PSA's card grading prices have been quite volatile thoughout the past several years.
To offset an onslaught in demand during the midst of the pandemic, PSA shut down all card grading services at its most affordable price points
The acquisition of Collector's Universe (the parent of PSA) has brought about a multitude of operational changes to improve PSA's grading service.
Still, that hasn't stopped collectors from thinking PSA (aka Professional Sports Authenticator) is the devil of the industry, controlling the fortunes of the hobby, and squeezing every last dime from grading fees.
In fact, in one recent blog comment here, I was accused of being a 'shill' for the major grading companies. Something I found quite laughable, as I've consistently offered an unbiased review and perspective of the grading companies.
But in terms of PSA's card grading prices, things are starting to get back to a more
In a recent update, PSA announced that it was instituting $19 Bulk Card grading for members of its PSA Collector's Club (annual $99 fee). Note for these PSA bulk submissions, you must send in a minimum of 20 cards. And the declared value maximium value is $199. And expected turnaround time on your PSA slab is reduced from 120 to 65 days.
*Note, the ‘declared value’ is what you estimate your card will be worth after PSA grades it. This is not an exact science, and is mostly used for insurance purposes. Assuming that you don’t abuse the system, PSA won’t upcharge you if you are slighly off on value expectations, but it can happen.
Is PSA's $19 Bulk Grading Service Fee Worth It?
Some newer collectors might see a $19 grading fee as a bargain, given most of the big three have been at $30 and above on standard grading prices for the last few years. However, PSA's bulk grading was at $8 pre-pandemic, a price we might not ever see again.
For a card worth less than $199, a $19 grading fee is probably not worth the hassle, unless you are grading for personal tastes. After paying for the back and forth shipping and the grading fee, it just isn't worth it.
Plus, PSA's estimates of a 65 day turnaround could be low, especially if they are inundated with bulk grading requests. There are some collectors I've spoken to that still have orders with PSA that were sent over a year ago.
Aside From Bulk Grading What Are The PSA Grading Service Levels?
For non-bulk grading submissions, PSA Collectors Club Members can submit individual cards at the 'Value Service' level at a cost of $30 per card. This grading level allows for up to a $499 declared value. PSA claims that the 'Value' service level will be returned in 90-120 days.
For collectors looking for a bit of a quicker turnaround time, the 'Value Plus' grading level at $40 is probably the best bet. PSA ups the declared value to $499 with a turnaround time of 20 days.
For $75, collectors can grade cards for up to a declared value of $1499 at PSA's 'Regular' grading level with a quicker turnaround time of 10 days.
Collectors with baseball cards at a value of $1500 or above can look to PSA's Express, Super Express or Walk Through services.
For more information on card grading services please see our comprehensive guide Sports Card Grading 101: The Definitive Tutorial
So, ultimately, its a good sign that grading prices are normalizing. Although this is somewhat at the expense of the graders themselves - according to Gem Rate, there has been an 11% drop in PSA graded cards graded over the past month.
Now that the grading backlogs are clearing, if we see more softness in pricing, we could start to see more competiveness in terms of pricing.
$10 bulk submissions with high declared values and quick (month or less) turnaround times would be a very welcome goal!
What are your thoughts on the recent pricing changes at PSA?
Currently, just based on pricing, PSA has the lowest priced tier for card grading. PSA's Collector's Club service (which costs $99/year) is offering $18 bulk card grading on submissions of 25 or more cards. This pricing tier however only allows for a declared value up to $199. SGC's lowest tier is now $20 for bulk submissions, but allows for a declared value of up to $1500.
The card grading process with PSA is fairly straightforward. Visit PSA's online card submission center and go through the process of entering your card(s) that you want to get graded. It will ask for payment information and once complete, will provide an address for you to ship the cards to. Once received by PSA, they will enter the card into their online database and provide updates along the way, before finally returning the card to you in a graded card holder.
No, PSA will not charge your credit card until the cards have been received AND processing of the cards has been completed.
Many might disagree, but it's clear that PSA remains far and away the leading grader in the hobby. That's not to say that graders like SGC, Beckett or even CSG don't offer comparable, or even better grading services. But, ultimately, PSA graded cards have continually sold for a premium versus competitors. Thus, as long as PSA's pricing remains competitive with the other graders, it makes little sense to send your cards elsewhere.
There are many factors that go into this decision, but it all comes down to what the increase in value will be upon grading the card. I recommend doing some homework, estimating the grade of your card and figuring out what the values are for your card in ungraded or graded condition. I always tend to estimate the grade rather conservatively just to play it safe.
If you want to drop off cards for grading at a PSA office it can be done in Woodbridge, NJ by appointment only and on a limited, case-by-case basis for high-value items and high-volume submissions at PSA's Southern California location. Note that PSA also does some in-person grading at local card shows. Note that some trading card shops also offer bulk grading submissions.
No, PSA grades on a 1 through 10 scale. The only major grading company that allows collectors to choose subgrades is Beckett Grading Services (BGS). CSG cards that merit a Perfect 10 will receive sub-grades by default for free.
The process to have non-sports cards like Pokemon, or Magic card graded is quite similar to grading any sports cards. All of the major grading companies such as PSA, CGC, SGC or Beckett will grade Pokemon or Magic or any other gaming cards. Some even offer specials on Pokemon or any other gaming cards. For example, SGC recently dropped pricing to $15 for any Pokemon cards, regardless of value. Still, expect higher valued Pokemon cards in a PSA slab to earn a higher premium.