25 Most Expensive Pokemon Cards of All Time
Initially released in Japan in the 1990s to accompany the Pokémon video games, the Pokémon Trading Card Game has transformed into one of the most popular trading card games of all-time.
Because of the red-hot popularity of the franchise, some of the most expensive Pokemon cards can sell into the six-figure range and beyond...
That may sound shocking, at first, but given that Pokémon is a worldwide phenom, there is a vast, passionate collector base around the globe just waiting to get their hands on these prized cards.
From trophy cards, to First Edition Pokemon cards, to lesser-known rarities, the value of these cards is quite impressive.
And in this guide, we take a look at the 25 most valuable Pokemon cards ever sold.
Let's jump right in!
1) 1998 Japanese CoroCoro Comics Promo Pikachu Illustrator Card
Sold in 2021 (Announced in 2022) for $5,275,000
During the late 1990s, CoroCoro Comic, a Japanese manga magazine, held a series of illustration contests in which entrants submitted their own unique Pokémon designs and attacks.
Little did they know then that these contests would give rise to one of the rarest and most valuable of all Pokémon cards: the Pikachu Illustrator.
Not only did contest winners receive multiple copies of a card that featured their very own winning design, which was exciting in its own right, each of them also received a copy of the Pikachu Illustrator card as an additional prize.
On the card front, contestants received a special message:
"We certify that your illustration is an excellent entry in the Pokémon Card Game Illust Contest. Therefore, we state that you are an Officially Authorized Pokémon Card Illustrator and admire your skill."
Just 39 copies were distributed to the contest winners, but anyone is welcome to guess how many still survive today.
Considering this example graded PSA 7 sold for $375,000, it's highly likely we'd see a price tag north of $1 million for the one example in the hobby graded PSA 10.
In 2021, famous YouTuber Logan Paul flew to Italy to purchase a PSA 9 example for $1,275,000 for which he then combined with $4,000,000 in cash to buy the only PSA 10 example in existence from a private seller in Dubai.
Paul then announced the purchase by wearing the card in a custom-built necklace during his appearance at WWE's Wrestlemania 38 event in 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
2) 1995 Topsun Charizard Blue Back No Number Error
Sold in January, 2021 for $493,230
As with the other Topsun cards mentioned earlier on this list, Top-Seika didn't distribute them until 1997, even though their copyright date reads 1995.
And since they weren't part of the official Pokemon Trading Card Game, they are considered more in the realm of novelty collectible cards.
Still, an early Pokemon card is an early Pokemon card...
And, whether you're talking about the prism holos, green-backs, or blue-backs, collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars for several of the Topsun cards when graded in PSA 10 condition.
But a price tag of thousands of dollars turned out to be quite an understatement in January 2021 when Goldin Auctions sold the most desirable of them all, the only "no number error" blue-back Charizard on record in a PSA 10 holder, for a whopping $493,230.
The blue-back checklist contains 150 numbered cards in total, but for some reason, about 50 of the characters were also printed with no number on them by mistake.
So, while the standard blue-back Charizard should contain a "006" on it in the upper-left of the front of the card, the "no number error" will be blank.
If you can find one and are lucky enough to have it graded PSA 10, you could be looking at life-changing money.
3) 1999 First Edition Holographic Charizard
Sold in March, 2022 for $420,000
While Pikachu may be the mascot of the Pokemon franchise, Charizard has long been the most desirable of all the First Edition Pokemon cards.
Appearing on the cover art of the Pokemon Red video game released for the Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Color during the mid-90s and possessing an overpowering attack certainly helped boost its popularity.
But, with the relatively recent surge in renewed interest in Pokemon cards, demand for the first edition Charizard has gone through the roof.
And prices of this card in PSA 10 condition have gone hyperbolic...
A few years ago, you could regularly find this card in a PSA 10 holder selling for less than $30,000.
However, in 2020 they started selling in the six-figure range and haven't slowed down since, with this example selling for $420,000 in 2022.
4) 1998 “Backless Blastoise” Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo
Sold in January, 2021 for $360,000
Wizards of the Coast printed this extremely rare presentation card as a test run sometime during 1998 as it ramped up efforts to launch the English version of its base set in 1999.
Though it has a similar appearance to the base set Blastoise, notice it has squared corners instead of rounded corners.
Moreover, the back of the card is completely blank.
Hobby experts believe that WOTC printed only two of these "backless Blastoise" cards, so the hobby was stunned when this card came up for auction in early 2021.
Given that the market responded with a $360,000 selling price for this card, I can only imagine what it would have sold for had Charizard been on the front.
5) 1997 Third Place Bronze Trophy Pikachu Trainer
Sold in April, 2023 for $300,000
6) 2017 Black Star Ishihara GX Promo Card
Sold in April, 2021 for $247,230
As a gift to top-level employees, Tsunekazu Ishihara, president of The Pokémon Company, gave out an estimated thirty copies of this card during his 60th birthday party at the 2018 Pokémon World Championship.
As of this writing, only eight copies have ever been submitted to PSA for grading, making this one of the rarest Pokemon cards in existence.
Making this particular example even rarer is the fact that Ishihara personally signed it as well.
The artwork on the card is fantastic and the "60 Congratulations!" and GX attack of 1060 damage are nice touches to help commemorate his 60th birthday.
Ishihara has been instrumental, to say the least, in building the Pokémon brand by contributing to the development of multiple video games and even initiating the creation of the Pokémon Trading Card Game itself.
7) 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Family Event Holo Kangaskhan Trophy Card
Sold in October, 2020 for $150,100
Another holy-grail trophy card, the 1998 Japanese Promo Kangaskhan Family Event card, continues to be one of the rarest and most desirable of all Pokemon cards.
This card is especially interesting compared to other trophy cards because teams consisting of a parent and child battled each other to obtain it, which was an admirable effort to build family bonding.
Fittingly, the tournament organizers chose none other than Kangaskhan, a kangaroo-like Pokemon with a baby Kangaskhan in her pouch, as the trophy card mascot.
Just 47 examples have made their way across PSA's grading table, with eleven assessed in PSA 10 condition.
8) 2000 Neo Genesis First Edition Holo Lugia
Sold in May, 2021 for $144,300
The 2000 Neo Genesis set was the first to feature second-generation Pokemon from the Gold and Silver video games that built off the massive success of the Red and Blue games.
And Lugia had the great fortune of being chosen as the character to be featured on the box art of the Pokemon Silver game.
Considering the massive boost in notoriety that Charizard and Blastoise received for being the box art characters for the Red and Blue games, respectively, the same is true for Lugia.
However, the difficulty of finding this card in top condition propels it even further into the upper echelons of expensive Pokemon cards.
Print issues are a problem for the entire Neo Genesis set, and the Lugia card is no exception.
Around 2% of the Lugias graded by PSA have received the PSA 10 grade, while even fewer BGS have received the BGS 10 Pristine label.
PSA 10 Lugias have sold for $76,000 and $129,000 before, but the BGS 10 brought home an even bigger price tag in May 2021 at $144,300.
9) 2006 Pokemon World Championships Number 2 Trainer
Sold in February, 2021 for $110,000
From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20, 2006, the best of the best battled at the World Championships held at the Hilton Anaheim hotel in Anaheim, California.
Contestants across three divisions competed feverishly to be one of the top 32 players from each division to advance to the finals on Sunday to crown a champion.
Those who finished in second place received this number 2 trainer card which features a fantastic image of Pikachu holding a silver cup trophy.
The official 2006 Pokemon World Championships logo rests in the bottom-right corner, adding a nice touch to an already impressive-looking card.
10) 1999 Japanese Super Secret Battle Number One Trainer
Sold in July, 2020 for $90,000
With just seven examples of this card graded by PSA, the 1999 Pokemon Super Secret Battle "No. 1 Trainer" promo card is one of the rarest Pokemon cards in existence.
Held between July and August 1999, the regional Super Secret Battle events gave school kids ranging from third graders to eleventh graders the opportunity to compete for a chance to be crowned champion.
Upon winning, the champion of each regional tournament would receive this item card as a prize.
Designed by Hideki Kazam, the card features a holographic image of Mewtwo on the left and a Pokeball on the right that make it instantly recognizable.
Across the bottom, the card reads “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognized here, and this honor is praised. This proves that the person who possesses this card participated in the Secret Super Battle Best in Japan Deciding Match.”
11) 1999 Pokemon Shadowless Charizard
Sold in February, 2021 for $75,600
While the "Shadowless" Charizard won't fetch as much as the first edition, it continues to climb to incredible price levels once thought unimaginable.
Several years ago, you could find this card in a PSA 10 holder for less than $10,000, but those prices don't seem to be coming back anytime soon as the card just keeps going higher and higher.
The "Shadowless" has the same overall appearance as the first edition minus the "1st Edition" stamp to the lower-left of the character box.
Sometimes you'll see first editions referred to as "First Edition Shadowless," but that's not necessary because all first edition Charizards lack the shadow behind the character box.
In that sense, you can always remember that all first editions are shadowless, but not all shadowless are first editions.
12) 2005 Pokemon Play Third Season Promo 70,000 Points Holo Umbreon Gold Star
Sold in June, 2021 for $70,000
From 2003 to 2006, PLAY Promotional Cards allowed Pokemon Players Club members to obtain exclusive cards by earning experience points (EXP) when completing various tasks.
For example, if a player started a battle, won a battle, placed in a tournament, he or she would accumulate points that could earn certain prize cards.
The five Gold Star cards are the most difficult to obtain because of their high EXP thresholds, with the Umbreon being the hardest with its 70,000 point requirement.
13) 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy Car
Sold in February, 2021 for $66,100
The Tamamushi University Hyper Test was a two-day event held in June 1998 in Osaka, Japan.
To be invited, children needed to pass a series of test questions that were to be completed and mailed by a specific deadline.
The contestants competed against each other within different age groups with the winners receiving a copy of this card as their prize.
While 1,000 copies were slated for distribution, nobody knows for sure how many actually were.
What is known, though, is that this card is the most expensive Magikarp card in the entire Pokémon series, and one of the most valuable Pokémon cards in general.
14) 1999 Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind Trainer Card
Sold in October, 2020 for $65,100
Just a bit ago, we saw how expensive the number two trainer card from the 1999 Pokemon Tropical Mega Battle could be even without a numerical PSA grade assigned to it.
And now we get a look at how expensive the trainer card given to all players who participated at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in 1999 can be if it's graded to be in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition.
This card, featuring Psyduck and Jigglypuff laying sleepily in a hammock in a tropical setting, has become a hobby icon and one of the most sought-after trainer cards.
The "TRAINER" text across the top denotes the card type while the text below reads:
"Flip a coin. If heads, remove 2 damage counters from each active Pokemon (remove 1 damage counter if a Pokemon has only 1). If tails, each active Pokemon is now asleep."
15) 2005 Pokemon Japanese Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trainer Card
Sold in December, 2020 for $60,000
The Battle Road Summer 2005 tournament spanned across nine different Japanese cities between July 10 and August 14, 2005.
As a prize, the top three competitors from each age division of the regional tournaments received one of these Victory Orb cards that feature Mew and the artwork of Takumi Akabane.
Previous Victory Orb cards from the Battle Road Summer tournaments in 2003 and 2004 did not feature Mew so many hobbyists believe this one to be an aesthetic upgrade.
The Japanese text below the artwork translates to:
"Victory Orb can only be used by official tournament winners. Look at the top 7 cards of your deck, then return them to the top of your deck in any order."
16) 1996 Pokemon Japanese Base Set Holo No Rarity Symbol Holo Charizard
Sold in November, 2020 for $57,877
The 1996 Japanese "No Rarity" Charizard card is a true piece of hobby history as it marked one of the first appearances of the iconic character.
Most Japanese base set cards will contain a "rarity symbol" in the lower-right corner of the card that varies based on the card type.
Holographic cards in the set feature a star symbol, so if you find one without the rarity symbol, then you know you're looking at the more rare, first-print "no rarity" Charizards.
The "no rarity" Charizards are much more difficult to find as PSA has graded 3,634 regular base set Charizards compared with only 273 "no rarity" Charizards.
Furthermore, roughly 14% (521) of the regular base Charizards have achieved a PSA 10 grade compared to less than 2% (6) of the "no rarity" Charizards.
17) 1999 Pokemon Japanese Tropical Mega Battle Number 2 Trainer
Sold in October, 2020 for $50,300
Held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village from 1999 to 2001, the Pokemon Tropical Mega Battle gave the best players from the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe the chance to test their skills against each other.
To be invited, players had to first win a local tournament in their respective regions.
During the final match of the Tropical Mega Battle, each player received the same 90 cards that they would use to make their own 40-card deck to battle for the championship.
If a player were fortunate enough to make it far enough through the competition to finish in second place overall, he or she would receive this number two trainer card.
Sticking with the tropical theme for the cover art, an image of Exeggutor, a dual-type grass/psychic Pokemon that resembles a palm tree, sits in the middle of the card with text below it that reads:
"The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament's runner-up winner is recognized here, and this honor is praised."
18) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Blastoise
Sold in November, 2020 for $45,100
One of the coolest-looking of all Pokémon with its twin water cannons that retract from the shell on its back, Blastoise received a massive boost in popularity after serving as the cover mascot of the Pokémon Blue video game.
1st Edition Blastoise cards feature a first edition stamp to the lower left of the holographic image and no shadowing effect behind its right and bottom borders.
Out of the 2,070 first edition Blatoise cards submitted to PSA as of this writing, 100 of them have been given the PSA 10 distinction or roughly 4.8% of them.
19) 2005 Ex Deoxys Gold Star Rayquaza
Sold in December, 2020 for $45,100
Among the most powerful of any Pokémon, Rayquaza is a large, serpentine creature that gained a considerable boost in notoriety after serving as the box art mascot for the Pokémon Emerald video game.
EX Deoxys was the 24th set in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and its symbol is that of a shooting star.
The set consisted of 108 cards, three of which come with a gold star variant, including the Rayquaza Holo.
You'll notice that next to the "Rayquaza" name in the upper-left, there is a foil gold star that sets it apart as the gold star variant.
20) 1999 Pokemon Portuguese First Edition Charizard
Sold in April, 2021 for $44,850
Only two Portuguese first edition Charizards have ever been graded PSA 10 out of the 34 submitted to PSA as of this writing.
Given how the market for Pokemon cards has soared recently and the scarcity of this card in PSA 10 condition, I'm surprised this didn't sell for an even higher price.
Still, $44,850 is impressive and speaks to the strength of the Pokemon brand and the Charizard character, in particular.
21) 2000 Pokemon Korean First Edition Charizard
Sold in March, 2021 for $40,000
Unlike some of the other first edition Pokemon cards distributed in different regions and languages in 1999, the Korean version did not debut until a year later in 2000.
Still, they can fetch colossal price tags on the open market just like the other first edition sets.
Not surprisingly, the Charizard is the most desirable of the Korean first edition series.
22) 1995 Pokemon Japanese Topsun Holofoil Charizard
Sold in October, 2020 for $37,600
The Charizard is the most desirable Topsun prism holofoil card.
You'll notice it features the same imagery used for the cover art of the Pokemon Red videogame released on the Nintendo Game Boy in Japan in 1996.
As mentioned earlier regarding the Topsun prism holofoil Blastoise, these cards feature a 1995 trademark date.
Still, most believe Top-Seika didn't distribute them until 1997, after the official Pokemon Trading Card Game launched in 1996.
23) 1999 Pokemon French First Edition Dracaufeu (Charizard)
Sold in February, 2021 for $37,300
The First Edition Dracaufeu, or the French name for Charizard, is also relatively easier to find in PSA 10 condition than the English version.
Though only 28 examples have achieved that grade, PSA has only graded 382 overall, meaning that roughly 7% of them are PSA 10s.
24) 1999 Pokemon German First Edition Glurak (Charizard)
Sold in January, 2021 for $37,000
If you come across a First Edition Charizard from the German release, you'll notice that Charizard's name is instead "Glurak."
Also, unlike the English version, you'll notice the First Edition German version is not shadowless.
That's true of the other non-English first editions as well.
Of the 900 German first edition Gluraks that PSA has graded at the time of this writing, 50 have received the lofty PSA 10 distinction.
That's about a 5.5% success rate compared to around 3.7% for the English first edition Charizards, making it relatively easier to find in that condition.
25) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Chansey
Sold in November, 2020 for $36,877
Fewer than fifty examples of the First Edition Holographic Chansey have received the elusive PSA 10 distinction, making it one of the most difficult First Edition Holos to find in that grade.
Chansey is a lovable pink, normal-type Pokémon that uses the egg held in its pouch to complete its signature move known as "Soft-Boiled" to help heal people and other Pokémon.
Many believe that Chansey can bring joy and happiness to those who catch it in the Pokemon world, while this card in high grade will bring lots of money to those who own it in the real world.
Most Expensive Pokémon Cards In Review
Clearly, the non-sports card collecting world is every bit as hot as the sports card hobby.
Passionate collectors are obviously willing to shell out big bucks to land any one of the prized possessions on this list.
The video games, television shows, and the cards themselves transformed Pokémon into a worldwide phenomenon with an enormous fan base.
And many of those kids who grew up with these cards are now adults with more spending power able to pay big bucks for them in top condition.
It doesn't look like that trend will slow anytime soon as these cards have found their place as one of the most popular non-sports sets in the hobby.