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The age-old question among card collectors is which grading service to choose to grade their cards: PSA or Beckett (BGS)?
Card owners prefer to have their cards graded by a professional grading service, which can add value and provide authenticity to their cards. But too many of them tend to overthink the choice between PSA vs Beckett – although it’s understandable.
These services will check everything about your cards including the coloring, the condition of the cards, their authenticity, and it makes your cards more sellable because people will trust you that you have the real deal in your hands.
To help you make your decision easier, I’ve compiled a complete guide and comparison between PSA and Beckett. Read on to find out more.
Before We Start…Quick Verdict
PSA is one of the most popular grading services, and it’s been in the game for decades now. They’re known for providing a bit more expensive service but it also takes longer for them to grade their cards.
However, PSA-graded cards almost always sell better and for more than those graded by BGS. They’re especially great for vintage cards of great value, and it’s easier to get higher grades with PSA than it is with BGS. Another positive thing to mention is the PSA registry where collectors can organize their sets and connect with other collectors.
On the other hand, BGS (Beckett) has some advantages going for it, too. It’s cheaper and (usually) faster than PSA. It has the sub-grading system in place, so you can get a score of 9.5, for example. This can be a double-edged sword for some, but it makes for more accurate grading. BGS is preferred for newer cards mostly.
However, Beckett is tougher on grading and a BGS 9.5 is just not as good as a PSA 10 or even PSA 9. Plus, the BGS cardholders are slightly bigger than PSA’s holders, which might become a problem for those who don’t have a lot of space.
This is just a short verdict in a nutshell… To find out more about these two services in detail, read my review of each of them.
What is PSA?
PSA, or the Professional Sports Authenticator, is a US third-party grading company that’s been in the business since 1991. On their website, they say they’ve authenticated and graded over 40 million cards worth over a billion dollars.
They have a good track record when it comes to vintage cards with a lot of value. Some of their most famous graded cards include some cards that went for several millions of dollars. They’re seen as the experts for grading older cards, although they’re also pretty reliable when it comes to newer cards.
Card collectors from all over the world use the PSA for grading sports cards, Pokemon cards, Yugi-Oh, and several other types of cards. But they also grade other sports accessories and memorabilia, such as tickets, vintage collectibles, and just about everything that’s considered historic.
PSA also has the PSA registry, where card collectors can compare their sets with other collectors, complete their sets, and earn rewards through the points they can earn with their sets. It’s a nice environment that creates loyalty to PSA and where collectors can show off their sets and compete with others.
How do PSA Grade Their Cards?
To help you understand why PSA-graded cards are worth so much, let’s go over how they grade their cards and their grading system.
They employ a simple grading scale that spans from 1-10:
PR 1 (Poor)
FR 1.5 (Fair)
VG 3 (Very Good)
VG-EX 4 (Very Good – Excellent)
EX 5 (Excellent)
EX-MT 6 (Excellent-Mint)
NM 7 (Near Mint)
NM-MT 8 (Near Mint-Mint)
GEM-MT 10 (GEM-MT)
Now, the higher grades mean that the cards are in better condition than lower-graded cards. This increases their value massively, and it helps potential buyers know what shape the cards are in, and if they’re worth buying. Also, higher PSA grades almost always dictate higher prices than BGS high grades.
There is a lack of half-grades like with BGS, though. This means that there can be some frustration if you feel your card deserves a 10, but only receives a 9, for example. However, a PSA 9 card is almost always worth more than a BGS 9.5, for instance.
PSA grades their cards based on some strict requirements and qualifiers.
PSA Grading Requirements
Here are the factors PSA considers when they grade your cards.
- Off-Center (OC) – if a card is not centered, it will decrease in rating and as a consequence, in value
- Staining (ST) – older cards can get stained, which can influence the value of the card. Cards that have staining normally receive lower PSA grades. This is normally seen as small white dots on cards
- Out of Focus (OF) – if the card is out of focus, which means the printing is not pristine, then it will receive a lower grade. This is more often seen with older cards and very rarely with new cards
- Marks (MK) – they’ll check whether there are any marks on the cards, such as ink or other potential defects
- Miscut (MC) – if the card itself is miscut, it means that they’re either too big or too small, so they’ll look at the card as a whole to determine this. Sometimes, this is tough to spot due to intricate card alterations
This is a pretty detailed list of requirements and criteria, which means that the grading is thorough and for the most part, accurate.
PSA Grading Prices
Prices can also help you determine which service you’ll use. The lowest price with PSA is $10/card for the Value option, although this can take ages to complete. If you want your card to be graded in 15 business days, then it’ll cost you $75/card.
The most expensive grading service is $500/card, which is done in just one business day, and it’s for cards worth up to $9.999.
For premium cards of higher value, the service costs even more. It can cost anywhere from $1000 per card and up to $5000 per card, depending on its value. You’ll only pay $5.000 if the card’s value is expected to be $100.000 or over.
So for standard card collectors, the grading service will cost anywhere between $10 per card and up to $500 per card, depending on the value of the card and the grading times.
- PSA-graded cards are normally worth more than BGS-graded cards due to their reputation and because of the higher costs of valuations
- PSA is quite accurate when it comes to grading their cards
You can trust them if you have high-value cards, especially historic ones
- It’s easier to get higher grades with PSA, normally
- The PSA set registry allows collectors to show off their collections, complete their sets, and compete with other collectors
- They have a proven track record with more than 40 million cards and items graded
- Their grading costs more than BGS
- It takes longer for them to get back to you
- There are no sub-grades such as 9.5, which can feel harsh if you have a 9 and you feel it’s closer to 10
- The labels on the cases are not eye-catching for higher-graded items, like BGS labels
What is BGS (Beckett)?
Beckett was established some 30 years ago by Dr. James Beckett, but initially as the Beckett baseball magazine. Some years after the first issue of the magazine, it started including the Sport Americana Baseball Card Pricing Guide, which helped hobbyists establish prices of their baseball cards.
Fast forward to today, and Beckett is one of the largest grading services. These were only started back in 1999, which gave collectors an easy way to have their cards graded instead of just referring to the pricing guide, which centralized the grading.
They face strong competition from PSA, so it’s normal to see many PSA vs Beckett comparisons. The general consensus seems to be that BGS is a bit cheaper and faster than PSA, and it’s also the preferred option for newer, modern cards. Most of their services include collectible cards, but also other types of collectibles.
BGS uses an algorithm to help them determine the grade of the card. They’re also known for sub-grades, so for instance, they have grades such as 9.5 or 8.5, which allows for more accurate grading.
Let’s see how BGS grades your cards.
How Does BGS Grade Their Cards?
BGS uses a grading scale to help them determine the quality of the card and their state. The descriptors are largely the same as the PSA descriptors. Here’s what it looks like:
1 – Poor
1.5 – Fair
2 – Good
2.5 – G+
3 – VG
3.5 – VG+
4 – VG-EX
5 – EX
5.5 – EX+
6 – EX-NM
6.5 – EX-NM+
7 – NM
7.5 – NM+
8 – NM-M
8.5 – NM-M+
9 – MT
9.5 – GEM-MT
As you may see, the BGS grading system is far more complex than the PSA one. However, this can help them establish the quality of the cards in more detail. Additionally, cards are assorted with the help of labels, which helps higher-graded cards stand out. Gold and black labels are given to 9.5 and 10 cards, while 8.5 to 9 cards receive a silver label.
The labeling of BGS is often preferred to PSA’s labeling (which is generic, even for higher-graded cards). Additionally, the sub-grades will be more beneficial for those whose cards are stuck between certain grades where giving them a 9 instead of a 10 feels harsh.
BGS Grading Requirements
The BGS grading requirements are a bit stricter than PSA’s. They say they punish corners the most, although there are other criteria they’ll take a look at.
- Centering. This refers to the width of the border, which influences whether a card is “centered” or not. Ideally, the borders should be of the same width on all sides
- Corners. BGS says they’re especially harsh and strict with corners. Normally, cards with sharp corners will get the highest grades, while cards with bent or weak corners will receive lower grades. This is one of the first things you should look at if you buy and grade cards yourself
- Edges. Some edges tend to have dinks or small dents, so BGS look for straight and sharp edges for the highest grades
- Surface. This refers to the condition of the card as a whole. If the card is stained and if the color is faded, then it will get lower grades, while cards that are kept in almost the original condition tend to score better
- Autographs. Obviously, they’ll check the authenticity of the autographs as well as their condition – is it faded or does it look original?
Their approach to grading cars is highly methodological, and it makes them the go-to option for newer cards especially. However, lately, BGS has been earning a lot of popularity for pre-war cards, too.
Beckett Grading Prices
The BGS grading service offers four pricing tiers: Economy, Standard, Express, and Premium.
- Economy grading will cost anywhere between $10-30 per card – if you send more cards at once, it will cost you closer to $10 per card (for 100+ cards)
- Standard costs $15-40 per card, again, depending on the volume you send for grading
- Express costs $40-100, and it takes around 5 days to complete
- Premium can cost anywhere between $50 to $125 per card, depending on the perceived value of the card and it will take around 2 days to complete
Note that there are additional costs to be paid to BGS, such as autograph verification, oversized items surcharges, return insurances, postage, and tax.
- BGS is faster and less expensive than PSA
- It has the subgrade system, which allows you to receive half grades
- They’re a reliable option, especially for newer cards
- They’re tough on the ratings
- There’s the Beckett Graded Registry, which allows you to compare your cards with other collectors
- The labels and cases of BGS are often preferred to those of PSA
- The cardholders are larger than those of PSA
- Complex grading system
- They only grade autographs as “real” or “fake”
- BGS-graded cards are worth less than the equivalents of PSA-graded cards
If you’re looking to get your cards looked at and graded officially, then you can choose between PSA and Beckett (and lately, SGC has become more popular).
The question of PSA vs Beckett is a common one among card collectors. There’s no right or wrong here, as both are highly professional. Although there are some minor differences between the two.
Firstly, PSA is a bit more expensive and it takes longer for them to grade your cards. However, their graded cards usually sell better and for more than BGS cards. On the other hand, BGS is faster and less expensive and has a more complex grading system. Their cases and labels are often preferred to PSA’s.