PSA Grading vs Beckett Grading vs SGC Grading (Massive Guide and Review)

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psa vs bgs vs sgc
The grading market continues to grow each year, with collectors and investors keen to find out the value of their assortment of trading cards.

Of the many grading options available, PSABGS, and SGC are three of the best and most reputable, but which is better, and what are the differences between the three?

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The modern card market is dominated by marvels like online auctions and virtual collections, but the process of getting an item graded is the same as ever.

You’ll need to send over the cards you want to be appraised, and wait for a period of time while they certify the authenticity and quality of your items.

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Services like Beckett, PSA, and SGC grew to be popular as cards became more and more valuable (and due to this article). SGC has a reputation for being used on older cards but has more recently gained traction with newer ones as well.

SGC has seen massive growth in the last month and is now becoming a viable 3rd option to grade cards (watch SGC massive growth video discussion).

Buying a graded card is a great way to avoid being stung by a counterfeit card, and it’s increasingly important online where many collectibles are traded sight unseen.

It might not be worth it if the card isn’t especially rare (i.e. 1988 George Brett Topps Cards), but it’s almost always worth the price on older, expensive cards.

Grading Forms Links
Beckett Grading Form
PSA Grading Form
SGC Grading Form

Another important reason for getting cards graded is to avoid potential counterfeits (such as the Michael Jordan Fleer RC counterfeit cards).

PSA, BGS, and SGC check everything from the size to the coloring to ensure the legitimacy of an item, so you won’t have to sweat if you’re thinking about adding an expensive card to your collection.

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Here’s an in-depth guide with everything you could possibly want to know about SGC, PSA, and BGS, including pros and cons, which should help you to decide which is better for your collection.

Quick Pros and Cons

PSA – Pros: valued the highest at top grades out of the three Cons: the most expensive and takes the longest of the three options (PSA, BGS, SGC)
BGS – Pros: faster than PSA, looks good especially the black labels, cost less than PSA | Cons: more expensive than SGC, not as fast as SGC
SGC – Pros: fast return, cheaper than PSA/BGS  | Cons: SGC graded cards are not valued as much vs PSA/BGS at equal grades

 

Who is PSA?

psa grading

Arguably the best known of the two, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is a US-based third-party grading and authentication company.

“Since 1991, they’ve processed over 30m cards and collectibles with a cumulative value of over a billion dollars, including some of the most expensive cards ever sold at auction”

For example, the famous T206 Honus Wagner card owned by Wayne Gretzky went for $2.8m at auction in 2007, just six months after it was bought for $2.35m. It was graded by PSA, earning an 8.

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It’s easy to understand why they’re seen as the premier option for vintage cards considering the prices they’ve sold for in the past, and they’ve positioned themselves as the clear choice.

PSA uses a simple rating system, grading cards from anywhere between 1 and 10 depending on a variety of factors.

 

PSA Grading Scale

  • PR 1 (Poor)
  • FR 1.5 (Fair)
  • Good 2 (Good)
  • VG 3 (Very Good)
  • VG-EX 4 (Very Good-Excellent)
  • EX 5 (Excellent)
  • EX-MT 6 (Excellent-Mint)
  • NM 7 (Near Mint)
  • NM-MT 8 (Near Mint-Mint)
  • Mint 9 (Mint)
  • GEM-MT 10 (Gem Mint)

PSA used to exclusively grade using whole numbers but changed to allow for half grades for more precision in February 2008. It’s especially important for high-end cards. They clarified that; “In order for a card to be considered for the half-point increase, it must exhibit qualities that separate it from the average card within the particular grade.

In general, the centering may be the most important factor in achieving the half-point increase with eye appeal being so crucial in the grader evaluation

Since centering is so important and clearly visible to most collectors, the strength or weakness of the centering will have a significant impact on the final outcome.”

It’s a welcome decision, especially considering the potential difference in price between a 7 and an 8 grade. However, they only issue half-point grades for anything between PSA Good 2 and PSA Mint 9.

It’s annoying if you think a Mint 9 should be good enough to get a 10, if not for the slightest imperceptible flaw. The lack of a 9.5 rating can cause some disparity in pricing between 9 and 10 grades, but high-rated PSA cards are always sought after.

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PSA also has a range of qualifiers to give the buyer a better idea of the general look and feel of the card. This is especially important if you’re bidding online or you’re unable to see the card in person.

After all, nobody wants a nasty surprise if they’ve spent a wad of cash on a sub-par item. The PSA qualifiers are as follows: Off Center (OC) – They give some leeway depending on “eye appeal”, but an OC card always lowers the asking price.

Staining (ST) – Staining will also diminish value, and it’s more prevalent with vintage cards.
Print Defect (PD) – Generally this comes in the form of a small white dot, which is often known as “fish-eye” or “snow”.
As you might expect, the slightest defect will stop cards from getting the highest grades.
Out of Focus (OF) – Thankfully OF cards are rarely seen in new packs, as you’ll get a headache if you stare at one for too long.
This will vastly lower the price.
Marks (MK) – This could take the form of a signature which was added at a later date, but any card with “writing, ink marks, pencil marks, or evidence of the impression left from the act of writing” will ensure a card gets the MK designation.
Miscut (MC) – A miscut focuses on the card itself rather than the image. If a portion is missing, or the card is oversized, it’s designated MC.
The same is true if portions of more than one card are visible. They’re seen as the best choice for many older cards, in part because of the work they’ve done in the past.

 

After all, if it’s good enough for a T206 Wagner card, it’s probably good enough for the vintage cards in your collection. PSA is a great choice, with an extensive list of criteria for grading so you know exactly what you’re getting.

However, that doesn’t mean that BGS/SGC isn’t worth looking into.

 

How To Get Higher Graded PSA Cards (3 Tips)

Having sent ten of thousands of cards to PSA over the years you eventually begin to pick up on a few tricks that COULD (keyword being could) get higher graded PSA cards on the flip side.

Tip 1: When buying the raw card check the seller’s history and see if he anytime in the past year or sold bought the exact card your buying… if so the odds are goo he sent it in for PSA Grading and received a sub-par grade and is now trying to pass it off on you.

Tip 2: Also, buy a super high-caliber magnifying glass in order to check out every single inch of the card before you send it into PSA. You can eliminate a ton of unnecessary spending on cards that would never be graded PSA 10 or PSA 9.

Pro-Tip: We suggest requesting a PSA 9 grade or better and if that can’t happen have PSA send it back ungraded.

Tip 3: Use a hard Ultra Pro Top Loader in combination with a Penny Sleeve as it will give the best protection for the card. Then cut two pieces of cardboard tape it around the card and wrap the final out coating in buttle wrap. Never use those lame long looking plastic sleeves (those are ugly as sin and offer horrible protection).

Follow those above tips and your odds of getting a higher graded PSA rating in return will rise drastically.

 

Who is BGS?

beckett grading system

The Beckett Grading Service (BGS) has been around since 1999, carving out a niche as a solid choice for getting cards appraised.

It was formed by the founder of Beckett Publications, which has been at the forefront of collectible news since 1984. In the here and now, the Beckett Grading Service (BGS) is a leading name when it comes to the trading card business.

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It’s less subjective than heading into your local hobby store, and the BGS grade will give you a better idea of how much your prized cards are worth. BGS focus on four main subgrades when grading cards, which are: Centering, Surface, Edges & Corners.

Centering – The centering considers how the image fits the card, and how it aligns with the border. Many older cards are poorly centered, so it’s one to look out for! This is judged by measuring the angle, and 50/50 centering is when the image is directly in the middle of the card.
Surface – The quality of the surface. Wear and tear can cause creases and flaws, which are noted here.
Edging – How well the edges of the cards align. White borders can blend more easily, making it slightly harder to detect any flaws. While edging is often seen as the least important factor, it still has a major impact on the overall rating.
Corners – Some cards can be trimmed in an attempt to artificially boost the value, and it’s a common method of alteration. Sharper corners are more desirable, as they’re the most susceptible to wear and tear over the years.

 

*Bill Maestro confessed to trimming the famous T206 card formerly owned by Wayne Gretzky as part of a plea deal, using a paper trimmer to give the card a better rating. These subgrades are always considered when giving the card an overall rating, which is the Final Grade. A card that receives an overall grade of 9.5 or higher can receive a Gem MT 10 evaluation, which is the very best grade available via BGS.

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You’d expect the overall rating to match the average score, but BGS has explained that: “The overall numerical grade is not a simple average of the four subgrades.

BGS uses an algorithm that determines the final grade using the four subgrades on the front label of the cardholder. The lowest overall grade is the first category to observe because it is the most obvious defect, and the lowest grade is the most heavily weighted in determining the overall grade.”

As for the grading system, it’s similar to the PSA scale in terms of descriptors and numbers, but they have a number of extra grades for each of the half-points… (the Beckett Grading Scale and SGC Grading Scale are the most similar of the three).

 

Beckett Grading Scale

  • 1 – Poor 1.5 Fair
  • 2 – G (Good)
  • 2.5 –G+
  • 3 – VG (Very Good)
  • 3.5 – VG+
  • 4 – VG-EX (Very Good-Excellent)
  • 4.5 VG-EX+
  • 5 – EX (Excellent)
  • 5.5 – EX +
  • 6 – EX-NM (Excellent-Near Mint)
  • 6.5 – EX-NM+
  • 7 – Near Mint
  • 7.5 – Near Mint +
  • 8 – Near Mint-Mint
  • 8.5 – Near Mint-Mint +
  • 9 – Mint
  • 9.5 – Gem Mint
  • 10 – Pristine It’s reasonably extensive, and you’ll arguably have a better idea of the overall quality of the card compared to a PSA graded version

 

They’re not seen as the best option for older cards with PSA often being preferred, but they do have a vintage service (BVS) for older cards. A recent example would be a rare Babe Ruth rookie card which was found in a $25 dollar piano. It was given a 2.5 grade and went on to sell for just over $130,000 at auction.

The point is, Beckett is a viable option if you’re thinking about selling pre-war cards, and the same goes for investing. Beckett’s top-graded cards are identifiable at a glance thanks to premium-colored labels.

“A gold/black label on the front of the cardholder signifies the highest graded cards (9.5-10), while a silver label can be found on cards graded from 8.5 to 9”

Research into Beckett’s Black Box algorithm suggests that;

In summary: Corners are punished hardest, Centering next, Surface/Edges the least. How much the overall grade is higher than the worst subgrade depends on which subgrade is the worst, and also depends on how much the other three subgrades are better than the worst subgrade, measured by (the differential in subgrades).

BGS grading algorithm

Lastly, Beckett is seen as a great option for newer cards, likely due to their methodological approach to grading.

 

Beckett Raw Card Review 

“Beckett on-site review services allow our customers to find out what grades their cards deserve before they submit them to BGS or BVG.”

These cards won’t be slabbed, but it’s a good way to get a sense of what grade your items could get if they were sent off to BVG or BGS for a proper look over.

Raw card reviews are useful if you’re not sure whether you can be bothered to go through with the process of getting your cards graded, but there’s no real point if you’re planning to use BVG or BGS anyway as you’ll be charged twice. On-site reviews are a decent option, especially if Beckett is paying a visit to a city near you. 

 

Beckett Grading Service Updated Pop and Specials

Beckett grading population report: You must log in to your Beckett Grading account to access population info at www.beckett.com/grading/popreport.
Beckett grading specials: check the BGS grading homepage for current promotions if any.

 

Who is SGC

sgc grading

Established in 1998, SGC is one of the most trusted grading and authentication services for sports memorabilia collectors worldwide. Our team is comprised of experienced and respected graders and authenticators, who have continuously set the industry standard with the consistency, integrity, and quality of our services.” – GoSGC.com

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SGC claims that they are the most accurate and consistent grading company in the market as they use a grading scale that eliminates “tweeners” (which means the grade could go either way).

They also seem to be more simplistic than the other 2 shops… one of our Facebook followers described the holder as a “beautiful black tuxedo slab”… we tend to agree.

 

SGC Grading Scale

  • 10 PR: A “virtually flawless” card. 50/50 centering, crisp focus, four sharp corners*, free of stains, no breaks in surface gloss, no print or refractor lines, and no visible wear under magnification.
  • 10 MT
  • 9.5
  • 9
  • 8.5
  • 8
  • 7.5
  • 7
  • 6.5
  • 6
  • 5.5
  • 5: 80/20 or better centering, minor rounding or fuzzing of corners, roughness or chipping along the edge (no layering), one VERY slight surface or “spider” crease may exist on one side of the card, the gloss may be lost from the surface with some scratching that does not detract from the aesthetics of the card.
  • 4.5
  • 4
  • 3.5
  • 3
  • 2.5
  • 2
  • 1.5
  • 1: This card usually exhibits many of these characteristics: heavy print spots, heavy crease(s), pinhole(s), color or focus imperfections or discoloration, surface scuffing or tears, rounded and/or fraying corners, ink or pencil marking(s), and lack of all or some original gloss, small portions of the card may be missing.

We like the SGC grading scale and are especially happy that they brought back the ability to grade autos.

 

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PSA or Beckett or SGC: Pros and Cons

 

Pros and Cons of PSA

We’ve come up with a list of some of the common pros and cons you’ll find with PSA.

Pros:

  • PSA is seen as the experts when it comes to older cards, especially for anything pre-1970’s. This has caused the price of older PSA cards to exceed their BGS counterparts, even if they have a similar overall rating.
  • PSA can be trusted with the handling of high ticket items, and they’re often faster in terms of appraising cards.
  • They’re tougher on corners, especially for Gem Mint cards.
  • They offer the PSA Set Registry, which enables you to track your inventory, costs, and populations, build and update sets, enjoy competition with others, meet collectors who share common interests, create a photo album of your collection, and share your sets with others. In addition, you can perform “What If?” scenarios to see how the addition of new items will change your set ratings. It’s great if you want a little recognition for your hard work, or if you want to keep track of your progress while collecting a set.
  • PSA has processed over 30 million cards and collectibles with a cumulative declared value of over a billion dollars, so they know what they’re doing.
  • Joining the PSA collectors club will give you access to bulk rates when selling cards.

Cons:

  • A lack of a PSA 9.5 rating isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s painful if you think it should be a 10. However, it does raise the price of PSA 10 rated cards, and they’re highly sought after.
  • The slab isn’t really eye-catching as they’ve opted for a plain sticker listing the relevant information. It doesn’t compare to Beckett’s options, especially if it’s a 10 grade.
  • In some cases, the card isn’t secure inside the case and can move around if dropped or damaged. However, it’s unlikely to damage the card itself, which is good news.
  • You won’t be able to add non-PSA rated cards to the PSA Set Registry.
  • In the past, they were seen as leaders in authenticating, although their grading system has vastly improved in the last decade.

 

Pros and Cons of BGS (i.e. Beckett Grading Services)

There are a number of reasons why BGS could be a better option than PSA. Of course, Beckett card grading has a range of cons that are also worth considering, so here’s everything you need to know.

Pros:

  • Beckett’s labeling is generally preferred, and it’s easy to see why when you compare their offerings to the PSA equivalents.
  • They’ve seen a great option for newer cards, and they’re often
  • BGS is tougher on centering, especially for Gem Mint cards.
  • They decided to release the Beckett Graded Registry in 2013, hoping to match up to PSA’s service with many similar features. You can compare cards with others, sort through your collection, and there’s also the chance to win prizes by competing against others in upload and set completion contests.
  • Extensive subgrades allow the buyer and seller to have a better idea of the item, detailing everything from the value to any flaws clearly and concisely.
  • The BVG service is ideal if you’d like to get a vintage collection valued.
  • The Beckett grading population report is pretty easy to navigate and use

Cons:

  • Beckett cardholders are larger than the PSA equivalent. This isn’t ideal if space is an issue, and it gets worse if you have a large collection.
  • Some feel the grading system is too complex. While it’s great to have a lot of info about a card, there are so many variables that go into the BGS grading system. If you have a duo of 9.5s with slightly different grading stats, it’s not surprising if the price differs depending on what collectors value more.
  • The special labels are a great touch, but they do have an unintended consequence. They make the silver tabs look second-rate in comparison, and you don’t want people making that connection while they’re looking at your cards.
  • They grade autographs on a sliding scale. Many feel the player’s autograph should have only two options; real or fake.

 

Pros and Cons of SGC

Despite being the smallest of the trio, SGC runs a tight ship and were seen as the go-to service during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak. There have been a few growing pains along the way, but the pros easily outweigh the cons now that they appear to have ironed things out.

Pros:

  • Typically the cheapest service for grading cards 
  • Simple design with great slabs 
  • Good customer service, offering quick responses and no-nonsense
  • Speedy card grading thanks to new changes to their pricing system

Cons:

  • They’ve recently changed their pricing system to a two-tier package, which ups the price significantly 
  • Some users were left waiting for significant periods after they were overwhelmed midway through 2020

As you can see there are a lot of pros and not a lot of cons when it comes to SGC Grading.

The only problems are one of the cons is a big one. No one likes to get less money for their cards when they are around the same grade vs the other shops (check out the best baseball card shops by state). BUT we are monitoring this closely as we expect SGC to narrow the gap over the upcoming year as they gain more popularity with collectors.

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PSA Grading Reviews

PSA takes a lot longer than Beckett and other options (i.e. SGC) but in some cases, it is worth the wait as PSA 10 consistently sells for more than BGS 9.5 or SGC 10’s. Sometimes I use PSA, sometimes I use BGS, sometimes I use SGC, it just depends on the card” – Jake K. Chicago, IL

PSA Grading Reviews

I have a signed baseball with the likes of Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, Bill McGowan, dizzy dean, and others. It’s PSA authenticated but my problem with it is they rushed the authentication. They stated the ball is mid 40’s and it was actually 10 years older. On the card, they didn’t even list all of the Hall of Fame autographs on it. How can you not list Goose Goslin, Schoolboy Rowe, and Tommy bridges? Other than that I haven’t had any other problems with either of the two.” Rolland W.

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PSA cards grade higher than BGS which we like BUT they take FOREVER (especially if the card is a patch/autograph. Just depends on the cards that we are getting graded” Miles H. Boston, MA

I prefer to use PSA. I just received my latest package back in late February. I like the eye appeal over the other companies. I like they are a trusted name once someone like me wants to resale. Not the cheapest or quickest turn around times. But I know that going into it. Just look at the Lucky 7’s T206 owner. People use PSA because it’s a trusted source with the highest return on investment.” – Joe K. Norwalk, IA

I prefer BGS due to subgrades. Plus as was mentioned in another comment, PSA will give a 10 to a card that’s really not a 10. You get truer grading with BGS although there’s definite objectivity in the grading which leads to some inconsistency.” – Sean R. Julian, PA

I was big on BGS, but the more I’ve gotten back into the hobby, I prefer PSA. The smaller slabs make the cards easier to store. And I like that a 10 is a 10. You don’t have a 10 with different subgrades that make it a more or less valuable 10.” – Drake M. Ft. Smith, AR

PSA Graded Cards Storage: PSA has some pretty high-end storage boxes that are DRIPWORTHY (buy them here).

PSA Card Grading Locations: The following link provides the address of all of the PSA Grading Location Hubs (https://www.psacard.com/submissions).

 

Beckett Grading Services Reviews (Check Out Beckett UPDATED Turn Around Times)

Becket Authentication offers a great combination of speed and reasonable prices. We have received a few Black Labels! We love the look of the Black Label 10s!” – Miles K. Miami, FL

Beckett Grading Reviews
A great looking Gavin Lux Bowman Chrome RC graded BGS 9.5

The Beckett grading in-person option was available at an event I attended… the line was long but went quick. The in-person grading process only took a few minutes from the time they got my card. Pretty cool option… Beckett should look into having this option at local card shows in major cities.” Mike S. – Kansas City, MO

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I would rate Beckett grading services a solid 9 out of 10. We use Beckett on the majority of our cards we get graded. Cheers!” Steve C. New Orleans, LA

The only thing I dislike about BGS grading is if your card grades a 9.5 auto, 9 people look at the card like it’s a crappy auto. But really it’s not. Now PSA 10 equal to BGS there isn’t an auto-grade.” Chris G. – Westfield, Massachusetts

 

SGC Grading Reviews

I actually prefer SGC to both the big boys. They’re cheaper and turn-times are quicker. They have really stepped up their game too.” – Mark Y. Clearwater, FL

Quick and cost less vs PSA/BGS… what’s not to like here?” – Chris G. Denver, CO

SGC Grading Reviews
SGC Grading Logo 2021

If it was up to me and not my wife we would ONLY use SGC… does anyone know a good divorce lawyer?” James C. Miami, FL

SGC has the best looking slabs, the fastest time (my Ja Morant Auto RC came back in 1 week), and cost the least amount of the three? why are we even discussing this? SGC is a no brainer… check please!” Tom M. Austin, TX

 

PSA Grading Cost vs BGS Grading Cost vs SGC Grading Fees

Below are images from the PSACard and Beckett websites showing their basic fees for card grading (as you can see this is not a cheap hobby!).

 

PSA Grading Cost

psa grading cost

PSA Grading Cost Per Card is the highest in the card grading industry on average BUT at the same time, they also sell for the most so it’s not exactly obvious who one hobbyist might pick vs another hobbyist.

Pro-Tip: Please note if you live in Australia and are looking to get a card graded by PSA please visit PSA Grading Australia or email them at hello@gameaddict.com.au (due to backlogs PSA Grading Australia does not take phone calls at this time).

 

Beckett Grading Cost

The cost of getting a card graded by Beckett can be found in the image below. The Beckett grading cost per card is the second in the industry behind PSA but in front of SGC.

Beckett Grading Cost per card

More information in regards to Beckett Grading cost can be found online by visiting www.beckett.com/grading/submit.

 

SGC Grading Fees 

SGC Grading can get somewhat complicated as they have many different grading options (grading image is not available).

To access complete SGC Grading Cost information online please visit gosgc.com/card-grading/services-pricing. If you ready to start online please visit SGC Grading and login into your account or create on for new users.

The basic level of service is called, “I Can Wait.” There’s no guaranteed turnaround time for graded cards, and the service offers no specific time frame. Priced at a minimum of $10 per card, it matches the amount SGC has charged most customers for years.

The new premium tier is called; “Need Them Now.” This tier is priced at a minimum of $100 per card, which is a significant outlay if you were hoping to get your collection graded as quickly as possible. However, neither tier offers a flat fee for grading per card, and it’ll also depend on the value of your items. 

As such, pricing begins at $10 for cards valued under $250, but that goes up to $85 if the declared value is $3,500 or over. SGC is still the most affordable of the three grading companies, although not as much as it once was.

Popular question: PSA vs Beckett Pokemon (which is better for Pokemon cards?) Both offer grading for Pokemon cards and wait times for Pokemon cards are the same as for sports cards at each shop.

PSA vs BGS vs SGC: Wait Times

No one likes to wait, especially if you have a $25,000 Michael Jordan rookie card you’re waiting to get back! Here are the estimated wait times for the three stores in question.

SGC saw more submissions after PSA and Beckett Grading were forced to briefly shut down operations early in 2020 due to government orders. However, SGC ended up backlogged, unable to deal with the combined customer base of Beckett and PSA. 

Generally speaking, SGC is faster than Beckett and Beckett is faster than PSA but this could differ based on the time of year and workload (but that is a pretty good bet general speaking).

 

Current PSA Grading Wait Time

PSA tends to take ages at the best of times, while they recently released the following statement on their website: “PSA is experiencing a high volume of submissions, and as a result, submission processing times have been impacted. PSA is currently experiencing extensive delays, from the time of delivery to the time of order processing entry.”

 

psa card grading turn around time

 

Current Beckett Grading Wait Time

BGS does not offer an updated turn around time for card grading services other than what is listed on the BGS grading form (which is shown below).

  • 2-day service level
  • 5-day service level
  • 10-day service level
  • 30-day service level

 

Current SGC Wait Times

Wait times will differ depending on which grading tier you choose. I Can Wait has no set deadline.

According to SGC, the Need Them Now service will take approximately three to five business days. They admit that this is an estimate, but they say that “customers should not expect to wait far past the five business day mark to see that their orders have been marked shipped and are on their way back to them.”

PSA, BGS, SGC on FB

PSACard @ Facebook
@BeckettGrading Facebook
@SGCGrading Facebook

 

 

PSA vs Beckett for Autographs

The wait time for autographs is especially long at PSA in our experience than at Beckett. Don’t get us wrong Beckett will take some extra time to grade an autograph card but PSA takes what seems like forever.

 

 

SGC vs PSA vs Beckett: Final Review (Who Wins?)

Card grading is far from an exact science, despite what SGC, BGS, and PSA would like you to believe. 

After all, you could send the same 8 grade over multiple times if you’re hoping for an extra half-point, and it does work. (of course, this could also lead to lower grades, and they get their fees regardless.) The point is, different collectors will have a variety of experiences and preferences, so the honest answer to the question ‘who is the best grading service’ is that it depends.

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It’s worth remembering that some collectors prefer ungraded cards, while others view the practice as a bit of a scam. Considering the massive market for forgeries and doctored cards, we think that it’s better to be sure if you’re looking at rare options, or attempting to sell one yourself.

For example, in 2019, the PWCC auction house was subpoenaed by the FBI, causing their attorney Jeffrey Lichtman to release the following statement:

“There has been some evidence that cards sold at PWCC auctions have been altered. While there are questions of what constitutes an improper alteration, I can say that PWCC is among those who have sold altered cards. PWCC has sold hundreds of thousands of cards and the problematic ones are in the hundreds — or less than 1%.” 

Less than 1% is still a significant amount if you happen to find an altered card in your collection, and the story highlights exactly why it’s best to go for a graded option when possible. 

Overall, a PSA 10 is going to be better and sold for more than a BGS 9.5 and an SGC 10 MT although it becomes more subjective when you get to lower grades. 

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You don’t have to stick with one over the other, but they do attempt to force you to via loyalty schemes and the respective Registry services. It’s a big deal for some collectors, but the majority are more concerned with turnaround times and pricing. It’s little wonder that SGC continues to grow in popularity.

You’ll have to decide for yourself, and in many cases, there’s no right or wrong answer. Everything from the era of the cards you collect to your preferred slab should have an impact on your personal preference. Some people use one, and others use a combination of all three grading services.

PSA Grading: Seems to attract older high-end card collectors. Solid for many years now but has had some controversy as of late but are still a good option for card grading you can count on although return times may be the worse.

Beckett Grading: Popular with younger card collectors and in particular autograph hunters. BGS fees and wait time are middle of the road.

SGC Grading: SGC has a new kid on the block feel although they have been around forever. We have an old Babe Ruth baseball card graded by them (SGC is very popular in regards to getting older super-valuable cards graded). SGC has gained a lot of traction in the card grading industry in the last year or so (and we believe alot of that service was caused by this write as this article was originally PSA vs BGS until we added SGC a few months after as we were super impressed by their service… thank us later guys haha).

 

Here at GoldCardAuctions (read Gold Card Auctions Hot 10 for must own rookie cards!) it really comes down to the card in question BUT lately, the majority of our cards have been shipped to PSA BUT we have been dabbling with SGC as well. The question with SGC is will they raise prices and will the wait times increase as they gain a greater share of the business. We have not been using BGS much as all recently as they seem to be stuck in nowhere land for us but younger collectors sure do like them (especially for autos).

As far as PSA goes they are seeing less of our business lately based on long wait times and what is being perceived as unfair business practices (again see the class action lawsuit against them).

Let us know your thoughts and experiences with the PSA and BGS grading services, and which cards you prefer to collect!

PSA Customer Service

  • Phone: 1-800-325-1121 or if outside the United States call (949) 833-8824
  • Mail: PSA, P.O. Box 6180, Newport Beach, CA 92658

PSA Grading Form: www.psacard.com/submissions

PSA Collectors Club: www.psacard.com/join

BGS Customer Service

  • Phone: 1-972-448-9188
  • Email: grading@beckett.com

Beckett Grading Specials via the Beckett Grading Services Club? Please visit www.beckett.com/grading/bgs-club.

BGS Grading Form: www.beckett.com/grading/submit

Beckett Grading Locations

SGC Customer Service

  • Mail: 951 Yamato Road Suite 110 Boca Raton, FL 33431
  • Phone: 1.800.SGC.9212
  • Online: gosgc.com
  • Email: support@gosgc.com

 

Having trouble or have a question in regards to PSA, SGC, or Beckett grading, cost, or wait times? Email us at info@goldcardauctions.com or visit the Gold Card Auctions Facebook Page.

53 COMMENTS

  1. Good info. I’m on the bubble on whether to get some cards graded, let alone who to grade through, so this helps. The info on Beckett’s site seems marginally better than PSA (both seem lacking for someone new to the process). But, what seemed obvious to me was that there was a ridiculous amount of PSA 10’s for any given card (say, from 2019 Topps baseball), and maybe one or no BGS 10’s, when browsing listings on eBay. I can’t tell if it means BGS is stingier, or PSA is more lenient, or PSA is simply more popular. It also seems plausible that a BGS 9.5 may be as good as a PSA 10, but auctions suggest PSA 10 > BGS 10 (I’m sure there are many cases where that isn’t true).

    On a side note, your PSA vs. BGS Grading Cost section is incorrect; the price table shown for BGS is the return shipping costs, not the grading service level costs. Nonetheless, the costs add up quickly, and is a deterrent enough to not get cards graded.

    • thank you, Patrick… were going to have our leader author look into the correct you mentioned. We believe the order “generally speaking” from worse to best is BGS 9.5, PSA 10, BGS 10… but your 100% right in saying that in some cases this may be off… thanks for taking time out… cheers!

      • In my opinion SGC is hands down the top grading company. Sure PSA & BECKETT have stood the test of time. But in this business, it’s all about reputation. You wonder why other companies cannot join in on sharing the profits. They cant ger in the club. But SGC did somehow. Maybe it’s because they truly are the Best grading company in all aspects of the business. People, in general, do not like change. Well, SGC is here and they’re not going a anywhere. Open up your eyes people. SGC, is the new kid on the block with all the fresh ideas, and we need to look more toward the future instead of hold on to the past.

        • Hey Brian… you make a lot of great points and yes we have been using SGC more and more every month!

        • I wouldn’t say SGC is new kid as they have been around since 1998. I use SGC exclusively, but people have so much invested in PSA that it would be a bad investment move to change on their part. My issue with PSA and BGS, along with their die hard supporters is that $$$$ means more than integrity. My integrity can never be bought.

    • I know many that will resubmit 9’s to psa over and over until it makes a 10. You may want to take that into consideration if true that many 10’s are really high 9’s possibly.

      • Thanks for the comment, Jay! Somewhat what surprised people do that as the cost can really add u!!p quickly… how often on average does this work for the people you know? 70% 80%? 90% of the time… cheers! happy friday

  2. Please check out my PSA complaint about grading at Newport Beach Ca. at the BBB site to maybe help you make a determination on grading choices

  3. I go with BGS with my newer cards.from 2001 and up.they surprised me on some of my cards I thought would grade low and cards from the 70’s I was disappointed.so I’ll stick with BGS.all ways there when I call Johnny on the spot.PSA wants your money no matter what.and iam not PWCC YOU KNOW.Auto or not I made good money with BGS.STAY SAFE MY FELLOW AMERICANS,

    • Thanks for the comment Keith… we go back and forth on who we like and honestly it depends on the card… we have been sending PSA about 40% BGS 40% and SGC 20%

  4. Do you see GMA making a push to become one of the big players In card grading? The turn around time is very tempting but the resale value seem to be not in line with the other well know grading services…

    • hey Kurt… honestly, we have not researched GMA much to this point… we don’t really like the grade design

  5. PSA is on the decline. Avoid that company. Many allegations of graders damaging cards and giving their own cards or their friends’ cards better grades. Imagine buying a PSA 8 for $400,000 and have a new opinion that the card is now a PSA 9 now worth $2,000,000 plus, or other cards….

  6. I am starting to see BGS cards without sub-grades. I think they are trying to mimic PSA/SGC, but they seem to be less desirable than even BGS w/ subs in the same grade (and there is a whole tier/desirability within BGS subs that is another topic of discussion!). Do you find that to be the case? And have you seen how these prices compare to SGC?

  7. Very good assessment of the big three. I would like to share my experience. I recently completely graded the 1991 Topps Desert Shield set by BGS. When I first started the set in early 2017 I had bought several hundred psa 9/10s to crack out and submit to BGS as 1 I was as unsure how to tell a fake from real DS card and 2 I was told by a friend psa had the strictest standards. Well was both those statements wrong! With over 400 cards cross graded to bgs from psa the results are in and are not pretty for psa. A little over 100 cards graded lower with bgs from psa to include 3 psa 10s that made bgs 8.5! Only 10 prior psa cards came back higher with bgs. The rest of the cards crossed to their comparable grade PSA 10 to bgs 9.5, etc. On that point ALMOST ALL of my psa 10s that did cross to bgs 9.5 were minimum gem(3×9.5 and 1×9 subgrade). Psa 10s ARE NOT in better condition overall than 9.5. At worst it’s the same grade and from my experience getting a bgs 9.5 is slightly harder than a psa 10. Also I have zero bgs 10s graded from my set of 792 graded cards and there has yet to be a bgs 10 graded in the entire pop report of this set of roughly 4500 cards! I only have a handful of cards that even have a 10 for a subgrade with my set consisting of 8.5s and higher with most being 9 and 9.5 grade. On the authenticity note, I have seen literally dozens of psa graded fakes of these cards. This set being rare and pricey, has been the target of many counterfeit attempts. A trained eye can catch the fakes as they aren’t that good yet psa has let many fakes slip through and graded the card as authentic with a number grade. Recently with their backlog they have let even more slip through the cracks. I have yet to see a bgs graded fake of these cards and I’ve seen in person about 1/3 of the entire Bgs population out there. Lastly I did buy 12 SGC gem mint cards and broke them out to submit to give them a shot. Of the 12, 11 made bgs 9 and one made bgs 8.5! I stopped buying Sgc cards after that. All these submissions came over a three year period not one big submission but several medium to small submissions. I have several pictures of the crossover results and kept written logs of most of them. BGS is the most consistent and attention to detail grader out there. They are not perfect but I prefer them over the other two companies any day and pay premiums for bgs graded cards over psa or Sgc.

  8. I have collecting sports cards long before Psa, Beckett, and Sgc came along . I have had or had one of the finest hockey card collections . My prize set was the 1910 Sweet Caporal post card set along with sets of 1910 c56, 1911 c55 and 1912 c57 sets. PSA is very inconsistent grader . Beckett is a great card grader . However,Sgc to me is the best overall company to send cards to if you factor everything. If you really know cards you really dont need to send cards to anyone . If you need to sell your cards sell them to sell them to someone knowledgeable who knows whether they are good or not. Many people are either gaining or losing a lot of money relying on some graders opinion that is always debatable. Dont waste your money on graders .Use your own opinion on the cards.

  9. I have a baseball signed by people from the war serious in 2001 I don’t know if it’s real or not I’m trying to find out

  10. SGC customer service is next-level. Always on time. The Director of Operations answered my website e-mail inquiry re slabbing a large-sized card, and even emphatically warned me about the extended time needed for custom holders. His response actually sent me to BGS for that card (because they will numerically grade the issue, not just “A” it). But I’ve used SGC twice now for some highly-prized modern and vintage cards, and they have earned a loyal customer with their high standards of grading (most important factor to me). I’ve earned grades from the dreaded “A” to 9.5 MT+. And I love how they use the .5 for high-end cards within a grade because I value eye appeal most in a card. So that helps me with purchases of SGC graded cards on the secondary market. I’ll know that they look as good as you can get for that grade.

  11. Hi , I sent a Super Bowl XI ticket to Psa for grading , the ticket looked great. It took 1.5 years to grade the ticket. The ticket came back graded a
    5 , I was very upset for 5 grade.
    Will becket or sgc grade a ticket that
    Psa has already graded

  12. Let me begin with, I love SGC an everything about what they do. SGC, BGS, an PSA are top (3). My personal preference is SGC period any an all cross overs were either same grade or higher pristine through BGS if I had SGC 98 (10) crossed BGS pristine black label, an always crossed PSA 10 from SGC. They are the most consistent grading company as well as stepping up with more details on grading then BGS an PSA put together not to mention SGC has been well established well before PSA an BGS an they are not going anywhere, some of the most expensive collections are sold through memory lanes an SGC brings some high dollars , does not take rocket scientist to see this company is very solid an has my trust as a serious collector for the rest of my life.

    Keep up the great work SGC you guys R.O.C.K, an your company is truly the G.O.A.T of grading in my opinion does not get any better !!

    Much love,
    Happy collecting

  13. Debating about getting some of my potential high value cards from late 1969 to 1977 graded.

    What I cannot find info on is this concept of declared value for the card as that affects the cost of grading.

    So do you just claim the lowest declared value and then if it grades high, the grading companies just take what they believe is the market value and then charge you that higher grading fee?

    • Beckett will charge the turnaround time of the service not the value of the card. Card could be a $5 common or a 69 Mantle and it’ll be the same cost to grade. Declared value for them is for insurance purposes.

  14. It is an excellent article, thanks.I first experienced grading my cards thru BGS and SGC 20 years ago, and then pretty much stopped due to other things in life.I liked BGS best due their grading scale. I think I used SGC due to their lower costs for grading.I sold some and still have some. Very recently I sent some cards to PSA because their graded cards appear to fetch more money, although the cost is higher to grade on some cards. I am amazed that Beckett appears to fetch the most $ only for pristine cards. I guess that happens when your away for 20 years. It is extremely difficult to get a pristine 10 grade so no way am I sending my cards to BGS when a PSA 10 commands far more then a BGS 9.5—-which are suppose to be equals. If I was a new company starting today, I would keep the 10 as the normal top grade, but I’d have one more grade up for Pristine. Maybe just the word “Flawless” or “Flawless 10″….

  15. GMA needs to be highly considered in this discussion. I’ve used PSA BGS SGC and GMA. GMA is no different than the other 3 when it comes to grading. Yeah they get it wrong at times but so do the other 3. GMA is just as strict in grading if not more than the other 3. I do believe they have former PSA and BGS graders. Their slabs are no different than PSAs. At the moment nobody is touching their return times. I’ve seen a 600 card submission get returned in 14 days. All the negative talk about them online is from people who’ve never used them before. Only thing GMA doesn’t have is a registry which to me is no big deal. Resell value isn’t at PSA level but I’ve seen some cards sell at PSA value.

  16. have a 1991 classic best chipper jones error with no name on front and reverse is a totally of another player, card #, stats etc. It is in gem shape and was submitted to PSA. It was not graded but shows the card is a Misprint by PSA. With number/ barcode. But not in hard sealed case. I can’t find any info on this card at all. So is it one of a kind ? Are there more out there ? I would sure like to know.

  17. The huge difference is resale value. The value of an SGC graded card is not even close to BGS and BGS is less than PSA. The part that really seems criminal about SGC is they did their best to gather as many submissions as they could during the pandemic. When real customers start to leave negative feedbacks and reviews in regards to their experiences with SGC, you will start to read great reviews from very obvious fake names like, Joey Tribiani (the name of the guy from the Friends tv show)” Mr. Tribiani” is very well known for having some strangely high graded SGC cards and can easily be traced back to many “questionable” cards that “crossed over from PSA or BGS to SGC in much higher grades. You might also see positive reviews for SGC by people who have family members employed at SGC like Derek Grady(Mr Grady heads up Heritage Auctions and his son Tyler works at SGC) I ask the question, can SGC fairly grade cards that are being funneled to Heritage Auctions? That seems like a giant conflict of interest! Once it is out in the open about cards being funneled through Heritage and “Mr. Tribiani” people will view SGC in a much different light.

  18. Have used GMA for recent grading and find them to be fair and accurate. Problem is a GMA 10 won’t sell anywhere close to a PSA 10.

  19. Of course, U May want to take it out of their competitions Slab, but yes You can send it in as many times as u want, just have to pay for it every time obviously.

  20. Unfortunate but my experience as well myself, & If looking at items for sale, You can Easily see say the SAME Quality Card, but 1.5-2 grades higher at times! It’s not always that much of a gap, but In my experience, I’ve Rarely seen a GMA = a PSA or BGS graded cards Grade! Even if You cannot tell the difference at ALL! Just my experience as of now….✌🏼

  21. How long does the actually grading process take? Not there processing aspects, but just the grading of the surface, corners, edges, authentication and centering.

  22. Who has the money, or the quality of cards to justify resubmitting over and over! Wow. People have preferences, and that’s fine, but overall this article is an incredible and enjoyable primer comparing the 3 big options! Thanks for this!

  23. I recently dug out my 1970’s hockey cards and have submitted 10 for PSA grading. I have the 1979 opc complete set. I have seen a PSA 8 whose corners are decent and whose image is crap. I am not interested in good corners as much as I am interested in picture quality. I purchased a Gretzky rookie nm7 (oc) as the image was spectacular and corners were decent. Whereas I passed on a centered rookie Gretzky with decent centering and corners as the image was crap. I want to see the moment more than I want to see corners or centering. Just my preference. Centered, sharp cornered crap doesn’t do it for me. I have some baseball cards from the 1970’s too. Among them a 10 Pete Rose among other lesser cards. (So I think) I will send the baseball cards to PSA in a couple of years. I will also be improving the 1979 hockey set over that time. I am wary of buying non graded cards (fakes?) but at low cost will do it.

  24. This is a great thread – thank you! I’m looking for a little guidance: I’m the original owner of: 3 Gretzky rookies; 2 second yr; 1 third yr cards. 3 x Gretz second team all star 1 x goals leader; Mark Messier; Paul Coffey; Glenn Anderson; Jari Kurri; 3 x Ray Bourque; 2 x Mike Gartner; Peter Stasny; Dino Ciccarelli: all rookies. I might be one of those rare guys who’s mom didn’t throw out the cards. They’ve been packed away since I bought them. Based on all the research I’ve been able to do, they’re in excellent shape. Corners, edges, centering, colouring etc.

    Based on the cost scenarios for grading this might cost a few bucks. And, clearly, there’s some subjectivity in the grading which can impact value. And I’m super nervous about putting these in the mail – assume courier is better.

    Any advice on getting these graded and shipped is much appreciated.

    • I would probably go either PSA or SGC for those cards… if the card is super expensive get insurance on the package but PSA and SGC do a great job with secure packging… email us at info@goldcardauctons.com if you want to discuss further 🙂 … cheers!

  25. So I took out my collection of cards and priced them according to the current market price for the same cards online. The cards I have are all brand new condition and placed in protective cases. There is no reason I shouldn’t get a grade of 10 on any of the cards I have. My concern with sending in my cards to be graded is that 1. It’s going to be expensive 2. I haven’t seen any of the grading companies actual processes of grading the cards from start to finish. 3. I’m concerned about damage being done to the condition of the cards while having them graded.

    • Jeremy, your hesitation for grading is understandable, but I wanted to point out one flaw in your comment. Just because a card is in “brand new, protected” condition does not ensure it will get a 10. Unfortunately, grading takes into consideration several factors that are beyond your control – for example, the centering of the picture on the card and the quality of the print (such as print lines, dust marks, ink spread) can cause a lower grade and they had nothing to do with the customer. Just keep that in mind before strongly considering submissions.

  26. Here’s another point I feel you glossed over with SGC and didn’t even mention with PSA.

    Why are there tiers of grading costs based on the value of the card? Meaning, why is it $20 per card if the cards are values less than $500, but $75 per card if they are valued up to $2000? Isn’t the service the same? They are using the same grading techniques; the same grading scale; the same slabs. So why do I have to pay PSA more if my card is worth more?

    I wouldn’t expect a BMW to pay more at a car wash that I put my pickup through because it’s a more valuable car. We both got the same service. So why are we paying more for this one?

    Also, it was not mentioned, though I feel it should be listed as a con for both PSA and BGS (I’m unsure of SGC) that there is a minimum number of cards you must submit. For PSA, it is 20; so even if you send in the minimum number of cards at the minimum value, you
    still have to shell out $400 for some slabs.

  27. I just received 13 cards back from BGS and was extremely dissapointed as it took 77 days to get them back and I paid for the 10 day service. They also graded a 96-7 Finest Gold Refractor card that was pack fresh and never out of my possession as altered. Totally Impossible!!!

  28. Is there a preference between PSA and BGS when it comes to thicker relic cards and autographs? I’m getting ready to submit a bulk order for the first time to PSA, but I’m hearing BGS may be better suited for thicker cards. Thanks!

    • Hey Josh – BGS is more POPULAR when it comes to thicker relic type cards and autos… the ROI however is most likely greater if you don’t mind waiting longer with PSA (if the card in question is in mint condition)… cheers!

  29. Imho PSA grading is a scam.

    I sent 10 cards, ranging from 1975-1979 and 1991, non of which met the minimum grade.

    Not even a Lindros card that never saw dust from date of purchase.

    $700 dollars for nothing!

    Be wary. Be very wary.

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