Should You Buy PSA 9s or PSA 10s?

Most collectors love slabs, and they are an unavoidable part of the hobby. If you are shopping for slabs, you have probably already wondered if you should buy PSA 9s or PSA 10s. So as a follow-up to our recent piece about whether you should buy raw or graded cards, today we’re going to look into another component of grading.

What grade should you buy? Specifically, how do PSA 9s compare with PSA 10s, and how do BGS 9s compare with BGS 9.5?

First, let’s start with some numbers.

PSA 9s vs. 10s

PSA is the premier grading company, and many collectors don’t even buy other grading companies. But, as you know, PSA does not have half grades on cards. So Ins, a PSA preference means you’re most likely looking at a 9 or 10 on modern cards. After all, lower grades are often worth less than raw cards.

So which is the best buy?

Let’s take a look. The cards in the charts were picked very intentionally: a mix of sports, years (including a 1996 Nash), and even parallels, thanks to the silver Prizm.

This table shows the average comp price when sold raw, PSA 9, and PSA 10.

CARD RAW PSA 9 PSA 10
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Prizm Rookie 25 45 150
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Prizm Rookie Silver 85 150 900
Dak Prescott Prizm Rookie 210 280 850
Steve Nash Topps Chrome Rookie 80 190 1000
Mookie Betts Topps Rookie Card 60 80 300
AVERAGE: 92 185 640
An SGA Prizm Rookie Silver PSA 10 goes for over 10 times the price of a raw (get this card on eBay).

BGS 9s vs. BGS 9.5s

Now, we’ll look at the same cards but in BGS form. Again, we’re using BGS 9s because 10s are scarce.

CARD RAW BGS 9 BGS 9.5
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Prizm Rookie 25 45 70
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Prizm Rookie Silver 85 116 525
Dak Prescott Prizm Rookie 210 150 400
Steve Nash Topps Chrome Rookie 80 150 400
Mookie Betts Topps Rookie Card 60 75 200
AVERAGE: 92 107 321

Buy PSA 9s or PSA 10s: The Numbers

Now that we’ve laid out the charts, here are a few things we can learn.

BGS Takeaways

  • BGS 9s are worth only 16% more than the raw. On average, a BGS 9 only exceeded the raw card’s value by a very narrow margin. The most extreme case of this was Steve Nash and his rookie, so it’s safe to assume that older cards are given more lenience. It only makes sense: a card that has been around for 25 years should be in worse shape than one that’s been around for 3. The other extreme was the Dak Prescott raw being worth more than the base. This specific increase may be down to timing—a BGS 9 of Prescott hasn’t sold since June, and football has heated up since then.
  • BGS 9.5s are worth 3x as much as 9s. Granted, we used a small sample size, and the numbers were generous. Nonetheless, after averaging these five cards, BGS cards 9.5 were worth precisely three times as much as the 9s.
BGS 9s fare better for older cards like this one (look for Steve Nash rookies on eBay).

PSA Takeaways

  • PSA is still the heavy hitter. Compared to raw cards, the PSA 10 sells for about 7x more. That’s a big difference! Comparatively, the BGS 9.5 only sells for about 3.5x as much.
  • PSA 9s are worth 2x as much as the raw card. Much like the BGS, the Steve Nash rookie had the most significant difference in value. In that case, the 9 was worth 2.5x as much as the raw.
  • PSA 10s are worth about 3.5x as much as PSA 9. So if you’re getting your cards graded, that means you score big with a 10. If you’re buying, it means you’ll be shelling out the big bucks to a Gem Mint 10.

Overall Comparison

First, note that PSA blows BGS out of the water. Point by point, PSA is by far the more valuable of the grading options. Of course, this would look different with the BGS 10 in the picture, but for cards that are in populations high enough to frequent eBay, PSA is the way to go. While a BGS 9 barely pays off the price of grading, a PSA 9 doubles the value of the raw card.

Could The Gap Change?

The divide in value may last forever. However, there is a good chance it won’t. There are several reasons for this:

  • PSA has stepped on a lot of toes by having to close doors for several months.
  • BGS has a reputation for grading more strictly. Think about it: if you get an A on an easy test or an A on a difficult test, which feels better? At some point, people will catch on.
  • BGS slabs look nicer. At least in my opinion. They have silver or gold color-coated plates and Some people call them “clunky,” but the eye appeal is there for many collectors.

In other words, there are two ways to look at this: invest in PSA because it’s already the king of grading value, or invest in BGS because you think the margins will narrow.

Will BGS narrow the value gap? Look for 2013 BBM Shohei Ohtani rookies on eBay).

When To Buy PSA 9s Or PSA 10s

The answer is pretty straightforward: it depends on your budget and what you believe about the grading companies.

Don’t overextend into sports card investments, but also invest as much as you comfortably can. If that means buying a 10 of one card but only a 9 of a more expensive card, do it! Whatever makes the most sense with your budget.

Bottomline On Whether To Buy PSA 9s or PSA 10s

Do you think PSA will remain king? Or is BGS a sleeping giant that will eventually earn the respect it’s due? Which grade and company to buy is your call, so, as always, do what makes the most sense to you.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist and content marketer who has played sports and collected trading cards almost his entire life. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more.  You can learn more about him at www.contentninjamarketing.com.


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