Step 1.Choose your cards
I do not submit any card post-1984 unless I feel strongly they will receive at least a MINT 9 grade. Except for rookie refractors or autos, a slabbed PSA case with an nm-mt label brings no additional value to a card. All it serves at that point is a card protector that cannot be opened and closed. I suggest submitting cards that you feel will receive at least a mint 9.
Here are the steps I take when performing the final inspection.
Step 2.Inspect your cards
Before starting my submission, I typically already have my cards inspected, organized, and loaded in a card saver. Most of the cards that I submit are from purchases made online. When I receive the card in the mail, I inspect it immediately and decide whether it is submission-worthy. If it is, I will store it in a completely separate pile from the other cards. Staying organized allows for a smoother submission process.
If you have not inspected your cards yet, follow the steps below. Remember to use extreme caution when reviewing your cards. If you drop them and they get a ding, dent, scratch, or any minor flaw, you may want to reconsider submitting it.
Remove the card from the top loader or case it is in
I like to grab the sides of the top loader and squeeze firmly. This will bend open the top part of the top loader enough to fit your fingers in to grab the penny sleeve or card. This will prevent you from beating the top loader against your hand or table to knock it out. Which could potentially damage your card.
Inspect the card while it’s still in the penny sleeve
Holding the penny sleeve case firmly, push on the bottom of the card to allow the top of the card to pop out of the sleeve. Gently pull the card out with one hand while holding firmly onto the penny sleeve with your other hand. This ensures no fingerprints get on the card, and you don’t drop the card.
Use caution when inspecting your cards.
Be careful during this part. I suggest holding your cards over a table with a towel or shirt just in case you drop them. Falling 4 to 5 feet onto your hardwood floors or carpet can severely damage the corner of a card.
You’ll want to inspect your cards thoroughly. I have a 3X magnification magnifying lamp with LEDs to thoroughly inspect and grade my cards before I submit them. I have an article on the Top Ten Hobby Magnifying Lamps for Grading Your Cards you use to help find the right one for you.
What to look for when grading your cards
- Borders: Are the borders the same size on all four sides?
- Corners: Are they sharp and crisp or dull and round?
- Edges: Is there chipping or flaking in color?
- Surface: Look for any scratches, dings, or dents.
Wipe off all fingerprints or smudges
Check for any fingerprints, smudges, or imperfections. Inspect both the front and back thoroughly. Pay close attention to where you typically grab your cards. The fingerprints I find tend to be on the top and bottom corners of the card and the sides of the card. When wiping the surface, you can use microfiber clothes, old cotton t-shirts, or even pantyhose. Whatever you use, be sure it’s clean and free from anything that could damage the surface, like dirt or dust.
Some older cards will not benefit from wiping the surface down. Use caution when doing this. If you feel concerned about damaging the card, practice on a similar, less expensive card.
Place the card in a penny sleeve and Grading Candidate holder
After choosing the most centered, sharp-cornered, and scratch-free cards, put them in a penny sleeve and Grading Candidate holder. PSA will not accept screw-downs, top loaders, or other cardholders on regular cards. If you’re submitting a thick-patch card or booklet, it is okay to submit in thicker top-loaders.
They state that clearly on their website Be sure and pick up some penny sleeves and a semi-rigid cardholder to submit your cards in. PSA will not accept acrylic snap cases, top loaders, or screw-down holders. They’ve found that these holders allow movement during shipment and may result in damage.
Check out my grading candidate holders for submission to grading companies here. These work great to ensure your cards arrive safe and damage-free when shipping.