Should I Get My Trading Cards Graded?6 min read


Should I get my cards graded by an independent third-party grader? And if so, which ones? You may have asked yourself these questions or heard your collector friends pose the same questions. Of course, the answer is entirely dependent on you, your cards and your collecting goals.

We can’t answer the questions for you, but we can highlight the benefits that come with trading card grading and hopefully guide you in finding your answers along the way.

Maximizing the Value of Your Cards

Whether you intend to keep your cards for your personal collection or eventually sell them, getting your cards graded can enhance the value and liquidity of them.

Just look at auction sites like eBay where graded cards abound and are moving on a daily basis. In terms of value, auction prices continue to show that cards authenticated and graded blow away the value of ungraded cards. Selling a graded card is generally much easier than attempting to sell a raw (ungraded) version of the same card. Grading takes away the guesswork for both the buyer and the seller, paving the way for an easier transaction. By confirming authenticity and assigning a numeric grade for condition, the seller can price and promote the item with certainty, and the buyer can easily confirm the value of that particular grade and buy with confidence The buyer and seller are both comforted by the fact that there won’t be any surprises or disagreement about the grade once the card arrives and is examined in-person.


Other Benefits of Third-Party Grading

Perhaps you are simply a collector and have no immediate plans to sell your collection. Does it still make sense to have your cards graded if your only plan is to enjoy them yourself? Yes, as a matter of fact, it does.


While the monetary value of graded cards is always attractive and makes for great news, the truth is there are many reasons to get your cards graded that have nothing to do with value.

Protection – Condition is a critical component of trading card value and nothing protects your cards from future creases and dinged corners better than encapsulating your cards with a third-party grader like PSA. PSA encapsulates every card in a tamper-evident, sonically-sealed case that provides protection from pressure and most damage.

Organization – Not only do PSA holders protect cards from damage, but the information provided on the label makes for simple identification and sorting. Subject, year, set name, card number, variation (if applicable) and grade are all prominently displayed and easily read. This makes card sorting easy. Additionally, with storage boxes designed specifically to fit PSA holders, cards can be organized quickly, easily and in an attractive manner

Documentation – One of the best reasons to have your cards graded is the documentation associated with each card that we grade. Each card is assigned a unique certification number that is registered in our system. This cert number is then used by PSA to assign the card to the Population Report and to Auction Prices Realized if the card is sold in a public auction. The card can then be added to the owner’s PSA Set Registry listings that can be used to document and organize a collection. In the case of theft or fire, that certification number can also be used to identify individual cards for insurance purposes.


cert verification


Shipping – We covered how encapsulation protects cards from damage. This is especially true when shipping. Shipping raw cards can result in damage and refund requests.  Graded cards are easy to ship safely in small padded envelops at very low costs and are small enough to be delivered right into someone’s mailbox.

Regardless of your reason for owning cards, grading and authentication can be a benefit to you. At a minimum the enhanced security, labeling and grading can help to better organize and appreciate your collection. And if your plan is to sell, then the value realized by offering graded cards and the ease with which they can be sold and shipped will add money to your bottom line.

Which Cards Should I Get Graded?

We’ve covered some of the many benefits of getting your cards graded by a third-party grader like PSA. But how do you decide which cards to submit for grading? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help decide.

  • How rare are my cards?
  • How desirable are my cards? Do they come from heavily collected sets or contain a number of popular players?
  • What is the overall condition of my cards?
  • What are the values of my cards?
  • Which cards help me achieve by personal collecting goals

Trading card value is one of the first things to consider when deciding which cards to grade. The rarer, more desirable and better condition your cards are, the more valuable they may be. Let’s take a closer look at these areas and the resources on the PSA website that can help you answer these questions for yourself.


Condition – The Grading Standards page offers images and descriptions of all PSA grades. It is an excellent resource that you can use to get a general idea of the condition of your cards and range of the grades that you may receive on them.

Rarity/Desirability – Rare cards tend to be more desirable than those that are more commonly found, but that doesn’t mean that desirable cards are always rare. By looking your cards up on the PSA Population Report and PSA Set Registry, you can get a feel for the rarity and desirability. The Pop Report shows just how many examples of a particular card have been graded by PSA and the amount currently in the hobby at each level of condition. The Set Registry shows how many collectors are actively trying to build each set in PSA-graded formats. By studying the two areas you will be able to formulate ideas on how popular your cards may be within the hobby and the ease or difficulty you may have in selling them.

Value – Here is the ultimate question. Are my cards worth the investment in grading? There is truly no better guide for giving you this answer than PSA’s Auction Prices Realized (APR). The APR can be used to look up any PSA-graded cards and find their selling prices at auction. Also, APR listings can be viewed by grade, so you can get a good understanding of what your cards would generally sell for at auction.

Grading Costs – Once you have a general assessment of your own cards, you can apply your newfound knowledge to PSA’s services and pricing structure to determine for yourself which cards make the most sense to submit for grading. Don’t forget that a PSA Collector’s Club membership can get you discounts on PSA services in addition to other member benefits.

Your Personal Collecting Goals – We’ve given you lots of facts and suggestions regarding card grading. But the ultimate decision is yours. What do you collect? What are your collecting goals? If you’re a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and you want a high-grade team set from their inaugural 1977 season….do it! Ultimately, the value the cards hold to you far outweighs any other assessment of value. Let’s not forget that first and foremost, this is about the joy of collecting what we love and what speaks to us.


Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

Johnny Robinson - Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019!!!

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