50 Most Expensive Pokemon Cards of All Time

Most Expensive Pokémon 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...

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 50 most valuable of them all.

Let's jump right in!

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50) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Raichu

Sold in March, 2021 for $17,100

As Pokemon skyrocketed in popularity over the years, one character became almost synonymous with the franchise as its de facto mascot.

Much of Pikachu's popularity originates from the first episode of the Pokemon anime series entitled "Pokemon - I Choose You!" when the main protagonist of the series, Ash Ketchum, a trainer, receives Pikachu as his Pokemon from Professor Oak.

However, when exposed to a Thunderstone, the lovable, yellow, furry, rodent-like creature evolves into the final form of Raichu.

Raichu looks quite similar to Pikachu, but with a few distinct characteristics, namely its tail, ears, and dark coloration of the tip of its paws.

1999 First Edition Holographic Raichu Pokemon Card

49) 2010 Pokemon Japanese Promo Daisuki Club 7,200 Points Holo Umbreon

Sold in June, 2021 for $18,100

The Pokemon Daisuki Club (Japanese Pokemon fan club) started in 2004 and provided many benefits to its members, such as mini-games, contests, and special offers.

By completing various tasks, members could accumulate "action points" that would essentially allow them to "rank up" in skill level to earn special L-P Promotional cards released between September 2009 and August 2010.

One of those cards was this holographic Umbreon card, and to earn it, the player needed to acquire 7,200 action points, which was no easy task.

Umbreon is one of eight different characters into which Eevee, a normal-type Pokemon, can evolve when leveled up with high friendship during the night in certain areas.

Its red eyes and the yellow markings on its slender black body give the dark-type Umbreon an unmistakable appearance giving this card tremendous eye appeal.

2010 Pokemon Japanese Promo Daisuki Club 7,200 Points Holo Umbreon Card

48) 2001 Pokemon Neo Summer Battle Road #3 Trainer Trophy Card

Sold in July, 2020 for $18,600

As an award for finishing in third place in the 2001 Neo Summer Battle Road Tournament, contestants would receive this number 3 trainer card that came in a special case.

Trophy cards like this one are some of the rarest and desirable Pokemon cards in the hobby.

Just under the "No. 3 Trainer" text is a fantastic image of the main protagonist of the Pokemon anime, Ash Ketchum, flanked by Growlithe and Pikachu.

Below the image is a text box that reads: "The Pokemon Card Game Official Tournament "Battle★Neo Summer Road" third place winner is recognized here, and this honor is praised."

2001 Pokemon Neo Summer Battle Road World Championship Number 3 Trainer Card

47) 1999 Pokemon Trainer Deck B Blastoise

Sold in March, 2021 for $20,000

This Blastoise card is one of the rarest in existence that was originally part of the Trainer Deck B or "Misty's Deck" given out as a promotional piece to Pokemon League members ahead of the official launch of the Pokemon TCG in North America.

The Trainer Deck B theme deck contained sixty base set cards in all, with the most desirable of them being Blastoise.

Had Charizard been included in the Trainer Deck B set, it would have been the most desirable, but that's beside the point.

An easy way to recognize a Trainer Deck B Blastoise is that it is the only non-holographic base set Blastoise.

And, if you're still not 100% sure, you can flip the card over and you'll see that the card's reverse is printed with a distinct red border and "Misty's Deck" verbiage.

Standard Deck

1999 Pokemon First Editiion Blastoise Card Reverse Side

Trainer Deck B

1999 Pokemon Trainer Deck B Blastoise Card Reverse Side
1999 Pokemon Base Set Trainer Deck B Blastoise Card

46) 2007 Pokemon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Umbreon

Sold in December, 2020 for $20,000

To help boost participation in Pokemon leagues and Pokemon Organized Play events, players were treated to exclusive POP series cards released on a regular basis over roughly a five-year span.

POP Series 1 kicked things off around September 2004 with POP Series 9 bringing things to a close around September 2009.

Released between March 2007 and September 2007, POP Series 5 was the last EX Series promotional set and featured Espeon and Umbreon, two of the eight Pokemon that evolve from Eevee.

The POP Series 5 checklist contained seventeen cards in total with Epseon and Umbreon being the most elusive of them all, noted by the gold star distinction next to their name on the card fronts.

As of this writing, just fifty examples of this Umbreon card have achieved PSA 10 status.

2007 Pokemon Umbreon Gold Star Pop Series 5 Card

45) 2005 Pokemon PLAY Third Season Jolteon Gold Star 20,000 Pts 

Sold in June, 2021 for $20,000

Beginning in 2003, the Pokemon Players Club replaced the Pokemon Fan Club and with that change came the release of several exclusive Pokemon PLAY cards.

As players completed certain actions, such as attending an event, hosting an event, winning a battle, or placing in a tournament, they could accumulate experience points.

Once a player had acquired a certain number of points, he or she could receive a prize promotional card

Between January 2003 and January 2006, there were just four seasons in which players could participate, so time was of the essence in working to obtain these special cards.

If a player accumulated 20,000 points, he or she could earn this exclusive Pokemon PLAY Jolteon Gold Star.

2005 Pokemon Play Third Season Promo Holo #23 Jolteon Gold Star 20,000 Exp Points Card

44) 2020 Pokemon Japanese HR Contest Winner Full Art Charizard

Sold in June, 2021 for $20,100

Despite the global health situation in 2020, Pokemon tournaments still took place at home and in shops throughout Japan.

From July to September 2020, contestants in the Charizard VMAX HR competition could participate in 16-player tournaments for a chance at winning two unique Charizard cards.

Winners of the first rounds consisting of four players each won the Full Art Charizard V shown here.

Those four players would then advance to the championship round for a shot at winning the Full Art Charizard VMAX HR competition card as the top prize.

The extreme difficulty of receiving the BGS 10 Pristine grade gives this card a significant boost in value.

By comparison, a PSA 10 example of this card has sold previously for around $3,000. 

2020 Pokemon Japanese HR Competition Qualification Prize Charizard Card

43) 1995 Pokemon Japanese Topsun Holofoil Blastoise

Sold in October, 2020 for $20,100

The 1995 Japanese Topsun cards are some of the most interesting early Pokemon cards and were distributed in packs of apple-flavored gum by Top-Seika.

Collectors could find these cards in one of three versions: blue-back, green-back, and prism holofoil.

While 150 different characters appeared on the blue-back and green-back cards, only 16 received a prism holofoil version.

Though these Topsun cards contain a trademark date of 1995, most collectors agree that the company did not distribute them until 1997.

And that makes sense because even the official Pokemon Trading Card Game didn't debut in Japan until 1996.

The Blastoise prism holo is one of the most desirable Topsun cards and features the same imagery used for the cover art of the Pokemon Blue videogame released on the Nintendo Game Boy in Japan in 1996.

1995 Pokemon Japanese Topsun Holofoil Blastoise Pokemon Card

42) 2005 Pokemon EX Deoxys Gold Star Holo Latias

Sold in December, 2020 for $20,100

The eighth expansion of the EX Series, the EX Deoxys checklist contained 108 cards in total, with cards #105 (Latias), #106 (Latios), and #107 (Rayquaza) receiving the desirable gold star distinction.

Designed by Masakuza Fukuda, the artwork on the Latias card features eye-catching imagery of the dual-type Dragon/Psychic creature that belongs to a group of incredibly rare Pokemon known as Legendary Pokemon.

2005 Pokemon Ex Deoxys Holo Gold Star Latias Card

41) 2001 Pokemon Japanese Neo Summer Battle Number 2 Trainer

Sold in November, 2020 for $20,105

Just a bit ago, we had a look at the number 3 trainer card from the 2001 Neo Summer Battle Road Tournament.

And now we are looking at the card that contestants would receive for finishing in second place in that tournament.

The card has pretty much the same look and feel as the third-place card, but Chancey and Doduo have joined Pikachu and Growlithe in posing with Ash Ketchum, as he holds a silver medal.

Even in a PSA 7 holder, this card will sell for thousands of dollars to give you an idea of just how coveted these trophy cards are.

2001 Pokemon Japanese Promo Neo Summer Battle No.2 Trainer 2nd Place Trophy Card

40) 2002 Pokemon Neo Destiny 1st Edition Shining Charizard

Sold in January, 2021 for $20,250

The fourth main expansion of the Neo Series, Neo Destiny, is notable for featuring both "light" and "dark" Pokémon whose characteristics and "destiny" are reflective of how a Trainer trains them.

Light Pokémon are caring and bright-spirited, while dark Pokémon are the exact opposite.

Dark Pokémon have appeared in several different series, but the Neo Destiny set is the only one in which you will find the light Pokémon.

Charizard appears as neither light nor dark in Neo Destiny but instead as a special Shining Charizard that gets its name from the unique foil design that glimmers and shines in the light.

The Shining Pokémon in this series also feature a unique rarity symbol in the lower right in the form of three stars.

2002 Pokemon Neo Destiny First Edition Shining Charizard Card

39) 2007 Pokemon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Espeon

Sold in February, 2021 for $22,100

Like its Umbreon counterpart that we covered a little bit ago, the 2007 POP Series 5 Gold Star Espeon is one of the two most-desired cards in the 17-card promotional set.

The Gold Star symbol next to the character's name in the upper-left side of the card denotes the increased rarity of the card.

Masakazu Fukuda mixed an intense color scheme with a striking outline of Espeon to deliver a fantastic card with tremendous eye appeal.

2007 Pokemon Espeon Gold Star Pop Series 5 Card

38) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Venusaur

Sold in December, 2020 for $22,615

Venusaur, notorious for the large flower that protrudes from its back, is the final evolved form of one of the original starter Pokémon, Bulbasaur.

That flower serves more than just a decorative purpose, though, as Venusaur uses it to absorb energy from the sun's rays.

Like Charizard and Blastoise, who derive extra notoriety for appearing on video game box art, Venusaur was the mascot of the Pokémon Green video game released for the Nintendo Game Boy in Japan in 1996.

As one of the most recognizable Pokémon, collectors are willing to pay hefty price tags for 1st edition examples of this card in high grade.

1999 First Edition Holographic Venusaur Pokemon Card

37) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Mewtwo

Sold in November, 2020 for $22,655

A member of the exclusive and powerful Legendary Pokémon group, the psychic-type Mewtwo is considered one of the top Pokémon of all time.

The vicious and savage Mewtwo originated when a scientist altered its original DNA via gene-splicing techniques.

Its signature move, Psystrike, can deal out massive punishment to opposing Pokemon and has long been a favorite of many Pokemon fans.

Do not be fooled by Ken Sugimori's tame depiction of Mewtwo on this card, as this creature packs devastating ferocity and power.

1999 First Edition Holographic Mewtwo Pokemon Card

36) 1999 Pokemon First Edition Hitmonchan

Sold in November, 2020 for $23,100

Packing tremendous punching power, the fighting-type Hitmonchan is another collector favorite who can strike with extreme quickness and precision.

Ken Sugimori delivered an excellent design for this card as Hitmonchan's boxing gloves, shoulder pads, and five protrusions on the top of its head create an aura of a Pokemon that you don't want to face.

Hitmonchan cards were some of the most commonly used cards in competitive play, making them tough to find in top condition.

1999 First Edition Holographic Hitmonchan Pokemon Card

35) 2009 Pokemon Japanese Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card

Sold in November, 2020 for $25,100

Held at the Prince Park Tower Tokyo on May 4, 2009, the final round of the 2009 Japan World Championship pitted finalists against each other in fierce competition.

Each of the twenty finalists across three different age divisions received one of these Wonder Platinum cards, so one can assume that only twenty of these cards made their way into collectors' hands.

How many still exist today is unknown, but finding one graded in a BGS 9.5 holder is incredibly rare.

What is known is that this trainer card is one of the most highly coveted DPt-P promotional cards, and its imagery makes for an incredibly well-designed card.

2009 Pokemon Japanese Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card

34) 2004 Pokemon EX Team Rocket Returns Torchic Gold Star

Sold in December, 2020 for $25,400

Released in 2004, the EX Team Rocket Returns set marked the seventh expansion from the EX Series and featured 111 cards in its checklist.

Three of the cards, #107 (Mudkip), #108 (Torchic), and #109 (Treecko), are special holographic shiny rare cards noted by the gold star next to their name.

First introduced in the third generation of Pokemon games, Torchic is one of the three starter Pokemon (along with Mudkip and Treecko) that originate in the Hoenn region.

This orange and yellow chick may look cute and cuddly, but make no mistake, this fire-type Pokemon can shoot fireballs at its enemies that will instantly leave them burnt to a crisp.

2004 Pokemon EX Team Rocket Returns Gold Star Holo Torchic Card

33) 2005 Pokemon Japanese Play Promo 50,000 Points Espeon Gold Star

Sold in June, 2021 for $25,700

Earlier, we had a look at the 2005 Pokemon Japanese Play Jolteon gold star card that required 20,000 EXP Points to redeem and explained how difficult it was to achieve.

As Pokemon Players Club members completed specific actions, such as attending an event, winning a battle, or placing in a tournament, they could accumulate experience (EXP) points.

As if accumulating 20,000 EXP points for the Jolteon wasn't hard enough, those who had the endurance and capability to press on even farther could unlock the Espeon after earning 50,000 EXP points.

The holographic element mixed with the gold star designation and incredible design from Masakazu Fukuda resulted in a breathtaking card that few ever have the chance at holding.

2005 Pokemon Japanese Play Promo Gold Star Holo Espeon 50,000 Points Card

32) 2010 Pokemon World Championship Master Key Trophy Card

Sold in August, 2020 for $26,900

The Pokémon World Championships are where the best of the best meet each year to battle it out for money, prizes, and the title of Pokémon World Champion.

Players who earn enough points in qualifiers and smaller tournaments receive a special invitation to compete in the three-day event held in rotating locations.

The first tournament kicked off in 2004 in Orlando, Florida, but in 2010 the competition made its way to the Hilton in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

Just thirty-six contestants participated in the 2010 event and each received a copy of this beautiful foil card in a special case.

With so few of them ever produced, they are among the rarest Pokemon cards, and command huge prices if and when they do surface for sale or auction.

2010 Pokemon World ChampionShip Master Key Trophy Card
Encased 2010 Japan World Championship Master Key Trophy Card

31) 2016 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Ginza Tanaka Japanese Pikachu Card

Sold in November, 2020 for $28,100

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the storied franchise, the Pokemon Company partnered with Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka to produce this stunning card made from 11g of 24k gold.

Technically not a playing card, the imagery features none other than one of the most lovable Pokémon of them all: Pikachu.

Available for order for just twenty days, the cards were housed in impressive acrylic stands and shipped in beautiful boxes.

Given that 11g of 24k gold is worth around $600 or so by today's standards, there's no risk of anyone buying one of these to try and turn around and melt it.

2016 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Ginza Tanaka Japanese Pikachu Card

30) 2003 Pokemon Skyridge Charizard

Sold in November, 2020 for $28,100

Skyridge was the third and final main expansion of the e-Card Series that included playable e-Reader applications on the cards.

Of the 150 cards in the set, six of them, including Charizard, possess a crystal-type power that gives them the ability to handle any kind of energy.

These rare holographic cards are unsurprisingly the most desirable within the checklist, but the Charizard stands atop them all.

This card was also the last Charizard produced by Wizards of the Coast, and they did not disappoint, as the artwork and eye appeal conveyed by illustrator Kouki Saitou are top-notch.

2003 Pokemon Skyridge Holographic Charizard Card

29) 2005 Pokemon Japanese Champion's League

Sold in April, 2021 for $30,000

Beginning in 2000, Champion's League and Battle Roads tournaments offered contestants throughout Japan the opportunity to battle it out amongst the best of the best.

In 2000 and 2001, there were two Champion's League tournaments, one in the Spring and another in the Summer.

From 2002 to 2006, however, there was a reduction to just one Champion's League tournament per year.

And before the 2005 tournament held in Tokyo, no trainers received any kind of promotional card.

However, the top four ranking players in each age division of the 2005 tournament received this promotional stadium card, making it the first Champion's League promo stadium card. 

2005 Pokemon Japanese Promo Champion's League Card

28) 1996 Pokemon Japanese Bandai Carddass Vending Prism Red Charizard

Sold in January, 2021 for $30,100

Founded in 1950, Bandai is a Japanese toy maker that produced a series of Pokemon cards in September 1996 that pre-dated the official launch of the Pokemon Trading Card Game that followed in October 1996.

To distribute the cards, Bandai utilized a network of vending machines, or carddass, as they called them.

There are hundreds of Bandai carddass Pokemon cards to collect, but the most desirable of them all is the prism Charizard.

In one of the earliest appearances of the iconic character, Charizard roars and breathes fire, creating an image that really pops.

1996 Pokemon Japanese Bandai Carddass Vending Prism Charizard Card

27) 2006 EX Dragon Frontiers Charizard Gold Star

Sold in November, 2020 for $30,300

Released in November 2006, the EX Dragon Frontiers set marked the fifteenth main expansion of the EX Series.

Of the 101 cards in the set checklist, there are two rare Gold Star cards: Charizard (#100) and Mew (#101).

With the odds of pulling a Charizard thought to be roughly 1 in 144 packs, many collectors never had the fortune of pulling this card from a pack, giving it a reputation as one of the toughest Charizard pulls of any set.

Featuring a stunning image penned by the gifted hands of Masakazu Fukuda, the eye-appeal of this card is also tough to match as the powerful creature breathes fire onto the edge of the card.

2006 Pokemon EX Dragon Frontiers Gold Star Charizard Pokemon Card

26) 1999 Pokemon Spanish First Edition Charizard

Sold in October, 2020 for $35,100

To help promote the Pokemon Trading Card Game throughout the world, Wizards of the Coast printed the base set in several different languages.

The Spanish version offered native Spanish speakers throughout Europe and Latin America a much more enjoyable way to play their favorite card game.

You can see the Spanish translation throughout this card, but the Spanish version does leave the name "Charizard" as-is.

Other versions, such as the French and German, presented the Charizard character with a unique name altogether.

To verify the card is indeed a First Edition, look to the lower-left of the character box and you will find the "Edicion 1" symbol.

Just seven examples of this card have achieved a PSA 10 grade, making it one of the toughest multi-language First Edition Charizards to find in that condition.

1999 Pokemon Spanish First Edition Holographic Charizard Card

25) 2010 Japanese Promo Master's Scroll Daisuki Club 8,600 Points

Sold in March 2021, for $35,200

This holographic Master's Scroll card is one of several item cards that were part of the L-P Promotional cards released between September 2009 and August 2010.

By completing various tasks, members of the Pokemon Daisuki Club (the Japanese equivalent of the Pokemon Trainer Club) could accumulate "action points" that would essentially allow them to "rank up" in skill level.

Once a player accumulated 8,600 action points, he or she would earn the Master Rank distinction and a prize in the form of this Master's Scroll card.

Given the difficulty of acquiring such a massive amount of action points, not many members ever received one of these cards, making it one of the rarest promotional Pokemon cards in the hobby.

2010 Pokemon Japanese Promo Holo Master's Scroll Daisuki Club 8,600 Points Trophy Card

24) 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.

1999 First Edition Holographic Chansey Pokemon Card

23) 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.

1999 Pokemon German First Edition Holographic Glurak Charizard Card

22) 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.

1999 Pokemon French First Edition Holographic Dracaufeu Charizard Card

21) 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.

1995 Pokemon Japanese Topsun Holofoil Charizard Card

20) 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.

1999 Pokemon Korean First Edition Holographic Charizard Card

19) 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.

Just two...

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.

1999 Pokemon Portuguese First Edition Holographic Charizard Card

18) 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.

2005 Pokemon Ex Deoxys Holo Gold Star Rayquaza Card

17) 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.

1999 First Edition Holographic Blastoise Pokemon Card

16) 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."

1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Number 2 Trainer Card

15) 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.

1996 Pokemon Japanese Basic Holographic No Rarity Symbol Charizard Card

14) 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."

2005 Pokemon Japanese Summer Battle Road Holo Mew Victory Orb Trophy Card

13) 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."

1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind Trainer Card

12) 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.

1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Magikarp Trophy Card

11) 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.

2005 Pokemon Play Third Season Promo Holo #26 Umbreon Gold Star 70,000 Exp Points Card

10) 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.

1999 Shadowless Charizard Pokemon Card

9) 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.

1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Super Secret Battle Number One Trainer Card

8) 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.

2006 Pokemon Promo World Championships Number 2 Trainer Card

7) 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.

2000 Neo Genesis First Edition Holographic Lugia Pokemon Card

6) 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.

1998 Japanese Promo Holographic Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy Card

5) 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.

2017 Pokemon Sun and Moon GX Black Star Tsunekazu Ishihara Promo Card #TPCi01

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.

1998 Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram Backless Blastoise Pokemon Card

3) 1998 Japanese Promo Pikachu Illustrator

Sold in February, 2021 for $375,000

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.

1998 Japanese Promo Holographic Pikachu Illustrator Card

2) 1999 First Edition Charizard

Sold in March, 2021 for $399,750

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 nearly breaking the $400,000 in March 2021.

1999 Pokemon First Edition Holographic Charizard Card

1) 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.

1995 Japanese Topsun Charizard Blue Back

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.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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