What are Beckett Subgrades & Are They Needed?

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It’s amazing how much the hobby has evolved. We have gone from simple, straightforward cards that didn’t warrant any question or big decisions to cards with jerseys and autographs; prizms and refractors, graded slabs, and so much more.

It’s good and bad, but we won’t debate it much now. The looming question for you today – and one that I hope to answer in full – is what are Beckett subgrades? And more importantly, what value do they provide?

What are Beckett Subgrades?

Beckett subgrades are the four main factors BGS uses to rate cards submitted for grading. The four subgrades are scores for a card’s corners, centering, surface, and edges. When you submit a card for grading through Beckett (BGS, not to be confused with BCCG), you can choose to have the subgrades printed on your grading label or not, which is why you’ll see some slabs with them and some without.

What Percentage of Cards are Graded with Subgrades?

It’s a great question, and not one I’ve seen fully answered anywhere. But to get a general idea, let’s take a look at a few examples of popular graded cards for sale, and how many of them include subgrades.

2019 Topps Chrome Fernando Tatis Base Card #203 BGS 9.5

Currently, I see 17 of these cards available for sale on eBay. 13 of them have subgrades (76%), which means 4 of them, or 24% don’t.

2021 Panini Select Joe Burrow BGS 9.5

For this one I looked at all variations, and am currently seeing 36 cards total, with 31 (86%) with subgrades and 5 (14%) without.

2019 Topps Vladimir Guerrero Jr. NNO SP BGS 9.5

Currently, I see 11 of these cards available for sale on eBay. 8 of them have subgrades (73%), which means 3 of them, or 27% don’t.

So, obviously, this is a completely random, far from perfect or scientific study, but for at least these ultra-modern card examples on eBay, there are more BGS 9.5s with subgrades than without at the moment.

Do Subgrade Slabs Sell Better Than Cards Without?

Again, I’m not sure, but I’ve heard from time to time different examples of cards without subgrades not selling as well as their subgrade counterpart. I have no idea if it’s true or not, so you’ll want to perform your own research.

Read More: Is a BGS 9.5 the same as a PSA 10?

But let’s take a look.

2019 Topps Chrome Fernando Tatis #203 BGS 9.5

You can take a look at the search results here. I tried to keep clear of including those sales with the strikethrough price as if a best offer had been accepted. (These are also without shipping costs.)

With subgrades:

  • $150 2/12/22
  • $107.50 1/8/22
  • $125 1/7/22
  • $107.50 11/25/21
  • $105 11/25/21
  • $120 11/23/21

Average: $119

Without subgrades

  • $115 2/7/22
  • $95.87 1/16/22
  • $124.99 1/16/22
  • $105 1/1/22
  • $102.50 12/29/21
  • $100 12/29/21

Average: $107

Again, nothing perfect or too scientific, and it’s always hard to tell what a true sales price might be, if the card was actually paid for, etc. Not to mention this is one single example and could vary for other cards.

Either way, not a huge difference in sales. And then factor in the fact that grading with subgrades costs more than without…

What is the Price to Grade with Subgrades?

And finally, here is the current difference in pricing between the different BGS service levels with subgrades and no subgrades:

Premium with subgrades $250/card, no subgrades $125/card
Express with subgrades $150/card, no subgrades $100/card
Standard with subgrades $50/card, no subgrades $30/card