Updated · Mar 28, 2023
Most Valuable Pokemon Cards [Editions, Status, and Condition]
Updated · Oct 14, 2022
Pokemon cards, which used to cost mere dollars when they were first introduced to the world, are now worth more than most people’s homes.
Although you don’t need the most valuable Pokemon cards to build a deck and play the trading card game, there are collectors willing to pay a substantial amount of money to “catch ‘em all.”
But, what are the rarest Pokemon cards in the world, and how much do they sell for?
Let’s find out.
What Is a Pokémon?
Pokemon are creatures with unique abilities that exist in the Pokemon universe.
In it, hundreds of Pokemon live in the wild or alongside their trainers who catch and train these creatures to battle other Pokemon for sport.
For anyone wondering, Pokemon started out as a video game back in 1996– the cartoon and the cards came after– and the most popular Pokemon game is Pokemon GO, with 827,205 daily active Pokemon Go players in the US.
In the Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG), players, each with a deck of cards, similarly battle each other by attacking the opponent’s Pokemon. If the attack exceeds the Pokemon HP (Hit Points), the player wins a Prize card. They play until one of them has no Pokemon left on the bench.
You may be interested in: How to play the new and classic Pokemon games on iPhone.
What Makes a Pokémon Card Rare?
The rarity of a Pokemon card is primarily determined by how likely you are to find it in a pack, but that’s not the only factor that plays a role in the card’s price.
Here’s what puts their worth in the thousands:
A Pokemon card comes with an edition number and release date. The older the card, the higher the demand for it. Most enthusiasts are willing to pay top dollar for first-edition cards.
Pokemon cards are divided into common, uncommon, and rare. In the English version, rare cards have a star symbol printed on them.
Three stars or a star H means the card is extra-rare.
Some rare Pokemon cards have a shiny, foil layer over the artwork, which makes them glow in rainbow colors when exposed to light. These are known as “holo” cards and are typically rare.
There are also “Reverse Holo” cards, which have a matte finish.
TCG players prefer to keep Pokemon cards with misprints.
That’s because the manufacturer fixes the printing errors in the batches that come after them, which makes the ones with errors rare and unique.
Cards in mint or near-mint condition sell for the full price. Newer cards are expected to be in good condition, but an older card that’s in mint condition and rare can sell for quite a lot.
Worth noting: If you’re looking to buy or sell a Pokemon card, you might consider having the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade it and verify its authenticity. The organization uses a 10-point scaling system to determine a card’s condition.
The 20 Rarest Pokemon Cards
From shadowless first editions to rare tournament prizes, here are the most expensive Pokemon cards on the market:
Dubbed “the Holy Grail of PCG,” the Pikachu Illustrator is the most expensive Pokemon card in existence.
The card features the word “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” and has a small pen in place of a rarity symbol.
This Illustrator card was awarded to 39 winners of the 1997 and 1998 Pokemon illustration contests. The PSA has certified 23 of them and only one has been given a 10 rating.
In April 2022, that card was bought by social media personality and boxer Logan Paul, who paid a whopping $5.275 million for the PSA grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card.
1998 Trophy Pikachu Set
The Pikachu Trophy cards, which depict Pikachu holding a trophy, are one of the rarest PCG cards on the market.
These cards were awarded to the players who won first, second, and third place at the 1997-1998 Lizardon Mega Battle Pokemon tournament. Another set of these was also printed for the 1996-1997 tournament.
The cards come in gold, silver, and bronze backgrounds to reflect the winners’ standing in the contest.
The 1998 set went up for auction in early 2022 and ended up selling for $480,000.
Shadowless Holo Charizard
The first edition of the Shadowless Charizard card, which was released in 1999, is the most sought-after Pokemon TCG on the market.
What makes it unique is the missing shadow beneath the artwork of the fire-breathing dragon, which was a result of a printing error.
Given that they first hit the market more than two decades ago, finding a Shadowless Charizard card is not the easiest of tasks. According to PWCC, there are only 121 copies of the card with a Gem Mint 10 rating by the PSA.
And one of those sold for $420,000 at auction in March 2022, CNN reported.
Ishihara GX Promo (Autographed)
In 2017, the CEO of the Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, invited some of the company’s employees to his 60th birthday party.
At the party, he gave everyone a limited edition Pokemon card that depicts him in a red vest that’s traditionally worn by people in Japan who celebrate their 60th birthday. These cards feature a “Red Chanchanko” ability, which is a reference to that tradition and prevents any type of attack against Ishihara.
The exact number of copies has never been confirmed but it is believed that there are around 30 of these in the wild.
Three years later, Ishihara autographed a PSA 7 copy, which made it the rarest Pokemon card and significantly boosted its price.
This card sold for a mouth-watering $247,230.
Gold Star Espeon and Umbreon
The Espeon and Umbreon are two of the several cards that could only be picked up by players who collected enough Pokémon Players Club points.
Umbreon 026/PLAY required a total of 70,000 points, while the Espeon 025/PLAY card required 40,000 points.
That’s why Gold Star Espeon and Umbreon in mind condition are valued at $194,209 and $187,277 respectively by the PSA, making them one of the most valuable Pokemon cards in existence.
The Tropical Wind card was produced as a promo card for the Tropical Mega Battle in 1999.
This event saw a total of 50 players and the only way to earn an invitation was to win a local competition, which made it an exclusive event for some of the best players in the world.
One of the Japanese-language copies of Tropical Wind, which was in mint condition, later sold for $65,100.
If you want to buy one now, you’ll have to part with around $147,633, at least according to the PSA.
First Edition Neo Genesis Lugia
Lugia is one of the most popular, powerful, and hard-to-find Pokemon in the entire series. The Pokemon starred in the early Game Bot game Pokemon Silver and SoulSilver, which was the Nintendo DS remake of it.
Like the Pokemon in the video game, the first-edition Lugia card is also a rare find.
According to PWCC, PSA has graded only 41 Neo Genesis first-edition Holo Lugia #9 cards in mint condition.
In 2020, a first-edition Neo Genesis Lugia that received a 10 rating from the PSA reportedly sold for $50,000. Another copy, with a BGS 10 Pristine rating, sold in May 2021 for more than $144,000, making it one of the most expensive Pokemon cards in the world.
In 1998, Tamamushi University held a competition where participants took part in a series of tests. Those who passed were invited to a tournament in Osaka, Japan, where winners were given a University Magikarp card as a reward.
An ad in a magazine that promoted the competition suggested that the organizers printed 1,000 for the competition. So far, the PSA has graded only around 68.
In recent years, the average price for the card has been around $17,000, but in April 2022, one collector paid a staggering $78,000 at Premier Auction for a copy.
Dragon Frontiers Gold Star Holo Charizard
The Gold Star Charizard is another fan favorite among PCG collectors.
Unlike most Pokemon cards, this one features a shiny gold star label alongside artwork that extends outside the card’s frame.
The card, which was printed in 2006, boasts a little under 1,500 graded copies, only 59 of which have received the coveted PSA 10 rating.
In 2020, one of those mint condition Star Charizard cards from the Delta Species was sold for $60,066 through an eBay auction.
Those with a lower rating typically sell between $20,000- $30,000.
Gold Star Torchic
Stater Pokemon cards rarely sell for big money, but the Gold Star Torchic is an exception.
In 2021, a Gold Star Torchic from the EX Team Rocket Returns from 2004 sold for $50,000– a high price for a Pokemon card of its kind that does not feature Charizard on it.
The card in question was one of the 17 that received a 10 rating from the PSA, out of the 322 that have been submitted for grading.
Some of the other cards in the set have also fetched high prices in the past several years, but they don’t come close to the Gold Star Torchic price.
Blastoise might not be as popular as Charizard, but it comfortably beats the likes of Chansey and Venasaur for the second most sought-after Shadowless base set Pokemon cards worth money.
There’s a total of 100 copies of the card that have received a 10 rating by the PSA, making it a common base set holographic card in perfect condition.
Despite the substantial number of Shadowless Blastoise copies available, the card (in mint condition) is worth thousands of dollars– probably because most of them are already in the hands of collectors.
In 2021, a Shadowless Blastoise was sold for a little over $45,000 through a PWCC eBay auction.
Gold Star Rayquaza
The Gold Star Rayquaza card is a recent addition to the TCG, compared to the other high-value Pokemon cards.
The card was printed in 2005 as part of the EX Deoxys set and is one of seven different Rayquaza versions that were featured in it.
Despite its popularity, it is far from being the rarest of the seven. The PSA has graded a total of 440 copies over the course of 15 years, 46 of which have received a 10 rating.
The high price is mainly due to the gold star on the card. In 2020, a mint condition Gold Star Rayquaza was sold for a record-setting $45,00.
The Master’s Scroll card was never available in any packs or outside Japan for that matter.
The card was released by the Pokemon Daisuki Club, which is the official Japanese Pokemon fan club, in 2010. The club regularly offers its members limited-edition cards if they have enough Action Points, which they accrue by finishing certain tasks.
It’s still unclear how many copies the club issued exactly, but there are a total of 26 that have been certified by the PSA and have received a rating of 10.
In early 2021, one of those sold for more than $35,000 on eBay.
First Edition Shadowless Holographic Chansey
When it comes to “Holo” cards, few are as popular as the Charizard cards, but there are some holographic cards of other Pokemon that have sold for staggeringly high prices.
One of those is the Shadowless Chansey, which was auctioned off by PWCC towards the end of 2020 and earned the seller more than $35,000.
The card, which was graded 10 by the PSA, is not the most valuable Pokemon card but it is believed to be the most expensive Chansey card sold to date. According to the PSA, there are at least 47 of these in mint condition.
In 2010, Pokemon organized a tournament for the best TCG players in the world, which took place in Hawaii. Those who took part in the tournament, as well as the video game counterpart, were given a Master’s Key card.
The only difference between the tournament and video game cards is the trophy case frame that they came in.
There are an estimated 36 of these in existence.
The first copy was sold for around $21,000 at the PWCC marketplace in 2019. Less than a year later, another raked in about $27,000 for the seller.
No Rarity Poliwrath
Just because a Pokemon card does not bear a rarity sign, it does not mean that it can’t sell well.
The “No Rarity” variant is actually a result of a printing error in the Japanese copy of the base set Poliwrath, due to which the copies were missing a rarity symbol in the bottom right-hand corner.
The company noticed the error and fixed it pretty quickly, but not before some of the misprinted cards made their way into circulation. This error not only made them rare but also valuable.
As a result, a Japanese copy of the card was sold for over $25,000 in late 2020. Granted, the card was one of only three copies that have received a 10 rating by the PSA.
Crystal Charizard Holo Skyridge
The Crystal Charizard Holo Skyridge was part of a limited release of Pokemon cards that could temporarily change their card type to match the energy of the card that was attached to them on that turn.
The card was released alongside five other Crystal-type Pokemon, following the introduction of the Crystal Pokemon cards in Aquapolis – the third and last Pokemon TCG Set released by Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast, the original manufacturer of the card game’s English-language release.
This was also the last pack that was part of the “e-Card” expansion that allowed players to scan the card and get a bonus extra in a number of Pokemon video games.
The PSA values a grade 10 Crystal Charizard Holo Skyridge card at approximately $18,000.
The Prerelease Raichu was essentially released in error.
The gaming company reportedly printed only about 100 of those before they realized that the cards had the word “Prerelease” on the artwork. Most of them were allegedly destroyed, but some Wizards of the Coast staff claimed they got copies.
Whether these cards really exist is still up for debate. The PSA has never verified a Prerelease Raichu card and there’s only been one copy, which surfaced in 2006, that is believed to be genuine.
The only record of sale, so far, was reported by the fan site PokeGym. The site said that card sold for $10,500 at a private sale in April 2009.
24-Karat Gold Pikachu
Although the most expensive Pokemon cards were released in the first few years after the game, the Gold Pikachu is a rare exception.
This card, which features the original Fat Pikachu, was released in 2016 to commemorate TCG’s 20th anniversary. What makes it unique is that it is decorated with 11 grams of solid 24-karat gold.
Upon its release, the only way to get a copy of it was to enter a lottery. Winners got a chance to buy the card for 216,000 yen, which is around $2,081.
The current prize for the card is around $10,000.
Shining Charizard Neo Destiny
The Shining Charizard is the first ever Pokemon card in second-generation Pokemon games. It belongs to the Neo TCG series, which was released in 2001.
The card, as the name suggests, features a shiny background, a shiny holographic flying Charizard, and a shiny fire underneath it.
Some sellers have managed to sell their Shining Charizard cards for as much as $9,000 in the past, but you can now find some of these cards on eBay going for $1,500.
This collectible hobby that sparked in the 90s is one of the reasons why Pokemon is one of the most profitable anime franchises in the world.
Whether you’re a collector who’s on the hunt for a rare Pokemon card or you’re one of the many who bought Pokemon packs as a kid, there’s a trading market for the most valuable Pokemon cards online.
Typically, Pikachu and Charizard cards top the list as the most sought-after collectibles, but other rare cards are worth a lot of money– if you were lucky enough to get them early on.
What is the most expensive Pokemon card?
The priciest Pokemon card in the world is the Pikachu Illustrator card, which social media personality and boxer Logan Paul bought for $5.275 million, according to Guinness World Records.
What is the rarest Pokemon card?
The Ishihara GX Promo isn’t technically the rarest, but there is only one copy of that card that has the Pokemon company’s CEO's signature on it.
What Pokemon cards are worth money?
Collector typically looks for Pokemon cards that are rare and in mint condition. Some of the most valuable Pokemon cards are the Gold Pikachu, Master's Key, Prerelease Raichu, and Tropical Wind.
Dejan is a techie at heart who always dreamed of turning his fascination with gaming into a career. He finds working for TechJury a perfect opportunity to express his views of all kinds of different software. Being an avid reader, particularly of fantasy and sci-fi, Dejan pursued a degree in English Language and Literature. When not at his computer, he’s watching sports or playing tabletop games.
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