Card Grading 101: PSA vs. Beckett vs. SGC | Nerdable (2022)

If you love sports and collectibles, card grading has likely delighted or infuriated you at some point:

After all, grading can make or break a card’s value. And it’s just as easy to overspend on a graded card as it is playing roulette on ungraded alleged bargains.

Without any doubt, understanding how third-party companies grade sports cards is an invaluable resource, not just for new collectors, but also for veterans.

Here’s a complete guide to understanding card grading (using baseball cards as the example):

Baseball Card Grading

Card Grading 101: PSA vs. Beckett vs. SGC | Nerdable (1)

Typically, the grading system for cards is as follows, from top quality to the worst:

  • Gem Mint
  • Mint
  • Near Mint to Mint
  • Near Mint
  • Excellent-Mint
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

This rating system is standardized across the grading industry.

However, third-party grading companies have their own guidelines… So a Mint graded card from one third-party company doesn’t mean it has been held to the exact same standards as it would be at another third-party company.

And here’s our first top tip: The age of the cards does not make any difference to the grading of that card…

Condition is the condition, whether 70 years old or one.

CHECK OUT: .

Third-Party Card Grading Companies

Most commonly, collectors turn to popular third-party grading companies to get a grading for their cards.

Here are all the major companies that are involved in card grading that you should know about if you are a card collector.

Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)

Founded in 1991, the PSA Grading Company is headquartered in Santa Ana, California. The actual name of the company is Professional Sports Authenticator, and it is one of the most popular and well-established brands in the world of card grading.

(Video) PSA, BGS, Or SGC? What Grading Company Should You Send Your Cards To?

According to the company’s website, PSA has processed over 30 million cards and collectibles with a cumulative declared value going well over a billion dollars:

And more importantly, the PSA grading scale is widely respected and followed.

Top Tip: Cards graded by the PSA tend to carry a higher price in the resale market as compared to other grading companies.

The PSA grading scale grades cards on a ten-point scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being in Gem Mint (best) condition.

Here is the PSA grading scale that is most commonly used by most collectors:

  • PSA 10: Gem Mint
  • PSA 9: Mint
  • PSA 8: Near Mint to Mint
  • PSA 7: Near Mint
  • PSA 6: Excellent to Near Mint
  • PSA 5: Excellent
  • PSA 4: Very Good to Excellent
  • PSA 3: Very Good
  • PSA 2: Good
  • PSA 1.5: Fair
  • PSA 1: Poor

Additionally, PSA covers the following services:

  • Modern and vintage card grading
  • Autograph authentication
  • Original photograph authentication
  • Unopened pack grading
  • Ticket grading
  • Sports memorabilia authentication

Sportscard Guaranty Company (SGC)

SGC is also a popular sports card grading company.

Top Tip: The SGC grading system is more popular with vintage collectors who prefer the black inserts that are used in the SGC cardholders.

In recent times, SGC has moved onto a new grading system and now uses the same numeric grading system as PSA (previously they used a 0 to 100 grading system).

Beckett’s Grading Services (BGS, BCCG, and BVG)

Found in the year 1999, Beckett Grading is one of the best and most famous grading companies in the world. The company is headquartered in Yorba Linda, California:

Beckett Grading Services is a name to reckon with in the trading card industry. Beckett is known for offering high-quality sports card grading services for both modern and vintage cards.

The Beckett card grading system has three different grading subsidiaries:

  • The Beckett Grading Services (BGS) that grades cards from 1981 to the present-day
  • Beckett Vintage Grading (BVG) that grades cards from before 1981
  • Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG) that is the lower tier grading level.

If you want to compare PSA vs. BGS, the important thing to keep in mind is that BGS also uses a 1-10 grading score, but does so across different sub-grades:

  • Centering
  • Edges
  • Corners
  • Surface

Then a black box algorithm is used to take the sub-grade scores and calculate an overall 1-10 grade. A 1 is classed as Poor, and 10 is Pristine. Additionally, grades can go up by .5, for example, 8.5.

Beckett provides services like modern and vintage card grading, comic book grading, and authentication of cards and comic books.

CHECK OUT: 5 Most Valuable NFL Cards From The 1990s.

(Video) Beckett vs Psa vs Sgc card grading basics knowledge etc..

How much does it cost to get a card graded?

The prices for sports card grading depend on various factors, including the card value, the type of card being graded, and the desired turnaround time.

If you have never submitted a card for grading before, the pricing can become very confusing, very fast.

Let us take a look at the grading prices of PSA, SGC, and Beckett.

PSA Prices

The prices of card grading at PSA range from $20 to $5000 per card, depending on the service level:

  • The value service begins at $20 per card
  • Economy service starts at $50 per card
  • Regular service starts at $100 per card
  • The express service starts at $150 per card
  • Then there is the super express service, which is $300 per card
  • And finally, the walk-through service costs $600 per card – that’s if the card has a max value of $9,999. This service costs more as the cards final value goes up.

The cheapest card grading service from PSA, known as the value service, has a card cap value of $499. And the turnaround time for this category is 50 days.

SGC Prices

SGC’s card grading services are slightly cheaper than PSA and begin at $10 for cards that are worth less than $250.

They also have higher-priced submissions that are based on the declared card value and turnaround time.

Their Express service is priced at $15 with 15 business days as a turnaround time. The Priority service is priced at $35 with five day turnaround time, and the Next Day service is priced at $85 with two days turnaround time.

They also have the Same Day card grading service that costs $250. SGC also provides super premium service for cards that are worth over $100,000 with a base charge of $3,750.

Beckett Prices

Beckett grading prices range from $20 to $250, with options called Economy, Standard, Express, and Premium:

The pricing is less confusing than PSA and SGC, at least on the surface, with different aged cards getting different grading services.

Top Tip: Card prices are set by the seller, not the actual value. So always check the PSA, SGC, or Beckett website.

Also Read:
9 Most Expensive Rookie Cards Ever: Includes NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL

(Video) Sports Card Grading: What Grade is MOST Valuable? (PSA vs BGS vs SGC)

Conclusion

Despite only talking about PSA, BGS, and SGC above, we’ve compiled our top-5 grading services below:

1. Beckett Grading

The Beckett ‘Black Label’ commands extremely high prices in the trading card market. For example, the 2003 Topps Chrome LeBron James BGS 10 RC sold for around $89,000 in December 2020. Some of the pros and cons of Beckett Grading include:

Pros:

  • It is an established brand that has built a solid reputation.
  • It comes with an internal sleeve inside a plastic case.
  • The Beckett Gaming Service -10-Pristine cards capture the highest value in the market.

Cons:

  • The vintage card catalog of Beckett is not as comprehensive as others.
  • They have a delayed turnaround times.
  • BGS 10-Pristine is extremely rare.

Beckett provides services like modern and vintage card grading, comic book grading, and authentication of cards and comic books.

2. GMA Grading

GMA Grading was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Odessa, Florida:

GMA Grading Services is an up-and-coming grading service, and the value proposition offered by them says that they charge only $8 per card for both sports and non-sports cards.

GMA Grading offers many lower-priced grading services. This is because they do not have the same brand recognition as BGS and PSA. The prices for grading the cards at GMA ranges from $6 to $20, depending on service level and order size.

The company’s grading scale ranges from 1 (Fair) to 10 (Gem or Mint), including 0.5 scores as well. The turnaround time for card grading varies from card to card, though it is also delayed as of February 2021.

GMA Grading only provides grading services. Here are some of the pros and cons of the company:

Pros:

  • Turnaround times for their basic service are faster than most other companies.
  • It offers the lowest price among the other service provider.

Cons:

  • Its brand recognition is lower than its other competitors.
  • The GMA-10-Gem-Mint cards are valued at a lesser price as compared to the ones graded by BGS, PSA, and SGA.

3. PSA Grading

Investors and collectors from all over the world regularly pay hefty premiums for PSA 10-Gem-Mint cards when compared to the Gem-Mint graded cards from the other grading companies:

Due to this, PSA grading is regarded as one of the best in the world, and it is in high demand. However, this has had an impact on PSA’s turnaround time significantly in recent history

Here are some of the pros and cons of the PSA grading service:

Pros

(Video) Sports card Grading 101 SGC, BGS & PSA explained

  • PSA 10-Gem-Mint graded cards are valued above all other Gem-Mint grades given by other companies in the market.
  • It has an extensive modern and vintage card catalog.
  • The company has a well-established brand and reputation.

Cons

  • As of May 2021, PSA suspended its grading services.
  • There is no half-point grade available between 9 and 10. (there is no 9.5)

4. HGA Grading

Founded recently in 2021, HGA Grading is one of the newest entries to the world of card grading. The company’s headquartered in Seymour, Tennessee.

HGA stands for Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA) and it aims to revolutionize the industry by implementing software that lets them scan, analyze, and grade cards without subjectivity.

Prices of HGA grading services begin from $20 per card to $55 per card, depending on the order size and service level.

Like others, the company’s grading scale ranges from 1 to 10, though there is limited information available on this as of now. The turnaround time also varies.

Pros and cons of HGA Gaming include:

Pros:

  • Technology enabled grading system to remove any subjectivity and improve consistency.
  • Pricing based on turnaround time instead of card value.

Cons:

  • New and unproven technology.
  • No comprehensive card catalog in place.
  • HGA 10-Gem-Mint value remains unknown in the market of of now.

Also Read:
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5. ISA Grading

Founded in 2010 in New Hudson, Michigan, the International Sports Authentication (ISA) Grading Service is another up-and-coming grading service in the card grading market.

The company was started in order to provide card collectors with another grading option available to them outside of the main three that existed at that time (BGS, PSA, and SGC)

Prices of ISA card grading begin from $10 per card and go up to $25 per card depending on the size of order and service level. The grading scale ranges from 1 (Poor) to 10 (Gem-Mint) condition and they also have 0.5 scores.

Pros and cons of the company include:

(Video) PSA, BGS, Or SGC? What To Know About Every Grading Company

Pros

  • Turnaround times are less impacted in 2021.
  • They have lower prices as compared to their competitors.

Cons

  • Brand recognition is lower than other competitors.
  • ISA 10-Gem-Mint grades are likely to capture lower values than competitors.

FAQs

Is PSA or Beckett better for grading? ›

Firstly, PSA is a bit more expensive and it takes longer for them to grade your cards. However, their graded cards usually sell better and for more than BGS cards. On the other hand, BGS is faster and less expensive and has a more complex grading system. Their cases and labels are often preferred to PSA's.

Is SGC and PSA the same? ›

SGC's card grading services are slightly cheaper than PSA and begin at $10 for cards that are worth less than $250. They also have higher-priced submissions that are based on the declared card value and turnaround time. Their Express service is priced at $15 with 15 business days as a turnaround time.

Who is the toughest card grading company? ›

PSA is known for their tough grading standards and their registry which allows collectors to register their PSA graded baseball cards along with the grade. This is both a way to "keep score" and a way to market your cards.

Which card grading company is best? ›

What Is The Best Card Grading Company To Use?
  • For reputation: PSA.
  • For grading reliability: PSA & BGS.
  • For adding value to cards: PSA & BGS.
  • For the cheapest grading: ISA & CGC.
  • For the fastest turnaround time: SGC & ISA.
  • For the label design: HGA.

Should I grade with SGC? ›

“Since 1998, SGC has been a well-established leader in the authentication and grading of trading cards. Our ability to provide accurate and consistent grades in a timely manner is a service that is unique to the card-collecting community and has made SGC one of the pillars of card grading for over 23 years.

Is a Beckett 9.5 a PSA 10? ›

A BGS 9.5 is not the same as a PSA 10. While the conditions of the cards graded as such might be similar or even identical, there is a large and obvious difference in value between the two grades. Another argument for the difference between the two grades could be based on the grading scales of the two companies.

Who owns SGC grading? ›

Forman later acquired SGC around 2003. Orlando has been an employee of Collectors Universe and PSA since 1999, but his familiarity with the company predated that by a number of years. He was actually one of PSA's first customers in the early 1990s. Orlando figures he got his first card graded in about 1992-93.

How much does SGC charge to grade a card? ›

SGC grading costs range anywhere from $30 per card all the way up to $3750 per card (or more), depending on the value of the card, the age of the card, how many cards you're submitting at one time, how fast you want the turnaround to be, and other factors.

What does SGC grading stand for? ›

Card grading became so big in the late 1990s that Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC) was formed in 1998.

How much does it cost to get a card graded by Beckett? ›

Beckett Grading Services Pricing

The BGS Standard service carries $30 with no sub-grades and $50 with sub-grades. For their Economy service with no sub-grades, a card commands $20/card and $35/card with sub-grades. Express services cost $100/card with no sub-grades and $150/card with sub-grades.

Does SGC do subgrades? ›

SGC has a reputation for harshness in its criteria. It is also worth noting that they use subgrades (BSG style) rather than stick to whole numbers as PSA does.

What is high grade for PSA? ›

PSA levels under 4 ng/ml are generally considered normal, while levels over 4 ng/ml are considered abnormal. PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/ml indicate a risk of prostate cancer higher than normal.

Is PSA 9 good? ›

A PSA Mint 9 is a superb condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 60/40 to 65/35 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.

How does CGC compare to PSA? ›

Both the PSA and CGC graded slabs have ridges, but the PSA ridges are more defined. PSA slabs seem to stack and lock like Lego bricks. They don't really wiggle or move around when they are stacked. The CGC slabs have ridges and they stack, but they don't stay together securely.

How much does it cost to send a card to PSA? ›

Card Grading Postage Fees
TOTAL DECLARED VALUEOver $50,000 call for rates
$0 - $100$25,001 - $50,000
1 - 8 items$15.00$78.30
9 - 20 items$18.00$81.30
21 - 50 items$23.00$84.30
3 more rows

How do I submit a thick card to SGC? ›

How to Submit Thick Patch Cards to PSA? Game Used ... - YouTube

Does SGC do crossover grading? ›

What's the best that can happen? Your cards "cross" to SGC grades as good or even higher than the minimum you set! Upcharges ONLY apply if the card "crosses" to the designated minimum grade or higher (we will always call for approval for any upcharge necessary).

What cards should I get graded? ›

You should grade superstars numbered and rare insert cards.

Older numbered cards have high numbers (eg. /1000) and should be avoided as well. I own a Freddie Freeman 1/1 Donruss Baseball card. I like Freddie, and he's a solid player, but it's not worth getting graded.

Is a BGS 10 better than PSA 10? ›

PSA 10 vs BGS 10

So these three well known cards on average increase 1239% when graded BGS 10 vs PSA 10. While this value increase is of course extremely attractive, it is also indicative of the extreme scarcity of the BGS 10 grade.

Is PSA 9 or BGS 9 better? ›

Of course, this would look different with the BGS 10 in the picture, but for cards that are in populations high enough to frequent eBay, PSA is the way to go. While a BGS 9 barely pays off the price of grading, a PSA 9 doubles the value of the raw card.

Does BGS grade harder than PSA? ›

Note that I manually separated out the “true gem” BGS 9.5 grades into their own category. Observations: A “true gem” BGS 9.5 is harder to attain than a PSA 10 across the board (2x for Kobe, 4x for the LeBron) PSA 10 percentages likely include all BGS 10 “black”, BGS 10, “true gem” BGS 9.5, and some Gem Mint BGS 9.5s.

What is SGC authentic? ›

An SGC “A” graded card stands for “Authentic.” This is not a card rating that one would expect on an encapsulated card, but rather a designation.

How long does it take to get cards back from SGC? ›

Currently on the SGC services and pricing page, SGC is stating an estimated turnaround time of 20-25 business days for their cheapest grading option ($30). For $40, that estimated turnaround time decreases to 10 business days, and for $75 it drops down to an estimated turnaround time of 5 business days.

Can you open a PSA graded card? ›

How to Crack Open a PSA Graded Sports Card Case in 5 Minutes (2021)

Does SGC do autograph authentication? ›

SGC has developed a new autograph authentication division to complement its card grading services.

How long does PSA grading take? ›

Card Authentication & Grading
Service LevelEstimated Turnaround Time* (in calendar days)
Regular15-30 Days
Economy45-90 Days
Value**90-120 Days
Bulk**120 Days
5 more rows

How long does PSA Super Express take? ›

Approximately 2 weeks

How does SGC grade their cards? ›

The SGC grading scale. Today's sophisticated sportscard market requires a specific grading scale. SGC uses a scale which eliminates the grades known as "tweeners": no grading scale is more accurate or consistent. Many industry experts agree that accurate grades mean more accurate prices for your sportscards!

Does SGC grade trim cards? ›

SGC shall not grade Altered Cards, but shall have no obligation to refund the fee paid by Customer, as the determination to reject an Altered Card requires a review by SGC's graders and authenticators.

When did SGC change their label? ›

In the summer of 2018, we made a few changes to our brand. We modernized our logo, we redesigned the SGC label, and we updated our grading from the previous 10-100 system to a more standardized 1-10 scale.

Is a BGS 10 worth more than a PSA 10? ›

Among other TCGs, it seems that BGS 10 carries a 2-3x premium (possibly more) over a PSA 10. However, in Pokemon it's much harder to say because so few premium cards are ever graded with BGS and actually get a 10 there.

Is PSA 9 better than BGS 9? ›

Overall Comparison

Of course, this would look different with the BGS 10 in the picture, but for cards that are in populations high enough to frequent eBay, PSA is the way to go. While a BGS 9 barely pays off the price of grading, a PSA 9 doubles the value of the raw card.

How much does it cost to get a card graded by Beckett? ›

Beckett Grading Services Pricing

The BGS Standard service carries $30 with no sub-grades and $50 with sub-grades. For their Economy service with no sub-grades, a card commands $20/card and $35/card with sub-grades. Express services cost $100/card with no sub-grades and $150/card with sub-grades.

Is it hard to get a Beckett 10? ›

It means that all your sub grades (corners, edges, surface & centering) were all given a 10/10 grade. As you might imagine, these grades are extremely rare but when they are granted, the value of the card enters a stratosphere that no other grade can come close to.

How hard is it to get a Beckett Black Label? ›

Your card must be pristine across the board to achieve the perfect 10. This means it must achieve a score of 10 (out of 10) on corners, edges, surface and centering. Check for whitening and chips. Look very carefully as even the smallest nick will eliminate your chances of getting that 'Black Label'.

What does SGC mean for cards? ›

SGC stands for Sportscard Guaranty Corporation, and in terms of looks, are known for their “tuxedo” or “tux” slabs – as they've been dubbed – thanks to their refined black and white design.

Does BGS grade harder than PSA? ›

Note that I manually separated out the “true gem” BGS 9.5 grades into their own category. Observations: A “true gem” BGS 9.5 is harder to attain than a PSA 10 across the board (2x for Kobe, 4x for the LeBron) PSA 10 percentages likely include all BGS 10 “black”, BGS 10, “true gem” BGS 9.5, and some Gem Mint BGS 9.5s.

Is it worth buying PSA 9? ›

If it's grading mostly PSA 10's (like with Red's Pikachu and some other modern cards), then getting a PSA 9 is just not worth it. If it's evenly balanced or there are less 10's, it may not be a bad value proposition. If 9s and 10s are both pretty scarce for that card, but the 10 is way more pricey, go for the 9.

How do you get a PSA grade 10? ›

It's hard to get a PSA 10 rating for your card. To get that rating, your card would have to be perfect in almost every regard when it comes to grading standards. This means that it would have to have perfect corners, centering, surface, and all other aspects also need to be perfected.

What makes a PSA 10 card? ›

A PSA Gem Mint 10 card is a virtually perfect card. Attributes include four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss. A PSA Gem Mint 10 card must be free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection, if it doesn't impair the overall appeal of the card.

How much does SGC charge to grade a card? ›

SGC grading costs range anywhere from $30 per card all the way up to $3750 per card (or more), depending on the value of the card, the age of the card, how many cards you're submitting at one time, how fast you want the turnaround to be, and other factors.

How long does it take to get a card graded by Beckett? ›

Autograph Encapsulation Orders – 45 business days. Card & Autograph Grading Orders – 60 business days.

Can I get cards graded in person? ›

You can get cards graded in person, but it's worth noting it can be expensive.

How can you tell if a slab is Beckett? ›

When it comes to BGS slabs, always check the patent number inscribed on the bottom section. It should have a period right after the first three letters. If this mark doesn't show, or if there's no patent number present, the BGS slab in question is a fake.

How long does it take to get a card graded by PSA? ›

They also do not grade cards in the order they were received which makes it much harder to predict when a specific order will come back. These are the approximate turnaround times as of March 2021. Approximately 3-4 weeks.

What does 10 mint or better mean? ›

Meaning, a BCCG 10 – which is presumably the highest grade a card can receive – is only “mint or better” as is stated on the holder. This is different than other grading company “10s” which are labeled as “gem mint” or “pristine.” More on these comparisons in a bit.

Videos

1. Grading Sports Cards 101: PSA? BGS? SGC? HGA?
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2. PSA VS. BECKETT GRADING SERVICES!
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3. Sports Card Grading 101: Learn About PSA, BGS, BVG, BCCG, SGC & more
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5. Card Grading: PSA vs. BGS and What You Need to Know BEFORE Submitting Your Cards
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6. PSA vs BGS - Best Grading Company for Pokemon and Sports Cards? CGC, SGC, GMA, KSA, MNT Review!
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