Grading Company Comparisons


Company Summaries

There are currently 3 Major grading companies that have a long reputation in the card grading business. These are:

Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) Currently the top dog in terms of resale value of cards. However, they also charge the most to get cards graded and have no subgrades.

▪ Beckett Grading Services (BGS). Second in terms of resale value. Their perfect "pristine" cards (BGS 10's) sell for more than PSA 10's but are much more rare.

▪ Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC). Have the lowest resale value of the big 3. However, they have the benefit of actually being able to get cards graded. Currently both BGS and PSA offer no economical services and have been shut down for a year. They do not offer subgrades

In addition to these three longtime services there are two new players that have potential of making a splash in the card grading industry:

▪ Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA). Newer players. Have OK resale value. Their biggest advantage is their asthetically pleasing labels and a reasonable turn around time.

▪ Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG). Newer players as well. They offer subgrades for what I think is a substantial cost. They were also flooded with cards when opening so their economical option has been pushed back to about a year to get cards back. Not the best opening. Their biggest advantage is, that while they are new to sports card, they are not new to condition grading for cards and collectibles. They are the premier grader for Pokemon cards and have been for years. They also are the premier, unchallenged comic book grader. So they know what they are doing when it comes to condition grading. Despite this, they probably have the lowest resale value of all. Probably because of a relatively unattractive label and a poor launch.

Fake Companies

There is a while list of other companies that are in the grading game. Some of which are new companies just trying to get in the grading game which are most likely doing a good job giving accurate grades. There are companies like Revolution Grading (RCG). However, there are also dozens of companies which are simply scams. They do not provide accurate grades and frequently encapsulate fake cards. These are companies like GEM grading. Below is a partial list of known scam companies where a slabbed card is probably worth less than the card itself despite any grading labels. The fact that there are so many companies doing terrible jobs makes it difficult for new companies to enter the market, which is one reason why new companies like HGA, CSG and RCG have lower resale values until they are proven.

▪ Advanced Grading Specialists (AGS)

▪ Accugrade Sportscard Authentication (ASA)

▪ Capitol Grading

▪ Pro Sports Grading (PRO)

▪ Sports Memorabilia Authenticator (SMA)

▪ Foremost Grading Authority (FGA)

▪ Professional Grading Service (PGS)

▪ USA Sports Grading (USA)

Which Company Is Best?

Best is a difficult term to work with. Best could mean which is best in terms of highest resale value, that would be BGS, as a BGS 10 currently sells for more than a PSA 10. However, a PSA 10 is worth much more than a BGS 9.5. So maybe it is actually PSA. In terms of resale value, there are lots of things to consider, but we address all of these points in our articles on grading strategies.

Best could also refer to cheapest. In which case it is CSG without subgrades. However, we are going to define "best" as most accurate. Which company gives the most accurate grades to cards based on their condition. We talk more about this in the technical grading section. But currently, based on my analysis it is:

▪ BGS = CSG = HGA > SGC > PSA

I am not trying to be controversial with these ratings, and each spot on this list is actually very well thought out. If you want an in depth discussion on grading accuracy, go see the technical pages which discuss the validity and reliability. If you are wondering about PSA's rating, then go read the grading section created specifically for PSA. However, as a summary: PSA increased its grading standards sometime in 2020, meaning it is harder now than it was before to get a PSA 10. This may sound like a good thing, making 10's more exclusive. But what it does is mess with the consistency of their grades. A PSA 10 Jordan rookie from 10 years ago isn't (on average) in as good of condition as one from yesterday. This means that there is no grading consistency, and if you cannot be consistent, you cannot be accurate. There is a reason they didn't announce their change in grading standards.

The only reason SGC is behind the others is because it doesn't offer subgrades. Subgrades offer a way to distinguish between perfect cards (10's) and non perfect cards (9's), while offering a bit more accuracy in the grading scale. Given that the ratings can be less discreete, they can be more accurate.

So why are all the companies (except PSA) the same in terms of accuracy? The reason is pretty complex and again, can be read about in the technical sections, but it all boils down to grading being easy. Grading is not rocket science. They are literally grading similar rectangular objects on 4 different criteria every time. As long as there are good definition for corners, edges, surfaces and centering and reasonable training for the graders you are going to end up in about the same spot as everyone else, which is why every company is about the same in terms of accuracy. I would bet it is harder for grading companies to figure out how to slab cards in a tamperproof protective casing than it is to come up with accurate grades.

Comparison Table
Company Price Turnaround Subgrade Resale
PSA NA 1 Year+ No 1st
BGS NA 1 Year+ For $$$ 2nd
SGC $30 30 Days No 3rd
HGA $25 90 Days Always 3rd
CGS $22 1 Year+ For $$ 3rd

NA's are given when the lowest service is not even open for submissions.