Sending cards off for grading can be a little scary at times – The main priority is getting our cards back safely, without any damage, and hopefully a high grade. A question I see quite a lot is: Do grading companies like PSA and Beckett accept cards sent in top loaders for grading?
For someone new to card grading, it’s important to spend time learning how to properly package cards for safe shipping to grading services, to ensure they can’t bend or get damaged in transit – Generally, a card sleeve inside either a semi-rigid cardholder or a top loader is the way to go to adequately protect a card inside a package.
Grading companies are often changing and adapting their grading process, including the submission of cards; This article takes a look at whether you can submit your cards for grading inside a top loader, or whether it has to be a semi-rigid cardholder.
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Does PSA Accept Top Loaders?
The short answer to this is yes, PSA will accept and grade cards that are sent inside a top loader, but there is a bit more to know.
PSA’s own advice is to use a soft card sleeve inside a semi-rigid cardholder, more specifically the ‘Card Saver I®’, for cards when submitting for their grading services.
They make it clear, on their card packing guidelines page within their website, that they advise against sending cards inside top loaders, and even go as far to say cards that are submitted in them will experience delays in processing, and the top loaders won’t be returned – The process of grading cards takes long enough as it is, so further potential delay is less than ideal.
With that in mind, I would personally opt for using a semi-rigid holder over a top loader when submitting to PSA grading – If it’s something they are actively stating within their guidelines, then it’s a good idea to follow that advice, for a smooth and safe grading process with them.
Does Beckett Accept Top Loaders?
Beckett grading does also accept card submissions that are sent inside top loaders.
Unlike PSA, they don’t officially advise against using top loaders, but they do suggest using a semi-rigid cardholder.
Their packing guide page, on their website, offers instructions which include the advice to use a card sleeve inside a card saver, the same as PSA do – They don’t mention anything about a top loader.
I have submitted cards in top loaders to BGS in the past without any issues – Again, it’s worth noting that you won’t get them back.
I do, however, think it’s also sensible to send cards to Beckett inside a card sleeve and semi-rigid card saver if you can, rather than a top loader, as it is with PSA, because that’s the instruction they give.
Why Do Grading Companies Prefer Cards Submitted In Semi-Rigid Cardholders?
Grading companies, like BGS and PSA, prefer cards submitted in a semi-rigid cardholder because it’s easier, and faster, for them to remove the card without potentially damaging it.
Grading companies are super-cautious for obvious reasons – They’re handling collectors’ cards that are worth potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and damaging them can significantly reduce the value. They obviously want to make sure that collectors feel safe sending them their prized cards for grading.
Top loaders are a bit harder, and more rigid, so it’s often slightly tougher to remove cards from them than it is with a semi-rigid save – That gives slightly more potential to damage or bend the card in that process. They’re great for storing or displaying ungraded cards, but semi-rigid savers are better for the grading process.
It’s fair enough to argue that a semi-rigid cardholder doesn’t offer the same level of protection against bending that a top loader does – In order to address that potential problem, grading companies advise further protection when packaging by sandwiching the cards, which are inside a sleeve and semi-rigid holder, between two slightly larger pieces cardboard, held together with rubber bands.
Grading companies‘ submission instructions are optimized for three things: protecting the card during shipping, speed of unwrapping to get to the card for grading, and to minimize the amount the card needs to be handled.