Step by Step GUIDE How to Grade Sports Cards for PSA Submission
July 08, 202112 min read
Today is going to be one of those fun videos. Very popular question I get all the time and I see on almost every card group that I follow on any Facebook page is how do you decide what cards to get graded? Now this is definitely a very important question to consider because you don't want to be wasting money on getting cards that have no business getting graded, and today's video is all about getting cards graded for resale purposes. So these aren't gonna be cards for your personal collection. Those you can do what you want with. I definitely recommend getting your high-end cards graded, but that one can be completely up to you. This is all going to be about finding cards that we want to get graded for resale purposes, and this is a kind of like a seven step process that I go through every time I'm deciding on whether I want to buy a card and get it graded, and then eventually sell it.
So step one, this is a mind blower one, so get ready. Big deep breath. Grade the guys that sell. Well oh. I know that's a big one. I know we all love Bull Bull on this channel here, but unless it's a one of one card of Bull Bull we are not getting it graded. Who are the guys that I would recommend getting graded? These are the guys I personally do for 90 plus percent of the time, according to Market Movers, the data program by Sports Card Investor. They pull all their data from eBay. Here are the guys that have sold the most amount of cards, dollar wise, over the last 90 days.
So here we go. Top 10 right now: LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Zion Williams, Patrick Mahomes, Giannis, John Murant, Tom Brady, and Mike Trout. If you follow anything I've talked about on this channel related to cards and also autographs too, you've heard me talk about these guys. So let's start picking up some of these guys. These are the guys that sell. These are what we're looking to get into. Yes they may be a little more expensive than your Bull Bulls but they're the ones that sell, Why buy cards that aren't gonna sell? That's step one.
Step two, find cool looking cards or rookies. We know rookies sell, I don't have to explain that to you, but having a card with an iconic image on it like Shaq dunking or Michael Jordan dunking or Zion dunking or whatever the player is known for. That is going to be a big plus when it comes to selling a card. Having a good card from a design standpoint. What I mean by that is not having dark edges and whatnot. We don't wanna have cards like that. We wanna have cards that look cool. If you think it looks cool, somebody else might think it looks cool, and therefore they will buy your card. It’s not rocket science. Pretty straightforward stuff, and we want to be finding good quality sets and brands. Panini Prizm or Select. Stuff like that for the newer guys. Of course the older guys are going to have different types of brands that are more popular for them, but those would be for the ones for the newer guys.
So again design standpoint, find a good one. Good quality brands, a nice iconic image on the card. If it looks cool people are gonna probably buy it, and avoid cards with those dark edges. Very tough to grade and the really silver designs. For example 2020 Mosaic football cards are really hard to grade because those bubbles on the damn cards. You get a nice pull and you're like, “oh what the heck is that?!” So avoid those ones if possible.
Step three, find out what a PSA 10 for that card sells for. Now if there haven't been any of these cards being graded, it's going to be kind of tough to do that, but for the most part most cards have been graded so you can kind of see what a PSA 10 sells for. Let's take a quick example here. If a PSA 10 for a card sells for a hundred dollars and let's just take the example that you're buying this card raw, let's say for ten dollars for example, and you're gonna go get that card graded and you're gonna pay for the 20 day service and now you're gonna pay $25 for grading. Now you're about $35 to $40 into the card when you factor in shipping. Getting that card graded for a PSA 10 that sells for a hundred dollars, yes it may go up in value, probably not the best bet right now. Your margins are going to be really slim when you start talking about selling fees being factored into also shipping fees as well. Plus if you get a PSA 9 you are absolutely screwed. You're toast. So we don't want to do that. So ideally what we're looking for is kind of like a 4x ratio. So including grading, including the card, and shipping all that kind of stuff, if you're going to be about $40 into a card I'd like to see a PSA 10 for that card itself. About $160 gives me a little bit of room in case I do get a PSA 9 but also if that card goes up in value from there I'm making a lot more money. It gives me a nice room to make going out and getting this car graded worth my time and worth the money. There's nothing worse than getting a PSA 10 card graded and you're like, “wow great this is awesome and then you go to sell and you're like wait a minute I'm going to make five dollars on this thing.” We don't want to do that. So we want to be picking cards up that are actually going to have some sort of value.
Step four, research the PSA population report. Ideally we want to find cards with a low PSA population report, meaning cards that just have not been graded. Why? Well less competition. I don't want to be competing against China selling cards. They've got way too many people out there, that's gonna suck. I don't wanna make five dollars a card. That's absolutely pointless. Don't do that. So what's low and ideally a few hundred would be great, but that's not gonna apply to every card. Take for example the Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer had a few thousand graded. I would consider that still a pretty low PSA population report for that particular card. Take a look at Doncic’s 2018 Prizm card. It's had over 13,000 PSA 10s and over 20,000 graded. That's a lot!
Now yes Luka does sell, but that's a stiff competition market and that card's actually been tanking a lot lately mainly because there's just a flood of them out there, and there's not as many people interested in them as there was when the season was going on. So that's why the card's been dipping and you want to find card that are going to grade well and have low populations. Look at the PSA population report, it tells you how many of each grade that card has been given. If you find one that's got a PSA 10 rate of 50 plus percent above, so that means for 100 cards that have been submitted 50 have been graded at PSA 10, I think that's a pretty good ratio. You got a pretty good shot at getting a PSA 10 there. If you get a PSA 9 it's not the end of the world but PSA 10 is what we're shooting for. Again this does not apply to every single card. Take for example the 1986 Fleer card that I just talked about. Around 2.5 percent of them are PSA 10s. Now why does that not apply to Michael Jordan? Well because the PSA 5s, 6s, 7s, and 8s still sell, but if you get a 2019 card and you get a PSA 5 you're not selling that card. I'm sorry you just wasted your money. You gotta get a ten. Worst case you got to get a nine and when you look at those PSA population reports you want to make sure that those cards are getting a fairly good shot of getting a 10 or a 9.
Step five. Now you got to buy your raw cards. Again, you already know what athlete you want, the type of card that you want to get, the kind of set, and all that kind of stuff. EBay of course is a great place to buy, but depending on which card you're looking for it's going to be hard to find cards that will be graded PSA 10s. You're not going to find a 2018 Luka Doncic Prizm PSA 10 card on there raw. It's just not going to happen. Right now people know that when you get a card graded you make more money on it, so finding cards with a low PSA population report, that's just where this comes into play here, because now people are like well this card is not really worth getting graded now. I mean it might be a 10 but I'd rather get the five bucks for it now or 10 bucks for it now and you decide.
Another good place to buy your cards are Facebook groups. I like it because you can deal directly with the seller. They know they're saving the eBay fees and all that kind of stuff plus you can get images really quickly and ask questions about the condition and all that kind of stuff and just be upfront saying, “hey listen I'm getting this graded here what do you think?” because some people are just like don't mess with grading. I don't want to wait for grading or I need the money now and you can actually find some decent sellers that way. So just make sure you get all your images and all your questions answered before you buy that item. Another way to get them is actually a very fun way, it's more expensive, but buying your own hobby boxes and opening up packs and all that kind of stuff. Now granted you're not going to be able to get maybe these because nothing's going to be guaranteed, but you kind of don't get the PSA rejects that you find on eBay. You get to inspect them exactly right away so nobody's shipping this thing two or three times. It's generally in better condition than you would find off something on eBay, but again you're not guaranteed to find those big heavy hitter players that we're looking for. The real best way to do that of course, buying that card directly.
Step six, very important one, this one's probably overwhelming for some of you guys that are just getting into cards, is inspecting your cards. Let me say this again. Inspect your cards. You gotta do this. Don't just get your cards and send them into PSA. You gotta take a look at them. Don't be that guy. So how do you do this? First off get a magnifying light. It's like $20, you can buy them on eBay or wherever. You guys want to buy them. I got one from Bright Tech, but there's plenty of other ones. It's just a magnifying light with a magnifying glass with a light so you can see the surface on your card. You can see scratches, print lines. We don't want to submit cards for the most part with scratches and print lines on them, that's going to devalue it and it's going to knock you down at least a grade. Take your time inspecting your card. Inspect the surface on the front and the back. Don't forget that back, you don't want to see any dings on there. Dents and all kinds of stuff, that's going to absolutely crush you right there. Also inspect your corners. You want nice sharp corners, PSA is very big on corners. So if you've got a card that's got a really soft corner or even a jammed up corner or a dent in the corner probably don't want to get that one graded.
How is your centering? We can kind of look at it with the naked eye and they also have centering tools out there. PSA is pretty lenient on centering 60/40. So you've got a little bit of wiggle room, but again PSA is very big on eye appeal, so if the card looks really good it's got a better chance of getting the PSA 10. Surface is going to be important there but also having fairly good centering. I wouldn't go less than 55/45 for a card when getting it graded. Again, this doesn't apply to every card. Take the Michael Jordan for example. If you're gonna get a PSA 5 or 6 on that and you've bought it for really cheap, yeah you can still make money on that, but that's why we do our research with what stuff actually sells for first.
Also check your edges. Make sure you don't have any chipping on there. We talked about that. Getting cards with dark borders, it really opens you up to some chipping. We want to try to avoid that, but again if this all seems overwhelming, trust me it's not. I spent six months or so grading cards without a magnifying light and I was able to get PSA 10s and 9s back. I did get some 5s, 6s, and 7s I think a couple of times. It's not a big deal. You're gonna learn, but again make sure that you're submitting cards that you think for the most part are going to get a PSA 10, worst case a 9. This doesn't really apply to vintage cards because vintage cards with 5s, 6s, and 7s do sell, but for modern cards you got to get tens. You got to get nines for the most part.
So now we've gone through all that. You've got all your cards ready to go. Step seven now you gotta submit them to PSA. I'm gonna do a whole nother video on this on what is the importance of a PSA submission group, but essentially the PSA submission group is kind of your liaison between you and PSA. They have a customer service that you can talk to all the time and find out where your cards are. If you've got questions and whatnot. There are a couple really good groups out there like pc sports cards is another good one. I use which is gemmint.com. Jerry does a really good job over there. He's got a really nice online portal where you can just log right in, you can see exactly what step of the grading process your cards are on, you don't have to call them. Another tip, never use 45 day service. Stop it. Don't use 45-day service. I've done it four times before I knew better. I've gotten one of those back and that was from a February submission. I've got like 100 cards and a 45 day with some other subgroup that I used before, I have no idea what step those are on, they say they're at PSA but I have no idea. That's why I like using these subgroups. Get the online portal on stuff but PSA 45 day with being as busy as they are, you'll never get your cards back. You'll get them back in 2022. You're just not getting them. Spend the extra money, do the 20 day for cards that are $500 or less.
Now that's what the sales price that PSA determines for a PSA 10 card is or whatever grade you get for that particular card. So $500 or less do the 20 day. $500 or more do a 10-day service, or you can do five-day service that you choose to do for those more expensive cards. Again, avoid 45 day at all costs. People don't do it. Don't make my mistake. So that's it, that's the seven step process. Again you can kind of adjust this however you see fit, but it's just kind of a general outline on the steps that you need to take to determine how to buy cards that you want to sell for money.
Don't buy crap, don't buy stuff that isn’t going to sell. I'm just trying to save you guys all the legwork and stuff. I know it's fun to buy rookies and all that kind of stuff, it's fun to get a card that you buy for ten dollars and sell it for a thousand dollars. I had a 2017 Panini Prizm Jason Tatum green that I bought for raw for a hundred dollars and then grading fees was like $75 so I was into it for $175. I sold it for $3,200. That does not happen every day. It's not gonna happen. You're gonna have to buy the cards, you're gonna make $30, $40, or $50 sometimes. Don't buy the ones you're gonna make five dollars on. That's stupid. The guys that we talked about right now, the Mahomes, the Trouts, the Bradys, LeBrons. These guys are proven sellers. Would you take your money and invest in your buddy startup or invest in Amazon? Which one do you want to do? Probably Amazon right? They're kind of a proven seller. Now yes they are a little more expensive, but they're a proven one that's gonna make you money.
I know grading can be very overwhelming, trust me, but anybody can do it. I just told you how to do it. It's very easy, if you guys got questions let me know.
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