A question I often get asked by card collectors is where to get trading cards graded in person, instead of going through the usual process of mailing cards and waiting for the grading service to grade, slab and ship it back.
Demand for grading is so high now, that the turnaround times for standard mail submissions is at least a few months, and often longer.
A fear that many who are new to card grading have is the idea of parting with their prized possessions for such a long time, and trusting their cards don’t get damaged or lost in the mail to and from the grading companies.
While shipping cards is usually safe if the right steps are followed, some collectors still want the option of in-person card grading, for convenience, safety and the waiting time saved.
While it’s not common, and often not cheap either, it is possible to have cards graded in person, or at least dropped-off and collected in person, with much quicker turnaround times.
I’ve gone through everything you need to know about having your cards graded in person with the biggest services, like Beckett and PSA, below.
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Can You Get Cards Graded In Person?
If you live in the US, then it is possible to have cards graded in person by the major grading companies. It’s also possible in other parts of the world, depending on whether there’s a card show where the grading companies are offering the service, which I’ll go into more detail about later.
The most established and recognized grading services in the card collecting hobby, like Beckett and PSA, are based in the US. Taking cards to their offices for ‘Walk-Through’ services, or card shows, is possible for in-person card grading.
Where Can You Get Cards Graded In Person?
Beckett and PSA do offer in-person grading at card shows throughout the year. Both companies have pages on their website with their tentative plans for up-coming shows, and details of what services they’ll be offering.
Details of card shows Beckett will be offering grading services can be found on their website here, and for PSA it’s on their website here – You have the option to sign-up for email updates for both as well.
The queues for in-person submissions can get long, and turnaround times vary. PSA estimates in-person card grading to have a 24-hour turnaround time, but they state that can vary based on the demand. Return shipping is often required, but it’s certainly a lot quicker than the standard submission mail process.
Does Beckett Do In-Person Card Grading At Their Offices?
You can no longer take cards to Beckett’s offices for in-person grading. It is something they have offered in the past, however according to their website, this was stopped mid-2020.
Does PSA Do In-Person Card Grading At Their Offices?
PSA does offer a premium ‘Walk-Through’ service, whereby customers can take cards to their headquarters in person and drop them off for grading.
However, the term ‘walk-through’ is maybe a little misleading – The turnaround time is usually 3 days, so it’s not a case of taking the card to their office, watching them grade it, and walking out with a graded, and slabbed card an hour later. The card is left with them, and will be ready for pick-up a few days later. It does save the need for shipping, though, and it’s still much quicker than the normal submission process.
It’s worth noting that PSA’s ‘Walk-Through’ service is expensive – It starts at $600 per card, for cards with a declared value of less than $10k.
PSA does not accept ‘drop-offs’ for their standard trading card grading service.
Does SGC Do In-Person Card Grading At Their Offices?
SGC do not currently offer any direct in-person card grading service.
We contacted SGC directly to ask whether there are any plans to offer grading in person in the future, this was their response:
“Unfortunately, at this time, we are not allowing the general public to drop off cards to our facility. This is not a permanent decision though. When the time comes for us to revisit our policy in regards to in person submissions, we will be sure to make plenty of announcements on our website and social media platforms.
For the time being, we recommend you to a local authorized group submission service who does have the ability to drop off cards. They submit orders on behalf of many different customers and we’re confident that you would have a pleasant experience with them.”
How Much Is It To Get Your Cards Graded In Person?
In-person card grading comes at a premium, when compared to standard card grading services which are mail submission.
PSA advertise on their website that in-person card grading counts as their ‘Express’ service at minimum – Depending on the declared value of the card they’re grading, the PSA ‘Express’ service starts at $150 per card.
The cost of the PSA ‘Walk-Through’ service starts at a minimum of $600 per card, which again can be more depending on the declared value of the card.
Why Get Cards Graded In-Person?
One of the big benefits of in-person grading is the turnaround time. The top grading services, like Beckett and PSA, have very long turnaround times for cards submitted via mail, due to the high demand. For standard service options, collectors often wait for months to receive their graded cards back – In-person grading drastically cuts the wait time.
Card values are very fluid, and collectors who are grading to sell a card can benefit from the extremely quick turnaround that in-person grading offers. If you take a sports card as an example, a card’s value could sharply fall in the months waiting for standard grading via mail, because the player gets a serious injury in that time for example, and the moment to sell has passed.
While it’s usually a lot more expensive, having a card graded in a matter of days is a good option for card collectors or investors who want to move quickly with the overall card market.
Another benefit of in-person grading is the convenience and peace of mind that your card won’t get damaged or lost in transit before it reaches the grading company. This is particularly beneficial for high-value cards that aren’t necessarily fully insured when being shipped.
For those reasons, if it makes sense to invest more in the grading of a card, in-person grading is more appealing than the traditional grading mail submission process.
It is possible to get cards graded in person, locally, by bringing cards to card shows.
You cannot drop off cards to SGC and BGS’ offices, but PSA do offer the chance to drop cards off, by appointment only.
Not every card show will have the opportunity to get cards graded on the day, so it’s worth checking that the grading service will be available prior to the convention.