How to Get Basketball Cards Graded: Ultimate Guide to Boosting Your Collection’s Value

So you’ve got a stack of basketball cards and you’re thinking it’s time to get them graded. Smart move! Grading can skyrocket their value and solidify their authenticity. But where do you start?

Navigating the world of card grading can feel like a complex game of its own. Don’t worry, though. You’re about to learn how to slam dunk this process. From choosing a grading service to understanding the grading scale, you’ll be prepped and ready to send off your cards with confidence.

Remember, the condition of your cards is key, and professional grading is the best way to showcase their worth. Let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of getting those basketball cards graded and get you closer to scoring big in the collector’s market.

Choosing a Grading Service

When it comes to grading basketball cards, selecting a service is like picking your starters for the game—each one plays a critical role. While you’ve probably heard of PSA, BGS, and SGC, they’re not the only players in the game. They do, however, lead the pack in terms of recognition and reputation.

As you examine the options, consider the turnaround time. Grading can feel like a whole season in itself. Check for the current grading times which can fluctuate. Here are some average turnaround times:

Service Average Turnaround Time
PSA 10-12 months
BGS 7-10 months
SGC 20-25 business days

Price will also come into play. Each service has its unique fee structure, often based on the value of your card. Assess your budget just like managing your team’s finances. Look for the cost-benefit that makes sense for your cards’ potential increase in value after grading.

Consider service reputation and consistency. Chat with fellow collectors, dive into forums, and read up on reviews. Just like studying the play style of a rival team, learning from collective experiences can offer invaluable insights.

Also, think about customer service—it can save a lot of headaches. The same way a responsive coaching staff aids a basketball program, accessible and helpful customer service can guide you through the grading process.

Lastly, reflect on what’s most important for your collection. If history and prestige matter most, PSA, being the oldest of the major services, might entice you. For modern cardholders valuing sub-grades on centering, corners, edges, and surfaces, BGS could be your go-to. If you’re looking for a faster turnaround while still maintaining a standard of quality, SGC might be worth a shot.

Use these considerations as your game plan. Weigh the pros and cons of each grading service like you’re preparing for the finals. After all, choosing the right grading service will help safeguard the value and authenticity of your treasured basketball cards for the future.

Understanding the Grading Scale

When you’re looking to get your basketball cards graded, it’s crucial to wrap your head around the grading scale. Think back to your playing days when coaches would meticulously analyze your game down to the last detail. Just as your performance on the court was evaluated, your basketball cards are assessed for condition and quality.

The grading scale typically runs from 1 to 10, with 10 being a perfect card. It’s every collector’s dream to find that mint gem, but understanding each grade level can help manage your expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect:

  • 10 (Gem Mint): The pinnacle of perfection. It’s as if this card went straight from the pack to a fortress, untouched by time or human hands. Think of it like sinking a flawless three-pointer at the buzzer.
  • 9 (Mint): A whisper away from gem mint. A slight off-centering or minor imperfection you’d barely notice unless you were looking for it.
  • 8 (Near Mint-Mint): These are still high-quality cards, akin to scoring in double figures but missing out on a double-double.
  • 7 (Near Mint): A card that’s seen a bit of play, like a well-used basketball with a few scuffs, but still has integrity.
  • 6 (Excellent-Near Mint): Shows signs of minor wear, maybe like the jersey of a veteran who’s seen many games.
  • Down to 1 (Poor): A card that’s been through the wringer, perhaps stuck to the fridge door, like a basketball left out in the rain and forgotten.

It’s important to remember each grading service has its own nuanced way of evaluating. PSA, BGS, and SGC all have specific criteria for how they grade various aspects, such as corners, edges, surface, and centering.

If you hold a card that’s dear to you, knowing the ins and outs of the grading scale puts you in a better position to understand its potential value and how to protect it. Just as you’d analyze an opponent’s play style, scrutinize your cards. Look at them under the right lighting; catch the imperfections or appreciate the pristine quality, whichever the case may be. Like a coach developing a game plan, this knowledge helps you make savvy decisions when it comes to grading your basketball card collection.

Evaluating the Condition of Your Cards

Before shipping off your prized basketball cards to a grading service, it’s crucial you do a pre-grading check. Imagine you’re back on the court, analyzing your opponent’s defense; similarly, you need to scrutinize every inch of your card for flaws and strengths.

Start with the Surface

Examine the card’s surface closely under a good light source. Look for any scratches, scuffs, or printing errors that could affect the card’s grade. Remember, just like a perfect jump shot, a flawless surface can significantly increase your card’s value.

Check the Corners and Edges

  • Sharp corners: Cards with sharp, unworn corners tend to fetch higher grades.
  • Smooth edges: Look for any roughness or chipping that might drag your score down.

Focus on the Centering

Misaligned graphics can be a game-changer, and not the thrilling kind you’re used to on the court. The front to back centering is crucial. Ideally, you want your card to have a 50/50 or at most a 55/45 ratio to hit those top grades.

Inspect the Print Quality

Print lines or off-centered text can be the equivalent of a missed free throw in the grading game. Ensure that the color is consistent and the text is properly aligned.

Here’s a quick breakdown of elements to check:

  • Surface cleanliness and gloss
  • Corner sharpness
  • Edge smoothness
  • Centering precision
  • Print and color quality

Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to understand your card’s grading potential. And just like preparing for a game, this assessment helps you decide whether it’s worth the submission. After all, you’d never step onto the court without knowing your team’s strengths and the game plan.

Preparing Your Cards for Evaluation

Once you’ve examined your basketball cards and determined they’re worth the grading process, it’s time to prep them for evaluation. This stage is critical; think of it like you’re getting your team ready for the big game – every detail matters.

Handle with Care should be your mantra. Always hold cards by the edges to avoid fingerprints or additional wear. It’s the same precision you’d use when executing a perfect pass to your teammate. Use soft cotton gloves for added protection to keep oils from your skin from transferring to the card.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Make sure your cards are free from dust, smudges, or any foreign particles. Use a soft, dry microfiber cloth to gently wipe the surface of the card. Don’t use any cleaning agents; they can damage the card’s finish and potentially alter its authenticity.

When it comes to storing and transporting your cards, consider the following:

  • Rigid top-loaders or card savers for individual cards
  • Penny sleeves for added protection from scratches
  • Cardboard storage boxes for bulk amounts

Remember to place your cards in these protectors carefully, ensuring there’s no bending or corner damage as they slide in. It’s like placing your star player in the perfect role – you want them to be secure and ready to shine.

Before finally sending them off, make sure to label and organize your cards. Group them by set, year, or player to make the grading process more efficient. Just like reviewing game tape before a matchup, go through your prepped cards one more time. Double-check for missed flaws or potential improvements in your packaging method, ensuring your collectibles are in championship condition for the big leagues of grading.

Packaging and Sending Your Cards

Once your basketball cards are in pristine condition, labeled, and organized, you’re ready for one of the most critical steps: packaging. Proper packaging ensures your cards reach the grading company without any damage incurred during transit.

First, slip each card into a penny sleeve for initial protection. Next, you’ll want to place the sleeved card into a rigid top-loader. This combination safeguards against most forms of bending and pressure. For extra security, seal the open end of the top-loader with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. This tape is gentle on the surfaces and prevents the card from sliding out, yet it’s easy to remove without damage.

For additional protection, especially if you’re sending multiple cards, sandwich them between two pieces of sturdy cardboard slightly larger than the top-loaders. Secure the cards within this cardboard fortress using painter’s tape. Now, place the entire assembly into a bubble mailer. For larger shipments, a box might be more appropriate; just ensure there’s sufficient packing material, like bubble wrap or foam peanuts, to keep the cards from moving around.

Before sealing the package, make sure to include a packing slip with your name, return address, list of cards sent, any service numbers provided by the grading company, and your contact information.

It’s now time to choose your shipping method. You’ll want to opt for a service that includes tracking and insurance. Shipping might seem like a final step, but remember, it’s just as important as the grading itself; the condition in which your cards arrive can make or break their final grade.

Finally, drop off your package at the carrier’s location or schedule a pickup. Keep an eye on the tracking to ensure it arrives safely and prepare yourself for the anticipation of receiving graded basketball cards that can potentially hold significant value and personal satisfaction.


Getting your basketball cards graded is a surefire way to boost their value and preserve their condition. Remember, the care you take in packaging can make all the difference. Don’t skimp on protection or tracking—your cards are worth the extra mile. Once they’re off, it’s a waiting game, but the anticipation is part of the fun. Here’s to hoping your cards come back with grades that slam dunk your expectations!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to package basketball cards for grading?

To package basketball cards for grading, place them in rigid, protective sleeves and sandwich them between two pieces of stiff cardboard. Tape the cardboard together without touching the cards. Put this into a padded envelope or a small box.

Should I include a packing slip when sending cards for grading?

Yes, always include a packing slip with your contact information and the details of the cards being sent. This helps the grading company process your submission efficiently and reduces the risk of errors.

What shipping method should I use for sending basketball cards for grading?

Choose a shipping method that offers both tracking and insurance. This ensures you can monitor the package’s journey and are covered in case of loss or damage during transit.

Can the packaging affect the grading of the basketball cards?

Yes, improper packaging can result in damage to the cards during transit. This damage can negatively impact the final grade of the cards, so it’s crucial to package them securely.

Is it necessary to get insurance when shipping basketball cards for grading?

Absolutely. It’s highly recommended to get insurance for your shipment as it protects your investment against potential loss or damage while the cards are in transit to the grading company.

Scroll to Top