CGC RAISES PRICES ON APRIL 28, 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes
On April 21, 2021, CGC announced that they’d be raising the prices associated with their Grading & Pressing services as well as updating the benefits of their annual Membership Tiers beginning on April 28, 2021.
In this article we’ll take a look at what’s changed so you can have a better understanding of how these updates will effect your finances in your future dealings with CGC.
CGC GRADING TIER UPDATES AND PRICE CHANGES
I figure most of you reading this will be more concerned about the price changes to the cost of having your comics graded than the updates to CGC’s Membership Tiers (although there’s some BIG changes there too), so let’s start with the fees first.
There’s no easy way to say it, so let’s just rip the band-aid off. For the first time in five years, CGC is raising their prices across the board.
To start, we’ll take a look and see how the new pricing structure compares to the old pricing structure for standard comic book grading. From there we’ll review the updates to CGC’s Membership Tiers, and then circle back to the pricing updates to CGC’s Signature Series grading, and CCS’ Comic Book Pressing, before closing out with some final thoughts. Sound good? Ok, let’s do this.
First up, here’s a straight before and after comparison of CGC’s most commonly used services and their associated fees:
There are a few noteworthy items here besides the price hike. Notice that CGC eliminated the Value Tier and combined it with the Economy Tier. Technically the new Economy Tier has a lower price than it did before, however it’s still more expensive than the now departed Value Tier.
The Fast Track option that reduces your turnaround time in the Modern Tier and Economy Tier grading also saw a price increase going from $10 to $15.
If you regularly use CGC’s Pre-Screen service to have them only grade the comics in your submission that meet a specific grade threshold, the reject fee for comics that don’t meet your desired grade increased from $5 per comic to $8 per comic.
Lastly, CGC has also raised the cost of return shipping. While prices increased for all shipping carriers, I’ll just cover the difference for USPS Priority Shipping. Previously return shipping cost $14 for the first comic and $2 for each additional comic. After April 28, 2021, return shipping via USPS will be $16 for the first comic and $2 for each additional comic.
Another item that’s not pricing related, but still worth noting, is that CGC did increase the allowable maximum value for grading comics under the Modern Tier grading from $200 to $400. So that’s a small win, even if it doesn’t necessarily offset the overall increase in fees.
Here’s a quick cost comparison between the old and new pricing structure, examining the cost difference of having 25 Modern Tier comics graded with the Fast Track option for a quicker turnaround time.
So in this basic, yet common, scenario, after April 28th, 2021 it will cost you $177 more to Fast Track the grading of 25 Modern Tier comics at CGC. Now, here’s another wrinkle. The prices above would be for CGC Associate & Premium Members who have direct submission privileges, but don’t receive the
15% 10% grading discount made available to those with an Elite Membership. And if that sounds different to you, that’s because the benefits provided in each of CGC’s Membership tiers has changed too. So let’s take a deep dive into what changed on that front as well.
UPDATES TO CGC MEMBERSHIP TIERS
In addition to the service fee increases we discussed above, CGC has also tweaked the benefits associated with their yearly membership tiers. While the cost of the actual memberships didn’t change, there was one critical detail that did which will have an impact on your overall finances:
The Associate Membership ($25 / Year) and Premium Membership ($149 / Year) Tiers will no longer receive their associated Grading Discount — 5% & 10% respectively — after April 28th, 2021. The Elite Membership ($299 / Year) also saw its Grading Discount reduced from 15% to 10%. All other Membership benefits remain the same as before.
For clarity, if you currently have an annual CGC Membership, you will retain your current benefits until your membership is due for renewal. So if your current CGC Membership doesn’t expire until March 2022 for example, then you will still maintain your current discount rate until it renews.
CGC SIGNATURE SERIES PRICING UPDATES
CGC’s updates to their pricing was comprehensive and covered every aspect of their business, including the costs associated with their Signature Series grading tiers. Here’s a look at how the fee structure has changed on that front.
CCS COMIC BOOK PRESSING PRICING UPDATES
If you use CCS for Comic Book Pressing, those service fees were increased as well. Here’s a before and after comparison of those service fees.
One thing to note on the screening service, CCS will no long offer screening for Modern Tier Comics after April 28, 2021.
WHY DID CGC RAISE THEIR FEES FOR EVERYTHING?
In the days since CGC announced that they were raising their fees, the one question I’ve seen asked the most is “Why tho? Isn’t their business booming?”.
Well if you ask CGC, they’ll tell you that the collectibles market has grown at an unanticipated and unprecedented rate since the pandemic hit the US. If you regularly submit comics to CGC for grading you know this. Turnaround times have been greatly extended, and it’s even taking CGC 2-3 weeks (or longer) just to get your comics checked in so the grading clock can start.
CGC will also tell you that In order to reduce or remove that bottleneck of crushing demand for their services, they hired 70 new employees, purchased an additional 21,000 square feet of space, and authorized thousands of hours of overtime to its employees in an effort to bring more efficiency to their operations. And like it or not, all of those things cost money. Human Capital and Physical Space are the two most expensive line items on any businesses ledger. So bringing on those additional expenses need to be accounted for, and the most effective way to offset those operational costs is with price increases. This is standard operating procedure for just about any business out there that cares to make a profit.
Now, that said, that doesn’t mean you have to like it. I’m not jumping for joy that it will now cost me more in order to keep the virtual shelves full here at the Certified Comic Shop. But as a business, I also understand it.
For me personally, I’m ok with the increased prices and the reduced discount IF the additions to staff & space allow CGC to bring more operational efficiency to their process so check-in and turnaround times are reduced to their pre-pandemic levels. However if CGC can’t make a dent in those areas, and now we’re paying more but there isn’t a benefit of time and efficiency, then it might be time to look more seriously at other grading options.
What do you think about CGC’s updates to their fees and membership benefits? Are you cool with it? Are you upset? Will you be sticking with CGC or exploring alternatives? Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below!