PSA Grading News: January 2022 Update

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We’re back with an update for an article released back in September, looking at the massive backlog suffered by PSA, and whether they’d offer more affordable levels of service in the future. 

I’m happy to report that PSA released an update towards the end of the year, and there is progress of sorts if you’re hoping to get your rare collection wrapped in a graded slab. 

What is the January 2022 PSA Update?

On the 29th December, the Regular service was resumed by the company. 

This was after facing a grading backlog of 13-14 million cards.

“PSA continues to devote over 80% of our resources to processing the backlog. Due to continuous capacity expansion, we are now able to bring back the ‘Regular’ Service Level. Regular is for cards valued at $1499 or less and will be processed in less than 90 days door-to-door at a price of $100 per card. With the return of Regular, PSA is taking another step towards bringing back lower priced service levels in 2022.”

Who is PSA?

U.S. based Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is the ‘largest and most trusted third-party trading card authentication and grading company in the world’.

This means that they assign grades to trading cards of all kinds, whether it be Pokemon or soccer. 

They use a 1-10 grading scale, with 10 being ‘gem mint’, or pristine. The scale is as follows;

  • PR 1 (Poor)
  • FR 1.5 (Fair)
  • Good 2 (Good)
  • VG 3 (Very Good)
  • VG-EX 4 (Very Good-Excellent)
  • EX 5 (Excellent)
  • EX-MT 6 (Excellent-Mint)
  • NM 7 (Near Mint)
  • NM-MT 8 (Near Mint-Mint)
  • Mint 9 (Mint)
  • GEM-MT 10 (Gem Mint)

You can send your cards off to be slabbed, which means they’ll be wrapped in protective plastic to keep the card safe. The slab will also make a note of the grade the card has received on a label found at the top. 

Along with BGS, PSA are seen as the leaders in the grading sector, and the prices their cards sell for are second to none. 

This is one of the main reasons why there’s a large backlog, and why they’re currently holding off from taking new orders at cheaper tiers. 

PSA Pricing 

A quick glance at the PSA website shows that they now have three grading options currently available. 

They are;

Regular: $100 per card 

Express: $200 per card 

Super Express: $300 per card 

Unfortunately, they still don’t make much sense unless you’ve got a card which is likely to sell for a large fee, such as a Holo 1st Edition Charizard or a Fleer Michael Jordan RC. 

The temporary suspension of Value and Economy services is still in effect as they ‘concentrate our available capacity on those orders already in the system.’

For example, Value is priced at $10 per card, with a 20 card minimum. Meanwhile, Economy costs $20 per card.

It’s worth mentioning that the Regular tier used to be $50 per card with a wait time of 25 business days. 

Why is PSA not taking orders?

PSA were swamped during lockdown, to the point where former CEO Joe Orlando said; 

“PSA was receiving more cards every five days (over 500,000 per business week) than what we used to receive every three months. Try processing that for a second. The incoming pace didn’t go up 50% or 2X-3X, it went up multiple times.”

Something had to give, so they’ve stopped all lower tiers for the time being, while attempting to hire new staff.

BGS has also had their own issues, while even newcomers SGC struggled with the weight of expectation, as they noted

“Over just a 7 day period, our intake had increased 20x what it previously had been.”

If you’re still waiting to grade cards in January 2022, you’re far from the only one. 

PSA Alternatives?

Beckett Grading Services is always great, but they also have a backlog to deal with. SGC starts at $30 per card, although final sale prices are slightly lower.

A number of UK grading companies have popped up over the last 12 months or so, including GetGraded, Majesty Grading and Pokegrade

  • GetGraded is based in Leeds, and I’ve picked up a few of their cards over the last few weeks 
  • PokeGrade was established in November 2020, and as the name implies, it’s a Pokemon-only dedicated grading service
  • Majesty Grading is based in Hertfordshire, and has seen some promising sale prices so far 

Expect reviews of each service in the coming months as we send a few cards over to see what we can expect in terms of the overall service, including wait times and the slabs themselves. 

Of course, consistency is going to be important, as well as realistic wait times and a fair fee for grading. 

It’s also worth checking out sold prices on auction sites like eBay if you want to get a better idea of whether it’s worth trying out one of the newer UK graders. 

PSA Grading News: January 2022 Update

If you’re waiting with a stack of valuable RCs, it can be tempting to send them elsewhere, but there isn’t any service which can match up to PSA in terms of maximising potential profits in the long-term. 

PSA is reopening one of its most popular service levels in the form of Regular grading. It is more expensive than the norm, and doesn’t make sense unless you have a high ticket item. 

However, the influx of new grading companies isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if one of the UK-based services manages to provide consistent results and higher sale prices in the long run. 

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