PSA, shorthand for Professional Sports Authenticator, is a premier brand in sports card grading. Despite the controversy over rising prices, it offers a wide array of valuable services including:
- Single card grading
- Unopened pack grading
- Autograph authentication
- Price appraisals
For our purposes, we’re delving into how PSA conducts its card grading process. The more familiar you are with this process and its benefits, the better equipped you’ll be to submit your own cards and packs to PSA for grades and appraisals.
Is It Worth Getting Your Card Graded by PSA?
If you believe that you have a potential high-value card, then it is probably worth submitting the card to receive a PSA grade.
Having the PSA stamp of approval does the following:
- Allows you to know that your card is authentic and is in good condition
- Increases your card’s resale value
- Allows you to enter your card on the PSA Set Registry
- Lets potential buyers know that your card is authentic
- Provides an official metric for the quality of your card
- Allows you to compete with other sellers who have had similar cards graded by PSA
- Entitles you to the PSA storage case, one of the most effective ways to protect and display your cards
Do some research on the card you are considering having graded (read: Should You Get Your Cards Graded). If it is a card valuable enough and in good enough condition, having the PSA stamp of approval could be very much worth the cost of grading.
What Does it Cost to Have Your Card Graded by PSA?
Prices for PSA grading services increased as of March 2021. This was to be expected based on the upsurge in trading card investment and popularity as well as the sale of PSA’s parent company, Collectors Universe.
The rate for all forms of PSA grading services doubled or nearly doubled. This was a big deal, especially for those who rely on PSA grading large sets of their cards. That said, the prices are what they are.
The cost of having your card graded depends on the Declared Value of your card. This is the value that you believe your card will fetch after it receives a PSA grade. Prices are as follows:
- $20 per card for cards valued at $499 or less, with a ten-card submission minimum (note that this price is available only to PSA Collectors Club members)
- $50 per card for cards valued at $499 or less (this is the price for non-collectors Club members)
- $100 per card for cards valued between $500 and $999
- $150 per card for cards valued between $1,000 and $2,499
- $300 per card for cards valued between $2,500 and $4,999
- $600 per card for cards valued between $5,000 and $9,999
Valuation of cards with a Declared Value of $10,000 or more qualify for PSA’s Premium grading options. These options cost either $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $5,000, or $10,000 depending on the Declared Value of your card.
How to Submit Your Card To PSA
Your first step is to visit PSAcard.com. In the upper righthand corner of the site, you’ll see a green circular button that reads “Submit” (you can’t miss it).
Once you click the button, you’ll be brought to a Sign-In screen. If you don’t already have a PSA account, you’ll need to create one.
Following your sign in, you’ll fill out the following information:
- The type of item you are submitting (a regular card, jumbo card, packs, etc.)
- The service you are requesting (grading, autograph review, authenticity review, or reholder)
- The Declared Value of the card(s) you are submitting
- A description of each card that you are submitting
- Your shipping and billing information
And with this, you’re ready to submit your card to PSA for an official grade, or whichever service you are seeking.
PSA Card Grading Locations
The PSA Grading headquarters is based at 10 Woodbridge Center Dr., Suite 701, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.
PSA Grading phone number?: 1-800-325-1121.
The new PSA Grading landing page can be found at www.PSAcard.com/NewJerseyOffice.
Concepts to Understand Before Submitting Your Card
PSA points out frequent points of confusion for those submitting cards for grading. To help the grading process go as smoothly as possible, you may want to research two concepts in particular:
Like so many things in life, these concepts are easy enough to understand with the proper guidance. These explainers from PSA should help tremendously.
Steps to Take Before Sending Your Card In
PSA requires you to include two copies of your completed submission form with the card(s) that you are mailing in. Go ahead and print three copies, two to be included in the package and one for your own records.
You may also choose to utilize one of the methods for cleaning your cards without damaging them. Doing so requires immense care, and may not be worth doing if you are concerned that you could damage the card in any way.
How to Package Your Card
PSA recommends storing each card in a flexible card pouch and then placing the card in a tougher, semi-rigid plastic sleeve (which it conveniently sells on its eStore). It explicitly states that you should not use screw-down or snap cases, as doing so can delay the time it takes for you to receive a grade.
Stack your cards (within their plastic sleeves) on top of each other. Place a piece of cardboard at the bottom of the pile. The cardboard barrier should be slightly larger than the size of your cards.
The card at the top of the stack should correspond with the first item on your card submission form. If your cards are not in proper order, PSA reserves the right of shipping your items back to you without a refund for the cost of shipping.
Place another cardboard barrier on top of your stack. At this point, your stack should be encapsulated by cardboard barriers on top and bottom.
Keep the cards in place by wrapping rubber bands around the stack. Use the Goldy Locks method—not too tight, not too loose.
Place your stack of cards in bubble wrap, packing popcorn, or other materials that prevent movement within a cardboard box. Remember to include two paper copies of your submission form. Seal the box, apply the shipping label, and also apply the Submission ID label that PSA will provide you.
Drop the package off at your shipper of choice (use the shipping method you choose through the PSA website), and wait anxiously for your cards to be graded.
Who to Send Your Card to (PSA Grading Address)
PSA operates out of Southern California. At the risk of providing information that is not specific to you, you should use the shipping address and method that matches the official PSA submission address as listed below:
Addresses and shipping methods may be subject to change with time. International submissions may also require unique shipping methods. Use the most current, personalized information when shipping your cards to PSA.
How the Grading Process Generally Works / How Long It Takes
The level of service that you select, which is generally dependent on the value of the cards that you submit, will impact how long it takes to grade your card.
PSA will notify you via email when it has received your card. It will then:
- Enter your order into its grading system database
- Generate specific order numbers for your cards
- Update your Orders page with additional details about your submissions
- Notify you of any errors or issues with your order (if such issues exist)
- Apply stickers to each card, which allow PSA (and you) to track the progress of your grades
- Generate an estimated due date for your order
- Research each of your cards to ensure accuracy, then send you an email confirming that each card has been researched and confirmed as accurate
- Inform you of any errors or of cards that are not eligible for grading
- Grade your cards
- Generate an official PSA Lighthouse Label for each eligible card
- Seal your card and Lighthouse Label in the trademark PSA case
- Re-review your card and grade for accuracy
- Confirm your return shipping information
- Return your card to you
There is no way to accurately say how long it will take to grade your card. There are several variables. Once your card is received by PSA, order updates will be the surest way to project when the grading process will be completed.
Criteria PSA Uses to Grade Your Card
Your card is considered perfect until flaws come into play. Flaws that could decrease the grade of your card include:
- the card being miscut
- a defect in the way that your card is printed
- a card being stained
- a card having damaged edges or corners
- a card having blemishes, also known as marks
- a card image being out of focus
These are the primary criteria that PSA uses to grade cards, including any that you submit.
How to get cards graded for free by PSA?
Contrary to popular belief you cannot get your cards graded for free by PSA. They do however offer a service called PSA Photograde.
PSA Photograde is a free service that allows the user to gain a better understanding of the PSA Grading Standards and how they apply to their cards by providing a visual tour.
PSA Grades Scale
PSA grades cards on a 1 through 10 scales. Individual grades include:
1 – Poor (PR 1)
1.5 – Fair (FR 1.5)
2 – Good (GOOD)
3 – Very Good (VG 3)
4 – Very Good-Excellent (VG-EX 4)
5 – Excellent (EX 5)
6- Excellent-Mint (EX-MT 6)
7 – Near Mint (NM 7)
8 – Near Mint-Mint (NM-MT 8)
9 – Mint (MINT 9)
10 – Gem Mint (GEM-MT 10)
The higher the score, the higher you can expect the market value for your specific card to be.
Conclusion – You’re Ready to Have Your Cards Graded
Should you choose PSA as your card grading service of choice, you now have the information you need to get the process started.
Once the package is in the mail, then the fate of your cards lies in PSA’s hands. But, with this starter kit, you’re ready to complete your end of the bargain.