Examining the Phenomenal Card Grading Backlog: Insights from the Latest PSA Report

PSA Grading Service Reopens Regular Tier, But Backlog Persists

PSA, the leading sports card grading company, recently announced the reopening of its Regular grading service level. This news comes after a hiatus in which the company ceased accepting submissions for lower-tiered grading levels in an effort to address its significant backlog. However, despite these efforts, it appears that PSA still has a long way to go in clearing out the backlog of millions of cards awaiting grading.

The Effects of the Backlog

In March, PSA made the decision to pause most of its grading services due to an overwhelming backlog of approximately 14 million cards. The company’s staff simply couldn’t keep up with the demand. As a result, PSA implemented measures to address the situation, including the temporary suspension of lower-tiered grading levels.

While PSA expressed optimism at the time, stating that it aimed to bring back all service levels within a few months, a recent tweet from the company indicates that a significant backlog still remains. Despite reducing its card inventory by 40% since March, PSA still possesses millions of cards awaiting grading.

Nat Turner, CEO of Collectors Universe, the parent company of PSA, acknowledged that while the Regular and above service levels were caught up, the Economy and Bulk levels still require substantial work to clear the backlog of submissions.

Customer Dissatisfaction

For many collectors and hobbyists, the persisting backlog has led to frustration and disappointment. Some have been waiting for several months, and in certain cases, even over a year, to have their cards graded and returned to them.

The slow processing times have become a topic of discussion in various online forums and communities. An individual on the Blowout Cards forum, going by the username The_Reverend, expressed their dissatisfaction with the backlog, emphasizing that cards sent in 2020 may not be returned until 2022.

This delay in receiving graded cards has had a significant impact on the sports card market. Graded cards, especially those authenticated by PSA, have played a crucial role in driving the market’s growth. Investors and collectors would open sealed boxes in the hope of finding highly sought-after rookie cards and limited-print chase cards, which they could then send to be graded by PSA. The accompanying Gem Mint 10 grade often commanded substantial premiums. With the inability to utilize the more affordable grading tiers, the market has experienced a cooling effect, leading to lower prices on individual cards and sealed boxes.

Reopening the Regular Grading Service

PSA’s decision to reopen the Regular grading service level is a step towards addressing the backlog and meeting the needs of collectors and investors. However, it is important to note that the cost per card for this service has doubled to $100. This price adjustment reflects the challenges and additional resources required to expedite the grading process while ensuring accuracy and quality.

The reopening of the Regular service level is undoubtedly welcomed by those eager to have their cards graded promptly. The higher price may be seen as a fair trade-off for decreased wait times and a smoother experience for collectors and investors.

Progress Update and Future Outlook

PSA recognizes the importance of keeping its customers informed and has provided updates on the progress in clearing out the backlog. The company has introduced events as part of the reopening process, with Economy level services already underway and Regular service events scheduled to begin in the coming week.

These steps indicate that PSA is actively working towards reducing the backlog and streamlining its operations. However, it is evident that addressing the persisting backlog will take time given the substantial volume of cards awaiting grading.


The reopening of PSA’s Regular grading service level sheds light on the company’s commitment to addressing its sizable backlog. By doubling the cost per card, PSA aims to strike a balance between fulfilling customer demands and maintaining grading standards. The ongoing efforts to clear out the backlog and resume full-scale operations demonstrate PSA’s dedication to serving collectors and investors within the sports card market. As the backlog gradually diminishes, both the market and enthusiasts can look forward to a more efficient and responsive grading experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long should I expect to wait for my cards to be graded under the Regular service level?

While the reopening of the Regular service level signifies an improvement in processing times, it is important to consider the persisting backlog. PSA is making efforts to expedite the grading process; however, exact timeframes may vary depending on the volume of submissions and operational capacity. We recommend referring to PSA’s official updates for the latest information on turnaround times.

2. Will the price increase for the Regular service level impact the value of graded cards?

While the price adjustment for the Regular service level reflects the challenges of addressing the backlog, it is unlikely to directly impact the value of already graded cards. The value of a graded card is primarily determined by factors such as player popularity, card rarity, condition assessment, and market demand.

3. Are there any plans to further expand PSA’s grading capacity?

PSA is actively working to improve its grading capacity and reduce the backlog. As the demand for graded cards continues, it is possible that PSA may consider additional measures to address the growing needs of collectors and investors. However, specific plans and timelines have not been disclosed at this time.

4. How has the backlog affected the sports card market?

The persistent backlog at PSA has led to longer wait times for card grading, impacting the overall pace of transactions within the sports card market. The inability to access lower-tiered grading services has also resulted in decreased market activity and a cooling effect on prices. However, as PSA continues to address the backlog, it is expected that the market will regain momentum.

5. Is PSA the only grading company experiencing backlogs?

While PSA is a prominent grading company, other grading companies in the industry have also faced challenges related to backlogs. The surge in demand for graded cards, coupled with various external factors, has created operational difficulties across the board. As the market continues to evolve, grading companies are actively working to adapt and address these challenges.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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