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PSA charges you for your submission after your order has been graded and shipped back to you. Meaning, while you provide your payment info when you fill out your submission request, you aren’t actually charged until the process has been completed.
For example, my 1-card package at the “regular” service level was received by PSA on 8/29/22. My grade was available for viewing on 9/7/22, which was the same day the card was shipped back to me. I was charged the next day, on 9/8/22.
Pretty straightforward, but I see this question about when PSA actually charges you for your order submission a lot, and it’s a good one. With so many people grading cards, and the fact that the transaction process is a little different than one might expect, it’s definitely something that needs more explaining.
What makes the situation unique is when you purchase something, you expect to have to pay right then and there. Buying cards from an online card store? You pay and receive your cards. Making a scale of a larger purchase? You might not pay everything, but you put a little down, and you set up payment terms for the rest of it.
But the cost of grading a card through PSA might only be $50, so what gives?
Some of it comes down to the final value of the card; and in fact, this “declared value” might even be the question people ask more than this one, so we will try to cover both answers here today. If you don’t want to read further, the grading level you “purchase” when submitting might be upcharged if you declare the value of the card too low when doing so.
Also, though, people often submit large or costly orders. If being charged upfront, a lot of money would be tied up in cards they might not receive back for months and months.
Last, PSA must authenticate your card and ensure it’s one they can grade before they actually grade it. Meaning, some cards re returned to the submitters, and I’m guessing not charging upfront helps alleviate some of that headache.
What is Declared Value?
Declared value is the estimated value of the card after it has been graded by PSA. Meaning, if you have a card that is worth $100 raw, but you expect it to be a PSA 10 which means the value would be $1,000 as a PSA 10, then $1,000 would be your declared value.
When it comes to how PSA card grading works, declared value is often to blame.
While the definition itself makes sense, how is one to know what a card will grade and what it value will be?
How do You Determine Declared Value?
PSA has a breakdown here, but I’ll summarize.
Start with what you think the card will grade. To generalize, if you’re submitting a modern card, say a Julio Rodriguez rookie card, etc. you’re most likely thinking the card will grade a 10, right? That said, things get a bit trickier when you know the card won’t grade a 10, as is the case with most vintage submissions. Still, you’ll have to do your best to “guesstimate” the grade based on different PSA grading examples, etc.
Once you have an approximate grade for your card, head to PSA’s Auction Prices Realized tool to search for the card you’re submitting. In my case, I was submitting a 2022 Bowman Chrome George Valera Orange Mojo refractor. I felt in my gut it was a 9, but my hopes were a 10.
Going to the APR tool and searching for “2022 bowman chrome mega george valera” I see the following info and then some:
There were a lot of cards! And after looking at the list, I couldn’t find my card.
At this point, you have a couple of options. You can stick with the APR tool and look for something similar. For example, there was a gold foil PSA 10, a Purple RayWave, etc. But, from the tool, it’s hard to tell when a card was sold, which matters, and not having a close comparison, I just went to eBay.
Looking at eBay, I had the following data points:
There is a Valera orange Sapphire /50 PSA 10 listed for $699. While my card wasn’t a Sapphire and out of /25, it’s not the best comp. That said, my card was also listed as a PSA 10 but for $1,099, which was a little steep in my mind (and let’s not forget these are currently for sale).
Looking at the sold listings, I see an orange Sapphire /50 PSA 10 sold for $260 in August. I also see a gold mojo /50 sold for under $300 in July.
So, with all of this information, I felt something around $500 declared value for my card made sense. Not to mention that at the “Regular” service level, the card needs to have a declared value of $1,499 or less, so no matter what, even if more than $500 actual value, I knew the card wasn’t worth more than $1,499.
Why Doesn’t PSA Charge You Upfront?
All of this is a detailed way to explain the fact that you aren’t charged for cards up front upon submission because when submitting, you may declare a lesser value than what the card actually turns out to be worth. In which case, say you submit at the regular service level, but the card’s value exceeds that $1,499 threshold, you may be upcharged to a higher service level.
I don’t know if this for certain, just guessing. As also mentioned above, it could be because they don’t want submitters to have their money tied up until their card is graded, or perhaps because some cards submitted can’t be graded, and are thus returned.
Anyway, back to declared value.
As PSA notes, a true declared value is important when it comes to “insurance” and “replacement value”:
“In such a case, declared value is taken into consideration when determining a proper replacement value. Submitting a low declared value would be like undervaluing your home to get a lower insurance premium. You are not tricking the insurance company into lower premiums, but rather accepting inferior protection in the unlikely event of an issue.”
In the end, an upcharge might be a unwelcome surprise, but a welcome surprise at the same time, as it means yes, you’ll be paying more to grade, but you also received a higher grade than you probably originally thought!
Bad news: I got upcharged for my PSA order.— Rip City Stacks (@ripcitystacks) April 15, 2022
Good news: I got upcharged for my PSA order. pic.twitter.com/Lf11X8pdx2