Card grading refers to assessing collectible cards’ authenticity, rarity, and quality. Such cards include sports cards, gaming cards, and trading cards. During the grading, the cards are graded from poor to mint condition, where the grade determines the card’s value.
Aspects evaluated during grading include your card’s centering, print quality, surfaces, and edges. Card grading comes in handy in ensuring buyers get their money’s worth, among other reasons. Let’s delve deeper and learn more about card grading.
- Conventions, where cards are graded in person, include The National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC), The Great American Collectors Show (GACS), The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (MANC), and The World Sports Collectors Convention (WSCC).
- Different grading companies include PSA, Beckett, and SGC.
- Cards eligible to be graded include sports cards, autographed cards, vintage cards, and memorabilia cards.
- Some key benefits of in-person grading include immediate feedback, assured authenticity, added credibility, and increased card value.
- Choosing the Right Grading Service entails checking the reputation, turnaround time, fees, and grading standards.
The Benefits of In-Person Grading
Getting your cards graded in person comes with a wealth of benefits, including the following:
- Prompt feedback: You can get your card’s grade immediately, plus extra explanations and notes, instead of resorting to lengthy shipping and grading.
- Authenticity: Through in-person physical grading, a professional will thoroughly inspect your card and ascertain its authenticity. This way, you can rest assured that your card is not counterfeit or defective, eliminating fraud cases.
- Preservation: Grading services usually use protective sleeves and unique holders to maintain the card’s condition while being graded. Such meticulousness keeps the card from being damaged or deteriorating in the long run. Also, grading services protect the cards with tamper-proof slabs, giving them an extra layer of security.
- Adds Credibility and Value: When your card is graded in person by a reputable service, it increases in credibility and, naturally, in value. That makes it irresistible to investors and collectors alike.
- Provenance: When your card is graded in person, it births a chain of custody that is traceable and verifiable, adding to the card’s value and origin.
- Peace of Mind: Experiencing the grading exercise in person grants you the confidence and assurance that your card’s grade is authentic and accurate. Nothing could be frustrating, like owning a card and not knowing whether it’s valuable or utterly worthless.
Related: How to Become a Sports Card Grader
Types of Grading Services
There are several kinds of grading services. They use a letter or numerical grading system to assess the state of a card and grade it. Some of the most recognized grading services include:
1. Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) – PSA ranks among the most popular and reputable sports card grading services. Their numerical grading scale ranges from one to ten, with 10 being the highest. In addition, PSA provides encapsulation for your cards, encasing them in tamper-evident holders, which enhances protection and authenticity.
2. Beckett Grading Services (BGS) – BGS is well-reputed in the sports card grading arena. They apply a numerical grading system, grading cards from one (the lowest grade) to 10 (the highest).
Apart from encapsulating cards, their elaborate grading procedure includes examining all card sections, including the print quality, surfaces, edges, and centering.
3. Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) – As a third-party grading company, SGC has mastered the art of grading high-end and vintage sports cards. They also use a numerical scale to grade cards, ranging from 1 to 100 (one hundred being the highest).
They provide card encapsulation, and their workmanship involves the assessment of the card’s condition, authenticity, and general appearance.
4. Iconic Auctions– They are a grading service specializing in high-end and vintage cards. Apart from encapsulating cards, they use a grading system from 1 to 10, with ten being the highest grade.
5. Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) – CGC has made a name for itself in grading magazines and comics. Their numerical grading system ranges from 0.5 to 10. Their assessment covers the condition, authenticity, and general state of comics, in addition to encapsulation services.
What are Card Grading Events?
Card grading events are meets where specialists from card grading services assess the condition of trading cards for authenticity. The events can be in-person or online, and they feature sports cards, and collectible cards, among other cards.
Such events allow collectors to have their cards professionally evaluated and graded. Moreover, the card owners are assured of a certificate of authenticity and grade. Also, some events go the extra mile and offer encapsulation services – (sealing the card in a secure case to protect and preserve it.)
While card grading services usually organize the events, other interested parties like sports card shops, card shows, and hobby shops also do. While most people attend such events exclusively for grading services, other enthusiasts show up to network with collectors or find high-end or rare cards.
Related: How to Get Cards Graded for Free
Conventions Where Cards are Graded in Person
There are various conventions where in-person card grading takes place, including:
- National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC): This takes the trophy as one of the US’s most popular and largest sports card events. It generally features card grading services—providing grading services on-site.
- The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (MANC): Held in the summer, this event features several card grading services providing on-site services.
- The Great American Collectors Show (GACS) is another memorable event where card collectors get on-site grading services.
- The National (TNA): This is an annual event made possible by the National Sports Collectors Convention.
- The World Sports Collectors Convention (WSCC): This convention is annual and involves multiple grading services providing on-site services.
Other events worth mentioning include the Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo (SCME) and the Card and Collectibles Expo (CCE).
How Do Card Grading Events Work?
Card grading events, also called card submission events, usually involve third-party grading services, for instance, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) or Beckett Grading Services (BGS).
Typically, the procedure is as follows:
- Card owners visit the event with their cards for in-person grading.
- The grading experts assess the cards to determine their condition and authenticity. Here, they’ll check the card’s authenticity and overall condition – (centering, corners, edges, and surfaces).
- The graders assign each card a grade, usually from 1 to 10, depending on their grading system.
- The grading company then encapsulates the card in tamper-evident slabs with its grade, plus details about the card and a serial number to enable tracking.
- The card owner then pays for the grading service, depending on the range of services rendered and the number of cards.
- After the graders grade the card, the collector can sell it at a higher price or use it to trade.
What Types of Cards Can be Graded
A wide array of cards can be graded, including:
- Sports cards: Basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, and football cards from different leagues and eras.
- Non-sports cards: Trading cards from various genres, including TV shows, comics, video games, and movies.
- Vintage cards: 19th and early 20th century cards, for instance, caramel and tobacco cards.
- Autographed cards: Cards that have been autographed by celebrities and star players on condition the grading service confirms they are genuine.
- Memorabilia cards: Cards showing a part of game-used material, for instance, a bat, shoe, or jersey.
- Pokémon cards
- Yu-Gi-Oh cards
How to Choose the Right Grading Service
Selecting the best grading service for your cards can be easy if you keep the following tips in mind:
- Reputation: Use a grading service with a stellar reputation and track record of accurate and consistent grading. Check out their website, customer reviews, and word-of-mouth experiences from other collectors.
- Grading Standards: The company you’re eyeing must have strict, professional, and transparent grading standards.
- Turnaround Time: Investigate how long card grading takes. Some grading companies boast of a faster turnaround time than others.
- Fees: Compare fees from different grading companies, considering the cost of insurance and shipping. Some graders have discounts or bulk prices for larger submissions.
- Authentication: Go for companies offering not only grading but also authentication services. That guarantees accurate and authentic grading.
- Encapsulation: Grading services encapsulate cards in tamper-evident cases for protection and preservation, which is a great reason to settle for them.
How to Prepare for a Grading Event
Below are some pointers on how to get ready for a grading event.
- Research the grading company: make sure the service you have in mind is reputable, with an excellent track record and high standards.
- Inspect the state of your cards for damage and tear and wear to determine whether they are worth grading to avoid unnecessary expenses.
- Organize your cards by category to save time.
- Make sure you fill out all the requisite forms with all the information regarding your card.
- Keep track of the cards as you submit them for easier tracking and identification once graded.
- Be aware of all associated costs.
- Be ready to wait as the grading proceeds.
- Never hesitate to ask any questions or raise any valid concerns.
List of 2023 Grading Events and Conventions
At the Marriott Dallas Allen Convention Center. January 9-12
NRG Arena, Houston, Texas. February 3-5
The Event Center at iPlay America
Freehold, NJ. February 3 -5
Valley Forge Casino Resort
King of Prussia, PA. March 10-12
Phoenix Convention Center
Phoenix, Arizona. March 24-26
Las Vegas, NV. March 30-April 2
Cheapest Way to Get Cards Graded
The cheapest way to have your cards graded rests upon the particular service you’re using. Some services offer discounts for bulk submissions and more affordable fees for lower-grade cards. Using third-party grading services can also get you cheaper fees.
How Much Does it Cost to Get One Card Graded?
Getting one card graded by PSA costs from around $20 per card to $10,000 per card. The cost depends on the card’s value, age, and expected turnaround time, among other factors.
How to Get Cards Graded For Free
Professional grading services don’t grade cards for free. Nevertheless, some card events may offer discounts or promotions, but that’s not guaranteed.
Where to Get Cards Graded in Person: FAQs
Where Can You Take Your Cards to Get Graded?
There are various respected and well-established grading services like Sportscard Guaranty (SGC), Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), and Beckett Grading Services (BGS).
Related: Does Beckett Grade Pokemon Cards?
Can You Get PSA Cards Graded In-Person?
Yes, you can get your cards graded in person by Professional Sports Authenticator. PSA provides grading services on-site at select card conventions and shows countrywide.
Where is PSA Card Grading Located?
Professional Sports Authenticator is based out of a facility in Santa Ana, California, USA. They also have branches in Hong Kong and New York, plus authorized representatives in various countries.
Where to Get Pokémon Cards Graded in Person?
You can have your Pokémon cards graded in person at card conventions and events. Also, there are authorized grading experts from third-party grading services at local collecting clubs and card shops.
Where to Get Baseball Cards Graded in Person?
Baseball cards can be graded in person by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) at some conventions and card shows across the US. Beckett Grading Services (BGS) also provides on-site baseball cards grading services at select conventions and card shows.
As a card collector or a person looking to get in on the action, attending a grading event or visiting an in-person grading location can be a game-changer. You may be unknowingly sitting on a fortune, and a card grading service is the best place to know how authentic your cards are and, most importantly, have them graded and encapsulated.