The Most Valuable Pokémon Cards Money Can Buy

By Tom Pritchard on at

As we all know, the world of Pokémon is not restricted to video games. But forget the comics and cartoons, we're here to talk about the main event: the trading card game. Alongside the likes of Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, The Pokémon Trading Card Game is one of the most popular and well-known TCGs out there - and with good reason.

That popularity also means that there are a lot of hungry fans out there who would love to get their hands on some of the game's rarest cards - causing their value to skyrocket. Let's face it, we're all planning for the post-apocalypse. So which rare Pokemon cards might get you the most tinned goods or filtered water? Let's find out.

The Shiny Charizard


Ah Charizard, the one card universally-coveted across playgrounds the world over. It's no secret that the Shiny Charizard from the original Base Set Unlimited is a rather valuable card, but did you know that there is more than one kind? They're all valuable in their own way, but some are more valuable than others.

The most valuable of all the Shiny Charizards are, naturally, the First Edition prints. These are shown off by the First Edition stamp on the left hand side of the stats (above). They are the creme de la creme, and if graded in good condition can sell for upwards of $300 (£242). Often, though, they sell for much higher.


The next most valuable Shiny Charizard is known as a 'shadowless Charizard'. It doesn't have a first edition stamp, but these cards do not have a shadow underneath the image frame. These tend to sell for over £100, more if they're graded in good condition.


The final one to note is the regular Shiny Charizard, with the shadow underneath the image's frame. These are by far the most common, though in mint condition you can pay upwards of £50. They can be found for less if you're willing to shop around and take one that isn't in perfect condition.

Gold Star Cards


These cards all feature art by Masakazu Fukuda, with art designed to look as though the monsters are climbing out of the usual card frame. Gold Star cards are marked by, funnily enough, a golden star outline following the Pokémon's name. They tend to sell for anywhere between $30 and $80, though graded copies can go for upwards of $150.

Shining Cards


Different from cards featuring shiny Pokémon, and the holographic 'shiny' cards we all know and love. Shining cards were introduced in the Neo Evolutions deck, and feature Pokémon with a number of special and powerful moves. They were quite rare, and are thus rather valuable. The prices fluctuate based on which monster featured.

Shiny Espeon


The shiny Espeon is notoriously hard to find in-game, and the real-world card has proven to be no different. It was only distributed through the Pokémon Players Club, which gave out rare Shiny Pokémon cards to member that attended multiple club events. The criteria for receiving the cards was notoriously strict, making them incredibly rare - and thus incredibly valuable. Shiny Espeon has been known to sell for nearly $2,000, and if you manage to get one for under a grand you're getting an incredibly good deal.


Tropical Mega Battle Cards


These cards were only made available for a single event that took place in Hawaii in 2001. Attendees were given the cards which, due to the relatively remote location, were not in the high numbers. Because of this they are extremely hard to find, and individual cards in good nick have been known to sell for over $5,000.

Southern Island Card Set


This set is only valuable in complete condition, with all 18 original cards (two sets of nine) in the collectable folder. Individual cards aren't worth so much alone, and neither are the promotional reprints.

Pokémon Snap Cards


Back in the day, there were times where fans could submit their own Pokémon card artwork in the hopes of getting it featured on promotional cards. One of these promotions was tied into the N64 game Pokémon Snap, which let players submit their own in-game snaps in the hopes of getting them printed. Nobody really knows how many are in circulation, but some are known to have been sold for over $8,000

Number 1, 2, & 3 Trainer Cards


The only way you could have got hold of these when they were released was to actually be the very best (that no one ever was). They were handed out to the winner of the Trading Card game world finals, one year at a time, and granted you entry to the following year's tournament. These types of cards have been released quite a bit over the years, but the originals from 1997-1999 are among the most valuable.

Pre-Release Raichu


Only about 15 of these exist, and they can be identified by the 'PRE-RELEASE' stamp in the bottom right hand corner of the image. They're supposedly the result of a printing error, and were handed out to Wizards of the Coast employees. Their existence was only made known in about 2006, when one such employee came forward to tell the story. Yet, to this day, Wizards of the Coast reportedly refuses to acknowledge its existence. Reports indicate that these cards have sold for over $10,000

Pikachu Illustrator Card


This is, without a doubt, the rarest Pokémon card ever made. How many were made is up for dispute (at least one sources says 30), but at the moment only six are known to exist, with only five in active circulation. They were only available in Japanese, and were given out to competition winners back in 1998. Back in 2013, a Mint condition graded copy was put on eBay with a whopping $100,000 asking price. Non mint copies can still fetch upwards of $50,000, and ungraded cards have been sold for over $20,000. That's an insane amount of cash for a tiny piece of card.

Having seen all of these lovely cards with big prices, you might be tempted to go online and get some seemingly rare cards for yourself. You should be cautious, since there are unscrupulous sellers out there that will take advantage of your ignorance. Nowhere is this more true than with the First Edition Shiny Machamp card.


Searching for a first edition Machamp on eBay brings up a lot of high-priced listings, all to get you to pay out for this seemingly-rare card. The thing is, a first edition Machamp isn't rare at all.

How? Well every single Shiny Machamp from the original Base Set Unlimited has a first edition stamp, and it was included in the original two player starter set that pretty much everyone bought. That means well over a million of them were printed.

Even accounting for the ones that were damaged, or accidentally went through the washing machine, the first edition Machamp is still abundantly available. It's not completely worthless, especially if you desperately want to add it to your collection, but it's certainly no Shiny Charizard. If you're paying more than £10 you're definitely getting ripped off. Don't be duped by this fool's shiny.