The Top 23 Rarest Pokemon Cards of All Time


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In this article, we’ll explore the most valuable are rare Pokemon cards in existence.

Some of these pieces have fetched millions at auction!

But of course these aren’t just cards…

These are works of art. These are one of a kinds. These are pieces of Pokemon history. 

The Most Valuable Pokemon Card in The World

1. 1998 Pikachu Illustrator Card


There’s no better place to start than what many consider to be the rarest Pokemon card in existence, the Pikachu Illustrator. This is the perfect example of a card with extremely limited supply and few graded copies in existence.

The backstory goes that in 1997 and 1998, one of Japan’s longest running comics CoroCoro ran competitions to encourage readers to design their own Pokemon cards. Not only did the winners receive 20 copies of their illustration on cards, but they also received this iconic Pikachu Illustrator card as an award. Today, only 39 copies of pikachu illustrator cards are known to exist.

What’s cool about the card design is that it has ‘ILLUSTRATOR’ written across the top instead of ‘TRAINER’ and it’s the only card with a pen symbol in the bottom right-hand corner. Furthermore it’s one the few Pokemon cards that has double-star rarity in the bottom right-hand corner too.

With only 24 copies graded by PSA, and only 1 of which is a PSA 10, it’s easy to see why some many view the Illustrator Pikachu as the holy grail of the hobby.

  • PSA 10 – Logan Paul – $5,275,000 [Source] – Enters the Guinness World Records for most expensive Pokemon card ever bought!
  • Raw then graded PSA 9 – $420,000 [See video below]
  • PSA 7 – $375,000 [Source]

The Rarest Pokemon Cards Ever Made

2. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Base Set Charizard


A card that needs no introduction, and what is for many, the pinnacle of the hobby. This Charizard card is by far the most valuable and sought by Pokemon card collectors, and for good reason too. Let’s be honest, 1st Edition Base Set Shadowless Charizard is a badass card! 

The famous artwork breathing fire. The powerful 100 point Fire Spin coupled with the 120 HP. The subtle first edition stamp and shadowless border. It’s just a masterpiece! But it’s not just that, that makes it one of the most valuable Pokémon cards…

As a kid, you were king of the playground with one of these in your pocket. It felt like you won the lottery if you pulled it from a pack. You could boss the TCG if you had one in your deck.

This card is worth so much because of the way it made you feel. And the way it makes you feel today. Its nostalgic value is synonymous with its real world value.

It’s no surprise that even celebrities who grew up in the Pokemon era, use their fat stacks to rebuy a piece of their childhood. Logic the rapper famously purchased a copy in 2020 through Auction House Iconic Auctions for $183,812 (plus a 20% buyer’s premium). And more recently Logan Paul wore his copy around his neck for his ring walk to face Floyd “Money” Mayweather in their recent exhibition match.  

For many, this is THE CARD to collect, and it’s easy to see why. Furthermore, only 121 copies exist in a PSA 10 and 700 PSA 9’s exist which show it’s not an easy card to grade in a 10 either.

  • PSA 10 – $420,000 [Source] – March 22 sale smashing the previous record by $70k!
  • PSA 10 – $349,995 [Source]

3. 1999 Prerelease Raichu


Some Pokemon cards are so rare, that we’re not even sure they ever existed! That can be said for Prerelease Raichu…

Rumour had it, that during the manufacture of Prerelease Clefable, a sheet of Raichu cards were stamped with the PRERELEASE symbol. There are 10 cards per sheet, hence it’s believed (by some) that 10 copies exist. Wizards of the Coast always denied this event occurred, but in 2006 a staff member shared a very convincing image of the card (above).

Despite rumours of a sale that happen to coincide with April Fools Day, there had been no confirmed sightings of Prerelease Raichu in the wild.

Until November 2023 that is! When CGC announced that they’d certified two genuine copies, making this in my opinion, the rarest Pokemon card of all time!

4. 1998 Blastoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram Card


Now this card is an absolute gem! At first glance you’d think it wasn’t real when you look at the font. But it is in fact an iconic piece of Pokemon history. 

This test printed Blastoise was used by the Wizards of the Coast team to help showcase to their higher ups at Nintendo, that they was capable of producing the English version of the TCG. Incredible right?!

What makes the Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram card so rare is that only 4 copies were ever made! Three of the copies had ‘Magic: The Gathering’ backs to them as WOTC produced that TCG already, and the other copy has a blank back.

  • The single blank back copy, graded an 8.5 by CGC sold for $360,000 [Source]

5. 1998 Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy Card


Next up we have one of the rarest Pokemon trophy cards in existence, and one of those ‘holy grail’ items for many vintage collectors. 

In Japan 1998 a Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament was held for parents and children to team up and battle others. Teams that reached a certain number of wins were awarded this trophy card. By the way, to my fellow Pokeparents – how cool does that sound?! They should definitely bring that back!

Anyway the card is so unique as it features the original Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game logo as a set symbol which is incredibly rare. Plus only 48 graded copies exist with PSA – of which 11 are PSA 10.

  • PSA 10 – $150,000 [Source]

6. 1999 Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer


Trophy cards from Pokemon’s heyday are always very desirable, but this card takes things to a whole new level!

The 1999 Mega Battle Tourament was a big deal in Japan, with the winners from each player level invited to the finals in Hawaii. 

Only the best of the best TCG players from each region were awarded this beautiful Exeggutor trophy card, a design quite fitting to the location might I add! 

Makes me want to crack out my Southern Islands set come to think of it!

Anyway, what we have here is the No. 2 Trainer trophy card, a timeless collectors item, where in fact only 6 graded copies exist. 

  • 2 PSA 10’s exist and 9 PSA exist
  • The only card that was sold in recent years wasn’t in good enough condition to receive a grade (mostly because of fading), but it still went for a whopping…
  • PSA AUTHENTIC – $50,300 [Source]

Imagine what a PSA 9 or 10 would sell for!!!

7. 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Bronze 3rd-2nd Tournament Trophy Pikachu


This incredible piece of Pokemon history is a Bronze Trophy Card from the first official National Championships for Japan in 1998.

Tournament winners would receive trophies instead of prize cards, which makes pieces like this even more coveted among collectors.

The chubby Pikachu artwork was designed by non-other than legendary Pokemon artist Mitsuhiro Artia, which further adds to its desirably.

  • Approx. only 15 copies were ever awarded
  • No PSA 10’s exist
  • Only 5 PSA 9’s exist
  • PSA 9 – $192,000 [Source]

8. 1996 Pokemon Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holo Charizard (Autographed)


Next let’s look at one of the most valuable Pokémon cards in existence. No Rarity symbol Base Set cards are the Japanese equivalent of the English 1st Edition cards. They are the very first print run from Pokemon’s earliest days. 

With this particular card, not only is it a Charizard. It’s a GEM MINT 10. And it’s signed by the Pokemon Company’s most famous illustrator, Mitsuhiro Arita!

  • Only 7 PSA 10’s Exist
  • Signed by Artia, therefore one-of-a-kind!
  • PSA 10 (Autographed) – $324,000 [Source]

9. 2000 Pokemon Base Set 2 Non-Holo Charizard Error Card


Now this is something you don’t see everyday. In fact, this is probably the only one in existence.

You might be thinking, a CGC 6 Base Set 2 Charizard is nothing to shout home about. But what we have here is an insane error card!

Why? Because it’s a non-holo… Wizards of the Coast never made a non-holograhpic version for Base Set 2!

The only non-holo version that was produced around that time was for the Legendary Collection LAVA theme deck in 2002.

How this came into existence, one can only speculate. But what we do know is that it’s one of the rarest Pokémon cards in the world.

  • One-of-a-kind
  • Crazy error card
  • CGC 6 – $16,272 [Source]

10. 1995 Pokemon Japanese Topsun Blue Back No Number Charizard


What we have next is an incredibly rare card from Pokemon earliest days. Considering the insane value of the item above, Topsun Pokemon cards were humorously included in packs of chewing gum!

But it’s not just the age of this card which makes it hard to come by, this variant has several other factors that it very rare which I’ll detail below:

  • It is the Blue Back version, which is far rarer than the Green Back version which was printed later
  • It also doesn’t have the number, which was later included on the top-left of the card
  • PSA doesn’t distinguish between the ‘No Number’ and ‘Numbered’ variants in their population report, but of the 24 PSA 10’s that exist only 2 are known to be ‘No Numbered’ copies – you don’t get much rarer than that!
  • PSA 10 – $192,000 [Source]

11. 2017 Tsunekazu Ishihara GX Black Star Promo Card


This isn’t the most beautiful Pokemon card you’ll ever come across, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in rarity!

We’ve got a lot to thank Pokemon founder and president Tsunekazu Ishihara for; he created the universe we all love to be a part of. And on his 60th birthday, his staff had even more to be thankful for…each were given this promotional card to celebrate the man himself and as a thank you for their work at the Pokemon company. 

The fact that only staff were given this card, means it’s an extremely scarce and rare Pokémon card – in fact, not many copies exist. But to stack a further level of rarity on top, a card signed by the man himself sold at auction for a whopping $247,230 – incredibly, it was only a PSA 7 as well!

  • PSA 7 Autographed – $237,230 [Source]
  • PSA 10 – $100,000 [Source]

12. Pokemon 25th Anniversary Celebrity Collaborator Cards

pokemon 25th Anniversary Celebrity Collaborator Cards - post malone, katy perry, j balvin

You’re either going to love or hate these next full art Pokemon cards! And as a collector, they may be completely undesirable to you – but it doesn’t make them any less rare… What I’m referring to are the Celebrity Collaborator Cards of Post Malone, Katy Perry and J Blavin. 

All three artists played a big role in the entertainment side of  Pokemon’s hugely successful 25th Anniversary. As such, they were given a unique copy of their own Pokemon card – pretty awesome for them, right! Only one Post Malone V, Katy Perry V and J Balvin V card exists, and there’s very little chance these artists will ever let them go! 

13. 1998 Tamamushi University Magikarp Prize


There’s something about how common Magikarp cards are, that when there’s one that’s actually very rare, it makes it extra special. And up next, is by far, the rarest Magikarp card in existence…

Here’s a card with a crazy story.

In 1998, Shogakukan Celadon University ran a campaign where pupils who enrolled, and completed a series of tests (printed in magazines) could become a Certified Pokemon Professor

Students would mail their answers to the university grading department, and once everything had been marked, the top 1000 students became certified and were awarded this card. 

What’s crazy is that from that initial batch, only 14 PSA 10’s exist today, which is why it’s worth so darn much today!

14. 2005 Pokemon Japanese Play Promo 70,000 Pts Holo Gold Star Umbreon


You probably recognize Masakazu Fukuda’s artwork, but did you know this version of the iconic Gold Star Umbreon is way rarer and more valuable?

In fact, it’s one of the rarest Japanese Pokemon cards in existence…

To be rewarded with this card, members of the Pokemon Player’s Club needed to acquire at least 70,000 experience points after four seasons.

To put this in context, players started with 1,000 points, and only gained 100 points for attending an official event.

They could also gain points for hosting events, playing matches and attending tournaments, but the points acquired weren’t exactly large hauls!

This card was so hard to get your hands on, so with only 24 graded copies existing in the PSA database, and just 17 of which in a PSA 10, it’s such a rare collector’s item.

  • BGS 9.5 (Pop 2) – $70,000 [Source]

15. 2000 Pokemon Topps Chrome Series 1 Tekno Charizard


Topps Pokemon cards may not have been appreciated back in the day, but they certainly are now!

The best cards to pull, we’re randomly inserted Spectra, Sparkle and Tekno versions of the holofoil design.

And with a pull rate for Tekno cards of just 1 in 15 packs, these are by far the rarest versions of the cards. (As a point of reference, Sparkle cards had a pull rate of 1 in 10 packs, and Spectra 1 in 2.)

  • Only 7 PSA 10’s exist
  • Large holographic area make them harder to grade
  • The cards within sealed Topps Pokemon packs, that have been kept unopened, are known to stick together – therefore making them very hard to grade well today
  • PSA 10 – $60,000 [Source]

16. 2000 Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holographic Lugia


Lugia is widely regarded as the most coveted second generation Pokemon. This legendary bird is incredibly powerful, extremely difficult to catch and the poster boy of vintage classic Pokemon Silver on GameBoy. 

Lugia made its introduction into the TCG in the 2000 Neo Genesis set. However, early print runs are known to contain errors and imperfections. You’d think Wizards of the Coast would have got the hang of things by now! Anyway, because of this, it’s extremely difficult for 1st Edition Holo Lugia to gain a high grade.

The popularity of this Pokemon, combined with low population of Gem Mint cards (only 43 PSA 10’s exist, compared to 444 PSA 9’s) make it extremely valuable and expensive Pokémon card to buy. 

  • BGS 10 (pop 1 of 3) – $144,300 [Source]
  • PSA 10 – $129,000 [Source]

17. 2006 Pokémon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer


Up next we’ve got an incredibly rare Pokemon Trophy Card…

In 2006, the Pokémon World Championships were held in Anaheim, California. In order to even make it to the coveted tournament, players had to accumulate enough points to qualify, and then reach the finals of their respective divisions.  The small number of tournament winners were awarded with this beautifully designed No. 2 Trainer card, featuring Pikachu raising the trophy. 

As trophy cards such as this represent the best Pokemon TCG players in the world, they are extremely sought after by collectors. Combine that with only 2 PSA graded copies in the database, and you can see why it fetches so much at auction.

18. 1999 Pokemon Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer


Not only does this next card represent reaching the TCG’s pinnacle in its heyday, but the circumstances around it are just so damn cool too!

Imagine this; Toyko, Japan 1999. There are regional Pokemon tournaments, where only the winners would go on to compete in the finals, which were held at a secret location!

I mean, that just sounds EPIC right?!

Well, this card was only awarded to the winners of each regional tournament. It’s like a friggin’ golden ticket to the Pokemon inner circle!  

Although only seven regional tournaments took place, 8 graded copies exist in the PSA registry – meaning there must have been a few extras printed for backups. Of those eight cards, there are 6 PSA 10’s and 2 PSA 9’s.

What’s also so cool about it is that the card says “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognized here, and this honor is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.” and features awesome Mewtwo artwork by original artist Hideki Kazama.

19. 1999 Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind


Next we have another really rare Pokémon card, with an element of exclusivity that strongly adds to its appeal.

The 1999 Tropical Mega Battle was a tournament consisting of 50 players that took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. The only way to enter… earn an invite!

That’s right, only the best Pokemon trainers from their region were invited to take part in this exclusive tournament, with these beautifully unique Tropical Wind cards given as prizes.

Interestingly, the Tropical Mega Battle tournament only ran until 2001, and was later replaced by the now famous Pokémon World Championships. Because of it’s short run, Tropical Mega Battle cards are exceedingly rare and highly valued by collectors who appreciate their significance.

Today, only 69 graded copies exist at PSA, with just 3 achieving a PSA 10 grade.

  • PSA 10 – $65,100 [Source

20. 2005 Japanese Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy

2005-Japanese-Summer-Battle-Road-Mew-Victory-Orb-TrophyWhat do you get when you combine an extremely rare trophy card with a beautiful Mew artwork? 

A very rare and valuable card, that’s what!

The 2005 Summer Battle Road tournament spanned many cities in Japan, to find the TCG’s very best. 

Again, like most tournaments, only the top three players from each age range were awarded a coveted trophy card. 

Most trophy cards are very attractive, but luckily for 2005’s participants, this card was extra special. 

Featuring stunning holographic artwork by Takumi Akabane of Mew and the energy symbols, it’s a real display piece which I’m sure will only continue to rise in value. Especially since only 16 PSA 10’s exist too!

  • PSA 10 in display case – $60,000 [Source]

21. 2010 Daisuki Club 8,600 Pts Master Scroll Holographic


Up next we have one of the rarest and most sought after Japanese Promo Pokemon cards there is.

The Pokemon Daisuki Club is the Japanese equivalent of The Pokemon Trainer Club.

It’s a big deal in Japan! 

Anyway, in 2010, they held a competition where fans could sign up, carry out various Pokemon trading card game related activities and earn points. 

These in turn could be exchanged for prizes, the top one of course being the coveted Holographic Master Scroll card.

8,600 points was incredibly difficult to achieve, hence why the card is so darn rare and one of the most valuable Pokémon cards today.

The holographic border and scroll make it such a visually beautiful card to appreciate.

The scroll also has connotations to the idea of obtaining the ‘holy grail’ – with ‘grail card’ a commonly used term in the hobby. 

Overall, it’s easy to see why this card is so desirable for collectors.

  • Only 57 graded copies exist – 26 of which are a PSA 10
  • PSA 10 – $35,200 [Source]

22. 2010 Pokemon Master’s Key


Next we have a stunning Japanese trophy card that is highly sought after among collectors.

The master’s key card was awarded to to winners of the 2010 Pokemon World Championships, which were held in Hawaii.

Participants from both the Pokemon trading card game and video game tournaments that finished high enough were given this card, which was presented in the smart frame you see above.

  • Only 36 copies were awarded
  • Framed Copy – $21,201 [Source]

23. 1996 Pokemon Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Venusaur (Autographed)


Next up, this absolute gem takes the crown for the rarest, most valuable Venusaur card in the world.

“No Rarity Symbol” cards are the Japanese equivalent of 1st Edition.

As the name suggests, the first print run of Japanese Base Set cards didn’t include a rarity symbol in the bottom right hand corner. Because of this, they are extremely rare and sought after. 

  • Only 5 PSA 10 copies exist
  • The most expensive one ever sold is signed by the artist Mitsuhiro Arita
  • PSA 10 (Autographed) – $55,000 [Source]

Factors Affecting the Value of Rare Pokemon Cards

The value of rare Pokemon cards is influenced by numerous factors, including:

  • The card’s condition
  • Rarity and print runs
  • Demand and popularity
  • Historical significance

Understanding these factors can help collectors and investors make informed decisions when buying and selling cards.

The interaction of these factors in complex ways determines a card’s value. For example, a card’s condition and rarity might increase its value, while a decline in popularity could decrease it. By understanding these factors, collectors can better navigate the market and find the most valuable cards.

Card Condition

The condition of a card significantly affects its value. Cards in mint or near-mint condition can sell for much higher prices than those in poor condition. 

The condition of a Pokemon card is determined by factors such as:

  • Edge wear
  • Corner wear
  • Scratches
  • Creases
  • Fading
  • Dirt buildup

These factors are assessed when you send your cards to grading companies such as PSA, CGC, and BGS. They assess the card’s condition and assign it a grade, which can significantly impact its value.

A high grade can greatly increase a card’s value. For example, a Gem Mint PSA 10 means the card is super well-centered, has a flawless surface, and has no edgewear or damage. This makes it more valuable because it’s in perfect condition.

Rarity and Print Runs

A card’s value is directly impacted by its rarity and print runs. Cards from limited print runs are rarer and more in demand, which drives up their prices. For example, the Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram card is incredibly valuable because there are only four of them in the world. The rarity of a Pokemon card is determined by the number of copies produced and distributed. Cards from limited print runs are more rare and valuable because there are fewer copies available to collectors.

Print runs are determined by the order in which cards are printed and put into boosters. For example, it is estimated that about 5,280 copies of the 1st edition Charizard card were made. This limited production makes these cards highly sought after by collectors.

Demand and Popularity

A card’s value can be greatly influenced by the demand and popularity of specific Pokemon or card sets. The more collectors want a card, the higher its price tends to be. For example, cards featuring popular Pokemon or from sought-after sets can fetch high prices because they are in high demand.

Popularity is determined by factors such as the Pokemon featured on the card and the set the card comes from. For example, historically popular and in-demand cards include:

  • Charizard
  • Pikachu
  • Mew
  • Mewtwo
  • Blastoise
  • Venusaur

A Pokemon’s role in the anime or video games can also impact how much fans want its card. When people get attached to a specific Pokemon through the show or games, they’re more likely to want its trading card. This emotional connection and familiarity drive up the demand and popularity of the card.

Historical Significance

The historical significance of a card can also enhance its value. Cards associated with significant moments in the Pokemon trading card game’s history or featuring unique artwork can be more valuable.

Special event Pokemon cards, also known as promotional cards, are particularly sought after due to their historical significance. These cards are produced for special events like tournaments or shows or store openings and can be particularly valuable too because of their association to that moment in time. 

Tips for Collecting and Investing in Rare Pokemon Cards

Understanding the factors that influence the value of rare Pokemon cards can aid you in making informed decisions as a collector or investor. It’s important to research card values, understand grading, and stay informed about market trends.

When contemplating a card purchase, consider its:

  • Condition
  • Rarity
  • Demand
  • Historical significance

It’s important to stay vigilant about fake cards and ensure any high-value cards are graded. Graded cards are more valuable than ungraded ones, and having a card graded can help you sell it for a higher price.


Collecting and investing in rare Pokemon cards is both a wonderful hobby and potentially lucrative business venture! For me, it enables me to combine something I love with a way to make money. And of course, not everyone can obtain or even get close to any of the cards on this list. But thankfully the principles run true whether you’re dealing with high-end collectibles, or newly released sets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the rarest Pokemon card?

The rarest Pokemon card is widely considered to be the Pikachu Illustrator card, which has fetched prices between $375,000 and $6 million. It was originally given as a prize in a 1997 art competition by CoroCoro.

Are Pokémon cards worth any money?

Yes, some Pokémon cards are worth a lot of money, with the Gold Star Pokémon cards, especially Espeon and Umbreon, being among the rarest and most valuable. Some Pokémon cards now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What is the highest value Pokemon card?

The highest value Pokemon card is the Illustrator Pikachu, which was sold for a staggering $5.275 million and holds the title of the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold.

How do rarity and print runs affect a Pokemon card’s value?

The rarity and print runs of a Pokemon card significantly influence its value. Limited print runs make cards rarer and more sought after, leading to higher prices.

What role does a card’s condition play in its value?

The condition of a card plays a big role in its value, with mint or near-mint cards fetching much higher prices than those in poor condition.

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