While you might think a piece of cardboard with a picture on it might not be worth a whole lot, collectors are willing to be thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars for the rarest, most valuable Pokemon cards out there.
Starting in 1966, Pokemon has been developed into medians like movies and video games, but the trading cards still remain the core of the franchise.
Below are the rarest, most expensive Pokemon cards out there.
22. Southern Islands Card Set
This set can be extremely hard to find as there are only 18 cards made up of 2 sets of 9, and they are only valuable if it is an original in its collectible folder. But if you meet all those requirements are met, the set is sold at between $150 and $300 per card!
21. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Machamp
This card is worth up to $5,000 dollars! It is both a first edition and has a shadowless error, both things that make cards extremely valuable! Of course, the price does vary a lot based on the quality of the card, but it is pretty much guaranteed to get you a pretty penny.
20. Gold Star Espeon and Umbreon
There are very few cards with the Gold Star, but if your card is a Gold Star, you will find it directly to the right of the name. These cards are so rare because originally the Espeon card was only given out to members of the Pokemon Players Club, and they had to trade 50,000 points to get it! The Umbreon is worth up to $5000 dollars and the Espeon up to $6000.
19. 1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Venusaur
Because the Venusaur is one of the most collectible and notable Pokemon, the first edition of the card, especially in good quality, can be sold for quite a bit. In fact, one was recently sold for over $8000!
18. Shining Charizard
Pokemon shining cards were introduced with the second generation of Pokemon games, and The Shining Charizard was the first-ever shiny Pokemon found! One thing that stands out about this card is that the Charizard itself is holographic, rather than just the background. This card is typically appraised around $5000 dollars, but it has been sold for as much as $8900!
17. Pokemon Booster Box with Black Triangle Error
Regular Pokemon booster boxes can sell for thousands of dollars if the box is sealed because there may be a variety of different rare cards inside, but if the box has a black triangle error on the cover, it is worth even more!
Recently, one box was sold for $8,700! The black triangle was put on the box because they printed too many first edition boxes, so they had to cover the 1st edition stamp with the triangle.
16. Snap Cards
With the release of the game Pokemon Snap 64 DD, there was a promotion where gamers could take snapshots, and the winners had their work printed on the trading cards!
These cards have been sold for up to $11,000, but sadly (if you are trying to sell yours), most go for considerably less.
15. Tropical Mega Battle Cards
From 1999 to 2001, there was an annual TCG tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii, called The Pokemon Tropical Mega Battle.
Every year there were only 50 TCG players, so the promotional cards given out at these events are extremely rare. Some of these cards, such as the One Tropical Mega battle Trainer Card with Psyduck, can go for up to $10,000!
14. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise
Shadowless cards were created due to an error in production and therefore are very rare and very valuable! Blastoise is not the most valuable shadowless card by a long shot, but one in mint condition can still be worth up to $10,000.
13. Charizard First Edition
There are a number of different first edition Charizard cards, and pretty much all of them are valuable.
Specifically, the first edition German Charizard card named Glurak has recently been sold for $9,400 and is definitely one of the more sought after Charizard first editions.
First edition Charizards with good grades can pretty much all make 10,000+ dollars!
12. 2010 Japan World Championship Master Key Trophy Card
Every year the best of the best Pokemon players meet at world championships to battle for money, prizes, and the title.
The 2010 championship took place at the Hilton in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii, and was made up of just thirty-six contestants who were the only ones to receive this foil card, making it one of the rarest cards out there!
They rarely go up for sale or auction, but when they do, they always go for $10,000 or more.
11. Kangaskhan Parent/Child Tournament Promo
In May 1998, there was a special Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament, and at that event, there was a special promotional card handed out to only the elite players.
Because these cards were only ever given out at that event, many collectors view it as the holy grail of TCG cards and will pay up to $10,000 for one!
10. Pre-Release Raichu Cards
There were only between 1o and 15 Raichu cards made available world-wide, which means finding one is extremely difficult, and purchasing one cost a lot of money.
One Pre-Release Raichu card can be sold for well over $10,000.
9. 2002 Expedition For Position Only Charizard Card
The Pokemon Company gave out these cards to their employees, and they were never really supposed to get out to the general public, but it seems that at least one of the employees kept their original packs and sold them to hobbyists years later.
Because no one really knows how many cards have been printed, they are definitely considered a collectible and valuable card and have been sold for just over $11,000.
8. 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Ginza Tanaka Japanese Pikachu Card
These cards were only sold for 20 days meaning there are not that many of them out there.
Each card is made from 11g of 24k gold and is made for decoration, not technically playing. While the gold is only worth around $600, the card has been sold for over $12,000!
7. Black Star Promo Holo Ishihara GX Card
At his 60th birthday party Tsunekazu Ishihara gave out around 30 of these cards, and they rarely go on the market, making it one of the rarer cards out there!
Those that have been sold have gone for close to 13,000.
6. Japanese Promo Summer Battle Road Holo Victory Orb Card
The top 3 victors of each age division at the Battle Road Summer tournament in 2005 received one of these cards, and it was only given out at this competition during that year, which makes it one of the more rare cards out there.
People have recently sold the card for over $15,000!
5. 2005 EX Deoxys #107 Rayquaza Gold Star Holo Card PSA 10 Gem
Rayquaza is one of the most powerful Pokemon there is, and it gained a considerable amount of popularity after it was used as the mascot for the Pokemon Emerald video game. If you are lucky enough to have one of the Rayquaza cards with the gold star, you will find that it may be worth upwards of $19,000!
4. Numbers 1, 2, 3 Trainer Cards
Every year at the Worlds Finals TCG, they would release trainer cards and only give them to the winners.
Receiving one of the cards was a guarantee that you would be able to play in the next year's championship.
Because only one of each card was given out each year, they are extremely rare. Unfortunately, these cards are so rare that there is not a known price, but it would certainly be one of the most expensive cards out there.
3. Magikarp Tamamushi University Promo Card
When it comes to playing the game, the Magikarp is definitely not anywhere near the most powerful card, but there are only between 30 and 100 of these cards in circulation, making it one of the rarest! They were originally given out in 1998 at a Japanese Pokemon conference, and today, they are worth up to $27,000.
2. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard
Shadowless cards are cards that are missing the shadow on the right of the image.
This error only occurred for a very short period of time, making the cards rare and very valuable. Specifically, the first edition, shadowless holographic Charizard, can go for up to $50,000 or more if awarded a pristine grade!
1. Pikachu Illustrator Cards
The Pikachu Illustrator card is by far the rarest card in circulation, making it the Holy Grail of Pokemon!
This card was only ever given out to the winners of the 1998 CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest, so there is only a handful available in the entire world! These cards are worth a minimum of $50,000 and have been sold for over $200,000
In fact, in 2020, we (ZenMarket) broke a world record by selling the world's most expensive Pokémon card ever!
For a groundbreaking $233,000, ZenMarket's ZenPlus sold a Pikachu Illustrator card - solidifying the Pikachu Illustrator card as the most expensive and rarest Pokémon time of all time.
You can read about the historic event by checking out the blog we wrote at the time below.
You can even occasionally find some extremely rare cards being sold on our ZenPlus marketplace. You can click here to see what rare pokemon cards we currently have up for sale! (Rare Pokémon cards)
Every year Pokemon trading cards, especially the rare ones, are getting more and more valuable. If you are interested in getting your hands on any of the ones on this list, check out the ZenMarket showcase page to see if you can find one for yourself.
If you need more information on how to shop with ZenMarket you can click the image below to check out our full in-depth guide on how to shop using ZenMarket, which will teach you everything you need to know about how to buy ANYTHING you want directly from Japan and have it shipped to your front door anywhere in the world.