Having a card sent away for grading seems like a great idea, especially if you think the card will come back with a very high grade. But you have to be careful! The card graders are meticulous in examining the cards you submit. I remember many years back sending cards to PSA. I selected some of the cards I thought were in perfect condition only to have them come back with grades of 7, 8, and 9. It was devastating! Why you ask? Was I sad or mad that they came back with low grades? Well, of course... but what made it really terrible was the cost of getting the cards graded in the first place. By getting these low grades, I was essentially paying a large fee to de-value my cards! Ouch!
See, grading is not free or cheap. It actually costs quite a bit of money if you're only submitting a few cards for grading. The grading fees can be upwards of $30 per card... PER CARD!!! If you want the grading done fast, it's going to cost you. The more cards you submit, the cheaper it will be... but rarely does the regular collector have hundreds of cards to submit in order to get those cheaper grading prices.
So is it worth it to get your small amount of cards graded?
Probably not if you're not sure about the grade of your cards, or if the cost of the grading is too high compared to the value of the card.
So what do you do?
Well, if you really want to get your cards graded, you can do a group submission at your local card store. I know my local card shop submits cards to BGS every so often. Customers can join in his submissions as a group to get a better deal on pricing.
How are so many cards graded already if it's not really worth it to grade lower-valued cards?
Because some people have very high volumes of cards submitted. Grading can be as low as a couple bucks per grade if sent in very large amounts. So that's why you see many lower-value cards available. Obviously it wouldn't be feasible to grade a $10 Young Gun rookie card for $30. That's ridiculous! But it could possibly be worth it a $2 to grade.
It looks like grading cards is here to stay. Collectors like the assurance of a card's condition... and grading provides that. I personally feel that I don't have the expert eye to grade my cards, so I tend to purchase graded cards rather than submit them myself. Thankfully, many people out there have the ability to grade their cards and sell them on eBay or other sites.
The two main grading companies are PSA and BGS. Other graders such as SGC and KSA are also very good... but the cards graded by them tend to be less popular with collectors. I suggest taking a look at each companies site and judge for yourself what you like. As a general rule, collectors like PSA for vintage cards and BGS for modern.
Let me know what you think of card grading in the comment area below. I'd love to hear your experiences or thoughts on it!