PSA Raises Prices for Card Grading Services

PSA recently announced a major price hike this week

With graded sports cards selling for record-highs, popular grading company PSA is increasing its prices.

PSA announced the price hike this week. Key new prices are as follows:

  • $20 per card (through 2017, max value of $499 per card and a 10-card minimum)
  • $25 per card (2018-present, max value of $499 per card and a 10-card minimum)
  • $50 per card (max value of $499)
  • $100 per card (max value of $999)
  • $150 per card (max value of $2,499)
  • $300 per card (max value of $4,999)
  • $10 per card for a reholder (max value of $4,999)

For cards valued at more than $5,000, the price is higher, obviously.

The price jumps were significant. Twitter users, including this one, stated that the jumps doubled nearly across the board.

Few thoughts here —

Doubling prices is clearly meant to counter demand which, at the moment, is quite out of control. PSA has seen heavy delays (and to be fair, SGC and Beckett have as well). Collectors will scream bloody murder but, in reality, they are the reason prices to grade cards has spiraled out of control.

How? Because prices for graded cards sell for larger and larger amounts. There’s clearly a market for it and when collectors are buying and selling graded 10s at many multiples of what a raw mint card costs, this was bound to happen. Factor in the surge in junk wax era stuff with collectors rushing to buy up boxes of things like 1987 Donruss and submit previously low-dollar cards for grading and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Second, if you think this is going to be some kind of deterrent, that’s probably wrong, too — though, I suppose time will tell. Now, I will grant you, some collectors will certainly opt out. And why anyone in their right mind would pay $50 at the ‘Economy’ level to grade a card valued at under $500 is beyond me. Instead, though, collectors will simply go to the Value pricing at $20 per card with the 10-card minimum. My bachelor’s in Business tells me that’s what PSA is banking on.

Will demand go down due to these prices? Maybe a little? But you can make a pretty good case that demand doesn’t fall very much (if at all) if collectors that typically sent in five cards up to that ten to meet minimum bulk orders. And if you’re a business like PSA is, why wouldn’t you raise prices at this point?

The counter to that question is a fair one — the loss of market share. It’s possible, after all, that PSA sees its competitors, including the freshly-minted CSG, take some of its business. Heck, it’s probably even probable with a fourth major grader entering the landscape. But if you’re PSA and effectively doubling prices, all things being equal, you can still make just as much money for doing half the work.

Whether or not that’s a great long-term strategy is debatable. But PSA is willing to roll the dice and bank on brand equity that they’ve built up as a way to retain customers.

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