When trading cards are submitted for grading to PSA, the best results are typically found in well-planned submissions. Pre-screening your own cards and understanding the different grading options can be very helpful. Along the way a handful of decisions need to be made, such as whether you should submit an autographed card to PSA or PSA/DNA and, of course, what level of service you desire. The subject of minimum grade comes up on occasion as well, but it is often misinterpreted by the submitter. That doesn’t need to be the case as minimum grade is really a very simple grading option to understand.
Let’s begin by defining the term. ‘Minimum Grade’ means the lowest PSA grade you are willing to accept. That’s it. Nice and simple. If you submit a card for grading with a minimum grade of 8, and if the graders evaluate your card as an 8 or higher, it will be encapsulated in a PSA holder. If the graders evaluate your card to be less than an 8, it will not be encapsulated in a PSA holder.
Now that we’ve defined it, let’s review when and how to use the minimum grade designation.
The primary use-case for minimum grades are for crossovers from other Third Party Grading (TPG) companies. Let’s say you have a card that has been graded a 9 by a company other than PSA and you want to cross it over to a PSA grade. You may decide that you only want to cross it over if PSA grades it at a 9 or higher. You may prefer that it remains in its current holder, graded a 9, rather than accept a lower grade from PSA. This is a perfect time to use the minimum grade feature. Submit the card in the existing holder and indicate a minimum grade of 9. PSA graders will review your card while it’s still in the current holder. If the PSA graders evaluate your card as a 9 or higher, it will be removed from its current case and encapsulated in a PSA holder. If the graders evaluate your card to be less than a PSA 9, it will be returned to you, still in the encapsulation that you originally submitted for crossover. While filling out your online submission form, simply click on the Minimum Grade dropdown menu and select 9.
Typically, we don’t recommend using this function for raw cards, and especially not for raw vintage cards. Raw cards that fail to reach the minimum grade are returned in a card saver, and the grading fee is still charged. In most cases, it would make more sense to encapsulate the card, even at the lower grade.
There is however one use-case for applying a minimum grade for raw cards. When submitting ultra-modern cards, some submitters only want encapsulation if the card earns a PSA Gem Mint 10 grade. In this case, submit the raw cards with a minimum grade of 10. Just be fully aware that whatever doesn’t receive the PSA 10 grade will be returned in your original card saver, and you are still charged the grading fee.
And while we’re on the subject, here’s a reason *not* to use minimum grades. Submitters with active imaginations may believe that submitting with a minimum grade will increase the likelihood of getting a higher grade. This is completely untrue. Assigning a minimum grade has no impact on the PSA grade your card earns. If you don’t believe it, please keep re-reading this paragraph until you do.
Minimum grade is a simple concept that’s in place to protect the collector’s original investment in a trading card. While it may occasionally make sense for raw cards, it’s main purpose is for the crossover service. Next time you want to cross a card over into a PSA holder, simply use this option to give yourself the most flexibility in the grading process.