COST OF GETTING BASEBALL CARDS GRADED

Getting vintage baseball cards professionally graded has become very popular in recent years. Third party grading companies like PSA, BGS, SGC and HGA provide authentication and assign numerical grades to cards based on their condition. This adds value and liquidity for collectors. The grading process does come with costs that collectors need to be aware of. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the various fees associated with getting baseball cards graded.

The basic cost to submit cards for grading depends on which company you use and how quickly you need turnaround time. PSA is generally the most expensive option while SGC and HGA offer more affordable alternatives. PSA has several submission service levels with prices ranging from $10-$100+ per card depending on factors like bulk submission discounts, express vs standard return service and whether you want a special holder.

BGS charges $15 per card for their standard 30-day service or $30 per card for an ultra-modern 10-day turnaround. SGC’s basic submission fee is $10 per card with $20 express options available. HGA charges $7.50 per card for their regular service and $15 for express. So right off the bat, you are looking at minimum costs of $10-15 per card just for the basic grading fees before any shipping or insurance costs.

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In addition to the per card grading fees, most companies also charge shipping/handling or conservation fees. PSA charges $25 for shipping and handling on submissions of 10 cards or less going up from there based on quantity. They also charge a $2 conservation fee per card. BGS charges $15 for return shipping on orders under $150. SGC charges $10 flat for return shipping under 50 cards and $20 over 50 cards. HGA charges $15 return shipping for orders under 10 cards.

Another cost factor is insurance. It is highly recommended that you fully insure your submission package both to and from the grading company in case of damage or loss in transit. Basic shipping insurance through the post office or carriers like FedEx/UPS typically runs $0.50-$2.00 per $100 of declared value. For high value submissions, you may want to purchase additional private insurance as well.

There are also express upgrade costs if you need cards back sooner. PSA offers same day, 1 day and 3 day express options that can add $30-150+ per card on top of regular fees. BGS charges $50 per card to upgrade to their 10 day service. SGC charges $10 more per card for their 5 day express service.

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Bulk submission discounts are available from most companies to help offset costs if sending in larger quantities. PSA offers 5% off for orders of 50+ cards and 10% off for 100+. BGS provides discounts starting at 5% for orders of 25 cards. SGC offers a sliding scale from 5-20% off depending on quantities submitted from 25-500+. HGA gives 5% off for orders over 50 cards.

There are additional costs if you want special holders, autograph authentication or other extras. PSA charges extra for their high end black label, gold label and autograph authentication holders. BGS charges $20 per card for their black label autograph authentication service. SGC and HGA do not currently offer autograph authentication.

Here is a breakdown of potential total costs to grade a 10 card submission with PSA as an example:

Grading fees: 10 cards x $15 = $150
Shipping/handling fee: $25
Conservation fees: 10 cards x $2 = $20
Return shipping insurance: $20 (based on $200 declared value)
Total: $215

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As you can see, the costs add up quickly. Grading large collections can easily run into the thousands of dollars before even considering raw card costs. Careful planning and use of bulk submission discounts can help offset expenses. But for collectors looking to add value and resell graded cards, the costs are usually recouped if high grades are achieved. Just be sure to do the math first before submitting to ensure grading makes financial sense for your collection.

While third party grading brings authentication and standardization that helps the hobby, there is definitely a cost associated with the process. Collectors need to budget appropriately based on the grading company, turnaround time needed, insurance, shipping and any special services required. Using bulk submission discounts and value-added extras like special holders sparingly can help maximize returns. Grading is recommended when a collection contains high-end vintage cards that stand to significantly gain in value from professional authentication and assigned numerical condition grades.

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