Technically no, the Professional Sports Authority (PSA) does not mention the words fingerprint or fingerprints at all in their card grading guidelines.
Your skin naturally produces oil and sheds cells constantly. The more you handle your trading cards with bare hands, the more oil and dead skin cells are transferred to your cards causing visible wear. It is the wear that affects the cards grade.
Keep reading to find out more about the grading process and how you can protect your cards from fingerprints and other wear.
How Much Do Fingerprints Affect a Cards Grade?
The PSA is not looking for fingerprints. They are looking at the wear on the cards that is caused over time by the handling of the cards with bare hands.
How Does the PSA Grade My Card?
A lot of the grading process has to do with defective printing, staining, wrinkles on the surface, and the centering of the images and information. The more wear, the lower the grade. Each grade also has incredibly detailed specifications on what percentages off center images and information can be. The further off center, the lower the grade.
PSA Recommends using Card Saver 1’s when submitting cards for grading. To check the current price and availability of Card Saver 1 Sleeves, click here to view the selection on Amazon.
The highest rating the PSA gives is GEM-MT 10. This rating is for a virtually perfect card.
Mint 9 is the second highest rating a card can be given. A Mint 9 rating is given if the card is near perfect. The rating only allows for one of the following flaws: a minor printing imperfection, a very slight wax stain on the back of the card, or slightly off-color borders.
A card graded NM-MT 8 is an excellent card to have as well. This card may have a very slight was stain on the back, a minor printing defect, slight fraying at only one or two corners, and/or slightly off-color borders.
A PSA grade of NM 7 means the card has slight surface wear that is visible when you inspect it closely. The card has most of its original gloss. A minor printing imperfection is acceptable. The card may have some frayed corners. The picture may be slightly out of focus, and there may be a slight wax stain on the back.
An EX-MT 6 card may have a printing imperfection or visible surface wear, as long as the wear does not detract from the overall appeal of the card. There may be a slight scratch if you look very closely. This rating allows for a slightly less glossy card, a minor wax stain on the back, and frayed corners. It also allows for slight notching on the edges or color differences.
EX 5 cards are allowed slightly rounded corners, edges may be chipped. The card will have an obvious loss of gloss. These cards have visible surface wear and more noticeable printing errors. They may have visible scratches, off-color borders, or slightly out of focus pictures.
Very Good – Excellent
VG-EX 4 cards have noticeable but modest surface wear. They may have rounded corners, light scratches, or light scuffing. These cards still have some original gloss. They may have a slight visible crease or be slightly off-color.
A PSA VG 3 card may have rounded corners, but not extremely rounded. Nearly all of the gloss will be gone and have apparent surface wear. This rating allows for some surface scratching, noticeable wear on the edges, and a slightly out of focus picture. A VG 3 card may have a slight but observable stain, and a more pronounced wax stain on the reverse side.
The original gloss on Good 2 cards may be completely gone. These cards may be considerably discolored. There might be several creases, light scratching, scuffing, or chipping of enamel. The corners have advanced rounding, and the surface wear is slightly obvious.
A card rated FR 1.5 has extreme wear and one or more heavy creases. A badly worn card can still rate FR 1.5 if it is completely intact. It cannot be missing pieces or have a major tear.
A PSA Poor 1 will look a lot like a FR 1.5, but it may have so much damage that it has lost its eye appeal. It may be missing one or two small pieces. It may be so dirty or discolored that you cannot read some of the content.
Does PSA Wipe Down Cards?
No, the PSA does not clean your cards in any way. Your card will be graded exactly as you submitted it. You must clean your cards before sending them in to the PSA.
How Do I Get Fingerprints Off My Card?
There are several methods you can use to remove fingerprints from your collector cards.
Use Cloth Diapers
That is right friends, you can use an old-fashioned cotton cloth baby diaper to wipe fingerprints from your collectible cards. Be careful not to catch the cloth on the edges of the card as frayed edges affect the cards value greatly.
You can use pantyhose or stockings to gently wipe fingerprints from the card surface. Some people also use this method for removing wax and gum.
Use a Microfiber Cloth on Chrome Cards
If some of your cards have a chrome look, a microfiber cloth will clean those parts to a mirror shine.
How Can I Protect My Card Collection from Fingerprints?
That is simple, do not touch the cards. No, seriously, do not touch the cards.
Use Gloves and Card Sleeves
Serious collectors recommend using gloves from the start. Glove up before you open the card packaging. This practice will keep the oil and dead skin cells from your fingers from getting transferred to your cards.
Card sleeves are available in clear, as well as sleeves with specialized designs on the back. Special designs are especially helpful for those playing card games such as Pokémon or Magic the Gathering, it makes it easy to tell whose cards are whose.
Take care when placing cards in sleeves not to damage corners or edges. Experts recommend gently placing cards in sleeves and then tapping the sleeve on a table to let the card fall down into the sleeve, rather than push it down.