Check Your Old Pokémon Cards — They Might Be Worth Something

Pokémon cards were all the rage in the '90s and early 2000s. Are old Pokémon cards worth anything today? You might be surprised. We've got the scoop.


Apr. 19 2023, Published 11:38 a.m. ET

If you grew up in the '90s and early 2000s, you may have gone through a Pokémon phase. And if you collected Pokémon cards, they were probably among your most prized possessions, like Furby and Nintendo GameBoy.

As the highest grossing media franchise of all time with an estimated value of $92 billion, these Pocket Monsters acted as kid currency and were traded for toys, money, and other cards.

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Today, Pokémon cards are still wildly popular with kids and adults alike. Let’s find out if your old Pokémon cards are worth anything.

Are old Pokémon cards worth anything? Let’s find out.

Pokémon, which is an abbreviation for Pocket Monsters, was the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri in 1996 and centered around fictional creatures that needed to be trained, cared for, and battled each other.

What started out as a Nintendo Game Boy game quickly became a media sensation with video games, anime television series, books, music, toys, and of course the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

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To answer your question, yes, old Pokémon cards can be worth a lot of money depending on factors like rarity, condition, and demand. Sought-after cards like first edition holographic cards or those featuring popular characters like Charizard or Blastoise are making money on the resale market.

How do I know if my Pokémon cards are worth money?

Before you rummage through your attic or binder searching for your old decks, you should first know how to identify the value of your old cards.

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Rarity: To find out if your cards are worth anything, look at the symbol on the bottom right-hand corner of the card. A circle indicates it's common while a diamond tells you it's uncommon. If you see a star or the letter "R," it means the card is rare and may be worth a lot. Some cards may be worth money due to errors and misprints too.

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Also look for a holographic finish, or a reverse holographic card which is holographic except for the character picture toward the top. The rarest cards may have "ex" or "prime" included in the name of the card.

Condition: If your cards are in mint condition, they should be in a sealed pack, while near mint cards may have small chips, nicks or light surface scratches. If you found a rare card in mint or near mint condition, send it to a major grading company like PSA to be evaluated.

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Demand: Look for special types of cards that were released for specific events or tournaments. For example, the Trophy Pikachu Trainer Card was only given to competition winners in Japan and it's so rare that it's now considered priceless. The Pikachu Illustrator Card was awarded for a Pokémon competition and sold in auction for $90,000 in 2020.

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A stack of Pokémon cards
Source: Unsplash

To determine the current value of your cards, follow these steps:

Find the card's name: Every card has the name of the character on the top left-hand corner.

Find the year: On the bottom of the card, you'll see the year it was printed. The most valuable cards are mainly from the 1999 1st edition base set.

Locate the set: If there isn't a logo on the right side underneath or right of the illustration, it's part of the base set. For error cards without a symbol, make sure the year matches the set.

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Look up card name and number: Identify the card by looking up its name and card number on eBay to identify every card you have. Write down all the information you have because once you have the character name, the set, year, and card number, you'll be able to search for it online and figure out the worth.

But remember, there's a big difference in value between a card that's encased in plastic and given a score based on condition and a card that hasn't been graded, inspected, and authenticated.

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What are the most rare and valuable Pokémon card sets?

When you're searching for the most rare and valuable card sets, keep in mind that a full collection is worth more than just one card from the set.

  • 1st Edition Base Set: The holy grail of Pokémon cards, the 1st Edition Charizard recently sold at Heritage Auctions for $192,000. The graded population of this set is low, and the demand is through the roof, making any of these sealed packs and boxes incredibly valuable. In fact, one sealed box just sold at an auction for $408,000.
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  • Shadowless Base Set: Identical to the 1st Edition Cards, but minus the 1st Edition Stamp, the Shadowless set may be even more rare. This is also the only other set with the Red Cheeks Pikachu Error card. A mint Charizard in a Shadowless set may cost around $80,000. It's nearly impossible to find a sealed box of the Shadowless set. You may be able to pull 1st Edition cards in Shadowless boxes, but you won't find 1st Edition Shadowless halos. A guaranteed Shadowless box is worth over $70,000.
  • Base Unlimited: Mass produced in 1999, the Unlimited Set boxes were worth $3,000 in 2019 and worth over $15,000 today. Gem mint Charizards now sell for around $8,500 after just $1,000 at the beginning of 2019.
  • Jungle Set: The second expansion set with 1st edition boxes sells for around $13,000 and each of these holographic cards has a non-halo version. You may find low-graded populations and may pull rare error cards or find a 1st Edition Black Star Pikachu with a PSA 10 value of over $10,000.
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  • Fossil Set: The Fossil is the third expansion set with the 1st Edition boxes selling for over $10,700. Fossil holograms have become very in demand in the past year and each holographic card has a non-holographic version. The most valuable cards in the set are Dragonite and Gengar with PSA 10 prices around $2,000 to $4,500.

Which 1995 Pokémon card is worth the most money?

While these cards were all the rage in the late '90s and early 2000s, one of the most valuable cards today is the 1995 Topsun Holofoil Charizard. This card predates the official TCG release by a year and were designed as prizes inside packs of gum. The Charizard card features a crackled holographic background and recently sold for $37,600 on eBay.

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