Declaring PSA value

I’ve got some cards I’d like to submit to PSA, around 15-20. Some of these are $1,000+ cards and plenty are $250+. Is it unethical to label these as worth under $99 each to PSA so I can submit in bulk for much cheaper, but have them insured by USPS for the full price? I’ve seen people offer to grade any card for $10 and assume they are doing just that? But I don’t want to do anything scummy.

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It’s a good question and I don’t think it has an easy answer. From what I understand, more veteran PSA members generally submit cards in a manner that is as cheap as possible (like what you’re describing, declaring the value to be <$100 and submitting them as bulk).

The increased price is really due to two insurance concerns (for us), both while the cards are at PSA and during the return shipping. From my experience, PSA does not insure the return delivery for the total of your submission; rather, they take the calculated risk that the item will be delivered successfully for a nominal fee that, as I’m sure they’ve calculated, outweighs the probabilistic risk that they have to reimburse you for your submission’s total declared value.

The other insurance concern that the higher levels cover is while your cards are at PSA. PSA’s Financial Guarantee doesn’t kick in until the card’s in the slab, so if a grader or some other employee fumbles your card into a creased mess before it’s been slabbed, you’re only going to be reimbursed for the card’s declared value.

From PSA’s perspective, they win either way. If you submit your cards in bulk, you’re (in effect) telling PSA you don’t want to purchase insurance. If shit hits the fan, they win, because your cards have nominal valuations and it’s going to be a drop in the bucket for them. [Although, don’t get me wrong, like any insurance company they will fight tooth and nail to decrease any amount they actually pay out, either by offering discounts for services or more nefarious tactics if you’re uncooperative like stonewalling and blacklisting. If push came to shove, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to settle the issue if they were sued and the fee was nominal enough. I doubt most collectors would take it that far; however, due to their location and the cost of litigating such an issue. PSA knows this.].

If you instead choose to use the higher service rates, you’re telling PSA that you do want to purchase insurance, which they are more than happy to provide. Insurance is a big money business, and I’m sure they’ve consulted with actuarial services in order to determine what rates make them the most profitable. Every time you choose to purchase insurance, that money (or whatever % of the service level they’ve allocated to reserve) is being put away for the rainy day when there actually is a grader that fumbles the card or the guy running the encapsulation machine puts the card in sideways. And of course, if something happens to your super expensive card that you paid $95 to have graded and insured for $1500, you can bet that PSA will try to minimize their loss by offering services instead of cash.

The other thing that the higher price provides is a quicker turnaround time. For some people, that’s a big deal. If I had the $$$ to 10-day everything, I probably would (by buying 15-sub vouchers over and over which comes out to about $13/card). The speed and insurance peace-of-mind would be worth it, I think. But alas, I’m just a pauper with large ambitions :slight_smile:


PSA can decline grading a card if your declared value is significantly under their persumed valuation. So you cannot grade an Illustrator for the cheapest fee as they are aware of its value.

This of course doesn‘t apply for cards with lower values but only applies for the highest end cards.

I’ve never submitted an order with over 1000.00 subform value and ofcourse my submissions are 100 times that quite often. Never had a card refused either. I’m not advocating anybody else doing the same though. Protect yourself beyond your comfort level,

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You mention insuring via USPS for the “full price” but only declaring to PSA the lower value. Well in declaring the lower value you are setting yourself up for a return shipment only insured to that lower value. You always need to CYA (cover your a$$) in the event of a worse case scenario. If it is an amount you cannot afford to lose then you really need to declare to the value that you can be okay with receiving in exchange for total loss of your cards.

I always personally try to insure them for what I have into the card(s), if anything leaning towards the lower end of that. Essentially valuing them at or below the PSA 9 value of the card. E.g. If I buy a complete fossil NM-MINT set for $300, I will simply submit every holo at $20 a piece even though a certain one hitting a 10 will be worth over an order of magnitude higher and even hitting 9’s almost every one is worth more than that. I think the largest discrepancy from what I submitted the card at value wise to what it ended up being valued at was a couple grand due to hitting a 10 on a premium card. It was about an order of magnitude which is very easy to be off on. If you buy 100 mint 4/102 unlimited charizards and declare them all at 9 value and a few achieve 10’s it is very easy to get an order of magnitude off. Same goes for many 1st ed WOTC holos, gold stars and many premium cards.


So people routinely defraud PSA?

Do you EVER have anything positive or non-combative to say? Its insane the negativity that flows from you as well as the constant need to question or fight everyone, crazy. The declared value doesn’t mean much for PSA just FYI.


Did you read the other member’s posts before asking that question? Sure seems like the sender is taking all the risk in declaring a lower PSA value, not PSA themselves, so how is it possible that people are committing fraud to PSA? If you send it as a 50$ below item but the card is worth 10k, PSA is not going to send you back 10k since you chose the lower tiered grading service. No idea how you came to the conclusion that E4 Members are routinely “defrauding” PSA.

Well you’re correct that I like to discuss and, when appropriate, argue. I’m a philosopher.

But it’s not clear why you don’t interpret my questions and comments to be positive: If only by pointing out the weaknesses in what other people believe and presenting opposing viewpoints, I’d say they contribute positively.

In this case, anyway, I think it’s productive to clarify whether it is common (or even recommended!) to provide inaccurate information about card value to PSA in order to save money. (I have zero experience with grading cards myself, so I’m also simply genuinely curious.)

I could be mistaken, but I’d hope that this forum is a good place to develop and share best practices relating to Pokémon card collecting, including relating to card grading, which is foundational to collecting. Also, there are members of this forum (I think) who are affiliated with or otherwise consult with PSA, and therefore I think it’s especially important that best practices are discussed and stated clearly on the record. After all, some members speculate the PSA peruses this forum.

Is prompting this discussion really “insane” “negativity?”

As I suggested in my last post, I’m not familiar with the process of card grading. (So please excuse me if I made unwarranted assumptions or used the wrong word.)

But my understanding of the relevant practice was that it consists in (a) stating a lower card value, in order to (b) save money on grading services, at the cost of (c) less insurance on the return shipping.

Please feel free to correct or add. Thank you

Initiating the conversation with a baseless accusatory statement isn’t productive…

Declaring estimated card value is incidental to the grading process and primarily used to estimate return shipping insurance. No-where in PSA’s TOS does it say that you are legally or contractually obligated to provide exact dollar amount of the card’s value.

Personally I’d recommend declaring at least 40-50% of the cards value, but that’s just based upon my experience with USPS and recovering lost & damaged packages.

Valuation is all about degree. PSA is aware of the most valuable pokemon cards, and won’t accept low tier services. I wouldn’t be surprised if this extended to 1st Ed base in the near future.

In general they are very lenient with valuations, even for sports cards. Typically they will only adjust the service if the valuation is egregiously low. For example, claiming an illustrator under 10k isn’t going to happen.

The only fraud that has occurred in my time are individuals who over valuate their cards, claim psa damaged them, to receive a large payout. This is not a consistent thing, and has only occurred via the scummiest people in the hobby. Other than that, psa is very reasonable with the range in valuation, and will only correct something significant.



Please correct me if I’m wrong: My understanding of the relevant practice is that it consists in (a) knowingly representing a card’s value as less than its actual value (e.g., your e.g., as 50% of it’s actual value), in order to (b) avoid paying certain PSA grading fees, at the cost of (c) less insurance on the return shipping.

No one claimed that you are “contractually obligated to provide exact dollar amount of the card’s value.” What I would claim, however, is that you are obligated (contractually or otherwise) to tell the truth, or at least not knowingly misrepresent the truth. Here, you’d be knowingly misrepresenting the truth in order to avoid the obligation to pay more!

I’ll just leave this here:

So… how exactly did they get away with this? Doesn’t PSA have some type of safeguard for this behavior?

I largely agree with much of what you’ve said and pm’d you, sir.

Yes, I think you misunderstood the meaning behind the word “defraud” (with intent. edit:(referring to this case)). An untruth doesn’t always translate into fraud. Fraud means to purposefully deceive someone with the intent of personal gain (something of value, i.e. time or material things). The only gain from writing a lower value on the form is paying less on insurance. And you can’t knowingly defraud yourself… The worst you can call anybody doing that here is a “dirty no good lier” if that’s how you want to initiate the conversation (Just teasing you here :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

Haha, thank you, sir.

But is my above description of the practice correct? I thought the main purpose of the practice was to avoid paying a higher grading fee (not just higher insurance).

Yes your description was mostly accurate.

To correct myself I mistakenly said it was for return shipping earlier while thinking of something else (it’s not exclusive for return shipping. It’s more than just return shipping)

The grading fee covers a few things, among which are insurance, expedited grading, possibly expedited return shipping, special handling (higher value cards are placed under much higher security…), and although they don’t want to openly say it, more talented graders in the higher teirs. So yes the grading fee covers more than insurance, but the goal is to make sure you have the correct insurance coverage for the card’s value. That’s what the higher service teir and higher grading fee really come down to. They want customers to select the appropriate declared value because they don’t want to have upset customers who receied damaged cards that chose not to pay the higher teir of coverage. It facilitates better business and a happier customer base.

Did you get this info from a reputable source? Or is this speculation?