Our Ace Grading review is the fourth time we’ve sent cards off to a UK company in recent months.
Each has their own pros and cons, but how does Ace Grading hold up when compared to the likes of PSA and SGC?
Here’s what we thought of Ace Grading, from wait times and slabs, to values and communication. Is it worth sending over your collection of Charizards?
Reviewing Ace Grading
We sent a total of 11 Pokémon cards off to Ace Grading for this review. We used their Bulk service to get a feel for exactly what they have to offer.
It’s still a fairly new business, having been incorporated in April 2021.
Beforehand, we noted that the cards tend to sell easily on sites like eBay. The label design makes them stand out straight away.
They’ve recently added a population report to check how many cards have been graded.
Note: Ace Grading currently only accepts cards from the Pokémon TCG.
Our Ace Grading review aims to give a definitive answer if you’re not sure if it’s worth waiting for the likes of PSA or BGS, or if you’re a UK collector tempted by the shorter wait times.
Ace Grading UK: Pricing & Current Timescales
There are various service levels offered with Ace Grading, with the cheapest priced at £10 per card.
Typically, it depends on the number of cards you’re sending over, as well as the amount of time you’re willing to wait.
Service Level Bulk Standard Premier Ultra
Pricing £10 pc £15 pc £30 pc £50 pc
Time 25 days 10 days 5 days 2 days
As we were sending over more than 10 cards we used the Bulk service, and we think that 10 business days at £15 per card is fair. Even the standard service should work out to a wait time of roughly two weeks, which is a quick turnaround.
It took roughly four and a half weeks for the submission to be returned, while Ace Grading updated their wait times halfway through to reflect the image seen above. (It was originally something like 60 business days for bulk orders.)
Unlike many others, wait times were actually shortened, and our cards came back in time to meet the updated timescales.
It’s worth mentioning that you won’t have to pay until your cards are ready to be shipped back to you. This offers more flexibility than other UK graders.
However, they don’t grade cards from the United States or Europe, although Ace Grading claims ‘being available internationally is a key aim’ in the future.
Ace Grading UK: Grading
As with the majority of new grading companies, Ace Grading uses a 10-point scale to give their final mark. There are no .5 grades, and there’s a significant difference in value between a 10 and a 9.
We’ve listed the Ace Grading scale from 10 Gem Mint to 5 Excellent below. (Of course, it goes down to 1 Poor.)
10 – Gem Mint
An Ace Gem Mint 10 is a card that has four undamaged corners, sharp edges and a beautiful surface. An Ace 10 will not be marked, stained or damaged, and will have centering that is less than a 60/40 split. There may be very minor defects that do not detract from the eye appeal of the card as a whole.
9 – Mint
An Ace Mint 9 is a card that exhibits nearly identical quality to that of a Gem Mint 10 card, however may suffer from a minor imperfection, either in the corners, the edges or the surface. The centering for a card must be greater than 65/35 for any opposite pair on the front, and 70/30 for any opposite pair on the rear of the card.
8 – Near Mint – Mint
An Ace Near Mint – Mint 8 card will closely resemble the Ace 9, however may suffer from a few minor imperfections, such as whitening, either in the corners, the edges or the surface, or a combination of any of these areas. The centering for a card must be greater than 70/30 for any opposite pair on the front, and 75/25 for any opposite pair on the rear of the card.
7 – Near Mint
An Ace Near Mint 7 is a card that has slight wear which is more visible than the Near Mint – Mint 8, including more noticeable damage on edges, corners or surfaces, such as whitening. This may include more perceptible printing defects, and the centering for a card must be greater than 75/25 for any opposite pair on the front, and 80/20 for any opposite pair on the rear of the card.
6 – Excellent – Mint
An Ace Excellent – Mint 6 card may have more noticeable damage or printing defects. There may be more than one area of whitening on the corners or edges, and these areas may not be sharp. The centering for a card must be greater than 80/20 for any opposite pair on the front, and 80/20 for any opposite pair on the rear of the card.
5 – Excellent
An Ace Excellent 5 may show more visible printing defects and damage. Corners may be misshapen and whitening / fraying and edges may be more noticeable. Scratches may be obstructing the focal points of a card, including the artwork or text. The centering for a card must be greater than 80/20 for any opposite pair on the front, and 80/20 for any opposite pair on the rear of the card.
Ace Grading has a reputation for having one of the stricter UK grading companies, but we were pleasantly surprised with the number of 10s we received.
Of the 11 cards we sent over, here’s a rundown of exactly what we got.
- Ace 9 – 5
- Ace 10 – 6
It’s a great return, especially considering increased prices seen for Gem Mint copies.
Ace Grading UK: Shipping & Packaging
For our Ace Grading review, we sent the cards off via next day delivery, and the company got in contact to let us know that they had arrived safely.
When they returned, the cards were wrapped up tight in a box within a box, with additional packaging used to keep everything secure.
In the middle was an additional box, including a sticker with the Ace Grading logo.
Everything came back in perfect condition, although there were no external sleeves for the slabs. (This means they can scratch easily if knocked together.)
Ace Grading UK: Slabs
Slabs are one area in which Ace Grading leads the way. Their cases feel a little sturdier than the norm, which is noticeable when stacked up against the likes of GetGraded.
The label is also a lot cleaner, and you’ll be able to choose from a trio of different options. There’s a Standard design, a Colour Match to fit the card, and their Ace Label variant which is ‘reserved for the most sought after and often the rarest cards’.
We ended up testing it out for one card, getting a rainbow colour-matched label that can be seen below.
This feels like a matter of personal preference, but it’s nice to have different options to choose from.
It’s hard to find many faults with the slabs or the labels, and they’re likely to keep your cards safe in the long term.
Ace Grading UK: Communication & Social Media
Ace Grading sent several emails notifying us of various updates along the way. It’s great if you like to keep tabs on progress. This included when they received the submission, and when they started grading the cards.
After you’ve made an account, you can access a submission dashboard. This will provide you with updates at each step of the grading process. However, I was unable to see the cards I’d submitted or the grades they’d received before they were returned.
They don’t post often on social media, but they are responsive if you do happen to run into any issues.
Ace Grading UK: Values
Ace Grading is one of the better UK-based companies if you’re hoping to sell your cards on sites like eBay in the short-term.
They won’t match up to the likes of PSA or BGS in terms of valuations, but Gem Mint copies will sell for a respectible amount. It’s also far cheaper and quicker to get cards graded, so it’s a tradeoff worth considering.
We’d probably send off any 1999 1st Edition Holos to a more established company. Ace Grading is still a decent option if you want to get modern Pokémon cards slabbed at reasonable prices.
Ace Grading UK Review: Overall
Our Ace Grading review looked at everything the service has to offer at the midway point of 2022.
Ace Grading more than lives up to their reputation as a service for UK Pokémon card collectors to consider. It’s great if you’re interested in features like the Population Report or their custom slabs.
The cards will be shipped back in next to no time, and it’s relatively affordable. Of course, they won’t match up to the big three anytime soon. It’s still a welcome addition for Pokémon card collectors who’d like a slabbed card with some resale value.