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SGC vs. PSA: A Study Weighing Your Options As A Collector

SGC vs. PSA: A Study Weighing Your Options As A Collector


This guest post came through our Article Submission Program. Thoughts and opinions are those of the author.


COVID-19 has altered our lives in ways that go well beyond sports cards. Collecting is a hobby – COVID is life and death. I think that distinction is enough for this article. But COVID has impacted the hobby in a very specific way – delays in card grading, a major aspect of modern-day collecting. Stay-at-home mandates have crippled operations at the industry leader in grading, PSA. As I write this, PSA has partially reopened but is still not at full capacity. Per their website, turnaround times for Regular Service are presently 73 days. This service level was billed at 20 days pre-COVID but often hovered around the 30-day mark (at best). It is now almost FOUR TIMES GREATER than the standard 20-day turnaround. “Bulk” submissions were completely suspended for weeks but have recently reopened and are being rebranded as “Value” submissions, with varying guidelines in what seems to be an effort to streamline incoming orders amidst a presumed backlog of open bulk orders. Bulk, or Value subs, are listed on the PSA website at a turnaround time of “100+ days,” with an emphasis on the “+.” That’s tough. The cash flow generated in selling graded cards will be affected, hitting hobby bottom lines hard. Thousands upon thousands of sports cards are sitting in a warehouse at PSA – untouched, ungraded, and unsold or unadded to personal collections.


With PSA at a halt (and yes, they were already sluggish before) what to do now with our cards? Thankfully for collectors, PSA has legit competitors. BGS, of course, though their operations have also been impacted by COVID. And since BGS sales prices are comparable to PSA, this study dismisses them only on the grounds of not being an intriguing comparison, and nothing else. If you like BGS, then stick with BGS. My focus for this article – SGC vs. PSA – is born of the growing belief that “SGC is closing the gap with PSA.” Couple this with the fact that SGC has been FULLY OPERATIONAL throughout COVID, and it’s no surprise that collectors are being swayed to sub cards with SGC that they would otherwise be subbing with PSA (or BGS).

SGC “Regular Service” turnaround times are stated at 20 days on their website and cards seem to be coming back to collectors at or ahead of this schedule. As it pertains to timely grading, SGC is held up as a beacon of hope in these COVID hobby times. From popular Facebook groups to prominent YouTubers (I see you PSA Collector!) to Instagram posts and comments, there is a growing movement to grade with SGC. With PSA down for the count and collectors’ burning desire to have their cards in-hand to make the beaucoup bucks flooding the hobby despite present economic uncertainties, SGC seems to make a lot of sense. But does it make “cents?”


“Card in-hand” – that’s the main argument to seek an alternative to PSA during this crisis. If collectors want the hobby cashflow that graded cards bring, it’s a no-brainer. It’s an argument that PSA cannot win, definitely not now, and not even pre-COVID. SGC turnaround times cannot be beaten. They’re also cheaper – regular service is $10 per card versus $20 per card with PSA. I’ve subbed multiple times with SGC since my re-entry into the hobby in early 2019. The customer service was excellent (they actually answered the phone!), the turnaround time was on-point, and my cards looked beautiful in their slabs.

Amidst the recent SGC buzz, I saw a collector in one of the Facebook groups state that collectors are losing only “10 to 15%” selling SGC vs. PSA. Another quantified the difference in ROI as “nickels and dimes.” And fellow collectors backed these statements, via comments or likes, justifying the belief that it’s time to sub with SGC. At those numbers, I’m with you – give me my cards, I’ll absorb this modest bottom-line hit. But my personal experience told me it’s not that close, so I felt compelled to take a deeper dive. Let me share with you my own experience in trying to sell my SGC graded cards, and then we’ll take a look at recent “Solds” of a few popular cards, SGC vs. PSA.


Long before the pandemic, I wanted BADLY to believe SGC could be an alternative for collectors crippled by the often frustrating lag in PSA grading. In the midst of my own agonizing PSA wait this past summer and fall, I decided to take the leap and sub with SGC. Three times, actually. Turnaround times were as billed – I was psyched to have my cards back so fast! My 2018 Topps Update Ronald Acuna US250 sparkled in its SGC slab. It was unique and beautiful. Majestic. “Who among us had the guts and vision to sub such a card with SGC?” I thought. “No one,” was my answer to self. “I am a pioneer, and I will single-handedly change the grading game!” I have many delusions, and this one ranked up there with the best of them. I thought I was ahead of the curve, onto something big. I was the shift I presently hearing so much about.

The reality: return on investment with SGC was slow. Real slow. And it was much less than I was getting on my PSA cards. In mid-October, I priced the Acuna to sell at $55 via eBay “Buy It Now” (no offers). Full disclosure: it came back a dreaded SGC 9.5, so I was already behind the PSA 10 8-ball (selling at $100+ late fall). I was banking on the shrewd collector who thinks they could reslab it with PSA, get the PSA 10. And it looked so nice in that black slab! But while it looked hot, it didn’t feel hot when I was trying to flip it. This popular card, at SGC 9.5, sat in my eBay store for weeks. Eventually, I posted the card on my Instagram account – and I had to really work it to sell. Story, feed, story, feed. This went on for days, maybe weeks, I can’t remember, but it was too long for a card of this caliber. It finally sold in mid-November at $45, or less than the price (at the time) of a PSA 9.

But what if my Acuna had come back SGC 10? I would have done better, right? Quick flip, nice return? Let’s look at recent comps. This card is everywhere you look in the hobby – Facebook, Instagram, eBay, you name it – but I still see ONLY FIVE SGC 10s Sold since April 15 (not counting one SGC 10 “Pristine”) at an average price of about $145 per. On the PSA side? Since just May 1, over FORTY PSA 10 Acunas have sold, at an average of $200 per. Not a huge difference in price, but what do we think about the difference in the number of Solds? With PSA down and an SGC battle cry across the hobby, why aren’t collectors grading this very common and popular card with SGC? Why don’t we see more SGC Solds than the numbers stated here? WHY IS IT NOT EVEN CLOSE? One can only wonder. Or, you can look at the PSA markup of $55 per, just shy of a respectable 40% vs. SGC – add to that the ASTOUNDING number of VERY recent Solds – and conclude that the added dollars and much quicker flip are the apparent reason collectors are sending this particular card to PSA in droves (Pop 11,579!), along with many other cards. Makes sense/cents to me.

Similar stories for my SGC 10 2018 Topps Update Gleyber Torres US99 (not US200, fair enough). AND my SGC 10 2019 Topps Chrome Pete Alonso #204. I was selling these cards in the midst of the baseball playoffs (early to mid-October), and they were GEM MINT SGC 10!! They should have been easy to sell. At PSA 10, they would have been off my eBay shelf soon after listing, as is the case with many of my high-grade PSA listings. In fairness, Alonso did move relatively quickly. I sold it on Instagram within seven days of receipt from SGC for $45, still well below PSA 10 average Solds at that time, of $65-$75. Gleyber US99 sat in my eBay store for months before I finally took a Best Offer of twenty stinking dollars in mid-March!! In fairness, it is presently selling for only $30 in PSA 10. So while I didn’t lose a boatload of cash at SGC 10 on the Gleyber (or the Alonso), I did lose 25-50% on both and Gleyber took an extremely long time to sell.

As I stated earlier, according to my fellow collectors, they are losing only “10-15%” or “nickels and dimes” on SGC cards vs. PSA cards. I don’t believe it. Besides the SLOWER flip, my personal experience also revealed a wider sales price gap. And now, with the urge to sub once again with SGC growing by the nanosecond in the midst of this pandemic and subsequent PSA grading crisis, I felt compelled to put my prior personal experience aside and dig a little deeper, look at some of the numbers. The prices are not as drilled down as some might like, but I feel it’s enough for this quick study. Take it as you wish. All “Solds” are per eBay.

Let’s start with a very popular card – 2018 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic (Base) #280. In April, a handful of SGC 10 Luka’s sold for an average of $250-$300. That same card in PSA 10 sold for $450-$500. Almost double. Not 10-15%, but 75-100%. Nickels and dimes? Seems more like hundreds and hundreds.

Silver Luka? Apparently, collectors don’t believe they will lose only “nickels and dimes” with an SGC graded silver Luka – NOT ONE SGC SOLD OR LISTED IN THE LAST 30 DAYS. But there were eight PSA 10 sales in THE LAST WEEK (!!), hovering around $2K per. Go Luka. Go PSA.

Zion(base)mania! I counted 12 SGC 10 Solds of this popular base Prizm card in the last 30 days, with the last Sold on April 29th. I’m not counting the SGC 10 “Pristine” Solds, of which there were two, $750 and $760 – good luck getting that grade. The average price of the 12 SGC 10 (non-Pristine) Solds was roughly $385 per. IN THE FIRST FIVE DAYS OF MAY ALONE, there were 23 PSA 10 Zion base Prizm rookies Sold at an AVERAGE of $610 PER! That’s $225 more than the most recent SGC 10 Solds average, an almost 40% markup. And PSA is STILL dwarfing SGC in listings, despite being at reduced operating capacity for most of April. The very recent influx of PSA Zions also suggests the PSA COVID slowdown is already becoming a thing of the past. So tell me, as it pertains to Zion, why would any collector sub with SGC? Because of the faster turnaround time? Am I really looking to leave deferred money on the table, for 40% less now? Not me, but to each his own.

Here’s another quick comp. The last three 2018 Prizm (base) Lamar Jackson #212 Solds from last week: SGC 10 vs PSA 10. SGC 10: $350, $360, $321 (auction), $345 per on average.

PSA 10: $625 (auction), $595, and two “Best Offers Accepted” at $600 list. If I call those $550 each, that’s $580 per on average. You lost another 40% on this card, or $235 per, grading this card with SG


SGC is “good for vintage,” right? Another collecting adage. Let’s take a look.

1981 Topps Joe Montana #216. Purists, please allow me to classify this card as “vintage” just this one time! Thank you. This card is scarce in a grade of 10 with either company, SGC or PSA (pop 107!), so I looked at SGC 7 to SGC 9 and compared it to the same for PSA. In the last 30 days, I found only four TOTAL SGC Solds. SGC 9 x 2, sold for $470 and $431. One SGC 8 sold for $130. And an SGC 7 sold for $85. In stark contrast, I found THIRTEEN PSA 9 Solds since April 13th! I also found FIFTEEN PSA 8s! I stopped on April 13th, though I’m sure there are at least that many in the earlier part of April. That’s a total of 28 PSA Solds since April 13th vs 4 SGC Solds in the last 30 days. A ridiculous disparity for this classic card. This is in line with my personal experience – SGC slabs do not sell at an even remote rate of PSA slabs; therefore, collectors won’t grade with them, hence fewer listings. Pardon if I’m stating the obvious, but the present SGC “movement” has me questioning what is obvious to my fellow collectors. The sold listings on those 28 PSA Montanas? The fifteen PSA 8s averaged around $175, so you’re not losing much there when compared to the single SGC 8 that sold in the last 30 days, but it’s a minuscule comp sampling, and you’re still losing 25% on that one SGC 8. But the thirteen PSA 9s averaged around $710, with a high of $950 and a low of $660! Compare that to the $450 average of SGC 9, and you’re losing roughly 60%, or $260 on this particular card, SGC vs. PSA. That’s a considerable amount of dollars left on the hobby table.

Let’s go back further to a truly vintage card: 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle #350. I picked this card because Mantle is hobby royalty and there are a good number of comps, SGC vs. PSA. I focused on grades SGC 4 to SGC 8, compared to the same for PSA. In the last 30 days, I count 7 SGC Solds in this grade range, most of them at SGC 5. Average Solds of these SGC 5s was roughly $250, with an SGC 7.5 selling for a solid $1475 on March 15. Three PSA 7 sales averaged $975 – substantially less than the single SGC 7.5. But three PSA 4s averaged $290, higher than the $250 average of the SGC 5s, and three PSA 5s did an average of $350 or better, $100 higher than its SGC 5 counterpart. An almost 30% markup for this card when sold in a PSA slab.

The numbers don’t lie – PSA graded cards are getting you substantially more ROI than “10-15%” vs. SGC graded cards, and SGC may NOT be “good for vintage” after all.

Here’s another SGC theory out there in the hobby: “Use SGC for PC and PSA for flipping.” This! So let me grade my PC Zion with SGC and I’ll grade my Zions for a flip with PSA. Therefore, I have a Zion in my PC that’s worth ALMOST HALF a PSA Zion?!?! Why would I do that? This argument, “SGC for PC” makes no sense or cents – you are devaluing your PC, especially for a card with substantial value.


Back to the “card in-hand” crowd and the argument that ANY return is better than NO return. This is the main driver pumping SGC at the moment, the motivation behind the claim that SGC is emerging fast. People – and especially collectors – by nature, are not patient. They want the quick buck now, rather than wait for the greater reward later. But what if you are that rare breed, the patient collector? What if you are someone that wants the best ROI, and you’re willing to wait to realize the optimum return? If you are, the data suggests that grading with SGC is not the answer for you. Heck, I’m writing this and diving into the numbers because I, MYSELF, AM CONSIDERING ANOTHER SGC SUB AT THIS VERY MOMENT! And after looking at recent Solds, it’s clear to me that if I do go with SGC, I cannot, will not sub any of my big cards. Not a Luka, not a Zion. The results can be catastrophic with cards of this caliber, especially if it doesn’t Gem.

Which leads to this idea of the need to “flip now while the market is hot,” whether it’s general market heat or heat for a particular player. The sports cards market is volatile and certainly fluctuates – I’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. But how does anyone know that NOW is the height of X player’s card? I’ve sold cards that continued to rise beyond my sale. Sometimes, though much less often, I’ve sold and it drops. But in general, over the course of my first full year back in the hobby, the market, especially for graded cards, has been trending up, up, and up. Even COVID hasn’t slowed it. So here’s the question: is it better to have an SGC slabbed card 4 weeks from today at a substantially decreased value, or wait for 3 to 6 months for the more valuable PSA slab? I’m okay with the latter. Not every collector is, and I get it. But the idea of my cards appreciating in a PSA storage room, yielding a substantially greater ROI vs. SGC when I finally get them back, that’s a win for me, every time. Maybe there will be a player or two where I’ll say, “Man, if only I had that SGC 10 four months ago,” but in general, that will NOT be the case and therefore the “need to flip now while the market is hot” mentality is a WEAK argument for going with SGC. The market will likely be just as strong when PSA gets my cards back to me, if not stronger. Go ahead and sell your SGC 10 Zion now for $385. I’ll sell my PSA 10 Zion in 6 months – closer to the season, mind you – for close to DOUBLE that number, and probably more.


Here’s a fun one – before you sub with SGC, ask yourself this simple question: how many SGC graded cards do I buy? Personally, I have purchased ONE SINGLE SGC CARD for my PC. Only one. An SGC 7.5 1978-79 Topps Kareem Abdul-Jabaar #110. At $12 via eBay Best Offer, how could I pass it up? I liked the card and the player, I liked the price, I bought it for the PC. But otherwise, I don’t buy SGC for flip or PC. Do you? If the answer is no, why do you think someone else will want to buy them from you? You can tell me that “one’s man trash is another’s treasure,” and I’ll respect that. But if MY answer is “I don’t buy SGC” and YOUR answer is the same, it probably speaks strongly to the market for these cards, and is another simple measure to substantiate the fact that SGC has a long way to go before catching up with PSA.


As you can safely assume from reading this, while I’m tempted to get a quick batch of graded cards in my hands asap, I won’t be subbing with SGC. I’d rather spend the extra dollars and go with a BGS group sub (Sappy’s is a good one) or pick a few higher value cards and sub-Regular Service with PSA, and hope for the best as it pertains to turnaround time. At present, I have a 184-card bulk sub at PSA, which logged into the system back in late December. It was in “Research” pre-COVID and then COVID hit and PSA closed. I assumed it would be even longer than usual (ugh!) before getting this sub back, but in the midst of writing this article, that 184-card sub has moved into “Assembly.” Despite word to the contrary on the hobby street, there is activity at PSA, and based on the sheer number of PSA 10 Zions suddenly hitting eBay, that activity is ramping up quickly. So I’m going to stick with PSA for now. And not because of the “great” customer service or the “quick” turnaround times, but because it is still BY FAR the industry standard and I want the best return for my cards, always.

Based on my personal experience with SGC’s service and the present chatter in the hobby, there are certainly positives there, and maybe SGC will find a way to eventually close the proverbial gap with PSA. But from what I can see, that’s not happening anytime soon, and I can’t afford to lose the hobby dollars waiting for it. I’d much rather wait for PSA and realize the greatest value for my cards, for flip and PC, no matter how long that wait is.

Great article! A lot of talk in The Hobby about SGC these days. Do you have anything you would like to add to help the community regarding SGC vs. PSA? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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View Comments (27)
  • Very good analysis!
    For vintage cards SGC is doing fine.
    I have been monitoring the price of SGC graded Luka’s and unfortunately, compared to PSA, the resale value of SGC graded modern cards is not there yet.

  • Amazing article Steve. Wonderful to see a data based analysis of this very topical issue. Although most of us would love to see SGC emerge as a competitor to PSA/BGS, I really couldn’t agree more with your conclusions in this article.

  • A lot of great quantitative data but this is just bashing a competitor that is substantially gaining market share comparable to just 90 days ago. No one today knows if it will last but I have noticed a couple more things that were omitted in this article. One is slabgate relating to the concerns about PSA and the hit on their integrity of grading and trimmed cards. There are also multiple videos exposing population control and submitter preferences or kickbacks for bumped grades. Looking at some of the 10s coming out of PSA, I think some people may be overpaying for a grade that the card doesn’t warrant. Since submitting with SGC, there is a
    consistency with grading, turnaround and customer service. These are some of the reasons people are jumping off of the PSA wagon and have long looked for an excuse to do so. Great article and tons of good data! Thank you!

    • Similar to a couple of other posts , i am now back active in the hobby after a twenty year break . Great articles from all and definitely touched most pros & cons . I myself favor buying a PSA card all things being equal . But that is not generally the case as we all know . SGC & Beckett’s are also company’s that i trust the most after PSA with SGC seemingly having that little girl with the curl intrigue to me . Also one other company i will throw out that i have looked at but don’t know enough about , GMA . Any insight would sure help here .

  • Loved loved the article. I did submit 3 cards with SGA just as a test run. I have not even gotten them back and yet regretting. I have seen the prices you are talking and your are spot on. It just like collecting was back in the 80’s. Topps was aways King. You may find an exception here and there (Griffey Upper Deck Rookie) but overall, over time, folks still love Topps. I have seen the same with toy trains. Lionel will always be King not matter how advanced, how innovative any other company can be. I’m the patient collector. Have been sitting on cards since the 70’s. Thank for sharing your opinion on this subject

  • Well done and very informative! Maybe it’s because I’m a relative neophyte when it comes to graded cards, but when buying I don’t mind going with SGC; especially if it’s at a substantial discount to PSA. The main thing I want to know is that someone has examined the card and declared it in great condition. I have a hard time believing the PSA graders are markedly better at their job than the SGC graders. I’m currently in a position to grade some lesser value cards and given the fact that I don’t believe the market for these cards will be hot for the months (and months!) it would take to get them back from PSA that it’s worth it, not to mention the grading fee being 2x. Perhaps, if it’s a classic card that I know will likely never depreciate in value I’d wait it out with PSA, but I still think I’m going to go with SGC for the non-high value cards that I’m looking to move before the market for them potentially cools off. Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye on the market and on the lookout for articles such as this to help inform my future buying/selling/grading decisions.

  • Quite honestly, most people are tired of the SGC vs PSA (vs Beckett) debate. We can all agree those are the only 3 companies that have real protocols for grading.

    Seeing an article like this published on May 14th when the Zion example is obviously wrong (SGC sold for ”only” ~$20-$30 less per card in most recent sales) discredits the entire article. Anyone can cherrypick outdated examples.

    Is PSA the leader today, yep. Do I buy PSA on Ebay, yep. But remember that Beckett was king years ago, and their service fell off a cliff. PSA is the leader today and their service fell off a cliff (long before Covid). SGC is providing better service today, which is why they are becoming more prominent.

    In reality, there really is no difference between the three. It’s only what the consumers like best. It’s almost like we are arguing over who has the best chicken sandwich, Popeye’s or Chik-Fil-A, (Chik-Fil-A is the answer, by the way).

    If you invested in CLCT stock, then I understand the impetus for trying to promote PSA, but in reality those investors will make more money when all three services thrive, and grading becomes the defacto standard for all card sales.

    Appreciate the effort put into the article, but we’re all getting weary of the “PSA is best, so waiting 6 months is OK…” mantra. Hopefully, PSA, Beckett, and SGC can all staff appropriately and then the entire industry will continue to thrive!

  • This almost seems like our hobby equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome. We are being abused by PSA, and our very own buying habits are bringing us back for more abuse. Maybe we dont deserve SGC, with their cool heavy duty, stylish cases, and their promise fulfilling turnaround times.

    • This was a fantastic reply. You are exactly correct. Collector’s and Flippers, buyers and sellers, are not only being held captive by PSA, but allow it and enjoy it. It’s fascinating to try and understand the psychology of the situation. If we took a PSA 10 and an SGC 10 out of slabs and put them side by side could any collector tell the difference? Could they determine which company graded which card? Collectors and Flippers need to take back their power. We make should be making the rules. Right now we are letting one company dictate them for us. In the absolute worse case scenario we should be holding PSA more accountable. Scams, pricing, wait times, and population manipulation is not something we should tolerate. There is one simple solution. Stop submitting to PSA! If they had no business maybe as a company they would reexamine their business practices. Why would PSA ever change their business practices when sheep follow the herd mentality and continue supporting them.

      • To me, it more about eye appeal. Prizm looks better in a SGC slab. The black really makes the cards stand out., unlike the red border PSA label.

    • Nailed it. My first sub back in the hobby was to SGC. 59 cards done in 20 days, 20% 10’s all pre-1984 baseball. On time. I hate the FN 9.5’s. I feel like taking a skillsaw to the holder and sending them to PSA, but I was really impressed with service, hard grading, the best holder. 1933 goudeys glow in an SGC holder. Service should matter, Integrity should matter, fairness and consistency should matter. Anyone ever try and call TOPPS? Forget it. Email, forget it. My second sub was PSA. 50 cards, est. 60 day turn around. 6 months later (this was a year ago, before covid was blooming. I called many times, no human being. I sent emails, 7 days for an automated reply that says “we have received your email and will respond in the next 48 hrs. WTF? I finally got a human being. No shit, took like `16 days. I tell them, send my cards back, ungraded. I dont trust you and I want my cards. I week later they show up graded. They closed my account. We know they are unethical, and with investors, you have sold your soul as an owner of a business. $$$$$, PSA will go down, too much competition. Guys, SGC deserves out business. We alone can change the market by buying SGC for the same price, selling for same price. I will be opening a store soon, MostlyMint on ebay and you can do the right thing and buy all my SGC graded cards. The author of the article, I experienced everything you have, but I kept waiting to find out why you think this is happening, what can be done, if anything needs to, and where you stand. If you took the time to research and write the article, make a statement. In conclusion, “we stopped rewarding companies who treat us well and do a good job, to a herd of sheep going over a cliff, as if we have no control. Stand up to the man, it will set you free.

  • Great article. I have recently made some SGC purchases that seemed like the deal of a lifetime and per your data/examples maybe I paod exactly what they are worth or more. I do have faith SGC can get it together and their rep up so the cards they slab are equal to Beckett/PSA. Im super new and I am sure people dont respond but my new to the hobby “fresh eye’s” looks like Beckett is top dog, PSA close 2nd and SGC legit enough to trust grades but ugly slabs and easy/cheap way to get cards graded. Any reason its PSA you chose versus Beckett? Sub grades alone look far superior/expensive to newbies, or at least me. Thanks for all this work in article. Fun read.

  • I buy sgc, psa, and bgs. i buy the card. Not the grade and not the grading company. When were no longer here and these assets out live us, the quality of the asset will determine our legacy.

  • Of all the posts i’ve read on this site, I would say this is hands down my favorite. I agree with you 100%. I have sent two cards to sgc so far, and i sent 300 to PSA last week. So….I’ll wait. The two I sent were a 1987 Topps Tiffany Bonds and a Bellingham Mariners Griffey. My Griffey came back from PSA as inauthentic, but I opened the sealed set myself and know it is authentic, so that was the basis for my sending to SGC. The bonds I had two of and sent the other to PSA.

    Otherwise, even though I can get a lower bulk rate and quicker turnaround, have not been able to submit an SGC order. I know many industry influencers are, but until I see the results from sales no reason for me to switch.

    • Industry Influencers. Explain? Bloogers, articles like this could have said “Grade with PSA because you will make more $ and I will show you data you can find on your on ebay. No argument or point of view, just selling for PSA.

  • Great article. I am a collector who see’s the investor aspect of this as an added bonus. When I started in 2011 BGS was modern and PSA was vintage. SCG was a respectable 3rd option for vintage cards. I own close to 1000 PSA graded cards but I am dissappointed by the slabgate rumors, not to mention I have had 50 card order sitting at PSA since early Feb and haven’t even gotten past the ID stage of the grading. It is just unacceptable. In case one hasn’t noticed, the card community is highly influential and even more so impatient. This is SCG’s time to gain ground and I hope they give PSA a run for their money.

  • Can we talk about the wide inconsistency of PSA? I don’t trust PSA. I don’t trust them not to protect their pop report. I don’t trust them not to get lazy and just slap grades on cards. I don’t trust the consistency of their grading. The OC cards that would be an instant SGC9 get a far more liberal treatment with PSA. How many PSA 10s have you seen that wouldn’t even come back a 9.5 from SGC?

    I won’t send them another card. Ever. I’ll keep buying up SGC cards, using them as my grading company and watch the equity in the brand rise along side the card.

    It’s just a matter of time until we reach parity, a big part of that is units in play and by year end for modern product there will be a huge shift.

  • Hi,
    I am returning as a collector after a 30-year hiatus. I just finished organizing and itemizing my collection, and it’s brought some excitement back for me. I have quickly learned that grading is essential for properly valuing cards- this was not the case in the late 80s when everything traded raw……. so I am looking to get started by grading 50-100 cards and I have been looking closely at PSA and other competitors for my business.

    This article does a good job supporting what I found anecdotally – that PSA cards command the most value and liquidity in the market. However, I am less of a seller and more of a collector. I doubt I will sell any of my cards. I really just want an objective opinion on my card and I like that there are standard casings and tracking #s, etc. At this point, PSA has been on my radar as the main provider, however I am finding certain things hard to swallow. There is excellent research that shows that PSA grades key cards (eg, Griffey, Montana, Mattingly) more harshly than commons of the SAME sets – it’s as if there is a different grading scale. For example, the ratio of PSA 10s to 9s is significantly lower for key cards relative to the other cards in the SAME set, and the data shows this result is consistent across all years and card companies. How am I supposed to get on board with that? The cynical collector has to assume this is purposeful population control. The optimistic collector might assume that the star grades are correct because more time and care is spent grading these cards due to their value (and commons are graded a bit looser). But both of these assumptions are bad because they render the core value proposition pointless. I just want a consistent grade for a card , I don’t care if it’s Walt Weiss or Ken Griffey. I want to know the condition of my card relative to a consistent benchmark. This is the entire point of grading IMO. Where it sells in the market is secondary (or should be), and this should be driven by fundamentals.

    I am not sure what I will do yet, probably won’t submit anything until later this year. but if there is a close 2nd in this race, it’s a no brainer for me.

    Just my thoughts.

  • Great timing for discussion. I’m a collector who is just getting back into the hobby and looking to have a lot of decent value cards graded, mainly some vintage up to 1989 UD Griffey’s. For ex, lots of Jordan’s for 86-88 fleer, Montana rookie, some vintage mantles etc. From all my limited researching, it seems for anything of value ( possibly over $300 up ) PSA graded cards get a substantial premium on selling. So my novice question is why would anyone use SGC over a PSA on courts of higher value? I would love to submit to SGC because of the faster turnaround and cost, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense if you’re trying to ascertain the highest value. What am I missing?

  • What about buying SGC graded cards and then submitting them to PSA to have them regraded so you can sell them for more? I know you briefly touched on it, but could that work?

    • You certainly could- You always run the risk of a lower grading which as we all know sometimes can feel a bit arbitrary. I’d be more inclined to do that with an SGC 9.5 and hope for the ‘bump up’ with PSA 10 than take an SGC 10 and pray for an equal grade elsewhere. I also wouldn’t do it with just any card. It would need to be one high in demand that was commanding substantial ROI that would warrant the effort and time to break the slab (always a risky proposition), pay for another grader, and then wait for it to return to me with a (hopefully) comparable grade. The catch 22 is with such a card (that would warrant the payoff to switching over to PSA), that is exactly the kind of card I don’t feel comfortable handling much. I would be sweating bullets that in my efforts to make it more profitable I didn’t inadvertently render the card worthless by a momentary lapse into carelessness or accident.

      It definitely could be a profitable practice but requires effort, patience, and risk.

  • Excellent article, Steve. Very detailed and well researched. I am more into Hockey, but the scenarios there won’t be too different.

    I couldn’t agree more about Beckett’s grading: it’s extremely strict. And the funny thing is that since they are so strict, bordering on the mean (exaggerating a bit …), their grading should theoretically fetch higher prices. How wouldn’t prefer to buy a very strict 9 to a reasonably strict 9?

    I sent Beckett a Gretzky rookie (Topps), and it came back within 12 days! Great. A big upside of Beckett.

    But … I would have given it an 8 or at worst a 7. I am not naive and know that most people would just LOVE to have a Gem Mint grade … but I was realistic and didn’t expect miracles. However, instead of a very realistic 7, the card came back as a measly 5.

    That was tough. I think I’ll resubmit it to PSA. I am fairly confident it’ll come back as a 7, or maybe better, unless PSA feels they can’t deviate too much from BGS (see my last sentence, below).

    The major downsides of PSA are
    a) ridiculous turnaround times
    b) very high grading fees. While Beckett charges $ 40-50 for pretty fast turnarounds (1 – 3 weeks average) and $ 100 – 125 if you want subs, PSA wants you to estimate your own card’s grade and therefore its value, and charges accordingly, whereby they combine the card’s expected value with the service level. A bit sneaky, I must say. On the other hand, PSA offers bulk prices of $ 10 per card, for 20+ cards; but the cards must be under $ 199 each. That said, the turnaround will be around 5-6 months … totally crazy.

    Since I have never resubmitted from Becket to PSA, I wonder if PSA will feel itself guided by the BGS grading ?

  • And this whole article so he could say why? Nope. Its a good question, the only question I expected an answer for. A cause and an cure. I use SGC a lot, and they have great customer service. BSG, PSA, SGC, they all grade to the same standard, you cant give a reason 1 why PSA is selling for more and they treat customers like shit. Email customer svc- automated reply 7 days later, you reply with a question, automated reply 7 days later. repeat. They dont deserve our business. SGC does. Ever consider that? Life is short, do business with people that treat you better, you will live longer, and Kharma will always be more important than money. Or, trim the shit out your cards and send them to PSA, oh wait, where is the DATA. How about a follow up today and give a reason. Dig

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