How To Find the Best Coin Grading Services in the Market

The world of coin trading can sometimes feel like the Wild West. With so many operators, so many coins of varying quality, and so much money at stake, how do you know who to trust? That’s where coin grading comes in. Third-party coin graders help collectors and investors authenticate coins, determine their condition, and increase their asset value.

To help you pick the best coin grading service, the experts at Oxford Gold Group introduce you to some of the most prominent companies in the market. We also cover what factors to consider when seeking quality coin grading companies and what benefits you can expect from professional grading services.

What Is Coin Grading, and Why Is It Important?

Coin grading determines the condition of a coin, which in turn helps determine its value. To standardize the process and the results, professional coin graders follow a recognized grading system, most commonly the 70-point Sheldon Scale.

When assessing the condition of coins, graders look at characteristics such as the following:

  • Aesthetic interest (“eye appeal”)
  • Luster (shine)
  • Toning (oxidation)
  • Any dents, scratches, or other blemishes
  • Level of detail retained

The grader assigns the coin a numerical value based on these factors. A grade of 1 represents poor quality, while 70 represents perfect mint condition. Other general categories include “good,” “fine,” and “very fine.”

Best Coin Grading Services in the Market

hand holding green circle with top service icon

When looking for trusted coin certification services in the United States, you will find the following well-known grading companies:

Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC)

NGC, one of the leading coin grading services, has been in operation since 1987. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) have selected NGC as their official grading company. NGC claims to be the largest third-party grading service in the world, having graded more than 60 million coins.

The company has also invested over $1 million to create a state-of-the-art protective coin holder used by the Smithsonian Institution and other museums. NGC holders feature advanced security elements, including holograms and tamper-evident labels. NGC guarantees that its certified coins in official NGC holders are genuine and not over-graded.

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)

Another of the country’s top coin grading companies, PCGS, began operations in 1985. Although both companies use a similar 70-point scale, some collectors believe PCGS has stricter grading standards. Regardless, NGC and PCGS have an established history of providing reliable, accurate grading and authentication services.

PCGS offers a cash-back guarantee of grade and authenticity, provided that the coin stays in its tamper-evident, sonically sealed capsule. All PCGS-authorized dealers will accept all PCGS-assigned coin grades.

American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS)

While NGC and PCGS are probably the most prominent coin graders in the country, ANACS bills itself as America’s oldest grading service. The company has been authenticating and certifying US coins, foreign coins, ancient coins, and tokens since 1972.

ANACS encapsulates its certified coins with a unique serial number that collectors and investors can use to look them up on its website. Like NGC and PCGS, ANACS guarantees the grade and authenticity of coins encapsulated in an ANACS holder.

Independent Coin Graders (ICG)

Newer than NGC and PCGS, ICG has been grading coins since 1998. IGC also offers a tamper-evident, ultrasonically sealed holder with a custom hologram system. The company guarantees that all US and foreign coins it grades and encapsulates are genuine (unless encapsulated in the ICG “educational slab”).

Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS)

While not a grading company, NCS offers coin conservation services that may enable coins to receive a higher grade. The conservation process removes surface contaminants, improves the coin’s appearance, and stabilizes the coin for long-term preservation. Many collectors send their coins to NCS before grading at NGC, an affiliated company.

Factors To Consider When Selecting a Coin Grading Service

five stars on rustic wooden board

When looking for the best coin grading services, consider the following factors:

Reputation and Reliability

Highly rated numismatic graders will have a solid standing in the community and good customer reviews. You can look at Better Business Bureau reviews, articles in industry publications, and coin-collecting message boards to see what others say about them.

Customer service is also important, so the company should have an easy submission process, efficient response times, and a clear explanation of their process.

Expertise of Graders

The accuracy of a coin grading service depends largely on the expertise of its graders. The best grading companies hire skilled graders with advanced numismatic knowledge. To maintain impartiality, coin graders should not be involved in buying or selling coins.

Authentication Process

In addition to accurate grading, all top coin grading companies ensure that coins are genuine. Look for companies offering guarantees on the grade and authenticity of the coins they certify.

Cost of Services

Most coin grading companies have varying prices for the speed of service: economy, regular, and express. They may also charge different rates according to the age and origin of the coin. Depending on the company, you may be able to purchase additional services for a fee, such as high-resolution coin imaging.

How Does Coin Grading Enhance the Value of My Coins?

Coins carrying a certification from a reputable coin grading company often have a higher numismatic value. Prospective buyers rest easier knowing that a third party has attested to the genuineness and condition of the coin.

Typically, the higher the coin grade, the higher the value. Professional grading costs may be particularly worthwhile for rare, old, low-mintage, or historically important coins.

Benefits of Using a Professional Coin Grading Service

one dollar bill on pile of gold coins

Professional coin grading services offer the following benefits:

  • Calculating value: You can better understand what your coins are worth. Professional graders will evaluate the authenticity of your coins, assess their condition, and help you identify valuable coins.
  • Improving marketability: Buyers are more likely to trust certifications from reputable grading companies than the word of individual sellers.
  • Preserving value: Professional companies provide holders with advanced security features to help preserve the coin’s value for future trades.
  • Protecting the coin: Professional graders will slab your coin in a hard plastic case for long-lasting protection.

Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing a Coin Grading Service

Look out for the following mistakes when selecting a coin grading company:

  • Not choosing a reputable company: Lesser-known companies may overgrade or have inconsistent standards.
  • Having unrealistic standards: Collectors who overestimate the value of their coins may seek out less reputable companies to give their coins a higher grade than they deserve.
  • Not understanding your needs: A high-priced service may be less important for new coins or casual collectors, while serious collectors of ancient coins may demand that level of precision.
  • Conducting minimal research: Educating yourself on the coin grading process, the benefits of grading, and the best coin grading services will help you make informed decisions about your coins.

Investing in Coins With Oxford Gold Group

Collecting coins can be fun and lucrative. But did you also know coins can protect your financial future?

At Oxford Gold Group, we offer a variety of precious metal investment products, including gold, silver, palladium, and platinum coins. If you want to add coins to your portfolio or learn more about precious metals IRAs, contact us for more information.

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