PSA Grading 2023 Guide: Is It Worth Grading With PSA?

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In a follow-up to one of our more successful articles from last year, we’re aiming to find out whether PSA grading is actually worth it in 2023. 

The original article was released back in March 2022, at a time in which PSA was packed to the rafters with a massive backlog of cards. Multiple PSA tiers had been suspended, while the minimum price was an eye-watering $100 per card. 

At the time, I advised to wait, as it wasn’t worth sending over anything other than high ticket items that were guaranteed to sell for large sums of money. Otherwise, the slab itself is worth more than the card, and it’s arguably worthless. 

Here are our thoughts as to whether or not PSA grading is worth it in 2023, and beyond. Are we heading towards a junk slab era?

PSA pricing: 2023 

At this current moment in time, PSA is cheaper than it has been in a few years. There are multiple affordable tiers, such as Value Bulk, which comes in at $19 per card. 

Here’s a roundup with the tiers and options that are currently available:

  • Value Bulk: $19 per card 
  • Value: $25 per card 
  • Value Plus: $40 per card 
  • Regular: $75 per card 
  • Express: $150 per card 
  • Super Express: $300 per card 
  • Walkthrough: $600 per card

It’s fair to say that it can get expensive, especially if your cards are reasonably valuable. The Declared Value will also have an impact on the grading fee. As PSA explains:

“Once you are prepared to fill out a submission form, you will need to select a Service Level, which is determined by your Declared Value. The Declared Value is your estimate of the value of the item after it has been assigned a grade by PSA. We understand you will not know the true value of the item until it has been graded, so we ask that you form a realistic, educated estimate based on your own research, keeping in mind that the Declared Value acts as a maximum value for shipping insurance purposes and in the event of a claim related to the item.”

In other words, more valuable cards will cost more money to grade. That’s something to consider before shipping them off to the US giants. 

It’s also worth mentioning that prices are still higher than the $10 per card I can remember from 4-5 years ago. PSA grading in 2023 is more expensive than it used to be.

Is PSA worth it right now in 2023?

Yes. Prices are far cheaper compared to the height of the hobby, while there’s still a premium for PSA graded cards on the resale market. I’ve got a heap of items to send over to PSA, and I’ll probably end up using Value Bulk to do so. (Even if I’ll end up getting changed more due to the Declared Value for the expensive cards.)

Timescales are also much improved, down to 65 days for Value, and 20 days for Value Plus. In other words, you won’t have to wait for months if you’re willing to pay a little extra, but there are still more affordable options available to suit cheaper cards.

The ‘junk slab’ era 

I pick up PSA graded cards from time to time, and it would always be my preference if I’m looking at a company for my personal collection. However, I’m always amazed by some of the cards that people send in for grading, especially if they sell for a fraction of the amount of the slab itself. 

For example, there’s no point in sending a card worth $5 for grading, unless it’s a pristine RC that could be worth more in the long run. The slab itself costs $19, and it’ll be tough to make a profit. 

If anything, we could be heading towards a ‘junk slab era’, in which graded cards have been overproduced, losing their value in the process. Take the ever-popular 2021 Pokemon Celebrations set

At the current time of writing, collectors have sent off over 13,500 Celebrations cards to PSA. 

It’s an insane number, and the majority simply aren’t worth grading. We’ll use the Full Art/Flying Pikachu Vmax as an example. A total of 1,313 have been sent to PSA, and there’s an astounding 1,050 PSA 10 graded versions. The result? 

A disappointing price, and a heap of cards that probably weren’t worth being slabbed in the first place. 

As for the possibility of a junk slab era, it makes sense if the cards are already worth less than the grading fee. For now, we’d stick with vintage cards, or numbered parallels rather than base versions. 

When is it not worth sending cards to PSA? 

As prices for grading have started to drop down to more manageable levels, it’s not the worst time to start sending over the prized cards from your collection for encapsulation. 

However, we’d avoid sending over generic base cards to PSA, or anything reprinted in higher numbers. (Think of the Pikachu cards seen above. It would be cheaper and easier to buy a PSA 10 graded version from someone else.)

Send whatever you want for grading if it’s for your personal collection, or if you just want to keep it safe for years to come. There’s no point in sending random cards off to PSA if you hope to turn a profit. 

On the other end of the scale, is it worth sending off a one-of-one for grading? The condition doesn’t make as much of a difference, and the Declared Value is likely to be higher. It’s not a bad idea to sell these cards raw, although grading could see higher returns. 

PSA Grading 2023: Summary 

PSA is undoubtedly the best company if you’re aiming to get the most value for money from your collection. Wait times have been reduced, and pricing has greatly improved, even if Declared Values can catch you out if you’re not careful. If you’re interested in PSA grading in 2023, it makes sense to send over high-end options.

We wouldn’t start sending over any random cards you find to PSA, even if it’s tempting when you look at sale prices for pristine copies. Check the overall condition, how many graded copies exist, and what it’s worth ungraded.   

You’ll be able to find a submission form here, where you can check through the various options and find out more about the process. 

What do you think? Let us know if you’re planning to send off the best cards from your collection for PSA grading in 2023, or if you’ve opted for a new service instead like BGS. 

Published by James Milin-Ashmore

Journalism gradate, freelance writer. Sports, tech, online security, collectibles.

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