Some companies offer or have offered a raw card review service. Maybe you have heard of one or used one in the past.
In this post, we’ll be digging into what it is, why people do it, and if you should think about doing it with your collection.
As we’ve written about before at Cardlines, some of the biggest profits in sports cards can be found in buying raw cards and getting them graded yourself. This article quantifies the benefits of grading yourself, and here’s a look at PSA moving back to regular grading.
But to an untrained eye, submitting your own cards for grading can also be a risk. Imagine expecting a PSA 9 and getting back a PSA 6 – those bad surprises can really derail your chances of making a profit on grading.
That’s where raw card service reviews come in. In short, this is a way to have a professional look at your cards and predict what grade the companies behind grading will give them. Some of these raw card reviewers are former graders, while some actually work for the company themselves.
The number one reason to do a raw card review service is that it’s significantly cheaper than actually getting your cards graded. On average, you’re paying about a quarter of the price of actually grading the card to get the consultation of an expert.
When you do this, it can save you a lot of money and heartache by identifying a few cards to not submit. That alone can make up for the extra cost of grading.
That said, if you grade enough cards you’ll develop your own ability to be a raw card reviewer. Sure, that might sound cheesy, but you really can get a feel for how PSA grades by looking at your own cards with good light and magnifying glass, predicting the grades, and then seeing how they actually grade. I’m shooting about 90% right now.
Raw card reviews spend extra money and time. Of course, PSA is taking up to a year to return cards so time might not be your #1 concern if you’re grading, but for the cards your review and then grade, you’re paying two separate fees.
On top of that, these services are great and insightful but they’re not 100% accurate. PSA is full of surprises, so never write anything off entirely.
Beckett offers Becket Raw Card review at Beckett booths at card shows. You take your card and a member of the Beckett team looks at it, gives it an estimated grade, then seals it in a Card Saver with an official, tamper-proof Beckett seal that labels it with its grade.
Despite this being done by BGS, note that the grade is not guaranteed by BGS. You’re just paying for an estimate. You could send BGS a card that graded a 9.5 BGS Raw Review and it might come back a 9.
So what does Beckett Raw Card Review grading cost? These are actually not currently listed with Beckett saying that “prices and turnaround subject to change based on availability. With that said, some have reported prices around $40-$50 without subgrades, which is around the standard rate.
Another drawback to Beckett Review Card Review? There is nowhere that you look up your Beckett Raw Card Review serial number.
Mike Baker Authenticated is another raw card review that’s grown in popularity since opening doors in August 2020. According to the company’s website,
“We offer a certification service of high-end graded products from Professional Sport Authenticator (PSA), Sportscard Guaranty, LLC (SGC) & Beckett Grading Services (BGS) card products. Our experience, passion and creativity have developed first to industry innovations that have propelled our company to become one of the most respected brands in the collectibles arena.”
Instead of reviewing raw cards, MBA “authenticates” grades based on a criteria list. In other words, you show them your graded slabs, and if they agree with the grade, they put a sticker on the card certifying it. So yes, they’ll grade your already graded slabs, for a fee.
Don’t worry. It is. Here’s why.
It’s laughable to think that a sticker from a third party that essentially grades graders will affect the price of the card to anybody who knows anything about sports cards. Plus, the COA if you earn the prestigious “silver diamond” is plagued with mistakes and misspellings.
Avoid this group at all costs.
Considering a raw card review service?
To get the best experience, the #1 tip is to go in with level expectations. You must understand what you’re getting and what you’re not getting. Namely, know that none of the grades you here are guaranteed.
Also, expect it to hurt. Especially if you’re dealing with BGS, I’d recommend going into the encounter with very low expectations.
From personal experiences and second-hand reports, there are a lot of issues with the graders seeming callous and reckless with the cards – even with my friend who took a /5 Mahomes Rookie Auto to them – and I’ve never heard anybody say “wow, I’m surprised by the great grades they appraised.” Instead, everybody leaves feeling low-balled.
For the cards themselves, the best approach is the clean them and treat them as if you were getting them graded. You want them to be in the best shape and put their best foot forward to impress the raw card reviewer.
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