The 20 Best and Most Expensive Pokémon Cards to Have

From old coins to retro videos, and movie memorabilia, insane amounts of money have been paid for seemingly innocuous items just because they are one of a kind. This craze has also extended to the realm of Pokémon cards. A collectible trading card game first released in Japan in 1996, the Pokémon games have remained ever popular thanks to the expertise with which it recreated battles from the original series. Such popularity has fueled a constant fascination with the game and has seen the cards go up in value so much so that they now run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As recently as July 2020, one shiny Pikachu illustrator card went for a whopping $226K in an auction conducted by a Hong Kong-based memorabilia auction house known as Collective Memories. That Pikachu card now holds the title of the most expensive Pokémon card ever but it is by no means the only one that has attracted crazy prices.

The Most Valuable and Rarest Pokémon Cards to Have Right Now

1. Pre-release Raichu (Very Rare)

  • Year- 1999
  • Set-base set

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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No. 1 on the list of the most expensive Pokémon cards right now is the Pre-Release Raichu. A card so rare that some people even doubt the fact that it actually exists, the Pre-Release Raichu was said to have been printed in error in the year 1999 by English manufacturer, Wizards of the Coast. The company reportedly printed about 100 copies with the word “prerelease” stamped in the bottom right of the artwork. These erroneous cards were destroyed with about 10 said to have been spared and given to employees of the company. From then till now, a genuine Pre-Release Raichu has never been seen but there have been some false alarms. This has elevated the card to some sort of Holy Grail and you can trust that if one were to surface one day, it would quickly surpass any bidding records set by other cards.

2. Pikachu Illustrator Card

  • Set- prize set
  • Year – 1998
  • Price – $226.6K

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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Another rare Pokémon card (only 39 were made and only 10 is still in existence), the Pikachu Illustrator has several unique features. One of them is the one-off pen icon in the bottom right corner. Another is the use of the word ‘illustrator’ rather than ‘trainer’ which makes it the only Pokémon card with such a feature. Such uniqueness has made it a prized possession and in 2019, it set the record for the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold with a price of $195K. It would shatter that same record a year later when it fetched about $226.6k in an online auction in July 2020.

3. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4

  • Set- base
  • Year – 1999
  • Price – $220k

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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The 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4 is proof that a disappointment can turn out to be a blessing. The card lacks the normal shadow under the fire-breathing dragon, Pokémon, thanks to a printing error. That error has made it all the more special and it has been breaking price records ever since. It was once sold for about $183k. Fast-forward to October 2020, retired American rapper, Logic shelled out $220k to purchase it. He later revealed that he absolutely loved Pokémon as a child but could barely afford it. Now that he has the money, he has no hesitations spending it on the cards.

4. No. 2 Trainer Pokemon Card

  • Set- prize
  • Year- 1997
  • Price – $200K

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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This particular card was initially utilized as a trainer card in several tournaments. It was then upgraded to prize status and given to the winners of different tournaments such as the Japanese Pokémon Card Official Tournament of 1997, and The Regional Lizardon Mega Battle Conference of 1997/1998. The latest versions were awarded in 2014 but experience has shown that they do not fetch as much money as the original trophy cards.

5. Kangaskhan – Parent/Child Promo Card

  • Set – prize
  • Year- 1998
  • Price – $133k

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world

One of the few promotional cards to feature the original pocket monsters trading game logo, this card was awarded as a prize in a Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament held in May 1998. Only 34 exist in the world and they can rarely be found outside Japan. They, therefore, set off a scramble on the rare occasion that they are seen thus placing it amongst the most expensive Pokémon cards to have.

6. No. 1 Trainer Card

  • Set – prize
  • Year -1999
  • Price – $90k

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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The No.1 Trainer was never made available publicly but rather awarded to the finalists in a secret super Battle Tournament staged in the Japanese capital of Tokyo in 1999. The participants in this tourney numbered about seven and as such, it is believed that only seven of these cards were produced. This of course makes it a rare gem and it has been prized as high as $90k.

7. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer Card

  • Set – prize
  • Year- 1999
  • Price – $70k

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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Only 12 of these promo trainer cards actually exist. It was used as a prize for the Tropical Mega Battle Tournament held in Hawaii in 1999 which served as a precursor to the World Championships also held that year. If you are lucky to find this baby on eBay, you may be required to pay anything from $10k to $70K to secure it as your possession.

8. No. 3 Trainer Promo card

  • Set – prize
  • Year – 1997
  • Price – $32,499

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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The eighth most expensive Pokémon card to have is the No. 3 Trainer Promo Card. Much like its predecessor, the No.2, it was initially utilized as a trainer card before it was converted to the third prize at the 1997 Japanese Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament. Since then, it has been given as a third prize at several Pokémon World Championships. If you fancy your chance of coming third at the next tourney, then you can get one of these prized cards but if not, then you will have to shell out about $32k to purchase it.

9. Master’s Key Card

  • Set – Item card
  • Year – 2010
  • Price – $21,000

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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The Master’s Key is relatively young when compared with other Pokémon trading cards but this has not affected its value. Originally awarded to the 36 participants who took part in a Pokémon World Championships held in Hawaii in 2010, the card was enclosed in cases with a gold foil stamp below the card text which reads the name of the competition. One of the lucky winners has since sold off his; netting $21k in a November 2019 auction.

10. Tropical Wind

  • Set – promotional
  • Year – 1999
  • Price – $10,000

most expensive Pokémon cards in the world
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This batch of cards first emerged in 1999 when they were used as a participation prize in that year’s Tropical Mega Battle. It would retain this status for several years before being released as part of the Nintendo Black Stars Promo in 2004. It remains a promo card to date and can be found in languages such as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, etc. It also has a coveted subset, known as DP25, thanks to a printing error in 2008.

11. Articuno – Tropical Mega Battle

  • Set – prize
  • Year – 1999
  • Price – $9,999

most expensive Pokémon cards
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This card may not command as much money as the Pikachu Illustrator or Trainer No.2 but it is still a much cherished set thanks to its interesting history. It was awarded as a sort of consolation prize to players who did not make it to the Tropical Mega Battle. These players had to go through a rigorous process though, involving several rounds of battle and filling a booklet with the stamps earned, in order to be eligible for a chance to win it.

12. Black Triangle Error Booster Box Card

  • Set – base
  • Year – N/A
  • Price – $8,700

most expensive Pokémon cards
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As you can already tell by now, errors in the printing of Pokémon cards don’t diminish their value but rather make them even more of a specialty. Another good example of this is the Black Triangle Error Booster Box. The company initially printed a set of cards which they sealed in a Booster Box Product Pack. During the ninth printing, they mistakenly printed some with the 1st edition logo, and to cover this up, resorted to a black triangle. With only 35 packs known to exist, this makes them the rarest Pokémon base set booster pack of all time. It also places them amongst the most expensive Pokémon cards to have.

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13. Holographic Shadowless First Edition Venusaur Card

  • Set – base
  • Year – 1999
  • Price – $6,500

 most expensive Pokémon cards
Image Source

This is one of the strongest Pokémon in the base set of the game and this makes it quite attractive. Another reason why collectors are interested in it is the fact that it can shuffle around grass energy with ease, unlike other cards. A Holographic Shadowless First Edition Venusaur in pristine condition can fetch from $2,000 to $6,500.

14. Computer Error – Kamex Mega Battle

  • Set – prize
  • Year – 1998
  • Price – $6,396

most expensive Pokémon cards
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The Computer Error – Kamex Mega Battle was initially inserted into the January 1998 issue of the CoroCoro Comic. Five months down the line, it was then reprinted and awarded to participants in the Kamex Battle Tournament which ran from July to August 1998. As far as the Pokémon world is concerned, the Kamex is not that highly sought-after. However, a genuine one can still fetch about $6,396.

15. Pikachu Expedition Card

  • Set – base
  • Year – 2002
  • Price – $5,999

 most expensive Pokémon cards
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This is a lightening energy card which corresponds to electric type Pokémons such as Raichu, Zapdos, and Raikou. The card was first released as a sample set before being unveiled in the English expedition base set. Its artwork was done by Japanese artist, Atsuko Nishida. The Pikachu Expedition formerly went for as much as $5,999 but you can find some online for about $1,000 suggesting some drop in value. Conversely, it may also be that these versions are not genuine hence the cheap price.

16. Shining Charizard

  • Set – base
  • Year – N/A
  • Price – $3,500

most expensive Pokémon cards
Image Source

Occupying the 16th spot on our list of the most expensive Pokémon cards in the world is the Shining Charizard. Described as a fire-type basic shinning Pokémon, it is part of the Neo Destiny expansion and was introduced in the second generation of Pokémon games. It has an unusual attack requiring five energy. This, amongst other features, made it a fan favorite.

17. Gold Star Espeon Pokemon Card

  • Set – base
  • Year – N/A
  • Price – $3,500

most expensive Pokémon cards
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When it comes to the Gold Star series of the Pokémon cards, the Gold Star Epseon ranks amongst the most sought-after. This is not surprising given what the holders had to go through in order to land them. Members of the Japanese Daisuki Club had to go through a series of rigorous activities to land the shiny card. They, therefore, won’t be easily convinced to part with them except for a good price which can get as high as $3,500.

18. 20th Anniversary 24-Karat Gold Pikachu

  • Set – anniversary set
  • Year – 2018
  • Price – $2,201

 most expensive Pokémon cards
Image Source

Just like the Master’s Key, the 20th Anniversary 24-Karat Gold Pikachu is another example of a contemporary Pokémon card which is nevertheless quite valuable. This particular card was released in 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the trading cards. It was made of 11 grams of solid 24-karat gold and was sold for about $2,201. The only way of standing a chance to purchase it was to be successful in a lottery held by the producers.

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19. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise

  • Set – base
  • Year – N/A
  • Price – $1,500

most expensive Pokémon cards
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Holographic Pokémon’s cards are highly coveted because of their rarity and the First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise has befitted from this fact. A version of it sold for about hundreds of pounds in May 2019. The card was able to attract such a price despite some imperfections, a very thin print line running through it. This means that it could have fetched more if it had been flawless.

20. Holographic Shadlowless First Edition Mewtwo

  • Set – base
  • Year – 1999
  • Price – $1,500

Pokemon
Image Source

Rounding off the list of the best and most expensive Pokémon cards to have is the Holographic Shadlowless First Edition Mewtwo. It is said to be a member of the exclusive and legendary Pokémon group. It is also considered to be one of the best Pokémon of all time. Still need a reason why it is quite valuable? I didn’t think so.

The 20 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards to Have Today

1. Pre-release Raichu – N/A
2. Pikachu Illustrator – $226.6K
3. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4 – $220K
4. No. 2 Trainer – $200K
5. Kangaskhan – Parent/Child Promo Card – $133K
6. No. 1 Trainer – $90K
7. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer Card – $70K
8. No. 3 Trainer Promo card – $32,499
9. Master’s Key – $21,000
10. Tropical Wind – $10,000
11. Articuno – Tropical Mega Battle – $9,999
12. Black Triangle Error Booster Box – $8,700
13. Holographic Shadowless First Edition Venusaur – $6,500
14. Computer Error – Kamex Mega Battle – $6,396
15. Pikachu Expedition -$5,999
16. Shining Charizard – $3,500
17. Gold Star Espeon – $3,500
18. 20th Anniversary 24-Karat Gold Pikachu – $2201
19. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise – $1,500
20. Holographic Shadlowless First Edition Mewtwo – $1,500

Are Pokémon Cards a Good Investment?

The short answer is yes but you do need to be vigilant and consider several factors. When wealthy people shell out money for art and collectible items, they are not just doing this to show off their wealth but also utilize it as a means of investing as this can be more reliable than the unpredictable stock market. This is the same case with Pokémon cards.

They will most often go up in value (for instance a Pikachu illustrator card went for $20k in 2009 and in 2016, rose to $195k) but one needs to consider several factors. They include whether the card is in good condition and whether it is a 1st edition, rare, shadowless, and old. These categories of cards will almost always fetch a good price. One should also know when to buy and sell. For instance, the Keldeo Ex Card released in 2012 previously fetched $40-$50 but today goes for as low as $10. So, those who offloaded theirs in 2012 would be luckier than those who hung on to theirs to date.

How Do I Know If My Pokémon Cards Are Worth Anything?

This can be achieved through a series of steps including first checking the cards itself. Check for rarity by looking for the symbol at the bottom right corner. A circle means the card is common; a diamond means uncommon; while a star or three stars are rare or extra rare respectively. So, if your card is rare or extra rare, then you are good to go.

Other markers of value include whether it is the first edition; whether it has no shadow (shadowless); and whether it is reverse holographic. All these make them extra valuable. One can also go online to sites such as eBay or ask friends to find their value. Finally, you can also submit your cards to the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator Registry) for grading. This will cost money though, about $15-$250 and may take 5-6 months to get graded. The good side is that if your card gets a high value like 9, then you are guaranteed a scramble for it.

Why are Pokémon Cards so Expensive?

The answer to this lies in the rarity of the cards as well as the fact that the game has grown into a beloved franchise over the past three decades. This global love and admiration ensure that on the few occasions that the company manufactures new cards, they are snapped up like hotcakes. It also means that the old cards which are no more in production become highly-coveted items for fans of the franchise.

What is the Rarest Pokemon Card and is it the Most Expensive?

Many names will be thrown into the fray but the consensus opinion is that it is the Pikachu Illustrator card. Manufactured in 1998, the card was only given out to the winners of a CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest that took place that year. They numbered about 39 but with the passage of time, only 10 survived which has made the card the Holy Grail of Pokémon. As a confirmation of its coveted status, it has twice broken the world record for the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold. The first time was in 2019 when it sold for about $195K and the second time was in 2020 when it sold for about $226K.

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Ngozika Agu
Ngozika can turn any personal finance or entertainment information into an exciting, delightful and compelling article that informs and educates, she can quickly turn random letters into epic stories that not only entertain but also inspires or motivates

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