PSA is essentially the OG of card grading. They are the most popular grading company, and their red & white labels are the most recognizable. And now they have suspended new submissions for at least the next 3 months!
During these troubling COVID times, people found a new passion – getting new cards graded, and flipping them for profit. PSA 10’s are hot, and everyone and their grandmamas have been sending cards to PSA get them graded. Over the last year, PSA has gotten overwhelmed with card submissions. They are buried in a mountain of cards of to grade, and they can’t catch up. PSA tried doubling prices on March 1, 2021 in event to slow the submittals down, but that did nothing to stem the tide.
Steve Sloan, the President of PSA of PSA made this announcement late last night:
“The sheer volume of orders that PSA received in early March has fundamentally changed our ability to service the hobby. The reality is that we recently received more cards in three days than we did during the previous three months. Even after the surge, submissions continue at never-before-seen levels.
Effective immediately, PSA is temporarily suspending our Value, Regular and Express service levels. This will allow us to fully unbox and receive the recent surge of orders and focus on our most impacted service lines.
We will take a tiered approach to reintroducing these service levels. Our goal is to bring all suspended service levels back by July 1, 2021.
Collectors Club members will have their memberships automatically extended to match the duration of the Value suspension. This extension will ensure existing members have 12 full months to utilize their annual Collectors Club benefits.”
Where does that leave us?
The only PSA option available right now is: SUPER EXPRESS, which is $300/card. Ouch!
So, you basically have 3 few options now for card grading:
- Pay for Super Express. This is essentially only a viable option for cards you know will be worth thousands of dollars after grading – even if they get PSA 8’s or 9’s. Those are your Charizards, Mickey Mantles, Blue Eyes White Dragons, Black Lotus’s, etc.
- Wait it out. Wait for PSA to lasso in the mountain of cards on backlog. They say they are hoping to open things back up mid-summer. But who know? That might easily extend into autumn. And then it still might be 9 more months to get your cards back. So you might be waiting until the spring of 2022 for graded card returns.
- Try another Professional Grading Company – If you are only drinking the PSA Kool-Aid, then this might not even be an option for you. But for others, it might be time to try some other flavors.
Who else is out there?
- Beckett – BGS – Beckett is huge name in card grading. I think their holders and labels look great. Economy submissions are $35 per card (with subgrades), or $20 per card (without subgrades). Turnaround times are a problem with Beckett though too. Their website says: “Economy Submissions – Approximately 9+ months”. You are looking at 9 months or more to get your cards back on their economy submissions. That’s rough.
CGC (Certified Guaranty Company) – CGC is the OG of comic book grading. They have been grading comics for like 20 years, and recently started grading cards. Bulk Pricing for CGC is $9/card for a 50 card submittal. Economy is $18/card (no minimum submittal). Add $7/card for subgrades.
CGC’s turnaround time is sitting at 111 days for Bulk Pricing. CGC is the best value out there right now, and they have grown quickly over the last year. Some people don’t like their blue labels, but those labels hold a lot more information than PSA’s labels do. CGC’s Sports Grading Division is CSG. CGC also grades coins, comics, paper money and stamps.
- SGC – SGC is a well respected grader. They grade both Sports Cards and Pokemon cards. They charge $25/card for their lowest tier. Their website is estimating a 1-2 month turnaround time on card submittals. SGC is more popular for sports cards than they are Pokemon Cards.
These are the heavy hitters. New companies are invading this space as well like HGA, GMA, SGC, etc.
I fully understand why PSA is suspending submittals. What other choice do they have? I wonder if Quarterly Specials will come back to PSA? They really don’t need to entice people anymore. I also wonder if PSA will raise their prices again? I wonder if other grading companies will raise their prices too? I wouldn’t blame any of them. It’s the Wild West out there right now.
If all things were equal, I would continue to use PSA. I was able to look at my personal collection of cards and essentially know what a PSA 7, 8, 9 and 10 were – for the most part. But all things are not equal.
I have tried CGC a few times, and I really like their holders, labels, pricing and turnaround times. But I think CGC grades a little harsher than PSA does. Many other folks on various forums and message boards feel the same way.
That is not to say grading harsher is a bad thing, it might actually be a good thing. But many eBay buyers have not caught on to this subtle difference yet. For the most part, a PSA 9 will sell for more than a CGC 9. And a CGC 8.5 might actually be a PSA 9. And a CGC 9.5 might be a PSA 10. Hopefully this will change in the near future as more and more people try other grading companies.
If you know your card will not get a PSA 10, then I would definitely send it CGC or someone else that is less expensive to get that card graded. If I have have a a Base Set Pokemon card that I think will grade around 6.0, I’ll send it to a faster/cheaper grading company. The eBay sales difference between PSA 6 and CGC 6 will be pretty much negligible in medium grade. I would get that puppy graded ASAP and toss it on eBay.
I have actually done this recently with some older NBA cards I have had sitting around. I have some old Larry Bird and Magic Johnson cards that I know will get PSA 4’s or 5’s. So, I just sent those to CSG to get them graded and slabbed for about $7 each (with membership).
If you are a card flipper, you probably can’t afford to wait a year. You should give someone else a try. The smaller grading companies really a chance to shine right now. But will they be able to keep up with the higher demand they will undoubtedly see? Or will they fall behind even more just like PSA?
If you are going to try a new company, I suggest doing it real soon. It’s going to get very busy, very quickly!