GMA Grading Review – Legit or Scam?

Everyone knows that having your cards slabbed and graded increases the value of your cards. When looking at grading companies most people only ever consider the two most well known companies, Beckett and PSA. The truth is that there is a ton of other grading card companies out there but they just don’t get the level of respect that the big two get. GMA Grading is one of those lesser known companies.

GMA Grading has been around since 2003 and has been slowly building up their name ever since. They seem to be the most well known of the lesser well known grading companies out there, if that makes any sense. But are they legit? I bought some GMA graded cards, dug through forums end eBay data, and read through other folks experiences to come up with the questions and conclusions in this post.

The Good

Cheap Pricing – GMA is by far the cheapest semi-reputable grading company out there right now. With prices as low as $6 per regular card and $5 for certified or pack autograph cards, no one is beating them on pricing. At this price point, it doesn’t cost much more than a one touch case to get your cards graded.

Fast turnaround – GMA Grading boasts a 7 day turnaround time. Putting that up against BGS or PSA is like night and day. Sometimes you need to get a card graded and flipped ASAP before missing a profit window. GMA’s 7 day turnaround is perfect for that.

Adds Value To Cards – This point is somewhat debatable. Due to some of the things I’ll mention in the below “bad” section, some collectors would argue whether or not going with GMA grading actually adds value to the card. From looking at recent completed eBay auctions, it clearly does add some value to the card. Most GMA Graded cards are going for well over raw pricing. They’re typically selling for less than what PSA cards are going for but in some odd cases, they are actually going for PSA 10 values and even slightly more. For example, look at these recent Baker Mayfield Rated Rookie auctions where a GMA 10 Graded card sold for more than a PSA 10:

Baker Mayfield Rated Rookie PSA 10 Recent Pricing (May 2019)
Baker Mayfield Rated Rookie GMA 10 Recent Pricing (May 2019)

The Bad

Inaccurate Grading – If you’re sending a card to a grading company. You want an accurate grade. GMA Has been known to give Gem MT 10 scores to cards that definitely don’t deserve it. I bought a GMA Gem-MT 10 Josh Rosen Rated Rookie Card on eBay to compare it to a PSA/BGS version I have. The card has noticeable damage on the backside of one of the corners, yet the card is considered a Gem-MT 10. There have also been various reports all over sports card forums of people with similar stories of seeing clearly not mint cards getting perfect scores from GMA.

Damaged Corner on a GMA Gem-MT 10 Josh Rosen Rated Rookie Card

Low Quality Slab – The slab that GMA uses feels extremely lightweight and cheap. The card inside is able to bounce around freely and isn’t remotely secure. The GMA grading label looks like it was printed on regular low quality paper. Everything about the slab screams knock off, in my opinion.

Card Sliding Around Freely In GMA Slab

Lack of transparency or insights on the grading process – A quick google search reveals the process of how PSA grades cards and the process of how BGS grades cards. With GMA this information is nowhere to be found. The closest thing you get is their grading scale explaining what the different grades means. And that just literally appears to be PSA’s grading scale rewritten in different words with typos. Speaking of which…

The website is littered in typos – Look, I’m sure there are typos on my website and I realize that I’m being nitpicky by pointing this out. However, as a grading company, you should specialize in attention to detail. Having typos literally ALL over your website is not a good look. Examples include misspelling “scratch” on the grading scale page, only listing 5 rookies (and misspelling Giovani Bernard) on the “Top 6 NFL Rookies of 2013 to Buy” page, and many more.

Buyers cannot verify grades – This one boggles my mind the most. As far as I can tell there is no database lookup to actually verify the grades of these cards online. Both BGS and PSA have databases where you can find and verify the card by its serial number. I’m wondering if they even bother keeping a database or if they just generate a random serial number for looks on the card and call it a day.

The business address is a residential home – If you stick the address on the website into google maps it literally is a home. This leads me to believe that the owner, Alan Karpuch, runs GMA Grading as a one man business out of his own home. If that’s the case then this would add to the notion that the grading is extremely sub-par. Can you imagine a one man business keeping up with several people sending hundreds of cards at a time and then having to grade and slab each and return them to the customers within 7 days?

In Conclusion

Personally, I think people should stay away from GMA Grading. I certainly won’t be buying any GMA Graded cards for my personal collection. If all you care about is making money and you don’t care about the true quality of cards you are selling to buyers or the overall health of #thehobby… Then you might consider sending cards to GMA for a quick boost of value for reselling your cards. But that’s on you.

Would you ever use GMA or buy GMA Graded Cards? Have you? What was your experience? Leave a comment with your experiences or opinions below!

Josh Rosen Rated Rookie GMA 10 vs PSA 9 vs BGS 9.5
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Vic Szalaj
Vic Szalaj
3 years ago

I had great results and customer service from GMA. Grades came back as accurate as I could have guessed some lower than I thought. certainly not all “10’s” like you tend to see on other forums as a complaint. Will do business with them again.

King 🤴
King 🤴
2 years ago

So when I sent in a Otani rookie card that was an xfractor to PSA, I got a card back that was graded a seven and had damages on the front of the card . Luckily I took pictures before I sent my card out and saw no damage on the card I sent. I then proceeded to ask how I file a claim , they told me I had to fill out paperwork and send the card in with an additional $30 plus shipping for my claim. This was my first experience with PSA and my last. I luckily found GMA and have been very pleased with the 3 shipments that I have back from them. Also they help me keep cost down for my buyers. If they ever get the grading wrong I always let my buyers know and give a discount. GMA has helped me stay in the hobby at a reasonable price.

Phil
Phil
2 years ago

I left a reply recently but it’s not here. So here it is again. I had the chance to hold two cards in GMA slabs at a Massachusetts show a few days ago. I looked them over because I had just read this article a few days earlier, and I m interested in GMA because of the cost, turnaround and recent debacles at PWCC and elsewhere proving that PSA grades altered cards, fakes and just generally isnt the omniscient solution that the hobby tends to think of them as. Opinions are opinions. And given the number of cards that are cracked and resubmitted after 30 years, my opinion is that the PSA database populations grossly overstate true cards population, so their cataloguing advantage to the hobby us questionable at best.
Anyway…..

The two cards I held were normal stock modern cards. One was a 9, other was an 8. I agree with the grades based on my 30 plus years of studying cards. I’m 42 now. So, they werent just “given a Gem Mint 10”. Someone noticed the same flaws I noticed. A tweaked corner, some surface scratching etc.

I intentionally shook the holders to see if the cards moved after seeing your video of the Rosen card. Neither one moved at all. They behaved and looked pretty much like a PSA holder or an SGC etc. Perhaps they’ve improved their slabs since your experience, or perhaps I got lucky.

All that said, I m going to send about 15 cards to GMA for fun and as a test. Some modern, some junk wax and a couple 50s and 60s 70s. I ll be interested to see what my experience and opinion of their opinion ends up being. All that will happen for the cost of sending 3 cards to PSA and in about one tenth the turnaround time I suspect.

Eric M Budinski
Eric M Budinski
2 years ago

I’ve been in the hobby for a blistering 32 years. Lots of ups and downs! I’ve done huge deals with Mr Mint Al Rosen (RIP) grading in my opinion has destroyed a hobby I loved since I was a kid! The corruption that runs rampant is highly disturbing to say the least. I’ve done a ton of National conventions, and when I’m there I love to do walk arounds to see other collector’s gems. The sad thing is, most of the vintage 9s and 10s you see slabbed in PSA holders have been trimmed. You may ask what gives me the audacity to say such a thing?Well, when you’ve been in the hobby as long as I have spotting a wavy edge is pretty easy. I’ve even called out some pretty prominent dealers on some of their cards graded by PSA that have been trimmed and most have agreed that it looked trimmed. The business has been hacked just like our society.

Jav
Jav
2 years ago

That Josh Rosen Gem-MT 10 with a damaged corner could easily happen with the other companies. I’ve seen on Facebook where people posted a psa 10 with a damaged corner and bgs 9.5 with a damaged corner. The grader is human they can miss something on the card. Don’t believe what people say on forums about gma cause they’ve probably never used them and automatically assume because it’s cheap and fast it’s garbage it’s not. Gma will grade your cards just like the other 3 major companies.

Tim
Tim
2 years ago

The one thing I would like to see discussed is GMA’s ability to tell an authentic card from a reprint/fake. While I don’t necessarily care about the grade, a buyer knowing a card is 100% authentic is more important than the grade. What is their reputation for authenticating the cards?

Dan Van Slyke
Dan Van Slyke
2 years ago

I had a lot of 100 cards by PSA but I selected to not have the cards graded and slabbed unless they graded 8.5 or higher. None had imperfections like creases or damaged corners, but centering was sometimes off a bit or the edges weren’t perfect. Anyway, I sent the 22 cards lower graded cards I got back from PSA and sent them to GMA. When I got them back, only two graded over 8.5 and both were graded 9. The other 20 graded between 7 and 8.5. I don’t know what grades PSA actually gave them because they don’t tell you, but it sure appears to have similar results.

Dan Van Slyke
Dan Van Slyke
2 years ago

Let’s face it! Collectors are getting the shaft from the “respected” graders (PSA and Beckett). It takes them a matter of a few seconds to grade a card, yet the per card grading prices are ridiculous ($8.00 plus). They are literally filling barrels with money! The “hobby” has allowed itself to become obligated to use their service because they’ve accepted the “rule” that cards have to be graded to have any value. And PSA even demands a “piece of the action” for valuable cards. The more it’s worth, the more it costs to have it graded. Why the hell do they profit so much from the value or YOUR card? The same applies to authenticating autographs (like $100 for Michael Jordan). The ONLY thing that entitles them to do that is that people will pay it. Grading autographed cards is a huge racket too. Any idiot (like me) can look at an autograph and see if it meets their standards, but now you have to pay some idiot to give his or her opinion. Did they send those employees to “autograph quality assessment” colleges? IT’S A RACKET

Sandy Amiel
Sandy Amiel
2 years ago

You’re so Right!!! PSA BECKETT ARE BETTER
.

Chris H
Chris H
1 year ago

I don’t collect sports, but am an avid pokemon card collector. Our community has seen and had the same issues with psa that many others have described. I often wonder how many gem cards I send in only to be damaged during the grading process.

I always feel highly disappointed with psa as they seem to be monopolizing the market and know it. They have expected turn around times but never hold up to them. I had a friend submit a card for a 7 day turnaround and it ended up taking over a month. Yet they are never held responsible or compensate the customer for this even though they paid a higher amount for this faster service. For bulk submissions, it seems they don’t really follow their own rules on max card limits. Which is probably why they are always so back-logged. I guess they are trying to work on it by increasing the price for cards 2017 and newer, but, why not just go back to limiting how much bulk you do?

Don’t get me wrong, I do like psa graded cards. I have plenty in my collection as they do a good job slabbing the cards and the cases themselves look professional. I just think for the amount of money they charge, they could be a bit better about their time scale when it comes to grading.

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

Dont know if anyone will see this a year later but I came across this as a noob to the game. Started off going after raw cards on ebay that I wanted and crossing my fingers. But then found some GMA 10s for an acceptable price. Given the reputation and perception of GMA compared to the other two. Would it be a good strategy to find good deals on GMA cards, to then crack and send them to one of the big brands? At the very least I know I’m getting a card that is already protected and apparently in amazing shape. Thoughts?

Mike Hanson
Mike Hanson
1 year ago

GMA grades cards for the same price no matter what the projected “worth” – PSA makes you a partner without the rewards – charging more to grade depending on your projection of the card’s value and then raises the fee if they decide it grades higher. Shouldn’t the grading process be what you are paying for, not whether the card they grade is worth X and not Y? “Something smells here, and I won’t eat it.” Imagine the power of grading an 86 Fleer Jordan and the difference between a 9 and a 10 (I just checked) is $75,000 dollars and the grading fee varies from $10 to upwards of $1000! What grade would you give? This kind of power almost always breeds corruption. I had this argument with one of their reps (online, couldn’t reach ’em by phone) and we just agreed to disagree. That, to me, is the greatest difference between GMA and PSA (never used BGS). GMA grades cards – PSA runs an operation insulating the operatives from complaint with a cadre of “know-nothing” lackeys – just look at the Board of Directors. If what I see in some of these posts is true – they have enough Directors to grade cards quicker than 3-4 months. Are they running litmus texts on the materials? Do they ship in special graders from Europe? What?? And there’s little ol’ GMA cranking out graded cards in week for $5 per., answering phones, contacting customers. I use them and will continue to do so – I guess until they get big enough to charge fees based on the projections of what cards are worth (unless it’s more).

David
David
1 year ago

There is a seller on eBay selling fake cards and he added one to his inventory which just so happens to be graded by GMA as a GEM 10. Not only did they give it a 10 but overlooked the fact that it is a fake. Something to think about.

Alex
Alex
1 year ago

Thanks for the article. As a newbie to the baseball card collecting world, the amount of things to notice about a card can be overwhelming. I recently bought three GMA 10 graded football and baseball cards and thought I was getting an absolute steal for the auction prices I paid. I’m a little more bummed the more research I do on GMA’s reputation. But on the flip side, blindly sending cards to PSA and Beckett with what I believe to be their potential grades is pretty ridiculous for an average collector. I guess maybe that’s why PSA and Beckett do that (*lightbulb*) – it’s essentially their way to control quality?
Looking forward to seeing more comments regarding the article and experiences.
Also after reading your article, I emailed GMA and asked about a GMA graded database because you’re right – why put a serial number on it if there’s nowhere to cross reference?? Will follow up with the response.

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Thanks for the article.
GMA might be a low price alternative if your looking to slab your raw cards of a personal set. Grade might not be an issue if your set cards are raw to begin with .just a thought on this

Brandon Melnick
Brandon Melnick
1 year ago

I am back and forth with GMA. I love all the things everyone is talking about in these comments. Though the pricing has gone up to $8 and turnaround has dropped to 45 days, but that is still industry leading in both respects. I have bought many cards graded and cased in GMA 10 cases. The cards match the label description, but not the grade. Cards with multiple issues getting 10’s. Huge centering flaws getting 10’s. 80% of the GMA 10 cards i have bought online, would never grade 10 with BGS, PSA or SGC. NEVER. My thoughts are that either people are cracking open the GMA case, replacing the card with another copy, resealing the case and selling that. Then submitting the card that was actually graded to another company.( As has been pointed out the cases are Mickey Mouse, so this seems entirely possible. ) It’s either that, or they really suck at grading. Have you guys heard of anyone doing this, or had similar experiences?

Ed Jamieson
Ed Jamieson
1 year ago

By all means get a cheap way to encapsulate your cards, but without a method to verify cards via database lookup, this service is effectively useless for a buyer. And that applies EVEN if they have great people doing the grading.

Daniel
Daniel
1 year ago

I have some gma graded cards when I took them out of holder & compared to psa the quality was just as good don’t be discouraged by others opinions because they are wrong on some gma graded cards if u don’t believe me then look at a gma 10 next to a psa 10 or Beckett 10 there is no difference in a lot of cases most card collector say that just to have there cards valued higher

Ted
Ted
1 year ago

Hi

I just bought a GMA graded Tyler Toffoli young guns. I bought it because the price was only slightly higher than the same card ungraded. At least with a graded card, i knew the card would not get damaged in shipping. As well, i knew that at least someone looked at the condition of the card with a critical eye. I have bought too many cards on ebay with white or dinged corners. The condition of the GMA graded Toffoli is actually quite good. Depending on how Toffoli plays with the habs, i may even crack the case and re-grade the card with Beckett. I am pretty confident it would get at least a 9.0. Whether or not i would buy another GMA graded card depends on the price, and where i am buying it. At a show where i can see the condition myself, i would likely rather buy an ungraded card. Over ebay, i would consider buying a GMA graded card if the price is the same or only slightly higher than an ungraded version.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 year ago

I bought a Shohei Ohtani Donruss dominator rc /99 and it was fairly cheap. Card looks to be in nice condition but since it slides around in the case who knows how long it will look good.

Not very fun to have your card in a protective case and then have to handle it with so much care. Can’t recommend gma