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Top 40 rare and most expensive Pokémon cards

From the classic Shadowless Charizard to a Pikachu made from solid gold, these are the most valuable and rare Pokémon cards of all time.

Rare and most expensive Pokémon cards guide - PSA sales images of the Pikachu Illustrator, Topsun Charizard, and Ishihara GX Pokémon cards, on a blue hex pattern background, with an overlaid panel with the Wargamer logo that reads most expensive Pokémon cards

What are the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards? After over 25 years of regular Pokémon TCG releases, there are quite a few staggeringly valuable cards out there – YouTuber Logan Paul famously blew over $5 million on a Pikachu Illustrator in 2022, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We regularly trawl online auction houses for this list of the most valuable rare Pokémon cards sold in recent years.

First, a friendly warning: if you’re just now getting into the Pokémon TCG hobby, you’ll have more fun playing than seeking the world’s most most valuable Pokémon cards. As a starting point, we recommend our beginner guide to Pokémon card collecting, our tutorial on how to play Pokémon cards, and our personal choices for the best Pokémon cards in the world.

Still, it is exciting to see just how much the rarest Pokémon cards cost for the top-tier collectors – and the particular Pokémon cards worth money to those folks can be fascinating in their own right. For guidance on finding your cards’ value, check out the helpful tips at the end of this guide.

These are the most expensive rare Pokémon cards in 2024:

Rare Pokemon cards - Base Set Black Triangle booster pack with Blastoise on the front

Bonus – Black Triangle Base Set Booster Pack

Price $2,700
Sale date Unverified
Auction house eBay
Rating N/A

Before starting on the most expensive Pokémon cards, we thought we’d kick things of with this curio. When Wizards of the Coast realized they had accidentally printed too many Base Set booster packs branded with the first-edition logo, they covered the errant symbol with a small black triangle. A simple attempt to avoid wasting resources has generated a much-prized collector’s item, as fans now clamour for a rare Black Triangle Base Set Booster Pack.

It’s the packaging itself that’s valuable here, not the cards inside, so don’t go cracking one of these black triangle packs open if you happen to find one sitting in the back of a drawer. They’re occasionally found in standard Base Set booster boxes – so you’ll have to weigh up whether to gamble on the chance discovery of one of the black triangle booster packs, or whether it’s best to leave the box unopened for its pristine value. Some of the black triangle booster packs have fetched over $2,700 (£2,000) on eBay, depending upon their condition and which Pokémon is displayed on their cover.

Shining Charizard, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

40. First Edition Shining Charizard

Price $11,040
Sale date October 30 2022
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 10

One of the coolest Charizard Pokémon cards ever printed, Shining Charizard from the 2000 Pokémon TCG expansion Neo Genesis features a black shiny Charizard, with a foil treatment making the Pokémon literally ‘shine’. You were limited to only having one of each Shining card in your deck – a testament to the specialness of these cards rather than the objective power level, it would seem.

Shining Pokémon in Neo Genesis were extremely rare, so first edition versions that have remained in mint condition are pretty scarce. The most expensive example of the card we found was this version, sold on the Goldin auction website in 2022 for $11,040.

Rare pokemon cards shining Magikarp

39. Pokémon Card Fan Club Shining Magikarp

Price $14,000
Sale date 24/05/2023
Auction house PWCC 
Rating  GEM MT 9.5

The Japanese-only card Shining Magikarp is rare because it was only available through the Pokémon Card Fan Club. You had to earn 600 ‘GET points’ at tournaments to earn the card. There are very few copies available, which is why a 9.5 gem mint copy fetched $14,000 on the auction site PWCC.

Pokémon Card Fan Club was a Japanese magazine in the early 90s, but it was succeeded by Pokémon Trainer’s Card Magazine, which advertised this promotion. The promo cards, which along with Magikarp include Porygon and Eevee, were only available to win between 2000 -2002.

Functionally, the card is identical to Shining Magikarp from the regular 2002 Neo Genesis set. It has extremely similar art as well – you wouldn’t know you had a rarity at first glance.

The main different is in the foiling. In the regular version of the card the background fish are shiny, whereas in the promo edition it’s the main, foreground Magikarp who shimmers. Just goes to show: when collecting rare Pokémon cards, the details matter.

Holo Mewtwo, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

38. Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo

Price $15,000
Sale date April 16 2023
Auction house  PWCC
Rating  GEM MT 10

For a certain generation of Pokémon fans, Mewtwo is the rare Pokémon. It’s unsurprising, then, that a card featuring the character would be worth something. Even more unsurprising is the fact it’s the Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo.

This card has everything – nostalgia, rarity, and a holographic background. The most expensive copy we’ve seen sell is this PSA 10 copy sold via a PWCC auction in 2023.

Espeon Gold Star, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

37. Espeon Gold Star

Price $22,100
Sale date  February 2021
Auction house  eBay
Rating  GEM MT 10

Get used to seeing the phrase ‘gold star’ when it comes to rare Pokémon cards. Relatively few are ever printed, making them coveted from the moment they’re printed. They’re also often accompanied by gorgeous art of many fan-favorite Pokémon.

Espeon Gold Star is a stunning example of this. Released in the promotional POP Series 5 set of 2007, this card regularly sells for thousands of dollars. A 2021 auction setting the high, high price of $22,100 for a PSA 10 copy.

Still, it’s not the most valuable Eeveelution of that set – you’ll learn more about that soon. 

Japanese Poliwrath, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

36. Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Poliwrath

Price $25,015
Sale date 2020
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 10

The 1996 Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Poliwrath appeared in the original Pokémon base set. Poliwrath isn’t as widely popular as Charizard or Pikachu, and it isn’t often considered one of the cutest Pokémon, but every Pokémon is somebody’s favorite.

Plus, no collector in their right mind would turn down a PSA 10 card from the OG glory days of the Pokémon TCG. Proving our point, a 2020 auction from PWCC saw the water Pokémon sell for $25,015. 

Gold Pikachu, a rare Pokemon card

35. Gold Pikachu

Price $29,520
Sale date  September 2021
Auction house  Goldin
Rating EX 5

Nothing screams expensive like a flash of gold. And in this case, gold beats old.

The Gold Pikachu Pokémon card isn’t an aged specimen from the early days of the trading card game, like many of the cards on this list. It appeared in 2018, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon TCG. Though young, it’s still easily among the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards.

Made of 11 grams of solid 24-karat gold, the card is a replica of the original Japanese Pikachu card’s design, featuring a distinctly more rotund yellow mouse. To grab the card on release, would-be buyers had to enter a lottery, with winners given the chance to buy the limited edition card for a cool ¥216,000 ($2,000 / £1,700). But since then, its value has risen swiftly. It sold for close to $8,000 (£5,750) in 2019, then $12,655 in 2020. Most recently, a version of the card went for a cool $29,520 in 2021. Notably, this was graded at EX 5 by PSA, so higher-priced Pikachu’s are certainly possible

Although not legal in tournament play, the card came with a handy glass frame, so you could store the artefact, while helpfully displaying it to any visitors that you deem worthy. You’d probably have to explain why spending nearly 30 grand on a single, unusable card was a good financial decision, though.

pokemon trading card game - A promo card featuring Pikachu and other gen 1 starters

34. X/Y 20th Anniversary Festa Pikachu

Price $32,250
Sale date  September 3 2023
Auction house  Goldin
Rating Pristine 10

A fairly new promo card (relatively speaking) takes this spot. This Japanese Pikachu card features all three of the Gen 1 starters in an art piece older Pokémon fans are sure to adore.

It was given out to attendees of the 20th Anniversary Festa in Toki Messe, Niigata on October 10, 2016, which celebrated 20 years since the release of the first Pokémon game in 1996.

The unique card features a 120 damage attack ‘Mega Thunderbolt’ which has you discard all Pikachu’s energy, and another, Celebration, which demands every player clap their hands and then draw a card.

The highest-selling copy of this card was sold on March 9, 2023 via auction site Goldin. This card, given Becket’s maximum grade of 10 (Pristine) fetched $32,520 at auction.

Rare Pokemon Cards - a rare shiny Charizard, one of the most expensive Pokemon cards, on a blue hex background

33. Topps Chrome Charizard Tekno #06

Price $35,000
Sale date August 27 2023
Auction house  eBay
Rating  N/A

Thanks to its age and rarity, it’s no surprise that a Topps Chrome Charizard Tekno #06 is worth something. Collectibles manufacturer Topps once held the license to produce Pokémon cards way back in the 2000s. While they’re not part of the Pokémon TCG and you can’t play with them, these early cards can go for a pretty penny today. The shiny cards are particularly rare. The three types (Spektra-Chrome, Sparkle-Chrome, and Tekno-Chrome) each had increasingly rare pull rates – and the pull rates weren’t even particularly well-balanced to begin with.

One sold on eBay in March 2022 for $23,000 (£ 18,326.86). The seller claimed that an ungraded version of the same card had previously sold on eBay for around $15,000 (£12,000), so clearly that professional authentication makes all the difference.

Shadowless Holo Chansey, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

32. 1999 Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Chansey

Price $36,877
Sale date 2020
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 10

The 1999 Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Chansey is an original Pokémon card depicting a unique and popular Pokémon. It may be no Charizard, but Chansey has plenty of fans nonetheless.

This particular Chansey is also made valuable by its PSA 10 grading. According to auction website PWCC, a Chansey card of this quality is hard to come by. It’s that holographic finish on the card – it scratches very easily.

Careful handling was rewarded in this case, as in October 2020 the owner of the 1999 Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Chansey raked in $36,877 at auction.

Holographic Crystal Charizard, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

31. Holographic Crystal Charizard first edition

Price $40,800
Sale date October 16 2022
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 10

The Holographic Crystal Charizard comes from the Mysterious Mountains (or Skyridge, for English-language players) e-card Pokémon TCG expansion. This was the last expansion to be produced by Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast before their Pokémon license ran out.

The ‘e-card’ name comes from the fact you could put these Pokémon cards through an e-reader to discover bonus content like mini-games or Pokédex info. While some English-language sets carried on this novelty for a little while longer, in Japan, Mysterious Mountains was the final e-card set.

While Charizard is the ultimate chaser Pokémon for many, this card doesn’t tend to sell for as much as other Charizard Pokémon cards. The most we’ve seen Crystal Charizard sell for is $40,800 (£32,300) in an auction from October 2022.

Maybe it’s because this card isn’t as scarce as some other entries in this list, or maybe it’s because it lacks the nostalgia of the Base Set. But either way, this is still one of the more expensive Pokémon cards out there. 

Rayquaza Gold Star, one of the most rare Pokemon cards of all time

30. Holographic Gold Star Rayquaza

Price $48,958
Sale date  June 1 2023
Auction house COLLECTR
Rating  GEM MT 10

EX Deoxys is one of the rarest Pokémon Booster Boxes of all time, and Holographic Gold Star Rayquaza is its biggest chase card. Like all the rare gold star cards, this features a shiny Pokémon, and the card has a holographic sparkle. But no gold star Pokémon cards are as coveted as the stylish black and gold shiny Rayquaza. This rare card from 2005 sold for a whopping $45,100 (£35,867) in 2020. We thought it may have peaked in value – as much more recently, a PSA 10 copy of the card went for just $38,100 (£30,300) – but apparently not, as on June 1, 2023, Rayquaza sold again for $48,598.

Master Scroll, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

29. Master Scroll

Price $50,000
Sale date August 2020
Auction house eBay 
Rating PSA 9

The 2010 Master Scroll Trophy Card was an award for anyone who earned 8,600 points as part of the Japanese Pokémon fan club, the Daisuki Club. The highest award available, the card is not available in English.

A grade 9 Master Scroll sold on eBay for somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000 (£20,000) (though it was an accepted offer, so we can’t be sure of an exact price). Other sellers with a grade 9 card are looking for around $35,000, and one grade 10 card is being offered for a whopping $100,000.

Holographic Gold Star Torchic, a rare Pokemon card

28. Holographic Gold Star Torchic

Price $50,000
Sale date October 2021
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 10

Another popular gold star card is the Holographic Gold Star Torchic. Gold star cards are popular for their rarity (as relatively few were printed), but their gorgeous art is also part of the appeal.

On this card, artist Masakazu Fukuda depicts the adorable starter Pokémon popping out of the frame with a cheeky wink and a flash of glitter. A PSA grade 10 Gold Star Torchic was sold in October 2021 for $50,000 (£39,600).

Rare Pokemon card tropical mega battle no. 2 trainer

27. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer

Price $50,300
Sale date 2020
Auction house PWCC
Rating Authentic

The Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer prize card was issued to the second place prize winner in 1999’s Mega Battle Tournament, a seven-tournament grand slam culminating in a finals in Hawaii. The prize cards, which auctioneer PWCC states were given to the top three players from each region, all featured Exeggutor.  Hardly any have ever been professionally graded, so their rare auction appearances command a high price.

Base Set No Rarity Venusaur, a rare Pokemon card

26. Base Set No Rarity Venusaur

Price $55,000
Sale date 2021
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 10

First edition Pokémon cards are already a winner. And while Venusaur doesn’t have the same pull as Charizard, this starter evolution still does stonks on the secondary market.

Base Set No Rarity Venusaur is made even more valuable because of a printing problem – the black star in the bottom right that’s meant to denote the card’s rarity is missing. Oh, and this one in particular has the protective case signed by artist Mitsuhiro Arita. All in all, that led to a price of $55,000 (£43,700) at a PWCC auction in 2021.

Not all first-edition Venusaurs are this valuable of course. Another PWCC auction, this time for an English-language version without any defects or signature, only auctioned for $14,400 (£11,400). Which, y’know, is still a lot of money – just not ‘no rarity’ money.

Mew Victory Orb, a rare Pokemon card, and its original trophy case

25. 2005 Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb

Price $60,000
Sale date 28 December 2020
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 10

The 2005 Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb was a prize given out at the 2005 Summer Battle Road tournament. There were nine regional competitions as part of this tournament, and the top three players in each would receive this Mew Victory Orb card. This means only a handful of copies were ever given out.

This particular copy of the card, sold in 2020, received a PSA grading of 10, and it was auctioned with its original trophy case. This helped it fetch a tidy price of $60,000 (£47,500). 

Holo Charizard Gold Star #100, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

24. Ex Dragon Frontiers Holo Charizard Gold Star

Price $60,066
Sale date  October 2020
Auction house eBay
Rating GEM MT 10

The Ex Dragon Frontiers Holo Charizard Gold Star was a rare Pokémon card, even when it was first printed in 2006. It’s one of several ‘gold star’ cards in this guide, which have a pull rate of one every two booster boxes. Combine this with a PSA 10 grading and the most popular Pokémon to ever grace the game, and you’ve got one valuable Pokémon card.

This might not be the most recognizable, powerful, or expensive of the Charizard Pokémon cards, but it does have some of the most unique art. Masakazu Fukuda presents a dark version of the darling dragon, leaping through the air while letting out bursts of flame.

While they’re all but forgotten these days, “Ex” cards were the big hotness in the scene during the early-to-mid aughts, and many are worth big cash now – read our full guide to Pokémon Ex cards for more info. 

A graded 64 Mario Stadium Chansey, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

23. 64 Mario Stadium Chansey

Price $63,000
Sale date December 2022
Auction house PWCC
Rating NM / MT 8.5

While promoting the 1999 Nintendo 64 game Pokémon Snap, Nintendo held two fan contests where pictures taken in the videogame would be turned into real Pokémon cards. Ten winners were selected from each; winners of the CoroCoro Comic contest received 20 copies of their personalized card, while winners of the 64 Mario Stadium contest got just 15. As you can imagine, a 64 Mario Stadium Chansey (with art by competition winner Kaori Someya) is pretty rare.

Making them even rarer still is the fact that, according to PWCC, only two copies of the card have ever been sold. One auctioned for $63,000 ($50,000) back in December 2022, which shows just how much one of these Pokémon Snap cards could be worth if they ever appear again.

Rare Pokemon cards - 2013 Pikachu No. 1 Trainer card

22. 2013 World Championships Pikachu No. 1 Trainer

Price $63,000
Sale date December 2 2022
Auction house Heritage Auctions
Rating GEM MT 9

This trophy card was awarded to first prize winners during the 2013 World Championships, of which there were only six. 2013 was the last year that the World Championship prize card used the normal half-art style on traditional Pokémon cards, being replaced with full-art prizes in 2014.

Tropical Wind Mega Battle, a rare Pokemon card

21. 1999 Tropical Mega Battle: Tropical Wind

Price $65,100
Sale date October 2020
Auction house eBay 
Rating GEM MT 10

A rare promotional Pokémon card, 1999 Tropical Mega Battle: Tropical Wind is another card produced in celebration of the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament. A predecessor to the annual World Championships that still take place today, Tropical Mega Battle invited around 50 contestants to Huwaii, where they battled it out for fame, glory, and this promo card prize.

It’s not known exactly how many copies of Tropical Wind were produced, but there’s not exactly a crop of them kicking about. In October 2020, a PSA 10 Gem Mint condition copy sold at auction for $65,100 (£47,500).

Depending who you ask, it might also have the best artwork of any card on this list. No one can deny that a sleepy Psyduck chilling in a hammock, holding a ukulele, and joined by Jigglypuff isn’t incredibly adorable. Pokémon doesn’t get any cuter than this. 

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20. Master’s Key

Price $66,000
Sale date May 2023
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 9.5

A relatively recent addition to the coveted halls of Pokémon rarity, the Master’s Key Prize Card was awarded to competitors of the 2010 Pokémon World Championships. Each of the 36 participants in the TCG and videogame tournaments was given the card, along with a fly display case to show off their competitive card-playing abilities.

A Master’s Key Prize Card sold at auction in 2019 for $21,000 (£15,100). That’s already a pretty steep price, but this rare Pokémon card sold for even more in May 2023, when it was auctioned by PWCC for $66,000 (£52,354). 

A rare Pokemon card, Magikarp

19. Magikarp Tamamushi University Promo

Price $66,100
Sale date February 2021
Auction house  eBay
Rating GEM MT 10

Magikarp might not be one of the best Pokémon cards to ever grace the games, but the Magikarp Tamamushi University promo card goes some way towards rectifying that.

Handed to winners of the 1998 Tamamushi University Hyper Test Campaign, this Magikarp includes the Dragon Rage special move – not usually learnable by the magical fish until it has evolved into Gyrados, and a tad more useful than its usual Splash ability.

Early promotional material suggests 1,000 copies of the card were originally produced, although it’s not known how many actually made it off the factory floor and are lurking around for public collection. But that only adds to the mystique.

In February 2021, a Magikarp Tamamushi University card sold on eBay for $66,100.00 (£48,160). You’ve got to really love fish to part with that kind of money.

Gyarados Pokemon snap, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

18. Gyarados Pokémon Snap contest

Price $87,500
Sale date  July 7 2023
Auction house Heritage Auctions 
Rating GEM MT 9.5

Like the Chansey above, this Gyarados is one of ten successful entries to the Pokémon Snap photo contest in 1999, this special version of Base Set Gyarados was reprinted with a Pokémon Snap photo for its art.

According to Heritage Auctions, where a copy of this card was sold for $87,500 on July 7, 2023, only 15 copies of each of the prizewinning cards were created, and it’s not clear how many have survived to present day, making this one rare sea beastie.

Gotta admit, we’re not a hundred percent sure why this picture, in which the Gyarados is only recognisable if you already know what you’re looking at, would’ve won the competition. Perhaps there weren’t very many entries?

Rare and expensive pokemon cards - Extra Battle Day promo full art lillie

17. Japanese Extra Battle Day Full Art Lillie

Price $108,000
Sale date July 27 2023
Auction house PWCC 
Rating GEM MT 10

Lillie is a popular card for her character alone, a beloved companion who appears in Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon and Pokémon Journeys: The Series, so there’s already a slight ‘waifu tax’ associated with all version of her card. But the Extra Battle Day promo variant is incredibly rare.

The Extra Battle Day was a limited event originally planned to run in October and November 2019, and January and February 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic meant that only the first two events ever ran.  Players had to win a lottery just to enter the Extra Battle Days, and their score was scrutinised on everything from wins, to ratio of prize cards won to lost, to the outcome of a game of rock-paper-scissors.

So the winners got the promo Full Art Lillie, right? Wrong! Winners got booster packs which had a chance of pulling one of three full art rares, of which Lillie was the rarest. Small wonder, then, that a PSA graded Gem Mint 10 copy of this promo sold for $108,000 on PWCC in July 2023 – and reportedly, a copy sold on Chinese auction market Xianyu for $170,000 in August 2023.

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16. Snap Magikarp

Price $136,000
Sale date January 2022
Auction house Yahoo! Auctions Japan
Rating Authenticated

In the late ’90s in Japan, the Pokémon company organised a competition to promote Pokémon Snap, Pokémon’s strange photography-based safari spin-off on the N64. Fans were asked to submit photographs of their favorite ‘mons, and ten winners were chosen, each of whom won twenty copies of a single promo card that illustrated with their photograph.

Magikarp is by far the rarest of these promos. As of 2022, only one copy had ever surfaced on the secondary market, selling on Yahoo! Auctions Japan for $136,000. The video above, by YouTuber smpratte, shows that exact card shortly after its sale.

The card gives photo credit to the competition winner, Yuka Matsubara. As Matsubara was the only person in the world to receive copies of the card, his decision to hang onto the copies for as long as he did gave this unassuming Pokémon incredible rarity.

Rare Pokemon Cards - No. 2 Trainer from the 2,000 World Summer Challenge, Toshiyuki Yamaguchi

15. Super Secret Battle No. 2 Trainer, 2000

Price $137,500
Sale date  July 7 2023
Auction house NM / MT 8
Rating Authenticated

This No.2 trainer card was specially created for Toshiyuki Yamaguchi, a young trainer who took second place in the Secret Super Battle – Best in Japan finals in August 2000. This was the culmination of the 2,000 World Summer Challenge, and the ‘Deciding Match’ tournament took place in the Pokémon Center Tokyo on August 19.

This is a one-of-a-kind card, featuring Yamaguchi’s portrait as well as Chansey, Doduo, Growlithe and Pikachu on a holo background. It sold on July 7 2023 via Heritage Auctions, for a mighty $137,500. Not bad for second place!

Holographic Lugia Neo Genesis First Edition, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

14. Holographic Lugia Neo Genesis first edition

Price $144,300
Sale date May 2021
Auction house PWCC 
Rating Pristine 10

Lugia has a firm place in popular Pokémon history. A legendary bird that first appeared in Generation II, it quickly became a fan-favorite among players of the franchise’s videogames and trading card game alike. It even made an appearance on the front cover of Game Boy game Pokémon Silver, so you know it’s not playing around.

Unsurprisingly, the Pokémon’s popularity hasn’t waned. Back in May 2021, a Holographic Lugia Neo Genesis First Edition card, graded as a Pristine 10 by grading agency BGS, sold for $144,300 (£105,200). That’s no pocket change.

Auction house PWCC reckons only 41 PSA 10 copies of the card have ever been graded, and only three have received the BGS 10 Pristine label. The card’s scarcity and Lugia’s continued popularity will keep the value of this Pokémon card high for years to come.

Rare Pokemon Cards - No. 1 Trainer prize card, from the 1999 Secret Super Battle qualifiers

13. Secret Super Battle No. 1 Trainer, 1999

Price $156,000
Sale date September 23 2022
Auction house Heritage Auctions 
Rating GEM MT 10

Perhaps the rarest of all Pokémon cards, No.1 Trainer takes the concept of rarity, sprinkles in a dash of scarcity and exception, and basks in the light of secrecy to evolve into the highest stage of mystique that a collectable card can.

A promotional card awarded to finalists of the 1999 Secret Super Battle Tournament – also functioning as the entry ticket to the tournament’s finals – it’s said that only seven copies were made. Six of them remain in perfect Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) Gem Mint 10 condition, with one selling for a whopping $156,000 in September 2022.

The holographic card features a silhouetted Mewtwo and, according to the auction house responsible for a sale in 2020, Heritage Auctions, the card’s description translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognized here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle”.

Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy, a rare Pokemon card

12. Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy

Price $175,000
Sale date  July 2023
Auction house Heritage Auctions
Rating GEM MT 10

The Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy card was given as a reward to participants of a 1998 Pokémon TCG battle tournament. This was no regular tournament, however, as each team was made up of both a parent and child, bringing some family spirit to the game. Those teams that reached a certain spot in the contest’s ladder were rewarded this trophy card.

Let’s hope they hung onto it. The card was never printed outside of the tournament, and features the original Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game logo as a set symbol (instead of the regular Pokémon TCG logo), making it quite the rarity. Collector’s seem to think so, too. In October 2020, a PSA 10 ‘gem mint’ copy of the card was auctioned for $150,100 (£109,350) on eBay, making it one of the most expensive Pokémon cards to sell in recent years. That price was beaten in a Heritage Auctions sale in July 2023 however, setting a new highest price of $175,000.

A grade 9.5 Play Promo Holo Umbreon, a particularly rare Pokemon card

11. 2005 Play Promo Holo Umbreon

Price $180,00
0Sale date February 22 2024
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 9.5

The 2005 Play Promo Holo Umbreon Gold Star card was only awarded to members of the Pokémon Player’s Club, and they’d need to earn 70,000 EXP points to get their hands on a copy. Considering members start out with only 1,000 points, catching this one was no small feat.  It’s one of the most notoriously difficult Player’s Club promo cards to acquire.

This alone makes this Umbreon rare and desirable, but there’s more: the holo version of the card was never released in English. Combine that with adorable art of a beloved Eeveelution, and you’re talking real value. In a 2021 PWCC auction, this Pokémon card sold for $70,000 (£55,700) – that’s one dollar for every EXP point it’s worth.

But this was smashed in September 2023, when a GEM MT 10 copy of the card sold for $135,209 – followed swiftly by another sale for $180,000 in February 2024 via PWCC.

Rare Pokemon cards - a test print of Blastoise, with a gold border and a Magic the Gathering card back

10. Test Print Gold Border Blastoise

Price $216,000
Sale date July 24, 2021
Auction House Heritage Auctions
Grade 6.5

When Wizards of the Coast first attempted to localize the Pokémon card game for the English language market, they experimented with a variety of different in-house layouts before settling on the final version. This test print has a variety of unusual features – its back is a Magic the Gathering Card, the border is gold rather than yellow, and the front of the card is foiled, a new technique for Wizards of the Coast at the time.

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9. Snap Pikachu

Price $217,000
Sale date June 2023
Auction house Private sale
Grade Authenticated

Just like the Snap Magikarp, the Snap Pikachu was created as a promo prize for one of ten competition winners, featuring a virtual Pikachu photograph taken inside the strange photography / safari videogame Pokémon Snap. 20 copies were given to a single prize winner in the late ’90s, but never surfaced on the open market.

That was until June 2023, when Pro Retro X published the video above, showing two collectors hunting down a copy of the card and purchasing it for an eye-watering $270,000.

Ishihara GX promo, a rare Pokemon card

8. Ishihara GX Promo

Price $247,230
Sale date 25 April 2021
Auction house Goldin
Rating NM 7

A little different from the others on this list, the Ishihara GX Promo card doesn’t actually feature a Pokémon, but the president and founder of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara. The promotional card was printed in celebration of his 60th birthday, and handed to the company employees who attended his party – quite the corporate treat. The card’s ‘Red Chanchanko’ ability is a reference to the traditional Japanese garment often given to men when reaching 60 years old.

Copies of the card have sold at auction for as much as $50,000 (£36,450), but that’s peanuts compared to what a signed copy can fetch. In April 2021, an autographed PSA 7 Ishihara GX Promo card went for $247,230 (£180,200). It’s unlikely we’ll see many more of these pop up, though. It’s rumoured that only a handful were ever printed, and only one signed copy has ever been shown to the public.

Pokemon trading card game - rare pokemon cards - a pikachu plushie holding a rare pikachu card

7. Trophy Pikachu No. 3 Trainer

Price $300,000
Sale date 24 April 2023
Auction house Heritage Auctions
Rating NM / M 8

One of the most expensive prize card on our list comes all the way from June 1997, less than one year into the Pokémon TCG’s lifespan. This was the very first Pokémon tournament, and it looked very different to modern competitive play. According to the ‘museum’ website Pokumon, the competitors were 1000 children (aged up to 15) chosen by lottery. Since skill wasn’t required to compete, the power level was really low, with all sorts of wild and wacky decks showing up.

Anyway, the first ever prize cards, each featuring different Pikachu pics, were awarded to the winners, with the above No. 3 trainer cards given to third and fourth place competitors in each of the four tournaments. Eight copies of the Trophy Pikachu No. 3 Trainer card should therefore exist, but only four have been PSA certified. How much does this slice of Pokémon history cost? In April 2023, a copy sold on Heritage Auctions for $300,000 (£239,253). A pricey Pika!

Rare Pokemon card - a Japanese base set Charizard with no rarity symbol, in a plastic case signed by the artist Mituhiro Arita

6. Signed Base Set Holo Charizard with no rarity symbol

Price $324,000
Sale date April 16 2022
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 10
Released two years before the English language version of Pokemon, the Japanese base set has its own first edition indicator – there’s rarity symbol in the bottom-right corner of the card. A GEM MT 10 copy, in a case signed by artist Mitsuhiro Arita, sold for $324,000 on April 16 2022, one of only seven copies of the card to achieve that grading in the world.

A rare Pokemon card, Blastoise

5. Presentation Blastoise

Price $360,000
Sale date  January 14 2021
Auction house Heritage Auctions
Rating  NM 8.5

For a while this Kanto starter was the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold, Presentation Blastoise took the heavyweight title in January 2021, fetching a very fine $360,000 (£260,000) at auction. Although Blastoise doesn’t have quite as many fans as bad boy Charizard, this isn’t just any bipedal, turtle-like, walking cannon ‘mon. The Presentation Blastoise was originally printed by Wizard’s of the Coast as a demonstration piece, used to pitch Nintendo the value of producing an English variant of the already successful Japanese trading card game.

Because it’s a prototype, this card features different fonts, a missing water energy symbol, and misspellings – which only makes the card more prized. With a role in sparking the card game’s international success, the Presentation Blastoise has a place at the center of the Pokémon TCG’s history. Only two Presentation Blastoise cards were produced, with the location of the other card not publicly known, and auctioneers still questioning its present existence.

Charizard, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

4. First edition Charizard

Price $420,000
Sale date  2022
Auction house PWCC
Rating GEM MT 10

Ah, First edition Charizard. Ask a casual fan what the most sought-after Pokémon card is, and there’s a good chance they’ll answer: shiny Charizard. Perennially popular since its release in 1999, holographic Charizards have been a staple on the wish lists of collectors and fans for over 20 years, and a legend of playgrounds everywhere.

The first edition holo Charizard is particularly valued, for its age, limited availability, and the recognisable image of one of Pokémon’s much-loved mascots. Like all first edition Pokémon cards, this card is shadowless, printed without the dark border on the frame that was added later. There are a very few shadowless cards that aren’t first edition, but it’s the combination of the shadowless border and first edition logo that’s the real certification of excellence.

In October 2020, a PSA 10 mint condition first-edition shadowless holographic Charizard was bought by ex-rapper Logic at auction for a sizeable $220,000 (£173,000), only to be surpassed a month later when another Charizard of the same specifications sold for $295,000 (£210,000).

But that’s nothing compared to the mint, PSA 10 copy that sold in 2022 for $420,000 (£334,000). That sale currently places the First edition Charizard as the third most expensive (playable) Pokémon card in the world.

Trophy Pikachu No. 2 trainer, one of the most expensive rare Pokemon cards

3. Trophy Pikachu No. 2 Trainer

Price $444,000
Sale date  July 9 2023
Auction house Goldin
Rating GEM MT 10

The silver, second place counterpart to the bronze Trophy Pikachu higher up this list,  the Trophy Pikachu No. 2 Trainer was given to second place winners at the first two Pokémon tournaments ever, in 1997 and 1998. It features an illustration by card artist Mitsuhiro Arita of a happy Pikachu holding a trophy.

On September 7, 2023 a copy of this card from the second (1998) tournament, known as Lizardon Mega Battle or Charizard Mega Battle, sold for an outstanding $444,000 on auction site Goldin. What’s the difference between the prize cards from the second tournament and the first? Well it’s pretty much just the text.

Weirdly, the only difference between the prize cards is that those from the second tournament have a line specifying they’re from the first ever Pokémon  tournament. A heinous lie! But it’s actually because the second tournament was on a much larger scale than the first, as Pokémania began to take root.

Why’d it fetch such a high price? Well, it’s a very rare piece of Pokémon history, preserved at a very high quality. Only 15 copies of the card were made, and only four examples of the card have survived to become PSA graded. The real clincher, however, is that this is currently the only copy to have achieved the perfect PSA 10 rating. Presumably 11 cards are lying crumpled in a drawer somewhere, their owners none the wiser.

The front and back of a graded Topsun Charizard, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

2. Topsun Charizard Blue Back

Price $493,230
Sale date January 2021
Auction house Goldin
Rating GEM MT 10

The Topsun Charizard Blue Back card would be the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold, if it could really be counted as a Pokémon card at all, that is. It features Charizard on the front and has all the right text, but this pick isn’t actually part of the official Pokémon TCG. Before Creatures Inc. developed the version of the trading card game we’ve come to know, Topsun gave it a go, and printed a few prototype cards.

This is one of them, and not just any one of them. Its blue back and unnumbered printing make it even more scarce. Rumoured to have originally been distributed in packets of gum in Japan in 1997, despite being printed with a 1995 trademark date.

As you might expect, there’s not many of these left lying about; only 31, according to trading card authenticator PSA’s last count.

That’s why in January 2021, a PSA 10 version of the blue-backed, unnumbered, Topsun Charizard card sold for a mega $493,230 (£392,325) at auction. It just goes to show, even unofficial products can be gold for some. 

Illustrator promo, one of the most rare Pokemon cards

1. Pikachu Illustrator

Price $5,280,000
Sale date July 22 2021
Auction house Private sale
Rating GEM MT 9

Pikachu Illustrator is a promo Pokémon card originally handed out to winners of a 1998 illustration competition run through Japanese magazine CoroCoro, and only 39 copies were ever created. It’s the only card to feature the ‘Illustrator’ title, and its artwork was drawn by esteemed Pokémon illustrator Atsuko Nishida, creator of Pokémon’s main mascot, Pikachu. It also has a unique pen icon in the bottom-right corner, seen on no other card, presumably to remind us of its artistic roots.

It’s unknown exactly how many Pikachu Illustrator cards are still in existence, but ten PSA certified copies have been graded as ‘mint’. Until January 2021, it was the most expensive Pokémon card to ever have been sold at auction, with a PSA 9 Mint condition card selling for a whopping $233,000 (£167,600).

Pikachu Illustrator regained the title in record-breaking fashion after just six months, when Logan Paul (yeah, that guy) spent $4 million on the only existing PSA 10 version of the card, getting the purchase accredited by Guinness World Records as the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold. Where’d that $5.28m figure come from? Well to make the sale, he also handed over a lesser PSA 9 version of the card, which he’d previously purchased for $1,275,000 (around £1,000,000) in order to make the trade.

It’s a pity it’s so rare, though, because Pikachu looks even cuter than usual when holding an oversized fountain pen.

How we find the most expensive Pokémon cards

To compile this list, we regularly trawl the latest sales on global trading card and collectibles auction houses like PWCC, Heritage Auctions, and Goldin Auctions. We aim to keep the rankings and prices as up to date as possible.

However, remember that, like all collectibles and investments, the Pokémon card market is very volatile, and prices can change fast and often. If you’re looking to buy and sell high value Pokémon cards, you need to take care to double check the latest prices, being very conscious of the website or auction house’s commission rates and fees.

What are rare Pokémon cards, and do I have any?

The most valued Pokémon cards normally command their high prices based on their age and scarcity. Most originate from the earliest Pokémon sets, or are one-off tournament prize cards printed in very low numbers. First edition Pokémon cards, peculiar misprints, and desirable variants like Shadowless Pokémon cards all fetch very high prices.

If you’ve got a huge stash of really old cards, it’s definitely worth reviewing our Pokémon card rarity spotter’s guide and having a trawl through – but your chances of finding one of the top 50 are (we regret to inform you) incredibly low. You should keep our guide to spotting fake Pokémon cards handy, too, so you don’t fall for a counterfeit.

How to sell rare Pokémon cards

We have a dedicated guide on how to sell Pokémon cards, so we recommend you read that if you’re considering trading – but here’s the short version.

If you think you’re holding a truly valuable Pokémon card, your first port of call is to get it protected by placing it in a thin, soft-plastic sleeve, then into a protective, hard-plastic ‘toploader’ case. Before spending any more money on the card, it’s usually a good idea to show it to an expert personally, to get their opinion on its condition and potential value – a specialist at your local games store may be able to help.

Then you should get it graded by a well-regarded, expert grading service – PSA Pokémon card grading is the most popular in the USA. Once you get the card back with an official grading from 1 to 10, and stored in a professional PSA protective case, you should have a good idea what price range you’re likely to get for it.

Bear in mind that there’s usually a huge difference in value between a PSA grade 7, 8 or 9 card (generally mint condition to the naked eye) and a perfect PSA 10 card (absolutely faultless, even when viewed under a microscope from every angle). The really high prices paid by top level collectors are only for PSA 10 cards, and a PSA 10 card is very often worth more than twice as much as the exact same card at PSA grade 8 or 9.

If you don’t find any ultra valuable Pokémon cards in your collection, it’s really not the end of the world. This is a game, remember – what you have got is a delightful collection to treasure and play with.

For more rare trading cards, read our guides to the most expensive Yugioh cards ever printed, and the most expensive Lorcana cards in Disney’s new TCG.

Alternatively, we can teach you how to build a Pokémon deck of your own, exploring the best Pokémon cards and the highest HP Pokémon cards to use. If you do your Pokémon training on the move, take a look at our sister site Pocket Tactics’ guide to the latest Pokémon Go promo codes.