What Are the 10 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards?

Pokemon Cards
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Pokémon, short for pocket monsters, was first introduced in 1996 in Japan. It quickly gained popularity and remains a fan favorite 25 years later. Initially a video game series, the brand now has a show, trading card game and toys.

System for Ranking Pokémon Trading Cards

The Pokémon trading cards quickly became coveted collector’s items, especially for diehard fans. The cards are marked with one of three symbols in the bottom-right corner:

  • Common cards have a black circle
  • Uncommon cards have a black diamond
  • Rare cards have a black star

But the ranking system doesn’t stop there. There are also unique card designs.

Unique Pokémon Card Designs:

  • Holo rare cards that have a shimmery, shiny effect to the image
  • Reverse holo cards are shiny and shimmery everywhere except on the image
  • Ultra-rare cards have the greatest Pokémon characters and are called EX, GX, V, Half Art or Half Body
  • Full Art or Full Body cards have a picture that covers the entire card, with words overlapping the image
  • Each card has a number, but Secret Rare cards have special numbers, like 113/115
  • Rainbow Rare cards are part of Pokémon’s Sun and Moon series
  • Promo cards are exclusively available at Pokémon events

More From Your Money

Top 10 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards

Do you have one of the most expensive Pokémon cards? Do you own any of these and are your cards worth the money? Here’s the list of the 10 highest-selling Pokémon cards.

1. Ex Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza 107

Card sale date: December 2020

Card selling price: $45,100

What makes the card special: Rayquaza is a legendary Pokémon that first surfaced as a character in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance. In 2005, Rayquaza received its own card from an expansion series called Ex Deoxys TCG.

Specifics of the particular sale: The card sold was graded by Professional Sports Association, the largest third-party trading card grading company. PSA rated the card as GEM MINT 10, which is near perfect condition.

2. Ex Dragon Frontiers Gold Star Holo Charizard 100

Card sale date: October 2020

Card selling price: $60,065

What makes it special: Charizard is a popular character with many coveted card variations. This particular card was introduced in the same 2005 Ex Deoxys TCG as the No. 10 trading card. This variant is special because the artwork differs from traditional Charizard base cards. Trading card game rules also allow only one of these cards in your deck during a battle, adding to its value.

3. Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind Promo Card

Card sale date: October 2020

Card selling price: $65,100

What makes it special: This was a trophy card during the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle in Hawaii. The tournament was an invite-only event where players from around the world competed.

Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA rated this card in a GEM MINT 10 condition.

4. 1998 Japanese Promo Card – Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy

Card sale date: February 2021

Card selling price: $66,100

What makes it special: Another promotional card, this was only awarded during a single 2-day event held in Japan. To enter the competition, people had to complete a test called the “Tamamushi University Hyper Test.” After entries were received, 1,000 participants were selected to participate in the tournament, and those who won a battle got this card.

Magikarp normally can’t learn Dragon Rage, a move it has on this card, but those who scored well on the first rendition of the test were given this Magikarp with Dragon Rage in their Pokémon video game as well.

More From Your Money

5. Super-Secret Battle “#1 Trainer” Promotional Holo Card

Card sale date: July 2020

Card selling price: $90,000

What makes it special: Best estimates show that only seven people were awarded this unique card during a 1999 Japan tournament. Players had to compete and win in regional tournaments to enter the national tournament for a chance at this super-secret battle trainer card.

Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA rated this card in a GEM MINT 10 condition.

6. Neo Genesis First Edition Holo Lugia

Card sale date: May 2021

Card selling price: $144,300

What makes it special: Many people love Lugia cards, since the Pokémon was on the box art for the second generation of Pokémon games. It’s not uncommon for collectors to have one — PWCC, the largest trading card marketplace, says almost 1,300 have been submitted — but only 41 have received a PSA 10 rating. PWCC believes this card may sell for even more in the future.

Specifics of the particular sale: This card received a rating of Pristine 10 from another well-known card grading company, Beckett Grading Services.

7. Japanese Promo Card – Family Event Trophy – Holo Kangaskhan

Card sale date: October 2020

Card selling price: $150,100

What makes it special: As one of the rarest cards in the world, it was only given to a handful of winners during an exclusive 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament in Japan. Families battled against each other, and only the ones that could get a certain number of wins got this card.

Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA has only rated 46 of these cards in total, with only this one receiving a perfect 10.

8. Backless Blastoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo

Card sale date: January 2021

Card selling price: $360,000

What makes it special: In 1998, before Pokémon came to the USA and skyrocketed in popularity, Wizards of the Coast did a test run for some Pokémon cards. This card came from that run, which was never meant for the public and doesn’t have any printing on the back of the card.

9. First Edition Charizard Holo

Card sale date: December 2020

Card selling price: $369,000

What makes it special: Another Charizard card, this one is a first edition of the shadowless holo card. This was an early Pokémon design, which means it was simple, without shading behind art and text to make the graphics pop.

Specifics of the particular sale: This particular card is ranked as a Gold Label Pristine 10 by SGC, another card-rating company.

10. 1998 Japanese Promo Card Holo Illustrator Pikachu

Card sale date: February 2021

Card selling price: $375,000

What makes it special: As the most popular and well-known Pokémon character, it’s no surprise that Pikachu tops the list of most valuable Pokémon cards. Only 39 Illustrator Pikachu cards were given out, to the winners of three art competitions conducted by CoroCoro Comic magazine.

Competitors created their own Pokémon art, and winners received this Pikachu card, showing the character drawing two other Pokémon — Charmander and Mew. This artwork was created by Atsuko Nishida, who designed Pikachu for the Game Boy Advance.

Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA rated this card as near mint condition grade seven, which is coded as PSA 7 NRMT.

Expert Advice

A card’s condition has a lot to do with the value. Before you sell your card, or before you pay a lot to buy one, have it examined and verified by a Pokémon trading card expert.

As the most successful media franchise in the world, Pokémon products are in high demand and new rare cards are still being printed. If you can get your hands on one, you may be able to get a hefty profit out of your hobby.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Katy Hebebrand is a freelance writer with eight years of experience in the financial industry. She earned her BA from the University of West Florida and her MA from Full Sail University. Since beginning to work full-time as a freelance writer three years ago, she has written on topics spanning many fields, including home building, families and parenting, legal and professional/corporate communications.

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