Last updated on March 28, 2024

Black Lotus - Illustration by Christopher Rush

Black Lotus | Illustration by Christopher Rush

If you’ve engaged with the collectors’ side of Magic, you have likely seen graded cards. These are the cards in the official-looking hard sleeves with a number rating assigned to them. These grades are a way to determine the condition a card is in and how well it was printed in the first place.

Collectors and investors get their cards graded to help authenticate them and protect their value. Graded cards may also be easier to sell since collectors have the reassurance of a trusted third party telling potential buyers that your card is real and in good condition.

Of course, these companies don’t just grade cards out of the goodness of their hearts; it’s a paid service that they offer. So how much will it cost? That depends on a few different factors, so let’s get into it!

How Much Does It Cost to Get Cards Graded?

Ambition's Cost - Illustration by Zezhou Chen

Ambition's Cost | Illustration by Zezhou Chen

There’s no single cost for getting a card graded. It just depends which service you go with and how many cards you want graded. Card grading ranges from as little as about $18 per card to as much as $600 per card. The main factors that affect the cost are how many cards you want graded, how quickly you want them back, and which specific service you’re using to grade your cards.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Sports Cards Graded vs. Pokémon or Magic Cards?

Card grading companies don’t typically differentiate between cards based on whether they’re sports cards or Magic/Pokémon cards. The main difference in price comes down to the attributes of the cards like size, declared value, and whether the card is signed. Unopened card packs can also be graded at a different rate than standard sized cards.

How Much Does PSA Grading Cost?

PSA grading has a range of costs from $25/card to $10,000/card based on the age and declared value of the cards you want graded.

ServiceMax Declared Value Per CardCost/Card
Value (Older than 1980)$499$25
Value  (1980-Present)$499$25
Value Plus$499$40
Super Express$4,999$300
Premium 1$24,999$1000
Premium 2$49,999$2000
Premium 3$99,999$3000
Premium 5$249,999$5000
Premium 10$250,000+$10,000

Why Is PSA So Expensive?

There are a few reasons, but the first is simply to cut down on submissions. PSA is one of the most popular card grading services, so they get an influx in submissions which can be hard to manage. If they’re charging more money per card, it cuts down on frivolous submissions and makes it more worth their time to be grading the cards. Making more money off fewer gradings is a good tradeoff.

PSA is also seen as the most reliable grading company, and PSA graded cards can often fetch higher prices on the secondary market than ones graded with other services. PSA understands this and knows they can charge more for their services because they’re held in such high regard.

How Much Does Beckett Grading Cost?

Beckett’s card grading services can be slightly cheaper than PSA depending on how many cards you want rated, what kind of rating you want, and how quickly you want your card graded. Prices range from $16 per card to $500 per card. For some of the lower services, you’ll also need to pay extra if you want subgrades. These are individual numbers for centering, corners, edges, and surface that give greater insights into how the overall grade was determined.

Turnaround TimeMinimum # of CardsSubgradesMax Value/CardCost/Card
60+ Days10No$400$16
60+ Days10Yes$400$18
60+ Days1NoNA$18
60+ Days1YesNA$22
10-20 Days1NoNA$30
10-20 Days1YesNA$40
2-5 Days1NoNA$100
2-5 Days1YesNA$140

What Other Companies Offer Grading Services?

Apart from PSA and Beckett, you can also get your cards graded by CGC, SGC, HGA, and ISA. While some of these other grading services are cheaper and have quicker turnaround times, they also don’t have as good of a reputation as PSA or Beckett. It’s worth doing some research about these companies before choosing to go with one. Although they may save you money, they might also cost you in terms of the overall value of the card after grading.

How Much Is Grading in Bulk?

Grading cards in bulk sometimes saves you money based on which service you’re using. PSA for example offers a bulk rate of $15/card for cards worth less than $200 each, and $19/card for cards worth less than $500 each. Both options have a 20-card minimum and require a membership to PSA’s Collectors Club.

Beckett also offers bulk rates specifically for cards at the longest turnaround time rate. As long as you’re sending in 10 or more cards, you’ll save $2 per card off the normal price.

Is It Worth Getting a Card Graded?

Getting a card rated has a few benefits that may make it worth the high price. The grading service first serves as authentication for you. Their rating also proves that the card is in good condition (if it is). Both of these make it easier to sell the card in the future if you want to. Buyers know they’re getting a real card that’s in good condition, meaning they’re more likely to buy from you than someone who may have a fake card or one that’s of worse quality.

How Much Does PSA 10 Increase Value?

There’s no exact formula for how much a PSA 10 grade increases the value of your cards. That said, the increase is typically significant. For example, a Revised Counterspell costs $2.00 for a near mint copy on TCGplayer. According to PSA, the same card that has been graded as a 10 is worth $50. This is a massive 2400% increase in value of a raw card vs. a PSA grade 10.

If you’re curious about a specific card, check out PSA’s price guide, which allows you to search the value of cards they’ve graded.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get Cards Graded?

The lowest price I’ve seen per card is CGC’s Bulk rate, which is $12/card, but requires a 25-card minimum. CGC’s Economy rate allows you to grade a single card for $15, which is the lowest rate I’ve seen. That said, you can get the card rated by Beckett for only $3 more, and Beckett is considered a more reputable service. It’s important to remember that if you’re getting a card graded, it’s all about protecting the value of the card. This means paying a bit more for the more well-known services can sometimes be better financially in the long run.

Can You Get Cards Graded for Free?

There are no official free card grading services. It takes labor for grading services to evaluate your cards, so there isn’t a company that offers the service for free.

How Long Does It Take to Grade a Card?

How long it takes to get your card graded depends on which service you wish to pay for. Typically, a quicker turnaround means more money. To get a 10-day turnaround from PSA, you’ll spend $75 per card, whereas you can get a 65-day turnaround for only $25. Often, the more expensive services also have a higher card value limit, meaning if you want a more expensive card graded you’ll have to pay the higher price anyway, but at least you’ll get your cards faster.

I’ve seen times ranging from grading which takes 2-5 days all the way up to listings for 60+ days which don’t give an upper limit on how long it might take.

Can You Get Cards Graded in Person?

There are a few options for getting a card graded in person, so you don’t have to worry about shipping them. The first is through PSA’s Walk-Through service. The name is actually a misnomer because you don’t actually get to watch the process, but you can pay extra to be able to drop your cards off in person and get a quicker turnaround time to pick them back up in a few days. Beckett used to offer a similar service, but they stopped in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t picked it back up since.

Another option for in-person card grading is at card shows. Both PSA and Beckett have been known to attend shows and offer in-person grading. Checking out the websites for the two services can provide information on if/when they might be attending a show.

What Cards Are the Best to Get Graded?

The best cards for grading are particularly rare or valuable cards. There’s no sense spending more money than a card is worth just to get it graded. Even on the off-chance that a bulk rare earns a PSA 10 grade and increases in price, you’ll likely just be breaking even after the service charges and paying for shipping.

In Magic, serialized cards, Reserved List cards, and rare lottery cards like the Zendikar Expeditions or Kaladesh Masterpieces are some of the best cards to get graded. Getting them graded makes them easier to sell and possibly even increases their value.

How Do You Protect Cards for Grading?

To protect your cards from grading, you’ll want to put them in several types of protective sleeves. You’ll want to start with what’s known as a penny sleeve, which is a thin clear plastic sleeve. After that, you’ll want to put it into a more rigid sleeve like a top loaderor any other semi-rigid plastic sleeve. If you have a card that’s worth a lot of money, it might be worth springing for a magnetic card holder, which can be even more protective than a top loader.

Should You Wipe a Card Before Grading?

Yes! You’ll want to wipe your card with a microfiber cloth before sending it in to be graded. That'll ensure no dust or debris further damage the card in shipping and the card looks its best before grading.

Can You Trust Card Grading?

For the most part, yes. Trust in these services and their evaluations is the whole reason they exist in the first place. That said, even the big name companies like PSA have been known to make mistakes. If you receive a grade on a card that doesn’t seem right, you can resubmit it for review. Of course, resubmissions often cost the same amount as the initial service.

Wrap Up

Costly Plunder - Illustration by Ben Maier

Costly Plunder | Illustration by Ben Maier

Card grading can be a great way to protect your investment in valuable collectibles. While there’s no sense in grading every card you pull, if you get something truly rare like a serialized card it’s definitely worth considering. Hopefully, this article has helped you evaluate your grading options and which you would like to use.

Have you ever had a card graded? How special would a card have to be for you to consider getting it graded? Let me know in the comments or on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

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