Collectors occasionally misunderstand the declared value portion of PSA’s online submission forms. The concept, however, is rather straightforward. Declared value is simply the estimated value of a card or piece of memorabilia after it has been graded by PSA. It is used to determine the level of service an item requires.
Let’s say that you want to submit your 1958 Topps #487 Mickey Mantle All-Star card for grading by PSA. How would you come up with a declared value? The following information will guide you through the process.
Begin by asking yourself what is the general condition of your card? Are heavy creases and rounded corners likely to keep it in the PSA 1 to 2 range, or do you have something really nice that could end up as a PSA 8 or 9? Or perhaps a nice collector grade in between? Most collectors have a general understanding of different grading levels, and therefore your declared value should be based upon how you feel the card will grade. If you have some questions about grades, you can use the Photograde page of the PSA website for comparisons.
Maybe you believe your 1958 Topps #487 Mickey Mantle All-Star card will end up in the PSA 6 or 7 range. The next step is to take a look at the average price of that card in the Auction Prices Realized (APR) section of the PSA website. The price range for PSA 6 or 7 examples of this card is between $160 and $290. As this card falls below the $499 threshold, it should be submitted at the Economy level.
Declaring a value for your cards prior to them being graded involves some guesswork and there are occasions when a card is graded higher than anticipated with the declared value. In this case, the submitter will receive an email alerting them to the fact that their card is actually nicer than they thought! If a submitter is frequently (and drastically) inaccurate in their value estimations, either too high or too low, a PSA representative will reach out to help assist in the process.
Occasionally PSA will receive a submission for which no declared value has been added. This results in a hold being placed on the order, and processing is halted until the owner is contacted and declared values can be obtained for each card and for the order as a whole. PSA will never declare a value on our own, so forgetting or skipping this step in the submission process will greatly affect the turnaround time on any given order.
Two more things to note regarding declared value… First, declared value has no effect on the grade a card receives. Declaring a high value for a card will not result in the card receiving a higher grade. Graders do not have access to the declared value or fee paid to grade a card. Graders assess the authenticity and condition of the card, not the manner in which it was submitted.
Second, submitting a low declared value in the hopes of paying a reduced grading fee actually harms the submitter by reducing the amount of protection. PSA has very high standards to ensure that no damage is done to your card while it is in our care, but we are human, and accidents happen on occasion. In such a case, declared value is taken into consideration when determining a proper replacement value. Submitting a low declared value would be like undervaluing your home to get a lower insurance premium. You are not tricking the insurance company into lower premiums, but rather accepting inferior protection in the unlikely event of an issue.
There is nothing tricky, scary or particularly strategic about declared value. It is simply a tool used in the submission process to benefit both PSA and the submitter. Nothing more and nothing less.