standards: PSA has set a recognized and respected universal grading standard for trading card collectors.


When it comes to grading your cards at the end of the day you need to do what you feel is best for you. Grading will typically help increase the value and collectibility of your collection but it does take a little bit of work and a small leap of faith to send that first order out before you become fully comfortable with the process.