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How To Grade Sports Cards – The Best Step-By-Step Guide

I’ve graded hundreds of cards in the last few years and have maintained a high gem rate over that time. On my social media accounts, regularly get asked questions about the card grading process, from “how much does it cost to grade cards” to “How to assess whether it makes sense to get a card graded” to “How to clean and prepare cards for submission”.

Looking back at the first time I submitted cards to PSA, I had so many questions but no one to ask them to. My goal with this page will be to distill the process and help give you the confidence to submit your first batch of sports cards for grading. And if you’ve already graded cards, I hope the information I share will help to increase your own gem rate.

After reading through this guide, you will have both the knowledge and confidence to start the process of grading cards in your collection.

Alright, let’s begin!

The Key Steps To Grading Sports Cards

This guide to grading cards is targeted at collectors who are submitting cards for grading for the first time. We’ll cover the key steps to grading cards, namely:

  1. How to select cards for grading
  2. How to prepare your cards for grading
  3. How to submit your card grading order
  4. How to ship your cards safely and securely for grading

Chapter 1: How to select which cards to grade

Also known as, How to make sure it makes sense to get your cards graded.

This section will cover:

  • Calculating the ROI (Return on Investment) of getting your sports cards graded – If you’re planning to sell these cards, will you be able to sell at a profit?
  • Assessing the condition of your sports cards – Do they stand a chance of achieving the grades you want?

Ready? Let’s jump into Chapter 1: How to select cards for grading.

Chapter 2: How to prepare your cards for grading

This section will cover:

  • Cleaning your cards for grading – from as basic as using a microfibre cloth to gently wipe the surface to more complex card cleaning techniques.

Read Chapter 2: How to prepare your cards for grading.

Chapter 3: How to submit your card grading order

This section will cover:

  • Filling out the online grading order forms – we’ll provide walk throughs for each of the popular card grading companies.
  • Handling exception cases like:
    • What to do if your card doesn’t come up when you search the grading company’s database.
    • Not knowing what parallel card you’re submitting.
    • Submitting autographed cards.

Read Chapter 3: How to SUBMIT your card grading order. COMING SOON!

Chapter 4: How to ship your cards safely and securely

This section will cover:

  • Using the right protection for your cards – we want to be using semi-rigid holders, not top loaders usually.
  • Wrapping your cards with extra protection – cardboard, bubble wrap, that sort of stuff.
  • Selecting an appropriate shipping provider – we’ll also dig into insurance, as it’s a bit more complicated than people think.

Read Chapter 4: How to ship your cards safely and securely for grading.

Were there topics that you’d like me to dig into deeper? Feel free to reach out to me using the contact form below!

    Rory Hansen

    Rory Hansen is a San Diego-based sports card collector and social media influencer. Considered an expert in the process of grading sports cards, he regularly advises other collectors on how to assess, prepare and submit cards for grading. Originally from Canada and now living in the US, Rory collects both hockey cards and baseball cards. His personal collection focuses on Shohei Ohtani, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, Pavel Bure, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo.