Sports card grading is a process in which a professional third-party organization evaluates the condition and authenticity of a sports card and assigns it a numerical grade on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible grade. This process can be helpful for collectors because it provides a standardized way to determine the value of a card and can add an extra layer of protection against fraud.
There are several companies that offer sports card grading services, but three of the most well-known and respected are Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), and Sportscard Guaranty (SGC). Each of these companies has its own unique approach to grading and its own set of rules and guidelines, so it's important to understand the differences between them in order to decide which one is right for you.
Here are my quick thoughts:
- I think my "default" grading company is PSA, they have the largest market share of graded cards and their graded card values set the standard
- When I have a card in great condition that is also PERFECTLY centered (as measured left to right and top to bottom) then I would consider sending it to BGS in hopes of getting a 9.5 or 10 grade.
- I think the SGC slabs just plain look the best and feature the card the best
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
PSA is one of the oldest and most well-respected sports card grading companies in the industry. Founded in 1991, PSA has graded millions of cards and is known for its strict grading standards and thorough authentication process. PSA uses a 10-point grading scale, with grades ranging from PSA 1 (Poor) to PSA 10 (Mint). PSA grades cards based on their overall condition, including factors such as centering, corners, edges, surface, and print quality. PSA also offers additional services such as autograph and game-used memorabilia authentication.
One of the key benefits of using PSA is that their grades are widely recognized and accepted within the sports card community. Many collectors and dealers consider PSA to be the gold standard in grading, and PSA graded cards often command higher prices in the marketplace due to their perceived credibility. PSA also has a large and active online community of collectors and dealers, which can be a valuable resource for those looking to buy or sell graded cards.
However, PSA is also known for being one of the more expensive grading options, going up from there for expedited or premium services. PSA can also have long turnaround times, with standard grading taking several weeks or even months to complete.
Beckett Grading Services (BGS)
BGS is another well-known sports card grading company that was founded in 1984. Like PSA, BGS uses a 10-point grading scale and evaluates cards based on their overall condition, including factors such as centering, corners, edges, surface, and print quality. BGS also offers additional services such as autograph and game-used memorabilia authentication.
One of the key benefits of using BGS is that they offer a range of grading options, including standard, expedited, and rush services, which can be helpful for those who need their cards graded more quickly. BGS also has a reputation for being slightly more lenient in their grading standards, which can be beneficial for those who feel that their cards have been unfairly graded by other companies. Some collectors also prefer BGS's more detailed grading reports, which provide a more in-depth analysis of a card's condition.
However, BGS is also known for being more expensive than some other grading options, but in line with PSA I would say. BGS can also have longer turnaround times, with standard grading taking several weeks or even months to complete.
Sportscard Guaranty (SGC)
Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) is a sports card grading company that was founded in 1998. SGC is known for its strict grading standards and thorough authentication process, and uses a 10-point grading scale to evaluate cards based on their overall condition, including factors such as centering, corners, edges, surface, and print quality. SGC also offers additional services such as autograph and game-used memorabilia authentication.
One of the key benefits of using SGC is that they are known for being more affordable than some other grading options. SGC also has a reputation for fast turnaround times, with standard grading typically taking just a few weeks to complete.
SGC is also known for its commitment to customer service and transparency. The company has a detailed grading process that is available for customers to view online, and provides detailed grading reports for each card that includes high-resolution images and a breakdown of the card's condition. SGC also has a dedicated customer service team that is available to answer questions and address any concerns.
One potential downside of using SGC is that their grades may not be as widely recognized and accepted within the sports card community as those of some other companies. While SGC is well-respected within the industry, their grades may not command the same premium prices in the marketplace as those of PSA or BGS, but I personally feel that gap is closing.
When deciding which sports card grading company to use, it's important to consider a variety of factors such as cost, turnaround time, grading standards, and credibility. It can also be helpful to read reviews and ask for recommendations from other collectors and dealers in order to get a sense of which company is the best fit for your needs. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your individual priorities and circumstances.