How to Get Higher Grades with PSA - 8 Proven Strategies (2023)

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You know that feeling when you’ve got that special card (or at least you think so) and you send it to PSA to have it graded, only for it to receive a grade that you don’t think is right?

It’s a common theme among sports card collectors.

It can be annoying, but did you know that you have at least some power to affect the scores of the cards you’re sending out?

If it’s your first time sending your cards to be graded to PSA, or you’re an avid collector who’s had numerous cards already graded, here are some proven strategies of how to get higher grades with PSA.

Table of Contents

Tip #1 – Always Clean Your Cards

The number one tip is the one that should be straightforward for everyone, but one that way too many collectors miss out on – clean your cards!

You should do this before inspecting your cards and just before you send your cards out. This way, you’ll leave out any imperfections that you may have created, such as fingerprints or dirt stains – which are all visible through a magnifying lamp.

The way PSA grades their cards is through thorough inspection using either a jeweller’s loupe or a magnifying lamp.

And the first thing they’ll notice is whether the cards are clean. Now, it might not completely ruin your chances with one card but at least it shows that you care about the cards and that your card deserves only the best.

If you don’t know how to clean your card, it’s pretty simple: all you need is a microfibre cloth or cotton round wipes, some Windex, and ideally, a magnifying lamp to help you out.

We’ve prepared a full guide on how to clean sports cards here.

(Video) PSA Grading: 5 Steps to Prep Your Cards for PSA in 2021! 📦💰

Tip #2 – Inspect Your Card with a Magnifying Lamp

If you’re serious about collecting cards and you really want to get the best grades possible, then you’ll want to have a magnifying lamp of some sort.

Now, you don’t need the best of the best – but having a quality lamp will help you get a better idea of what to expect with your cards.

The thing is, PSA uses magnifying lamps to spot imperfections and the quality of the cards. So if you can do the same, you’ll be able to at least expect what grade your card is going to get.

Some of the main things that you should look for include:

  • Scratching on the surface
  • Coloring quality and issues
  • Smudges and other small spots
  • Autographs and their authenticity
  • Edges and corners

If you don’t have a magnifying lamp yet but you would like to have one, then we recommend that you get one ASAP if you’re serious about collecting cards. Here are the best magnifying lamps for your purpose.

Tip #3: Use Brand-New Penny Sleeves and Holders

Here’s another tip that should be straightforward when you’re sending your cards out to be graded: always use new penny sleeves and cardholders.

Now, some people use older penny sleeves for sending their cards to be graded, but I call that lazy.

The reason is that old penny sleeves might leave stains on your cards and just the deteriorating look of a penny sleeve might be enough to decrease the quality of your card.

You should not be lazy about this because new penny sleeves are cheap and you can buy them in bulk, so always have them handy when you’re sending your cards out to PSA or another grading service.

Additionally, you should look into buying card holders that you can use to send your cards out to PSA. There are cardholders that are made specifically for this purpose, and you should use them in combination with new penny sleeves.

The type of penny sleeve you will use will depend on the kind of cards you have; you might have thick or thin cards, cards with patches, etc.

We’ve prepared a full guide on penny sleeves here.

Tip #4: Create a Distraction

So what do I mean by creating a distraction?

It’s simple: a good idea here is to put your lower graded cards or some dummy cards at the top of the pack. Why?

(Video) How to Submit PSA Cards & Get Better Grades Guide

Because that might be a little mind trick to “force” the person grading to give the cards you have higher hopes for higher grades.

The way it works is that you should put the cards you think have a low chance of grading high before the cards that you think will get higher grades. In turn, this might cause the person grading to see the clear difference between the “bad” card and the “good” card, causing you to get a slightly higher grade for the card you want to grade higher.

Now, there’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet about this. Does it work?

It might – many people have reported it, too. So it might be worth trying. It might or might not work, but at least you’ll be able to see whether it works or not.

Also, you might want to consider throwing in a dummy card with a clear imperfection before your better cards, which might have a similar effect.

To do this, find a card that has an obvious flaw – such as bad centering, poor corners, or surface issues. Place it before a good card and let the grader see the clear differences – it might cause them to give the better card a higher grade.

Not 100% guaranteed, but it might work sometimes…

Tip #5: Organize Your Submission Form!

Organize your submission form!

This will take some time and patience, but if you’re already in the process of sending your cards and spending significant amounts of money to get them graded, then it’s worth the extra effort.

This way, you’ll make it easier for the person grading to not only get through your cards faster, but they’ll probably appreciate it. You’ll stand out from the rest and you might have a bit more mercy because of this.

What does organizing your form means, exactly?

First of all, your writing should be easily intelligible. Your information should be clear and succinct, and most importantly, correct.

Then, the cards.

You should declare your cards in a specific order. It’s best to have the same cards together, which will create an order that is easier for the person grading to follow.

(Video) Grading Strategy to Grow a Collection ("For Free!") + 11 More Topics - HUGE PSA Return

Take your time, organize your cards and submission form, and you’ll likely see better results. It’s time-consuming but it works!

Tip #6: Package Your Cards Properly

When you’re sending out your cards to be graded by PSA, it’s not all about the cards themselves, but also the package.

And by package, I mean how well you keep the cards protected and how well you stick to the requirements put forth by PSA.

PSA recommends that you put your card into a flexible sleeve first and then into a more rigid sleeve to give it more stability. If you have several cards that you’re sending out, then you’ll want to place a piece of cardboard below the bottom card and above the top card.

You can stack your cards on top of each other as long as there is no risk of damage being done to the cards.

Important: make sure that you arrange the cards in the same order as they are on the submission form. This is very important because if you don’t do that, you’re risking PSA sending the cards right back to the sender.

You can also use bubble wrap to secure the cards. Furthermore, some people also like to use post-its on their cards which makes them easier to be removed.

Just take good care of your cards and show that you care about the quality of the package, and you’ll have a better chance of scoring better.

Tip #7: Embrace the Power of Eye Appeal

No matter how well you prepare your card and make it more appealing, there’s always that additional factor of mystery when it comes to PSA gradings: the power of subjectivity.

After all, all cards are graded by people. They’re human beings, meaning that they have their preferences and their standards when it comes to grading cards. This factor of subjectivity might well be the reason why some cards get a PSA 8 while others get a PSA 9.

To be more particular, it’s all about the eye appeal of the card, as PSA describes it on their website.

For example, even when one card isn’t perfectly centered or has perfect features, PSA will grade a card higher if it has better eye appeal and therefore, better potential to be sold on the market.

So even if a card sticks to the guidelines when it comes to centering – if it doesn’t look as appealing as another card, it might receive a lower grade than a card that does look more appealing from the standpoint of a buyer.

This is a factor you can’t really control, especially with old cards. With new cards, you won’t see this as much, but if you’re selling older cards, you should make sure that you show your card in an appealing manner (whenever possible).

(Video) HOW TO PSA GRADE POKEMON CARDS! (Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials)

Tip #8: The Early Bird Guts the Worm

It might seem counterintuitive to grade your cards as soon as you get them, but the earlier you have your card graded, the better the chance it will get a higher grade.

This means that once you receive some recent cards from this year’s or last year’s set, it’s generally a good idea to have them graded straight away.


Because the earlier cards tend to get a PSA 10 in most cases, and the longer you wait, the lower the possibility of you getting the top grade will be.

So the next time you buy a set or a card from a new set, it’s a good idea to have it graded straight away, which will give you a better chance of getting that desired PSA 10.


Does PSA grade increase value?

Yes, in the vast majority of cases. A card that is graded by PSA is going to be more valuable than a card that’s not graded. The reason for this is that you’re sending a clear signal that your card is pristine and in great condition. It tells the buyer that your card is professionally graded and that they can rely on the quality of the card. On the other hand, buying ungraded cards comes with a risk, and that risk is increased when buying online, so it’s always better to buy graded cards rather than non-graded ones.

Can you fake PSA grading?

No, you can’t fake PSA grading. The reason for this is that every card that is graded by PSA gets a unique label at the top of the card with a code that can be scanned, which can be used to confirm the authenticity of the card. There have been attempts at this in the past but almost never were they successful.

How hard is it to get a PSA 10?

It’s hard to get a PSA 10 rating for your card. To get that rating, your card would have to be perfect in almost every regard when it comes to grading standards. This means that it would have to have perfect corners, centering, surface, and all other aspects also need to be perfected. All of this is really rare and hard to come by, and thus only the best cards get the PSA 10 rating. Even if you think that your card will get this rating, it’s rarely the case.

  • How to Get Higher Grades with PSA - 8 Proven Strategies (1)


    I'm a big time sports nerd, with soccer being my first true love. I've been collecting sports cards since I was a little kid, and now... well, not much has changed, but I write about it... and I have facial hair.

    (Video) How To Submit Cards to PSA for Grading - All trading cards. All Genre's.

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Is PSA 8 good? ›

A PSA NM-MT 8 is a super high-end card that appears Mint 9 at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the card can exhibit the following: a very slight wax stain on reverse, slightest fraying at one or two corners, a minor printing imperfection, and/or slightly off-white borders.

Does PSA give 9.5 grades? ›

How the Scale Works. PSA will add a half-point grade within each of the 1-10 numbers with the exception of a 9.5 grade.

Can you challenge a PSA grade? ›

If you still disagree with the results, you may resubmit it for Review; however, this is a paid-for service, and you will be responsible for the full grading fee and shipping charges. PSA can review any card(s) that you feel warrants a different grade.

What foods help PSA levels? ›

The combination of four widely-recognized cancer-fighting foods, pomegranate, green tea, turmeric, and broccoli, in a single twice-daily pill has now been shown to significantly reduce the rate of rise of PSA, the tumor marker that indicates progression and invasion of prostate cancer. Scientifically reviewed by: Dr.

Can PSA levels increase quickly? ›

A steep PSA level increase over a short period (an increase of higher than 0.7 nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood per year) often correlates with a prostate cancer diagnosis, Ruckle says.

How hard is it to get PSA 10? ›

For a card to earn a 10, the edges of a card must be flawless to the naked eye and virtually perfect when looked at under magnification. The final criteria looked at by card graders is the surface of the card. A card's surface is susceptible to loss of glossiness, wax stains, scratching, and printing defects.

How much is PSA 8 worth? ›

Then a PSA 8 is worth $100. A PSA 9 is worth $300. A PSA 10 is worth $700.

What does a PSA 9 look like? ›

A PSA Mint 9 is a superb condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders.

Can a BGS 9.5 be a PSA 10? ›

The average PSA 10 sells at least 2.5x more than a BGS 9.5.

Even though a few of those cards with a BGS 9.5 grade would typically get a PSA 10 when sent to PSA.

Does PSA 9 increase value? ›

While a BGS 9 barely pays off the price of grading, a PSA 9 doubles the value of the raw card.

How much more is a PSA 10 worth than a PSA 9? ›

Using the PSA Price Guide, a PSA 10 of this card is valued at around $375,000. In comparison, a PSA 9 drops down to around $20,000. That is a huge drop in value for just one number, and depending on the collector, a 9 could be just as good as a 10.

How far behind is PSA grading? ›

A8. PSA is currently delayed with grading.
PSA Grading Tips Tricks and Frequently Asked Questions.
Service LevelCurrent Turnaround Time (door to door)
ExpressApproximately 3 weeks.
RegularApproximately 4 weeks.
Value PlusApproximately 1 month.
3 more rows
Jan 4, 2023

Who is the best card grader? ›

Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)

In the current state of the hobby, PSA is undoubtedly number one on the list of the top trading card grading companies. They slab over 2 million cards a year, which is more than any other company.

How to get baseball cards graded for free? ›

I'll just get this out of the way now—when it comes to getting cards graded for free, you can't.
This situation is When looking at the cost of grading a card, this is what you can expect:
  1. PSA: $50/card.
  2. BGS: $35/card.
  3. SGC: $30/card.

Does caffeine raise PSA? ›

Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are not established risk factors for prostate cancer and will not affect PSA levels.

What vitamins help PSA? ›

Vitamins C, E, and D, lycopene, selenium, curcumin, flavonoids, catechins, fruit and fruit extracts have all been studied and postulated to affect PSA concentrations; however, in the vast majority, evidence from existing RCTs appears inconsistent [40] and does not seem to support the use of antioxidants.

What is the best time of day to get a PSA test? ›

The PSA level in the blood, like many lab tests, has a rhythm based on the time of the day i.e., a diurnal rhythm. Therefore, obtain your PSA blood tests in either the morning or the afternoon, but not both.

What can temporarily raise PSA levels? ›

Semen released during sexual activity can cause PSA levels to rise temporarily, which may affect the test results.
A raised level of PSA can be a sign of a prostate condition, such as:
  • enlarged prostate.
  • infection or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis)
  • prostate cancer.

Can stress elevate PSA? ›

Stress May Worsen Symptoms

Researchers have found a correlation between stress, PsA symptoms and disease activity. When you feel stressed, your body triggers the release of chemicals that cause physiological changes, such as your breathing to quicken, your heart rate to increase and your muscles to tense.

How fast can PSA rise in a year? ›

Men with a PSA increase of 0.75 ng/ml within a year show a worrisome risk for prostate cancer. Men with a PSA increase of 2.0 ng/ml within a year are more likely to have an aggressive cancer with a higher potential risk for death.

Is PSA grading worth it? ›

Regardless if you're talking counterfeits or reprints, PSA card grading services can be an excellent tool to verify a card's authenticity. That's not to say that PSA is correct 100% of the time and fakes don't occasionally slip through their hands.

How common is PSA 10? ›

Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 (often called the “borderline range”) have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer.

What percentage of baseball cards are PSA 10? ›

Around 2.5 percent of them are PSA 10s.

What is the rarest PSA 10 card? ›

As of August 2022, the most expensive Pokémon card is a Professional Sports Authenticator grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card that social media personality and boxer Logan Paul purchased for $5.275 million, according to Guinness World Records. A PSA grade of 10 means the card was in perfect condition.

Is there an app that scans sports cards for value? ›

CollX lets you scan the front and back of a card to reveal its value instantly. It works with all kinds of cards: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer and wrestling sports cards. It also scans Pokémon, Magic, and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, too.

Are PSA graded cards real? ›

According to PSA, their preferred method of determining the authenticity of their graded cards is to hold the label in front of a bright light. Once this is done, the label's text should be deciphered by the naked eye. If not, there's a chance the PSA slab is a fake.

Is a PSA 6 good? ›

As the grade number gets lower, the flaws on the trading card become more and more noticeable. PSA Near-Mint 7, Excellent-Mint 6, and Excellent 5 graded trading cards display poor focus, printing issues, chipping on the edges, surface scratches, and rounded corners.

What does PSA 7 mean? ›

PSA levels under 4 ng/ml are generally considered normal, while levels over 4 ng/ml are considered abnormal. PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/ml indicate a risk of prostate cancer higher than normal. When the PSA level is above 10 ng/ml, risk of prostate cancer is much higher.

What is the highest PSA grade? ›

If your cards pass authentication, PSA grades the condition of each card on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best.

Is BGS 10 rare? ›

It means that all your sub grades (corners, edges, surface & centering) were all given a 10/10 grade. As you might imagine, these grades are extremely rare but when they are granted, the value of the card enters a stratosphere that no other grade can come close to.

Does PSA regrade cards? ›

PSA will evaluate the card inside its current holder. If PSA deems the card worthy to cross over at the customer's specified minimum grade or higher, the card will be removed from its holder and placed into a PSA holder. Regardless of the result, the grading price will be charged.

What is the cheapest card grading? ›

Of the major grading companies, BGS currently offers the cheapest card grading service, which is $18 to grade a single card at the “Base” level. This is $2 less than CSG's “Economy” level, $5 less than PSA's “Value” service, and $4 less than SGC.

Does PSA clean cards before grading? ›

Does PSA Clean Cards Before Grading? No, PSA or any other grading company, do not clean cards before grading. All cards are graded as submitted, so it's important you've sent the card in its best condition possible if you want it to achieve a high grade.

Will graded cards go up in value? ›

Much to the surprise of novice collectors, getting cards graded does not always increase their value. In fact, most cards, once graded, will return less than if they were sold raw. *Note: If you're looking for an explanation of the grading system and its intricacies, we've got a separate page for all that.

Do PSA graded cards sell for more? ›

While most cards sell for a higher price after they have been graded, the value of many of the cards will never be able to absorb the grading fees. This fact is easily verified by the large number of PSA 8 cards that have sold (and not sold) for under $15.

How much is a PSA 7 worth? ›

The price range for PSA 6 or 7 examples of this card is between $160 and $290.

Does PSA do same day grading? ›

“On-site Grading – Approximate one-day (24-hour) grading will be available at some of the shows listed above. Stop by with your cards and come see what PSA grading is all about.

Does it matter what company grades my cards? ›

Intro to grading sports cards

The short answer is “yes.” It not only preserves them, but it can significantly boost their value if you score a good grade.

Is a 9 graded card good? ›

If your card gets a grade of 9, you should be very happy. You'll be able to earn book value – or more – for your card. It is also referred to as “mint 9” and is considered the condition that it was in when it was in the pack. If it gets a score of 9.5, it's called a “gem-mint”, signifying that it's nearly flawless.

What is the best way to grade cards? ›

PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) is the most reputable name in the business. PSA has a 10-grade scale which determines the value of a card and factors in centering, corners, edges, and surface. Collectors looking to get their cards graded by the PSA have three options.

What is the best sports card appraisal? ›

Best for Sports Cards: Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) Card Services
  • Industry standard for sports card grading and valuation.
  • PSA certification is the only card-grading service that offers a guarantee.
  • Online pricing guide to get an idea of what your card may be valued at.
Feb 28, 2023

How much is it worth to get a card graded? ›

PSA Grading Cost Per Card

Value Bulk: $19/card. Value: $25/card. Value Plus: $40/card. Regular: $75/card.

Are ungraded baseball cards worth anything? ›

Keep in mind your cards are ungraded or raw, so they will usually sell at prices that are typically less than if they were graded in the same condition. That does not mean you should or must get your cards graded. In fact, you may lose money if you do.

Is there a natural way to lower PSA levels? ›

While further testing is important, there are natural measures that can help lower PSA levels. Diet changes: A healthy diet that includes more fruits and vegetables with fewer amounts of meats may result in lower PSA levels. Excessive dairy products may contribute to poor prostate health.

Can supplements lower PSA? ›

Overall, findings suggest that green tea catechins lower PSA levels and may lower the risk of prostate cancer in men at high risk for the disease.

How long does it take for PSA levels to go down? ›

After radiation therapy it may take 1-2 years for your PSA to drop to its lowest level. Each case is different, so ask your doctor about what your numbers mean.

What raises free PSA? ›

The free-PSA test measures the percentage of unbound PSA; the PSA test measures the total of both free and bound PSA. Prostate cancer can raise PSA levels, but so can other conditions. These include an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and advancing age.

Does walking help lower PSA? ›

Physical activity releases prostate-specific antigen (PSA) from the prostate gland into blood and increases serum PSA concentrations. Clin Chem.

Does vitamin D lower PSA levels? ›

Vitamin D Deficiency has no Impact on PSA Reference Ranges in a General University Hospital – A Retrospective Analysis.

Does cranberry juice lower PSA levels? ›

Daily consumption of a powdered cranberry fruit lowered serum PSA in patients with prostate cancer. The whole fruit contains constituents that may regulate the expression of androgen-responsive genes.

How can I lower my PSA before a test? ›

Tips for Naturally Lowering PSA Levels
  1. If you've had your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tested and your numbers were higher, you and your doctor may have discussed ways to lower it. ...
  2. Eat more tomatoes. ...
  3. Choose healthy protein sources. ...
  4. Take vitamin D. ...
  5. Drink green tea. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Reduce stress.

Does caffeine affect PSA test? ›

Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are not established risk factors for prostate cancer and will not affect PSA levels.

What will raise PSA levels? ›

PSA -raising factors.

Besides cancer, other conditions that can raise PSA levels include an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH ) and an inflamed or infected prostate (prostatitis). Also, PSA levels normally increase with age.

Does aspirin raise or lower PSA? ›

Baseline PSA levels were significantly lower in aspirin users compared to non-users (5.17 ng/ml vs. 7.58 ng/ml, P =0.001). This association was statistically significant in never smokers (aspirin users vs. non-users: 4.19 ng/ml vs.

Does aspirin raise PSA? ›

One study analyzed PSA levels in a cohort of over 1,000 men and found that PSA levels in the sample of men taking aspirin were nearly 10% lower than a control sample not taking aspirin (Hamilton et al., 2008).

Do bowel movements affect PSA? ›

Conclusions: Constipation increases serum PSA levels in men. The presence of constipation must be considered in patients whose PSA is examined, especially in those with PSA levels that are borderline high or in the range of 2-10 ng/mL.

What does a PSA of 8 mean? ›

Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 (often called the “borderline range”) have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer. If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is over 50%.

Can supplements increase PSA? ›

Occasionally, PSA levels are elevated because of factors unrelated to disease recurrence, such as herbal supplement use.

What is the normal free PSA level for a 70 year old? ›

For men aged 70 to 79, they suggested a normal serum PSA reference range of 0.0–6.5 ng/mL (0.0–6.5 μg/L). In our population, 38% of patients with clinically significant and 37% with high-grade prostate cancer had a serum PSA level lower than 6.5 μg/L and would have been missed using age-specific guidelines.


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