This list of card grading companies offering their services to collectors today looks a lot different than a similar rundown would have just a few years ago.
Thanks in large part to the hobby boom that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, card grading is more popular than ever, and it’s more of a necessity than ever for safeguarding your sports cards investments and optimizing your eventual return.
Heck, during the dark heart of the pandemic, demand for grading services so fervently outstripped card grading companies’ capacities that the biggest players infamously put a moratorium on new submissions that lasted for months.
Not surprisingly, all of this unsatisfied demand gave rise to new companies who saw the opportunity for substantial financial gain in that demand-supply gap.
Today, with PSA, BGS, and other long-time industry leader ramping up their output to at least quasi-pre-pandemic levels, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the grading field really looks like … for now.
Because, as we’ve seen time and again, the next market shift is just a cool innovation or cultural catastrophe away.
For the moment, though, here is a mostly complete list of card grading companies plying their trade to help collectors and investors make the most of our hobby, presented in alphabetical order and with a brief description of the services (and price points) they offer.
Check back often, though, because this lineup could change tomorrow!
Our leadoff hitter is a bit of an oddball on this list since Ace Grading focuses almost exclusively on grading and authentication services for Pokemon cards and collectibles. They’re also based in the United Kingdom, which probably makes them less than an ideal logistical choice for collectors in the United States.
Still, the Ace website provides many of the features you’ve come to expect from hobby giants, including a Pop Report. And you never know who might branch out into other areas (i.e., sports cards) and when.
In terms of service levels, Ace offers grading options that range from a 40-business-day turnaround for 10 pounds (about $11 as of this writing) per card, all the way up to their “Ultra” services, which trumpets a turnaround time of two business days for 30 pounds (about $33) per card.
Beckett Grading Services (BGS)
Beckett Grading Services is one of those aforementioned “giants” of the grading industry, along with PSA and SGC (at least to some).
Formed in 1999 as an offshoot of the Beckett price guide empire, BGS became an immediate force in the hobby and gave PSA their first real competition as the new millennium dawned.
Today, BGS is an indisputable heavyweight, with many preferring to see that BGS label, instead of the PSA label, on a high-ticket card. There is a sentiment in at least some hobby circles, too, that BGS grading is more stringent and strict that their competitors, and the more explicit breakout of condition components (edges, corners, etc.) is a favorite feature, as are the fractional grades.
Beckett grading costs range from $25 per card for their Economy service (with no sub-grades) with a turnaround of 30-60 business days, all the way up to $250 per card for the Premium package, which features a turnaround of 2-7 business days.
The company also offers the Beckett Vintage Grading (BVG) service for older cards.
Certified Guaranty Company (CGC)
Long a stalwart in the comic book field, Certified Guaranty Company launched CGC Trading Cards in 2020, leveraging their strong reputation to catapult into the new venture.
As of September 2022, the CGC Population Report lists only Pokemon and Magic the Gathering cards, but with nearly two million entries between those two realms, it’s clear CGC is no shrinking violet when it comes to car grading. They also maintain a long list of non-sports cards that they will grade.
Service levels range from their Bulk offering at $15 per card for a turnaround of 30 working days to Unlimited WalkThrough at $150+ per card for a turnaround of three business days.
(At present, CGC does not grade sports cards, funneling those through their affiliate company, Certified Sports Guaranty, discussed below.)
Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG)
As mentioned above, CSG is directly affiliated with CGC, to the extent that the two companies are owned and managed by the same groups (as are coin and paper money graders NGC and PMG). And, according to their website, CSG offers the strongest guarantee of grade and authenticity in the industry.
In terms of grading levels, CSG’s offerings span from their Bulk service at the low end ($15 per card with a 25-card minimum, turnaround of 20 working days) to their Unlimited WalkThrough level ($150+ per card, 3 days).
Collectibles Grading Service (CGS)
Based in Austria, Collectibles Grading Service may not be the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking about having your cards graded, but they handle cards from pretty much every manufacturer. Like others on this list, Collectibles Grading also maintains a searchable database of cards they’ve graded.
Grading costs range from about $12.50 per card with a turnaround time of 40 business days, up to about $35 for a single card returned in five business days.
Cosmic Grading Service
Cosmic Grading Service was founded in Germany and runs its operations out of Ireland, adding a bit of international flair to the grading scene. And, though, their Pokemon affinity hits you in the face as soon as you land on their website, Cosmic also grades sports cards across the spectrum.
Cosmic obviously has an uphill battle to stand toe-to-toe with PSA and other bigwigs in the field given their non-U.S. base and relative newcomer status, so it will be interesting to see their story unfold.
For now, service levels range from Standard, with prices starting at about 20 pounds per card and a turnaround of 12-25 business days, all the way up to Cosmic, offering same-day service at about 60 pounds per card. Cosmic also offers a couple of membership options that cost but that also provide grading discounts to members.
Although it’s hardly as well known as some of the big names in the hobby, GMA Grading has been in business since way back in 2000.
More recently, they made hobby news and some waves by flashing low price points even during the pandemic, when most of the rest of the card grading companies were raising prices, cutting services, or both.
Today, according their website, GMA’s current services range from $8 per card at the Economy level (provided you’re submitting 100+ cards at a time and don’t mind waiting 45 business days) all the way up to a still-reasonable $20 per card at the Gold Express level (5 card minimum, 15-business-day turnaround).
Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA)
If you’re looking for a card gradingd company with an unusual model (for now, at least), the HGA might be of interest to you.
To wit, HGA begins their grading process by passing each card through their suite of AI tools, which assign the grade based on usual factors like edge and corner sharpness, surface wear and gloss, and all the rest. Then, humans review those adjudications to make sure they seem reasonable.
HGA pricing ranges from $25 per card at the “Best Value” level (turnaround 60 business days) to $80 per card (1-20 cards) at the “Fastest” level (2-business-day turnaround). Note that for “Very Fast” and “Fastest,” HGA offers volume discounts.
You can read our complete rundown of HGA grading here.
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
Founded in July of 1991, PSA is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the card grading wars … although you’ll find plenty of collectors who do, indeed, dispute that claim.
As with leaders in every field, PSA has had their issues over the years. The most recently visible amongst those was undoubtedly the hiatus they were forced to take from accepting submissions during the cardboard avalanche of the pandemic years.
But for any warts they may have, PSA still grades more cards than anyone else, and resources like their Population Report and PSA Price Guide are absolute staples in the modern collecting landscape.
As for PSA grading costs, you can pretty much pick your poison — they have price points ranging from $22 all the way up to $10,000 as of September 2022.
Sportscard Guaranty Company (SGC)
SGC hasn’t been around quite as long as PSA, and they didn’t swagger into the hobby with the advance publicity BGS, but they have been at this game since 1998.
With nearly a quarter century in the game, SGC has collected tons of data, just like PSA and BGS, and they make their own population report available on their website — it’s another valuable tool for collectors hoping to learn all they can about the hobby and the market.
In terms of SGC grading costs, the company offers two basic service levels, with turnaround times of 20-25 business days, or 1-2 business days. Within each of those levels, their pricing is tiered based on card value. Factoring all of that in, you could spend anywhere from $30 to nearly $4000 per card for SGC grading.