The Essential Beginners Guide to Getting Your Sports Cards Graded

The sports card hobby has undergone a tremendous revival, transforming from a nostalgic pastime into a sophisticated market of collectors and investors. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a just getting into the hobby, getting your sports cards graded has become an essential step in ensuring their value and authenticity. We will explore why card grading is important, how it impacts the value of your collection, and what you should know before submitting your cards for grading.

What is Card Grading?

Graded Cards

Card grading is the process of evaluating the condition of a sports card by a professional grading service. The grading process involves assessing various aspects of the card, including centering, corners, edges, and surface quality. Based on these criteria, the card is assigned a grade, usually on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being gem mint condition. The most reputable grading companies include Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), and Sportscard Guaranty (SGC).

Why Getting Your Cards Graded is Important

Authenticity and Trust

One of the primary reasons for grading sports cards is to ensure their authenticity. Counterfeit and altered cards can deceive even experienced collectors. Professional grading services authenticate cards, giving buyers and sellers confidence that the cards are genuine. This authentication process builds trust within the marketplace, making it easier to buy, sell, and trade cards.

Accurate Valuation

The value of a sports card is significantly influenced by its condition. Grading provides an objective and standardized assessment of a card’s condition, which is crucial for determining its market value. A higher grade often translates into a higher value. For example, a PSA 10 card can be worth exponentially more than the same card in PSA 8 condition. By having your cards graded, you can accurately understand and showcase their worth.


Graded cards are generally more marketable compared to ungraded cards. Collectors and investors prefer graded cards because they provide a clear indication of quality and authenticity. When you decide to sell your cards, graded cards tend to attract more buyers and achieve higher prices at auctions and on marketplaces like eBay or specialized card trading platforms.

Protection and Preservation

Grading companies encapsulate cards in tamper-evident holders, which protect them from physical damage, environmental factors, and handling wear. This encapsulation preserves the card’s condition over time, ensuring that its value is maintained or even appreciated. The secure, sealed case also includes a label with the card’s grade and other pertinent information, making it easy to display and store.

Investment Potential

With the increasing popularity of sports cards as an alternative investment, grading has become essential for those looking to maximize their returns. Investors seek graded cards because they offer a transparent and reliable assessment of condition, which is critical for evaluating potential appreciation. High-grade cards, especially those of iconic players or rare editions, can yield significant returns over time.

How Grading Impacts Card Value

Grading not only authenticates and protects cards but also enhances their value. Here’s how:

Scarcity and Demand

PSA Population Report

Graded cards, especially those with high grades, are often scarcer than their ungraded counterparts. This scarcity drives up demand among collectors who are looking for the best possible specimens for their collections. As a result, high-grade cards can command premium prices. Grading companies each have their own population report to show you the number of each card with their assigned grades. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see graded cards listed on eBay touting their “low pop.” Look up your potential cards here with PSA population report to see how many cards have been assigned the same grade. The lower, the better. 

Market Comparability

Grading standardizes the evaluation process, making it easier to compare cards. Buyers can readily compare prices for similar cards with the same grade, making the market more transparent and competitive. This comparability helps establish fair market values and ensures that both buyers and sellers have realistic expectations. Before buying or selling a graded card, we recommend searching for past comps for your exact card on eBay to get an idea of comparable sales. Depending on how many sales have occurred will affect how you come up with a comparable value. For a card that is actively sold, you may only need to look at sales for the last month to come up with accurate value.

What to Consider Before Getting Your Cards Graded

Cost and Turnaround Time

PSA Graded Card Pricing

Grading services charge fees based on the estimated value of the card and the desired turnaround time. It’s important to weigh these costs against the potential increase in value to make sure it’s worth getting your card graded. Additionally, turnaround times can vary, so plan accordingly if you need your cards graded for a specific event or sale. Card services, like PSA, will charge you more for cards over $500 in declared value. Here is a look at PSA grading costs. There are companies today that will handle all the pain of card grading for you, including giving you a consultation if the card is worth being graded and benefit from bulk pricing discounts. Check out TNT Cards, based in Michigan for an example. You can find more by asking for recommendations in Facebook trading card groups or Reddit threads.

Choosing the Right Service

Different grading companies have different standards and reputations. Researching and choosing the right grading service is crucial. PSA is known for its strong market presence, while BGS is appreciated for its detailed subgrades. SGC is respected for vintage cards. Consider your specific needs and the type of cards you are grading when making your choice. In our experience, PSA is the most expensive, but will generate the highest value for your card.

Card Preparation

Ultra Pro Semi-Rigid Tall Graded Card Submission Holders - Case of 2,000

Properly preparing your cards before submission can impact the grade they receive. Clean and handle your cards carefully, and use card savers or top loaders to protect them during shipment. Following the grading service’s submission guidelines can help ensure that your cards arrive in the best possible condition. There are cleaning kits, such as Kurt’s card care, there that promises to help deliver the best grade possible. Grading companies will require you to send your cards in a Ultra Pro tall semi-rigid top loader, like these which we carry. At Memorabilia Displays, we carry bulk supplies for trading card collections to help preserve and protect your collection. Check out our full collection on Ultra Pro Baseball Card Supplies Bulk Quantity 

After you get your cards graded, make sure to check out our full collection of Baseball Card Display Cases to show off your prized cards. 


About Memorabilia Displays

Memorabilia Displays is the world's leading online sports collectible display case retailer. We work with every major supplier to bring you the biggest selection across all sports memorabilia cases all with free store wide shipping. We aim to deliver cases that fit every budget with the lowest prices to help you find what you need.

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