How to get Pokemon cards graded

Andres Velez
A Charizard pokemon trading card. background is a man inspecting trading card with Lupe

Learn about Pokemon TCG grading companies (PSA, Beckett, CGC, SCG, HGA, AGS, and Ace Grading) before getting yours graded.

We understand that you might feel fearful of getting your precious cards graded, especially because of the notoriety of Pokemon card grading scams, from companies like Ludkins running away with money to companies losing cards and even grading ‘obviously altered’ cut cards.

The key decision for many when considering a card-grading company is reputation. It’s a given that companies that employ people to manually determine the grade of a card are prone to errors.

Many reputable companies as well as dark horses on the scene have started to pioneer AI technologies in 2023. They promise more consistent and accurate grading, but who knows if they will outlast their rivals?

This guide will help you explore your best options when it comes to getting your treasured Pokemon cards and booster packs of cards graded in the USA and the UK, in 2023.


Card Grading Process

  • First, sort through your cards and look them up on or an equivalent website to find out what they might be worth
  • After you have a selection, examine them yourself for scratches and tears using your eyes and a magnifying glass or lupe. Make sure to read the section on what card-grading companies will look for and eliminate cards in poor condition
  • Make sure your card isn’t fake, try our grading guide for that
  • Once you’re done, take some high-resolution digital photographs of your cards and save them. This will help should anything go wrong, although this is very rare
  • Start an online submission
  • Select your options, i.e., bulk vs. single. If you would like a more detailed breakdown, you can opt for sub-grades
  • Carefully package your cards or packs and send them in.

Why get your Pokemon cards graded

  • Certifies the card’s authenticity
  • Preserve your cards, some graders will sonically seal your cards inside a protective, stackable casing
  • It increases the value of your cards
  • Most authenticators will register your card and slab to deter fraudsters
  • It looks professional and is an aesthetic way to showcase your Pokemon cards.

What do trading card grading companies take into account when grading cards?

  • Centering: 50/50 percent is ideal, with marks deducted for off-center cards. PSA states that for a card to achieve its PSA 10 grade, a gold standard in the industry, a card must have “55/45 to 60/40 percent on the front, and 75/25 percent on the reverse.”
  • Corners: cards with perfect corners at a glance gain the highest ranks. Under magnification, corners may show imperfections, which will lower their grade
  • Edges: under the naked eye, cards with perfect edges will rank highly, although marks will be deducted for flaws spotted under magnification
  • Surface: coloration, glossing, printing imperfections such as lines, and, the focus of the art, are taken into account. Marks are deducted for marks, scratches, print lines, print spots, and imperfections spotted by eye and magnification
  • Whether or not the card is authentic or authentically altered, Examples of authentic altered cards include those that have been signed. A tastefully signed card can become a treasure, but a sloppy one can ruin an otherwise mint card. For example, points will be deducted for aged, unaesthetic, and/or smudged autographs.

Guidelines for grading booster packs of cards:

The above guidelines are specifically for individual cards, although most grading companies will also grade some sealed Pokemon products, especially booster packs. To do this they will take into account the following:

  • Card packet wear from touch
  • Crinkling in the cellophane wrapping
  • The packet having a ‘fresh’ appearance is important, meaning that mildew, mold, holes, stains, and sun damage are considered
  • Tears and damage to the seals
  • If water damage is present on the outside packet and possibly the inside
  • Some printing imperfections can be present even in top-graded packs but the best won’t have them
  • Misaligned wrappers
  • Bleeding of the gum used to seal the wrapper
  • Evidence of card removal.

Trading card grade calculator:

The USA-based HGA provides a grading calculator to help you estimate the value of your card based on their system. Along with the guide information, you may wish to refer to this before sending off your cards to get a better estimate of what you can achieve. The calculator allows you to input variables in four categories: surface, centering, corners, and edges.

Best Pokemon Trading Card Grading Companies in 2023

Grading CompanyCard Grading Scale Customer
Beckett Grading Services Beckett
1-10 with .5 increments4/5$$$Detailed report card with sub grades2 – 60 days
Professional Sports Authenticators
1-10 with .5 increments4/5$$$Primary authority on grading Pokemon cards2 – 24 weeks
Card Grading Corporation CGC
1-10 with .5 increments, with 10 gems being second best, and a special 10 pristine rating4/5$$2-9 with .5 increments, a 1.8 “G-“, then increments of .2 from 9-10, e.g. 9.2, 9.4, etc.11 – 35 days
Sportscard Guarantee Corporation
1-10 with 10 “pristine” and 10 “flawless” ratings5/5$$Claim to have most accurate & consistent grading scale, without “tweeners”, in-between grades2 – 25 days
Ace Grading
1-10 4/5$$Anti-counterfeit “Cypheme” labels1 – 20 days
Hybrid Grading Approach HGA
2-60 days,
refund if the time scale is not met
Pay by the day instead of by card
Hybrid grading uses AI and real people2-60 days,
refund if the time scale is not met
Automated Grading Systems
1-10 grading scale5/5$$Uses automated AI grading4-30 days

Beckett Grading Services (BGS):

Beckett is based in Texas. Their company has an excellent reputation, having been voted industry best for six consecutive years. Their system is easy to comprehend. They use a 1–10 grading scale that increases in half-point increments. Their highest-graded cards come with distinctive black labels for 10’s, gold labels for 9.5-10’s, and silver labels for 8.5-9’s. Their other cards have white labels.

Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA):

PSA is known by most to be the ‘gold standard’ of grading in the trading card industry. They’ve been around since ’91 and are one of the ‘big three’ along with CGC and Beckett. Their grades are easier to achieve than Beckett’s or SGC’s.

Certified Guarantee Company (CGC):

CGC is another of the big three companies in Pokemon card grading. They have a strict grading system; however, they are cheaper than PSA and Beckett.

Sportscard Guarantee Corporation (SGC):

SGC was entrusted with grading a Mickey Mantle 1952 trading card that later sold at auction for over $12.6 million, making it the most expensive trading card ever sold. They are meticulous and highly respected for being the most accurate. Some collectors believe their grades to be worth more than those of competitors like PSA, as they are more difficult to obtain.

ACE Grading (Ace):

Ace Grading has excellent security protocols that help protect the buyer from fraud. They use a tamper-proof foil logo, a QR code, and an AI-powered ‘cypheme‘ label that matches the item to the uploaded card and condition. The label also includes a unique orange band that isn’t featured in Pantone lists. They record their chemically unique signature, which is stored in the cloud and cannot be copied.

Hybrid Grading Approach (HGA):

HGA was founded in 2021 during the Pokemon card boom and has had an impressive run, growing quickly since. In an industry where reputation is everything, they have already staked their claim by becoming one of the only companies to use a hybrid approach to grading, making the most of AI as well as real people. They also offer a refund promise in the case of your cards not meeting the agreed turnaround times.

Automated Grading Systems (AGS):

A group founded AGS at a collect-o-con in 2021 and has since rapidly gained prestige for being one of the only card grading companies to exclusively use card scanning software. Their ‘robograding‘ approach that uses computers to grade Pokemon TCG cards returns highly accurate grades.

Artificial Intelligence and Computer-Based Grading:

Human error has a significant impact on the grade your trading card will receive on that day. While most companies use computers to help them grade your cards, others solely grade using AI. This is great news for consistency and accuracy, but for older companies adopting the technology, it has an obvious downside. As the algorithm improves and as people regrade their cards, their previous cards are unlikely to receive the same grades they had before.

What not to do:

  • Don’t trust your prized cards with intermediary grading services.
  • Don’t send in cards before researching their potential value online and taking photographs of them.
  • Don’t forget to follow the guidelines set out by your grading company of choice before sending
  • Don’t submit fake or altered cards unless they are authentic and autographed.
  • Don’t throw away your miscut, misprinted, or altered cards. Some collectors are willing to pay a premium for miscued and misprinted Pokemon cards.

Whether or not you’re interested in a human touch or interested in exploring AI-driven approaches to grading cards, this list should help you decide what is best. We encourage you to go directly to a grading company. Although human error can sometimes creep in, the best graders strive to provide excellent service, love your cards, and have passed the test of time.

For more tips and tricks to become the very best, make sure you check out our other articles:

Most expensive and rarest Pokemon cards | Best Pokemon cards of all time | Best Rainbow Pokemon card | Most valuable cards in Paldea Evolved | Most expensive Charizard cards | Most valuable cards in Scarlet & Violet expansion | Most valuable cards in Crown Zenith | How many Pokemon cards are there? | Best Waifu Cards and Where to Buy Them | Are Gold Pokemon Cards real? Golden cards explained |