Grading Guide for Buyers & Sellers

Not sure how to grade cards? Sick of buying cards and receiving them in condition below the seller’s assessment? There is no excuse now – simply follow these steps to grading and buyers & sellers will benefit.

Some of the classic auction site descriptions that hinder the industry:

  • “good for their age”
  • “look at the photo and you be the judge”
  • “I’m not very good at grading cards”

It works both ways…

There’s usually no harm intended, but these descriptions are a hinderance to the transaction, and are often an excuse for the seller to over-estimate their item! Buyers deserve to know the facts, Sellers are responsible for providing them!

If you are buying a card in “Good” or “Very Good” condition, remember, it will have faults! Only “Mint” is perfect, so always adjust your expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment.

So what are we looking for when grading a card?

With any card, the following areas need to be assessed, then applied to our easy guide below:

  • Structure – Is the card damaged or incomplete in any way? Is the card suffering from minor, major or multiple creasing?
  • Corners – Are they sharp, rounded or do they resemble a paintbrush?
  • Edging – Are they white, flat, clean, frayed or browned?
  • Borders – if white, are they stained or is there any “foxing”?
  • Surface – Is it worn? Are there any spots, patches or discolouration?
  • Rear – Are there pen or tape marks, silverfish damage?
  • Centering (cut) – Is the card well centred, both horizontally and vertically?

So what are the categories?

Check the graded cards examples below:

POOR – The card is damaged (less than 2.5 out of 10)

FAIR – A gap filler until something better can be found (2.5-5 out of 10)

GOOD – Solid card but with some faults (5.5 – 6.5 out of 10)

VERY GOOD – Acceptable for many collectors but far from perfect (6.5 – 7.5 out of 10)

EXCELLENT – Minor wear only (8 – 8.5 out of 10)

NEAR MINT – Superb, hard to fault (9 – 9.5 out of 10)

MINT – Uncirculated, graded and slabbed (10 out of 10)
If someone is holding it in their hand, it is not mint.

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