20 Rarest and Most Expensive Pokémon Cards of 2022 and What They Cost

apilarinos / iStock.com

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:

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.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

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? The prices went up in 2022, with the bar being raised above $1 million for rare cards authenticated to be in perfect condition. Here’s the list of the 20 highest-selling Pokémon cards.

1. Poliwrath No Rarity Symbol Base Set

Card sale date: December 2020

Card selling price: $25,015

The first Pokémon Base Set from Japan had no rarity symbols. Yet, ironically, they evolved to become some of the most hard to find cards around due to their scarcity. This Gem Mint 10 version of the Water-type Pokémon Poliwrath sold at a PWCC auction for more than $25,000, putting it in the top 20 of most expensive Pokémon cards ever purchased or sold.

2. Crystal Charizard Holo Skyridge

Card sale date: November 2020

Card selling price: $25,100

This rare card featuring the beloved Charizard sold for $25,100 due to its limited release and Gem Mint 10 grading from the PSA.

3. NEO Summer Battle Road No. 2 Trainer Trophy

Card sale date: March 2021

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Card selling price: $34,100

Beckett’s only gave this card a 7.5, or Near Mint+ rating, but it is the attribute that reduces its rating that makes it so valuable. This card was earned by the No. 2 Trainer during the 2002 Neo Summer Battle Road tournament. The Junior Division second place winner, Fukunishi Tomoki, wrote his name on the back of the card. The writing on the card, coupled with its scarcity, helped it fetch $34,100 at a PWCC auction.

4. Daisuki Club Holo Masters Scroll Promo

Card sale date: November 2021

Card selling price: $35,200

The Japanese Daisuki Club gave Pokémon fans the opportunity to earn points for limited-edition merchandise. The Masters Scroll Pokémon card was one of the giveaways. This high priced card is a gold speckled holograph card in Gem Mint 10 condition according to PSA ratings. It sold at a PWCC auction for $35,200. A similar card in Gem Mint 10 condition, though not the same one based on the PSA number, is up for bid on eBay currently with an asking price of $37,601.

5. Chansey #3 First Edition Shadowless Base Set

Card sale date: November 2020

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Card selling price: $36,877

November and December 2020 saw a lot of Pokémon cards change hands for tens of thousands of dollars each. Chansey is one of several 1st Edition Shadowless base cards on our list. And while the cute and fluffy axolotl is said to bring happiness to those who catch it isn’t one of the most popular characters in the shows or games, this card brought one seller — and one buyer — plenty of happiness in November 2020 when it sold for $36,877.

6. Blastoise First Edition Shadowless Base Set

Card sale date: November 2020

Card selling price: $45,100

The beloved Blastoise turtle could command a hefty sum just on cuteness, alone. But, obviously, there’s more to it for collectors. The 1st Edition Shadowless version of cards like this, including Charizard, which also made our list, are rare, and this one is in Gem Mint 10 condition. It sold for $45,100 in a PWCC auction.

7. Rayquaza Gold Star Holo Ex Deoxys

Card sale date: December 2020

Card selling price: $45,100

Rayquaza may not be the most talked-about Pokémon in the series, but collectors know this Flying Dragon-type character well. When The Pokémon Company launched its Ex Deoxys TCG expansion kit, it marked some of the rare cards with a “Gold Star.” This Gem Mint 10 card sports a gold star and sold at auction for $45,100. Experts predict the prices of “Gold Star” Flying-Dragon cards will continue to soar.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

8. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer

Card sale date: October 2020

Card selling price: $50,300

It’s not often for a card in poor quality to gain the attention of the PSA, a third-party grading and authentication service. But with only five of these cards evaluated by the PSA, it is rare enough to go for a high price in spite of its condition — which is marred by color loss and sun fading on the back. The front looks fine, but the damage to the back means the PSA can’t give it a rating other than “Authentic.”  

9. Autographed Venusaur No Rarity Symbol Base Set

Card sale date: November 2021

Card selling price: $55,00

The original Japanese version of the TCG base set in 1996 had no rarity symbols. In spite of the designation “No Rarity,” these cards are actually very rare and highly coveted. This Venusaur from 1996 is one of only 5 with a grade 10 rating from the PSA. The card’s casing is autographed by Pokémon artist Mitsuhiro Arita, making the whole deal worth $55,000 to one collector at a PWCC Auction.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

10. Mew Victory Orb Trophy

Card sale date: December 2020

Card selling price: $60,000

Three top trainers in each bracket earned this card during the 1998 Summer Battle Road competition. As an unnumbered promo card, it is incredibly rare. To date, only 12 of 16 have a Gem Mint 10 score from the PSA. The Mew Victory Orb Trophy card went up for auction by PWCC, garnering 51 bids from collectors.

11. Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy

Card sale date: February 2021

Card selling price: $66,100

As a promotional card, this card was only awarded during a single 2-day event in 1998 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.

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

Card sale date: July 2020

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Card selling price: $90,000

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. At the time of the sale, the PSA rated the condition of this card as GEM Mint 10.

13. Super-Secret Battle “#2 Trainer” Promotional Holo Card

Card sale date: February 2021

Card selling price: $110,100

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. At the time of the sale, the PSA rated this card as being in Mint 9 condition.

14. Neo Genesis First Edition Holo Lugia

Card sale date: May 2021

Card selling price: $144,300

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

15. Family Event Trophy — Holo Kangaskhan

Card sale date: October 2020

Card selling price: $150,100

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. The PSA has only rated 46 of these cards in total, with only this one receiving a perfect GEM Mint 10.

16. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card

Card sale date: April 2021

Card selling price: $247,230

This rare card depicts Pokémon Company founder Tsunekazu Ishihara. What makes this particular card even more valuable is that it’s signed by Ishihara. The PSA rated this card as Near Mint 7. Isihara’s autograph was graded 9 out of 10.

17. 1999 First Edition Charizard

Card sale date: December 2021

Card selling price: $369,000

A highly coveted card depicting beloved character Charizard, this was an earlier Pokémon card with a shadowless design. This first edition Charizard shadowless Holo card was sold on eBay by Goldin Auctions. At the time, it held the record for most expensive Pokémon card ever sold.

18. First Edition Charizard Holo

Card sale date: March 2022

Card selling price: $420,000

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. This particular card is ranked as a GEM Mint 10 by PSA.

19. 1998 Japanese Promo Card — Pikachu Illustrator Card

Card sale date: June 2021

Card selling price: $1,275,000

This Pikachu Illustrator card did not go for as much as the PSA 10, because it was authenticated as Grade 9. The condition of a card has a lot to do with its selling price. Prior to purchasing the Grade 10 card, YouTuber Logan Paul secured a PSA Grade 9 Pikachu Illustrator card from sports and gaming card collector Matt Allen. Paul then sold that card to purchase the Grade 10 card.

20. 1998 Japanese Promo Card — Holo Pikachu Illustrator

Card sale date: April 2022

Card selling price: $5,275,000

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.

Loan Paul also purchased this PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card and was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for the purchase at WrestleMania 38.

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.

Are Pokémon cards worth the money? 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.

Cynthia Measom, Dawn Allcot and Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 14, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.