Checking Condition Of Pokémon Cards In 10 Steps

June 1, 2022 · Your Playmat
Checking The Condition Of Pokémon Cards In 10 Steps

To date, there is a scale for assessing the condition of Pokémon cards:

  1. Mint (M). The card must be in perfect condition. It is crystal clear even under a microscope.
  2. Near Mint (NM). The card in NM condition looks just perfect. It may have minor damage.
  3. Excellent (EX). Small defects or damage can be clearly seen on this map.
  4. Good (GD). A fairly large amount of general damage has accumulated on the map.
  5. Light Played (LP). Badly worn cards fall into the PL gradation.
  6. Played (PL). Erased corners, worn areas of the front and back sides, many large scratches, and much more.
  7. Poor. This category includes cards that are literally destroyed.

However, how to determine which of the ratings your card belongs to? It is not necessary to take your cards to a knowledgeable dealer for evaluation, you can do it by yourself! Use our article to make this process easier for you.

Step 1: Card Validation

Step 1: Pokémon Card Validation

Before you begin to check the Pokémon card conditions, it is worth paying attention to the authenticity of the card. When your card is fake, it isn't getting graded, and it won't have any value. Here is a quick guide to verifying the authenticity of your card:

  1. Look at the back of the card. Genuine cards have a holographic Pokémon logo on the back, while fakes are just a regular character image.
  2. Check out the front of the card. Genuine cards have an "alpha-numeric" code on their bottom left corner, while fakes will either have no code or just a Pokedex number.
  3. Find your card's value by looking up recent auctions and value-checking websites.

Step 2: Check Rarity

Step 2: Pokémon Card Rarity Check

There are a few ways you can pin down a card's rarity. The first step is to find the number code on the bottom left or right corner of the card — this is usually called an "identification code," but sometimes it's just a Pokedex number. If you're lucky, you'll be able to find this information online and search for other cards with the same number on them. The next step is to check recent auctions and value-checking websites to see what kind of price range your card falls into. 

Step 3: Rips

Step 3: Pokémon Card Check For Rips

Bad news, Pokémon fans, - your ripped card could be worthless. If the tear is too big or too deep, it's possible that grading companies will reject it outright and refuse to grade it. Even if they do offer to certify that the card is genuine, they'll likely give it a zero score.

If you're lucky enough to have a card that's been graded with a low score before it was ripped up, you might still be able to sell it for some money. But in most cases, it's just not worth any money for anyone who collects cards as an investment.

Step 4: Bends

Step 4: Pokémon Cards Check For Bends

A bent card is a bad card. Even if it's bent just a little bit, it can significantly affect the score of your rarest cards, and a heavy fold will mean that even your rarest card won't bring home much. But there are ways to combat this:

  • If you want to keep your collection in tip-top shape, it's crucial to carefully sleeve all your cards and store them in a cool, dry place.
  • Use holders that clamp fix the deck and protect it from external factors. Due to the pressure, the holder can align the deformed cards. 

Step 5: Scratches

Step 5: Pokémon Cards Check For Scratches

Scratches can appear on any Pokémon card, but they're especially common on holographic cards. The best way to spot scratches is by holding the card foil up to the light and turning it occasionally so you can see if there are any scratches across the illustration. If there are, they'll stand out against the foil — and that means a lower selling price. Don't forget that you can always use handy playmats during your games to keep your cards undamaged and worth a decent amount.

Step 6: Water Damage

Step 6: Pokémon Cards Check For Water Damage

Water damage causes warping and creasing. This happens when water seeps into the paper and weakens it so much that it just crumples itself when you try and flatten it out again (which makes sense). The best way to fix this is with a plain notebook — any ink might run and further damage your Pokémon card! And whatever you put underneath should be smooth — rough textures could cause more damage. You can also try ironing your card through a highly heat-resistant cloth — but if you want to do this at home, watch out: steam from an iron can actually make things worse! 

Step 7: Whitening

Step 7: Pokémon Cards Whitening Check

This section includes two concepts such as:

  • Edgewear. It's especially common with older cards because they were handled more frequently and didn't have protective sleeves like they do today. If you have an old card in pristine condition except for some minor edgewear on one corner, this can be easily fixed by adding a protective sleeve to it before selling it off!
  • Whitening. It is also called "whiting out", this refers to white spots appearing on the edges of your cards — usually from being handled before being put away in storage for years at a time. These marks usually appear as small scuffs like fingerprints.

Step 8: Fading

Step 8: Pokémon Cards Check For Fading

Some cards are just going to fade over time. It's kind of part of the game — as long as they're not too faded, they can still be worth their weight in gold. But if you have a card that's faded almost completely, it's likely going to have a lower value than a card with its original colors. Remember that this natural process can be accelerated by exposure to sunlight or heat. 

Step 9: Corner Damage

Step 9: Pokémon Cards Check For Corner Damage

If a card is peeling, it's usually just the corners that start to come off. If it gets really bad, though, then the side of the card can start to peel away as well. When you're trying to determine a card's value, peeling is one of the most essential details to look at. Even if damaged Pokémon cards have only slight peeling in the corners, they will be worth much less than a quality one. After all, in the future, the peeling will affect the whole card and the defect will be too noticeable.

Step 10: Border Alignment

Step 10: Pokémon Cards Check For Border Alignment

That's right — a single border can change the value of your card by hundreds or thousands of dollars! You could have a Pikachu with a perfect image and typical wear, but if its left border is a little thicker than the right, it may be worth less than if its borders were even!

Bottom Line

After examining your cards for fading, watermarks, scratches, and other defects, you can determine the approximate price of the card. If you are sure of its high value, then it is best to confirm it with the help of appraisal companies. And remember, in order to keep the cards in good condition during the games, it is enough to use high-quality playmats to ensure the cards will not get damaged during the game and protective sleeves.


What are Pokémon cards worth money in 2022?

The most rated Pokémon cards in 2022 are:

  1. Umbreon VMAX
  2. Charizard VMAX
  3. Rayquaza VMAX
  4. Gengar VMAX

Are 90s Pokémon cards worth anything?

Yes, they are. For example, at the tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1999, were released only 12 Tropical Mega Battle cards, and PSA valued one such card at $65K.

Should I sell my Pokémon cards?

You should really sell your old quality Pokémon cards if they have little or no damage. This guarantees their high value.