The value of a collectible is determined by several factors. While desire is at the top of the list, authenticity and quality are not far behind. The condition a soccer card is in will greatly affect its value. In addition, if the card is autographed, having it authenticated will increase the worth.
There are several companies that will provide services to grade and authenticate soccer cards. While new organizations continue to pop up, Beckett Grading Services (BGS) continues to be a trusted industry leader. Cards that receive high grades from BGS will hold more value than most, if not all, other grading companies. A recent Beckett article (Soccer Slabs see Surge in Price and Popularity) noted an 170% increase in value on the graded Kylian Mbappe 2018 Gold World Cup Sticker.
The process to submit a card for grading to BGS can seem difficult and long. However, it is relatively simple and many times the value makes it a journey worth completing.
To start, it is important to identify the right cards to submit. It is good to understand the current market size of a graded card. Take for example the 2017-18 Select Kylian Mbappé. This is considered his rookie card. In its “Pop Report” (i.e. population index), BGS has graded 39 of these cards. All of these were scored 8.5 or higher. For newer cards, you can expect the distribution to be skewed higher.
However, for older cards, a lower score is not necessarily a bad thing. There are numerous variations of Pele’s rookie card from 1958. However, BGS has 5 of these graded and none are higher than 6.0.
A good score is all relative to the general population of other similar graded cards. To search the “Pop Report” of graded cards go to the Beckett Grading Pop Report.
Once you know what a good score will be, you will want to look over your card and note any imperfections.
For Beckett, there are several different considerations that are scored from 0 to 10. Beckett also offers a half-point scale (for example, a BGS 9.5 could fetch as much as a PSA 10 for certain collectors). While some companies grade on a full point scale, Beckett’s half point could mean the difference in hundreds or thousands of dollars.
When grading cards, BGS considers the following factors:
Centering – This is especially critical on cards with borders. How even are the borders around the card? Additionally, how centered are the other aspects of the card in relation to standard? Images like logos and names all come into play.
Corners – This grade will rate how true the corners are. Any dents or rounding will begin to deduct the score. A common issue with corners is that sometimes collectors will fray or separate the layers of the card by accident when putting a card into a sleeve for protection.
Edges – While a separate grade from the corners, the edges are very similar. There can be defects from handling or cutting that can cause the edges to not be true.
Surfaces – Here the card is judged for any scratches or dimples. This will be on both the front and back of the card. For foil or metallic cards, scratches and dimples can be common, so it is important to look.
Autograph – The autograph is graded to consider whether it’s deemed authentic, or not.
The other thing to consider when submitting is the cost. The cost for the card grading can range from $35 to $250 depending on the expected turnaround time. You also have the option to include sub grades or not. The sub grades are the individual grades from each of the four categories above. You can have these included on the case or just the overall score. Including the sub grades can have a beneficial effect on the value.
In addition to paying for the grading, you will also have to pay for shipping and insurance. These will vary depending on how many cards and the declared value of the cards.
Once you have decided to submit your card to BGS, you start by completing the BGS Submission Form (either online or printable). Here you will complete your information as well as the information of the card(s). You will also do the cost calculation including in the grading options, turnaround time, and shipping plus insurance.
The reason for grading the card will greatly determine which service to choose. If the card is for a personal collection or to protect the card long term, there is no need to pay for the premium service. For cards that will have significant resale value and for quick turnaround to meet demand windows, it will be imperative to pay extra for the Express or Premium service.
In addition to having the card graded, BGS offers other options. For cards produced prior to 1981, there is a service called “Beckett Vintage Grading”. The slabs look a little different and grading accounts for the technology used to produce cards during that era.
Beyond grading cards, Beckett services can also be used to authenticate cards and autographs. Especially true for older cards, there can be a number of fake cards in circulation. Having the card authenticated can improve the value, though not as much as having it graded. The same is true for player autographs. Beckett Authentication will examine the autograph and certify it to be authentic.
GETTING A CARD GRADED FOR THE FIRST TIME
By Christopher Harris
Back in the summer of 2021 — while still learning more about the wonderful world of collecting soccer trading cards — I bought a box of Panini Chronicles. Inside, the mega box were three mini-boxes — one each for the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A. As I unboxed the cards live on YouTube, I pulled an autographed Neymar card.
While I was certainly pleased with getting it, I didn’t realize how much of a pull that was. It was weeks later that it finally sunk in.
How? Well I decided to use your own money to get it graded. This was my first experience with getting any of my soccer stickers or trading cards professionally graded, so it was a completely new experience for me.
I followed Christopher Mosinski’s advice above, and found a card that had a low ‘pop’ count. The number of times it had been graded was zero, so that was a good start. And with it being a card autographed by Neymar Jr., it was obviously something of value. Given the combination of those two factors and my plan to hold on to the card for several years, getting it graded (which would increase the worth of the card) seemed like a smart idea.
After packing the card and filling out the printed submission form, I decided to go with the Premium Grading (which included the sub-grades, so I would know if there were any imperfections in the card). I shipped it to Beckett.
Within 10 days, the graded Neymar card arrived on my doorstep. I didn’t record the unboxing but I was very pleased to see the final grade of the card (see the before and after photos below).
Beckett’s grading of my card indicated there was a slight imperfection in the corners, which after looking at more closely, I saw the same thing. Overall, scoring a 8.5 BGS rating for my first-ever graded card seemed very fair. And now that I have it graded, seeing it encased in the protective slab, it finally sunk in with me how fortunate and honored I am to have the card as part of my collection. Plus, as of press time, the autographed card is the only one to be graded by BGS, making it a pop count of one.
Will I get more cards graded in the future? Absolutely, especially now that I know how easy the process is.
Articles from our series focused on soccer trading cards and stickers:
• Soccer trading cards: Why it’s time to consider investing in the hobby
• What makes soccer trading cards valuable, and why and how to get them graded
• Collecting Panini’s Euro 2020 stickers is a perfect accompaniment to watching the tournament
• Where to buy soccer trading cards, and how hobby and retail boxes are different
Videos: Unboxing of soccer cards and stickers
• 2020/21 Obsidian soccer cards
• 2020/21 Topps Museum Collection: UEFA Champions League
• 2018/19, 2019/20 & 2020/21 Topps Bundesliga stickers
• 2020/21 Panini Prizm Premier League trading cards
• Euro 2020 Panini stickers
• Panini Chronicles box break featuring Neymar autograph
• Orbis World Cup 1990: The greatest soccer sticker album of all time
Author: Christopher Mosinski