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The 2024 State of Card Grading Report

We surveyed hundreds of card collectors and dealers to find out what they think about the art and business of card grading.

In case you're new to card grading, we'll start off by explaining how card grading works. If you're already familiar, feel free to jump to the survey results.

Card grading company logos - PSA, BGS, HGA, SGC, CGC, EDGE
What is card grading?

Card grading is the process of examining various types of collectible cards to assess their authenticity and condition. Grading is most commonly performed on trading cards like sports cards (e.g., baseball, basketball, football, hockey), trading card games (e.g., Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!), and non-sports cards (e.g., movie or pop culture cards). The end purpose of card grading is to assess and assign a numerical grade or rating, typically 1-10, to a card's condition, which can significantly affect its value in the collector's market.

How are cards graded?

Card grading is a meticulous process carried out by professional grading companies or organizations specializing in the evaluation of collectible cards. While the exact details of the grading process can vary slightly between grading companies, the general steps involved in grading a card are as follows:

  • Submission: Collectors or card owners send their cards to the grading company. Typically, this involves filling out a submission form, providing details about the cards, paying a fee for each card being graded, and finally shipping the cards themselves to the grading company.
  • Authentication: The first step in the grading process is to ensure that the card is genuine and not a counterfeit or reproduction. Graders check for authenticity using various methods, such as comparing the card to known authentic examples, examining security features (e.g., holograms or watermarks), and scrutinizing printing details.
  • Visual Examination: Trained and certified graders (and in some cases artificial intelligence) carefully inspect the card's physical condition. They look for various factors that can affect the card's overall grade, including:

    Edge Grading Shohei Ohtani 10
    • Centering Graders evaluate how well the image on the card is centered within the borders.
    • Corners The condition of the card's corners is assessed for signs of wear, bending, or damage.
    • Edges The edges of the card are checked for any chipping, roughness, or imperfections.
    • Autographs Cards with an autograph receive an extra level of inspection to verify the authenticity, legibility, line consistency, and ink quality of the signature.
    • Surface Quality The front and back of the card are examined for scratches, creases, print defects, stains, or any other blemishes.
    • Print Quality Any printing flaws or irregularities, such as off-centering in the print or ink smudges, are noted.
    • Color and Gloss The quality and consistency of the card's colors and glossiness are assessed.
  • Assigning a Grade: Based on the examination, the grader assigns a numerical grade to the card using a standardized grading scale. As mentioned earlier, the grading scale typically ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest grade (e.g., Gem Mint). The assigned grade reflects the card's overall condition and is meant to provide a consistent and objective assessment.
  • Encapsulation: After grading, the card is sealed within a protective, typically tamper-evident plastic case or holder. This process preserves the card's condition and prevents further deterioration. The case also includes a label that displays the card's grade, certification number, and other relevant information.
  • Certification: The grading company provides a certification number and documentation for the graded card. This information is recorded in the company's database and can be used by collectors and buyers to verify the card's authenticity and grade.
  • Return: Once the grading process is complete, the card is returned to the owner, who can choose to keep it in the graded holder or sell it. Highly-graded cards often command premium prices in the collector's market due to the assurance of their condition.
How much does card grading cost?

The cost of card grading varies between companies and is typically based on a number of factors including desired turnaround time and estimated card value. The base grading fee ranges from around $10 to $39 per card for standard service. However, for high-value cards or expedited services, the fee can be significantly higher.

  • Value-Based Fees: Some grading companies adjust their fees based on the estimated value of the card. For example, if you submit a card that is expected to be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, you might pay a higher grading fee as a percentage of the card's value.
  • Service Levels: Grading companies often offer different service levels with varying turnaround times. Faster services, such as "express" or "super express," usually cost more than standard or economy services. Prices for expedited services can range from $50 to several hundred dollars or more per card.
  • Additional Services: Some grading companies offer optional services, such as reholdering, crossover grading (if you want to have a card regraded by a different company), or autograph authentication. Each of these services may come with its own fee.
  • Membership: Some grading companies offer membership programs that can provide discounts on grading fees, priority submission, and other benefits. These memberships typically require an annual fee.
Who are the most trusted card grading companies?

There are currently over 25 card grading companies in the United States alone. The 10 widely regarded as the most trusted based on grading accuracy are Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG), Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA), International Sports Authentication (ISA), Technical Authentication & Grading (TAG), Arena Club, Rare Edition, and Edge Grading.

Does having cards graded add value?

Having trading cards graded by a reputable grading company can potentially add value to the cards, but it depends on several factors, including the card's rarity, condition, and the grading company's reputation. There are many examples of Gem Mint-graded cards that have sold for over 10x the value of an identical ungraded (raw) card.

Example: Lebron James Topps Chrome Rookie Ungraded ($455) vs Lebron James Topps Chrome Rookie PSA 10 ($5,350)

The Survey:


Collector Type:




Most Collected Sport:







# of cards graded in past 2 years:






Vintage grading (-1980):



Ultra-modern (2010+):



Takeaways: It's very interesting to see the growth of TCG over the past few years. In fact, the largest grading company, PSA, now grades more TCG cards per month than all sports combined!

Grading preferences:

Which card grading company do you prefer to have your cards graded by?

Choices: PSA SGC BGS CGC HGA Other No Preference

PSA, 59%
SGC, 16%
BGS, 7%
CGC, 3%
HGA, 2%
Other, 2%
No Preference, 11%

It's no surprise that PSA is the big winner here. In the first half of 2023 alone PSA graded over 6.4 million cards out of an industry total of roughly 8 million. SGC seems to have picked up quite a bit of steam recently, both in our survey and in the graded card data which now shows them with ~7% market share.

Which of the following grading features is MOST important to you?

Choices: Trust in accuracy Resale value Look and feel Security of the slab/label Turnaround time

Trust in accuracy of the grade, 47%
Potential resale value, 33%
Look and feel of the slab/label, 12%
Turnaround time, 5%
Security of the slab/label, 3%

Trust in grading companies is the hot-button topic of the year. With reports of graded cards being cracked out of their cases, resubmitted, and receiving wildly different grades as well as rumors of collusion between some grading companies and well-heeled collectors, the market is wary.

Artificial intelligence (AI) grading should begin to alleviate some of that frustration as TAG, HGA, and EDGE gain traction with their machine learning-based grading systems. PSA's purchase of Genamint, an AI grading platform, means that the industry's largest grader may also begin to dip its toes into machine grading. It remains to be seen whether AI will be able to accurately handle the millions of variations present in such a wide variety of cards spanning over a century of collecting without at least some human assistance.

There has also been a push for grading companies to provide more transparency into the grading process. BGS introduced subgrades for each of the 4 main areas of a card (centering, surface, edges, and corners) in 1999, a feature which has become quite common among newer companies. Some newer grading providers are even providing high-resolutions images of the card included online to give customers and future buyers a closer look at the graded card's condition.

"To improve the grading process companies should strive for consistency through any means (AI, etc) but until we get there, simple notes as to why a card received a certain grade. This should be the standard across the board."
- Ryan @ Ballcard Genius
Which of the following grading features is LEAST important to you?

Choices: Trust in accuracy Resale value Look and feel Security of the slab/label Turnaround time

Grading turnaround time, 40%
Look and feel of the slab and label, 29%
Potential resale value, 22%
Trust in accuracy of the grade, 5%
Security of the slab and label, 4%

Grading turnaround time comes in as the grading feature voted least important. It's a polarizing topic because on one hand collectors have become used to long wait times ever since the coronavirus ground the grading industry to a near standstill in 2020. On the other hand, grading seems to many like a process that shouldn't require a 60 day wait time. Companies have been working to create efficiencies in the grading process to bring these wait times down... but are also not necessarily incentivized to do so if customers don't mind the wait and grading companies can upcharge for faster service.

It's also interesting to note that 5% of collectors surveyed consider "Trust in the accuracy of the grade" the least important feature of grading. It can be assumed that some subset of collectors grade cards for their personal collections and just want the card to be protected. The grade on the label just doesn't matter as much in this scenario.

Which of the following card qualities should be MOST important to a card's final grade?

Choices: Corners Edges Centering Surface

Condition of card corners, 38%
Centering, 30%
Condition of card surface, 22%
Condition of card edges, 10%

Since their earliest experiences in the hobby, many collectors' eyes have instinctively gone straight to the 4 corners when they want to assess a card's condition. Along with centering, corners are arguably one of the easiest attributes to grade. A card either has 4 sharp corners or it doesn't. It is either mathematically centered or it isn't. Surface, in particular, can leave a little bit more room for interpretation. This showed in the survey where only 22% of the respondents chose the card surface as the most important quality to consider when grading.

How important should the overall condition of the BACK of a card be in relation to the final grade of the card?

Choices: Not that important Somewhat important Very important Vital

Somewhat important, 38%
Very important, 36%
Vital, 21%
Not that important, 5%

While grading companies do consider the condition of the back of the card, it is typically not as critical as the front. They will evaluate the back for issues such as creases, surface wear, stains, print defects, and other flaws that may affect the card's overall condition. However, the primary emphasis is on the front because that is what most collectors prioritize when assessing the visual appeal and value of a card. The results of this survey question would support the idea that collectors believe the condition of a card's back to be important, but not vital, to a card's overall grade.

How important should the centering of the BACK of a card be in relation to the final grade of the card?

Choices: Not that important Somewhat important Very important Vital

Somewhat important, 56%
Very important, 27%
Vital, 12%
Not that important, 5%

This is the topic that has the most variation among grading companies. Centering measurements are represented as a percentage. If the left border and right border of a card both measure 3mm in thickness then that card would be said to have 50/50 left/right centering since each border takes up 50% of the total left/right border measurement. The leading card grading company, PSA, allows up to 75/25 centering on the back of a card for a grade of Gem Mint 10. In contrast, SGC requires a 55/45 or better centering percentage on the back of the card for a possible Gem Mint grade.

The survey showed that a whopping 88% of respondents do not consider the centering of the back of a card vital to the card's overall grade.

In your opinion, what numerical value should be given to a card that is in Mint condition?

Choices: 9 9.5 10 10+

9, 45%
10, 27%
9.5, 24%
10+, 4%

To set up the motivation for this question, we first need a little background: Way back in the early 1990s the very first card grader, Accugrade, introduced the 10 point grading scale. A grade of 9 was considered "Mint" and a 10 was called "Gem Mint." PSA came along a few years later using the same scale, which can still be seen on their graded cards today. In 1999, Beckett Grading Services (BGS) threw a little bit of a wrench in the industry. With the idea that some cards could be higher than Gem Mint, BGS created a "Pristine" designation. But rather than stick with the industry standard, BGS made a 10 "Pristine," and a 9.5 "Gem Mint." Other companies like HGA have followed the BGS model leading to an industry without a standardized scale.

So what do collectors prefer? According to the survey, 45% of collectors consider "Mint Condition" to mean a grade of 9.

In your opinion, what numerical value should be given to a card that is in Gem Mint condition?

Choices: 9 9.5 10 10+

10, 63%
10+, 29%
9.5, 6%
9, 2%

Similar to the previous question, survey respondents view the original definition of Gem Mint, a card graded 10/10, as the correct one. Interestingly, only 6% or collectors surveyed prefer to use 9.5 as the grading standard for a Gem Mint card even though 2 of the 6 top grading companies (BGS and HGA) use 9.5 as their Gem Mint designation.

Should there be a grade level above Gem Mint for cards that are exceptional?

Choices: Yes No

No, 53%
Yes, 47%

Collectors are just about evenly split on whether or not there should be a grade above Gem Mint for cards that are "a cut above." BGS, SGC, HGA, and Edge Grading all have a designation above Gem Mint. BGS has the Black Label Pristine 10. SGC has the 10 Pristine Gold Label. HGA has a 10 Pristine as well as a 10 Flawless and Edge Grading has the 10+ Ultramint.

Assuming the rest of the card is perfect, what is the maximum grade that a card with 60/40 centering on the FRONT of the card should be able to receive?

Choices: 7 8 9 9.5 10

9, 41%
10, 22%
9.5, 18%
8, 14%
7, 5%

With the industry split on what centering percentages warrant Mint and Gem Mint grades it was interesting to see that most of the collectors surveyed consider 60/40 centering worthy of a 9 or lower. PSA considers cards up to 60/40 centering for their Gem Mint 10 designation.

60/40 centering

Assuming the rest of the card is perfect, what is the maximum grade that a card with 55/45 centering on the FRONT of the card should be able to receive?

Choices: 7 8 9 9.5 10 10+

10, 61%
9.5, 16%
9, 14%
8, 5%
10+, 4%

61% of collectors surveyed find 55/45 centering worthy of a 10. It is also clear that for a card to grade above a 10 collectors would like to see centering closer to 50/50 as only 4% thought 55/65 would warrant a "Pristine" or "Ultramint" grade.

55/45 centering

If a card's corners receive a grade of 8 and the rest of the card is perfect what grade should the card receive?

Choices: 8 9 9.5 10 10+

9, 53%
9.5, 22%
8, 14%
8.5, 8%
10, 3%

With the rise in subgrades being used to help collectors better understand why their cards were graded the way they were, questions have often been asked about the formulas used to calculate a card's final grade. Sometimes a card with an 8 subgrade can receive a final grade of 9. Is this what collectors believe is accurate? According to the survey, yes, with 86% of respondents believing that the grade should go up at least a half point to 8.5 and 78% believing it should go up at least a full point to 9 or better.

Do you believe that having a card graded and slabbed currently increases the aesthetic appeal of the card?

Choices: Yes No

Yes, 82%
No, 18%

It is clear that among collectors who responded to our survey the vast majority (82%) believe that having a card graded and sealed in a protective case currently increases the look and feel of the card.

Do you have any ideas for ways that grading companies can improve?

Our final question was an open-ended discussion opportunity. So how do survey respondents think card grading companies can improve? Here are a few of the submitted ideas:


  • "I don't think card grading should be done by human beings. I think all card grading should be done by AI software that has no feelings or won't ever have a bad day or a good day."
  • "I think AI should be used for grading but probably verified by a human, at least for now."


  • "All grading companies should give an explanation of grading details to the consumer. When you want a fine gem or diamond graded they tell you the grades for each category of your investment (cut,color,clarity, etc.). Why don't ALL graders do this? It's frustrating to not know what made your 10 a 9... right?"
  • "Consistency. I don’t know the specifics or truth of it but I know that many people speak about how companies refuse to give out 9s and 10s sometimes simply because they don’t want to saturate the market. If the card is Mint, it’s Mint regardless of how many other cards there are with that rating."
  • "Full transparency as to why it received the grade it did. I got an 8 on a perfect card. Was it the faded ink on the auto or some mark I didn't see. Who knows?"
  • "Stop being so quick these are our valuables and stop charging SO MUCH money!"
  • "Stop using the card owner's opinion of card value as a mechanism to determine grading cost."
  • "Turn the cards over quicker. For the prices grading companies charge there should be faster turnaround times."
  • "Better definitions and pics of various grades."
  • "Consistent grading scale."

Physical Product

  • "Make the cases and labels better-looking."
  • "Turnaround time needs to be better. Some companies need to work on the labels also. You know which ones you are."