As the nostalgia for the Pokémon franchise grows, and as millennials acquire some disposable income, the value of collector’s items such as Pokémon Trading Cards increases. In some cases, however, cards on this list were being offered up for merely hundreds of dollars just a few years ago, but more recently, their value has skyrocketed to more than ten times the going rate for that period.
Even the least expensive cards on this list are going to set buyers back a bit, and some of the more valuable items contain seemingly ridiculous asking prices. We imagine that several of these cards (if not all) are worth more than most of your cars – and certainly more than Misty’s bike, even before Ash wrecked it.
We assume this article will serve as a bit of fun window shopping for you curious Poké fans, but for those of you with thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pockets, fear not as we have included the current asking prices.
15 1st Edition Venusaur Holographic
For those not heavily invested in trading card collecting, PSA is a grading standard that both authenticates and rates cards on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. To the untrained eye, the difference between a 6 and a 9, or even a 9 and a 10 might seem minuscule or even nonexistent, but hardcore collectors and the graders certainly know the difference. The card on this entry, as well as most on this list, maintains a PSA grade of 10.
As a first-generation starter Pokémon, Bulbasaur is quite popular among fans. As Bulbasaur’s fully evolved form, Venusaur is also quite popular. As a result, even a standard Venusaur card was difficult to track down back in the day, much less a 1st Edition Holographic version like this one.
14 Krabby (Fossil Error)
So being holographic and in mint condition might be enough to make your Pokémon cards worth some serious cash, but that is certainly not the only way. One common theme among several valuable Pokémon cards is errors. Pokémon cards printed with errors are often extremely rare, and in some cases, extremely valuable.
One prime example is this Krabby card which contains a seemingly insignificant error. The fossil marking just below the bottom right corner of Krabby’s picture is missing a small portion of its symbol. Yes, that’s it.
While the Krabby card itself contains very little monetary value, the fossil error serves to make it exponentially more expensive. These cards have since become incredibly valuable and have gone for an upwards of $5,000 online.
13 Brock’s Trainer Deck A Machamp
Due to the rarity of these “trainer” decks, cards released within them are often seen as more valuable. Additionally, there is very little information out there concerning these decks as they were not open for sale publicly.
Essentially, Trainer A and B decks were issued to leagues for a short period of time, and today, cards from the pack such as this Machamp are seen as incredibly rare and valuable.
For the most part, the front side of these Trainer cards are identical to those released in traditional packs. The two exceptions being Blastoise and the Machamp as seen here – both of which are non-holographic.
This Machamp is also the only base set, or original, Machamp ever released, making this one of the most sought-after cards on the market.
12 Pokémon Snap Poliwag
As part of a contest ran by CoroCoro Comic, a Japanese magazine, readers were invited to send in some of their best Pokémon photos from the popular Nintendo 64 game Pokémon Snap. The top five entries were selected and turned into Pokémon cards themselves. However, each of the five winners only received 20 of these Pokémon cards each, so needless to say, they are quite sought after today.
As unique and rare pieces of Pokémon history, this card featuring Poliwag from the CoroCoro Comic contest goes for nearly $6,000–assuming you can actually track one of these down. Other winners from this contest also go for a pretty penny, but seeing as how they are, again, extremely rare, they can be quite difficult to locate.
11 1st Edition Shadowless Blastoise
Another term we should discuss is “shadowless.” It is not an official term, but it is one that stuck after being so commonly used by the community at large. Essentially, it means that the border running along the outside of this card does not feature a shadow, but rather transitions right into the card itself. Again, this may appear to be quite the minute difference, but a keen buyer would be willing to pay a high price for the right shadowless card.
Like Bulbasaur, Squirtle is a first-generation starter Pokémon that is extremely popular. Its fully evolved form, Blastoise, is also extremely popular and was quite the rare card back in the day. But being shadowless and a 1st Generation card makes this Blastoise worth close to $7,000.
10 Master’s Key National Champion Prize Card
The Master’s Key Promotion Card was awarded to the top three competitors from each respective division at the Pokémon Trading Card Game Event–in addition to the top four competitors from each division in the Video Game Event–at the Japan World Championship in 2010. Given its incredible exclusivity, this card is one of the rarest and one of the most sought-after Pokémon collector’s items.
We imagine that there are a handful of competitors that would never part with these beloved trophies, but for those who are less sentimental, a small fortune awaits them as these cards are some of the most valuable in its respective niche. Recently, these promotional cards have gone for somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000.
9 Pre-Release Raichu
Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of Pokémon memorabilia is the pre-release Raichu card. Its origin is rumored but uncertain, and its existence to this day is confirmed but contested.
Said to have been created as a result of a manufacturing error, the pre-release Raichu cards were reportedly given to employees of a Hasbro subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast. This was made public in 2006 when an employee came forward with a picture of the card and a story concerning its origin.
Wizards of the Coast, to this day, does not actually acknowledge the existence of these cards, however. It is said that only eight to ten copies of this card have ever been produced, but there is no way to know for sure. As you can imagine, they are extremely valuable and highly sought after as well.
8 Tropical Mega Battle
Produced for an annual Pokémon card tournament in Hawaii, the Tropical Mega Battle Cards are some of the most expensive on the market. Like the Master’s Key Promotional Card, very few were ever in distribution, and thusly, are extremely desired by collectors. There were only 12 ever made, so one in mint condition could cost you around $10,000.
Like most of the entries on this list, the value of this card has only increased with time, and the longer they are in circulation, the less chance these stay in mint condition.
Again, we imagine that there a number of former tournament contestants who would probably like to hang on to these pieces of Poké memorabilia, so how many are actually available for sale at this moment is anyone’s guess.
7 Pikachu Japan Center 20th Anniversary 24 Karat Gold Promo
One of the more recent cards to crack our list is the 24-karat gold Pikachu card released for the franchise’s 20th anniversary. The Pokémon Company went all out with the 24-karat treatment, and as you might imagine, this card does not come cheap.
When the card first debuted, it sold for 216,000 yen (or approximately $2,000), but now it is listed on eBay for $10,000. It is all for show, however, as the Pokémon Company has stated that the use of the gold Pikachu is not allowed in official tournaments or competitive play. Given the fact that this card is fairly new, only time will tell if this card continues to grow in value, but at this point, it already stands as one of the most expensive Pokémon cards ever created.
6 Pikachu E-Reader Promo
In order to promote the e-Reader outside of Japan, Nintendo produced a 10-card collection that was supposed to demonstrate the technology at a pre-launch event at the Pokémon Center in New York. Printed with a Japanese backing and the word “Sample” in the bottom right corner, this piece of Pokémon memorabilia is pretty easily identifiable for most collectors.
Approximately 50 sets were printed for use at the event (according to an eBay posting), but only 9 have been known to be graded. Quite unsurprisingly, there are not many listings out there for these cards, so prices are reaching toward astronomical amounts. Right now, the asking rate appears to be around $10,000–a pretty penny for a card that was never intended for mass distribution.
5 “No HP” Error Dark Persian
Like the earlier Krabby entry, this “Dark Persian” owes its value to a manufacturing error. Oddly enough, as the title would suggest, this Persian card was printed without any markings for its HP. Does that mean Dark Persian cannot die? We don’t know. But what we do know, is that this collector’s item is extremely valuable in the right market.
Currently listed at $12,995 with several prospective buyers, this rare card is one of the most expensive Pokémon collectibles available today. A trading card with no HP signifier is much easier to spot than a shadowless card or one like the fossil error, but still, it is incredible to think that this small manufacturing flub could drive the cost of this card up to well over $10,000.
4 Tamamushi University Magikarp
Through a Japanese contest entitled the “Tamamushi University Hyper Test,” elementary school children were tasked with various tests in order to win a unique contest. Those who were skilled enough to pass the test were invited to a two-day conference in Osaka, Japan.
Participants were separated into three age categories on the first day and were then assigned to groups based on the gyms within the Pokémon games, and were asked to compete in some weird Hunger Games-like contest. Battles between the contestants continued over the course of the weekend and at the end, the champions were rewarded with these commemorative Magikarp cards.
Really, they couldn’t splurge for the Gyarados? Either way, these cards are extremely valuable today, as one could set you back as much as $15,000.
3 1st Edition Holographic Charizard
Seeing as how we have already covered Venusaur and Blastoise in this list, you had to know that Charizard was coming eventually. You may have already guessed that this fan-favorite fire-type would be making our list at some point, but did you know a 1st Edition could go for as much as $15,000 (given that this card is in excellent shape, of course)?
Being a first edition card is something that we have yet to discuss in this article, but all that means is that the card has a small “1st Edition” symbol at the bottom left corner of the Pokémon’s picture. That’s it. That small signifier generally serves to increase the value of a card exponentially, so it is definitely something to look out for the next time you are perusing your Pokémon card collection.
2 Championship Arena: $30,000
Yet another promotional card cracks our list in the form of this Championship Arena award card, which was given to competitors participating in the Pokémon World Championships back in 2005.
Unlike most other cards on this list, however, it has a counterpart. In Japan, this card was released as a Promotional Card which was given to participants of the Battle Road Stadium Event. This event was a regional tournament in which a competitor would battle against other competitors and eventually Pokémon Card Laboratory employees. Like other rare promotional pieces in this article, the Championship Arena card is extremely valuable and has sold for impressive amounts across the web.
As the name might suggest, the Illustrator Card was given to winning entrants of three various illustration contests that were publicized in the aforementioned CoroCoro Comics. What the name does not suggest, however, is that this reward has gone on to be known as the world’s most valuable Pokémon card.
Like the Pokémon Snap promotional Pokémon cards, each winning contestant was awarded 20 cards featuring their respective drawings. However, these illustrated Pokémon cards are not going for nearly as much money today. As of right now, this card is the most valuable of the franchise, having been sold for nearly $55,000 during an auction in Beverly Hills, CA in the fall of 2016.