Buying PSA 9: How fussy are you regarding card faults


I’ve recently started to collect graded cards (mostly PSA 9). From my understanding, PSA 9 cards are mint condition and shouldn’t have any wear/damages except for very minor things that are only noticeable under very close inspection.

However, I came across many PSA 9-graded cards with relatively obvious issues (examples below).

a) Scuffs at corners / edges
b) Worn out corners or misscut corners?
c) Obvious scratches

I was wondering if you would avoid buying PSA 9 cards with any of such faults? Are such faults normal, or are they considered weak PSA 9s? Would you buy PSA 9 cards regardless of any fault because of the grade or do you make a decision depending on whether there are any scuffs, worn out corners, scratches etc… visible?

Examples images of various PSA 9 cards illustrating various issues:

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These all look like standard PSA 9s to me. This is what I expect when buying 9s. I don’t mean to seem like I’m talking down, but if your expectation of PSA 9s is higher than this I think you will be disappointed by most 9s and should revise that expectation. Corner nicks/dings, minor edgewear, and scratches are standard on PSA 9s. Those corners aren’t anything out of the ordinary, just small printing imperfections. That probably wouldn’t even stop it from being a 10.

Obviously you should review any graded card before purchasing and take both the professionally-assigned grade and any visible condition issues into account when making a purchasing decision. Don’t purchase cards just because of the grade, and be aware that a professionally-assigned grade may not match up with your personal expectations for cards.


Those look like 9s to me

I agree with the above messages about these being standard PSA 9s. I am a PSA 9 collector myself, and all nines are by no means created evenly. Some nines look absolutely flawless, and some have those minor issues. When I am buying a PSA 9 card, I mainly just make sure that most of the damage is on the back, and that it is not too egregious.

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buy the grade, not the card


I’m gonna go out on a limb and say those are weak 9’s. I collect better 9’s than those and I would advise you seek out better condition 9’s, especially since it seems like those things are already bothering you. I don’t really care about the “weird corners” but the whitening on four corners and those large scratches are not good. 9’s are abundant and it’s very easy to just wait for another copy to arise. There are tons of 9’s that are really in the middle of 9-10 since PSA doesn’t have a 9.5.

However, if I got those 9’s at PSA I would be very happy (:

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I’ve been buying a lot of PSA 9’s recently and I agree with @knotchi, the examples provided look to be on the weaker end of the 9 scale. If I were looking for a PSA 9 copy of a card I would not buy a copy with that much scratching or whitening (slightly miscut corners don’t bother me nearly as much though).

hey i’m the head of the grading department and actually those are 10s


I’m going to be completely honest with you here.

You have 12 posts on this forum, and the last three threads you created are:

a.) Buying PSA 9: How fussy are you regarding card faults;
b.) Worth to buy this Charizard/Blastoise? Corners not great (basically the same as A);
c.) Is this corner trimmed? Large gap in PSA case and sharp corner

It seems like you are an incredibly picky buyer, so picky that you are worried about “gaps in PSA cases” (something I have never heard anyone question before) and thinking that perfectly normal corners are “trimmed.”

The fact of the matter is that you are looking for PSA 9s, which means that there can be multiple flaws on the card. Even a PSA 10 can, and likely will, have a minor flaw. Finding a perfect card is essentially impossible, and when you are looking for PSA 9s, you are going to be purchasing a card of which a PSA grader likely saw a noticeable flaw or two.

I understand you are new to collecting PSA-graded cards and have some trepidation, and that’s fine, but you are severely overthinking this. I don’t mean to come across harshly and I am not trying to put you down in any sort of way, but if you continue being this picky, you will likely end up returning some perfectly fine PSA-graded cards after purchasing them, which is a good way to land on eBay seller block lists and potentially even the E4 Blacklist.

Just relax and try not to micro-analyze every single graded card you come across. You are going to cause a lot of headaches for not only yourself, but also for a lot of sellers in the process.

Enjoy collecting.

Just some friendly advice.


I don’t see them as weak 9s myself. They look standard. The yellow corner trimming won’t deduct from the grade and the whitening specks are common on 9s and you may find 1 or 2 white specks on a 10. Light holo scratches (and print lines) are a pet peeve of mine but you’ll get one or two on a 9 if everything else looks perfect.

It can be creased for all i care. Youre either buying a PSA 9 or youre buying a mint card thats graded. Theres a difference in my opinion!

There’s such a large variance when it comes to 9s. Personally I think a 9 with dings in each corner and holo scratches is pretty weak and I would pregrade the card as an 8 myself but I’m still not surprised that it got a 9.

I’ve held hundreds of WOTC 9s. Corner whitening is very common. Not as common to see it on all 4 corners though.
Finding a PSA 9 WOTC holo WITHOUT scratching is a pleasant surprise.
The corner thing you point out is just the way the factory has cut it and I don’t even think they factor it into the grade, though I can entertain arguments for why they maybe should in a PSA 10.

Here’s how I see it. Everyone one of these issues is something you should expect when pulling a WOTC card out of the pack. A PSA 9 is effectively an average pack-fresh WOTC card. This aligns with the definition of “mint”. For the lucky outliers with better centering and clean corners, the “gem mint” designation makes sense. You are allowed to set your own standard of condition for your collection, but just know that if the issues you document are too much, then you are demanding a higher level of quality than the state the average card leaves the printing facility in.

The holo scratches are the only thing I’d be unhappy to find on a PSA 9, but it’s hard to tell based on one photo. Ultimately, I’d say to just analyze the card appropriately yourself before buying anything and decide if you think it’s good enough. That said, if you’re struggling to find 9’s that you’re happy with perhaps you need to adjust your standards or go for 10’s. :blush:


That’s my understanding as well. But a question- scratches like we see on the Entei in OP would be unusual on a WOTC pack-fresh card right? I haven’t opened a WOTC card since I was a kid, but from videos I’ve seen and NM cards I’ve bought recently I’m thinking that isn’t normal.

The holo micro-scratches are something you’ll have to decide if you want to live with card-by-card but those corners are normal for 9s. It’s as @mjs61290 said. If you’re scrutinizing cards this closely, you should just be collecting 10s. Maybe not even PSA 10s, maybe just Beckett 10s with subgrades


You’re really going to be upset when you find that paying 2-20x for a PSA 10 doesn’t do much better lol.

Then 2-10x more than that for a black label or cgc perfect and… you’ll still likely find imperfections.


It’s totally normal for a PSA 9 to have minor flaws. It will usually be in my experience 2-3 minor flaws. It can be a centering issue on the front or back, it can be a bit of corner whitening or a bit of edge wear usually just minor factory defects and not actual ‘wear’. In regards to surface, sometimes it will just be a minor scratch or print line that kept it from being a 10 while the back of the card will be almost perfect instead and if it didn’t have the issues on the front it’d be a 10 most likely. It all depends on what part of the card has the issue(s) and how pronounced they are.

With this being said, that Entei card in your post does look like a pretty weak surface grade for a 9. I personally don’t have any PSA 9s with that bad of scratches, I’d expect that to be more on a 7 or 8. However, if the rest of the card is flawless on the back and has strong front centering than PSA most likely decided that it still fits within the 9 Mint grade range.

The good news is, it’s always easier to find PSA 9s than 10s. If you have one in your collection that you don’t like, just sell it and replace it. This is also why I started buying strong 8s as they are usually way cheaper and the differences between an 8 and 9 can be really small much like the difference between a 9 and 10 can also be very small you just have to hunt them down over time. If you want ‘virtually perfect’ then save up for a PSA 10 so you’ll be most conditionally satisfied.

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You should select listings with enough clear pictures to make an informed purchase. You are not going to be content with a good portion of 9’s, rather than the exceptional few that are actually misgraded. Always expect there to be 1-2 minor flaws in pictures that you didn’t notice or weren’t properly captured.

Unless you are going for black labels, there will be flaws. Find the ones you are okay with and to what degree.

I’m not too picky and generally believe the card is whatever grade it says on the case.


Look like strong 9s to me.

And i have nothing else to say here because @mjs61290, mic dropped the hell out of this one. Thanks for that input.