TRADING CARDS & COLLECTIBLES

Beckett x PWCC Partnership: What it Means for the Trading Card Hobby

As two big industry names enter into a new and groundbreaking partnership, here’s what collectors need to know about the shifting card-grading landscape.

Just before all eyes in the hobby moved to the National Sports Collectors Convention over the past weekend in Atlantic City, Beckett and PWCC joined forces to bring graded trading cards to market faster.

The two companies recently announced that they will partner to help get collectors’ raw cards to graded auctions more quickly than other currently available services. Let’s say you’re in possession of a card in high demand that you want to sell — here’s how it works:

  • Submit the card to PWCC.
  • PWCC sends the card to Beckett Grading Services (BGS) for a 10-day turnaround for a $50 fee that will be later deducted from a card’s final sale. The service includes subgrades and autograph grading.
  • This service does not require a card to meet a minimum estimated market value.

One of the biggest challenges for hobbyists that want to liquidate their cards is that grading can take months to consummate end-to-end. For Beckett to guarantee a 10-day turnaround is huge for any individual hobbyist — especially if you were to land a desirable card out of a newer set poised to fetch a pretty penny, like a low-numbered Cade Cunningham from Panini Prizm NBA.

PWCC & Beckett expand their footprint

The online trading card marketplace has become increasingly crowded as eBay expands its collectibles reach, brands like Whatnot lead the charge in streaming ecommerce, and others like Alt continue to innovate more visibility and liquidity into the hobby. Right on cue, PWCC is now primed to expand its own footprint as one of the premier auction platforms thanks to securing a trusted grading partner like Beckett in its corner.

Notably, the last couple of years hadn’t been spotless for Beckett. From service shutdowns due to COVID-19 and a rebrand that wasn’t generally well-received, BGS offering an unmatched 10-day turnaround is more than appealing. Beckett remains one of the most trusted grading companies in the hobby despite its challenges; a fast turnaround time in combination with a flat $50 service fee is likely to contribute to a meaningful improvement in the perceived value of BGS slabs over others.

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Will PSA or SGC partner with another marketplace?

The news of Beckett offering a streamlined grading service that caps at $50 with a 10-day turnaround puts pressure on other grading services like PSA and SGC.

PSA already has an authentication partnership with eBay by which they will authenticate any graded card that’s sold on the platform. Moving ahead, they could look to expand that partnership with the world’s largest auction platform to include even more services.

SGC, meanwhile, is arguably the industry leader when it comes to grading vintage cards. The largest card sale in history — the rare Honus Wagner that sold for $6.6 million in August 2021 — was graded by SGC. The company has seen a huge increase in grading volume of modern cards since the boom due to their price-friendly model starting at $30 per card with a 20-25 day turnaround. SGC could further emphasize the modern in partnering with a cutting-edge platform like Alt, but if they want to continue to focus on vintage, a company like Goldin or Heritage would promise some excellent synergy.

Impact on grading fees & turnaround times

Could grading fees finally drop across the industry? That’s possible considering there isn’t an upcharge grading through PWCC and Beckett scaled to estimated card value. Currently, PSA charges $100 for a card valued $1,499 or less, $150 for $2499 or less, $300 for $4,999 or less, and on and on. SGC is similar, but starts at $250 for cards valued at $7,500 or less and increasing from there.

Prices alone wouldn’t be the only thing this emerging service will alter as part of its overall ripple effect, however.

Industry-wide, turnaround times are still longer than before the current card boom began. Services in the “economy” tier can take between 45-90 days; typically, the process required fewer than 30 days before the massive increase in grading demand the hobby has witnessed in the past two-plus years. With this in mind, Beckett’s assurance of a 10-day turnaround now puts pressure on other grading companies to not only guarantee what they’ve already advertised, but additionally focus on getting the job done ever faster — in a market as volatile as trading cards, that’s non-negotiable.

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