Do you remember the first deck of Pokemon cards you ever got? The excitement you had in opening that sealed pack, then browsing through a set of colorful cards, excited to bring it to school the following day.
Yes, trading cards really brought a lot of thrill and excitement to our lives back then. But for most of us, those cards would just be part of our childhood. However, for a select number of people who were really passionate about these things, they kept their cards knowing that they’ll be useful one day.
If you’re one of these people who took good care of your trading cards after all these years, then perhaps you should have your cards graded.
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Why should you get your cards graded?
Out of all the trading cards of our generation, there is only a handful that became collector’s items that can be resold for a good amount. If you kept your NBA trading cards, Magic the Gathering Cards, or Pokemon Cards in good condition, then there’s a high chance that you can sell those for a good amount.
However, not every old trading card can be sold at a good price because there are a lot of factors that come in when pricing these goodies. One of which is the condition of the card. Old cards that look like they just came out of the box sell way more than cards that look aged.
Although you can check the condition yourself, you still won’t be able to sell it at a good price unless it’s been verified by an authority. So, if you’ve kept your Pokemon cards in good condition, it’s time to get them out of your cabinet and have them graded!
Where should I get my cards graded?
Currently, 3 official card grading companies are trusted by card collectors worldwide. They are Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Having your cards graded by any of these companies would give your card a seal of legitimacy that can drive up its resale price.
Beckett Grading Services (BGS) was established as a card collecting pricing guide. However, in 2001, they started their grading services. Although they are best-known for MTG card grading, most collectors still consider a BGS 10 as the gold standard in card collecting. In fact, their 1st Edition Charizard Holo which received a BGS 10 – Pristine rating was sold for over $55,000 on eBay!
Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) is the youngest among the three card grading companies. Although they’ve been around for almost as long as the 2 other companies, they started as a comic book grading company. It’s only in 2020 where they started grading trading cards. Although they are young in the card grading game, collectors believe that they have strict standards that make them trustworthy. Moreover, aside from the typical grades, they also provide collectors with subgrades for their cards.
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) sits atop the card grading ladder. They are the choice grader for most collectors of cards – especially Pokemon collectors. However, with the reignited popularity of Pokemon cards last 2020, their servicing has slowed down, and getting your cards graded will take months to be completed. They are also the most expensive grader among the 3 options.
How will my cards be graded?
Each of these card grading companies has its own grading scores and sub-grades or qualifiers. And although their ratings are almost the same, each one would still hold different values in the marketplace. Meaning, a GEM-MT 10 Charizard graded by PSA would sell higher than a Pristine 10 Charizard from CGC. This is because PSA is the more trusted and reputable grading company between the two.
You can check out the different grading scales and sub-grades on these links:
In a nutshell, your Pokemon cards will be graded on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being the lowest card grade you can receive.
Grade 1 cards are those that are damaged and have been worn out through time, whether by extensive playing or improper storage. Usually, these cards don’t have any value, unless they’re extremely rare. However, even if that’s the case, don’t expect to get good returns from it.
Grade 10 cards on the other hand are those in mint condition. This means that there are no creases and discoloration, plus its print and cutting are impeccable.
Getting a Grade 10 card is close to impossible because you’ll not only have to preserve the quality of the card for a long time but also have a card with perfect printing and cutting. This means that even if you took good care of your cards if the manufacturers made a mistake in printing or cutting, you still won’t get a Grade 10 rating.
Below are the things card graders would evaluate when you give your card for grading:
When grading Pokemon cards, the condition of the card’s surface is the most important. Graders would put your card under a microscope (literally), to find micro-tears, scratches, stains, and any other visual defects on your card.
If you have Pokemon cards with large tears or scratches, there’s almost no use in having them graded because these would greatly depreciate the value of your cards, making it a waste of money.
✅ Edges and Corners
The next thing that will be evaluated will be the edges and corners of your card. They’ll be looking at whitening, which is an indicator of frequency and usage.
High-value cards would have minimal to no whitening on the edges and will maintain a sharper edge compared to cards that have been played a lot.
For most card collectors, edges and corners aren’t as important as the surface and the card itself. But for purists, having a flawless card means a lot.
✅ Printing and Cutting
Lastly, the graders will be evaluating the print and cutting quality from the manufacturer. Although this is something out of your control, it’s still important in determining the value of your Pokemon cards.
They’ll be evaluating how good the print quality is and if there are any printing defects like off-centered images, out-of-focus pictures, etc. Moreover, they’ll be looking at whether or not the borders of your card are even and if your card is printed dead-center.
If you have cards with manufacturing defects, don’t expect to get a high grade, even if you took good care of them.
What should I do before sending them over?
Before you send out your Pokemon cards to any grading company, here are the things you should do:
✅ Do your research
As a Pokemon card enthusiast, you should know which cards are rare and which cards are common. But if you’ve forgotten which are which, then you should research first on which cards might have value. This would help you limit the amount you’ll spend on having your cards graded.
✅ Examine your cards
Do a preliminary examination of your cards and check if they’re in good enough condition to be graded. The last thing you want to do is to spend money on having a damaged card graded, only to find out it doesn’t have any value. For this, it’s best if you’ll get a jeweler’s loupe or a magnifying glass and a good lamp, to help you conduct a deeper examination of your cards.
✅ Take HD photos of your cards
For your safety, make sure you take a high-definition photo of your cards and keep it as a reference once your cards are graded and returned. This would be your insurance policy if something goes wrong during the card grading process.
Now that you know more about card grading, would you have your beloved Pokemon cards graded and sold, or would you rather keep them in the album where you kept them for the longest time?