Top 22 Rarest and Most Expensive Pokemon Cards

While you might think a piece of cardboard with a picture on it might not be worth a whole lot, collectors are willing to bid thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rarest, most valuable Pokemon cards out there. 

Starting in 1996, Pokemon has been developed into mediums 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. Pokemon Snap Cards

Pokemon Snap Cards

With the release of the game Pokemon Snap 64, there was a promotion where gamers could take snapshots of Pokemon in-game and submit them. 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.


21. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Machamp

First Edition Shadowless Holographic Machamp

This Machamp card is both a first edition and has a shadowless error. 

Shadowless cards are cards that are missing the shadow on the right of the image. This is the result of a printing error that only occurred for a very short period of time. This makes shadowless cards, specifically the first edition shadowless holographic cards incredibly rare and sought after.

Of course, the price does vary a lot based on the quality/PSA Rating of the card, but it is pretty much guaranteed to get you a pretty penny.

 This card is known to sell for up to $5,000 dollars! 



20. Japanese Promo Summer Battle Road Holo Victory Orb Card

Japanese Promo Summer Battle Road Holo Victory Orb Card

Many highly valued and sought after Pokemon cards for hardcore collectors were not originally  obtainable by the public and were printed in very short runs, making them very exclusive additions to Pokemon card collections.

Tournament trophy cards are no exception.

The top 3 victors of each age division at the Battle Road Summer tournament in 2005 received Victory Orb cards, and it was only given out at this competition during that year, which makes it one of the rarer cards out there.

People have recently sold the card for over $15,000!





19. First Edition Shadowless Base Set Chansey

First Edition Shadowless Base Set Chansey

We have spoken about why shadowless cards are sought after but what makes them differ in value?

There are a number of factors including the condition of the card, the age of the card, and the popularity of the Pokemon featured on the card.

First Edition Shadowless Base Set Chansey is a particularly special case. The holographic background on the card is white, making it easy to spot even the most minor of printing perfections that may go missed on other holographic cards.

As such, the value of First Edition Holographic Chansey card varies dramatically as even the smallest imperfection can lose it a PSA grade. 

On the flipside, however, this means that those that earn a high PSA rating are incredibly valuable with some of these cards having been sold for more than $30,000!


18. 2002 Shining Charizard - Neo Destiny

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 Pokemon 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. 2002 Expedition For Position Only Charizard Card

2002 Expedition For Position Only Charizard Card

The Pokemon Company printed these cards for internal use 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.

There are a number of different For Position Only (FPO) Pokemon cards out ther, but with Charizard cards being so popular, it was inevitable that this would be the most valuable.

While PSA were grading them for a time, they stopped after a short while after ultimately deciding that the cards were not official releases, meaning that those that were graded, are incredibly rare.

That being said, even those that weren't graded are still very rare and make for a very niche collectible and valuable card. Some have been sold for just over $11,000.


16. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise

1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise

Another entry into the Shadowless Base Set Cards, Blastoise is very popular. If you can get your hands on a PSA 10, you could sell yours for up to $50,000!

Why is Blastoise worth more than Chansey? In addition to being a starter Pokemon, Blastoise was the showcase Pokemon for Pokemon Blue version, making this card a great source of nostalgia.

With only 100 or so PSA 10s of this card estimated to be in existence, many fans want to get their hands on this fantastic Pokemon card.


15. 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Ginza Tanaka Japanese Pikachu Card

20th Anniversary 24K Gold Ginza Tanaka Japanese Pikachu Card

This 20th Anniversary Pikachu card was born from a collaboration between the Pokemon Company and jeweller, Ginza Tanaka. Each card is made from 11g of 24k gold and came in a case, made for decoration, not technically playing.

These cards only had a preorder window of only 20 days and sold for around $2100 meaning there are not that many of them out there.

While the gold is only worth around $600, the card has been sold for over $12,000!



14. 2006 EX Dragon Frontiers Gold Star Charizard

This card features a Gold Star - there were only 27 Pokemon given gold stars and they had a ridiculously high rarity even back then, with a pull rate of roughly one gold star card per 88 card packs.

As tends to be the case with rare Charizard cards, everybody wants them. This drives the price even higher than some other gold star holographic Pokemon cards.

Another feature of the gold star Pokemon cards is that the artwork continues outside of the card's picture frame, giving them a 3D-like effect.

The beautiful artwork in combination with the rarity, exclusivity and demand on these Charizard cards really pushes the current market value of them up - with a PSA 10 selling for over $20,000. 


13. 2005 EX Deoxys Rayquaza Gold Star Holographic Card

2005 EX Deoxys Rayquaza Gold Star Holographic Card

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.

Given the scarcity of unopened EX Deoxys packs remaining in circulation, and the low pull rates on Gold Star Pokemon cards, it is unlikley that many more of these cards will appear on the market in good condition, making PSA 10 Rayquaza Gold Star cards super valuable - some even selling for $40,000+, making it one of the rare cases where Charizard cards are not the most expensive in a series.

If you are lucky enough to have one of the Rayquaza cards with the gold star, even cards with a lower PSA rating will be worth $1,000 or more, with unrated cards going for around $900.


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 with one go for $26,000.


11. Gold Star Espeon and Umbreon

As another entry into the Gold Star series, you know that these Pokemon Cards are going to be rare. The Espeon and Umbreon cards are even more rare than other Gold Star cards though.

These cards are so rare because originally the Espeon and Umbreon cards were only given out to members of the Pokemon Players Club who had managed to save up 70,000 points! Easy, right?


Attending an event would only earn you 100 points and performing other activities such as hosting events or parties had little point return. In other words, these cards were awarded only to people who live and breathe Pokemon.

These cards sell for anywhere between $1,000 an $12,000 but given there were only around 40 of them issued, you can be sure they will continue to increase in value if kept in good condition.


10. 1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Venusaur Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holographic (Signed)

1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Venusaur Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holographic (Signed)

Because the Venusaur is one of the original starter Pokemon, it is very collectible and valuable. As with previous entries, shadowless versions of 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!

This individual card in particular is even more expensive and rare. The reason? It was signed by the artist, Mitsuhiro Arita. 

The autographed Venusaur card sold for a whopping $55,000. 

9. Tropical Wind Tropical Mega Battle Cards

Tropical Wind 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!


8. 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.


7. Black Star Promo Holo Ishihara GX Card

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. 2000 Lugia Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holographic

Lugia Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holographic

Holographic Lugia First Edition is one of the most popular Pokemon Cards from the second generation of Pokemon. Lugia was the featured Pokemon for Pokemon Silver as well as the Pokemon that was the focus of Pokemon the Movie 2000: The Power of One, making it a fan favourite.

Unfortunately, the print run for Lugia was riddled with errors meaning there were tons of brand new cards with imperfections from the get go. As a result, PSA 10 rated cards sell for a premium, with roughly 44 of them in circulation compared to the 400+ PSA 9 rated Lugia cards.


5. Kangaskhan Parent/Child Tournament Promo

Kangaskhan Parent/Child Tournament Promo

In May 1998, there was a special Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament, where parents would participate and battle alongside their kids. At that event, there was a special promotional card handed out to only the elite players and that was the Kanghaskhan Parent/Child Tournament Promo Card.

Because these cards were only ever given out at that event, and that it is likely the children retained possession of it after the tournament, good condition copies of this card a scarce, making it tough to get for many collectors and in turn pushing its price up.


4. Numbers 1, 2, 3 Trainer Cards

Every year at the Pokemon World Finals Trading Card Game competition, they would release trainer cards and only give them to the winners as a prize.

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, there are different types of trainer cards and they are so rare that there is not a known value for them across the board. 

There are many different kinds released and they tend to have higher sale values if the event represented something historically significant for Pokemon or the trading card game.

This includes the Tropical Wind card and the Victory Orb Cards mentioned previously.

With the price determined by how badly a buyer wanted and would be willing to bid for it, you can be certain that Trainer cards would be some of the most expensive cards out there.


3. 1998 Presentation Blastoise Holographic "Backless"

When the Pokemon TCG Company was looking for potential producers for their cards for overseas markets they reached out to American company Wizards of the Coast.

This card was produced by them to present to the Pokemon Company to show that they were capable of creating high quality Pokemon cards for an American audience.

For this presentation however, they only printed the side with the artwork with a holographic Blastoise from the cover of the Pokemon Blue Gameboy game, leaving the backside completely blank, resulting in this super rare, one-of-a-kind Pokemon card.

The card most recently sold for $360,000.

2. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard

First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard

First edition Charizards with good grades can pretty much all make $10,000+ but the first edition, shadowless holographic Charizard card is the cream of the crop. They are incredibly rare and very much sought after.

The popularity of Charizard fostered by the release of Pokemon Red version and the Pokemon anime, combined with the rarity of shadowless cards means that Grade 10 (Highest PSA Grade) Base Set Shadowless Charizards are valued up to $120,000 while PSA Grade 9 of the same card typically go for around $12,000 with fluctuations. To think that a single Grading point would drive the price up by around a factor of 10!

All the more reason to ensure you look after your rare pokemon cards and store them appropriately - that is, if you don't intend to use them for play of course!

1. Pikachu Illustrator Cards

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, and only 39 of these cards in total have been handed out (officially), 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 card of all time. In the same year, ZenMarket's ZenPlus sold a second Pikachu illustrator Card for just over $200,000.

We then broke the record again in 2022 with the sale of yet another Pikachu Illustrator Card.
You can read about these sales by checking out the blogs we wrote about them below.  

2020 Pikachu Illustrator Card Record Sale
2022 Pikachu Illustrator Pokemon Card Record Sale

BUT WAIT! I thought Logan Paul just purchased a Pikachu Illustrator card for over $5 million, right? You're absolutely right! Then how did we break a record?

In short, a Pokemon card can have a vastly different value than other Pokemon cards of the same type. The difference?

The condition of the card. The better the condition of Pokemon Cards, particularly on older cards, the higher the value. In the case of Pikachu Illustrator cards, we mentioned earlier that only 39 of these cards were handed out. After 25 years, you would expect that the condition of said cards would have deteriorated.

The Pikachu Illustrator Pokemon Card that Logan Paul bought is regarded a one-of-a-kind due to it being regarded as the only PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator in existence. The cards sold on ZenMarket, while still in excellent condition, were only grade 9 or lower - we broke records on the lower grade cards. In other words, when it comes to valuing Pokemon cards, condition is king.



BONUS: Pre-Release Raichu Cards

Pre-release Raichu Cards are a bit of an urban legend in the Pokemon Card collecting community as it is regarded as one of the rarest cards ever - if it actually exists

The story goes that some base set Raichu cards were mistakenly printed with the word "Prerelease" in the bottom right hand corner of the artwork. It is rumored that only between 10 and 15 prerelease Raichu cards are currently in circulation worldwide, but given none have actually been officially graded, it is hard to know the accuracy of such estimates.

This means finding one is extremely difficult, and purchasing one can cost a lot of money.

One Pre-Release Raichu card can be sold for well over $10,000 but it should be noted that there are many fake cards out there. Whenever you want to buy rare or expensive Pokemon cards, be sure to check all the details about the card you want to purchase beforehand.




You'll often be able to find extremely rare cards being sold on our ZenPlus marketplace, so be sure to pay them a visit. While you're there, check out their unique blog article about what Pokemon cards are worth in real terms. Selling one valuable card could buy you an entire 4 years of college tuition, as well as 12 years rent in Osaka, for instance!

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 cards on this list or pokemon cards from Japan, check out the ZenMarket Pokemon Showcase Page - A convenient place to find the latest Japanese Pokemon card products.

It is also recommended to keep your eye out on Pokemon Card Auctions Listings. See our video guide for Yahoo! Auctions below!



ZenMarket doesn't sell Pokemon cards directly, we are a service that helps to connect international buyers and local Japanese sellers.

That means we don't mark up the cost of products you want to buy, you pay the same price for products that Japanese people living in Japan do! 

 Have you signed up for ZenMarket yet? 

ZenMarket is the place to get your hands on goods directly from Japan!

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Article| 12/11/2020 | Pokemonpokemon cards


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