How To Grade Pokémon Cards

Written By // SU Staff in Pokémon

How To Grade Pokemon Cards

Grading Pokémon Cards Guide

Did you collect Pokémon cards as a kid and keep them in perfect condition? Now, as an adult you find yourself wondering if these cards are actually worth money, or should you let your children play with them? Just because your card is holographic or from the original Base Set does not necessarily mean that it is worth something.

So, how exactly do you know? Let’s go over some ways to help you find out if your card is worth money or just something to be sentimental over. 

How much does it cost to get a Pokémon card graded?

First, in order to get your card graded you need to send it to a professional grading company. A very well known and accredited company is the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator). You can also use the CGC or BCS. They will then give your card a grade value from 1 to 10 signifying the quality of the card.

The highest grade you can go is 10, also known as “Gem Mint”. There are two price options for having your cards graded: bulk or single grading. The price for bulk grading is usually around $50 per card after insurance and shipping costs. The price for single grading is usually around $50- $200 per card.

How do you know the grade of a Pokémon card?

Let’s talk about the four factors that go into how your card is graded.

  • Centering– One of the first things you should look for is the centering, and if all four sides have the same amount of border. Usually, a Pokémon card has a border surrounding the edges on the front as well as a blue edge border on the back of the card. If your card has centered borders on both sides you will score higher.
  • Surfacing– If a card is not properly protected, scratched surfaces are very likely to happen. Even if you cannot see it, graders will use a magnifying glass to look the the cards surface for any scratches, dents, or other imperfections. Rarely, printing defects can also lower the card value.
  • Edging– The edges must also be crisp and in near perfect condition without any coloration rubbing off. There should be no dents, flaking, whitening,  or errors.  If the error is minor it will not hurt the cards grading too much.
  • Corners– The cards in the best condition have crip corners. They should be perfectly flat, no witness, and sharp. There should be no roughness. Usually the corners is where you will see a lot of damage on a card that has not been put into a protective case.

The following table will be used as well to grade your card(s):

how to grade pokemon cards

How do I know if my card will grade well?

If your card looks good with its centering, edging, corners and doesn’t seem to have any surface scratches or defects, the card should do well. 

What is the cheapest way to grade Pokémon cards?

The cheapest way is to send your cards in, it can get costly but this is the most verified way.

Can I grade my own cards?

You need to have your cards graded through an authentic grader such as PSA, CGC, or BGS.

How can I get cards graded for free?

Sadly, you can’t get authenticated cards for free. You can’t get your cards officially graded for free  because someone has to be paid for their time and the shipping of the cards as well as the insurance. Also, paying someone like the PSA, CGC, or BGS, insures that you will not get scammed and lose your cards. 

How do you tell if a Pokémon card is rare?

There are a couple ways to tell if your card is rare. You can tell by the symbol located in the bottom right corner of every card. The shape will help determine the rarity of the card. Common cards have a black circle, uncommon cards have a black diamond, rare cards have a black star. Also some cards are rare based solely on that card: promo cards, reverse holo, holo, rainbow rare, and full art are just a few. 

Why is it so expensive to grade cards?

Getting your cards graded is expensive for a couple reasons. First, you have to pay for shipping from your house and also back to your house. Also, you need to pay for insurance. This guarantees that if anything were to happen to your card, you won’t lose all of your money. Also, the authenticator is not going to want to work for free. They can spend hours looking at your card to determine it’s rating, they need to be compensated. They will also provide you with a labeled card protector and authentication, proving that your card is worth what you may be asking for it. 

Can you grade a card online?

There are some online services. However, having your card graded by the previously mentioned companies would give your card a seal of legitimacy that can drive up its resale price.  

Is there an app for grading cards?

There is currently agscard.com where you can get more accurate information on your card before you pay all that money to send your card out. They also offer a mobile app. However, to get authentication, you will still need to send the card out. 

Is PSA grading closed?

PSA is actually back up and running. PSA created a new submission management process to help expedite the return of service levels without adding to their backlog. From the PSA website, “This new technology will ensure we can continue to allocate at least 80% of our capacity to existing orders in the backlog, while also servicing a controlled amount of new orders from our community. These virtual queuing Submission Events will allow Collectors Club members to submit at high-demand service levels after winning the ability to submit in a randomized lottery.”

How do you PSA grade a Pokémon card?

First, you need to go to the PSA website and click on the Trading Card Grading tab. Then, you will click the Start Submission box. It will then ask you a series of questions to determine your cost. The price of your Pokémon card will determine how much they will charge you. For example if your card is under $1,000, they will charge you $50 for that card. You will have to create an account and fill out the necessary work, then they will have you send your card in to get graded. 

How do you tell if a Pokémon card is a PSA 10?

A PSA Gem Mint 10 is a virtually perfect card. It will have four perfectly sharp corners, full original gloss and sharp focus. It must also be free of any kind of staining. 

Does PSA charge before grading?

Yes, they will charge you upfront. 

Why is PSA so expensive?

They have just recently increased its pricing due to a backlog of an untold millions of cards. They also have to pay for people to grade your card and the insurance needed to protect both the customer and the PSA. 

Does PSA return card savers?

When you get your card back from the PSA, you will get the PSA slabs only, not the Card Savers.

Is PSA grading worth it?

Yes. Having your card PSA graded can actually increase the value of your card because they are so accredited. 

How hard is it to get a PSA 10?

Pretty hard. If the card has been meticulously taken care of, put into protective cases and free of any damage it is easy. However, Pokémon cards are more commonly used to play with, which leads to damage occurring to the cards. Making a PSA of 10 hard to come by, unless it’s been taken care of. 

Which is better: Beckett or PSA?

PSA is more commonly known and can make your card worth a little more. However, Beckett Grading Services is just as good and offers a better looking  label and faster turnaround time. It really comes down to preference and how much you want to spend getting your card graded. 

2012 BW Lugia EX Holo Plasma Storm PSA Data

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