CGC Cards Grading Scale

CGC Cards uses a highly accurate 10-point grading scale to evaluate TCGs, sports cards and non-sports cards. Below are CGC Cards’ grading standards for each numeric grade as well as information on designations and autograph grades.

Pristine Card, Pristine Label

The CGC Cards Pristine 10 label is reserved exclusively for the best of the best — cards that are flawless under 10-times magnification.

Standard Card Grading Scale

Pristine 10
A Pristine 10 is a virtually flawless card to the naked eye. The centering is 50/50, and the card has flawless color and registration. All cards that merit a CGC Pristine 10 grade will receive a special CGC Cards Pristine 10 label.
Gem Mint 10
A Gem Mint 10 is a card that has received a 10 grade overall; however, one of the grading criteria does not meet the requirements of a Pristine 10. Corners will appear perfect to the naked eye and Mint+ under 10x magnification. The surface is free of print spots and should also display perfect gloss, devoid of any surface flaws. Centering is not to exceed approximately 55/45, and reverse centering is not to exceed 75/25.
Mint+ 9.5
A Mint+ 9.5 is a card that displays premium eye appeal for a Mint card. Qualities such as exceptional centering, surface qualities/color or other key elements can elevate a card to a Mint+ grade.
Mint 9
A Mint card has four sharp corners with only minor wear visible. Slight minor flaws on the edges may be visible. The surface must have all original gloss; however, a small number of specks or one minor spot or surface defect is allowed. For TCG cards, cards will have only a few minor manufacturing or handling defects. For sports and non-sports cards, centering must be 60/40 or better for the front of the card, and 90/10 for the back.
NM/Mint+ 8.5
A card graded 8.5 has relatively smooth edges with only minor touches of wear. It must have original color borders and gloss. One of the following very minor flaws is allowed: corners are sharp to the naked eye but reveal slight imperfections under magnification; a small amount of minor print spots; subtle focus imperfections of the image. A very slight diamond cut is allowed. TCG cards could show small handing defects.
NM/Mint 8
A card graded 8 must have relatively smooth edges with only minor touches of wear. It must have original color borders and gloss. One of the following very minor flaws is allowed: corners are sharp to the naked eye but reveal slight imperfections under magnification; a small amount of minor print spots; subtle focus imperfections of the image. A very slight diamond cut is allowed. TCG cards could have small-to-moderate handling defects. For sports and non-sports cards, centering must be 65/35 or better.
Near Mint+ 7.5
A card graded 7.5 may also have a touch of wear on two or three corners or slightly rough edges. The image may be slightly out of register. A slight diamond cut is allowed, and very slight wax staining is allowed on the reverse. TCG cards could have a moderate defect or a number of small handling defects. For sports and non-sports cards, 65/35 centering is allowed.
Near Mint 7
A card graded 7 may also have a touch of wear on three or more corners and/or slightly rough edges. The image may be slightly out of register. A slight diamond cut is allowed, and very slight wax staining is allowed on the reverse. For sports and non-sports cards, centering should be 70/30 or better.
Ex/NM+ 6.5
For a grade of 6.5, no more than one slightly “dinged” corner is allowed, or no more than two of the following flaws: two or three fuzzy corners; slightly rough edges; noticeable print spots. A moderate diamond cut is allowed, and light wax staining on the front is acceptable.
Ex/NM 6
For a grade of 6, no more than one “dinged” corner is allowed or no more than two of the following flaws: two or three fuzzy corners; slightly rough edges; noticeable print spots. A moderate diamond cut is allowed, and wax staining on the front is acceptable. For sports and non-sports cards, centering may be no worse than 75/25.
Excellent+ 5.5
At 5.5, the corners may exhibit light “fuzzyness” and very minor rounding. The corners may come to a point but may have one or two “dinged” corners. There may also be chipping on the edges, minor border discoloration, noticeable print spots and/or color or focus imperfections on the surface.
Excellent 5
At 5, the corners may exhibit “fuzzyness” and very minor rounding. The corners may come to a point but may have two to three “dinged” corners. There may also be chipping on the edges, minor border discoloration, noticeable print spots and/or color or focus imperfections on the surface. On cards with scratch-off surfaces, the coating may be removed, but the surface is not damaged.
VG/Ex+ 4.5
At 4.5, the corners may display slight rounding. Noticeable surface flaws may include scuffing, scratches or one light crease. While some original surface gloss may be visible, the borders may be off-white, and a small amount of minor staining is allowed. For sports and non-sports cards, the centering is 85/15, and an extremely noticeable diamond cut is allowed.
VG/Ex 4
At 4, corners may display slight rounding. Noticeable surface flaws may include scuffing, scratches and one or more light creases. While some original surface gloss may be visible, borders may be off-white, and some minor staining is allowed. An extremely noticeable diamond cut is allowed.
Very Good+ 3.5
A Very Good+ card may have 90/10 centering and four rounded corners, but not extreme rounding. The surface may exhibit one moderate crease or more than one light crease, and may also display scuffing or scratches and loss of original gloss. The edges may have moderate wear, and moderate staining of the stock can be visible.
Very Good 3
A Very Good card can have four rounded corners, but not extreme rounding. The surface may exhibit one moderate crease or more than one light crease, and may also display scuffing or scratches and loss of original gloss. The edges may have moderate wear, and heavier staining of the stock can be visible on both the front and back of the card.
Good+ 2.5
A card graded Good+ may have heavier creasing, but the creasing does not travel across the surface from edge to edge. The card may also have some surface damage such as one small writing mark on the back. An extremely heavy diamond cut resulting in a near miscut is allowed.
Good 2
A card graded Good can have heavier creasing that may travel across the surface of the card from edge to edge. The card may also have some surface damage such as a small amount of writing on the front or back. An extremely heavy diamond cut resulting in a near miscut is allowed.
Fair 1.5
A Fair card can have one catastrophic flaw such as a staple hole, small area of missing surface, severe creasing and/or writing on the surface. The card may be miscut.
Poor 1
A Poor card may suffer from major surface damage such as severe creasing that breaks the surface, and/or it may be missing a small portion of the cardstock itself such as a portion of the corner that has been torn away from the card. The card will have multiple catastrophic flaws.

Designations

In certain circumstances, CGC Cards will assign designations to cards based on authenticity and/or alterations.

Authentic
The Authentic designation is used for cards that are authentic and unaltered but cannot receive a numeric grade. An example is a card with a missing portion of stock, such as when a card that was meant to be hand cut falls below the published measurement tolerance, like an early 20th century strip card. Authentic will also be used if a card is below the minimum size requirements.
Authentic Altered
CGC Cards will print Authentic Altered in the grade box if a card is authentic but has been altered. Examples of alterations include recoloring and trimming.

Autograph Grades

Autographs are graded on a 5 to 10 scale with no half grades. Below are CGC Cards’ Autograph grading standards.

10
A 10 is a boldly signed autograph that appears nearly perfect to the naked eye. Under normal viewing, the signature is an aesthetically pleasing autograph. A light streak in the signature stroke is acceptable.
9
A 9 is an autograph that is also pleasing to the eye but has a slight imperfection. Two light streaks are acceptable if they are the only imperfections. One of the following imperfections are allowed: minor splattering of the ink; very minor scratching in the ink; slight variance in the boldness of the signature. The signature may run off of the card and/or the sticker. Any very slight amounts of ink found in other places of the card such as spots of ink on the reverse are also allowed.
8
An 8 is a signature that is solid and pleasing to the eye but may exhibit more noticeable defects that affect the aesthetics of the autograph such as light bleeding of one of the letters, a more evident skip in the signature, heavier streaking, visible yellowing or a signature that has begun to fade evenly or is lightly smeared. The signature may run off the card and/or sticker in more than one area.
7
With a 7, multiple flaws are evident, such as noticeable yellowing throughout the signature, portions of smeared ink or even fading to the entire signature. Up to 20% of the signature may be missing, when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. A portion of the signature may run off the card or may bleed onto the edge in three or more areas.
6
With a 6, the signature is still complete but heavy flaws are easily visible and highly distracting. These flaws include significantly smeared ink on multiple areas of the autograph, considerably heavy skipping or bleeding of the autograph or substantial yellowing or fading of the entire signature. Up to 35% of the signature may be missing, when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. Portions of the signature may run off the card or may bleed onto the edge.
5
Aging of the signature has become evident as it is no longer bold and exhibits heavy flaws that take away from the overall eye appeal. The entire signature is still visible to the naked eye, but it is subject to massive fading and yellowing, smeared ink or blemishes throughout that distract from the autograph. Up to 50% of the signature may be missing when referring to a sticker/cut autograph. Several letters of the signature may be missing entirely as they have run off the card or bled onto the edge.

Legacy Grade Key

The CGC Cards Grading Scale has been updated to reflect current industry standards. Below is a key for legacy grades that are no longer used by CGC Cards. The CGC Cards Population Report and the CGC Cards Registry reflect the updated grading scale.

Legacy Grade
Updated Grade
CGC Trading Cards Gem Mint 9.5
CGC Cards Gem Mint 10
CSG Gem Mint 9.5
CGC Cards Gem Mint 10
CGC Trading Cards Perfect 10
Retired grade; retains Perfect 10 status
CSG Perfect 10
Retired grade; retains Perfect 10 status