The 3 Best Pokémon Card Appraisal Services Available in 2022
Introduced in 1996, Pokémon cards quickly took over the trading card game scene. While their popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, Pokémon cards have experienced a renaissance since the pandemic. This resurgence is big news for enthusiasts, making it more important than ever to use Pokémon card appraisal services to help them understand the value of their collections. This article unpacks that process, explaining exactly how and where to get Pokémon cards appraised in 2022.
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What is Pokémon Card Appraisal, and Is It Worth It?
Pokémon card appraisal is the process of getting your collectibles assessed by experts to estimate their market value. The cornerstone of this process is grading, which is a thorough examination of your cards by seasoned trading card experts. After grading, you can either pay for a formal appraisal or consult a pricing guide to value your cards.
The grading and appraisal process is worthwhile for a few reasons. First, it can help you get a clear sense of the value of your collection, so you can decide whether you want to sell certain items, take out insurance, etc. Second, having a collectible carefully evaluated by an objective third party removes any doubt from a trade, making buying and selling these items much more straightforward.
Where to Appraise Pokémon Cards: Top 3 Services
Professional Sports Authenticators
When it comes to trading card grading and appraisal, Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Founded in 1991, the organization is the most authoritative name in the industry. Over the last three decades, their team of highly trained experts has analyzed over 40 million cards at a combined value of over one billion dollars.
There are two paths to getting your Pokémon cards appraised through PSA, but they both start with getting your cards graded. To do this, you need to send in your cards by mail to PSA. Once they’ve arrived, PSA’s team vets the cards for authenticity, alteration status, and, finally, condition. After examination, the cards are sealed in individual cases, called slabs, with small labels containing several essential bits of information. The most notable detail is the grade, which is a rating that establishes the card’s condition out of ten. With the grading out of the way, you can now get the price for your cards by getting them appraised by PSA’s experts or by looking up their price yourself via their online pricing guide.
● If you get your cards professionally appraised, they’ll come back with a “Certificate of Appraisal.” This detailed report includes the examination date, the item’s condition, its value according to verified market data, etc. This option is ideal for the highest value items, as they make insuring your collectibles easier.
● If you use their pricing guide, you’ll get an immediate sense of the item’s value. The guide contains pricing broken down by PSA grade, so you can be confident that the values you see are realistic and should inform the sale price — should you decide to go that route.
For most collectors, PSA is the most desirable and trusted brand. But this brand name recognition comes with some downsides, one of which being that it can take an extremely long time for PSA to complete the grading process. As of the date of this writing, there are still cards submitted back in March 2021 that have yet to be returned to their owners.
Beckett Grading Services
If PSA is the king of the world of trading card grading and appraisal, Beckett Grading Services is not far from the throne. Beckett’s process is very similar to PSAs, but it’s made a name for itself by putting a unique twist on the grading system and through its coveted black label grade.
● Unique grading system: Although Beckett still uses the industry-standard 1 to 10 system, they add extra precision with the inclusion of half-point grades. For example, each PSA vetted card can only be awarded a whole number grade like 7, 8, 9, or 10. On the other hand, Beckett can assign cards grades like 7.5 and 9.5, improving the granularity of the final score.
● Rare black label: While the standard, PSA’s labels are fairly bland and add little to the aesthetic of Pokémon collectibles. Beckett’s graded cards, however, feature much more appealing labels — especially those that earn the coveted grade 10. These feature a beautiful black label with gold lettering that truly adds to the mystique of any card.
Unfortunately, Beckett does not currently offer direct appraisal services. But, like PSA, they do have a pricing guide that can serve as a trustworthy Pokémon card appraisal website once you’ve had your cards graded.
Certified Guaranty Company
Known primarily for comic book grading, Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) has rapidly taken market share from PSA and Beckett by offering a few unique features.
● Affordability: CGC is markedly less expensive than the other big names in trading card grading, with starting prices per card as low as $15. For comparison, the absolute lowest you’ll pay for grading per card with PSA is $50. This affordability makes CGC a strong choice for those Pokémon cards whose value you’re not very confident in, but you’d still like to have assessed.
● Processing speed: If turnaround time is a concern, CGC is probably the way to go. The company has a serious commitment to speed — and is well known among enthusiasts as the fastest in the business.
● Internal regulations: To ensure analysts remain entirely objective throughout the process, CGC card graders are barred from participating in the collectible market. They cannot buy or sell any Pokémon cards during their time with the company, meaning they have no stake in the value or condition of anything they examine.
But these advantages come with some downsides.
● Incomplete offering: First, CGC doesn’t offer appraisal services and doesn’t have a Pokémon card pricing guide. This shortfall in their offering means that you’ll have to consult another resource after the grading process is complete to arrive at an estimated value. But, because they use the industry-standard 10-point scale, you can use other references with a healthy degree of confidence.
● Name recognition: In the world of collectibles, reputation is very nearly everything. While CGC’s evaluation standards are comparable to PSA’s and Beckett’s, their brand name is not.