How Much Are Pokemon Cards Worth? (Beginner’s Guide)


With the massive resurgence of the Pokemon Trading card game, it seems like every other day a family member or friend is asking me how much their childhood Pokemon cards are worth. If you are wondering about the value of your old Pokemon collection, this post should be able to point you in the right direction. 

On average, Pokémon cards are worth $1.20. Most “Rare” Pokémon cards are valued under $10 and cards that are classified as “uncommon” or below are often worth less than $1. Older and promotional Pokémon cards have a much higher value on average, with some cards being worth over $300,000. 

To be sure about the value of a specific Pokémon card it’s important to understand all of the factors that determine a card’s value. 

If you want to make an informed decision whether it’s worth your time dusting off your old Pokémon card collection and going through the trouble of finding a buyer, then some of the details below are important to know. 

Which Pokémon Cards Are Worth Money?

In general, Pokémon cards from the original “Base Set” printing are worth more money than cards printed in recent sets. This is due to supply and demand economics as obtaining older cards no longer in print is much harder. However, the condition of a card is key in determining its value. 

A card that is still in print is not likely to rise to an extremely high value soon. On the other hand, older cards that are not being printed anymore, especially limited editions or promo cards, generally have a higher value. 

This can be a great place to start when trying to decide which of your Pokémon cards may have some value – Check your oldest cards first. 

However, you will need to know more than the card’s age if you are truly hoping to find out if there might be gold stashed in your card binder collection.

What Condition is Your Pokemon card?

At first, take a look at the condition of the card you’re considering selling. 

Even when it comes to the rarest of Pokémons cards, the condition is everything.

Collectors are much less willing to spend money on a card that has creases, stains, or even rips. While a card in “Gem Mint” is always the sought-after ideal, “lightly played” cards still have value and can be sold for a respectable amount of money. 

This means that if you were a tidy child that took diligent care of their collection, you may be in luck! 

If your cards do show traces of gameplay and handling, you may not have to despair immediately. 

Generally speaking, the rarer the card your selling, the more obliging potential buyers will be with regards to its condition, but don’t expect life-changing offers of cash for cards in poor condition.  

Are Your Pokémon Cards Centered? 

Usually, the artwork of the Pokémon on your card is centered right inside the borders of the card. 

Pokémon cards pulled straight from a booster pack will look like they have their artwork perfectly centered, but it’s actually not that uncommon for the art of a Pokémon card to be slightly misaligned.

Sometimes these cards are classified as “Misprints” and there are Pokémon card collectors that are willing to pay for cards with printing errors from the factory. 

However, if you are looking to get your Pokémon cards professionally graded and valued, then artwork being off-centered will deduct points from the final evaluation score of your cards – decreasing its general market value. 

Off-centered printings can also occur on the back art of a card as well as the front. The Poke Ball art and logo that are present on the back of the card can also sometimes sit too far left or right of the card’s center.

So it’s best to double-check these factors if you do happen to find a card that you might think is worth some cash!

Are Your Pokémon Cards Rare?

With regards to most Pokémon cards, there are 4 levels of standard rarity that are worth mentioning for now. 

It’s also important to note here, when we are talking about “Rarity” or how “Rare” a card is, I am not referring to the actual scarcity of the card or hard it is to fine.

Pokémon cards have different rarity classifications that are assigned by the Pokémon company themselves and can often be identified by the symbol printed on the card. 

This can be somewhat confusing to those new to the trading card scene as most people will use the term “rare” interchangeably between the “Classification rare” and “Monetary value rare”.

This isn’t something you should worry too much about as often a card that is “Monetary value rare” will also have the classification of Rare, hence why many players will use the term interchangeably.

You can figure what classification level a card has by looking for a small symbol in one of the bottom corners of your card: 

  • Common: A small black circle
Common
  • Uncommon: A diamond shape
Uncommon
  • Rare: A tiny star
Rare

Promotional: A black start with the word “PROMO” written across it

As a general rule, the rarer the Pokémon card classification the more money it will be worth. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s best to be vigilant when evaluating your Pokémon collection.

There are certainly some Uncommons, and possibly even commons, that exist from much older Pokémon sets that might be considered more valuable than modern-day Rares. 

Therefore, you can’t simply look at a Pokémon card’s rarity and decide on the card’s value based on the symbol you see there alone.

With that said, you should keep your eyes out for any Promo cards that you may have in your collection. 

Promo cards are not always, but often, printed in very limited quantities which means there is a higher chance of your promo cards being worth more money than cards of other rarities. 

Fun Fact: Some of the most expensive Pokémon cards in the world are Promo cards given out at special events. You can see the most expensive Pokémon cards of 2021 here!

Are Your Pokémon Cards Holo?

Holographic cards do not only look more special than regular cards, they are also usually worth more money! 

The number of cards that come out of a set holographic are far fewer in supply, and what looked special to you as a child due to its simple shiny surface, now potentially has a lot of value.

You only have to look at cards like the infamous holographic Charizard.

Often a lot of attention gets drawn to this rare card and sometimes it acts as the poster child for Pokémon cards in general.

This is especially true when you see celebrities threw out wild amounts of money for it.

Example: Rapper “Logic” spent $183,000 USD on a mint condition first-edition shadowless holographic Charizard.[1]

That may sound like a lot of money, but a “Gem Mint” 1st Edition Charizard has now sold for twice that amount!

The one risk that comes with holographic Pokémon cards is they may suffer from some “curling”. 

Curling is when the side of the Pokémon card doesn’t lay flat when placed on a surface. Something to do with the manufacturing process of holographic cards makes it more likely that curling will occur compared to normal cards. 

This can impact the monetary value of your card, so it is a good idea to keep your holographic cards in sleeves that can help to keep your cards straight and stop them from curling. 

Do You Have Any First Editions Pokémon cards?

First edition cards tend to be worth more than other cards, so if you have some of those in your collection you might just be in luck.

For the most part, first edition cards are easy to spot as you will often see “Edition 1” printed next to the bottom left corner of the card’s art frame. 

For example, take a look at a first-edition holographic Charizard that can get you, depending on the condition, anything from $2,000 USD to several hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

While other editions still may get you around $100 USD on average, having a good condition 1st Edition card is always a good place to start if you are looking to sell cards from your collection. 

Is Your Pokémon Card A “Misprint”?

It may sound counterintuitive that an error would make something more valuable, but then, it also makes something more unique and therefore rarer.

Keep in mind mention that a misprinting of a card, doesn’t automatically make your card worth more money. As mentioned before, a misprint of a card will generally result in a lower score from a professional card grading service. 

However, there is a market for misprints, and certain well-known misprints, in particular, can drive up the price of a Pokémon card and sell for a decent amount of money. 

One such printing error is the much desired first edition base set “Red-cheeked” Pikachu, which is currently worth more than $10,000 USD – provided that it is in Gem Mint condition. 

Even lower graded version of this card can be seen to be sold for several hundreds of dollars. 

Is Your Pokémon Card Professionally Graded?

Once you have performed all of your checks and you are confident that the card you are holding is worth a decent amount of money, it may make sense to think about getting your cards graded by a company such as Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). 

One final check that I would recommend before sending your Pokémon cards off to be graded is to do an eBay search for the card you are thinking of selling.

Even if have heard about the card you have going for wild amounts of money, it’s best to check what the average sale price for your card is currently by searching for it on eBay.

Pro Tip: eBay has a handy feature that lets you see auction listings that have already sold for items that you are searching for. The sold auctions will give you a much better idea of what you can expect your card to realistically sell for.

The PSA grade assigns trading cards to a condition standard from “Gem Mint” to “Poor” and makes notes of qualifiers like an off-center print or staining.

PSA grade scale also contains half points. For example, a card may come back graded as a 6.5.

What is the PSA grading scale?

Card Grading ScoreCard Condition
1Poor condition
2Good condition
3Very Good condition
4Very Good to Excellent condition
5Excellent condition
6Excellent – Near Mint condition
7Near Mint condition
8Near Mint – Mint condition
9Mint condition
10Gem Mint condition
Information from PSA’s Official Website[2]

Getting a PSA grade can make high-value cards worth even more and can also help you avoid unnecessary haggling or debating with a potential buyer about the condition of the card you have.

When you are looking to buy a card and the seller makes claims to a certain grade, ask for the required documentation from the PSA or the grading number. All grades that get graded by PSA are given a unique ID number that anyone can look up on their website.

This can help potential buyers spot fake Pokémon cards or cards that claim to have been graded when they haven’t. So if you are planning to get your Pokémon cards and get them professionally graded it’s important that you hang on to these details.

Lastly, try not to be disappointed if you don’t find hidden gems in your collection.

Unfortunately, it is not an all-too-common event that you will discover a card that is worth several thousands of dollars – well, this is why rare cards are called rare! 

If you are only in it for the money, trading Pokémon cards will likely be a rather disappointing experience.

You can also treat it as a moment of nostalgia and an opportunity to re-connect with a childhood passion, constantly looking at your Pokémon card collection with a cold, monetary appraising stare can often suck the enjoyment that we get from collectible trading card games.

I know more than one person that dusted off their old Pokémon card collection with the intent to sell, but ended up starting the play the Pokémon Trading Card Game again.

But even in the case that you are just looking for an opportunity to get rid of your old binders and boxes cluttering up the basement, you should keep in the mind the money you actually spent to obtain the cards you want to sell.

Even if you are dreaming of that $100,000 card in your collection, but are disappointed to see that the worth of your cards moves into the $500 range, keep in mind that this is still much more than what you bought those cards for – That’s a financial win no matter how you look at it!

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, I wish you all the best in your future Pokémon trading endeavors!

References

Nicholas Lloyd

Hi, I'm Nick, a professional writer living in Ōsaka, Japan, and have been apart of the Trading Card Game community for over 20 years. I share tips, answer questions, and anything else I can do to help more people enjoy this wonderful cardboard hobby.

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