If you were a Pokémon fan back in the 1990s, you probably have a fair few old Pokémon Trading Card Game cards stashed somewhere in the back of your closet. As if collecting all 151 Pokémon in the video games themselves wasn't enough, we all spend our hard-earned allowance purchasing booster sets and expansion packs in our quest to collect the full set of Pokémon cards! While we all had a few Caterpies and Rattattas lying around, if you managed to collect a coveted card like a holographic Charizard, you were the talk of the school playground.
Of course, new Pokémon cards are still being produced to this day as the number of Pokémon featured in the games grows ever higher. As long as Pokémon remains a popular video game franchise, the Pokémon Trading Card Game will keep on producing new types of card. However, we seasoned Pokéfans do have one advantage over those players who've experienced their Trading Card Game awakening in more recent years. Some of the old cards that many of us still own are now worth a lot more money than you'd expect!
Of course, making a sizeable amount of money from selling Pokémon cards is totally dependent on the type of cards you own. Some cards from the 1990s are worth next to nothing; others basically have the selling power to pay off your entire student loans and pay your rent for months. Do you have any of these rare, pretty valuable cards hidden away at home? If so, you could become a very rich Pokéfan!
25 Trophy Pikachu Trainer No. 1: Priceless
The Trophy Pikachu Trainer Card is a Pokémon card so rare, it's basically priceless. As far as we know, nobody has ever tried to sell one, and why would you? The only people to own one of these cards are those Trading Card Game players who've placed highly at an official competition. The rarest of the cards are the ones from the 1990s tournaments and are usually in Japanese. Since owning a Trophy Pikachu card is basically a status symbol, we doubt anyone will be flogging one on eBay any time soon!
24 Pikachu Illustrator: $90,000
If by some utter miracle you've got a Pikachu Illustrator card hidden in your Pokémon card collection, you're in a very exclusive club.
39 of these cards were awarded to the winners of Japanese Pokémon art competitions.
It's unclear if all 39 are even still in existence—recent estimates put the number closer to six. Needless to say, these cards tend to sell for a lot on the rare occasion they're available to purchase. In fact, the most recent eBay listing for a Pikachu Illustrator card had an asking price of $100,000. Wow!
23 Pre-Release Raichu: $10,000
The story behind the infamous Pre-Release Raichu card is a pretty interesting one, to say the least. According to Gemr.com, this card was actually created by mistake: it should never have existed in the first place. When Wizards of the Coast—the company that at the time produced Pokémon cards—realized their error, they allegedly gave these errant Raichus to some of their employees. One such worker came forward to tell the story of how he received his Pre-Release Raichu, and they've been valuable cards ever since, selling for as much as $10,000.
22 Tropical Mega Battle: $10,000
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, an annual Pokémon Trading Card Game tournament was held in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the 1999 event, just 12 Tropical Mega Battle cards were produced to be distributed to some of the lucky 50 players who attended the event. Showing a Psyduck having a nap in a hammock on a tropical island, this legendary Trainer Card sells for a whole lot of cash thanks to its rarity. In fact, according to the Telegraph, a mint-condition version of the card once sold for $10,000. All that for a sleeping Psyduck!
21 Holographic Shadowless First Edition Charizard: Approx. $12,000
There are a lot of factors that make the Holographic Shadowless First Edition Charizard card worth around $12,000. Firstly, it's a first edition version of a Kanto starter Pokémon, a combination that usually equals big bucks. On top of that, it's holographic.
The relative rarity of holographic cards always adds some value.
Finally, it's a so-called "Shadowless" card: a card that lacks a shadow between the box containing the image of the Pokémon, and the rest of the card. This "Shadowless" effect is not a misprint or a mistake: it's actually the original Pokémon card design!
20 Japanese Shiny Espeon: $1400
If you've got a soft spot for the neon-green shiny version of the Psychic-type Pokémon Espeon, then be aware that you're not the only one. The Japanese version of the Shining Espeon Pokémon card is pretty highly desired, to say the least! However, that's down to more than just its popularity. The Shining Espeon card only saw a very limited release through the Pokémon Players' Club, making it one of the rarest cards out there. For this reason, it can sell for over $1000 on a good day!
19 Shining Charizard: $3500
Again, Shining Charizard owes its hefty price tag not just due to the Pokémon in question's general awesomeness, but due to the card being a pretty exclusive one. The very first version of Shining Charizard was part of the Neo Destiny set, which wasn't as mass-produced as other ranges of cards. Therefore, only the luckiest and most dedicated of card collectors that managed to grab this shining beast. Its pretty hefty price tag in the current Pokémon card market reflects this!
18 Holographic Shadowless First Edition Mewtwo: $1500
It's time for another Shadowless Pokémon card and a pretty majestic one at that. Back in the era of Pokémon Red and Blue, owning Mewtwo was basically the pinnacle of a player's achievements.
It was so strong that it basically broke the game.
Consequently, everyone wanted a copy of this genetically modified Pokémon's official card, too—especially if it was holographic. Some things never change, and the popularity of the original Shadowless holographic Mewtwo card is one of them. It sells for in excess of $1000 on the rare occasion someone wants to be rid of it.
17 Misprinted Fossil Krabby: $5000
Yes, you read that right: Krabby is the star of one of the rarest Pokémon cards of all. By all accounts, this crab-based Water-type isn't exactly a battling superstar. The fact that one version of its Pokémon card is so rare is a bit of a fluke.
It's all down to a simple misprint!
Part of the fossil symbol on some of the original Krabby cards is missing. This seemingly minor difference has driven up the price of these cards immensely. Even though it's a mistake, it's still a rare "unique feature!"
16 A Full Set Of Crystal Cards: $9875
In the early 2000s, the Aquapolis set of Pokémon cards brought a new kind of creature into the mix: Crystal Pokémon. Only nine Pokémon were ever given the Crystal status, and the cards were—and still are—very rare indeed. Crystal Pokémon differed from normal Pokémon due to their "Crystal Typing", a Poké-Body that allowed the creature to change type based on the Energy Card used with it. Collecting a full set of Crystal Cards is seen as a major achievement to this day: hence, a complete collection sells online for almost $10,000.
15 Holographic Shadowless Venusaur: $6500
Just like its Kanto starter counterpart Charizard, Venusaur's Shadowless, holographic, first edition version is a coveted card among Pokémon fans. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Charizard's $12,000, but then, Venusaur always was slightly less popular compared to the other Kanto starters.
Still, a selling price of $6500 is nothing to sneer at!
These cards were rare even in their original late-1990s heyday, so you can imagine how sought-after they are now. If the card just happens to be in mint condition too, it could seriously break the bank.
14 Master Key Prize Card: Approx. $8,800
The Master Key is another prize card that's seriously sought after in Pokémon card collector circles. This card was only produced in Japan, and had a very limited release: only 34 actually exist. The Master Key card was bequeathed to those Trading Card Game players who managed to win a specific Japanese national tournament. By itself, the card is worth anything up to $10,000. However, if you combine the Master Key with other one-off cards to make a limited-edition set, the retail price shoots up to over $80,000.
13 Promotional Kangaskhan: $10,000
The Promotional Kangaskhan card's hefty price tag of $10,000 has a lot to do with its sheer rarity. The card was produced in 1998 and distributed at a Japanese Parent-And-Child TGC event, in which, as you'd expect, parent-child teams competed against each other. Only the best of the best teams at the tournament got to take home Promotional Kangaskhan! It was the perfect choice of Pokémon for the event, really, considering Kangaskhan carries its child around with it at all times!
12 1995 Charizard Holofoil: $15,000
Yes, that's right: a third Charizard card has made this list. Are you really surprised? It's one of the most popular Pokémon of all time! In this case, it's a rare Charizard holofoil card that's made the cut.
This card looks nothing like a traditional Pokémon card.
It's a 1995 special edition piece that's just a huge picture of Charizard on a holographic background. It's a simple design, but the card is clearly highly sought after. $15,000 is no small sum of money!
11 Black Triangle Error Booster Box: Up To $8700
Remember how a really tiny error on a Krabby card suddenly turned it into a highly valuable collector's item? Well, a similar phenomenon occurred with a huge range of booster packs, all thanks to a factory trying to cut corners! A whole batch of non-first edition cards was once accidentally printed with the first edition stamp. To correct the mistake, the manufacturers covered the stamp with a black triangle. Since so few packs hold this "black triangle" marker, the few that are out there are worth serious cash—especially if the booster pack is unopened.
10 Pokémon Snap Cards: Up To $8000
If you were a Pokémon fan back in the days of the Nintendo 64 console, you might just remember the classic game Pokémon Snap. The object of this Pokémon spin-off was to snap creative in-game photos of various creatures. The game led to the production of the super-rare Pokémon Snap cards.
They're now worth thousands of dollars apiece!
These cards featured images taken by real-life Pokémon Snap players—how cool must that have been for those Pokéfans! Only a handful of cards were ever produced, though, hence their hefty price tag.
9 Original Southern Islands Complete Set: $300 Per Card
When the second Pokémon movie was released in Japan back in 1999, the makers of the Trading Card Game decided to release a special edition set of cards to mark this occasion. The Southern Islands card series was born, featuring just two sets of nine cards apiece. While these cards were reprinted over the years, making them more common than you'd expect, the originals are now highly valuable. If you've got the complete Southern Islands set contained in the original collectible folder that they were sold with, you could be talking $300 per card.
8 Tamamushi University Magikarp: $15,000
The Tamamushi University Magikarp card is so rare that despite the fact that it depicts a frankly awful Pokémon, it's worth up to $15,000. Why the high price, I hear you ask? Well, University Magikarp was a promotional card that saw very limited distribution at a Japanese tournament in the late 1990s. In total, 1000 of the cards were produced but far fewer were actually awarded. Barely any of these cards are still in circulation today! The Magikarp depicted in these promotional cards is actually less useless than its usual form: it knows the powerful move Dragon Rage.
7 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise: $1500
Out of the three final-evolution Kanto starters, it's Blastoise who has the least valuable Shadowless holographic card, coming in at around $1500. We say "least valuable", but that's still a lot of money for just the one card! That's if Blastoise is still in mint condition, of course, which is a big ask considering these cards are over 20 years old. Carrying the powerful Water-type move Hydro Pump, this version of Blastoise was a pretty impressive card to carry in your deck back in the day!
6 Stamp Error Promotional Movie Cards: $800
A simple error in stamping has turned some otherwise fairly common promotional Pokémon cards from the 1990s into hugely sought-after collector's items. Upon the release of the first Pokémon film, various cards were produced that had a simple stamp on them reading "Kids WB Presents Pokémon: The First Movie". However, on some Electabuzz, Mewtwo, Pikachu, and Dragonite cards, this stamp was printed upside-down. Because these error cards are so rare—only around 30 are thought to exist—their value is vastly higher than a "correct" promotional card.
5 Numbers 1, 2, And 3 Trainer Cards: Priceless
The Pokémon Trainer #1, #2, and #3 cards are so rare that their lucky owners are very unlikely to put them up for sale. Thus, we don't know exactly how much they would retail for.
However, you can bet that it'd be a hefty sum!
Each year at the Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championships, one each of these cards was handed out to a lucky player, guaranteeing them entry at the next year's competition. Only the most prestigious of TCG players could ever hope to own one!
4 Holographic Shadowless First Edition Machamp: $850
The Kanto starters aren't the only original Pokémon to boast high-value Shadowless holographic cards. For example, cards of this kind that depict the Fighting-type Pokémon Machamp have been known to sell for anything up to $850! Machamp was a notoriously tricky Pokémon for players to acquire in the original games, especially if none of their friends played Red or Blue. You had to trade your Machoke with another player to see it evolve! Likewise, Machamp's Shadowless holographic card is pretty rare to come across too.
3 A Full Set Of First Edition Holofoils: $8500
As we've already seen when discussing various First Edition holographic Pokémon cards, the value of each card can vary wildly depending on factors like the Pokémon depicted and whether or not the card is Shadowless. Some holofoil cards are so common that they can sell for just a few dollars, while others are worth thousands of dollars. If you happen to own a full set of original holographic cards, though, you've hit the jackpot. Full sets of cards often sell for high prices and the fact that these cards glitter only adds to their value!
2 Holographic Shadowless First Edition Chansey: $1000
Okay, this is the final Shadowless holographic card we've got for you—we promise. What can we say: these special first edition cards are clearly highly sought after in the Pokémon Trading Card Game community! The version of this card type that depicts Chansey, a pretty rare Normal-type Pokémon, is worth up to $1000 in the current market. In the Pokémon games, Chansey is known for its ability to heal itself and other Pokémon. However, even it can't heal your bank balance after you've splurged on one of these cards.
1 Full Art EX Cards: $37
These Full Art EX Pokémon cards are undoubtedly the lowest-value cards we've talked about in this article. They sell for a maximum of $37, which is a pittance compared to the thousands of dollars you can get for other cards. However, that doesn't mean that these cards aren't rare! As you might have guessed from their name, these EX cards feature art that stretches across the whole card: these Pokémon aren't confined to a small box! They can be found in various expansion packs, but not very often: if you find one, you're seriously lucky.