MNT Grading Review for Canadians
Sending in your cards to get graded can be a pain in the butt, especially if it’s your first time. If you live outside the USA, the inconvenience of shipping your cards over a border or overseas can sometimes be enough to call off the whole thing. If you’re in Canada, you likely have already found out about MNT (pronounced ‘mint’) grading- a premium Canadian grading service. But many trading card collectors advise against using a service other than PSA, BGS, or CGC. Read on to hear our full review regarding MNT as a grading service and whether or not we recommend them.
Who is MNT Grading?
MNT Grading is a newly established Canadian trading cards grading company and is located in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. The President of the company is Stewart Andrews, having founded MNT in September 2016.
Like most collectible grading services, MNT largely relies on sports cards but is struggling to grade cards fast enough after the pandemic and the huge Pokémon boom that came with it. Because of this, MNT is able to charge a premium for fast turnaround times, indicating a healthy market and business.
At the time of writing this article, MNT only grades trading cards of standard card size (2.5” X 3.5”) and refuses to grade anything over 180pt.
Their slabs bear a resemblance to Beckett Grading Services’ design and even have a perfect 10 black label. They are also known to be harsh on their grading scale, unlike PSA.
MNT grading scale relative to PSA, BGS
MNT grades on a 1-10 scale, with increments of .5. This isn’t any different from most grading services, as most use a 1-10 scale. The way grading companies vary from each other is in the difficulty of the grades themselves.
The best grade a card can receive is a 10. PSA is known for issuing relatively easy 10s when compared to BGS, and MNT grades are about as harsh as BGS does.
BGS and MNT offer a grade above 10, unlike PSA. Receiving a flawless 10 (MNT) or a pristine 10 (BGS) is extremely difficult, with many claiming that it is near impossible. When BGS or MNT issue a perfect 10, they apply a black label to the slab, in place of the regular one. This is often referred to as a “black label 10”.
A difficult grading scale can deter collectors from submitting cards, unfortunately. If one is seeking a grade of 10, they’ll often send their card to PSA instead of BGS. However, PSA does not issue sub-grades.
For a card to receive a grade, it must first be graded on different aspects of card quality, called sub-categories (sometimes called sub-grades). This is a great feature because the collector can see exactly why their card was issued its grade.
The four sub-categories are corners, edges, surface, and cantering. Each category is scored out of 10, and a secret calculation is used to achieve the final grade. When grading with MNT, all four categories achieving a 10 will result in a black label flawless 10.
However, if just two or three of the categories are a 10, MNT will issue a pristine 10.
MNT Slabs review
A ‘slab’ is the term used for the sonically sealed outer shell that the company encases the card in. Depending on the company you use, the slabs often have various designs. Above the card, a label with the grade is encased in the slab as well. Slabs are tamper-proof and cannot be opened without being destroyed.
The slabs themselves are different from PSA and CGC, but again, similar to Beckett. Compared to a PSA slab, they are shorter, wider, and almost twice as thick. PSA has a frosted texture surrounding the card on their slabs while MNT does not.
MNT sleeves cards by default, while most grading services do not. When creating a submission, the customer is given the option to check a box and not have the card sleeved before being slabbed. This is something to consider.
When a card returns from MNT with a Pristine 10, it earns a silver cracked ice holo label, which looks pretty cool and if you’re lucky enough to receive a Flawless 10, then the label will be a black cracked ice holo. This is a small detail or flair to MNT’s labeling process and it is very appealing to see in person.
MNT Service review
MNT is overwhelmed with the recent influx of submissions that came with the pandemic, and as a result, turnaround times are still high.
MNT offers a discount when submitting cards in bulk, just like most grading services, and also offers premium packages for same-day grading. The customer is able to track the progress of their shipment from the moment the package arrives.
Our most recent submission was under the 30-day package and wasn’t completed and shipped until 40 business days had passed. From there, we were able to track the package on its journey home.
To create a submission with MNT is fairly simple as long as you follow their 6 Step Guide. They package the slabs very nicely and securely, with each slabbed individually bagged as well.
Will grading with MNT increase the card’s value?
One of the biggest reasons collectors choose to grade their cards is to increase the card’s value. Buyers will pay more for a card that has been authenticated and graded upon a standard grading scale by professionals.
However, the degree of value increase is often determined by the reputation of the grading company. PSA, BGS, and CGC are well established and have earned strong recommendations among the community. Using any of these services will dramatically increase the value of your card.
MNT will increase the value of your card, but not by much. Many collectors get their cards graded specifically for the value increase and the potential resale. If this is your intention, MNT probably isn’t the most efficient way to go about it.
As the market stands at the time of writing this article (May 2022), MNT slabs tend to sell for an average of 50% of a PSA slab with the same card and grade.
MNT vs. PSA vs. BGS further market analysis
I recently dove into a MNT vs. PSA market value analysis. Basically, I compared 20 MNT slabs to 20 PSA slabs of the same cards and answered a lot of questions about the differences in value.
With the recent boom in the trading card industry, many smaller grading companies have begun to pop up and offer their services to the community. While this is frowned upon among collectors, it is actually healthy for the hobby and helps meet the insane demand for card grading. More companies mean more competition, which in turn could result in a better service. However, MNT was established in 2016, before the pandemic.
MNT often gets lumped in with the “pop-up’ grading services. This is an understandable mistake, but ultimately unfair for a company that beat many others to the market. Being a Canadian-founded grading service, their exposure to the American community is low.
Due to these factors, MNT just doesn’t increase the value of the card by that much. Most of the graded cards bought and sold on the online market are based in the USA and benefit from the PSA, BGS, or CGC label. Americans see the MNT logo and assume it is another grading service looking to cash in on the trading card boom.
That being said, MNT slabs often fetch higher prices than other Canadian grading services such as KSA. They are slowly establishing themselves as one of, if not the best, grading service in the country. MNT will likely struggle to reach the reputation of the big three without breaking into the American market, but almost surely dominate the Canadian one.
A personal opinion on MNT Grading
I’ve used MNT grading a number of times now and I like the service. However, they are not perfect, even in the Canadian market.
MNT has taken a lot of inspiration from BGS. From the label design to the slab design to the black label, MNT has not inserted a lot of their own personality into their image and this can sometimes feel like a knock-off Beckett grading service. To be fair, BGS has the highest reputation in the world for grading and should be imitated, but a little bit of MNT flair would be nice.
As far as the service goes, they have always been incredibly polite and accommodating when I’ve made a submission. The grades our cards receive feel fair, and shipping has always been painless.
The website and submission form are just ok. I’ve been a MNT customer for over two years now, and every time I make a new submission, the process is more simple and easy to understand. However, the process can still be confusing at times and for some reason, the population report page is sometimes inexcusably difficult to use.
I recommend MNT for grading cards for your personal collection. However, if you are seeking to resell your cards at a profit, look elsewhere for now. Given MNT’s excellent service and presence in the industry, it shouldn’t be too long before their label carries some weight in the Canadian market, and they rise to the top.
Final thoughts on MNT
MNT is a great Canadian grading service. Even in hard times, MNT is capable of handling the incredibly high demand and maintaining high-quality industry standards. Their slabs are aesthetically pleasing, their grades are harsh but fair, and their service is top-notch.