So, you’re collecting and battling in the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG)? Then you’ve probably heard of Pokémon card grading! Getting your best cards graded verifies their legitimacy and even helps to boost the price.
This guide will explain how Pokémon card grading works, why you should consider it, the best companies to use, and what price to expect.
And if you don’t have time to read our full-length epic guide, we’ve got a short TLDR section coming right up for you. You’re welcome!
TLDR; How Cards Are Graded and Why
Pokémon cards are graded just like any other collectible – it’s all about quality. Ranging from ‘mint’ or ‘new’ to ‘heavily used’ or ‘poor’, these grades tell potential buyers and collectors what condition the card is in.
- Grading looks at the physical quality of the card. It has nothing to do with the collectible value or rarity of the card. You can find both basic Magikarp and shiny Charizards graded 10!
- There are several companies that offer grading services, usually with discounts for bulk rates. The companies will check the quality and authenticity of the card, and often package it up securely and provide a certificate too.
- Getting cards graded is not cheap, so most people reserve it for rare cards that are worth a lot.
The advantages of getting your card (or cards) graded really come into play when you buy or sell cards. Pokémon cards that have been graded can fetch much higher prices than ungraded versions!
That being said, collectors tend to only appreciate official gradings from companies they know. Card grading companies that have a good reputation are brilliant… but companies with no reputation aren’t really worth sending cards to.
Why Pokémon Grading Matters
It really all comes down to one thing: trust.
When you have a card graded, you can trust that it’s authentic. You can trust that it really is in good condition. And you can trust that you’re paying a fair price for it.
Online, with so many cards selling on eBay with suspiciously poor-quality images, it can be hard to know whether you’re buying a legitimate card or not. But if the card is graded, then you can trust that you’re getting the real deal.
This is important for both buyers and sellers.
We recommend getting your Pokémon card graded if:
- It is very old – grading it authenticates it and also protects it from further damage.
- It is in perfect condition – getting it graded will preserve that condition and also raise the value.
- It is rare – whether it’s shiny, a promo, or even a printing error, getting it graded with authenticate and protect it while also raising the value if you decide to sell.
You’re Unlikely to Get a High Grade!
We can’t stress enough how difficult it is to find a grade 9 or 10 card. If there’s even slightly roughness to the card or whiteness at the edges, it quickly drops down to 8 or below.
That includes both the front and back of the card!
Most cards that are graded the highest grade will be removed from the package and instantly preserved for grading. The second you start to handle or play with cards, the value drops.
The Best Pokémon Card Grading Companies
Okay, so now that you’ve decided which cards you want to grade, it’s time to select a company. Here are the three big players in the industry. If you Google companies, you’ll find several more… but they don’t have the reputation these companies have.
Nonetheless, the real advantage of using lesser-known grading companies is that the price might be lower. You can find a list of alternate grading companies below.
PSA Grading Pokémon Cards
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade playing cards, photos, autographs, tickets and more. They’ve been in the industry since 1991 and have processed over 75 million collectibles including 40 million playing cards.
PSA are really the leaders in this industry, so if you want the most reputable grading of all – send your cards to PSA.
Things PSA does:
- Checks the card for evidence of tampering, forgery, or doctoring to authenticate it.
- Grades the card based on the quality and condition (scale below).
- Puts the card in a tamper-proof, protective plastic case that’s sonically sealed.
- Labels the case with the details about the card, e.g., name, year of release, and expansion.
- Adds a barcode to the case to add inventory to the set registry.
- Marks the case with the grade and a unique certification number that anyone can verify online.
- Adds the PSA Lighthouse™ Security Label.
As for PSA’s grading system, it runs from 1 to 10 with the highest numbers signifying the highest quality. It will be displayed as ‘GEM-MT 10’ for example, meaning gem mint grade 10.
PSA charges based on the declared value of your card. For example, if your card is worth under $199 then you only need to pay $18 to get it graded. However, if you’ve landed a shining Charizard that’s worth almost $1,500 then you’ll need to pay $150 to get it graded by PSA.
Double check with Pokémon Wizard for an up-to-date card value, then double check with PSA for an up-to-date service charge. As always, prices tend to change over time so don’t take our word for anything!
CGC Grading Pokémon Cards
Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) grades pop culture collectibles, focusing more on comics, trading cards, and concert posters than autographs and sports tickets like PSA. They are actually more well-known for grading comics, which they’ve been doing for over 20 years. Cards have only been graded by CGC for the past few years or so.
Nonetheless, their history of grading comics means that they have a very good reputation and collectors trust Pokémon TCG cards that have been authenticated by CGC.
CGC’s process includes:
- Checks the card with microscopic processes to check for authenticity.
- Grades the card using a 10-point grading system.
- Awards sub-grades for centering, corners, edges, and surface (for an additional fee).
- Places the card in a protective, sealed plastic case.
- Prints on the grading details and card details (name, year, expansion pack, etc.) on the front.
- Prints on an identifying barcode and QR code on the back, with a unique certificate number.
- Adds the CGC holograph.
CGC are well-known for having a very tough grading system, so if you find a ’10 Perfect’ card, you know that you’ve hit the jackpot. Their grading system goes from 1 to 10, with half grades (e.g., 6.5) too.
Confusingly, there are two different 10 grades. 10 perfect means that it has been sub-graded, and each category was scored a 10. Meanwhile, 10 pristine means that it is gem mint condition but hasn’t necessarily been sub-graded.
When it comes to pricing, CGC is one of the cheaper options. At the time of writing, CGC charges between $15 and $150 depending on the value of your card. You’ve also got an additional charge for sub-grading, which is $15 too.
Check CGC’s pricing page for an up-to-date and more specific quote.
Beckett Grading Pokémon Cards
The last company that we’ll look at in detail is Beckett Grading Service (BGS). Since 2001, BGS has been grading cards, comics, and VHS tapes! They deal with a lot of vintage cards, including Pokémon cards, and actually started by publishing a Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guidebook in 1979.
They offer the same authenticating and grading services that PSA and CGC provide, with the sub-grading upgrade option too.
With Beckett, your cards go through this process:
- Authenticating the card, checking for signs of tampering, forgeries, etc.
- Grade on a 10-point scale, with the option for sub-grading (centering, corners, edges, surface).
- Seal in a protective plastic case.
- Card details (name, year, expansion pack, etc.) printed on the front.
- Identifying numbers, barcodes and QR codes for the certification too.
One feature that’s pretty unique to Beckett is their Vault and Collect service. These online services allow you to manage and track your card values digitally from your smartphone. With the rise of NFTs, it’s not surprising that some card grading companies are edging into the virtual collectibles industry.
Beckett pricing starts at $25 for a card without sub-grading, all the way up to $200 for a single card with very fast turn-around times. At the time of writing this article, the fastest turn-around time is 2 to 7 business days, but this changes regularly. Check the Beckett card grading page for more details.
Other Companies That Grade Pokémon Cards
There are several other grading companies, some that serve a specific country or region and others that are specific to Pokémon cards only.
Although not as trusted as the three companies above, you can still check them out!
- Pokémon Card Grading (PCG) – only grading cards in the US, this company began in 2009 and focused solely on PTCG items.
- Tree Frog Grading – a new grading company, operating in the UK, so Brits don’t need to ship their Pokémon cards across the pond to get them graded.
- Ace Grading – shatter-proof cases and high-quality services. Ace currently only operates in the UK but is expanding to the EU and US.
- The Grading Authority (TGA) – although their cases look lower quality than other grading companies, this US operation does a good job.
- Pokégrade – another UK company. This one isn’t overly reputable, but the price is super low so if you want affordable grading, this company will do.
Pokémon Card Grading Costs
Costs vary depending on the value of the cardbecause some companies don’t want to take on the risk of shipping a high-value card without extra insurance!
You’ll also pay more or less depending on the turn-around time, e.g., how fast the card can be graded and returned to you.
For sub-grading, you may also need to pay more. This is not entirely necessary, but the most serious card collectors will want to see it. These are usually the buyers that have the most money to spend, so it’s worth it!
Let’s look at the price of grading a single card. We’ll use this common Squirtle from Team Magma vs. Team Aqua to compare. It’s currently worth around $8.
PSA: $18 for grading, no sub-grading available. Turn-around time is 120 days. You need to become a PSA collectors club member and send a minimum of 25 cards. For a single card, the price is $30.
CGC: $15 for grading, plus $5 handling fee. If you want sub-grading, that’s an additional $15. Just like with PSA, you need to send a minimum of $25 to get this price. For a single card, the price is $25.
BGS: $25 for 10-point grading or $35 for 10-point grading and sub-grading. There are additional costs for international shipping and other upgrades.
So, all in all, the three big Pokémon card grading companies charge around the same amount. However, CGC and BGS have a slight edge with their sub-grading options. Overall, we recommend CGC for cost. It’s the best value for money when you factor in sub-grading, and they have just a little bit more reputability than BGS.
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Pokémon Card Grading Per Country
PSA, CGC and BGS all operate in the US and will require collectors from other countries to pay some high shipping fees!
So, here are some alternative options depending on your location.
In the UK, you can send your cards to UK-specific companies:
You can also find services that will send your cards to PSA for a lower price. They do this by combining orders from many different people, so they can get that bulk discount and share the price of international shipping. They then pass the saving on to you. Ludkins is one example.
In Canada, you also have a few Canada-specific companies to choose from:
Grades from these companies don’t hold anywhere near as much weight as the American PSA, CGC and BGS companies so you may want to consider stomaching the cost of shipping to the US.
Once again, you can find some Australia-specific card grading companies:
Furthermore, there are services that will ship your cards off for PSA grading with other customers for a discounted price, just like in the UK.
How does Pokémon card grading work?
Grading works by assessing the authenticity of a card, then analyzing the quality to give it a grade – usually a number out of 10. This gives the card a higher value.
Is it worth getting Pokémon card graded?
Due to the price of grading, it is only worth getting cards graded if they are in excellent condition, are very old, and/or are very rare.
Where to get my Pokémon cards graded?
PSA is the most well-known place to get your card graded. Other places (CGC and Beckett) are also reputable and offer sub-grading. There are other, smaller companies that offer grading however they are less reputable and not really worth it!
What’s the highest Pokémon card grade?
On a numerical scale, 10 is the highest grade. Some grading companies also give this grade a name, e.g., gem mint.
How much does it cost to get Pokémon cards graded?
Costs start at around $15 per card, but additional fees usually apply, and you’ll need to order in bulk to get this price. For very rare cards, you may need to pay several hundred dollars for authenticating and grading services.
Where can I take my Pokémon cards to get graded? ›
The three best companies to use when getting Pokémon cards graded are PSA, Beckett, and CGC. These are all trusted grading companies that have decades of experience. The hierarchy of them vary from person to person, but PSA is usually the standard.How to get a Pokémon card graded for free? ›
You might be wondering if you can get Pokémon Cards graded for free, and the answer is, unfortunately, no. You cannot get official grading done for free because someone has to be compensated for their time and you will have to pay for shipping for your cards to get to and from the grader.How do I check the value of my Pokémon cards? ›
The easiest way to get an estimate of the value of Pokemon cards is to see how much they are currently going for on the Pokemon TCG marketplace. Reliable websites include TCGPlayer.com and TrollandToad.com, which are also where collectors can put their cards up for sale should they choose to part ways with them.Where is the best place to get cards graded? ›
- Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) PSA. ...
- Beckett Grading Service (BGS) BGS. ...
- Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC) SGC. ...
- CSG. CSG. ...
- HGA. HGA. ...
- ISA. ISA. ...
- GMA. GMA.
Grading services typically cost $25–50 USD per card to place an order, but they may vary on the card's value. Give the grading service around 2–3 weeks to grade your Pokémon cards and send them back.Is PSA grading free? ›
Now in terms of pricing, PSA's most basic service level costs $20 per card with a minimum submission of 20 cards worth up to $199 in declared value. On the other hand, their most elite service costs $600 per card, worth up to $9,999 in declared value.Do graded Pokémon cards lose value? ›
Cards could get lost, stolen, or damaged.
Pokémon cards only hold their value if they remain in 100% pristine condition. If a PSA 10 Charizard drops to PSA 9 while it's in your possession, it loses 80% of its value.
CGC Trading Cards has a simple and cost-effective fee structure with industry-leading turnaround times. Certification services start at just $15 per card.Can fake Pokémon cards be graded? ›
Basically, PSA has no intention of grading a fake card, as the key element of the grading process is the authentication of raw/ungraded cards. A PSA grade is proof that a card is legitimate.How do you tell if a Pokémon card is rare or valuable? ›
The black symbol in the bottom corner of a Pokemon card denotes its rarity: a circle is common, a diamond is uncommon, and a star is rare. Traditionally the star is black, but a card with a star of an alternate color such as white or gold means it's ultra rare. Card image courtesy of PKMNcards.com.
How do you tell if a Pokémon card is rare or worth money? ›
Every Pokémon card is stamped with a small symbol in the bottom right corner that identifies its rarity. As is the case with most collectibles, scarcity is a major factor in determining the item's value. So the rarer the card's marker, the higher value it'll likely command at auction.How do I sell my Pokémon cards? ›
- Troll and Toad.
- Card Cavern.
- CGC Castle.
- Facebook Marketplace.
One of the most well-known grading companies is Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). PSA has been around since 1991 and is considered the gold standard in the industry. They use a 10-point grading scale, with 10 being the highest grade a card can receive.How much does it cost to send a card to get graded? ›
PSA Grading Cost Per Card
Value: $25/card. Value Plus: $40/card. Regular: $75/card. Express: $150.
The cheapest way to get your sports cards graded is to use a grading service that offers lower-priced grading options. Here are a few options to consider: Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG): CSG offers sports card grading services with prices starting at $10 per card.What is a PSA 10 Charizard worth? ›
|Grade||Most Recent Price||PSA Price|
|GEM - MT 10||$252,000.00||$181,900.00|
|NM - MT 8||$8,417.85||$10,600.00|
You can still buy and sell ungraded or “raw” cards, however, you're better protected from fakes or scammers by choosing to collect graded cards. The value of a card also tends to go up once it's certified by an official grader.Is Beckett or PSA better? ›
Beckett Grading Services has a lot more bells and whistles than PSA: they offer color-coded tags for the cards based on their grade (gold is a 9.5 or 10, for example), they award subscores so you can see exactly how your cards faired in their four subcategories, and they have a “Black Label” offering for the rare ...What does PSA 10 mean? ›
For a card to earn a 10, the edges of a card must be flawless to the naked eye and virtually perfect when looked at under magnification. Surface. The final criteria looked at by card graders is the surface of the card.How much does 1 PSA grading cost? ›
|Grading Level||Cost||Collector Club Required?|
Are Pokémon cards a good investment 2023? ›
Pokémon cards can be a profitable investment due to limited supply and increasing demand in a global market, especially when focusing on rare and high-demand cards. The value of Pokémon cards depends on factors such as nostalgia, rarity, demand, and supply.Are Pokémon cards from the 90s worth anything? ›
A 1999 first edition shadowless charmeleon can be worth up to $500, while a Nidorino shadowless first edition base set card in mint condition could fetch you up to $160. There's even an Australian card collectors site where Pokemon cards can fetch anything from $5 to $800.What is the best website for Pokémon card prices? ›
TCGplayer: Widely considered a leading authority by the Pokémon community, TCGplayer lets you search by card or by set. The site combines data from brick and mortar stores, online stores, and individual sellers, so its online Pokémon card price guide is extremely thorough.What is the most expensive graded card Pokémon? ›
1998 Trophy Pikachu Gold
Retro tournament cards are often some of the most valuable due to how few get printed. This particular card was given out in 1998 to the top 3 players of the Japanese Pokémon Lizardon tournament. Only seven of these have ever appeared for grading, and one was most recently sold for $128,900.
01. Illustrator CoroCoro Comics Promo (Pikachu illustrator card) Without a doubt, the most expensive of the rare Pokemon cards is the elusive Pikachu Illustrator card. In 1997, CoroCoro held an art competition where winners were given the stunning item which depicts the Electric-type adorably drawing other monsters.Can people fake PSA grading? ›
Sometimes, a forger may attempt to simply add a fake front to a real PSA label. In turn, an extra layer of paper is used. As a result, if you attempt to do what we just described above while using a lamp or strong light, you will not be able to see through it.Are gold Pokémon cards fake? ›
Gold Pokemon cards or better known as metal Pokemon cards are highly sought after cards. Metal Pokemon cards are unofficial Pokemon cards that are covered in a gold-colored materials.What are considered rare Pokémon cards? ›
Rare. If a Pokémon card's rarity symbol is a black or white star, it's at least a Rare. Check if any parts of the card have a holographic foil. If no part of the card is foil, or if every part of the card except the art is foil, then it's a normal Rare.How can you tell if Pokémon card is rare or Holo? ›
Common cards have a black circle. Uncommon cards have a black diamond. Rare cards have a black star. Rare Holo cards have a black star and a “shiny” (foil) illustration.How to sell Pokémon cards and make money? ›
Selling your Pokémon Cards in Person
Find a store that specializes in trading card games. Bring your well preserved cards and see how much they'll pay you for them. Be sure to know the value of your cards and how much you'll accept for them before doing business. Call ahead to make sure the store accepts Pokémon cards.
Which company is best for grading money? ›
PCGS Banknote is the premier third-party certification service for paper currency. Each note that enters our building is carefully examined, authenticated, and graded by our team of world-renowned experts.Is it worth buying PSA graded cards? ›
So in the end, does it make sense to grade cards? If you'd like to increase the value, and are certain the card you're grading will receive a great score, then sure. On the other hand, if you simply want to authenticate or protect your collection, then yes as well!Why is it so expensive to get a card graded by PSA? ›
PSA, BGS and other popular grading services have increased their prices because… Well because they can – It's like anything else, if demand for it goes up, so does the value. The higher prices also mean lower and more manageable submission numbers, but higher value, which is better for the grading services.Are graded cards a good investment? ›
But when it's time to sell, you'd usually get higher returns for a graded card than the ungraded one. So, raw cards are generally ideal for recreation purposes. But if you're serious about sports card investments, then graded cards can be a great choice.
Much to the surprise of novice collectors, getting cards graded does not always increase their value. In fact, most cards, once graded, will return less than if they were sold raw.Is it cheaper to grade cards in bulk? ›
Bulk grading initially cost $8-$10 dollars per card in 2018, depending on the amount of cards submitted. This service was discontinued in 2020 due to skyrocketing demand that PSA could not keep up with. In September of 2022 PSA brought back bulk grading, but at more than double the previous prices at $22 per card.Where is PSA grading located? ›
PSA is a division of Collectors Universe, which has offices in California, New Jersey, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. As the only third-party grading service to offer a guarantee on its services, PSA has emerged as the clear leader in authentication and grading for trading cards and other collectibles.What is the cheapest way to get cards graded? ›
Of the major grading companies, BGS currently offers the cheapest card grading service, which is $18 to grade a single card at the “Base” level. This is $2 less than CSG's “Economy” level, $5 less than PSA's “Value” service, and $4 less than SGC.How much money is it to get a Pokémon card graded by PSA? ›
Value Bulk: $19/card. Value: $25/card. Value Plus: $40/card. Regular: $75/card.Is PSA grading even worth it? ›
Regardless if you're talking counterfeits or reprints, PSA card grading services can be an excellent tool to verify a card's authenticity. That's not to say that PSA is correct 100% of the time and fakes don't occasionally slip through their hands.
How much does it cost to send to PSA for grading? ›
|TOTAL DECLARED VALUE|
|Number of Packs||$1 - $1,000||$1,001 - $5,000|
|1 - 3||$23.00||$34.00|
|4 - 9||$29.00||$40.00|
|10+||add .25 per pack||add .25 per pack|
This is a list of the highest known prices paid for sports cards. The current record price is the US$12.6 million paid for a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card (Topps; #311) on August 28, 2022, breaking all previous records.Are cheap cards worth grading? ›
You should NOT get your card graded just because you THINK it will improve the value. Grading cards costs money. Money that sometimes isn't returned because the grades assigned to the cards do not improve their value.
The most expensive Pokémon card is the Pikachu Illustrator which sold for $5.275 million in July 2021. It's the true Holy Grail of Pokémon card collecting and only one PSA 10 is known to exist.What is the most expensive PSA graded cards Pokémon? ›
As of August 2022, the most expensive Pokémon card is a Professional Sports Authenticator grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card that social media personality and boxer Logan Paul purchased for $5.275 million, according to Guinness World Records. A PSA grade of 10 means the card was in perfect condition.Should I send my Pokémon card to get graded? ›
Pros Of Getting Pokémon Cards Graded
Fans who get their Pokémon cards graded can increase their collectible value in most cases by a lot. Another benefit of grading is protection, as most companies will send the Pokémon card back in a sealed slab of plastic.
Card Saver 1's are your best option for graded card submissions. They are the only card holder that is recommended by PSA and BGS by name. These are semi-rigid card holders that fit all standard sized trading cards and some over-sized cards. Card Saver 1's are sealed 50ct packages/200ct red boxes.