A lot of traders believe that grading your sports card collection always increases its value. That might be true in some cases, but you always need to figure out whether it works in favor of your personal collection.
When it comes to whether you should get a particular card graded, there’s no hard and fast rule. It’s generally based on the trader’s personal judgment.
But a basic rule of thumb is to only get your card graded if it increases the value of the card.
We’ll explain how you can figure that out in a moment.
Before that, it’s worth noting that grading your sports card has other advantages than just increasing your trading profits.
A graded card is almost always worth more than its raw counterpart because its authenticity is verified by a third party. That means a buyer will always trust a graded card more and prefer to pay a premium for it. The only problem here is the premium might not be enough to cover grading costs. It also provides much better liquidity and you’ll be able to sell your card a lot faster if it’s graded.
Some people also love the ‘slab’ or holder that grading companies provide because it saves the card from any further damage. And if you have a card that’s particularly valuable, it’s also easier to keep a documented record of your card if it has been slabbed for insurance purposes.
So, let’s take a look at…
When Grading Increases Your Card’s Value
You already know that grading is only worth it if it increases the value of your card. That’s because grading companies often charge quite a bit for their services.
You can expect to pay at least $15 for each card, not including shipping and handling fees. That fee goes up depending on how valuable your card is. In some cases, if your card is valued over $10,000, you might be looking at a $700 charge to have it professionally graded.
That’s why it generally only makes sense to grade a card if it has an exceptionally high value or it’s a pre-war card.
For example, if you have a card of a major star like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Ty Cobb, it’s always worth getting it graded because the cards are massively in demand. In the same way, if you have a card that belongs to a rare series like the 1952 Topps, then you’ll definitely benefit from getting it graded.
Take the 1915/16 Babe Ruth card, for example
A PSA 6 Babe Ruth – 1915/16 card sold for $204,000. The same card from another seller that was graded PSA 7 sold for $600,000. That’s triple the value. In cases like this, your profits can skyrocket by getting your card graded.
When You SHOULDN’T Get Your Card Graded
The problem here occurs because inexperienced traders often overestimate their own cards. That might be for different reasons. It’s possible that they don’t entirely understand how companies grade cards. Or because grading is often done on a subjective basis and it’s difficult to tell with certainty what grade your card will get.
You should always study the grading rules and self grade your card before sending it to a company. This is because if your card doesn’t receive a good grade, it might make it even harder to sell and you won’t get any return on investment. You can even ask someone at your local shop to have a look at your card for you.
Another way you can figure out the value of your card is by doing research on eBay. Make sure you only look at the closed sales. Once you’ve self graded your card, you can search eBay for a card that sold at your grade and compare it to how much a raw card sold for. This should give you an idea of how much your card’s value will increase through grading.
Suppose you have a 1983 Topps Wade Boggs RC and you think it will be graded a PSA 9. You can see on PSA’s website that a PSA 9 1983 Topps Wade Boggs RC sells for an average 30 to 40 dollars. And if you account for about $15 plus shipping costs to get it graded, it’s clear that grading this card provided no real value and actually REDUCED the profits of the seller instead.
This will give you a clear idea of whether you want to get your collection graded.
If you decide you want to move forward with grading…
What Are Your Options?
The big three players in the market are PSA, SGC, and Beckett. They’re your best bet at getting your card graded reliably and are well trusted by all traders.
PSA is the biggest player in the sports card grading industry and has graded millions of sports cards since the early 1990s. SGC, on the other hand, specializes in grading vintage and pre-war cards. Beckett is comparatively smaller, but they have a solid reputation in the industry as well.
It’s worth doing your own research about which company is the best choice for you. You can also read our article comparing PSA and Beckett grading here. You can also find a ton of resources in our archives to help you navigate your way in sports card investing.
If you have any questions about whether you should get your card graded or just want to chat with a fellow investor, leave a comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always looking forward to having a chat with our readers.