Why Are Graded Cards Worth More?

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In general, this hobby of card collecting makes sense.

Star player cards are worth more than your average role player. Makes sense.

Rookie cards of a star player are generally worth more than other base issues of that star player. Makes sense.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty that nods to the illogical…like the fact that the first card produced of a player is not always that player’s rookie card.

Especially for those new or returning to collecting, much of the uncertainty and wondered questions revolve around graded cards.

For instance, should you get your cards graded?

Or even on a more basic level…

Why Are Graded Cards Worth More?

Graded cards are generally worth more than their counterparts that aren’t graded because graded cards have been examined, authenticated, and assigned a condition by an expert. Thus, a card deemed to be gem mint is going to be valued higher than one that looks mint in “raw” condition.

This makes sense.

In terms of condition, people are willing to pay more for a card to be assigned a condition by an expert versus one that looks mint, and is said to be mint.

Do experts make mistakes? Of course. Can raw cards said to be gem mint turn out to actually be gem mint? Yes. And can a card graded to be gem mint actually be in worse condition than one not graded gem mint. Again, sure, stuff happens, but you get the point.

And then condition aside, in terms of authentication, think about the scenario where you have two badly beat up cards, but still hold tremendous value.

Let’s say a Nolan Ryan rookie card that is in “poor” condition based on the graded card scale. It’s reasonable that a PSA 1 is going to be worth more than a raw version of the card in the same condition because when graded, you can more or less safely assume the card is authentic. This is one very good reason when it comes to why you should grade cards.

(I faced this dilemma after finding a Nolan Ryan RC in a cheap eBay lot! Do I hold it raw, or send in for grading just to ensure it was authentic?)

Now, I speak in generalities because few things are absolute, and there are a number of caveats and additional questions to consider.

For instance, what graded value does a pack-pulled “mint” card equate to if both were sold at the same time?

We know a PSA 10 is “above average” and thus can’t be equated to pack-pulled raw. That’s why a PSA 10 graded card is worth more than its raw counterpart.

So, if it doesn’t equal a 10, is a card you pulled fresh out of the pack that looks to be in perfect condition going to sell for the same amount as a PSA 9? Is that more in line with raw? Or is it a PSA 8?

Take a look at an example…

This is what’s currently for sale for a raw Vladimir Guerrero 2019 Topps NNO RC:

And this is how that card compares when graded PSA 9:

Perhaps a $10 difference comparing cheapest available? Now, one example, but there are many…some even closer in value, and others with a greater discrepancy. Just one of those questions that will never be answered, but fun to think about.

Anyway, graded cards are worth more just as you’d expect an authenticated autograph to be worth more than one that wasn’t, or heck, even a dealer “certified” used car versus one being sold by a private party.

In each scenario, you are moving a product from having to take someone’s word for condition based on their untrained eye to one that is given an expert rating.

Not to mention that obtaining that rating is also paid for, and the card is encapsulated and protected from damage that point forward, which all reasonably add value and worth.