For people looking to get coins professionally graded, two names come up most often PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) and NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation). Which company is better: PCGS vs NGC?
Both companies are in the business of grading and “slabbing” coins. A slabbed coin is one that has been put into a special holder or case with a grade and label. This case is also called a slab.
The benefit of getting a coin graded is that it is protected from damage, certified authentic, and more valuable for re-selling.
Before submitting a coin, you should have a rough estimate of the price of your coin and the cost to get it graded.
Comparing the pricing levels is complicated without a specific coin in mind, so the price comparison table is a very broad overview as of January 2021 and does not include all pricing information.
To get a more accurate version of the pricing you should see PCGS’s Services & Fees and NGC’s Services & Fees.
|Service Level||Max Value PCGS||Max Value NGC||PCGS Price||NGC Price|
|Mint Errors||$10,000||Tier||$65||Tier + 15$|
I was surprised to see how similar these grading services were. In general, NGC is slightly cheaper. Those savings could add up if you are sending in multiple coins.
Both companies have yearly membership subscription services. It is hard to compare these services as both have coupons, yearly deals, informational packets, and bonus programs.
To keep things simple I will outline what discounts on grading these packages offer:
- Silver $49 – No grading vouchers.
- Gold $149 – 4 grading vouchers.
- Platinum $249 – 8 grading vouchers.
- Associate $25 – No credit or discounts.
- Premium $149 – A $150 credit with NGC.
- Elite $299 – A $150 credit + 10% off grading.
If all this is confusing you are not alone. The simplest option may be to go to your local coin shop and ask for their advice. Many shops also offer to send coins in to grading for customers, as they get a discount on bulk grading submissions.
PCGS is considered the more esteemed grading service overall. Coins graded by PCGS tend to have a higher resale value.
This does not mean that NGC is a bad grading company, it is still one of the top coin graders in the world and people will pay more for an NGC slabbed coin than a non-slabbed coin.
Anecdotally, I have heard many people in online forums say that PCGS has a stricter grading scale. This could account for why PCGS coins command a higher resale value.
This has not been proven, there have been instances where NGC has given the same coin a lower grade than PCGS and vice-versa.
It may help to do some research on the type of coin you are sending in and the company’s track record with those coins. Check eBay for similar graded coins if you are unsure where to start.
Grading can be very subjective depending on who is grading your coin. Coins have been resubmitted to the same company and come beck with grades a few points above or below what they have originally received, but this is rare. Most grading companies will stick to the original grade given.
Why Pick Just One?
You do not need to pick one company over the other and stick with it for the rest of your life. You could get your coins graded by both companies depending on the price.
The benefits of consistently picking one company are that you could sign up for their annual subscription pricing plans where they give you discounts on grading coins.
The other benefit of consistently grading with the same company is that all your slabbed coins will be in holders of the same size. A PCGS slabbed coin may not fit into a box designed to snugly hold NGC slabbed coins.
Overall, I would have to pick PCGS as the better grading company. The company has slightly more credibility to coin collectors and the prices hold up well for re-selling.
If your goal is to get a coin slabbed on a tighter budget, there is nothing wrong with picking NGC. They are also a great company.
It is worthwhile to do research on the coin you are grading and the company’s track record with that denomination.
Where do you get your coins graded? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and vote in our poll.
20 thoughts on “PCGS or NGC: Which Company is Better For Grading Coins?”
I joined PCGS this year,so I could send in coins for grading. I went w/Platinum level,so I could get 8 coins graded, to start with. I’m still waiting to get my coins back,after almost 2 months.
I already have 10 more coins set aside,to send in to be graded. That will cost close to $500 ,but will improve the look of my collection : with coins going from the raw ,2″×2″ coin flips, to slabbed, & graded coins, in my coin boxes,that hold 20 slabbed coins.Hoping to add some value to my collection ,but really – just doing it because it seemed to be the next step. Do what ya love !
Hi Chris, did you get your coins back from PCGS and were you happy with the grade? I would love to see photos!
I love the look of slabbed coins, but it sure can be expensive!
My wife likes ICG grading and you dont argue with Jan Wahl.
Myself Rich Lieberman like ANACS the graded my coins without the cleaned designation PCGS,
If you interested let me know we can meet at Chester Chicken Oakland CA.
Good prices and a chicken dinner on me as I am head cook.
email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Rich, I wanted to let you know this is a public comment on my site. This means anyone who view this post can see your comment. Are you comfortable having your name and email attached to this. I can delete the comment if you would like.
I live in Cleveland Ohio. Can I get a gold eagle coin graded by PCGS locally?
[…] A Mercury Dime’s worth can change depending on its date, condition, and mint mark. A single coin may have a value of less than $1.50 or more than $1500. If you have a Mercury Dime from a popular mint year that seems in good condition, you might consider getting it graded by a reputable company like PCGS or NGC. […]
Hello I have 2 nickels 1964 âne 3 1979 penny
2 1944 penny 1. 1958 d penny 2 1999 penny
2 1992 penny I would like to verify
My. Email is *edited*
You likely going to end up in the hole financially if you send these in. Any of those coins are common enough they would have to be graded very high to be worth anything over face value. The companies do not hand out those grades often. There is no science to it so they can put anything they want to on the slabbed coin.
Costs will be a minimum of 200.00 for the first time sending in to NGC or PCGS. And while you would get back a bunch of pretty looking slabs you will be over $200. Read the rest of my posts here – slabbing coins is NOT an instant road to high profits and so very many people lose money thinking it otherwise. Likely it is from click bait youtube videos and (unsold) eBay offerings.
There is a LOT more knowledge needed about coins in general before anyone should ever think of wasting their hard earned cash sending in something they think looks pretty. Dealers of many years will tell you THEY cannot predict, ever, what a grading company will put on a slab. And that is b/c there is no science to it. And experience dealers live, eat, breath, drink, and sleep coins.
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Missing a very large point here…In the 90s grading companies developed computer grading they said would give the one true grade of a coin, and was said to eliminated the problem with their current systems…human error. What it also eliminated that was not suspected were the lucrative profits from collectors cracking out and resubmitting hoping for a higher grade.
The companies re-instated what they had called the inferior system (went back to human graders) saying people didn’t trust computers (valid back then). Yet the rest of the world computerized nonetheless.
The companies STILL do not use anything verifiable and the lucrative re-slabbing profits keep rolling in.
If an individual would do this kind of thing in a private business, that owner would be blacklisted as being dishonest for sake of profit. But instead the rise of the internet meant suddenly huge masses of people were exposed to slabs being sold, and so the market grew, b/c the masses collectively never took the time to find out what had happened.
And those that typically find out usually have a lot of money already invested into slabs and so emotions come to the surface instead of logic.
So now we live in a bubble that could collapse if a scientifically verifiable grading were ever RE-instated (bringing us back into the 20th…no typo…century of coin grading).
BTW…the phone in your pocket has the capabilities with facial recognition tech to easily give one true grade…even if the phone would link online to an AI that had been taught with hundreds of slabbed coins what humans already graded before at every grade level. The AI would be able to take the best average and assign that grade over and over to the same coin – one true grade…
….but no lucrative reslabbing profits!
Business go where the money leads. If someone has the money and cares about honesty, I would love to see the system developed so the hobby would be back about the coins and not about business profits.
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Great information! Seems like you have a lot of knowledge/opinions on this. Would you be interested in expanding this thought out a little farther and I can post it as an opinion article on my site?
Not sure if you got my last post – having problems with this website – keeps asking me to log in after every action I take and then does not show my reply when I make it.
Contact me via email and I will gladly elaborate/share.
Pasting the last reply once again below hoping it posts instead of the site asking me to log in again and then doing nothing but resetting the page
I already have a pretty extensive essay concerning this as part of a larger essay I wrote concerning the ridiculous lack of professionalism these companies show concerning the No FG Kennedy halves. I have much data linked right to the PCGS website showing the obvious mislabeling of many coins that have sold for unfortunately, thousands of dollars. According to PCGS rules, there is to e no trace of the letters and yet on at least 30% of what they slab (using their own photos online from coinfacts), the letters, or traces of the letters, are not hard to see.
Contact me and I will link you to the download.
Like any business, they exist to make money. As humans we have a psychological “need” for an expert’s opinion to “certify” things in our own minds. Unfortunately collectors therefore assign an idea of the grading companies being the hobby’s best friend instead of seeing the reality that everything the company does it to further their own business. This is NOT evil, and there is nothing wrong with it except that the faith people put into the “expertise level” of these companies goes overboard so people don’t even buy the coin anymore, it is all about the ink on the label for them.
1. I wish you had offered some hints on how to research a company’s track record with a particular coin denomination.
2. When a grading company grades and slabs a coin, isn’t it sealed? With the grade stamped on it? (Like comic books?) Wouldn’t a collector have to break a seal to send a coin in for re-slabbing? Then if they got a lower grade the second time, can they slab it back to the higher original grade? Obviously I know precious little; would appreciate a few clues. Thanks.
I used a search engine to research the company histories for the info on their computer grading systems, plus I remember them offering these when they were doing it. I also started to look at slabs side by side.
I started with Kennedy Halves b/c I specialize in collecting them. I started to notice it is not hard to find a NO FG slab where you can see the FG. So I dug deep. I found Former PCGS president Ron Guth had “discovered” a 1972-D without the initials (just polished off of the die) and so PCGS started to slab them (good business opportunity). I got all the pictures of slabbed ones I could find and found at least 30% still show the FG.
I then started to read the actual grading process as well as what they call their guarantee. Most people likely stop reading after the first couple of paragraphs and miss that the grades are not guaranteed like people think they are. They guarantee if the owner thinks it is graded higher than it should be and send it back (uh huh…throw away higher profits) that they will pay the difference in market value. However, later in the reading they define “market value” as being what THEY determine a dealer would pay to replace the coin and that cost is at their own whim. So then they end up with the coin in the slab with a higher grade on it and higher profit potential, and the owner has no guarantee of even breaking even. I have seen people on forums go through this and end up on the short end b/c of the touted “PCGS guarantee.”
It just takes research through any route you can figure out to do.
1. You suggest researching company’s track record with a particular coin denomination. How does one do that?
2. When a grading company grades and slabs a coin, don’t they seal it and put their grade on it (as is done with graded comic books)? It sounds like collectors who want to send in again in hopes of a higher grade would have to break the seal and un-slab the coin to re-send it. If they got a lower grade the second time, how would they re-slab and re-seal the coin at the original higher grade? What am I missing here? Trying to learn how this works. Thanks.
1.) Talking to others and researching online is a good start! It’s great that you are learning and asking questions now. We all have to start somewhere. I like Reddit for asking questions about coins, r/coins.
2.) Yes, the company seals it and puts their grade on the slab. In order to re-send a coin in for grading, you run the risk of submitting the coin and getting a lower grade than it was given the first time. This can be a big risk of time and money if you do it regularly. I do not think it is feasible to put a coin back into a slab.
Let me know if you have any more questions!
And the re-slabbing “game” also shows the faith (and money) people put into these companies is misplaced. I have debated people who will get downright nasty b/c they want so badly to think these companies actually give the COINS a grade. But since the perceived value disappears when the slab is broken, they are not grading coins, they are encapsulating them and counting on people to value the ink on the label.
And since so many people have put so much money into these current systems instead of demanding something verifiable – like is used in every aspect of like just about – the company shareholders continue to profit off of collectors.
Imagine f you went to get your brakes fixed by a professional and they approached the job like coin companies. Well, we had 2 of our experts give their opinion that the brakes will now work, but if you want to pay us, we will look at them again and give another opinion b/c the one we gave is not a certain fact.
Thanks, I will apply pressure to the pedal to see if they work thank you and keep the money in my own pocket.
OK – step by step with No FG Kennedy Halves (as an example):
I went to PCGS Coinfacts and temporarily saved every picture of every No FG slabbed half they had there (one at a time!). The pics contain the cert number in their title.
I went through each picture to ID any of the FG I could see b/c their own site says there can be absolutely no trace of either letter.
They have parts of and even full letters showing on at least 30% of what they have slabbed as No FG.
I documented all of this in an essay I wrote concerning the issue.I did this for the three dates that they list as No FGs: 1972-D, 1966 SMS, and 1982.
That was my approach. Since PCGS coin facts also lists prices last sold for in ea. slab, I was able to see the literal thousands of dollars people have wasted on the huge lack of proffessionalism this study represents.
For some reason my replies are not posting under the item I am replying to. So I will quote and then reply:
“When a grading company grades and slabs a coin, don’t they seal it and put their grade on it (as is done with graded comic books)? It sounds like collectors who want to send in again in hopes of a higher grade would have to break the seal and un-slab the coin to re-send it. If they got a lower grade the second time, how would they re-slab and re-seal the coin at the original higher grade? What am I missing here? Trying to learn how this works. Thanks.”
Yes – they sonically seal it in a plastic slab.
And no, unlike a lot of people just assume, these slabs are NOT airtight. A 2X2 or a coin capsule are more safe alternatives. But just use common sense to protect your stored coins out of humid environments (use a dessicant) and you should be OK anyway.
Yes – people playing the slabbing for higher grade/value game are taking that gamble it will come back lower. Hence the whole point, IMO, of originally slabbing is w weird concept at best (the way the system is presently set up).
You are paying them to put a grade on a coin that you both KNOW is not the actual grade…or there would be no re-slabbing game going on! But since “everybody does it,” people continue to make these companies have fat pockets.
IF the companies would use something verifiable to grade with to give one true grade…then the system would be what people assume it is…foolproof and an actual, verifiable, and professional analysis, assessment of coins.
At present the system is just a business model to make money off of the coiin collectors who don’t take, or maybe just don’t care, to take, the time to find out what they are really “buying into.”
I want to see verifiable accountability. THEN I would spend money to have a coin graded.
Want a shock? In the 90s the companies all DID have a computerized system they said would give the one true grade of the coin. They marketed it as being so much superior b/c it was from free from human opinion and error. Then all of a sudden they stopped.
The went back to the inferior system (their own words when marketing the new system) and said it was b/c people did not trust computers, While that was true at that time, the rest of the business world DID computerize. And yet the slabbing companies still will not go back to using verifiable technology to grade coins. Why?
My GUESS (of course they would never claim such a thing) is that they soon found they had made a mistake b/c the huge profits from the re-slabbing part of the business were no more! When the pulbic was told they now had the one true grade of the coin, and it was verifiable, re-slabbing in hopes of a better grade were no more!
If an individual carried on their business this way, they would be blackballed. But since these are big companies who have following their (as they said) human error prone business model now for 25 years since ousting their verifiable systems, most people don’t question it.
So do you really like giving money to places that treat coin collectors this way in the name of the almighty dollar? Do the homework. I was alive back when they were touting the verifiable system and then abandoned it.
Personally I think the facial recognition tech on an iPhone could easily handle being used to make a 1.00 App to consistently grade coins. It takes 30,000 data points in the blink of any eye. By running that through open source algorithms for percentages of damage and/or running it through an AI computer trained by exposure to already graded coins (for example, show it a thousand Morgans all at the MS63 sabbed lever and it could average what the current slabbers call an MS63 and then apply it) and it could be consistent.
But beware, eventually if slabbing companies decide not to pursue the iPhone route (it would be horrible for profits), but instead offer computer grading again, no doubt they will try making people believe all their old slabs need to be re-slabbed with the new accurate way (money, money money!).
If I had a million I would develop the iPhone method. It would stop the slabbers from preying on the hobby and keeping the verifiable tech away from coins.
How can you be sure that the coin you sent in to be graded is the one you actually get back
This is why it is recommended you take detailed pictures before sending a coin in. On forums over the past 16 years I have seen horror stories of people sending in coins and getting them back with, for example, a prominenet fingerprint on them that was not there when the coin was sent in. Fortunately in this case the owner had taken pics before sending in te coin, but it was still a fight for him to get anything done about it b/c the companies are unaccountable. This is despite the touted PCGS “guarantee.” Reading the guarantee online with a an eye to objectivity (and determining to read it all the way through instead of skimming their extra words), you find the only thing they will really guarantee and do anything satisfiable to the owner about is when they slab a fake coin as being real.
The wording seems great…until you really see what they are saying.
They say they will make it right if they undergrade a coin and the owner sends it back (the bulk of the guarantee). First, since a higher grade means more profit when selling, just how many people will send back a coin that shows a grade higher than they thik it should be (if they will even “dare” to question the “experts” at the company?).
Or they say they will buy it form the owner instead and pay the owner the difference in cost between the grades…what they call “market value.”
Sounds good right? Until you read much further where they say PCGS says what they mean by market value is what a DEALER would pay for the coin (there goes a minimum 30% out the window), and they say they get to determine what that dealer cost is while citing absolutely nothing like grey sheet or any other source as to what they use. In other words, they get to pay the owner anything they wish. PLUS PCS then owns the slabbed coin in a higher graded slab…which they can turn around and sell for even more profits. All in all, the the original owner comes out breaking even for their efforts, except not having a coin any longer, they are doing well. Remember the owner paid the initial fees for grading, now they do not have a coin, and they were paid less than what PCGS will profit from selling the coin THEY now own.
If a person, not a business, conducted themselves like PCGS’s own website defines them as acting, that person would be blacklisted as being opportunistic against customers.