Learning how to grade Pokemon cards and doing it are two very different things. After all, the existence of Pokemon cards has come a long way since their introduction in the mid-’90s. Although players originally thought they were just collectibles, Pokemon cards became high-value investments. One factor that determines a card’s worth is its grade.
Card grading is a systematic process that evaluates the physical condition of a card. After a grader assigns a grade, only then can we understand the true value of one. You should also keep in mind that the higher the grade, the higher the value. So, how do you grade Pokemon cards?
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Understanding the Basics of Pokemon Card Grading
Grading Pokemon cards is a methodical process involving careful examination of a card’s surface, corners, edges, and centering. It’s not an easy feat, which is why it involves reputable companies, like the Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA).
They also make use of a grading scale from one to ten to rate a card’s condition. As we mentioned, the higher the grade, the better the condition, which means a higher card value. Grading cards become essential when dealing with high-value Pokemon cards. After all, a single grade can mean the difference between $100 and $1,000.
Steps on How to Grade Pokemon Cards
Before we get to the steps on grading Pokemon cards, you should remember that credibility is important. After all, there are various factors to consider for the grading process of a card. Companies, like the PSA, look at four key aspects:
- Surface. Checking the surface includes checking for scratches, creases, stains, or discoloration. Any of these variables can either increase or decrease the grade of a card, especially with Pokemon.
- Centering. The borders on all four sides must be equal. Anything out of place could significantly decrease the grade of your card.
- Corners. Sharp and undamaged corners indicate a higher grade. A little scuffing around the edges might seem like nothing, but it is crucial to the value.
- Edges. Lastly, they also take a look at the edges of a card. Any dents or signs of wear and tear will impact the total grade of a card.
Each one of these factors contributes to the final grade of a Pokemon card. It’s also one of the reasons why there’s a list of the most expensive Pokemon cards. Undoubtedly, you shouldn’t underestimate what it takes to grade a card. So, if you’re planning to do it or if you want your card graded, you should seek advice from experts.
Understanding the Turnaround Time & Preparation
Turnaround times refer to the period it takes for a card to be graded and returned. These times vary depending on the grading company and their workload. Some services offer expedited grading for an additional fee.
Yet, before you have someone grade your Pokemon card, it is also essential to handle them properly. After all, you want to maintain their condition to increase their value. You should take note of these best practices:
- Always hold your cards properly and carefully by the edges. Any grazing on the parts of the card or scuffing around the edges can lead to significant grading deductions.
- Make use of protective sleeves and top loaders to keep them safe from damage. Always remember that the slightest damage can reduce the grade of your Pokemon card.
If you keep it in perfect condition, you will receive a Gem Mint Grade. Your card will receive the Gem Min status if you receive a perfect 10 on the grading scale. It is also the highest grade and status a card can get, depending on how virtually flawless it is. Now, you can understand why the term “mint condition” comes along with expensive card prices.
Bulk Grading & Grading Companies
Bulk grading your Pokemon cards is one way to make your turnaround time more worthwhile. It’s also one of the most cost-effective options when it comes to getting a Pokemon card grade. Although you might receive longer turnaround times, it’s more understandable due to the number of cards.
Yet, you should also take note of the different grading companies. All of them aim to asses the card’s grade accurately, but each has its unique approach to the scale. A good example would be the PSA, which collectors know for the straightforward grading system from one to ten.
However, other companies like Beckett Grading Services (BGS) use a more detailed system. They also provide sub-grades to the four key aspects, which gives collectors a deeper understanding of the card’s value. Whereas CGC is more favorable to collectors due to their turnaround times.
If you have a deeper understanding of these factors, you can choose the right service for your needs. After all, the more accurate the grade of your Pokemon cards, the more you know about their value.
When Should You Grade Your Pokemon Cards?
If you want to get your cards graded, you should consider the costs involved before doing it. There are also factors to consider before you get your cards graded. After all, not every Pokemon card should receive a grade. Rare and valuable cards, like First Editions, Holographic Cards, or cards featuring popular characters are the ones worth grading.
Older cards from the original 1999 release are also valuable. However, common cards or recent releases are not worth grading unless they are special editions. You can also consider that it might have potential future value, but those cases are rare.
Always remember that the goal is to ensure the potential increase in value outweighs the costs of grading. Yet, considering getting a professional appraisal is an option before having your Pokemon card graded.
The Impact of Grading on Card Value
The end goal of getting your card graded is to significantly increase its value. A good example is to put two of the same rare cards next to each other. One of them is in Near Mint condition that could sell for $100, hypothetically. However, the other card is in Gem Mint condition, which could easily sell for over $1,000.
Getting your Pokemon card graded not only adds value but also authenticity. Once you have a card graded by a trusted company assures credibility to potential buyers. It also says that the card you have is genuine and a professional assessed its value. This is also why there are websites selling cards in the market due to the high-value grade.
Overall, an understanding of how companies grade cards is an essential skill for collectors and investors. It’s also part of the excitement and fun of the hobby. It doesn’t matter if you aim to increase the value of your collection or sell some of your cards. If you want to know the grade of your Pokemon card, you should do it. Just remember to make an informed, yet passionate, decision.