The Best Card Grading Companies: A Collector’s Survey

best-grading-companiesWe’ve written extensively about sports card grading and many of the controversies that have surrounded the space.

With the explosion in demand for card grading, collectors have faced long wait times and higher prices.

I felt like it was a good time to get a pulse of the collector community to get opinions on the best grading companies.

Let’s face it, a lot has changed, and new competitors have come into the market.

In what follows, I provide the results of our 2021 Sports Grading Collectors survey while also providing some of my experiences with the different grading companies. 

Our survey focused on four grading companies: PSA, SGC, Beckett and newcomer CSG.  Note that we provided collectors with the option to add other grading companies if desired, but none of the submitted answers made a difference in the results 

The focus of our survey was on five major areas that should be of importance to collectors: Accuracy, Value, Trustworthiness, Customer Support, and Breadth Of Data Available To Collectors

We queried over 500 collectors in the survey. 

Here are the results:

Even despite some past hiccups, PSA has proven to be the most desired grading company in the business. PSA is the collector's choice in four of the five overall categories - Accuracy, Trustworthiness, Customer Support, and Data Quality/Availability. SGC got the not from the collectors in terms of overall card grading value. 

best-grader-psa

Best Grading Company - Overall Card Grading Accuracy: PSA

Collectors overall believe that PSA to be the most accurate among all of the grading companies. This didn’t surprise me, given the premium that PSA cards sell for in the market

However, PSA has certainly swung and missed in the past, so it appears collectors in 2021 are now overlooking more recent negative headlines. 

Card Grading Accuracy Runner Up: SGC

Best Grading Company - Trustworthiness: PSA

My how things can change so quickly. In our 2020 'State Of The Hobby' card grading survey, collectors chose SGC as the most Trustworthy grader in the hobby. This survey came shortly after the PSA/PWCC/Moser trimming scandal, so there was still a lot of negativity surrounding PSA at the time.

PSA has made a lot of changes since then; notably getting acquired by a private equity shop, while instituting some serious changes at the top of the house.

SGC is still considered a very trustworthy grader by collectors and finished as the runner up for this category. 

Card Grading Trustworthiness Runner Up: SGC

Best Grading Company - Customer Support: PSA

Collectors view PSA as having the best customer support among all of the grading companies. I wasn't shocked by this result, as PSA is the biggest grading company from an employee perspective and despite being the largest grader, has the largest customer support system in place. 

Card Grading Trustworthiness Runner Up: SGC

Best Grading Company - Data Quality/Availability: PSA

Collectors view PSA as also having the best overall data quality and availability. The PSA registries, along with the robust PSA Population Reports and Auction Price Results (APR) put PSA heads and tails above the competition in terms of overall data availability. In fact, I'd argue that it is this data availability which has helped PSA pole vault to the head of the class in the sports card grading industry. 

Card Grading Data Quality/Availability Runner Up: Beckett

Best Grading Company - Overall Value: SGC

sgc-best-value

So not a clean sweep for PSA, as SGC wins the category for Overall Value.

This result might have differed if we had surveyed the hobby a few years ago when PSA still offered discounted rates, but today, the minimum grading price for any PSA card is $150.  

SGC is now the hobby's most affordable grading company.  (Pro Tip - use our Sports Card Grading Calculator to see if your card is worth grading.)

I totally agree with this decision, as the affordability of SGC relative to PSA makes SGC a no brainer in terms of card submissions, especially for older, vintage cards.

If you haven't filled out our survey yet, feel free to do so.  And if you have any thoughts on the results, feel free to submit your comments below. 

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