There are quite a few seriously rare Pokémon cards out there, and they can get staggeringly expensive. While you might love playing the Pokémon TCG for its snazzy card battles, some Pokémon cards are so scarce, so legendary that they can fetch lifechanging sums at auction.
We’ve rounded up all the most expensive Pokémon cards that have sold throughout the years. Some are fan favourites, some rank among the most powerful Pokémon and best Pokémon cards in the game, and others are special promo cards printed as one-off events. Although many of the most expensive Pokémon cards are older prints, interest in the Pokémon Trading Card Game is thriving, with some of the most costly cards selling for record prices only last year.
If you think you’ve found a hidden gem in the back of a closet, or had a lucky thrift store find, make sure to check out our fake Pokémon cards guide so you don’t drop big money on counterfeit cards. And 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.
For now, though, have a look at these rare beauties.
The most expensive rare Pokémon cards in 2023:
- Black Triangle Base Set Booster Pack – $2,700
- Topps Chrome Charizard Tekno #06 -$23,000
- Master Scroll – $25,000
- Gold Pikachu – $29,520
- Holographic Crystal Charizard first edition – $40,800
- Holographic Gold Star Rayquaza – $45,100
- Holographic Gold Star Torchic – $50,000
- No. 2 Trainer – $50,300
- Base Set No Rarity Venusaur – $55,000
- 2005 Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb – $60,000
- 64 Mario Stadium Chansey – $63,000
- 1999 Tropical Mega Battle: Tropical Wind – $65,100
- Master’s Key – $66,000
- Magikarp Tamamushi University promo – $66,100
- 2005 Play Promo Holo Umbreon – $70,000
- No.1 Trainer – $90,000
- Holographic Lugia Neo Genesis first edition – $144,300
- Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy – $150,100
- Ishihara GX Promo – $247,230
- Trophy Pikachu No. 3 Trainer – $300,000
- Presentation Blastoise – $360,000
- Shadowless Charizard – $420,000
- Topsun Charizard – $493,230
- Pikachu Illustrator – $5.28 million
- Pre-release Raichu
Black Triangle Base Set Booster Pack – $2,700
Before starting on the most expensive Pokémon cards, we thought we’d kick things of with this curio. When Wizards of the Coast realised 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.
Topps Chrome Charizard Tekno #06 – $23,000
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.
Master Scroll – $25,000
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.
Gold Pikachu – $29,520
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.
Holographic Crystal Charizard first edition – $40,800
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 Charizards. 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.
Holographic Gold Star Rayquaza – $45,100
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. It may have peaked in value – as much more recently, a PSA 10 copy of the card went for just $38,100 (£30,300). What a bargain!
Holographic Gold Star Torchic – $50,000
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).
No. 2 Trainer – $50,300
The first Tropical Mega Battle card on our list, No. 2 Trainer is one of the rare promo cards produced for the Tropical Mega Battle tournament, a short-lived annual competition which ran from 1999 – 2001. The top three players in each region each took home a card featuring a happy Exeggutor (in following years, the winners instead got personalised prize cards). The No. 2 Trainer card pictured here sold for $50,300 (£40,000) in 2020, thought it’s still not the most expensive Pokémon card of the tournament.
Base Set No Rarity Venusaur – $55,000
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.
2005 Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb – $60,000
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).
64 Mario Stadium Chansey
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 personalised 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.
1999 Tropical Mega Battle: Tropical Wind – $65,100
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.
Master’s Key – $66,000
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).
Magikarp Tamamushi University Promo – $66,100
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.
2005 Play Promo Holo Umbreon – $70,000
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.
No.1 Trainer – $90,000
Possibly 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, one of which was sold at auction in 2020 for $90,000 (£64,750).
The holographic card features a silhouetted Mewtwo and, according to the auction house responsible for last year’s sale, Heritage Auctions, the card’s description translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognised here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle”.
Holographic Lugia Neo Genesis first edition – $144,300
Lugia has a firm place in popular Pokémon history. A legendary bird that first appeared in Generation II, it quickly became a fan-favourite 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.
Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy – $150,100
The Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy card was given as a reward to participants of a 1998 Pokémon TCG battle tournament. This was no a 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.
Ishihara GX Promo – $247,230
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.
Trophy Pikachu No. 3 Trainer
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!
Presentation Blastoise – $360,000
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 centre 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.
Shadowless Charizard – $420,000
Ah, Shadowless 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 shiny Charizard is particularly valued, not only for its age, limited availability, and the recognisable image of one of Pokémon’s much-loved mascots, but because of a printing error that removed the shadow from around the card’s image box. Most cards with the error were corrected or removed from sale, leaving these ‘shadowless’ Charizards all the more unique.
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 Shadowless Charizard as the second most expensive (playable) Pokémon card in the world.
Topsun Charizard Blue Back – $493,230
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.
Pikachu Illustrator – $5.28 million
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.
Pre-release Raichu is as much a myth as a rare Pokémon card. Legend has it that a handful of Raichu cards were wrongly printed with the word ‘pre-release’ stamped on their artwork in the lead up to the release of the Pokémon Jungle expansion.
The faulty cards were supposedly destroyed, but ten are rumoured to have been to be distributed among Wizards’ employees. They exist now only as legend.
The mere existence of the card was denied by Wizards until 2006, when a staff member released an image of what they claimed to be a genuine copy of the card. In the years since, other Pokémon collector’s have declared to own legitimate copies, while others have branded these attempts as nothing more than fakery. No professional certification body or auction house has ever certified a Pre-release Raichu.
Many cards are said to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of Pokémon, but if that moniker should be used for anything, it’s this card. Its questionable existence alone would make the pre-release Raichu a sight to behold. We just have to wait and see if any copy is confirmed to be legitimate.