The Ultimate Guide to Sports Card Grading | GemCard
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The Ultimate Guide to Sports Card Grading


Sports card collectors might consider how they can confirm the authenticity of their cards while also increasing their value. Sports card grading is the right choice if you want to do both of these things, allowing you to get your sports cards and basketball cards assessed by experts. When you are looking for ways to improve your sports card collection value , sports card grading can help you.

Card Grading Defined

Sports card grading is the process of having your cards assessed by a third-party. They will be checked for authenticity and given a number for their condition, using scale between 1 and 10. Cards are also given overall grades and sealed in a tamper-proof holder to protect them before being assigned a cataloged serial number. When you have a card collection, you won't necessarily choose to have all of your cards graded. It makes sense to have the service carried out on the cards you own that are potentially the most valuable so that you can increase the value of your collection and have confirmation of their worth. Some popular cards to have graded include vintage cards, in addition to modern prospect and rookie autographs that could increase in value.

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Should I Get My Sports Cards Graded? Benefits of Card Grading

Card grading delivers a number of excellent benefits to any sports card collector. When you have your cards graded, you can increase their value. A graded card is generally worth more than a raw card, so it's worth paying to have certain cards graded. Another benefit of card grading is that you can confirm a card's authenticity. Previously, you would have had to try and assess the authenticity of a card yourself, but now you can benefit from a professional, expert second opinion.

Grading a card gives you some key pieces of information that let you know its value. Population reports let you know how many units of a certain card have been graded. Certificate numbers tell you whether a card has been graded or not when you look them up. The condition scales assigned to the card make assessing cards more consistent and transparent, plus the card is protected when it's preserved in a holder.

In many cases, having a sports card graded can increase the value immediately. While that's not true for every card, it is for many cards that already have some value, such as vintage cards.

The Cost of Card Grading

Cost is clearly something that you will want to take into account when considering card grading. You don't want to pay more for grading the card than the total value of the card.

Card grading companies will use a couple of factors when pricing their services. They will consider:

  1. The number of cards to be graded
  2. The turnaround time
  3. The value of the card
  4. Whether an autograph needs to be authenticated
  5. If the card is an oddball or oddly sized

As well the cost of grading the card itself, it's also important to remember that you need to pay for shipping. You'll need to both send the card to the company and pay to have it shipped back to you.

The cost of the grading itself will often depend on which service you choose, too. Most card grading companies will offer different levels of service, with basic grading services available and more premium options too. Basic card grading will often start from around $10-$20 and have longer turnaround times, as well as apply to cards with lower values. You could expect to pay hundreds or even thousands for cards that are high value or if you want a very quick turnaround with some companies.

Key Characteristics of Card Grading

Sports cards are graded using a number of different criteria. The key characteristics of grading include centering, corners, surfaces, and edges.


The importance of centering can vary depending on who is assessing it. For some graders, perfect centering is essential when valuing a card. Others might overlook some imperfections in the centering if the card is otherwise in very good condition.


The importance of centering can vary depending on who is assessing it. For some graders, perfect centering is essential when valuing a card. Others might overlook some imperfections in the centering if the card is otherwise in very good condition.

The sharpness of the corners is another factor that is considered when grading a card. Cards that are in the best condition will have four perfectly sharp corners. Any imperfections will affect how high on the grading scale the card will be.

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The surface of the card might be considered slightly less important than other factors, but it's still taken into account. If there are marks, scratches, scuffs, or other imperfections, this will affect the grading of the card.


The edges of a card are examined to check for sharpness and make sure there are no signs of chipping. Significant wear to the edges will put a card into a lower grade.

The Card Grading Companies

There are several key card grading companies to be aware of.

  1. Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) - the largest card grader on the market, with cards graded from 1 (Poor) to 10 (Gem-Mint).
  2. Sportscard Guaranty Company (SGC) - the second-most popular option for card grading, grading cards from 0 to 10.
  3. Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Beckett Vintage Grading (BVG), and Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG) - three grading subsidiaries of the same company, used for grading cards from different years and of different qualities. Cards are graded based on their centering, corners, edges, and surface using an algorithm to create an overall grade from each subcategory grade.

Buy or Sell Grading Sports Cards on GemCard

Are you ready to sell your graded cards, or are you looking to buy some quality, graded sports cards? GemCard is a buying and selling platform for sports and basketball cards that makes it easy to buy and sell quality cards. If you're selling, simply register as a user, take a look at the up-to-date market information, and start shopping for cards. Our cards are all graded by PSA and BGS, so you know the quality of the cards you're buying. Download our app from the Apple App Store or Google Play to join today.