Should You Grade Your Pokémon Cards?
Published 15th October 2021
So you think your Pokémon card is worth grading? You've come to the right place! Read on for a guide on all you need to know about grading your Pokémon cards.
What is Pokémon card grading?
Pokémon card grading is where you send your card to a third party company to check the authenticity of the card and give it a grade. The company will then encapsulate your card in a hard plastic case and send it back to you. Most companies, such as PSA and BGS will score your cards on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a perfect or Near Mint condition card. Some companies may also allow you to send in a card solely for the purpose of judging the authenticity, in which you will receive the same encapsulated card back, but without a grade.
Why would you want to grade a Pokémon card?
1. To increase the value of your card.
In a lot of situations, cards that have received high grades will be worth more than those that have not been graded. For example, cards that are a 9 or 10 will often sell for a considerable amount more than non graded and lower graded cards. Sometimes graded 10s will go for a considerable amount more than even graded 9s, depending on the card.
2. To maintain the current condition of your card.
You may want to ensure that the current condition of your card is maintained. As all graded cards come encapsulated in a sealed plastic case, the condition will be preserved.
3. To show off or display your card.
If you want to display your Pokémon cards, they certainly do look good in the cases you get back from grading them. Getting your cards graded is a great way to show off your collection, albeit not the most cost effective way. If you can't afford to get your cards graded, you can always buy hard plastic cases that do a pretty good job for a lot cheaper. Of course your card won't be judged for authenticity or given a grade, but it will still be protected and look great on a display stand.
How do you know if your card will get a high grade?
Short answer; you don't. However our article on judging the condition of your card is a great start and can help you develop realistic expectations for your grade so you can decide whether to send your cards or not.
To summarise our article on card condition, the main things to look for are surface scratches, edge whitening, and creases and/or folds. These aspects of card condition are what grading companies look at to determine your final card condition grade.
One other thing to look out for is centering. If a card shows uneven borders on the sides of the card, that will likely cause a lower grade. Centering is usually only a minor deduction unless the difference in border width is severe.
Does grading increase the value of your cards?
Not necessarily. Just because a card is graded, doesn't mean that it will automatically be more valuable. Of course, some cards will shoot up in value if they get a high grade, but some may be worth less than if they were left ungraded.
A lot of rare and already high value cards will increase in value if they are graded and receive a high grade. However, common cards (which tend not to be as sought after by collectors) will not often increase in value very much, if at all. This doesn't mean you shouldn't or can't get low value cards graded, it just means that going through the grading process may not be good value for your money.
When considering grading a card, you also have to take into account the cost of sending it to get graded. In some instances, the cost of grading a card may be more than the increase in value that comes with having the graded card. You also may not get as high a grade as you anticipate which may result in your card being valued lower than expected.
Which cards should you grade if you want to increase their value?
1. High value cards.
Cards that are already worth several hundred dollars are usually great candidates for grading. Especially if it is an older card that is in good condition.
2. Older cards that are in good condition.
Some older cards are becoming more difficult to find in very good condition. Although some of these cards may not be worth much ungraded, a high grade may fetch a high price if there aren't many out there.
3. Popular Pokémon characters.
Popular Pokémon characters are often worth grading as they are more sought after by collectors and fans of the games. Pokémon like Charizard, Pikachu, and Eevee are fan favourites and can be good to grade, especially if they are rare.
Which cards shouldn't you get graded if you have value in mind?
1. Cards in poor condition.
Cards in poor condition generally are not good grading candidates. Most people want graded cards because they want good condition cards with high grades. This doesn't mean you shouldn't grade poor condition cards ever, it just means that getting the card graded may not increase its value.
2. Cards currently being used in competitive play.
Competitively viable cards that are used in the decks of a large number of players in the Pokémon TCG are usually not great candidates either. Some of these cards may be worth several hundred dollars, but that's because a lot of players want them in their decks. They are not likely to want a graded card.
Still stuck on whether to get a card graded?
If you are still unsure whether you should grade your card, and your aim is to increase the value of your card, try following these steps:
- Look for your card using the Card Search page and find out how much your card is worth now ungraded.
- Make a best guess as to what condition your card is in and what grade it may receive. Check out our article on Judging Card Condition to help you out. Always try to make a conservative guess as to what grade you may get. You will likely want to be pleasantly surprised with a higher grade than disappointed with a lower grade.
- Check out eBay sold listings for your card in the grades you anticipate.
- Crunch the numbers! Take the probable graded value and subtract the value of the card now and the grading fees. The bigger that number is, the more your card will likely increase in value if it gets that grade.
So how do you actually get a card graded?
First, you'll have to decide which company you want to grade your card. There are a number of reputable companies out there that grade Pokémon cards but the ones that we suggest are PSA, BGS, and SGC.
Next, decide how you'll send your card. You can send it directly to the company itself where each company will have their own rules and guidelines to follow. Alternatively you can use services such as Slabd to send them on your behalf.
If you are going to send the cards yourself, ensure that you read the rules very carefully and package the cards exactly how they want you to. It is in your and your cards best interest to make the process as easy as possible for the grading company.
Using a service such as Slabd will ensure that your cards are packed and sent properly and that your cards are fully insured in case of any postal disasters.
- Pokemon cards are graded by third party companies who usually grade from 1-10, where 10 is a perfect or Mint condition card. These companies will also verify your cards authenticity.
- There are multiple reasons for grading a card. You may want to try and increase its value, you may want to maintain its condition, or you may just want to have it in a case to display nicely.
- You never really know for sure which grade you will get, but you can try to judge your cards condition as best as possible to anticipate its grade.
- Grading doesn't necessarily mean your card will be worth more. In some cases, especially if you get a high grade, your card can be worth a considerable amount more than it would be ungraded.
- High value cards, fan favourite Pokemon, and older rare cards in good condition are usually good grading candidates. However, cards that are not in good condition and cards that are expensive due to their competitive viability are not usually good candidates.
- If you have value in mind, try to calculate the increase in value you may see from a graded card, keeping in mind the possible grade you will get. Also remember to include the cost of grading into your calculations.
- To get a card graded, you can send it directly to the company you want it graded by, or you can uses services such as Slabd to send it on your behalf.