A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Your Pokémon Cards Graded

Nerdacity Feb 23, 2024
292 People Read
Charizard Evolutions Reverse Holo
Table of Contents
  1. Why Grade Your Pokémon Cards?
  2. Identifying Which Pokémon Cards are Worth Grading
  3. Preparing Your Pokémon Cards for Grading
  4. Choosing a Pokémon Card Grading Service
    1. PSA
    2. CGC
    3. Get Graded
    4. ACE Grading
  5. Submitting Your Pokémon Cards for Grading
  6. Understanding the 10-Point Pokémon Card Grading Scale
  7. Receiving and Selling Graded Cards
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

Are you a Pokémon card collector looking to add even more value to your prized possessions? Getting your cards graded can significantly increase their worth and give you an edge in the collector's market. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire grading process, from identifying gradable cards to selecting a grading service and more.

Why Grade Your Pokémon Cards?

Added Value: Having your Pokémon cards graded isn't only for show! A professionally graded card often commands a higher market value (some graded cards can sell for several times their ungraded value). Grading authenticates a card proving that it's not a fake, as well as providing an accurate measure of its condition.

Easier to Sell: Graded cards are generally easier to sell because they offer an assurance of quality and authenticity to potential buyers. Each grading service keeps a database of each and every card they've graded, again providing assurance to holders and potential buyers alike, that cards and/or their grades, are not counterfeit.

Identifying Which Pokémon Cards are Worth Grading

Rare Cards: Cards that are old, Limited Edition, First Editions, and/or Holographic are often better to grade (in terms of added value) than their newer, unlimited and non-holo counterparts... but not always!

Condition: Cards without creases, stains, or wear and tear are more likely to receive a higher grade... The higher the grade, the more likely it is that other collectors will pay a premium to own it. Examine your cards carefully under good lighting... a severe dent or scratch may make the card's likely grade/graded-value not worth the overall cost of grading.

Investment Potential: Cards that are trending in value or are part of a popular set (such as BASE Set 1 or Evolutions) often gain additional value when graded.

Sentimental Value: Grading a card can be about sentimental value rather than monetary gain, especially if it evokes happy memories or is a cherished part of your collection.

Research Research Research: After deciding which of your cards are potential candidates for grading, thoroughly research current graded and non-graded prices; One of the easiest ways to do this via a huge selling platform is through eBay. By searching for your card, then setting listings to finished/sold, a user can see what specific cards at various gradings have actually sold for, rather than relying on often overly-optimistic listed prices. By looking at graded vs ungraded prices you can calculate if the overall cost of grading (shipping x 2 and the cost of the grading itself) would be more or less than the value added by completing the grading process, as well as what grade would be required to potentially turn a profit.

Preparing Your Pokémon Cards for Grading

Cleaning: Wear gloves and use a soft microfibre cloth to (very) carefully remove any surface dirt, smudges or fingerprints. Do not use chemicals or water, as these will permanently damage your card.

Protection: Place individual cards within acid-free exact-fit trading card sleeves (64mm x 89mm for Pokémon cards) within acid-free regular-fit trading card sleeves (66mm x 92mm)… Hopefully any valuable cards have been in at least one sleeve since the second you pulled them! Follow up by placing the card (within both sleeves) inside a rigid toploader (3" x 4"), to protect it during shipping. If sending just one or two cards, consider taping the card-holding top-loader(s) between two more empty top-loaders, for extra rigidity and peace of mind (ensure tape is applied at the sides, so there is no way for the card(s) to come in contact with the tape). Always check the requirements of your grading service, as some like to receive cards in a specific configuration in terms of sleeves and protection

Exact Fit Pokémon Card Sleeves

Choosing a Pokémon Card Grading Service

PSA

The most popular and trusted grading service, known for rigorous grading standards. PSA graded cards often receive a premium price-tag just for the fact that they're graded by PSA. Ideal for high-value cards. UK users will have to send their cards to the US however, making the grading process very protracted and expensive. Prices start at $25 with a 65 day turnaround, but this is only for cards with a value of $499 or less (those with more expensive cards will have to choose a more expensive PSA grading tier). Remember, anyone sending from the UK or EU will have to factor in extra shipping costs and wait-times due to the location of the PSA.

CGC

A service that's become popular for quick turnarounds and competitive pricing. UK users can choose to have their cards graded in the UK by the CGC UK affiliate company, or opt to have their cards sent to the US for the full CGC experience, again incurring extra shipping fees and wait times. Prices for the UK service start at £11 per card for 25+ cards or £13 per card for 0-24 cards, both options have a 40 day turnaround.

Get Graded

A service based in the UK, providing affordable and fast grading services. Prices start at £8.49 for 50+ cards, and sit at a reasonable £9.99 for individual cards, both options have a 25-35 day turnaround. Booster pack grading services are also offered with a 10-15 day turnaround starting at £19.99 for 4+ cards. At time of writing express services are unavailable.

ACE Grading

A newer service based in the UK. Being established in 2021 the service is still building its reputation within TCG communities. Priced at £10 per card (no minimum card requirements!) with an option to add 'colour match' (the grading label matches the colour scheme of the encased card) for £1 per card, or an ACE Label (the grading label includes unique elements also found on the encased card, examples below) for £3. All label options have a quick base turnaround time of 20 days, but this time can be halved to 10 days for an extra £2, and halved again to 5 days for another £3. Users in somewhat of a rush can use the Ultra service for a 2 day turnaround, the fastest available in the UK.

Submitting Your Pokémon Cards for Grading

Online Form: Most services require you to fill out an online submission form, where you'll list card details (name, set list, etc.), return shipping details and choose your level of service (often speed of grading related, but can include some cosmetic add-ons to the grading case as discussed in the previous section).

Shipping and Packaging: Use secure packaging, sturdy box and bubble-wrap to prevent movement (see: Preparing Your Cards for Grading: Protection above for more). Consider insuring your shipment and don't forget to place 'fragile stickers' on the package.

Understanding the 10-Point Pokémon Card Grading Scale

Cards are typically graded on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 being 'Poor' quality and a 10 being 'Gem Mint' quality. Some companies also provide sub-grades for individual card attributes like centring, corners and edge quality. Scoring a perfect 10 is no easy feat; a card must be pristine with four perfect corners and virtually no imperfections (through owner fault, the printing process or otherwise). If imperfections are found by the grading company, the grade will be lowered accordingly.

Each company has slightly differing grading standards, so be sure to check before deciding.

Receiving and Selling Graded Cards

Unboxing: Carefully unbox the graded cards and admire them whilst you review the grade.

Selling: Should you wish to sell your shiny new graded card, leverage platforms like eBay, specialised forums, social media groups, or local collectible/TCG shops.

Storage or Display: Store or display the graded cards in a safe place, away from moisture, prying fingers/paws and direct sunlight.

Final Thoughts

Getting your Pokémon cards graded is an investment that can, with prior card care and a little research, pay off in the form of higher resale value and marketability. By following this guide, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the grading process like a pro. Remember, grading is not just a stamp of approval but a seal of quality that can significantly increase the value of your Pokémon cards. Happy grading!

Always refer to the grading service's guidelines and terms of service for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Related Articles

Table of Contents
  1. Why Grade Your Pokémon Cards?
  2. Identifying Which Pokémon Cards are Worth Grading
  3. Preparing Your Pokémon Cards for Grading
  4. Choosing a Pokémon Card Grading Service
    1. PSA
    2. CGC
    3. Get Graded
    4. ACE Grading
  5. Submitting Your Pokémon Cards for Grading
  6. Understanding the 10-Point Pokémon Card Grading Scale
  7. Receiving and Selling Graded Cards
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure:  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.