Last Updated On: October 12th, 2023
When it comes to collecting cards, the condition is everything.
Generally, one of the best ways to protect a card’s condition from dust, dirt, and grime is by keeping it encased in a slab. Of course, we have covered slabbing in several different forms on this site before – savvy slabbing, screwy slabbing, even MySlabbing, but what happens when your holders need a little TLC?
In this article, we’re going to discuss the top five reasons to get your cards reholdered. As we’ll learn, a broken or dated slab can have serious consequences on your bottom line when getting a card’s valuation. We’ll also dive into a few company-specific reasons to reholder your cards with PSA, BGS, SGC, and CGC, and finally discuss the fees associated with the process.
Let’s check it out!
Table of Contents
What is a Reholder (AKA Reslab)?
A slab or holder is the plastic case that companies insert cards into after grading them. A reholder or reslab, then, is the process by which a card that’s already been graded or encased in a slab is taken out and inserted into a new slab.
A reholder should not be confused with “crossing over,” which is when one sends a graded card to a different company for a second opinion on the card’s condition (i.e. sending a BGS 9.5 to PSA to get a 10).
The process of getting a reholder is fairly straightforward.
What’s the Process to Reholder a Card?
The good news for those looking to reholder slabs is that companies are generally happy to reholder cards for a fee (more on that below).
The process to reholder is relatively straightforward, involving the following steps:
- Send the card to the company that initially graded it (for a primer, check out our comprehensive guide on shipping baseball cards).
- From there, the company will inspect the slab and card to make sure both are authentic.
- Assuming both the holder and case are authentic, the grading company will then remove the card and carefully set it in a new slab.
- After that, the company sends back the card in its flashy new reholder.
Also, be aware if the slab has a crack running over the surface of the card anywhere, the grading company will reassess the condition of the card to ensure no damage that would necessitate adjusting the numeric grade. If the crack or damage to the slab is not near the card itself (as with the Mantle at the top of this post), then a reslab will likely just be a reslab — the grade on the slab will not be revisited.
Reasons to Reholder Your Cards
Now that we know the process of reholdering a card, let’s discuss five reasons why it might be a good idea to do so.
1. New Slabs Sell Better
Think about how much the world has changed since 1998. No iPhones, Bluetooth was still mostly known for being the name of a 10th-century Danish king, and the Seattle Supersonics were a) a team and b) the #2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The point is, the world has changed dramatically since 1998. Technological advances have affected just about every area of our lives, and sports cards are no exception.
The increased use of technology in the hobby has improved the quality of grading by companies like PSA and BGS. And folks in the hobby know this; as a result, older slabs are sometimes associated with a shakier grade, while newer slabs imply a better quality of grade.
As a result, it’s not surprising that, in some cases, older slabs sell for a bit less than their newer counterparts. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but something worth keeping in mind. Also, as we’ll find out with the next section, any damage to a slab will undoubtedly sell worse than a fresh reholdered slab.
2. Damaged Case (Chipped, Cracked, Etc.)
Unfortunately sometimes you receive a cracked case as soon as you get your PSA shipment:
If an old case can hurt the value of your card, it’s even worse if your card is in an old, damaged case. Of course — even newer slabs with damage should be reslabbed. If it’s sold as-is, be sure to mention the case damage in the description on eBay or MySlabs, as collectors can get finicky (with good reason); disclosing damage will not result in any surprises.
3. New Security Features
Grading isn’t the only technique that’s improved over time; so has security. Grading companies now offer a host of anti-fraud measures designed to weed out the authentic slabs from the fugazi holders. Think about it like money – bills from 1992 look way different than bills from 2022, thanks to the host of anti-counterfeit techniques applied.
Look back at that old PSA holder from the section above. There’s not much in the way of security going on with that label, right? In fact, it looks like someone with enough time, plastic, and red ink could feasibly make a decent copy.
That’s not quite the case these days. PSA, for instance, boasts a tri-part anti-fraud measure on its label, including a difficult-to-replicate “lighthouse logo” with “on/off illumination” and “fugitive ink” in the label that prevents washing and is challenging to fake. Fugitive ink, by the way, is a common way to prevent check washing.
Brush strokes of fugitive ink are embedded into the white background of the label, which “…will dissolve and wash away when exposed to cleaning chemicals. This makes tampering with the label’s variable print a useless pursuit.”Joe Orlando, former President of PSA
BGS, for its part, was caught up in a frenzy in 2022 when collectors stumbled upon a host of fake slabs for sale across the internet. A little internet sleuthing later, and many discovered that the fraudulent BGS slabs featured a misprinted PAT number on the slab’s base.
4. New Case Sizes and Types
Once upon a time, slabs operated a bit like your dad’s favorite college sweatshirt: they were oversized. You could even (gently!) shake an old holder and hear the card bounce against the edge. Further, early slabs were not ideal for graded packs – PSA, for instance, folded back the pack’s edges and compressed it tightly in the holder. It’s unclear whether this method is damaging the cards in the pack – we’ll call it Schrödinger’s Pack – but at the very least, this looks like a horrible idea.
While that old school style might be coming back into vogue on the runway, it ain’t happening for holders.
Nowadays, cards fit snuggly into holders, keeping those edges crisp and bounce-free. And the packs are mercifully not folded at the edges, either. These new cases provide better support for the card with an accompanied sleeve or “card condom” as some refer to it lol (similar to a penny sleeve to keep it from moving).
Additionally, grading companies have more options when it comes to slabs. This is critical for non-traditional cards, like those featuring patches. If you’ve ever handled a patch card, you can tell instantly that it’s thicker than a non-patch card.
And thankfully, newer slabs are being developed to accommodate some of the most valuable, limited edition cards in the game.
5. It Just Looks Better
Up to this point, we’ve focused mainly on newer slabs doing a better job at preserving a card’s condition. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the aesthetic quality of newer slabs. While non-conformity and creativity should be celebrated when it comes to the card itself, collectors want a polished, uniform slab.
And those early slabs? They resemble Michael Jordan shortly after getting cut from his high school basketball team – unpolished and far from a finished product. Just look at the label on this slab, which may well have been printed from a dot matrix printer.
Even if the card’s condition isn’t in question, the holder is in good shape, you’re not concerned about authenticity, and the card fits the holder nicely, newer slabs just look better. And when you’re trying to increase a card’s value as much as possible, a new slab is an excellent route to take.
The appearance factor is reason enough to consider reholdering an old slab.
Additional Reasons (Grading Company Specifics)
Though you may not realize it, PSA has periodically updated its slab over time. The company has been at the forefront of new security techniques as it relates to its label and slabs. We mentioned a few above, but here’s an excerpt from the company’s website:
These [safety] features include, but are not limited to, everything from embedded hologram technology used on our PSA/DNA COAs and LOAs for autographs and memorabilia to completely enhanced tamper-evident holders used to encapsulate trading cards. This is just a sampling of some of the overt security tools utilized at PSA in addition to the covert features used to combat potential fraud.
Much of the slab, label color, and label design have remained the same over time. But as with anything, getting your PSA slabs reholdered ensures they’re the most authentic and most up-to-date.
There’s lots to love with BGS’ metallic-plated labels. Unfortunately, they can be prone to sliding around. Even brand new slabs can come back askew, as in this sad case here:
Unfortunately, BGS isn’t the most forthcoming on free re-slabs if it comes back in the mail looking like this. Chances are, they’ll chalk it up to the shipping process, meaning you’ll have to reholder the card.
On that note — BGS doesn’t make it entirely easy to get a card reholdered. By that, we mean there is no special “BGS Reholder” rate advertised on its website.
There are a few different ways to go about a BGS reholder. One way is to simply get it reholdered like you would if you were getting the card graded originally. That said, there’s a chance that BGS will revisit the original grade in this process, which could result in a lower grade.
Another way to get a card reholdered through BGS is by writing “reholder only” on the company’s card submission form. But probably the best way to go about this process, and likely the most foolproof, is by contacting BGS directly. Shoot them a message inquiring about the reholdering process and they should be able to answer any questions you have.
Back in 2018, SGC underwent a major refresh, releasing a new slab design and revamped grading system. Under its old form, SGC graded cards on a 1-100 scale, while the new system was standardized out of 10. A reslab of one of those 100-score graded cards would result in a Pristine 10 (i.e. the Gold Label), one of the rarest grades in the hobby. For more about the SGC Gold Label, check out our post where we compare it to the BGS Black Label.
The new slab design replaced the old green label with a black border.
CGC (Formerly CSG)
Comic book and trading card aficionados saw their world’s collide when CSG and CGC announced a merger in June 2023. In July, submissions under the old CSG label started grading under CGC, coming with a new scale and new label.
The new scale is a more traditional 10-point scale, with a Gem Mint 10 replacing the old Gem Mint 9.5. Under the old scale, a Perfect 10 was the best grade a card could earn; post-merger, any Perfect 10s will be changed to a Pristine 10 upon reholdering. A former Gem Mint 9.5 will see its score bumped up to a 10 upon reholdering, however.
Let’s check out how much it costs to reslab your cards with each of the major grading companies.
|Grading Company||Reslab Fees||Notes|
|PSA||Starting at $25/card||Estimated turnaround time: 30 days|
|BGS||Starting at $16/card||BGS does not offer a standalone reholder service; instead, you re-submit graded cards and indicate in the checkout process that you would like the card to be reholdered|
|SGC||Starting at $15/card||5-10 days turnaround. SGC also offers speedy turnaround times of 1-2 business days for a premium price (starting at $40/card)|
|CGC||Starting at $5/item||Current turnaround time is 30 days|
Whether you’re looking to refresh a broken slab, modernize your holder, or simply maintain a card’s condition, reholdering cards is a common practice in collecting that ensures your graded cards get the most value. Fortunately, most grading companies make it easy to reholder an old slab with fees ranging from $5 to $25 per card.
Think of any reasons we missed? Let us know in the comments! Also, let us know your own personal experiences getting cards reholdered and whether you found the process worthwhile.