What is TCG Card Grading?

What is CCG

TCG card grading evaluates the condition, authenticity, and quality of Trading Card Game (TCG) cards. Offered by professional companies, this service aims to assess a card’s overall state and market value, aiding collectors and players in understanding their cards’ real worth.

How to Get a TCG Card Graded?

Card owners submit their TCG cards to companies like PSA and CGC, who then grade the cards based on their condition. The cards are graded on the following four aspects:


Centering: Centering refers to whether the image and borders of the card are correctly aligned in the center. If the image is off-center or the borders are uneven, it can lower the card’s grade.

Surface: The surface grade considers whether there are any flaws on the card’s surface, such as scratches, printing errors, stains, etc. A more smooth and clear surface usually receives a higher grade.

Corners: Corner grading focuses on whether the four corners of the card are intact, without obvious wear or damage. Cards with intact corners receive a higher grade.

Edges: Edge grading involves whether the four edges of the card are complete, without obvious wear or damage. Neat edges also contribute to a higher grade.

Why Grade TCG Cards?

There are several reasons for grading TCG cards, mainly including:


Authentication: Confirming Authenticity

  • Verifying Authenticity: A key purpose of grading is to verify the authenticity of the card. This is crucial for ensuring that the card is genuine and not a counterfeit, especially in the case of high-value and rare cards.
  • Avoiding Counterfeits:
  • Avoiding Counterfeits: As the TCG market evolves, counterfeits and replicas have become more common. Professional grading services can effectively differentiate between genuine and fake cards, protecting the interests of investors and collectors.

Protection: Preventing Damage

  • Physical Protection: The grading process often includes sealing the card in a protective sleeve, which helps prevent future damage, wear, or contamination, thereby maintaining the card’s original condition.
  • Maintaining Card Condition: For precious and valuable cards, keeping them in their best condition is crucial, and grading can serve as an effective protective measure.

Valuation: Determining Market Value

  • Market Value Fluctuations: The condition of a card can significantly impact its market value. Grading provides an objective quality benchmark, helping to determine the card’s market value.
  • Investment and Trading: For investors and traders, knowing the exact grade of their cards is crucial, as it directly affects the buying and selling price of the card and its long-term investment value.

Through professional TCG card grading, collectors and players can better understand the value of their cards, while ensuring their authenticity and protected condition, thereby making more informed decisions in collecting and trading.

Mainstream Grading Companies

There are several companies that specialize in TCG card grading. Some of the most prestigious include:

PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator)

PSA is the largest and most trusted autograph authentication service in the world. With over 35 million certified collectibles, PSA authenticates signatures from sports to history and entertainment.

BGS (Beckett Grading Services)

Beckett is the most trusted brand in the grading industry. Readers of Card Trade have voted Beckett Grading as the ‘Best Grading Service’ in the world for six consecutive years.

CGC (Certified Guaranty Company)

CGC Cards is a professional, impartial, and efficient third-party certification, grading, and encapsulation service that caters to TCG, sports, and non-sports cards.

Comparing Grading Standards Across Different Rating Companies

What is PSA TCG Card Grading Standard?

PSA TCG Card Grading Scale

PSA 10PSA 10 (GEM-MT): Nearly flawless card with sharp corners, precise focus, and full gloss. Minor printing issues are acceptable. Front centering must be 55/45 to 60/40, and back centering 75/25.
PSA 9  PSA 9 (MINT): Excellent condition card with minimal flaws like a slight wax stain on the back, minor printing imperfections, or slightly off-white borders. Front centering must be 60/40 to 65/35, and back centering 90/10.
PSA 8  PSA 8 (NM-MT): High-quality card similar to PSA 9 but may have slight wax stains, minor corner fraying, minor printing imperfections, or slightly off-white borders. Front centering must be 65/35 to 70/30, and back centering 90/10.
PSA 7  PSA 7 (NM): Card with slight surface wear upon close inspection. May have minor corner fraying, slightly off-register focus, minor printing blemish, or wax stains on the back. Retains most gloss. Front centering must be 70/30 to 75/25, and back centering 90/10.
PSA 6  PSA 6 (EX-MT): Card may display surface wear or printing defects but still looks good. Very light scratches visible upon close inspection. Slight corner fraying. Minor loss of gloss, minor wax stains on the back, slight edge notching, and off-white borders. Front centering must be 80/20 or better, and back centering 90/10.
PSA 5PSA 5 (EX): Card with more obvious corner rounding, visible surface wear, and printing defects. Minor edge chipping. Loss of gloss more noticeable. Slight focus misalignment. Several light scratches upon close inspection. Off-white borders. Front centering must be 85/15 or better, and back centering 90/10.  
PSA 4PSA 4 (VG-EX): Corners may be slightly rounded. Noticeable but modest surface wear. Light scuffs or scratches. Some gloss retained. Slightly off-white borders. Light creases may be visible. Front centering must be 85/15 or better, and back centering 90/10.  
PSA 3PSA 3 (VG): Corners more rounded, with surface wear, scuffs, or scratches. Focus somewhat off-register, and edges show noticeable wear. Most gloss lost. Borders may be yellowed or discolored. Possible printing defects. Stains on the front and more prominent wax stains on the back. Front and back centering must be 90/10 or better.
PSA 2PSA 2 (GOOD): Corners significantly rounded, obvious surface wear. Scratching, scuffing, staining, or chipping on the front. Several creases. Gloss may be entirely absent. Considerable discoloration. Front and back centering must be 90/10 or better.
PSA 1.5PSA 1.5 (FR): Heavy corner wear, affecting picture framing. Advanced surface wear, including scuffs, scratches, and staining. Focus may be significantly off-register. Borders may be brown and dirty. Heavy creases. Card must be fully intact despite wear. No missing pieces. Front and back centering approximately 90/10 or better.
PSA 1PSA 1 (PR): Similar to PSA 1.5 but with more severe flaws that greatly reduce the card’s appeal. May have missing pieces, significant creases, extreme discoloration, or noticeable warping. Centering must be 90/10 or better.
HALF-POINTHALF-POINT: Cards with high-end qualities within each grade, between PSA 2 and PSA 9, may get a half-point increase. Focus on centering.
AUTHENTIC   N0  AUTHENTIC: PSA certifies the item as genuine without a numerical grade. May be due to alterations, major defects, or per submitter’s request for no grade. Interchangeable with ‘Authentic Altered’.
ALTERED AUTHENTIC   AA  ALTERED AUTHENTIC (AA): Genuine item with alterations preventing a numerical grade. Evidence of trimming, recoloring, restoration, and/or cleaning. Used on a case-by-case basis. Interchangeable with ‘Authentic’.

What is a PSA Half-Point Grade?

The PSA half-point grading system by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) offers more precise grading by including half grades like 8.5 or 9.5, besides whole grades like 8, 9, 10. This system is especially useful for cards that fall between two whole grades, allowing a more accurate reflection of the card’s condition. For instance, a card between PSA 8 (Very Good) and PSA 9 (Gem Mint) might be graded as PSA 8.5, offering a finer assessment of its condition and value. These half grades can enhance a card’s market value by providing a better quality indication than the adjacent whole grades.

What is a PSA Qualifier?

A ‘PSA Qualifier’ is a unique mark a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) gives to indicate that a TCG card or sports memorabilia has significant but not critical flaws. These flaws don’t lower the overall grade but can affect its visual appeal or collectible value. For example, a baseball card graded ‘PSA 8(Q)’ means it’s of 8-grade quality but has a notable issue like a scratch or stain, thus the ‘Q’ mark. This system helps collectors and traders better assess cards with minor imperfections.

What is a PSA Authenticated Card?

A PSA Authenticated Card is a trading card verified as genuine by a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). When a TCG card or sports memorabilia is sent to PSA, its authenticity is first confirmed. The card is marked as ‘Authenticated’ if found to be authentic and unaltered. Such cards may not receive a specific grade, often due to conditions not meeting PSA’s grading criteria or if the owner requests only authenticity verification. This service is valuable for collectors with old, rare, or less-than-perfect cards, providing official proof of authenticity even if the cards can’t achieve high grades.

What is BGS TCG Card Grading Standard?

BGS TCG Card Grading Scale

Pristine 10Perfectly centered front and back. Corners and edges are sharp and flawless under magnification. Surface is pristine with no print spots or imperfections.
Gem Mint 9.Near-perfect centering. Corners and edges are almost mint with minimal imperfections. Surface is almost flawless with very minor print spots.
Mint 9Well-centered with slight allowances in balance. Corners and edges are mint with minimal wear. Surface may have minor print spots and tiny scratches.
Near Mint/Mint 8Good centering, though slightly off. Corners and edges are sharp with slight imperfections. Surface has minor print spots and very minor scratches.
Near Mint 7Centering is slightly off but acceptable. Corners show very minor wear. Edges and surface have slight roughness or minor imperfections.
Excellent Mint 6Centering is moderately off. Corners are slightly fuzzy. Edges show moderate roughness or chipping. Surface has noticeable print spots and minor discoloration.
Excellent 5  Centering is more off-balance. Corners are fuzzy, and edges are noticeably rough. Surface shows noticeable print spots and discoloration.
Very Good/Excellent – 4  Off-centered, with corners showing slight notching or layering. Edges are chipped or notched. Surface has heavy print spots and moderate imperfections.
Very Good 3  Centering is more noticeably off. Corners are rounded or notched. Edges show heavy notching or chipping. Surface has heavy print spots and noticeable imperfections.
Good 2  Significantly off-center. Corners are rounded or heavily notched. Edges are severely chipped. Surface shows severe print spots and noticeable imperfections.
Poor 1Extremely off-center or mis-cut. Corners and edges are heavily rounded or notched with severe damage. Surface has severe print spots, heavy creases, and severe discoloration.

Half-Point Grades

Please note that Beckett Grading Services provides final grades in half-point increments (i.e., 10, 9.5, 9, 8.5 etc.). Cards that are assigned a grade with a half-point increment typically share characteristics from both the level above and the level below the actual grade given.

BGS Autograph Grading Scale (5 through 10):

10A nearly perfect autograph with bold, clean lines, appearing almost flawless to the naked eye. It’s aesthetically pleasing with no major detractions.
9A very attractive signature with slight imperfections such as minimal bubbling or tiny scratches. No yellowing, fading, or smearing, and excellent positioning with minimal letter cutoff.
8Visible but minor flaws; the signature is overall solid but may show some bubbling or minor scuffing. Slight discoloration like light yellowing or fading is permissible, with up to 10% of the signature slightly obscured.
7More pronounced flaws such as heavy bubbling, noticeable scratching, and minor ink smearing. Up to 20% of the signature may be obscured, affecting its visual appeal but still recognizable.
6Significant flaws that are easily visible and distracting, including substantial bubbling or severe scratching. Up to 35% of the signature may be obscured, with noticeable fading or smearing, affecting the legibility of the autograph.
5Extremely flawed autograph with parts completely missing or invisible, extensive scratching, and severe yellowing or fading. More than 50% of the signature may be missing or obscured, significantly impacting the overall look and legibility.

What is CGC TCG Card Grading Standard?

CGC TCG Card Grading Scale

Pristine 10Virtually flawless, 50/50 centering, perfect color and registration. Special CGC Pristine 10 label for top-grade cards.
Gem Mint 10Overall grade 10, but with a slight deviation from Pristine 10. Perfect corners to the naked eye, excellent surface and gloss. Centering near-perfect, with 55/45 front and 75/25 back.
Mint+ 9.5Displays exceptional appeal for a Mint card. Outstanding centering, surface, and key qualities elevating it to Mint+.
Mint 9Sharp corners with minor wear. Slight edge flaws allowed. Original gloss with minor defects permitted. For TCG, a few minor manufacturing or handling defects allowed. Centering 60/40 front, 90/10 back for sports/non-sports cards.
NM/Mint+ 8.5Smooth edges with minor wear. Original color and gloss. Slight imperfections in corners, print spots, or image focus allowed. Very slight diamond cut permissible. Small handling defects for TCG cards.
NM/Mint 8Similar to 8.5, with smooth edges and original color. Minor flaws in corners, print spots, or focus. Slight diamond cut allowed. Small-to-moderate handling defects for TCG.
Near Mint+ 7.5Slight wear on corners or edges. Image slightly out of register. Slight diamond cut and wax staining on reverse allowed. Moderate TCG defects permissible. Centering 65/35 allowed.
Near Mint 7Wear on corners/edges more apparent. Slightly out-of-register image. Slight diamond cut and wax staining on reverse. Centering 70/30 or better.
Ex/NM+ 6.5One slightly dinged corner or minor flaws like fuzzy corners, rough edges, print spots. Moderate diamond cut and light wax staining on front acceptable.
Ex/NM 6Similar to 6.5, but with slightly more pronounced flaws. Centering no worse than 75/25.
Excellent+ 5.5Light fuzziness and minor rounding on corners. Some edge chipping, minor discoloration, and print/color imperfections.
Excellent 5Similar to 5.5 but with two to three dinged corners. Scratch-off surfaces may have coating removed.
VG/Ex+ 4.5Slight rounding on corners. Scuffing, scratches, and one light crease allowed. Some original gloss, off-white borders, and minor staining. Centering 85/15.
VG/Ex 4Similar to 4.5, with noticeable surface flaws and creases. Extremely noticeable diamond cut allowed.
Very Good+ 3.5Rounded corners, moderate surface creases, scuffing, and gloss loss. Moderate wear and staining. Centering 90/10.
Very Good 3Similar to 3.5, with heavier staining on both sides.
Good+ 2.5Heavier creasing not spanning the entire surface. Small writing marks on back. Extremely heavy diamond cut allowed.
Good 2Heavy creasing across the surface. Small writing marks and heavy diamond cut allowed.
Fair 1.5One major flaw like a staple hole, surface loss, severe creasing, or writing. Possible miscut.
Poor 1Major surface damage, severe creasing, or missing portions. Multiple catastrophic flaws.

CGC Autograph Grades

Autographs are graded on a 5 to 10 scale with no half grades. Below are CGC Cards’ Autograph grading standards:

10Nearly perfect signature, bold and aesthetically pleasing with minimal imperfections. A light streak in the signature is acceptable.
9Slight imperfection in an otherwise pleasing signature. Acceptable flaws include two light streaks, minor ink splattering, very minor scratching, slight variance in boldness, signature running off the card or sticker, or tiny ink spots elsewhere on the card.
8Solid signature with more noticeable defects like light bleeding, evident skips, heavier streaking, visible yellowing, or slight fading or smearing. The signature may run off in multiple areas.
7Multiple evident flaws such as noticeable yellowing, smeared or fading ink. Up to 20% of the signature may be missing, especially in sticker/cut autographs. The signature may bleed onto the edge in three or more areas.
6Complete but heavily flawed signature, with issues like significant smearing, heavy skipping or bleeding, or substantial yellowing or fading. Up to 35% of the signature may be missing in sticker/cut autographs. The signature may run off the card or bleed onto the edge.
5The signature shows aging, no longer bold, and has heavy flaws that diminish its appeal. Massive fading and yellowing, smeared ink or blemishes are evident. Up to 50% of the signature may be missing in sticker/cut autographs, with several letters missing as they have run off the card or bled onto the edge.

The scoring criteria for CGC cards has been updated

Legacy GradeUpdated Grade
CGC Trading Cards Gem Mint 9.5CGC Cards Gem Mint 10
CSG Gem Mint 9.5CGC Cards Gem Mint 10
CGC Trading Cards Perfect 10Retired grade; retains Perfect 10 status
CSG Perfect 10Retired grade; retains Perfect 10 status

Grading Process

The grading process typically involves the following steps:

Authentication: Confirming the authenticity of the card.

Visual Inspection: Checking the card’s surface, corners, edges, and centering.

Grading: Assigning a grade on a scale, usually ranging from 1 (poor) to 10 (gem mint).

Encapsulation: Sealing the card with its grade in a protective case.

Grading Standards:

Graders consider factors like centering, surface flaws, corners, edges, and overall appearance when determining the card’s grade. The fewer the flaws, the higher the grade.

Grading Fees

The cost of grading varies depending on the grading company, the value of the card, and the level of service (e.g., regular, express). For specific prices, please contact the grading company.

PSA Fee Structure

PSA’s pricing varies based on the value of the card.

QuantityCard ValueFeeTurnaround time
20+$199 or less$15/Card    65 Business Days
$499 or less$19/Card
$40/Card20 Business Days
$1,499 or less$75/Card10 Business Days
$2,499 or less$150/Card5 Business Days
$4,999 or less$300/Card3 Business Days
$9,999 or less$600/Card
$24,999 or less$1000/Card
$49,999 or less$2000/Card
$99,999 or less$3000/Card
$249,999 or less$5000/Card
$250,000 or higher$10000/Card

**Turnaround Time is an Estimate Only

**For the Value Bulk ($19/card, up to $499 Declared Value) and Value ($25/card, up to $499 Declared Value) service levels, if PSA finds the card’s Declared Value is actually $500 to $999, not $499 or less as estimated, the charge will be $40 instead of the higher $75 rate for that card.

BGS Fee Rules

All cards are assessed the same authentication fee by BGS, with charges determined solely by turnaround time and whether grading is required.

Turnaround timeGrading$/card(subgrades)$/card (without subgrades)
60 business daysCollectors’ Special18$16$
10-20 business daysStandard40$30$
10 business daysExpress100$80$
2-5 business daysPriority140$100$

CGC Fee Rules

The charges for CGC grading are determined by the card’s value and various additional options. Unlike PSA, the maximum charge at CGC based on the card’s value is $150 (without additional options), and membership discounts are available (10% for standard members, 20% for premium members).

 MAX value($)/card$/cardTurnaround time
Greater than or equal to 25 cards, which can be a mix of any card types.$250$1245 business days
Single card.  $1000$1525 business days
EX card$10,000$503 business days
WK cardUnlimited$1503 business days

Additional Options

 $/cardTurnaround time
AutographTier + $2Same as tier
PedigreeTier + $5
ErrorTier + $0
CGC Cards ReHolders(single card does not exceed $10,000 USD)+$1030 business days
CGC Cards ReHolders(Unlimited)+$30

Impact on Value


Market Value of High-Grade TCG Cards

In the TCG card market, high-grade cards usually possess a higher value, especially for those that are rare or of special historical significance.

Considerations for Investment and Collecting

For investors and collectors, high-grade cards are valuable assets in their collection, capable of maintaining or even appreciating in value over time.

Market and Research


Understanding current market trends is crucial when deciding whether to grade cards. Graded TCG cards are often traded on online markets like eBay or in specialized TCG card shops, with different grades commanding varying market demand and prices.

Research Before Grading

Before sending cards for grading, researching the specific grading company’s standards, fees, and the potential market value of the card is key. This helps in making more informed decisions and ensuring maximum return on investment.

Collecting Goals


Strategic Considerations for Grading

When deciding whether to grade a card, considering personal collecting goals and strategies is essential. Depending on the card’s condition, rarity, and personal collecting goals, grading might enhance its value or may be unnecessary.

Personal Collecting vs. Investment

The decision to grade can vary among collectors and investors. Some may value the emotional significance of a card, while others focus on long-term market value and investment returns.

custom TCG cards

What is Custom TCG Cards

In the realm of TCG (Trading Card Game), custom TCG cards offer a unique experience distinct from mass-produced standard cards. These cards are tailor-made by professional TCG card manufacturers to meet individual or specific thematic requirements.

Definition and Characteristics

Custom TCG cards are specially designed and produced to cater to the specific needs of customers. These cards often feature unique designs, artworks, and content specified by the customer. Their primary distinction from standard cards lies in the level of personalization and specialization, which can include customer-specific images, text, and game mechanics.

The Production Process of Custom Cards

The production of custom TCG cards involves multiple steps, from initial design to final printing. This process typically starts with the customer’s creative concept, which is then refined and realized by the design team of professional custom TCG card manufacturers. Throughout the process, emphasis is placed on the quality and details of the cards, ensuring that the final product not only meets the customer’s expectations but also complies with industry standards.

Applications and Audience for Custom Cards

Custom TCG cards find applications in various scenarios, including personal collections, special event souvenirs, promotional items, or educational tools. They attract a diverse audience, ranging from hardcore gamers to occasional card game enthusiasts, and even non-gamers who might be interested in custom cards.

The Relationship Between Customization and Grading

In the TCG card grading field, custom cards may face unique grading challenges. Due to their non-standardized features, custom cards may require additional consideration during traditional grading. However, high-quality custom cards can still receive high grades from professional grading organizations, which can significantly enhance their market recognition and value.

Our Customization Services Introduction

As a professional TCG card manufacturer, we at ChenSheng offer a high level of customization services, including a full range of services from creative consultation to the final product. Our design team focuses on creating visually appealing and durable cards while ensuring balance and fairness in their gameplay. Our customization portfolio covers everything from commemorative cards to completely original game series and a variety of private custom TCG cards. Each piece is a testament to our commitment to excellence in quality and innovative design.

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