The Top 15 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards

If you’re reading this, it’s probably not news that since the beginning of the pandemic, rare Pokémon cards have seen a huge increase in demand. And while the market has cooled a little of late, prices for most of the top cards remain far above their levels from 18 months ago.

But, if you’re a newcomer to this field and can’t yet tell your Bulbasaurs from your Squirtles, it can be difficult to clearly identify the trends in this market. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below you’ll see a list of the 15 most expensive, and often some of the rarest, Pokémon cards in the hobby, which ideally will offer a clear understanding of where the money tends to concentrate in this universe. As you might guess, the closer we get to the ’90s, the better.

(1) 1999 Pokémon Game #4 Charizard Holo, 1st Edition — $399,750

1999 Pokemon Game 4 Charizard Holo 1st Edition

We’ve already written about how Charizard’s majesty shines over the Pokémon hobby, so unsurprisingly, the dragon also has one of the most expensive and rarest card on this list. The “Shadowless Charizard” refers to a printing error in the original Pokémon TCG run. Certain Charizards left the distribution site without a telltale floating drop-shadow behind the border. Cards bearing this mark are extremely rare, which is why the price is capable of getting higher than every other option on the market. We all serve Charizard, at the end of the day.

(2) 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Illustrator Pikachu — $375,000

1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Holo Illustrator Pikachu

A rule of thumb in collecting; if a promotional card is released into circulation — particularly at the earliest era of a card game’s lifecycle — it will generally be highly desirable. That is the case with the humble Pokémon Illustrator, which was a prize for the competitors in a Japan-only “Illustrator” contest. Kids scribbled up their own crayon-drawn interpretations of their favorite characters in the universe. Only 39 of these cards exist, making them insanely rare and a forever the holy grail among investors.

(3) Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo (Wizards of the Coast, 1998) — $360,000

01 Pokemon Blastoise 009165r Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo Wizards Of The Coast 199802 Pokemon Blastoise 009165r Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo Wizards Of The Coast 1998

The “backless” in the name here refers to the opposite edge of the card. In Wizards of the Coast initial test printing of Pokémon cards, certain Blastoise’s were left without the usual logo or insignia on its rear. A layman might think that it’s a bootleg, rather than one of the rarest and most expensive cards in the whole hobby.

(4) 2017 P.M. SM Black Star #TPCi01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokémon GX Promo Card — $247,230

2017 Pm Sm Black Star Tpci01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokemon Gx Promo Card

Most of the cards on this list were printed back in the ’90s, but this one — featuring Pokémon president Tsunekazu Ishihara — emerged on the market back in 2017. As you might expect, the Black Star Ishihara isn’t tournament legal (you won’t find him trading blows with a Venasaur anytime soon). Instead, it was simply printed to celebrate the man’s 60th birthday. But the card’s quirkiness, and sheer scarcity, speaks for itself. Not just any Black Star crosses the quarter of a million dollar threshold, however. The ones that are valued the highest bear Ishihara’s signature.

(5) Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Test Print “Gold Border” Foil (Wizards of the Coast, 1998) — $216,000

Pokemon Blastoise 009165r Test Print Gold Border Foil

This is another early Pokémon card from Wizards of the Coast’s initial test print run to bring the game to western shores. But this particular Blastoise has the additional quirk of sporting a Magic The Gathering cardback. Imagine slapping down a Blastoise in the middle of a Magic game!

(6) 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan-Holo Family Event Trophy Card #115 — $150,100

1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy Card

This holographic limited-edition Kangaskhan has an extremely charming origin story. In the late ’90s, the Pokémon Company put on an event called the “Parent/Child Mega Battle,” where kids teamed up with their mothers or fathers and battled each other for true familial supremacy. Winners received this promo card as a trophy, making it one of the rarest pieces of cardboard ever to bear the Pokémon name. This Kangaskhan rarely comes up for auction, but when it does, expect to pay a pretty penny.

(7) 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia — $144,300

2000 Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia

Lugia is the rare Pokémon to have a devout fandom without first being introduced in the original 150. No, Lugia’s first appearance came as the marquee figure on the cover of Pokémon Silver, one of the follow-ups to Pokémon Red and Blue, and its $144,300 price tag tells you that it can compete with the big boys in the trade. Its popularity is possibly also driven by the 1999 film, Pokémon: The Movie 2000.

(8) 2006 Pokémon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer — $110,100

2006 Pokemon World Championships Promo No 2 Trainer

The No. 2 Trainer was awarded to winners at the 2006 Pokémon World Championship, and according to experts, only three of these were ever handed out. That is incredible scarcity, which is part of the reason why this relatively young 15-year old card commands such a high price.

(9) 1999 Pokémon Super Secret Battle “No. 1 Trainer” Trainer Promo Holo — $90,000

1999 Pokemon Super Secret Battle No 1 Trainer Trainer Promo Holo

Are you sensing a theme yet? The Super Secret Battle trainer card served as a reward to a lucky group of players invited to the “Super Secret Battle” in 1999. Decades later, in a world where the Pokémon hobby has accrued unprecedented dividends, this is now one of the most hotly sought-after relics in auction houses all over the world.

(10) 2005 Pokémon Japanese Play Promo 70,000 Pts Holo Umbreon Gold Star #26 — $70,000

2005 Pokemon Japanese Play Promo 70000 Pts Holo Umbreon Gold Star

The Pokémon Company embraced some sports card thinking in the mid-2000s. Printers sorted a veritable golden ticket into a smattering of lucky booster packs — Pokémon emblazoned with a star next to their name, designating that the paperboard features alternative artwork and were limited to an incredibly small circulation number. This Umbreon is one of those cards, and it represents one of the few relics released after Pokémon’s late-’90s heyday capable of taking down a five figure auction cost.

(11) 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy Card — $66,100

1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy Card

Ah, Magikarp. The most useless Pokémon of all time has earned something of a cult following over the years, so it’s nice to see the fish recognized on this list. This card was given out to fans who scored well on something called the “Tamamushi University Hyper Test” — which we imagine was some sort of Pokémon quiz. Owning this particular Magikarp can earn you a lot of money, and also prove your scholastic bona fides.

(12) 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind — $65,100

1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind

The deeper we get into this list, the more it continues to become clear that some of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in the world were originally printed as a reward for some long-forgotten ’90s tournament. That is again the case for Tropical Wind, which entered the market through the “Tropical Mega Battle” in Hawaii back in 1999. Who even knows how many of these cards survived to this day?

(13) 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer — $50,300

1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle No 2 Trainer

Yep, another card that was handed out to the top finishers of a Pokémon tournament. This one was called the Tropical Mega Battle, and it went down in — where else? — Hawaii in 1999.

(14) 1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Blastoise #2 — $45,100

1999 Pokemon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Blastoise 2

This Blastoise might not have a Magic The Gathering cardback, but it does lack a drop-shadow; a printing error fetishized by collectors who archive Pokémon’s primordial era. $45,100 honestly might be a bargain.

(15) 2005 Pokémon Ex Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza #107 — $45,100

2005 Pokemon Ex Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza 107

This Rayquaza is another Gold Star card, similar to the Umbreon we spoke about earlier. With a PSA-certified Gem Mint status, nobody should be surprised by the $45,100 pricepoint.

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