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$8 to GRADE a SPORTS CARD? A Review of Other Card Grading Companies vs PSA - HGA?

May 18, 2021 9 min read 3 Comments

$8 to GRADE a SPORTS CARD?  A Review of Other Card Grading Companies vs PSA - HGA?

So with the new price increase at PSA collectors and investors are looking for new card grading companies to possibly save a little bit of money, and also get their cards back a little bit quicker. That's what today's video is going to be all about. The pros and cons of some of those other card grading companies out there. The ones I'm going to talk about today are just some of the popular ones that I keep hearing about. There are probably others out there, but I’m just going to be talking about the main ones. Again always do your own research on the card grading companies, these are just my thoughts and my own opinion. Again, always pick the card grading company that works best for you. Let's go ahead and jump into this list here.


Beckett Grading Services (BGS)


The first one we're going to talk about is a well-known competitor of PSA and of course, that's BGS also known as Beckett Grading Services. Very well respected in the industry, long-time competitor of PSA. Pricing ranges from about $20 in the economy with no sub-grades all the way up to $250 premium with sub grades. So fairly good pricing kind of like the old PSA pricing. Pros of using Beckett. First off, high grade BGS cards do command a very good price, very similar to PSA. I mean they're almost neck and neck. PSA tends of course to outsell a BGS 9.5 in most cases, but their grades get very well respected especially if you're getting like a pristine black label 10. Those are highly sought after. So they are definitely a well-respected card grading company. Very fair pricing for being as well respected as they are. Definitely top two in my opinion in the industry, and they've got an extensive database as well of all the cards that they've graded so you can check out their pop reports and all that kind of stuff which is definitely a huge advantage to using BGS.


The cons of BGS. Well in my opinion I'm not a huge fan of their slabs, and that's just me. Other people feel the same way but I just think it’s too thick of a slab for me. It's very hard to put in my case. I like the PSA slabs because they're a little bit thinner and I can fit more in there. It's just a little bit thicker so it doesn't work for me, and I'm not a huge fan of the subgrades. Again, just me, I like the clean numbers that PSA does. PSA 9, PSA 10, but I know a lot of people do like the sub grades. It just does not work for me. Again, people do like using Beckett for the thicker cards too because they do give those sub grades, they tend to sell very well as opposed to getting maybe a PSA 8 or a PSA 9 because they don't do any of the sub grades. Downgrade could be their slow turnaround times like PSA. They've been just bogged down since COVID hit so it's just been very tough getting cards out of them as well, but again they're not as jam-packed as PSA is, but they do have some slow turnaround time.




Next company is SGC, another well-known grading card company. They've been in business since 1998. Pricing has very good ranges from about $25 to about $200 for cards up to about $3,500. They do have a pricing above cards for $3,500.


Pros, generally faster turnaround time. They don't do as many cards as PSA and Beckett so they do have a quicker turnaround time. People really like their customer service so that's a huge plus. If you've got questions or if you've got an issue with an order, and again better pricing than PSA or Beckett. They do specialize also in vintage cards so if you do have some vintage and you don't want to send them off to PSA because you don't want to pay the price and you don’t want to wait for them, SGC is another good option for that. They use a similar grading system to PSA. They don’t do sub grades. They do a 9.5 which PSA does not do, but again they just use a single number system like PSA does with no subgrades. I do like the simplicity of their slab designs. It's not super colorful, it's just this black design, but it's very simple and that I do like.


Cons about using SGC. The graded SGC cards just don't hold as much value in most cases for a PSA and a Beckett. They're kind of third tier when it comes to that. They do have a decent amount of space around their slab, it wasn't a huge turn off for me. Again I like the PSA slabs, that's just my personal preference. The thinner slabs with as little amount of space around the card as possible.


So those are the main two established brands that most of you have probably already heard of. Let's talk about maybe some newer kids on the block or some ones that you possibly have not heard of just yet.


Hybrid Gaming Approach (HGA)


The first one I want to talk about is HGA which is also known as Hybrid Grading Approach, and I'm gonna talk about why they call themselves that here in just a second. They just recently came in the market in 2021. Pricing ranges from about $20 to $100 a card so very affordable. They've got a different grading style than the other card companies. I'm gonna read you directly from their website. It says “HGA is revolutionizing the industry by implementing software that will allow us to scan, analyze, and grade cards without subjectivity. Each card is scanned at ultra-high resolution. The scanner sees better than a magnifying glass and can pick up blemishes the size of a speck of a dust.” So they're using software now which is going to be a game changer in grading.


Pros with them. I talked about how they have affordable and simple pricing, very straightforward. You pay by the service that you're choosing, not necessarily the value of the card. With PSA, Beckett, and SGC they have you pay by the values of the card. Now with HGA you pay by the service level that you choose. They do have quick turnaround times right now and the reason being is they are limiting I believe to like 1500 cards or so a week. They're not taking very many cards, so it's very hard to get in a submission with them because people are trying them out right now. So it's very hard to get your cards graded. If you are lucky to get a spot with them, I believe they do spots on like Thursdays and Fridays, you want to check their Instagram for that. What people are really liking about HGA is their color matching slabs. I think this is definitely a game changer for the industry. It's not for everybody. Some of the more traditionalists may not like it, but some of the newer kids and the flippers and whatnot, I mean it just matches a nice Luka card or if you've got a nice Hakuna card, whatever it is that you've got, you can actually pick that color and match it out to that card which I think is absolutely stunning. It definitely is eye-catching and me personally I think it's going to add a lot of value to that particular slab assuming their grading is accurate, which with using software means that definitely could be the case.


Cons: it's just unknown what their slabs are gonna bring as far as price. We're just not sure on their consistency with grading, and they're using software so basically they should be rather consistent, but we're just not sure what the final pricing is that you're going to be getting with their graded cards. It's going to take a little bit of time to actually have them grade some cards and get on the market and sell. So hopefully by the end of this year in 2021 we will have a decent idea of how they compare to PSA, Beckett, and also SGC. They do sub grades, kind of like Beckett, and I've talked about that already. Another con is it's just tough to get cards graded with them right now. Just simply because they're not expanding out. They want to make sure they get their processes down. They want to get people's card back as quick as possible, so they're limiting the amount of cards that they are accepting per week, but they're kind of the wild card in all this grading. I really think that they could be a player. It just depends on how quickly they're getting their cards back and what they actually end up selling for. Because if they can compete with Beckett or close to it, I think a lot of people will switch over to them just because they like that color matching of the slab, because personally I think it looks sharp.


CSG – Owned by CGC


Next one we're going to talk about is CSG. They are owned by CGC. We're playing freaking alphabet soup. CGC is the comic book rating company. They're well known in that industry, but CSG is their new trading card company. They started in 2021. Pricing ranges from $8 to $100, I mean that's pretty good pricing right there. 


Pros. Cheap pricing, $8 for 60 day turnaround time. Again, CGC their parent company has a great reputation in the comic book industry as far as grading them, so hopefully they have some good graders on site and have some good processes on site. That's huge if you've got good processes you can have some happy customers, and you can have some consistent grading, and you can get people's cards back very quickly. Turnaround time should hopefully be good because they're not bogged down by taking a million cards in like PSA and Beckett.


Cons; we're just not sure what the pricing is going to be for these slabs. Are they going to hold their weight? Are they going to be close to Beckett and SGC and maybe PSA? Time will tell on that. They do have their first ever card that they graded that is being sold as of the recording of this video, and that is a 2003 LeBron James Topps Chrome Refractor, and that one I think they graded a 9.5. As of the making of this video it was at 50k. It finally sold for $98,100. That's a pretty good price right there for their first ever graded card. Again this probably has some extra value because it is the first one, but it's gonna be interesting where that ends up and where other cards are going to be ending up for them. Another downgrade is the subgrades, I'm not a big fan of that. It's also just a weird green color on the slab. I don't know why they chose green. It doesn't mesh with many cards, except for golf cards. Now this is an interesting caveat. I'm going to actually be sending my Tiger Woods and Jack Nicholas cards to them so that way they can use the green slab on there and actually will match the grass. I think that'll probably look pretty sharp so just a little tip for you there. Maybe you just send your golf cards out to CSG.




So next one is going to be GMA grading. You've probably seen their stuff on eBay. They've been around since 2003 and that's kind of a bit of a problem. I'll talk about that in a second here. Prices range from $8 to $20 so not bad. 


Pros such as cheap pricing. They probably have decent turnaround times because they're not getting slammed with cards.


Cons, I mean they've been around since 2003 and they haven't really made a name for themselves and that should be a telltale sign. I've was doing obviously a little research for this video and I came across the website, shout out to rookiecollector.com, he actually did a ton of research on GMA, and he was saying that the slabs just feel light and cheap. The card is able to bounce around in the slab which that sucks. I mean sometimes that happens with some of the other guys, but that's crappy. That's gonna definitely damage your card. Label looks cheap and as far as he could tell, I couldn't tell either, there definitely wasn't an online database to be able to verify that grade and also to see how many they've actually graded. There was no kind of population report. Couldn't see that on their website. Again, their value is not going to hold anywhere near any of these other companies that I've already talked about. So me personally I probably wouldn't be using GMA for really anything. Some of these other card grading companies are going to be better options for you.


So conclusion here. Again if you don't want to use PSA anymore due to whatever reason that you choose, then the obvious choice to go ahead and go with is Beckett. Beckett is obvious. I've already talked about them. It just depends on if they raise their pricing and also what their turnaround times are. If they're not getting your cards back within a decent amount of time you may look into using other resources. I personally would, if you can, if you can get in with them, I would give HGA a definite big shot. I really like their slabs. I think it's going to be very interesting to see what happens with them. They are the kind of wild card in this whole process, and then if that doesn't work out then you're probably going to have to use CSG, and I know some of you guys don't like the green slabs, but their pricing is very cheap and if you're in the card flipping game you just want to get a card graded. They're going to be a very good option for you and something you guys should definitely check out, assuming that they're  their grades are going to be accurate and they're able to get you your cards back in a decent amount of time.

3 Responses


October 26, 2022

Who cares what the slabs look like? I would think the most important things are grading accuracy and authentication of the card.

steve slatrer
steve slatrer

March 30, 2022

i feel like they took over are card trading , i have older cards that i always traded for half price with becket pricing , now my older cards a worth 1.00 2.00 and so on , and the price to have them graded is to great to save my cards, i would not get money back for grading them, something should be done to stop them from owing the card trading. dont get me wrong, its ok to grade but why are card co selling base sets if we cant trade them anymore when they go up 5.-100 range and get money back just a though

Steve Sumpter
Steve Sumpter

February 21, 2022

Just got 5 cards back from CSG to see what ratings I would get. I paid the $20.00 per card price and waited 4 months to get them back. I am disappointed by the ratings; 7-Garnett, 8.5-Leonard, 8.5-Giannis, 8-Duncan, 9-Federer. All cards were kept in toploaders. When I include the price I paid for the cards and price for rating them most will not sell for what I paid for them. The hobby is being held for ransom. The turn around time takes away the timing of winner streaks and hot player performance stats.

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