I’ve been collecting rare Pokemon cards ever since I was a kid back in 1999. I remember my father and I walking to the shop in our local town to buy packs, and I vividly remember the base set Machamp being my first ever holographic pull.
This was the start of my addiction. Now, 22 years later, here I am as a 28-year-old man collecting Pokemon Marbles, rare Gameboys, and opening sealed Pokemon products on our Break The Seal YouTube channel.
Pokemon remains a huge part of my life; it even motivated me to start this website. I have many base set Charizards, PSA graded cards, and a few 1st editions knocking around. But, when I first started properly collecting, I always wondered if I had any rare Pokemon cards in my collection.
This article features some official “rare Pokemon cards” but we’ve also sprinkled in some cards that the average collector may have hiding in their basement or attics.
PLEASE NOTE – Rarities of Pokemon cards do fluctuate from time to time, so we will regularly update this article. This list isn’t official; think of it as a guideline of whats “rare”. Prices and rarities are changing daily due to collectors finally selling rare cards that they hold one too, and the crazy amount of new cards going in for grading that are new to the market.
If you don’t know what a “graded card” means, we do advise doing some research. Simply put, it means the card has been sent to specialists to grade in order to prove its authenticity. Each card gets a quality/condition rating too, usually out of 10. “Wow, that’s a PSA 10 Charizard”, means ‘that’s the best condition card possible’.
20. 1996 Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holo Venusaur
Weirdly, this No Rarity card is actually one of the rarest cards on the scene. Funny how these things work out, isn’t it!
This is an example of one of the first Pokemon cards ever produced. It’s a classic, one of the originals that act as a foundation for the rest of the series.
No wonder one sold for $55,000 recently!
Legend has it (ok not legend, just the word on the street) is that there are only 5 PSA 10 graded cards in existence.
And to make it even more rare, it’s been signed by the artist who created the Venusaur card! How cool is that!
If you’re the ultimate Poke fan and want something to show all your mates at parties or to look like a real pro on the flipping scene, then grab this card!
19. Topsun Charizard Blue Back
There’s a little bit of confusion as to whether this is a Pokemon card or not. Technically, it’s a card that features a Pokemon, but it was made my Topsun and not Creature Inc.
Does that make it part of the main series? If it does, then it’s one of the most expensive and rare cards of all time, selling in January for a whopping $493,000!
The Topsun card that is the rarest has no number and a blue back. It came in a gum packet originally!
$493K is more money than I’ll see in a lifetime, a lot to spend on something that sparks a yes/no debate about whether it’s technically the real deal. Still, it looks the part and is a great talking point for people who like sparking a fierce debate amongst friends.
18. Pokemon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer
Number 18 in our rare Pokemon cards list is a real whopper. A lot of the cards in this list below were prizes from competitions and tournaments held all over the world, as was this promo trainer card.
Given to winners of the 2006 World Championship held in the city of Anaheim, this trainer card featuring Pikachu is insanely rare.
I mean, you only got one if you were a winner, and rumour has it that there are only 3 in circulation around the world.
Back in February 2021, one of these cards finally appeared online and sold for over $110,100.
Chump change then, right?
17. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer
Fancy grabbing a slice of the 1999 Mega Battle tournament held in Japan? If you weren’t there or even a top player, then you can buy one of these cards and pretend to all your mates that you are the real deal.
The catch – the last one sold for over $50,000, which is a lot of money just to fool your friends!
Still, PSA has only ever recorded 5 of these passing through the system, which is why this rare card sold for so much!
Because these cards are so rare, it doesn’t matter that they aren’t perfect. They still sell for a tidy sum even when damaged!
Imagine what one might cost with a Grade 10 rating!
16. Lugia 1st Edition Neo Genesis
Aaah, Lugia; the figurehead of Pokemon Silver, was an absolute legend and a legendary Pokemon back in 1999.
If you loved our winner of the best Gameboy Color games as much as us, then you probably spent all your time wishing that you owned one in real life.
And you’re probably wishing that more than ever now that a BGS graded card sold for $144,330 at auction in May 2021!
Yes, the psychic bird that is both male and female simultaneously is a massive hit with card collectors.
Note – BGS grade cards more scrupulously than PSA, so the Lugia that sold was basically one of the rarest and most pristine on the planet!
15. Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy
Next up on our list of top rare Pokemon cards is this Mew Victory Orb Trophy from the 1998 Summer Battle Road competition.
This was a pretty hard competition to get into, with only the 3 best trainers from 9 regions in Japan making the cut.
You should know all about gradings now after reading the spiel above. Only 16 of these Mew cards have been graded and come back with a perfect 10 PSA rating.
Because this card is so rare as so few people made it to the final, and because there are only a select number with the perfect rating, getting your hands on one is going to be tough… and expensive.
In 2020, one sold at auction for $60,000. It also shipped with the award plaque that the owner took home from the competition finals to prove it was the real deal.
14. Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy
Kangaskhan was always one of the Pokemon I tried my hardest to bag in the Safari Zone. Turns out I could have just paid $150K for a PSA 10 rated card and had that same feeling.
Though being a 10-year-old with that much money could have led to some serious issues.
Back in 1998, you could have got your hands on this epic card by competing alongside your parent (or parent alongside their child) in a tournament held in Japan.
It’s widely believed that there are only 11 of these cards in existence, with three currently on ebay at the time of writing costing anywhere between 104,107.50 and $500,000.00!
13. Ishihara GX Promo
This one is a little bit of a wild card as it’s not technically a Pokemon. Instead, it shows the Pokemon Company President Tsunekazu Ishihara throwing a Master Ball.
I mean, if you’re the president of the Pokemon Company, the best thing you could possibly do is to put yourself on a Pokemon card… right?
And then, I supposed you could sign all those cards and give them to your employees as a present for attending your birthday bash. That’s the kind of thing I would do, to be honest.
As you can imagine, not many of these cards were made, with only around 60 known to be in existence.
A signed card sold for a mind-blowing $247,230 at auction in 2021, 4 years after Isihara’s birthday party. Now that’s a tidy little profit!
12. Snap Magikarp Japanese Promo
Magikarp might be a bit of a wet lettuce when it comes to fighting with Pokemon, but this first entry in our rare Pokemon cards has caused quite a stir in recent times.
The Snap Magikarp card is incredibly rare, with only 20 known to be in existence. They were handed out to winners of a Pokemon Snap competition that took place in Japan in the ’90s.
But why is it so rare? Well, the competition required users to send in their favourite Pokemon Snap snaps taken in game. The winners got not one, not two, but (you guessed it) 20 copies of their own design to keep.
That means that at one time, one person had complete control over all 20 of these cards, and one of them just sold for $136,000 USD.
An incredibly rare Pokémon card from the late ’90s has resurfaced, selling for a whopping 5 million yen ($136,000 USD) at a Japanese auction.
There were 10 winners of the fabled Pokemon Snap comp, with Bulbasaur, Articuno, and Pikachu among the other 9 snap card styles out there in the world.
Where they and the other 19 Magikarp cards are can only be guessed. We know one thing though; whoever has them is certainly sitting on a small fortune!
N.B – There are a lot of fake Snap Pikachu cards on second-hand sites. Make sure you have a certificate of authenticity or proof that said card came from the official Pokemon Snap competition held in Japan before bidding.
11. 1999 1st Edition Mewtwo (PSA 10)
Number 11 on our list goes to the first edition base set Mewtwo released in 1999. This was one of the first-ever sets of Pokemon Cards. For those new to Pokemon TCG, a card held First Edition status simply because of the small print run quantity.
The first edition stamp located under the artwork on the left-hand side is what gives a card its value. It also lets owners know that this was one of the first-ever cards printed, making it highly collectable.
There are thousands of first edition Mewtwo’s out there, but what makes this one rare is the high PSA 10 grading that only 50 in the world have managed to get.
The first edition Mewtwo had a few problems in its print run, such as small scratches on the holofoil or scuffs on the card, When this went unnoticed, thousands flooded into the market.
Before that, they managed to print a handful of perfect condition Mewtwo cards with no scratches or scuffs. All it takes is a small bit of dirt in the printer to ruin thousands of cards!
If you were lucky enough to get a PSA 10 first edition Mewtwo, you could sell it for well over $20,000 as of writing this article. It’s just so hard to grade Mewto as a 10 because of the large quantity of lower quality Mewtwo’s in the market.
The latest listing of this card sold for over $20,000 in December of 2020.
10. 2005 Gold Star Rayquaza
Rayquaza was first introduced into the Pokemon series when Nintendo released Pokemon Emerald as one of the best Gameboy Advance games in 2004. Shortly after, in 2005, they released a new Pokemon TCG set called EX Deoxys featuring rare Pokemon cards with gold stars.
One of those rare Pokemon cards is Rayquaza. This is one on the list that wasn’t obtained by competition, or a lottery or some kind of crazy luck. Instead, this is a card that is still “findable” to this day, and although thousands of them printed, they remain very much in demand.
Gold Stars were a new addition to the Pokemon TCG in 2004. They were so rare, that only 1 could be found in roughly 36 packs (a booster box). Still, getting Raquazza was even rarer, as there was a wide selection of gold cards in this set.
Roughly 1 in 500 packs would be a gold star Rayquaza.
The Gold Star Rayquaza has recently sold for over $45,000 in December 2020, making it one of the most valuable Pokemon cards out there. The price is continuously growing, making this a great investment for many Pokemon collectors out there.
9. Prerelease Base Set Raichu
The base set is known as the original Pokemon TCG set, the first-ever pack of Pokemon cards to go on sale. Still, to this day Nintendo release “prerelease” cards that come out before the launch of each set. They do this quite simply for marketing purposes, to hand out to press, media, and influencers, and for internal reviews.
Nintendo also did this with a number of base set cards, the rarest being Raichu, Pikachu’s evolution. It is rumoured that only 10 – 15 of these ever made print, and people only recently realised these cards actually came to fruition.
Originally they were “unverifiable”, meaning neither Nintendo nor GameFreak would mention if they were real or authentic. Fast forward to 2009, and the first one sold for over $10,000.
Unverifiable or not, people wanted these cards, and with more information coming from old WOTC staff it looked as if these were likely real, and verifiable.
To this day, WOTC nor Nintendo has officially stated that these are legit. They were made by WOTC, and that’s a fact. Whether or not they’re classed as a certified “Pokemon Card” is beyond anyone.
The day they become verified will be the day we see a new all-time high for the selling of a single Pokemon card. What’s also interesting is that the boom in Pokemon cards has done nothing to the value of the pre-release Raichu. It seems nobody trusts an unverified, ungradable card!
8. 2010 Master’s Key
Due to the ever-evolving Pokemon card franchise, cards would change design throughout a number of new sets. It’s safe to say that this rare Pokemon card known as the ‘Master’s Key’ is probably one of the best looking cards on this list.
This Master’s Key was given to 36 participants in the 2010 Pokemon World Championship tournament held on the beautiful island of Hawaii. Nintendo gave them out to each age division throughout the tournament, allowing all players a chance to own one.
Not only could you win one through the trading card game, but you could also win one through the video game event too. The capacity of the TCG tournament was small; 8 competitors were in the junior age division, 6 in the senior, and 6 in the master age division.
There were also 16 competitors in the video game category, split into two groups. The final stage was held in Tokyo on June 20th, 2010.
Each competitor received the card, and each casing was individually customised to what group and tournament you were in. This made them even more collectible for TCG and video game fans.
The most recent sold listing of this card dates back to 2019 and sold for over $20,000.
7. Magikarp Tamamushi University Promo Card
Magikarp is known as somewhat of a “useless” Pokemon, knowing only a handful of moves that do very little damage. So, it’s nice to see this little fish get some street cred for being an incredibly rare Pokemon card.
This card is known as the Magikarp Tamamushi University Promo Card and there are rumoured to only be 50 – 100 in circulation.
The most recent one recently sold on eBay in October 2020 for over $50,000. They were originally given out in 1998 at a Japanese Pokemon conference.
Getting invited to the conference was the hardest part. You had to pass the “Tamamushi University Hyper Test” in June 1998. This was simply a test for primary-school children that allowed kids to take a quiz before sending it back to Shogakukan within a limited period.
Those that passed were invited to the two-day conference in Osaka. Once there, they split into different groups or “gyms”. Each group of gyms had Pokemon card battles. The second day consisted of battles against the best in those gyms, and those that won a battle during the end course were awarded this card.
Some would say its a very basic looking card. Still, if you compare it to other 1998 cards, it is, in fact, one of the coolest out there.
It makes Magikarp look like an absolute beast!
6. Gold Plated Base Set Pikachu
This rare Pokemon card is only a few years old and sits highly on our list because of the rarity and nature of getting one.
This is the 20th Anniversary 24-karat-gold Pikachu card. Released in 2016 to celebrate Pokemon TCG’s 20th birthday, it was created by a Japanese jewellery maker known as Ginza Tanaka and contains 11 grams of gold.
Only a limited number of these were ever made, and to get your hands on one, you had to enter a random lottery held in 2018. The chosen winners got the chance to purchase the limited edition card for 216,000 yen, which is equivalent to $2,300.
I know; a lottery win that makes you spend money? Odd, but nonetheless worth it as this card sold for over $8,000 in 2019 on eBay. Now, it could easily be worth over $15,000.
What makes this card so unique is simply the gold plating. You would be silly to take it out of its frame as the slightest scratch would drop its value, but we can only imagine what these feel like in the hand.
As you can imagine, this card can not be used in official games because… well, it’s made of pure gold! We could imagine it might snap the table clean in half; it’s a heavy one, that’s for sure!
5. Pikachu Illustrator Card
I personally remember this card being a “thing” back in the early 2000s. All of the kids on the school playground asked if anyone knew about the mysterious “Pikachu Illustrator” card.
Nobody had because it was so rare, but this goes to show that the media, and Pokemon collectors, were talking about it back then as well, let alone now!
Winners of the 1998 CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest received this card, meaning only around 10 – 20 people actually received one. It is what some would class the “holy grail” of rare Pokemon Cards.
10 of them are, in fact, graded, meaning PSA has records of 10 officially existing.
In 2020 on ZenMarket, one of these cards sold for a whopping $233,000 in a PSA 9 condition, making it one of the most expensive Pokemon cards on the block.
As of now, someone is listing it on eBay for $3,000,000 buy it now, but we can’t imagine that listing will sell anytime soon. That’s just crazy money!
4. 2001 Tropical Wind
This is one you definitely don’t have hiding in your basement because it’s one of the rarest Pokemon cards out there. Nobody knows about it, and nobody expects to be rare. Still, we can assure you that it’s in this rare Pokemon cards article for a reason.
There are only 3 recorded graded cards of the 2001 Tropical Wind Pokemon Card in existance, and only one of them is a PSA 9. Just think about that; only 3 in the world have ever been recorded.
This makes it much rarer than a first edition Charizard or the Pokemon Illustrator card.
One is currently listed on eBay for $1,000,000 buy it now, and there’s no information of previous listings or sale prices.
What is Special About Tropical Wind?
This card formed part of the Pokemon Tropical Mega Battle tournament held every year between 1999 to 2001 in Hawaii. This was a huge tournament that took the best players from Canada, Europe, Japan and America and put them head to head.
Only 50 players attended the event every year, (talk about exclusive!), and the finalists of those tournaments received a rare card. In 2001, the Tropical Wind card became the prize, and now it’s one of the rarest Pokemon cards ever.
Champions received many other “Tropical Mega Battle Cards” as did many other competitors, but the 2001 Tropical Wind remains the rarest. There’s nothing special about it in reality apart from the nice artwork, which influenced many tournament cards in the coming years.
Many of these looked near-identical to it with minor changes such as new Pokemon and different locations. Still, the one thing that stays the same throughout all of the “Mega Battle Cards” is Psyduck himself.
3. No. 1 Trainer Card
The No.1 Trainer Pokemon card is so rare that there is rumoured to be only 7 in the world, let alone graded highly. Currently, one owner of this card is selling it for over $150,000 on Heritage Auctions, a trusted auction site for collectables and more.
This card is a Japanese exclusive launched in 1999, making it hard for us Western folk to get hold of it back in the day.
It was awarded as a promotional card to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo in 1999. Players needed to win a regional tournament to be entered into the competition’s final.
Get in, and you got this card. It provided players with an “access card”, which was pretty cool. The card’s information translates to:
“The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognised here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.”
The No.1 Trainer card features the Japanese logo for the Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game and illustrator Hideki Kazama’s incredible Mewtwo art too.
This is by far one of the rarest Pokemon cards around, and even though very few people own it, the small quantity makes it a huge goal for many Pokemon collectors out there.
2. Presentation Blastoise Card (1998)
Originally this card was so rare, many thought it never existed until a member of the old WOTC crew revealed that “they are out there” and eventually one was recorded as graded by Beckett. Now, fast forward to 19th January 2021 and this card has sold for over $360,000 at auction.
Yeah, someone had it all this time and just waited for the right moment. This card is only one of two in the world, and it was commissioned by Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) in 1998 for the purpose of presenting them to Nintendo to get approval for translation into English.
For years the second card has been “missing”, either it was lost, or someone has it in their collection unknowingly, perhaps the news of these rare Pokemon cards finally selling for thousands could entice those to look in their basements and resurrect the missing Blastoise.
But, while this is “missing” this card is technically the only one in the world, even rare than the first edition Charizard.
It’s also a miracle how high this card graded due to its age, and the many children’s hands its probably been though. Beckett are known for very harsh grading and this one manage to get a 8.5 which is classed as “near mint”.
This card is also different to traditional rare Pokemon cards. For example, you can see the corners aren’t cut, meaning they’re still sharp and cornered. The HP is written differently, and so is the Blastoise font, making it even more unique to the cards out there.
Now, we wait for the second one to show up. It’s sad because that will probably bring down the price of this card, seeing as it will double to “quantity” of this card. But still, nonetheless it will be worth a fortune.
1. First Edition Base Set Charizard (1999)
Technically, the first edition Charizard isn’t the “rarest” Pokemon card out there. There are plenty of others in this list that have a far less print quantity. But, the reason we have ranked it number 1 is simply down to demand.
The first edition Charizard is by far the most wanted card out of the whole Pokemon TCG series. It’s nostalgic; many old Pokemon collectors remember this card, had this card and played with this card. It first released in 1999 in the original base set packs.
Recently, towards the tail end of 2020, a PSA 10 or Beckett 10 (two types of grades) First Edition Charizard sold for over $300,000. Just let that sink in for a second.
One single Pokemon card sold for over $300,000… Many say this is just the beginning, and that the First Edition Charizard will only go up in value because it’s very rare to find high graded ones that come to fruition. This is due to the age of the cards and the mass of cards that have gone missing, forgotten about or sit in poor condition.
High graded cards typically come from newly opened sealed packs, hence why big influencers and celebrities like Logan Paul and Steve Aoki are opening boxes of them. They’re looking for mint condition Charizard’s to sell/flip/collect.
Where To Sell Pokemon Cards?
We advise selling Pokemon Cards on a trusted marketplace such as eBay. This is the safest and fastest option for both sellers and buyers.
How Much Are Pokemon Cards Worth?
Pokemon Cards are worth between $0.25 and $300,000. This all depends on what Pokemon card you have, what condition it is in, and if it has been graded. Typically, the older WOTC cards have more value due to the low quantity, but new cards can also be worth upwards of $500+.
Where To Buy Pokemon Cards?
You can buy Pokemon cards from your local newsagents, toy shops and sometimes even petrol stations. But if you’re looking for cards that are no longer in print, we advise using eBay.
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A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.