Best Pokemon Cards To Buy
Looking for the strongest, rarest, and coolest looking Pokemon cards ever made?
In this guide, we’ve outlined the 12 best Pokemon cards to buy right now, no matter how much you’re willing to spend.
We’ve chosen cards for this list based on how cool they are, as well as their popularity, and how they might appreciate in value.
Note: this is a subjective list! There are plenty of other awesome Pokemon cards not included here – these cards are just our personal favourites from our collections.
Rayquaza Gold Star Holo Ex Deoxys
- Release Date: 2005
- Grading: PSA Gem Mint 10
- Pokemon card value at auction: $45,100
An early favorite of Ruby & Sapphire, Rayquaza has seen an uptick in popularity over the last decade. So it makes sense then that its cards would also start to climb up in value over time. In 2005, The Pokemon Company released the Ex Deoxys TCG expansion featuring the Flying / Dragon-type.
As a gimmick to get Pokemon card collectors interested in the set, the Japanese company introduced Gold Star Pokemon cards into the hobby. As mentioned earlier, the incredibly rare Pokemon cards featured a special symbol next to the name of the mon. Of course, the king of these marked collectibles is the Hoenn Legendary itself.
In December 2020, a perfectly graded Gold Star Rayquaza sold at auction for $45,100. Given the Legendarys continued popularity in the franchise, and just how little of the gold Pokemon cards were actually produced, we expect this item to increase in value as time goes on.
Chansey Base Set Shadowless
It’s a travesty that Chansey still has yet to be converted to Fairy-type despite its design being the poster child for the type. It isn’t the type of Pokemon fans rushed to catch and train, and certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but thanks to the anime fans fell in love with it as it was always by Nurse Joy’s side.
The Base Set Shadowless card for the adorably rotund pink Pokemon is selling at $80 on the open market.
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First Edition Holographic Blastoise
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $5,500
A water-type Pokémon, Blastoise first appears in the Pokémon Red and Blue video games as the final evolutionary stage of Squirtle, one of the original three starter Pokémon.
Relying on twin water cannons that retract from the shell on its back, Blastoise is capable of delivering powerful blasts of water with superior accuracy.
And just as we saw Charizard’s boost in popularity stemming from its appearance on the cover art of the Pokémon Red video game, Blastoise was the center of attention on the Pokémon Blue video game:
Rightfully considered one of the coolest-looking of all Pokémon, Blastoise remains a collector favorite and this card can bring thousands of dollars in high grade.
Top 5 Most Expensive Base Set Unlimited Pokmon Cards
Base Set Unlimited Pokémon cards are the most common form of cards found in older Pokémon collections. These cards are identifiable by the drop-shadow to the right of each main card image, in addition to the absence of a 1st Edition stamp on the left-hand side. We analyzed the values of 1st Edition shadowless cards here. These Base Set Unlimited cards are not as valuable as their 1st Edition shadowless counterparts. However, they can still garner a lot of money if graded as a PSA/CGC 10. It is important to keep in mind that lower-grade cards are more affordable for entry-level collectors. However, it is the gem mint PSA/CGC 10s that are most valuable.
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Most Valuable First Edition Pokemon Cards
Originally released in Japan as a video game, Pokémon later transformed into a trading card game that began hitting store shelves in the U.S. in 1999.
Today, these trading cards are some of the hottest non-sports cards in the hobby.
And with a catchphrase like Gotta Catch Em All., it’s easy to understand why.
On top of common and rare cards in the base set, there are variations such as Shadowless and First Edition Pokémon cards needed to complete an entire run.
Those First Edition cards are especially some of the rarest and some are even considered to be among the most expensive Pokémon cards in general.
And in this guide, we take a look at the 25 most valuable.
Let’s jump right in!
Identify Type And Assess Rarity
The first step to identify if a card is potentially worth anything substantial is to check its type and rarity. In other words, how likely the card is to come across from any given booster pack or special event, and if it has any special characteristics, such as card material or Pokemon types.
There are a few indicators of rarity on any given card, though theyre quite subject to change depending on when said card was printed. A marker near the bottom of the card or near its name will indicate rarity: a circle means the card is common, a diamond means its less common, and stars mean its rare. More stars or with combinations of letters or symbols mean extra rare, including if those symbols are in the name or elsewhere on the card. Other characteristics that can up the rarity include: a higher printed number than there should be in a given printed set holographic artwork or reverse holographic, in which everything but the artwork is holographic artwork that takes up the full card artwork wherein the creature doesnt cast a shadow and any shining characteristics, not to be confused with holographic.
While rarity isnt the only factor in appraising value, its certainly a major factor: Some of the highest-selling cards worth tens of thousands of dollars, or considered priceless from lack of supply, are only so because of small rarities like misprints or typos.
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Alakazam Base Set Shadowless
Alakazam is a Psychic-type from the original first-generation, that not every kid was able to acquire due to it only evolving via trade. As a card, it was unique because the Base Set itself didn’t feature many outstanding Psychic-types outside of Mewtwo.
The Shadowless version of the Base Set drives up the value on every card in the set, and for Alakazam that means that it now sells for a whopping $200 raw.
Find The Set The Card Belongs To
If there is no logo on the right side, its Base. Every other set has an indicator.
When looking into what set a card belongs to, make sure to see if there is any logo on the right side, just underneath and to the right of the illustration. If there is no symbol, the likelihood is that its a Base set card.
There have been error cards that do not have a symbol, so make sure the year matches with the set.
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Blaines Charizard Energy Symbol Misprint
Set: Gym Challenge
Misprint Value : $3500+
Dont act like anyone is surprised a Charizard card made this list. This misprint speaks for itself. An incorrectly printed fighting symbol is printed in place of a fire energy symbol in its Roaring Flames attack affecting early prints of this card. Also, energy is misspelt with a lowercase e instead of a capital E. Oddly enough, the corrected version of the card is significantly more rare but not nearly as cool.
Set: Team Rocket
Misprint Value : $10,000+ . There is only 1 in existence.
If your Pokemon starts with no HP, is it invincible or is it useless? The answer, its recalled. The Dark Persian Promo insert is missing the 60 Hp it was meant to be printed with, however, it was still shipped-out as an insert within Nintendo Power Magazine. The card was recalled, but seriously, who would have sent back that card?
Set: Team Rocket
Misprint Value : $15,000. There is only 4 in existence.
Everyone wants to see the shiny cardboard when they open up a pack of Pokemon cards. But if you opened up a pack of Team Rocket cards and pulled a non-holographic Dark Dragonite numbered 5/82, you may have just hit a mini jackpot. This version of the card was mistakenly printed within an uncommon card sheet and now sells for a pretty penny.
Set: Base Set
Misprint Value: $1000
Set: Base Set
Misprint Value: $2000+
- PSA 10 Shadowless: $500-$700
- PSA 10 1st Edition: $4500+
Misprint Value: Unknown
What Makes Pokemon Cards Valuable
Over the past two years, online personalities such as Logan Paul have propelled Pokemon card collecting back into mainstream popularity. With some cards being valued at over $300,000, its understandable why theres been an explosion in excitement around the hobby.
But what makes Pokemon cards valuable? It all comes down to the rarity of the card and what condition the item is in. These two factors determine how much collectors are willing to pay and why some cards go for mind-boggling amounts of money. Below we will list the 24 most expensive TCG collectibles ever sold at auction.
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Pokemon Japanese Design Promo 4th Grade Winner Illusion’s Zoroark
- Pokemon cards value: $40,800
During a tie-in event for the Ruler of Illusions: Zoroark movie, these were given out to winners of an illustration contest. The six winners were all granted 100 copies of the card they designed, which means there are only 100 copies of this specific card in circulation, making it one of the rarest Pokemon cards ever made.
Torchic Gold Star Holo Team Rocket Returns
- Release Date: 2004
- Grading: PSA Gem Mint 10
- Pokemon card value at auction: $25,400
In 2004, TPC introduced Gold Star Pokemon cards to drum up interest in the hobby again. The new line of collectibles had a low print-run and made their debut alongside the criminally underrated Team Rocket Returns expansion.
Due to its insane popularity, Hoenn Fire-type starter Torchic instantly became one of the most rare Pokemon cards released that year. And whats not to love about it, its easily one of the most adorable artworks to ever grace a TCG release.
The specially marked collectible went up for auction in 2020 and sold for $25,400. That is a mind-blowing amount considering the same item was selling for around $300 in 2016, making the Pokemon cards value an 8,000% increase in just four years!
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Top 5 First Edition Pokemon Cards
Any shiny, shadowless 1st Edition Pokémon card will be reasonably valuable, but there are a few which manage to stand out from the crowd.
Buy on eBay
Lets switch things up, moving on to a set that was released the year after. Lugia was the cover star for the next round of Pokémon games, and while he might not match up to many older options, its still a card that is highly prized by collectors.
A white background is the source of a number of issues that are also seen with the 1999 Chansey card below, leading to higher values than the norm. There are often problems with the lining too, so there are only 41 PSA 10 examples out of almost 1300 that have been submitted.
Top First Edition Pokemon Cards: Summary
As you can see, the best first edition Pokémon cards contain some of the biggest names, and theres a distinct preference for the 1999 set. Most of the shiny cards have been long forgotten, and PSA 10 graded shadowless versions often have fewer than 100 copies.
That leads to increased rarity, and the extreme prices were seeing this year. Its only expected to continue as time goes by.
Theres been a massive influx of interest in the hobby in recent months, probably fueled by the record-breaking Charizard purchase for the most part.
For the best investments, its hard to beat the original 151, or exceptional cards such as the Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia.
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Tropical Mega Battle No 2 Trainer
- Release Date: 1999
- Grading: PSA Authentic
- Pokemon card value at auction: $50,300
Interestingly, this is the first Pokemon card in the top 20 that is so poor quality-wise, it didnt even receive a grade. In situations like this, PSA will still give it an official Authentication. Dont let the grading fool you, though, as the Tropical No. 2 Trainer card is pristine except the back which has color loss and fading due to the sun.
Given out originally at the 1999 Mega Battle tournament in Japan, only the top players received this Pokemon card. In total, PSA has only seen five of these, making it one of the rarest Pokemon cards in existence. Its so scarce that its still worth a jaw-dropping amount despite its quality setbacks think about that.
According to PWCC, one of these green Exeggutor prizes was sold at an auction in October 2020 for $50,300. Its fascinating to think that even a damaged card can sell for as much as a sports car. And this Pokemon cards value will only continue to climb given that they just dont exist.
Poliwrath No Rarity Symbol Base Set
- Release Date: 1996
- Grading: PSA Gem Mint 10
- Pokemon card value at auction: $25,015
Rounding out the top 21 of the most expensive Pokemon cards list is Poliwrath from the Japanese version of the Base Set. While the Water-type mon has traditionally been one of the weaker valued cards from the 1996 and 1999 releases, this item is actually special.
Similar to the English version having a 1st Edition run, the very first print of the Japanese set featured no markings at all. Due to there being extremely limited amounts even printed, barely any of them survived three decades later.
Consider this THE earliest version of the iconic card, and you can see why its value has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2020, one appeared in a PWCC auction selling for $25,015. If you think that is a lot, we are only getting started!
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Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy
- Release Date: 1999
- Grading: PSA Gem Mint 10
- Pokemon card value at auction: $60,000
The second tournament Trophy Pokemon card on the list, the Mew Victory Orb Trophy was given out during the 1998 Summer Battle Road competition. Spanning nine regions across Japan, only the top three Trainers in each bracket scored the rare Pokemon card.
According to PSA, only 16 of them have been given the coveted Gem Mint 10 score. One of these pristine collectibles popped up at a PWCC auction in December 2020 and ended with 51 bids for a final price of $60,000. It even came with the original plaque handed out at the finals.
As we dive deeper into this list, prepare to see more of these trophy Pokemon cards dominating the top spot. Since they were awarded at tournaments, they are intricately more scarce population-wise, and thus more valuable.
Find The Year Your Pokemon Card Was Made
Look at the bottom of the card and find the year it was printed. Thats the first key indicator when identifying your card.
For example, the Base Set Pokémon Cards have 4 different print runs while looking almost identical each time. Of those sets, the UK 4th Print Base Set identifies as 1999-2000, which is the key indicator to separate those cards from the rest.
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Variations Between English And Japanese Editions
- The Japanese variations of the cards did not have a numbering system till the release of Pokémon VS, and the number featured on the cards before that represents the Pokémons Pokédex number.
- The English numbering is based on an alphabetical sorting, with descending rarity, a sorting that would stay the same till the release of Black & White. The Japanese order is based on type, and ascending rarity, and stayed this way until the release of e-Card 2.
How Many Different Print Runs Of Pokemon Base Set Are There
It may surprise you to learn that there were actually 8 different print runs of Base Set!
Before we go into what they were, lets define a print run
In a nutshell, the cards in the set are the same, but theyve changed a characteristic on one or some of the cards. For example, they fixed a design error.
So, here are the eight
Wait, what?! Arent you missing 1st Edition Base Set?!
Interestingly, the cards were stamped with the 1st Edition symbol after the print run fun fact!
Okay, but what the heck are the 1999-2000 Base Set cards?!
Often incorrectly labelled the UK Print , the final print run of Base Set had a new copyright date added to the bottom and the colour is slightly paler than before.
Famously, they also corrected Vulpixs HP error which had somehow slipped through the previous seven print runs! All the way until 1999-2000 Base Set, Vulpixs Hit Points read HP 50 instead of 50 HP! Very subtle of course, but it makes the corrected card a bit more sought after.
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Pokemon Base Set Booster Boxes
Once upon a time, a Pokemon Base Set booster box cost around £144. Now, 1st Edition boxes sell for north of £300k!
Wheres that time machine hey?!
Aside from the cards themselves, sealed Base Set booster boxes are some of the most desired items in the hobby.
Lets explore some of the different variants, estimated values of how you can spot fake copies.