PCGS vs NGC Grading Company

PCGS or NGC: Which Company is Better For Grading Coins?

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 LevelMax Value PCGSMax Value NGCPCGS PriceNGC Price
Modern (1965+)$300/$2500$2,000$17/$30$17
Mint Errors$10,000Tier$65Tier + 15$
Oversized Holder$20$20
Comparison of PCGS vs. NGC Pricing

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.

Grading Ability

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.

PO-1 Poor Grade Morgan Dollar PCGS

Why are PO-1 Coins Valuable? Who Pays For Worn Down Coins?

Most coin collectors are looking to get a coin with the highest grade they can. The standard coin grading scale gives coins a scale from 1-70 with 70 being in the best condition, a perfectly uncirculated coin with a good strike.

Just as getting a coin of 70 is incredibly difficult there is an equally difficult rating… a score of 1.

Thank you to PCGS for the example images used in this post!

What Makes a Grade 1 Coin?

A score of 1 is also referred to as a “PO-1” for “Poor 1”. In the original Sheldon Grading Scale, it was also referred to as a coin’s “Basal State” although this is less common terminology now, and sometimes refers to coins that are ungradable.

A coin with a grade of one will have the most bear minimum of identifying features visible. By that, I mean that it must still have a visible date and mint mark.

As long as the date and mintmark are visible, an entire side of the coin could be worn flat, as long as the side with the mintmark and year is legible.

The best way to learn about PO-1 coins is to look at photos. Here is a picture from the PCGS Website.

A Morgan Dollar with a grade of 1 according to PCGS.

Notice that the date and top of the mintmark are still legible. This is a 1994 Morgan minted in Carson City.

For comparison, here is a PCGS example of a coin with a grade of FR-2 for Fair-2:

Morgan Dollar graded FR-2

Much more of this coin is visible. We can make out many of Lady Liberty’s features including her ear, mouth, eye, and hair. The Eagle is still clearly discernible as an eagle and we even see the features on some of the eagle’s feathers.

How Do PO-1 Coins Get So Worn?

There are many ways a coin can wear down, either intentionally or unintentionally.

The Morgan Dollar in the example above looks like it was in someone’s pocket for a very long time. Coins like these are called “carrying pieces” and owners usually keep them in their pocket for good luck or sentimental reasons.

A coin could reach a similar state just by being in circulation for a long enough time. Think of it like this, when a cashier hands you change, do you examine every coin to make sure it is the right denomination?

Most likely not, many people can tell what a coin is by its weight and general color. This is the same reason why a cashier may hand you a foreign coin in change without realizing it if it is similar enough to a US coin in circulation.

Why Is It Hard To Get A Grade Of 1?

Wearing a coin just enough so that it still has a legible date and mintmark is not easy to recreate. Even if you did try to wear a coin down by sanding it, most coin graders reject mutilated coins.

Since coin graders reject mutilated coins the coin must be worn in such a way that it could have happened in circulation. Carrying a coin in your pocket for a decade is a good way to wear it down for a poor grade.

What makes a coin ungradable?

For a coin to receive an “ungradable” rating it will have neither a visible date nor mintmark according to PCGS.

An “Ungradable” Coin According to PCGS.

Since coins are graded and categorized by the year and mint mark, a coin without these features cannot be graded. Similarly, the coin must be identifiable as a genuine coin and be able to fit in a coin slab.

If you want to learn more about coins that PCGS will not grade, they have a series of webpages about it. Click Here to View.

Do people really pay more for PO-1 Coins?

As they say, “The proof is in the pudding.” Here is a screenshot of a mercury dime graded by NGC with a grade of PO-1.

Ebay Screenshot: Mercury Dime Graded PO-1.

This coin sold for 29.99! Here is a screenshot from USACoinBook of Mercury Dimes based on grade:

This coin was graded as “Poor”, but sold for a better value than 1916S Mercury Dimes graded AU50!

Not all PO-1 coins are worth more than their better graded counterparts. Here is an example of a PO-Morgan Dollar that did not command a premium:

At $163.50 this coin graded about what was predicted for a low grade 1899 Morgan Silver Dollar.

Why Do People Collect Poor-1 Graded Coins?

There are all sorts of coins people specialize in collecting. Collecting Poor coins is certainly rare, but not unheard of.

For many coin collectors, Poor coins make an interesting piece of their collection. It is an interesting talking point, and something that is rarely seen.

If you collect PO-1 coins or know someone who does, reach out to me on my Contact Page! I would love to hear from you.

Would you pay more for a PO-1 coin? Vote in our poll and comment below!