Why Are Pokémon Cards So Expensive? Trading Card Frenzy, Explained

Trading Pokémon cards have seen a renaissance lately. The frenzy has driven the price up on the market, but what's causing Pokémon cards to be so expensive?

Adam Goodpasture - Author

Aug. 3 2021, Published 9:14 a.m. ET

Pokemon cards
Source: Unsplash

The trading card market has been red-hot over the past year. Whether it's COVID-19 pandemic-induced boredom, stay-at-home orders leaving people stuck at home among their hordes of collectibles, or a genuine resurgence in sports cards and other trading cards, one thing’s for sure, the price of such cards has exploded. One niche segment, in particular, Pokémon cards, has gotten so expensive that traders have been left on the sidelines.

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Like many crazes from the 90s, Pokémon cards have started creeping back into the mainstream. To be fair, Pokémon hasn’t ever gone away. The Pokémon Go craze saw the entire world meandering around looking for augmented reality characters to collect. Pokémon video games and memorabilia have been staples for decades. However, the original Pokémon cards and even new additions are becoming something entirely different, perhaps a whimsical investment strategy. Why are Pokémon cards so expensive?

What’s driving Pokémon card prices?

Finding a single scapegoat for a reason a market’s price increases is impossible. Most of the time, a variety of factors contribute to an uptick or a recession, which is the case with Pokémon cards.

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pokemon cards hand
Source: Unsplash

One factor has been increased popularity among YouTubers and Twitch streamers posting viral unboxing videos. Armed with substantial expendable cash, internet personalities from Steve Aoki, Logan Paul, and the rapper Logic drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on rare card packs. Then, they stream the reveal and garner millions of views.

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Another contributor might be the COVID-19 pandemic itself. More time spent at home means that people have been searching for new hobbies. Collecting trading cards has been the choice for many people riding out the pandemic at home. People who have been sitting on old collections have more time to get their cards graded, and DIY e-commerce businesses have become easier to build. Also, COVID stimulus checks have given young and middle-aged adults some spending cash to further their hobbies.

Speaking of kids who have grown up, those youngsters who idolized Pokémon characters in the late 90s now have the income and resources to expand their hobbies.

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pokemon card collection
Source: unsplash
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Best way to sell Pokémon cards

Scoring cash for your Pokémon cards requires a bit of effort. To get top dollar, you will need to get your cards graded. This process certifies your card’s authenticity, condition, and other stats like edition. Next, you will need to post your card up for sale.

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The most common place to sell Pokémon cards is eBay. eBay is the top choice for anyone who wants to sell multiple Pokemon cards at once or even list some of their rarest collections. Armed with an enormous potential customer base utilizing the site for buying Pokémon cards, eBay is the place to sell your cards quickly and for top dollar.

graded pokemon card
Source: Derium's Pokemon YouTube
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Where can you get your Pokémon cards graded?

Getting your Pokémon cards graded is a bit of a process. It requires that you get your cards in front of a certified grader, pay a fee and maybe insurance, and then have your card encased and labeled with its statistics. If you use a non-local grader, you will need to add shipping costs to the overall cost of the grade.

Luckily, many comic book dealers are certified in grading collectibles like comic books and trading cards. Do a simple Google search for comic book or trading card shops near you and ask them if they grade Pokémon cards. If they don’t, chances are they know of a few graders in your area that they can recommend.


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