How To Safely Crack A Graded Card Slab (PSA, BGS, SGC)

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You can safely crack graded card slabs using pliers and a flathead screwdriver, I’ve made a step-by-step guide on how to do that further down.

Graded cards are the cornerstone of many card collections – Getting a card graded not only increases its value, but it also protects it inside a plastic card slab.

This post provides a guide to safely cracking PSA, BGS, SGC and other graded card slabs, without damaging the card inside.

Table of Contents

Can You Crack PSA, BGS And SGC Slabs?

Yes, it’s possible to crack open graded card slabs from PSA, BGS, SGC and other grading companies, without damaging the card inside.

Once a card has received a grade, it’s then placed inside a slab and sealed shut, and can’t be reopened, unless you physically crack open the slab; By not being able to open and close a graded slab, it protects the trust and legitimacy of the grading itself.

The process of cracking the graded slabs breaks the protective casing, so the card would need to be resubmitted for grading to have it securely enclosed in a graded slab again.

Tools Required To Crack A Graded Card Slab

There are two tools required to crack open a graded card case, these are:

I’d also recommend having a card sleeve and top loader to hand, to immediately protect the card, once it’s been removed from the slab.

How To Safely Crack A Graded Card Slab - Step By Step

The steps for cracking the graded slabs are the same regardless of which grading company’s slab you’re cracking. Generally, PSA’s slabs are slightly harder to open, so they might require a bit more pressure to crack than the others. SGC slabs are generally the easiest to break open.

It’s worth noting that while cracking a graded card the correct way has minimal risk, there is always the slight chance of damaging the card inside in the process, so that’s something to consider and remember, when deciding whether to crack a slab open.

Having said that, let’s go through how to crack a slab as safely as possible:

Step 1

For the first step, you’ll need to use pliers to crack the plastic at the top of the slab.

Hold the bottom half of the case firmly in one hand, and use the other to crack the plastic in one of the top corners of the slab.

Gripping one of the top corners, with the pliers, and firmly twisting or snapping, should be enough to create an incision in the plastic.

It’s important to only crack the top corners, above the label, so you’re far away from any potential contact with the card inside.

Step 2

Once you’ve used the pliers to create an opening in the plastic at the top of the slab, there should be enough room to slide the flathead screwdriver between the two sides of the plastic slab.

It’s best to slide the flathead screwdriver in through one of the corners, and sideways along the label, rather than down towards the card.

Once you’ve done that, you then need to either twist the flathead screwdriver, or apply pressure upwards – The goal is to separate the top and bottom pieces of plastic, which will happen once enough pressure is applied. Again, some slabs, like PSA, will require more pressure.

Step 3

Once you’ve used the flathead screwdriver to loosen the hold between the top and bottom piece of the slab (you should hear a slight cracking sound as they separate), you can do the rest with your hands.

Hold the top piece of the slab in one hand, and the bottom piece in the other hand, and pull them apart – Do not snap or attempt to crack the plastic inwards, because that can damage the card.

Step 4

Once the casing has been separated and pulled apart, you’ll have access to the card inside. At this point, gently pick up the card, and place it into a card sleeve and top loader, to keep it protected from bending or scratching.

Why Do People Crack Open Graded Card Slabs?

The process of grading a card with one of the card grading companies is quite expensive, and often a drawn-out process, so why do some collectors crack open their graded card slabs?

The primary reason to crack a graded card slab is to have it re-graded, either in the hope of it achieving a better grade with the same grading company (if a collector feels the original grade was unfairly low) or getting it graded by a different grading company altogether.

Re-grading is usually done because a collector feels the card’s condition is perhaps borderline with the grade above, and they feel it can achieve that higher grade if they resubmit with the same company as it was graded with before.

Some of the top grading services, like PSA and Beckett, do offer review and crossover services, whereby you pay to send a graded card, still slabbed, for regrading – However, many collectors feel that the grading companies are bias toward the initial grade in these instances, and that it’s harder for them to be upgraded to the higher grade. Therefore, removing the card from the initial grading slab and resubmitting as a raw/ungraded card, removes that potential bias.

Some collectors also buy a card that’s been graded by one grading company, and crack it open to then submit with another grading company, whether that’s to add more value (a PSA slab will increase a card’s value more than a HGA slab, for example), or because they simply prefer that grading label and scale for their collection.

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Tom Flint

A long-time collector of sports cards, Tom mainly collects soccer World Cup Prizm cards these days. As a kid, he enjoyed collecting baseball cards. He's a huge sports fan, with lots experience and passion for sports card collecting.
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