Are PSA graded Pokemon cards worth the time, money, and effort involved to collect or resell in 2022?
According to many hobbyists, they’re some of the best investment options around, although some do prefer to snag ungraded versions for a fraction of the price.
Here’s everything you could possibly need to know about PSA graded Pokemon cards, as well as whether it’s worth buying gem mint copies, or sending off anything from your personal collection.
What is a PSA Graded Pokemon Card?
In their own words, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) “is the largest and most trusted third-party trading card authentication and grading company in the world.”
That’s not too far from the truth, as PSA is arguably the premier service in the world if you’re hoping to get cards graded.
Since its inception in 1991, PSA has certified over 40 million cards and collectibles with a cumulative declared value of over a billion dollars.
They’re based in the United States. PSA is seen as a viable option if you want to encapsulate a card and protect it long-term.
PSA graded cards sell for far more than any other company, and they use a familiar red and white label. There’s also a 10-point grading system which has been replicated by many others.
A PSA 10 is the best grade possible. For example, there are only 56 PSA 10 Holo Shadowless 1999 Charizard cards at the current time of writing, with 720 PSA 9 grades, and 955 PSA 8 copies.
Why are PSA 10 Graded Pokémon Cards so Expensive?
PSA 10 Pokémon cards tend to be some of the most expensive on the market. This is partly due to the rarity, and the difficulty in obtaining a Gem Mint 10/10 grade.
For example, we’ll look at the Charizard V (154/172) found in the 2022 Brilliant Stars collection. It’s arguably the best card from the set, and an ungraded copy recently sold for $233.
It’s a fair price for a major hit, but it’s almost 50% less than a recent sale for a PSA 10 copy at auction. That saw a PSA 10 version of the same card go for a flat $555, and it can easily sell for $600 at the upper limits.
However, a PSA 9 copy can be had for less than $300. There’s a major dropoff if a modern card isn’t in pristine condition.
It used to be a lot cheaper to send a card off to PSA. The most affordable tier is currently priced at $50 per card. This has contributed to higher sale prices. It doesn’t make sense to send off anything less than a 9 with recent sets.
Consider this, if you have a $10 card and a PSA 10 will sell for $60, is it worth the time and effort to send a card over to the company?
How to Send Pokémon Cards to PSA?
You’ll have to send your cards directly to PSA if you’d like to get something graded from your personal collection. Firstly, you’ll need to make an account, and fill in an online form to let them know what you plan to ship off.
Be prepared to be in for longer wait times. The service has been swamped with cards ever since lockdowns were enacted around the world back in 2019. This caused the hobby to grow, but grading companies are still struggling to keep up with the amount of cards sent over.
Then there’s the fact that PSA grading is reasonably expensive, even with the return of cheaper tiers. (Consider that it used to cost just $20 per card, now upped to $50, or $100 without a membership.)
Are PSA Graded Cards Worth it?
Think back to when you first started collecting cards, or sets. For me, I remember buying old football stickers, and the original Pokémon rush back in 1999.
Nobody cared about the condition as long as it wasn’t too badly damaged, even if pristine versions were worth a little more.
The commodification of the hobby has been rampant in recent years, to the point where it’s becoming more difficult to buy sets due to scalpers, or they’ve risen to prices that are far too expensive for the average collector.
If you just want to collect sets and you don’t care much about the overall condition, I’d stay away from PSA 10 copies. (Unless you plan to sell your cards in the future.)
PSA Graded Pokémon Cards: Pros and Cons
Here are the main pros and cons associated with buying and selling PSA 10 Pokémon cards.
PSA Graded Pokémon Cards Pros:
- Cards will be safe and secure for years
- Helps to avoid purchasing fakes and forgeries on the resale market
- Great resale values
- Pokémon cards looks great in the slabs
- Trusted brand, and market leaders for grading
- Easy to sell and attracts many bids
PSA Graded Pokémon Cards Cons:
- Notably more expensive to purchase compared to ungraded copies, or even other grading companies like BGS
- Longer wait times if you plan to send cards off for grading
- The priciest grading company in the world
- Many modern cards are graded thousands of times, diluting values long-term
Where to Buy PSA 10 Pokémon Cards
PSA 10 cards are always popular with collectors, no matter the number of copies there are on the registry.
They’re given the designation ‘Gem Mint’; as that’s the grade they’ve received from the company. Of course, the grading scale goes from 1-10, so a 10 grade is the best copy you’ll be able to find. It will feature near-perfect centering and no visible flaws.
You’ll be unable to buy cards directly from PSA. Instead, you’ll need to wait for an owner to list a card, often using sites like eBay.
I use eBay to purchase the majority of graded cards and sets that make up my personal collection. My advice would be, stick to trusted sellers. Use the registry to check how many graded copies of a card there are on the market.
Another tip would be to check recent sales, to get a better idea of a fair price to pay.
Alternatively, it’s worth checking out sites like Dave and Adam’s Card World, or something a bit more specific to your favoured sport or TCG. It also makes sense to stick to buyers in your region if possible. This way you’ll avoid spending extra on everything from shipping to customs.
PSA Graded Pokemon Cards: Summary
The fact is, PSA graded Pokémon cards are going to be worth far more than the norm. It makes sense given supply and demand.
For example, we’re currently in the process of picking up cheaper PSA 10 Charizard cards, with a view to sell them in bulk if and when prices begin to rise again in the future. It’s a bit of a risk, but we think that it’ll pay off in due course.
However, it’ll be tougher to sell collections of graded cards if they’re based on lesser known Pokémon. Buyers often prefer the likes of Pikachu or Mew. If you’re buying PSA 10 Pokémon cards to sell at a later date, it’s best to stick with heavy hitters.
You’re essentially buying one of the very best versions of a card with a PSA 10 copy. You’ll be able to avoid the numerous fakes and forgeries that plague the resale market.