Pokémon, short for pocket monsters, was first introduced in 1996 in Japan. It quickly gained popularity and remains a fan favorite more than 25 years later. Initially a video game series, the brand since has had an anime show, trading card game, mobile app, non-fungible tokens and toys.
System for Ranking Pokémon Trading Cards
The Pokémon trading cards quickly became coveted collectors’ 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 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.
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. 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: Professional Sports Authenticator, a third-party trading-card authentication and grading company, rated this card as GEM Mint 10 condition.
2. 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.
3. 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 tournament in Tokyo, Japan. 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 the condition of this card as GEM Mint 10.
4. Super-Secret Battle “#2 Trainer” Promotional Holo Card
Card sale date: February 2021
Card selling price: $110,100
What makes it special: This card went to just three finalists of the 2006 Pokemon World Championship tournament in California. To participate, players had to accumulate points and earn spots in their division finals.
Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA rated this card as being in Mint 9 condition.
5. 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 because 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.
6. 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 who 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 GEM Mint 10.
7. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card
Card sale date: April 2021
Card selling price: $247,230
What makes the card special: This rare card depicts Pokémon Company founder Tsunekazu Ishihara. What makes this particular card even more valuable is that it’s signed by Ishihara.
Specifics of the particular sale: The PSA rated the card as Near Mint 7. Isihara’s autograph was graded 9 out of 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: March 2022
Card selling price: $420,000
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 GEM Mint 10 by PSA.
10. 1998 Japanese Promo Card Holo Pikachu Illustrator
Card sale date: April 2022
Card selling price: $6 million
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 Pikachu Illustrator 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, which was sold to Logan Paul in a private auction, as GEM Mint 10.
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.
Information is accurate as of June 7, 2022.