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15 of the Most Valuable Pokémon Cards

As a teenager, Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri was so fond of collecting insects that classmates called him “Mr. Bug.” While it might not have been an affectionate label, Tajiri had the last laugh: His Pokémon video game, originally released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996, has become an enduring multimedia success, selling billions in games, merchandise, and phone apps.

The goal of collecting and pitting monsters against one another has been particularly appealing for trading card collectors, who have created an entire secondary market for the low-tech version of the game: Some can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Take a look at 15 of the more valuable Pokémon cards, though remember that first editions, misprints, and other characteristics all affect value. While it might seem as though you have a lotto ticket in your hand, minor details could make a card more or less lucrative.

One of the earliest cards to come out of the Pokémon franchise was this promotional card of Pikachu that was given out to winners of an illustration contest in 1998. An estimated 20 to 39 copies were issued. In late 2016, Heritage Auctions sold one for a whopping $54,970. In 2021, one garnered a winning bid of $375,000 on eBay. In 2022, NFL player Blake Martinez auctioned his card (graded 9.5) for $672,000. That same year, a collector garnered a $900,000 bid, though that was later rumored to have gone unpaid: A second-place bidder was said to have paid $720,000.

This dragon-esque creature was first seen in 1999. More than 20 years later, a first-edition card graded 10 by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) sold for a whopping $420,000.

This card originated in the 1997 Pocket Monsters tournament. PSA has only logged four of the cards, with none graded higher than 8. Even though it’s not mint, it still sold for $300,000 in 2023.

A rare promo card from a Pokémon tournament in 1998 featuring parents and their kids scored big at a 2023 Heritage auction: It netted $175,000, due in some part to its perfect 10 grade.

What might be the grail of Pokémon collecting surfaced in 2023, when Heritage sold this commemorative card from a 2000 tournament. Only one is believed to exist, which drove bids up to $137,500.

Given out during a 2010 card championship in Japan, only 34 copies of the Master’s Key Prize Card are thought to exist. The scarcity helps the cards command a high price when they hit the market. One ungraded card sold for $22,000 in November 2019. Three years later, a 9.5 sold for $66,000.

Another card that was given only to winners at a tournament—in this case, the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle Pokémon World Championship in Honolulu, Hawaii—the Tropical Wind card is believed to have just 14 PSA 9 cards in circulation. One sold for $47,100 in 2021.

This 2007 character card graded PSA 10 is currently being offered for sale by PWCC for $25,100. A PSA 9 version sold for considerably less: $3975.

This (literal) rare bird made its debut in 2000’s Pokémon The Movie and subsequently appeared in the Neo Genesis expansion pack. This 2000 hologram card sold for $25,000 when a perfect 10 example was put on eBay.

This 1995 card in mint condition sold for $10,211. A 1999 version netted $1480.

Collectors love cards that were never intended for public distribution, and this Raichu card fits the bill. Pokémon lore has it that product distributor Wizards of the Coast made just 10 of these Raichu cards for their employees and stamped “pre-release” on the front. In 2023, Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) confirmed they had graded two of the cards, thus putting the speculation to an end. While it’s rarely offered for sale, collectors believe it could fetch up to $10,000.

This 2001 Neo Revelation card brought in $9000 on eBay.

This 2003 card sold for $6100 after buyers took notice of its PSA 10 status.

Never released in English, this 2017 Japanese card is highly sought-after by collectors. A near-perfect PSA 9 card sold for $6000 on eBay.

This combat turtle from 1999 was put up in near-perfect condition in 2024 and sold for $4200.

A version of this story ran in 2017; it has been updated for 2024.

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