Card Grading: What Is It Good For?

For the most expensive cards, even the tiniest blemish can ruin a card's value. Fortunately, clever members of the TCG community saw a business opportunity hidden in this dilemma. This article deals with that business, its inner workings, and why it's worth seeking out for your most expensive and prized possessions.

degrade buster

What Is Grading?

If you've been around the community for a while, you have probably already heard of "card grading" before. Especially after the recent explosion in popularity grading services have seen over the past year. Still, if you're new, you might not know what I'm talking about, so let's go through what exactly card grading is, so we're all up to speed. Card grading is a process by which a business "grades" the overall condition of your cards. This process is usually handled by a third party, separate from the game's creator. Generally speaking, grades are determined by a series of criteria like, but not limited to, centering, surfaces, and corners. After they have graded each of these criteria, the company will give your cards a score, usually a numerical score between one and ten.

Have you ever bought a "near mint" card and received a card you would judge to be excellent or even good? Pretty much everyone has, right? Grading solves this issue—although at a significant cost—as a professional will determine an accurate grade for the card. The aforementioned cost means that cheaper cards rarely merit grading, given that you'll spend more grading the card than you would receive for the sale or than you would pay for the purchase. Expensive, rare cards, however, are a different story. Receiving a random common at an incorrect condition is annoying more than anything else, but when your SJCS Doomcaliber Knight comes in at good instead of mint, you could lose hundreds of euros. And for even more expensive cards, these losses can be measured in the thousands. Hence the need for a third party to carefully examine and determine the specific condition of the card you're receiving or selling. When talking about a First Edition Blue-Eyes White Dragon, you really want to know you're paying for a proper mint card and aren't falling victim to someone poorly grading their card.

Blue-Eyes White Dragon Blue-Eyes White Dragon
Same card; vastly different price

Why Grade Your Cards?

I talked to a pretty large Yu-Gi-Oh! collector for this article, and I'll lay out his reasons for grading a card, as he's someone who frequently has them graded. First up, it adds "more" to the collection you're always trying to complete. Sure, you might have every single ghost rare in the game, but do you have them with a ten grade? It's that extra step to take that elevates card collections to a higher level. Another fairly obvious reason to grade your cards is to protect and grow your investment. Your First Edition ghost rare Black Rose Dragon might be worth a pretty penny, but if you take it to a grading house and they slap a big nine on that baby, then you're talking about quite a bit more when negotiating prices. As I said before, collectors don't want to run any risks when spending thousands of euros on a single card, so knowing it's got a high rating confirms the card's condition and ensures you are buying that mint TFK Sinister Serpent. Lastly, another reason to grade cards is just to show them off. Do you have an expensive card graded? Well, then you're the coolest kid on the playground (or at your local games store). Graded cards just have a cool air to them and people will want to see them and bask in their glory.

How Do I Get My Cards Graded?

If you ask around a bit, plenty of people will know the big names in grading. I'm sure you've heard of a PSA 10 before. These companies have big names and have been the industry standard for a while now. However, many of these companies, while providing a good service, also increase the cost a lot, as they are US based. This means you not only will have to pay for increased shipping to ship the card overseas and back but also that you face increased delays, especially right now with the pandemic ongoing. Looking closer to home may serve you better. It will cost less and you'll get your graded cards faster. Keep in mind though, the US and Europe have been on a bit of a TCG craze lately, with stores like Walmart in the US limiting the amount of product individual customers can buy to prevent scalping and absurd buyouts. This of course translates to a lot more grading happening as well, especially with Pokemon hitting all-time highs in popularity. It's worth expecting significant delays on grading as companies are flooded with requests.

It's important, when searching for a grading service, that you look at the prestige and history of the company in question, as those grades will likely mean more to consumers. Grading integrity and consistency are extremely important in helping grading houses stand out, as people know they can trust them with their cards. Cardmarket isn't going to tell you where to look exactly, but you can find a grader if you want your card graded. Keep in mind though, grades often cost fifteen to twenty euros a pop, so be sure to use them for your most important cards. Don't grade a random Lord British Space Fighter.

Hopefully you enjoyed this basic look into the burgeoning practice of card grading. Tell us your grading stories below and let us know if you find the lack of available grading in Europe troubling.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

10 Commenti

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Isabelle98(04.11.2021 10:25)

Very interesting

Iliaster(04.11.2021 02:49)

An article about Grading on Cardmarket would be nice. I mean yes, you have a dedicated site about it (which no one knows about), but Grading is still an absolute chaos, and if I order a "Near Mint" card, I am lucky to get it in "Excellent".

Minouchtik(04.11.2021 08:23)

Iliaster Definitely, a more straightforward guideline more centered about YGO gradings could help, i had too many seller using the typical "printing default, of even damaged by the post" to in the end stating that the grading page is not adapted to YGO

Closed-Cardmarket-Account-991230433(04.11.2021 08:41)

Iliaster The thing is as well that grading on this website is way too generalized. A card may be excellent or near mint from lack of usage, but the printing may be off in ways of inking, centering, and overall factory quality, but there is no way to know beforehand without manually asking the seller every single time, and it's very annoying

jojo95(04.11.2021 09:05)

SJK123 Well centering isnt part of the condition of the card. If a card has a terrible centering it could still be NM. Centering is only interesting for the difference between Mint and Gem Mint.

Closed-Cardmarket-Account-991230433(08.11.2021 09:50)

Jojo95 The centering would be information I'd still like to know regardless, an option Cardmarket doesn't give

rexusito(04.11.2021 00:22)

Where i can grade my cards in EU?

jonathangg(04.11.2021 18:27)

Rexusito AP grading is pretty solid.

rexusito(05.11.2021 00:14)

Jonathangg Thanks!

CMT94(28.10.2021 00:17)

When fresh from booster pack card gets 8, idea of what is Mint card and what is not disforms. When grading a card cost ~18 dollars + shipping, when you are not guaranteed to get fair grading and not damaged card protector, many people keep their valuable cards in sleeves and toploaders.