Increase in PSA Grading, Decrease in value of graded cards

I believe @blastoiserules1 posed a similar question/observation awhile ago, but I’d like to bring this back up as I believe it isn’t exactly the same.

I’ve noticed lately a massive increase in PSA grading for Pokemon cards. Especially among collectors like us. It’s gotten to the point where people have to explicitly mention in their wants threads that they want raw cards, cause PSA graded has become so common. Everyone seems to be getting on the PSA bandwagon. Now I of course am guilty of this as well, I didn’t exactly jump on grading when it was fresh and new.

As the basic laws of economics state, an increase in supply without a significantly similar increase in demand leads to price drops. Stuff like this can be seen in almost all of the sold listings on eBay. Here’s a PSA graded 9 Mew full art, selling for basically the same as a NM-Mint ungraded card.

Now this isn’t my listing, I’m not complaining about recent card prices, just pointing something like this out. A general trend I see is that newer English PSA 9 cards tend to auction at only slightly higher than their ungraded price. Of course this is different for things like older cards, but still, unless you’ve got something crazy, you’re going to be hard-pressed to make your money back by grading cards and getting 9s.

So basically the only way you’re making money on these cards is to have them graded 10s. Which we all know how difficult it is for English cards. This consequently leads to an increase in grading Japanese cards, as they are much easier to get 10s on and make some money. In response to this I’ve basically stopped grading English cards. They’re too hard to get 10s on, and I can’t sell my 9s to even break even with the value of the card plus grading fees. I won’t even talk about anything below a 9.

What do you think of the current market for graded cards? Is it worth grading newer cards that aren’t perfect gem mint? Any other opinions/thoughts on the PSA card market at the moment? Will PSA 9/graded cards in general continue to see a not-so-favorable decrease in price?

I think it really comes down to people (like myself) not wanting to pay the premium for having graded cards for our personal collection.

Think about it. Why would I pay person A $150 for a PSA 10 Card X when I can buy card X for $30 and have it graded with a high chance of a 10 for under $15.

Of course I sell any doubles that I have but if I don’t make even or slightly better, I’ll just hold onto the card. No amount of desperation will make me sell a card for lower than I think it’s worth. Hence why I really don’t like doing auctions unless I set a start price.

I honestly think this comes down to people realising that it’s just easier to grade our own cards. Props to the sellers who are able to continually make money. Collecting to me is a hobby, not a business. =)


Just another thing here @darkrai and @ozenigma: I’m talking about English cards. They are totally different grading-wise than Japanese. It is viable to grade Japanese cards, and many people do because 10s are easier. But what about English, where 10s are much harder?

That’s a good question mate.

I don’t have any level of experience here so I can’t answer that. No doubt someone else will though :wink:

I did switch to Japanese because it was just so disheartening to open a whole English booster box and have all of my Ultra Rares have edge wear and nicked corners.

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The prices are dropping because more people are grading to re-sell but don’t buy graded cards themselves.

The market needs consumers. There are plenty of cards that will save you money buying them already graded than trying your luck with PSA. Flashfire FA Charizard, Plasma Storm Charizard come to mind.

Generally speaking, if everyone tries to sell, prices will drop, and the sellers/actual businesses will most likely remain as their volume can handle a slight decrease.

Even someone like myself who has been collecting and grading for a long time still buys graded cards. Hell, Gary who has been grading since the inception of PSA just dropped 5 figures on a graded card. I think that is the key to a stable market. If everyone is taking from the market, then the market will naturally shrink.


I think the problem here is that many people dont value 9s as much anymore… Everyone is after 10s, and the amount of 9s piles up so quickly (due to crappy English quality), that some might decide that they won’t pay a premium on 9s since a bunch more will show up soon anyways. Heck, even on 10s I’m constantly asked “what’s the lowest you will go”… More and more collectors are starting to stick to paying less for graded cards. Guess there’s so many people grading now, that buyers have decided they will get their copy sooner or later at a decent price.

Now, as someone who has started selling graded cards in the past 8+ months (as a means to fund my collection since I currently am an unemployed college student), I think that this train of thought sucks for sellers. If I am going to scout the market for gradeable cards, pay grading fees + selling fees AND assume the risk of sending a card and it comes back lower than a 10, I feel like we should be getting a premium in return for the graded card… But unfortunately buyers don’t feel that way and at the end of the day, a card is worth what others are willing to pay for it.

@oz you should really cough up the dough and help your fellow graders out! Your collection’s value stays higher too if you do :wink: haha

Very true. The truth is however, that not everyone who gets into the PSA hobby can afford to buy graded cards. That is probably the most common reason I have seen others post as to why they won’t pick up PSA cards. Most people see it as a profit opportunity, but they can barely afford to pay grading fees/buy ungraded cards suitable for grading, let alone pay for an already graded card (also, sometimes these people have 0 interest in collecting PSA stuff, so they strictly sell PSA)… At least from what I have read in the past regarding buying graded cards.

Personally, I prefer buying raw cards since I will be selling some anyways, but mainly because I love the thrill of the hunt for a 10… Scoring that 10 yourself for your collection feels a million times better than buying someone’s graded PSA 10. I still buy graded cards though whenever I feel it is easier/quicker than grading my own cards. I know the market won’t be suitable if all of us sell graded cards but don’t buy them.

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I do cough up the dough on wise purchases where it would just be easier than churning out constant copies. I find a lot of sellers now using generic pictures and then able to send ridiculously OC cards calling them Mint.

The issue I have is the ridiculous mark up.

I’ve stated before, and I won’t mention names, but a SR/UR full art from a new Japanese set in PSA10 is not worth 10× the value of an ungraded version. It is not hard to get a PSA10 of a Japanese new set card, so why should anyone pay through the teeth to keep bankrolling someone elses entire collection?

Anything I sell is to supplement, not bankroll and as of yet I have not sold any graded cards, just bought them. You all have to remember that not all of can just drop thousands of dollars on cards (when there is a cheaper option). Some of us have other commitments like children, mortgages etc.


Yup, yup. Should’ve added “jk”, I was just messing with you lol. I’ve only done a deal once with you but you’re cool in my book :wink:

And definitely valid points, as far as some sellers marking up their graded cards to a ridiculous amount. I still feel like PSA cards should definitely be worth more but there is a limit to it, as you mention.

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On the flip side won’t this make getting that 10 on an English card make it that much more valuable?

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This topic goes back to the thing we were talking about on what you dislike most about collecting. As scott said people are seeking to take or gain as much money from the market but they themselves don’t buy any graded cards. The value of 10s is subject to the sets quality and the pokemon. Many people saw the prices of PS charizard, FA lucario, FA mewtwo, Rayquaza SR and other very popular english cards. People starting thinking if those cards are worth 10 to 20x the value of the ungraded cards so is every other english psa 10. The problem is not all of them are worth that. So in an attempt to make money people flooded tbe market. The same thing is happening to the Japanese market.

I did have an ebay store and I paid taxes for 2 years on it. So I don’t think I’m some Joe smoe but I contributed some to this as well. However I put that money back into the market. I have 10 to 15 enhlish psa 10s I haven’t added to my collection thread.

I purchased an English psa 10 vs seeker SR for 105. Another person got a psa 10 SR but they wanted 200 to 400. Most cards have a set value based on auctions. The english exs go for around 20 to 50 with certain popular pokemon going for more. Most FA go for 50 to 150. SRs go for 100 to 200.

This subject is something that has been discussed more and more frequently. I always enjoy smpratte and churlockers ability to breakdown and analyze it.


On English cards, it is hard to make much of any profit if they don’t grade 10’s. People need to realize with the grading cost plus shipping your looking at about $8-$10 per card just in that cost. Plus the actual cost of the card itself. As for Japanese cards, i’m experiencing the same thing. With cards that I expect 10’s on grading 9’s. The value just dropped immensely because of that. I will still grade English cards. But, I’m going to be super picky about what I send in and the condition. If it isn’t pretty damn close to perfect, then it isn’t getting graded…

I just got my 13th Round back from PSA. Of the 54 cards sent, 38 were my own. The Grades were as followed…
2 10’s
25 9’s
9 8’s
1 PSA-7
1 PSA-6

This was the Wizards of the Coast era round. Year 2000 and below or whatever. I’m rather upset with my grades. The 9’s are Nice I guess. But, I’m mad with anything lower than that… 10 of the cards I sent were Japanese Holos from Jungle, Fossil, TR, Gym sets. Only 2 came back PSA-10’s. I pack pulled the Japanese cards myself. Zero scratches, zero edgewear, nice center. PSA is fucking high as of lately. I basically wasted atleast a couple hundred dollars grading cards here. They still look nice in cases. But, I looked the cards over bigtime before sending them and I was sure EVERYTHING would grade a minimum of a 9…

I’m afraid that there really isn’t a market for PSA-9’s period unless they are old WOTC cards. Most people aren’t after Graded copies of newer series cards yet. If they grade 10’s, then they would obviously sell for a premium. If they don’t they aren’t worth grading unless you keep them for yourself. As for purchasing Graded cards people offer them to me all the time. But I turn them down because I don’t have the money to spend. Main goals of graded cards for my Collection are a PSA-10 of Shiny Blastoise, Shiny Charizard, FA Charizard, M-Charizard Ex #69, FA Blastoise, FA Venusaur, and the 1st Edition Base Set (in all 9’s or 10’s). All other cards I can wait and grade them myself. Sure if I find a good deal on a graded PSA-10 I will pick it up. But, as Scott said above. There are way to many sellers out there and not enough buyers. People don’t agree with me on values of graded cards either. I pull a ton of the cards that I grade myself. With opened alot of packs comes spending alot of money. That’s one reason that I weigh booster packs. To try and get the Ultra Rares for cheaper than they would cost online as singles. But, to be able to pull them myself will give me a usually a (minimum) grade of a Mint-9 on a card. With a possible chance of a Gem-Mint. As for the FA Charizard from Flashfire, it’s a pain in my ass. I’ve already graded atleast 10 copies of the card. 2 8’s and the rest 9’s. Still no PSA-10. So I just purchased 15 “Pack-Fresh” ones on Ebay last week. Hoping that once I grade them atleast one will grade a 10 for my personal collection. In the future, the card will onbiously increase in price because it’s a Charizard. But, even with selling I try to do it to help further my collection. It makes things alot easier. If I was making $25 an hour, then I would have more money to spend including on buying graded cards. But, with the huge increase in grading it comes with a huge surplus of graded cards. Which means they are cheaper. 3 years ago most people didn’t know what a graded card was. But, now it’s like the norm. I guess I’m partially to blame for getting people interested in grading cards because of my youtube channel…

Part of the problem is deciding on how large the premium should be. At the end of the day the card in the case is the same as the raw card. If you can adequately inspect merchandise for condition and confirm the quality, a PSA 9 quality raw card is the same as a graded copy.

The premium you pay for when buying the cards is that you can trust the condition to a greater degree. For newer cards conditions tend to be better and therefore graded prices are lower. If the premium you expect to receive doesn’t match what buyers are valuing cards at, you shouldn’t grade those cards for resale.

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Give it a few more years, when some of the younger generations start growing up more, and getting into grading / better work positions. We will see unopened cards diminish and hard to come by, while the demand for graded will increase as new generations start to get better jobs, and are likely to afford higher budgeted items.

ATM the people who grew up in the year 1999 era, aren’t even 30 yet, It will be interesting to see what will happen when this age group is in there 30’s and working up in their careers.
I think a large portion of the collectors are aged between 21-27 years old currently, many are just finishing uni, and struggling to find work still. People will have higher budgets maybe when they get older. Hence increased PSA sales.


My take on this is if a certain card has a large amount of mint examples still available then the investment outlook is poor. For cards like these, PSA 9s will struggle,
By the same token, a specific card with very few mint copies around is much more likely to be a solid investment in all grades.

Using graded cards for your personal collection is a different story since rarity is of less consequence. Many people like the protection and presentation graded cards provide.


No, it’s not. Just because something looks like a PSA 9 quality doesn’t mean PSA will grade it as a 9. Of course, PSA will make mistakes since they are human after all, but they usually get it right. The fact remains that once a card has been assigned a grade, “what if it receives X grade” is thrown out the window, and that is part of the reason why graded cards have sold for and should sell for more than raw cards.

Yes, I believe I mentioned it but I agree that there will be a limit to what the premium will be. You can only squeeze so much profit out of a card released normally in booster packs. That being said, the general pattern (from what I’ve seen) was that PSA 9 cards were worth ~2x the price of raw cards. Recently, that hasn’t been the case as Fourthstar pointed out. The sellers can’t really determine what buyers are willing to pay as a “premium” without listing the cards for auction though (at least the first person or two to list that specific card while the pop is low). So I’m not sure how you would suggest that sellers don’t buy certain cards for resale if the expectations don’t match buyers prices?

I’m aware that just because something looks like a 9 doesn’t guarantee it will get one. My point was that for more experienced collectors who have the ability to actually view raw cards they are looking at for their collections, they have a reasonable ability to expect a range that a card is likely to fall in. Your comment about “what if it receives X grade getting thrown out the window” is assuming that every person interested in buying is strictly only worried about the grade of the card as opposed to obtaining it in the first place. Of course there are collectors out there who strive to have complete PSA sets but I was trying to make the point that there are plenty of collectors out there who aren’t quite that intense over grading.

How I would suggest sellers don’t buy certain cards for resale…
Obviously this can’t really be done for newer cards as prices havn’t been realised however if you do a bit of research and find that PSA 9 of card X typically sells for $Y and costs $Z raw in mint, if the difference in those isn’t what you call an acceptable premium, don’t buy it for resale.

Take this example, you’re a home renovator. In city/suburb A, a typical unrenovated house sells for 300000 while a nice renovated one sells for 330000. You would be foolish to purchase an unrenovated house to renovate to try and sell for a premium. Lets say new kitchen and bathroom costs 20000 and you spend another 10000 on paint/curtains and landscaping. You can’t realistically expect buyers to pay a premium of 360000 because you feel that is what you need to get to make your time and money worth it, you renovate in an area where the difference between renovated and unrenovated sales prices is higher.

In other words if you’re grading cards for resale, try and stick to cards which have the higher differences between graded vs raw values which is what @garyis2000 was getting at.

I know it’s not a perfect example as the card market can go up and down all over the place very quickly but I feel the logic is sound enough.

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Not to derail:

But does anyone else share mixed feelings in PSA’s standards for Japanese cards?

Most of my PSA 10s deserve the grade. However, several of them certainly do not. I would be happy to take pictures and highlight the damage, but PSA seems to consistently miss edge wear on modern Japanese cards. It hardly affects me since I am a “responsible” grader, but many of my graded purchases do not deserve a PSA 10 (at least, not as much as other cards). Now I am trying not to be totally OCD here, but it sort of defeats the purpose when I need to be this aware of the cards I am sending in and purchasing from others. Like Gary mentioned somewhere, it makes me want to question sellers for pictures of the back of the card, knowing that PSA grades certain cards very differently.

EDIT: Sorry for the rant. I get this vibe I will re-read my post and cringe in the morning. :stuck_out_tongue:


There is no conspiracy at PSA on grading Japanese cards. It all depends on the grader’s opinion. There are cards with edge wear that may grade 9 or 10 depending on where and how much the edge wear is and how it affects the overall appeal of the cards. There are also cards that were obviously not deserving of their grades but these are out of the norm. In a lot more instances, PSA do get it right with their grades.

I think quite the opposite. PSA has been giving me alot of 9’s on Japanese cards that are very deserving of 10’s. Then other people who send cards through me have cards graded and I see “tons” of edge-wear on let’s say M-Charizards from Flashfire and they are still grading them 9’s. On the order I just got back from PSA on Saturday. 4 Jungle 1st Edition Holo’s came back as 10’s. Atleast 3 of the 4 have significant silvering on “multiple” edges of the cards. Then I send the same cards in literally better condition and they come back as 8’s… I DON’T GET IT… :confused: