PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Who to choose?

September 13, 2022

The sports trading card industry continues to make major headlines with record card sale prices. One of the biggest of those sports card headlines hit the internet in late August, as a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card sold for $12.6 million dollars. Why would a sports card sell for this price? A few reasons one it is in great condition and two it has a low population count based on receiving a 9.5 grade. Without the high grade, the value of the card would be lower. Understanding the importance of grading is key, this is why we are going to take a look at PSA VS CSG.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

As far as third-party grading companies offering sports card grading, multiple companies are in the industry with many new companies appearing each year. Before jumping into getting a card graded, you must take the time to research the companies, compare various elements of the grading card process, and determine which graded card companies actual grades receive higher sale price comps. Within the industry the big four sports card grading companies include PSA, CSG, BGS, and SGC. Read on to see the comparison between PSA VS CSG.

If you are new to the hobby and are wondering what sports card grading is take the time to read our sports card grading guide. In addition, read our grading comparison guides for BGS VS PSA, PSA VS SGC, BGS VS SGC, BGS VS CSG and CSG VS SGC.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: What Sports Card Grading Company to Choose?

What is sports card grading?

When it comes to collecting any item from coins to comics to sports cards, knowing the grade and condition of the item impacts the collectability rating as well as the overall value. This is where third party grading including sports card grading comes into the picture while delivering sports card collectors a physical number grade to correspond with the actual condition of the trading card.

How the sports card grading process works is the owner of the trading card submits the card to sports card grading company of their choice, pays them a fee to have the card graded and then waits for arrival of the card once graded. Once the grading company receives the card they examine the card, deliver a numerical value based on a 1-10 grading scale before encapsulating the card in a slab. The card is then returned to the seller for them to add to their Personal Collection (PC) or to sell on a third-party marketplace such as eBay or Check Out My Cards.

Sports Card Grading Companies:

The demand for sports card grading continues to grow, as longer turnaround times and prices are creating new grading companies entering the industry. However as with anything you purchase not everything, or every company are created equal. Leading the way among sports card companies include BGS, PSA, CSG, and SGC. While a long list of other sports card grading companies are slowly making their mark. In addition, Artificial Intelligence (AI) sports card grading is also becoming a real option for the sports card collector.

Is it worth getting sports cards graded?

As you begin to research and learn about sports card grading, you will learn to determine whether a sports card is worth getting graded. This is a case-by-case scenario as not all sports cards are worth getting graded while many are worth getting graded. If you are a collector and are just trying to build a complete set of a trading cards with graded values of 9 or above, it would be worth it for you.

However, if you are looking to get a sports card graded as part of a sports card investment or as a way to make money selling sports cards, not all cards are worth getting graded. Example a 2022 Panini Donruss base card of any veteran football player would not be worth getting graded due to the cost associated with grading compared to actual sale price.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Quick Look at CSG VS PSA

As you start to look at PSA VS CSG, learning more and getting a quick look at who those two companies is key. PSA is one of the older and most respected sports card grading companies within the industry. Entering the industry in 1991, PSA has authenticated and graded over 40 million sports card since its arrival.

On the other side, CSG is one of the new players to the sports card grading landscape after arriving in February of 2021. That said, CSG’s parent company Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) has been in the industry of grading for a long-time delivering grades to paper money through Paper Money Grading (PMG), coin grading through NGC and even CCG for comic books and magazines.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Comparing Elements of Sports Card Grading

Sports card grading features multiple elements to learn and understand before a collector submits a card for grading. Each of these elements are important aspects of the hobby and also play a key role in why someone should get a card graded and whether they should sell that graded card. These various elements of the grading card process include the sports card grading scale used, the grading card fees associated with having the card graded, the turnaround time to have the card graded and returned, the look of the graded encapsulated card, as well as the sale prices between the cards.

Here is a look at how PSA and CSG stack up against each other when comparing the various elements of sports card grading.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Grading Scale

When looking at the sports card grading scale used in today’s sports card grading, most if not all the companies use the standard 1-10 sports card grading scale. This includes both PSA and CSG who grade their cards from 1-10. In addition to a 1-10 scale, CSG offers two various graded 10 based on the card being graded.

Here is a look at PSA VS CSG grading scale.

PSA Grading Scale

When you look at PSA grading scale, the company offers a standard 1-10 scale but with no 9.5. Here is the PSA Grading Scale:

Poor (PR 1)

Fair (FR 1.5)

Good (Good 2)

Very Good (VG 3)

Very Good-Excellent (VG-EX 4)

Excellent (EX 5)

Excellent-Mint (EX-MT 6)

Near Mint (NM 7)

Near Mint-Mint (NM-MT 8)

Mint (Mint 9)

Gem Mint (GEM-MT 10)

CSG Grading Scale

Like PSA, CSG uses the 1-10 grading scale while also deliver .5-point increments for cards from 1.5 to 9.5. In addition, CSG offers both a Gem Mint (10) and a Perfect (10).

Poor (1)

Fair (1.5)

Good (2)

Good + (2.5)

Very Good (3)

Very Good + (3.5)

VG/EX (4)

VG/EX + (4.5)

Excellent (5)

Excellent + (5.5)

Ex/NM (6)

Ex/NM + (6.5)

Near Mint (7)

Near Mint + (7.5)

NM/Mint (8)

NM/Mint + (8.5)

Mint (9)

Mint + (9.5)

Gem Mint (10)

Perfect (10)

CSG Sportscard Graded Designations

Authentic – card is authentic and has not been altered (cut, trimmed, cleaned, recolored, or modified)

Authentic Altered – card is authentic and not reprinted, it has been altered).

Autograph Grades are assigned on a 5-10 grading scale.

Advantage: Slight advantage to CSG with two 10 values, and a 9.5 grade

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Grading Fees

A second element of sports card grading that is key to understand and know is the grading fees associated with both grading companies. You may ask yourself how much does it cost to have sports cards graded? Knowing how much it cost, could help you determine which company to use, especially if you are looking to sell the card.

How much does it cost to have sports card graded?

The cost to have a sports card graded varies from company to company with some prices starting out as low as $10-15 per card and ranging upwards of a few hundred dollars. For a sports card investor looking to flip sports cards or make money selling sports cards, grading card fees have a direct impact on the profits. Here is a look at PSA VS CSG Grading Fees:

PSA Grading Fees

Bulk (Value less than $199)                                      $22 per card

Value (Value of card less than $499)                        $30

Economy (Value of card Less than $999)                 $50

Regular (Value of card less than $1499)                   $100

Express (Value of card less than $2499)                   $150

Super Express (Value of card less than $4999)        $300

Walk Through (Value of card less than $9999)          $600

Premium 1 (Value of card less than $24999)             $1000

Premium 2 (Value of card less than $49999)             $2000

Premium 3 (Value of card less than $99999)             $3000

Premium 5 (Value of card less than $249999)           $5000

Premium 10 (Value of card higher than $25000)       $10000

CSG Grading Fees

Unlimited Walk Through (Unlimited Card Value)         $150 + 1% FMV

Walk Through (Card Value $50,000)                           $150

Express (Card Value $10,000)                                        $70

Standard (Card Value $1000)                                       $35

Economy (Card Value $500)                                        $25

Bulk (50-card minimum / Card Value $250)                $15

CSG Additional Grading Fees

Autograph                                                                     +$2

Pedigree (With Proper Documentation)                        +$5

CSG Thick Holder (For Thick Cards)                            +$5

Premium Hi-Res Imaging (Photos of Graded Card)     +$5

Advantage: Both companies have advantages based on the actual card being graded, consider those factors of the card before grading.

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Grading Time Frame

A third element that is part of the sports card grading process is the grading time frame or grading turnaround time. For anyone new to the hobby, the turn around time is the time frame from submitting your card to the company and receiving the card back with a grade. Here is a look at PSA VS CSG grading turnaround times:

PSA Turnaround Times

Bulk                                       120 Business Days

Value                                      90-120 Business Days

Economy                                45-90 Business Days

Regular                                   15-30 Business Days

Express                                   14 Business Days

Super Express                         7 Business Days

Walk-Through                        3 Business Days

Premium +                              3 Business Days

*All turnaround times are estimated and not including number of days with shipping company.

CSG Turnaround Times

Unlimited Walk Through                                              3 Days

Walk Through                                                              3 Days

Express                                                                        3 Days

Standard                                                                       7 Days

Economy                                                                      10 Days

Bulk                                                                              20 Days

Autograph                                                                               No additional Days/Same as above

Pedigree (With Proper Documentation)                                 No additional Days/Same as above

CSG Thick Holder (For Thick Cards)                                    No additional Days/Same as above

Premium Hi-Res Imaging (Photos of Graded Card)              Same as Above plus 10 working days

Advantage: Slight advantage CSG based on lower bulk turnaround times, higher end cards is a push

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Graded Slabs & Graded Labels

PSA VS CSG Slabs & Labels

PSA Original Label

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

PSA New Hologram Label

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

PSA Reverse Side Label (New)

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

CSG Slabs & Labels

CSG Perfect 10
PSA VS CSG Grading Guide
CSG Label (Not Perfect)

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

CSG Reverse Label

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

Advantage: Slight advantage to CSG based on Perfect 10 Slab

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Comparing eBay Sales

The last element and possible the most important element when comparing sports card grading companies is their comp sale prices on eBay or even on a site like COMC. When comparing their actual sold price, you must also take in consideration how much that card would have cost you have it graded, then use it to figure out which company benefits you the card seller the most.

Here is a look at two different cards from two different sports but the same graded value from PSA VS CSG:

PSA  VS CSG Comparison eBay Comp Prices (PSA 10 VS CSG 10, PSA 9 VS CSG 9)

2020 Panini Select Certified Silver Prizm Justin Herbert PSA 10 VS CSG 10

PSA VS CSG Grading GuidePSA VS CSG Grading Guide

2021 Donruss Press Proof Gold Trevor Lawrence PSA 9 VS CSG 9

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide PSA VS CSG Grading Guide

PSA VS CSG Comparison eBay Profit Breakdown

PSA Breaking down eBay Profit from both PSA graded card and CSG graded card. As you start to look at the two comparisons of graded sports cards above, here is the potential profit based on the fees associated and the sale price.

2020 Panini Select Silver Prizm Justin Herbert PSA 10

eBay Sold Price                    $353

PSA Fees                             $30 (Value)

Total Profit                            $323 (no shipping included)

2020 Panini Select Silver Prizm Justin Herbert CSG 10

eBay Sold Price                    $199.99

CSG Fees                            $25

Total Profit                            $174.99 (no shipping included)

2021 Donruss Press Proof Gold Trevor Lawrence PSA 9

eBay Sold Price                   $69

PSA Fees                           $22 (Bulk) or $30 (Economy)

Total Profit                           $47 (Bulk) or $39 (Economy

(Bulk would be submitted with a bulk submission of cards)

2021 Donruss Press Proof Gold Trevor Lawrence CSG 9

eBay Sold Price                  $43

CSG Fees                           $15 (Bulk) or $25 (Economy)

Total Profit                          $$28 (Bulk) or $18 (Economy)

PSA VS CSG Grading Guide: Our Thoughts on PSA VS CSG

Now that you had the opportunity to learn more and see what both PSA and CSG has to offer, we can give you our final thoughts on PSA VS CSG. While CSG has made tremendous movement within the third-party grading industry, they still sit just behind PSA within the hobby. PSA graded cards have higher resale values and are often used to determine what card grading company to use. However, in some cases CSG may be worth using especially if you are looking to do bulk grading to allow you to make money flipping sports cards.

Take the time to do your math based on these comp sales and fees to have card graded, while seeing which option is best for you. With that said, it is nearly impossible to determine what the sports grading landscape will be in the future. For now, though PSA and CSG both look to be at the front of the pack.


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