The Trading Card Game (TCG) market has rapidly evolved, and the burning question all collectors come to face is whether or not they should grade their cards. Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic The Gathering, and many other TCG's have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, so many collectors are looking for more ways to display and protect their favourite cards.
Here are our five main reasons why you should get your cards graded.
Grading trading cards can increase their value. However, grading absolutely anything to increase value, is probably the biggest misconception for collectors wanting to take that first step. Remember, grading costs money, and to ensure you get the best out of your hard-earned cash, it's crucial to figure out what cards can increase in value. Before grading we'd first advise you to consider four things:
1) Is the card in high demand?
Those looking to grade may think this is only applicable to older and rarer cards. While these do fit into the said category, even newer, mass-produced cards, can become limited during the promotional period. It's the simple doctrine of supply and demand.
2) Is the card desirable?
Consider what character or person that features on the card. If the character featured on the card is the most popular, or the card has a distinguished history, there's a good chance the card is worth grading.
3) Is the card easy to liquidate?
Online auction sites are the best outlet to consider when testing liquidity. While I prefer "Buy It Now" (BIN) and patiently wait for a buyer, auctions are the best way to gauge the market for an immediate sale. To do this, check listings for auctions that have already sold, to determine how many bids there were, and the price it was sold for.
4) Is the card in good condition?
Condition certainly matters when it comes to newer cards, but if you're lucky enough to have an item that is incredibly rare and meets the above criteria, then condition doesn't necessarily matter for grading purposes. Do keep in mind though, the better the condition of the older, rarer card(s); the more value they hold.
Generally speaking, if you want to maximize value, then follow these guidelines. However, maximizing value isn't the only reason why people would grade their cards.
A lot of people consider grading cards the best way to keep their collection from damage. The more traditional way of storing cards was within card binders/folders. TCG companies (such as Ultra Pro and Ultimate Guard) still produce binders, but dust can still get within them, or worse the metal binder rings become loose and may damage the cards inside.
There are other alternatives out there, such as double sleeving the card, and placing them in rigid toploaders. Some have even gone as far to create custom toploader sleeves to prevent dust from reaching the card.
While the latter is a great alternative, there are still a few issues with this method of storage. The main one being – they are always accessible and risk exposure. Examples include:
- Condition inspection from potential buyers
- Unwanted guests handling cards without permission
- Handling the cards yourself
It can be a risk, an unnecessary and potentially costly risk for such valuable and sentimental cards.
By grading your prized possessions, PSA's (Professional Sports Authenticators) or Beckett's cases are rigid and plastic. The cases are tamper-evident, and unless you know what you're doing, they are incredibly difficult to break open. Therefore this removes any temptation to handle the card physically.
Additionally, by being tamper-evident this allows you to comfortably purchase a graded item knowing you are buying an authentic card.
Proof of Authenticity
Proof of authenticity is essential in the collectables world, primarily in terms of high-value items or to determine an items worth. It's imperative to pay professionals who validate such items to ensure both yourself and any future buyer is protected. Unfortunately, like anything that commands value, this ultimately results in counterfeits being produced.
How to Further Protect Yourself
The first line of defence has to be educating your self to spot ungraded fake/counterfeit cards. We will write a series of guides soon to help you know the signs of a counterfeit card and update this article, but until then, there are many guides across the internet.
One may think that counterfeit cards only pertain to high-end items. However, for a while now we've seen a surge of low-value items being produced and flooding the market. Fortunately, for now, the art of counterfeiting does not match the quality provided by TCG companies.
If you're still unsure if the card is real or not, the second line of defence is to ask fellow collectors or pay a professional. Experienced TCG players and collectors know what to spot and will usually be happy to help if you provide images. However, some counterfeits are less obvious, resulting in the need to be inspected in person by a professional.
The last line of defence is the third-party grading company. If you've done everything you can and feel confident the card is genuine, then it's time to submit the item for grading. However, it should be noted that if a grading company considers the item to be counterfeit, you will still be charged and the item will return un-encapsulated.
While expanding into other trading cards, grading companies have been known to grade a few counterfeit cards. Fortunately, the community of TCG experts were quick to rectify the problem. It should be noted if a grading company does authenticate a fake card, the grading company will be financially liable to the owner. Therefore, they are providing a further reason why it's essential to grade.
For most of us, when it comes to TCG collecting, we have a lot of nostalgia surrounded the items. Be it your favourite character, or a series (set) of cards you have or previously owned from your childhood.
For me, when I was 10-years-old, I opened many Pokémon TCG Base Set booster packs and was not able to ever find the Charizard holofoil card. However, one time I went to a games store, I pulled a Venusaur holo - a card I already owned, and then I traded the card and £8 (roughly $16 at the time) with the store owner, to finally obtain my Charizard. Out of all the cards, I treasured that card the most. And out of my childhood collection that is the only card I sent away to be graded and it came back a PSA MINT 9!
We hear similar stories often, some of the cards are in such lousy condition, which has resulted in acquiring the lowest of grades. Despite this, the card means so much more to the person grading it, than just a number on a label.
Many of our clients grade for multiple reasons. They may love the artwork, have a personalised signed item or they desire to complete the whole set of cards (commons included). No matter what the reason is, Ludkins Collectables will happily assist you.
If you are looking to have your TCG cards PSA graded, please feel free to check out our brochure here.
As of writing this (September 2019), we have sent away over 100,000 of our customers cards, with many of the world's rarest cards grading through our services, including the iconic Pikachu Illustrator promo Pokémon card.
The benefits of using our services:
- Insured for the current market value.
- We predict your grades.
- Best value for money.
- We do all the work and more.