The Best Card Grading Companies Of 2022

Card grading has become a huge part of the collectable card hobby, and while some companies have been around since the 90s, there’s more choice than ever after some unprecedented years of demand in 2020 and 2021.

It’s almost standard practice these days for collectors to grade their favorite and most valuable cards – Despite the wait times and costs involved, there are benefits to grading cards, with the main reason being the potential increase in resale values.

A high grade can catapult a card’s value to huge numbers as collectors are willing to pay more for a graded card with a certified condition and protective slab, than a raw card – that’s why millions of cards are being submitted by card collectors and investors every year.

Card grading is big business these days, and with such a big market for it, there’s now more card grading companies than ever to choose from, with varying levels of reputation, reliability, wait times and costs.

The card grading company that you opt for can have a big effect on the value of the card, and your returns as a card investor, so I’ve analyzed the best card grading companies to use in 2022 in this article, with my top picks at the bottom.

The Best Card Grading Companies

PSA

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Gem Mint, including .5s (excluding 9.5).

Pricing: $30 per card to $10,000 per card, depending on card value and service level (varying turnaround times).

Check PSA’s latest pricing and turnaround times here.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the card collecting hobby, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of PSA grading – It’s arguably the most well-known and popular card grading company right now.

PSA, which stands for Professional Sports Authenticator, was founded in 1991 and grades all types of collectible cards, including sports cards and Pokemon cards, as well as offering an autograph authentication service.

There’s no doubt the company has established itself as one of the main players in the card grading world, and collectors are often willing to pay more for a PSA slab, than they are with some of its competitors, because of their reputation and popularity.

Pros:

  • Highly reputable and well known brand.
  • Higher card values on PSA graded cards compared with competitors due to their reputation.
  • Accurate and reliable grading.
  • Broad service offering.

Cons:

  • Long turnaround times for the more affordable service levels, due to popularity.
  • No grade between 9 and 10 (ie 9.5).
  • Expensive for high value cards.

BGS

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Pristine (+ Black Label), including .5s.

Pricing: $25 per card to $250 per card, depending on service level (varying turnaround times).

Check BGS’ latest pricing and turnaround times here.

BGS, which stands for Beckett Grading Services, is another very well-known and popular trading card grading company.

Although the company has been around longer, BGS started their card grading service in 2001, and they’ve gone on to establish themselves as one of the most reliable card graders. 

BGS offer a wide range of services, and grade all types of collectable cards. They also offer an autograph authentication service.

The company is arguably best known in the card collecting hobby for the Beckett Black Label 10, which isn’t achieved easily – A premium version of their grade 10, whereby the card must achieve a 10 in all 4 sub-grades (centering, corners, edging & surface). BGS Black Label graded cards are generally the most valuable in the hobby.

Pros:

  • Highly reputable and well known brand.
  • High values on graded cards compared to competitors due to their reputation.
  • A chance to get a highly sought-after Black Label Pristine 10.
  • Accurate and reliable grading.
  • Broad service offering.

Cons:

  • Long turnaround times.
  • Basic autograph grading system.
  • Quite a complicated grading scale.

SGC

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Pristine, including .5s.

Pricing: $30 per card to $3,750 per card, depending on card value and service level (varying turnaround times).

Check SGC’s latest pricing and turnaround times here.

SGC is another card grading company that has been around since the 90s, and has established itself in the hobby. The company has been grading and authenticating cards since 1998.

The big appeal with SGC right now is the turnaround times, which are significantly faster than the likes of PSA and BGS, and while their slabs don’t always hold the same high values as those 2 card grading companies, they’re reputable and reliable enough to still add good value to cards.

SGC have been good at increasing their workforce to keep up with demand, and ensure turnaround times are kept relatively short.

Pros:

  • Experienced and reputable company.
  • Good turnaround times.
  • Accurate and reliable grading.

Cons:

  • Standard size slabs feel a bit flimsy.
  • Label design.

HGA

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Flawless, including .5s.

Pricing: $25 per card to $80 per card, depending on service level (varying turnaround times).

Check HGA’s latest pricing and turnaround times here.

HGA, which stands for Hybrid Grading Approach, is one of the newer card grading companies on the market – they launched in early 2021.

They’re trying to innovate and change the card grading game, with software based grading – 

They claim on their website that every card is scanned at ultra-high resolution, which can pick up more than the human eye with a magnifying glass. The concept of software based card grading is still very much new, and unproven, so it could take some time before collectors fully trust it in mass – This will have an effect on the value of cards with their slabs.

HGA also claims to have the slabs and labels on the market, and to be fair, it’s hard to disagree – Their custom labels match the color scheme and design of the card in the slab, so it makes for some really nice looking slabs.

Pros:

  • Custom labels which match the design and colors of the card, for nice looking slabs.
  • Prices based on turnaround time, not card value.
  • Software based grading removes subjectivity and human error.
  • Fast turnaround times.

Cons:

  • Unproven software technology, which isn’t yet fully trusted.
  • A very new card grading company, less reputable than competitors, which affects values.
  • Limited service offering (eg. they only grade standard sized cards currently).

ISA

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Gem Mint, including .5s (excluding 8.5 & 9.5).

Pricing: $20 per card to $45 per card, depending on service level (varying turnaround times).

Check ISA’s latest pricing and turnaround times here.

ISA was founded in 2010, so they’ve had a decent amount of time in the card grading market to build a bit of a reputation.

The big appeal with ISA is their cheap prices and good turnaround times. While their slabs don’t hold the same weight as some of the bigger companies, like PSA, BGS and SGC, ISA has built a good reputation for fast card grading, however there have been questions around the consistency of their grading.

Pros:

  • Cheaper prices.
  • Fast turnaround times.

Cons:

  • Not as well-known as some of the competitors, which affects card values.
  • Questions around consistency and reliability of card grading.

CGC

Grading Scale: 1-Poor to 10-Perfect, including .5s.

Pricing: $15 per card to $125 per card, depending on card value and service level (varying turnaround times).

Check CGC’s latest pricing and turnaround times here.

CGC offers a wide range of grading services, including all types of cards, like sports cards and Pokemon cards, for example.

They’re still very much new, and un-established, after launching their card grading service in mid 2020. There have been questions around the reliability and consistency of their card grading, but CGC are an emerging option for collectors, with decent turnaround times and pricing – Plus nice looking labels and slabs.

Pros:

  • Good turnaround times.
  • Broad service offering.
  • Cheaper prices.

Cons:

  • Still quite new and they haven’t yet built a big reputation in the hobby, which affects values.
  • Questions around consistency and reliability of card grading.

What Is The Best Card Grading Company To Use?

For reputation: PSA

For grading reliability: PSA & BGS

For adding value to cards: PSA & BGS

For the cheapest grading: ISA & CGC

For the fastest turnaround time: SGC & ISA

For the label design: HGA

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt the more well-known and established brands like PSA and BGS hold more weight in the trading card hobby, because of their reputation, and that leads to higher values on their graded cards – So if you’re solely focused on adding value to a card, for resale purposes, and grading reliability then PSA or BGS are still the card grading companies to go for overall, despite the long turnaround times, and high prices, for more valuable cards.