PSA Grading Alternatives

If you’re looking for an easy way to grade and sell your cards quickly. There are definitely credible alternatives to PSA Grading that don’t require long wait times or expensive rates.

Some card grading companies to consider include Beckett, SGC and HGA.

Companies like HGA are driving forward with innovative scanning software that allows them to speed up the process and remove human error.

Read more about these grading services, along with their benefits and drawbacks, below.

PSA alternatives Grading image

Why do people get cards graded?

There are many good reasons to get your cards graded. Usually the main one though is with the aim of increasing their value if you plan on selling them. 

However, there is one major downside. It can be difficult finding a company who will actually grade and authenticate your collection within a timely manner. 

This is especially the case considering how popular PSA services have become in recent years.

Over the last decade card grading has become an important part of the sports cards hobby.  It helps to weed out fakes and builds trust amongst the collecting community.

The popular service offered by PSA is currently experiencing a huge growth spurt. Because of the numbers, PSA was forced to temporarily suspend their services a while back due to the large numbers of cards submitted every week.

Things are back up and running again now though. And, while it is true that they are one of the market leaders, there are definitely alternatives to PSA grading though.

Credibility of PSA

The PSA grading company has been around for many years and their card grades carry a lot of weight with collectors. For this reason, it’s important to look beyond just turnaround times or price when choosing who will grade your card. 

You should also consider which service provides better quality and has the most credibility. This is especially true for cards at the higher end of the value scale.

Which is better PSA or Beckett?

If you’re looking for an alternative to PSA, then there isn’t a huge amount of difference between PSA or Beckett.

They do have slightly different grading scales as we will explain below. But both are highly trusted by collectors and have strong reputations when it comes down values. So if you have a very high value card that you may want to sell at some point then consider choosing either of these two.

One of the most important things to know about Beckett Grading (BGS) is that they have a slightly different scale than PSA. For example, at the highest end of the scale, your card can grade either as a PSA 9 or PSA 10. But with Beckett it can be given a fractional grade of 9.5 if it is merited. 

I personally think this approach is far more helpful. Cards aren’t binary, it isn’t always a case of it being a 9 or a 10. There are often cases where the quality really can fall somewhere in the middle so these ‘half’ grades are very useful.

Before Feb 2008 all PSA grading was in whole numbers from 1 through to 10. Since Feb 2008 they included half grades for cards graded 1 through to 8 so you can have a PSA 8.5. You will never see a PSA 9.5 though.

What is the BGS Black Label 

The Beckett premium black label pristine 10 seems to hold more value and credibility than any of the grade 10 cards issued by other grading companies. This is because they’re known for being  incredibly strict with their grades.

Beckett introduced the Black Label in 2014. To achieve it then a perfect 10 has to be scored on all four sub grades. Of course very few cards achieve this grade so you can bet that if it is slabbed as a BGS Black Label then it really is the best of the best.

It is worth bearing in mind though that they won’t offer this grade for pre 1980 cards at present.

Alternatives to PSA and Beckett

Fortunately there are some other option available to you if you don’t have the budget or the patience for PSA or Beckett.

We have details below of a couple of other players on the grading scene that are definitely moving up the ranks.

HGAHybrid Grading Approach

The future of card grading may be moving toward a new and exciting digital format. One that promises better accuracy with less human error. 

The HGA Grading system has been trying to change the game by moving away from humans and towards software. 

Their unique concept of digital grading appeals to collectors with an eye for the future. 

The design of their slabs also match colors from card designs, so each slab will be more unique than others out there. Not just a standard type used by the other grading companies, but one that compliments your card and really makes it pop. 

HGA has quick turnaround times and affordable prices too that make them worth considering. 

The main benefit of automating their grading process with software is speed. So if what’s important is getting those grades done quickly without compromising quality too much then this could be a good option if you are working to tight timescales.

In the same way as Beckett and SGC (details below), their grading scale, is 1-10 with half grades as well.

SGC

SGC Grading has become a popular choice among collectors looking to grade their cards. The current quick turnaround time, as compared with PSA and Beckett make them an appealing alternative option for those who want a quicker process without sacrificing quality or authenticity of slabbing.

SGC Grading has established themselves among some of the favorite card grading companies. They offer an appealing alternative pricing system where customers pay based on card values, So the lower value, the lower your bill and the higher the overall value, the higher your bill.

They also use partial or half grades like Beckett. So you can have a 9.5 card rather than a 9.

The company has been able to stay quick and competitive by more than quadrupling their workforce during the 2020 trading card boom. This investment in staff is proving beneficial for them as they offer good turnaround times.

SGC Grading prices

Conclusion

Card grading companies like PSA continue to be incredibly popular. But they’re also occasionally running into bottleneck problems because of high volumes and high prices. 

These high volumes have created bigger lead times. Which is far from ideal for someone looking to grade and sell their cards in a hurry because they need to raise a few dollars quickly. The only way around this is to pay a premium price for a faster grading.

Luckily people can use credible alternatives that don’t require such long wait times or expensive rates!

The grading services listed above are all viable options to PSA. 

BGS has similar issues to PSA at times. Mainly because they’re also very well-known and established in their field of expertise. Also because there’s a pull with the potential to get your card graded as a black label pristine 10. (It is however incredibly rare for this to happen).

If you’re looking to increase the value of your cards by getting them graded quickly. It may be worth considering other options. 

HGA offer fast service along with digital software tools for more accuracy. The extra effort that goes into their slab designs also tick the box for a number of collectors.

Personally, if I had a good quality but lower value card, say sub $1000.  I wouldn’t be too obsessed which company I used.  Anything above that and it is either PSA or Beckett all the way for me!

Have you ever thought about becoming a card grader? Why not take a look at our guide on how to be a card grader here.

Bruno Breen
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