It’s a funny old time if you’re a Pokemon card collector. 

You’ve got potentially valuable cards, but the two biggest grading companies only have their highest submission tiers open, and it costs over £100 PER CARD!

They also happen to be over 4,000 miles away in the US.

Oh yes, not the mention, the UK’s most popular middle-man service (GradedGem) are no longer working with PSA.

I can only assume this is because of changes made by PSA, not the other way around. 

So where does that leave us as collectors here in the good old United Kingdom?! 

In a rush? Find out who my #1 recommend UK grading company is here!

The Rise of UK Pokemon Card Grading Companies

Thankfully, this situation gave rise to a group of savvy and opportunist entrepreneurs who decided to start their own grading companies on home soil.

Let’s not underestimate the low-to-mid five figure investment needed to purchase machinery, casing, staff, technology develop, websites and marketing. 

Some of the people hating-on these start-ups, are the exact same people who are hating-on the likes of PSA and Beckett for not being open!

It’s super hypocritical really!

In my book, anyone who has the cajones to risk it for a biscuit in the Pokemon market deserves a chance at least!

That doesn’t mean to say I think they’re all great and worthy of your cards or money.

In fact, quite the contrary…

To compete with the likes of PSA, Beckett and CGC, these UK grading companies must go above and beyond what our US counterparts are doing – or quite frankly – they risk being eliminated when their services become more affordable again, which they will

So, this begs the question…

Who’s The Best Pokemon Grading Company in the UK?

In a rush? Find out who my #1 recommend UK grading company is here!

It’s important to remember, that if you’re purely looking to protect your cards, grading and encapsulating them in plastic will do the job, no matter who you do it with.

If you’re looking to simply display them, I recommend going with the company that has the slabs and labels that appeal to you most. It’s totally personal preference!

But if you’re looking to add value to them, like I am, then this calls for greater detail and transparency in the grading process

The Importance of Sub-Grades

Despite PSA’s dominance, there’s a reason why there’s space in the market for the likes of Beckett and CGC – they provide sub-grades where PSA do not.

If you don’t know, sub-grades display how the card graded in the four key areas:

  • Centering
  • Surface
  • Corners
  • Edges

This gives the owner (or the buyer) much more detail with regard to how ‘mint’ the card actually is.

A card graded a PSA 10, could actually vary quite drastically if it were graded by Beckett or CGC. 

A perfect Beckett card is actually called a ‘Black Label’, and CGC’s version is called ‘Perfect’. 

Should a card achieve this status, it value significantly increases. This is particularly the case with Beckett Black Label cards.

Below is a piece from my collection. Note the subgrades! It’s not quite ‘Perfect’, but CGC still class as it ‘Pristine’ which is pretty cool!

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Pokemon Card Collector (@cardcollector.co.uk)

Now I’m well-aware (and I’m sure the UK companies are too) that their graded cards don’t sell on the secondary market (i.e. eBay) for the same prices as well-established US companies do.

Reputation and adoption by the masses will take years to achieve. But if they don’t properly understand the importance of differentiation and adding value, I would guess that some of these companies will cease to exist in the short-to-medium term.

In my opinion, any UK Pokemon card grading company that doesn’t offer sub-grades is missing a trick. 

Going Above and Beyond

The next question I ask is, are these UK companies doing anything that goes above and beyond their competitors that actually adds value?

It’s my opinion that investment in the design of the slab or label is actually misplaced

I’m not saying as collector I don’t want a neat looking slab. But in terms of actually adding value to the card, whether you’ve got a funky label or smart looking plastic doesn’t make the difference. 

Don’t agree?! 

Just look at the PSA slabs!  Pretty basic labels, pretty basic plastic. The value comes from the grade the card gets, not anything else.

So, along with sub-grades I also want a UK grading company that can go above and beyond and give me as much detail as possible about the condition of the card. 

What might that look like?

How about a detailed grading report…

Now we’re talking!!

If I can understand all about the condition of my card, where the imperfections lie, and it gives me justification as to why it achieved the grade it did, now that is what I call adding value.

And is there company that does both of these things?!

Sure is…

pointing down

Tree Frog Grading

Sure, the name my be a bit unexpected for Pokemon Cards, but the branding actually has its foundation in the owner’s military background.

…and do you know what – anyone that can apply military precision to grading, which by nature is open to human error, gets a plus in my book!

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Pokemon Card Collector (@cardcollector.co.uk)

 

My Strategy for Grading Pokemon Cards in the UK

“But Clive, cards graded by these new companies still doesn’t sell for as much on the secondary market!”

You’re absolutely right. 

The masses adopting and accepting a company like Tree Frog Grading, would not only take time, but would also take you agreeing with what I’ve said in this article (totally appreciate some people may not!)

So if you want to take advantage of the ability to grade cards here in the UK, and to turn a profit, here are two strategies I think work well:

1. The Power of Fast Turnaround Times

Even when PSA, Beckett and CGC are able to offer lower prices again, they’re never going to be able to match the rapid turnaround times that UK grading companies can. We’re talking days and weeks, compared to months and even years!

When new Pokemon sets are released, there is a rush and a buzz on marketplaces like eBay.

If you can pull a sought-after chase card, grade it quickly (in the UK), then the potential to flip it for a solid profit is very real.

If you were to wait for an established US grading company, by the time you got the card back, the set has lost its buzz and your anticipated profit may not be as high as you think. In fact, many people who had the same idea as you, waited to grade it, and now the graded population of the card is so high, it’s value has been driven right down.

Power and profit goes to the first movers in the market, and UK grading companies give you the ability to do that.

It’s a cool model.

2. The Potential to Cross Grade Your Cards

Now this strategy works really well when you have a grading company that can give you the two important points I mentioned earlier; sub-grades and detailed reporting.

If, you were to grade your cards with Tree Frog Grading and you achieved their highest score (which they call an ALPHA 10), you could potentially cross that card over to PSA or Beckett in the future to increase its value. 

*Some people tell you to crack the card out of its existing slab to avoid the new grader being harsher or biased in their approach. Although I get the logic, the risk of damaging the card far outweighs this in my opinion. I don’t recommend you crack slabs!

But as you can see, this is a great way to potentially add more value to your very best cards, which is definatley something to be happy about!

Right guys…

dancing pokemon

In Summary

So there you have it, my two-pennies-worth on the UK Pokemon card grading scene. 

The big boys will make a comeback at some point by lowering prices, and even though I highly respect any start-up for giving it a go in this space, I struggle to see how some of them will survive.

Thanks for reading to the end – I hope you feel the insight providing in this article is worthy of your time! I greatly appreciate it.

* And finally, one little disclaimer! This article is purely my opinion, and aims to share with you what I’m doing and what I value as a collector! You are responsible with what you do with your cards and money 🙂

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Scroll to Top