It seems PSA is the most popular. Myself, I like SGC since most of the cards I buy graded are pre-1950s cards.
It seems that the going rule-of-thumb, is the following:
- SGC – pre 50s
- PSA – 50s to ’79
- BCG – 80s forward
I have only one graded card that is not from the pre 50s and that’s a GEM Mint SGC graded 98 Tony Gwynn rookie from the 1983 Topps set.
Two things you need to decide when grading your cards or buying graded cards, when collecting rather than selling them.
The first is whether when collecting a set will you grade every card in that set or second only grade certain cards in the set. Due to cost most people when collecting a set just protect the cards without grading, others grade only the star cards and/or rare cards, and a third type of collector grades the whole set of cards.
Grading becomes more prolific the further back in time you go. for example, a person collecting the 1990 Leaf set may only grade or buy graded the Frank Thomas rookie and perhaps the Sammy Sosa rookie and the Ken Griffey Jr. 2nd year card. But the same collector, when he collects say the 1955 Topps set will grade every card in the set since every card is worth money.
If you decide to grade every card in the set, you may want to think about uniformity. In the 1990 Leaf example, if only 3 cards are graded, it seem unimportant if they were graded by different grading companies, but the 1955 set you will probably want each card graded by the same company that way the slabs all look the same.
PSA became the most popular for this reason. PSA was around first, so the collectors who started grading their cards, used PSA and the cards they had of worth first were the pre 80s post 50s cards. They began grading the star cards first then later the rest of the cards in the sets. Since PSA was used for the star cards, they used PSA for the non-star cards as well to keep the look of the cards uniform. After that with SGC and BCG people liked the former for the pre 50s cards when their collection might have had many cards from the era, but they were individual cards from many sets rather than cards mostly from one set. Uniformity in displaying pre 50s cards meant using SGC. BCG was used by most collectors of modern cards. I’m not exactly sure why but my guess is that Beckett knows the most about modern cards than the other two grading companies.
I like SGC mostly because the mark up for a SGC graded card from the same card non-graded is not much for pre 50s cards, and not as much as PSA for post 50s cards . PSA holds a premium on those cards. As an example, Schmidt’s rookie card (1973 Topps) ungraded yet seen to be in near mint grade sells for around 100.00, if its graded by SGC it sells for 185.00, if its PSA its 220.00. Not sure why except that PSA are sought after more because of the uniformity issue I talked about earlier.
Lastly I should offer you a piece of advice or insight to the graded vs. ungraded card. If you are good at grading cards by look then you should always look at the going price for ungraded and graded cards. If you see a large discrepancy between the two, it may be more cost effective to buy the ungraded card and send it off to be graded yourself. If we use the Schmidt rookie example, If you can spot a near mint card ungraded, and it costs you 20.00 for PSA to grade it with 25.00 to ship it there and back, it would be worth doing since to buy the PSA graded card would cost you 75.00 more.