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Which Sportscards to Grade Without Getting Played

As the sports card market began to surge in 2020, so did the significance—and value—of grading cards. Whether your cards are modern or vintage, a high grade from Beckett Grading Service (BGS) or Professional Sports Authenticate (PSA) can significantly increase what they’re worth. You may also consider availing yourself of the services of the upstart Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA) grading service.

As more and more collectors turn to grading to protect, preserve, or increase the value of their cards, now is a great time to consider the three most important factors to consider when grading your collection.

With the recent substantial rise in PSA pricing and the considerable amount BGS charges, collectors must be selective with the cards they submit. Here are some handy dandy tips to help you pick which cards to send for grading.

  1. Which company should you choose to grade your sportscards?

The two most popular grading companies among modern hobbyists are PSA and BGS for several reasons. For one, there is a value in a grade from either of these two companies.

Across the board, cards graded by PSA or BGS sell for significantly more than cards with an equivalent grade from companies such as SGC, GMA, and others that have come and gone.

When picking between PSA and BGS, consider the final product’s design: while both companies slab cards in distinct and iconic cases, many collectors prefer the look of one over the other. PSA has a straightforward slab design that is simple and feels classic, while BGS uses white, silver, gold, and black labels to quickly identify grade.

PSA slabs have a classic feel

Finally, note that BGS grades on a half-point scale and include (optional) subgrades, while PSA does not. BGS is notoriously known for giving far fewer 10s than PSA, but this also means a BGS 10 carries more market value.

BGS slabs allow you to quickly identify the grade, and can contain subgrades.

  1. What is the best way to determine which sportscards to submit?

Once you’ve narrowed down which company to use, it’s time to decide what to grade. When doing this, consider both timeliness and appearance.

Most new graders only start with a few cards, so regarding the timeliness, ask yourself if there is any value in doing some before others. For example, you might want to grade your Lamar Jackson Prizm rookie before your Jerry Rice Topps rookie if you suspect the Ravens will make a Super Bowl run in the short term, and Jackson’s value will rise.

Both BGS and PSA fell behind in grading turnaround during 2020, so allow as much time as possible to get cards back if you want to sell them while the market is hot.  Alternatively, you can pay more for expedited returns.

As far as appearance goes, examine the corners, edges, surface, and centering of the card—and be careful while doing it! Centering is one of the most common issues, and here is a great guide to help with the process.

  1. Why are you grading your sportscards?

Finally, consider why you are grading your cards. The reason can have an impact on both the company and the cards you ultimately select. If you’re grading to try to maximize collection value or sell during a market surge, choose quick returns from PSA or BGS.

If you’re grading because these are your cards and you want to preserve and protect them for years to come, use whichever company you like best—even if that’s the sharp black and white design of SGC. Some collectors prefer the aesthetic of the HGA slabs, which are color coordinated and reflect the players’ jersey colors.

SGC has a sharp black and white design

This is your collection at the end of the day. Therefore, grade with whichever company will make you the happiest and enjoy your cards even more. That’s what it’s all about.

HGA color coordinates team jersey colors.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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