Looking to invest short and long term with some of the safest cards on the planet? PokÃ©mon cards have been on a blistering pace over the last five years, with unbelievable growth and what appears to still be plenty of meat left on the bone. The facts might have you on eBay in a matter of minutes. With prices shooting to the stratosphere, are you curious to see what your old cards collecting dust might be worth?
This Ultimate PokÃ©mon Guide is your compass to buying and selling vintage PokÃ©mon cards today and for the future.
For more information on what Pokemon Cards are worth you can read our Pokemon Card Value and Price Guide.
(Note: all values listed are valid as of date of publication)
PokÃ©mon cards are the premier non-sports cards to invest in today. The original 1999-2000 sets have been on an upward trajectory for over 5 years, with 2020 being the mega increase, thus creating a cultural demand similar to the 1999 release.
- PokÃ©mon is the highest-grossing media franchise ever. Recently the company hit $105 Billion.
- The Most Valuable English card, 1st Edition Charizard in PSA 10 Gem Mint has soared from $50,000.00 in July 2020 to a then record-breaking purchase by the rapper Logic for $225,000.00. That record was topped in March of 2022 at PWCC Auctions with a final sale price of $420,000.
- PokÃ©mon Trading Card sales have topped $10.25 Billion.
- The buying demographic is between ages 24-36. This group will continue to make more money annually and have a higher spending threshold. The next 20 years should be meteoric.
- Starting in March 2020, prices surged â in part due to the pandemic. Being stuck home caused a major demand in collecting and opening original sealed packs. PokÃ©mon Cards exploded, just as the sports card market did as well.
- Grading companies became overloaded, unable to meet the demand in a timely fashion causing graded cards on the market to surge. The trajectory from January 2020 was for cards to double in price over the year, not quadruple.
- Original Pikachu cards increased up to and beyond 1,000% in that time period. The most famous PokÃ©mon has become the new go to character for collectors.
- Japanese PokÃ©mon cards are 24 years old. With the 25th anniversary last year, the original cards continued to surge before pulling back a bit.
- A 1st Edition Box sold for $432,000.00 at PWCC Premier Auction in N0vember of 2021, breaking the $408,000 record previously set at Heritage Auctions just a few months earlier. There are also reports of one of these boxes selling for as high as $450,000 in a private sale on Instagram.
High-End PokÃ©mon cards are being viewed as modern art, with the price tag for a pristine 1st Edition Base Charizard currently at $433,000.00 and climbing if you can get one. Due to correlations to Magic the Gathering, the prices today could increase steadily over the next 5 years. Outside of the economy crashing, PokÃ©mon would seem to be a safe play.
Demand for original cards has consistently increased since 2010, but due to awareness, and points mentioned previously, there has been a fearlessness from buyers to set records. All year, record sale after record sale for high-end PokÃ©mon Cards. The fear of missing out on todayâs price is real.
Itâs imperative that you set a budget and know when to stop buying. Winning auctions can be addicting and itâs easy to go overboard fast. Monitor recent sales. Know how much youâre willing to spend to acquire the desired card.
- Decide your financial goals with the hobby
Why are you getting in? Are you an enthusiast who wants to collect for long-term profits or are you trying to make money fast?
There are many routes you can go when investing in PokÃ©mon Cards and there is a quality card for every budget. Starting out at $10 card purchases works in the long term. Buying the rarest cards under $20,000.00 for a quick profit has been a major play in 2020.
- Long Term Investing
With 1999-2000 PokÃ©mon cards, the long term investing would be towards Mint raw cards and Near Mint graded cards. Graded cards have been on a blistering pace the last 12 months. Lower grades of the most expensive cards or PSA 8 and up for the rest of the 1999-2000 cards are great long-term investments.
Flippers will buy a card with the goal to make a profit on it ASAP. Education is what sets the flipper from the casual collector. They know the sales, population reports and what cards are coveted by monitoring the market. If a card takes off, flippers often look to capitalize. If you only know the main PokÃ©mon characters and not much else about the cards, flipping is probably not for you. You have to study sets, know errors, sales, population reports and have a deep understanding of why cards/sets get hot. All of this is covered here.
PokÃ©mon cards are all about collecting. Gotta Catch Em All is the slogan and for good reason: children aimed to have every card. In 1999, having a binder with complete sets was a major deal. Set collecting isnât much different now, with gem mint and lower graded complete sets becoming all the rage once again. PokÃ©mon battling and collecting were the essence, but today collecting dominates. One of the phenomenons with PokÃ©mon cards is the overwhelming nostalgia and lack of willing sellers due to attachment to the cards. Many collectors value their cards well beyond the current prices and itâs shown with a limited supply of high-grade 1st Ed Base holograms available. Being out-priced is becoming more apparent and some collectors are flipping cards to finish sets and upgrade.
Taking your old cards out of the closet and researching to find their current value is the most common way people are getting back into PokÃ©mon. When trying to figure out a cardâs value, make sure to follow these steps:
Step 1. Find the year of the card. Check the bottom year(s) of the card.
Step 2. Find the set the card belongs to. If there is no logo on the right side, itâs Base. Every other set has an indicator.
Step 3. Identify the card with the name and number in the set.
- The grail set, Charizard is on fire with a recent sale topping $420,000.00.
- The graded population on this set is low, and the demand has become astronomical.
- The record sale price of a sealed box in an auction went for $432,000.00.
- Identical to the 1st Edition cards except they donât have the 1st Edition Stamp.
- The Shadowless set is just as rare / more rare than the 1st Edition set.
- Gem Mint Charizard has a much lower population and the price hovers around $90,000.00.
- Shadowless is the only other set with the Red Cheek Pikachu error card.
- The Unlimited set boxes are currently selling for just over $14,000.00.
- Gem Mint Charizard is around $9900.00.
- This set had 6-8 times the print runs compared to 1 print run each for 1st Edition and Shadowless.
- 2nd Expansion set
- 1st Edition Boxes worth over $14,000.00
- Each holographic card has a non-holographic version
- Only expansion set where every holographic card has a no symbol version.
- 3rd Expansion Set
- 1st Edition Boxes currently sell for around $12,000.00
- Each holographic card has a non-holographic version.
- Combination of Base & Jungle sets.
- Boxes currently sell for around $7,000.00
- PSA 10 Charizard is valued at around $10,000.00
- Having the original Charizard artwork will always keep this set in demand.
- The 5th set, Team Rocket pays homage to the villains of PokÃ©mon: Jesse, James & Meowth.
- 1st Edition Boxes are currently valued at around $10,000.00
- 1st Expansion set to have Charizard
- After Base Set, Team Rocket is arguably the hottest Gen. 1 set to collect.
- Focuses on 1st 4 Gym Leaders: Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge & Erika
- 1st Edition Boxes are valued at around $12,000.00
- PSA 10 1st Edition Moltres is worth $1,500.00
- Focuses on Final 4 Gym Leaders: Sabrina, Koga, Blaine & Giovanni
- 1st Edition Boxes are valued at around $10,000.00
- PSA 10 Charizard is worth $5,500.00
PokÃ©mon had numerous promo cards: E3 promos, Black Star Promos and Prerelease promos. They were available at events, in magazines, by mail request and one was available with a VHS film. Due to scarcity, some have skyrocketed and the demand is increasing rapidly. You can read more about Black Star Promos in this article.
Serious collectors always value sets. The challenge of putting together any complete original set gets tougher by the day due to demand. For example, there are only 12 complete PSA 10 Base 1st Edition English sets currently, with the last sale fetching $129,500.00 in July 2020. Set collecting is a crucial aspect of the PokÃ©mon community; even filling a binder with every card is an accomplishment that will make you money over time. Money isnât the biggest driving factor; the desire to hold cards you coveted as a kid outweighs all other aspects and provides further proof that prices will continue to skyrocket.
Hands down the safest way to invest in PokÃ©mon has been buying sealed packs. The opportunity to pull a Charizard or rare card is enough to make people rip packs open to display or send cards in to get graded. Blister packs are the safest way to get un-weighed packs (packs can be weighed to determine if a hologram is or isnât in it). There are lots of ways to tamper with packs so make sure to read the risks involved further down.
Owning any original English sealed box has become a major accomplishment. Multiple boxes make you a rock star. A clean, sealed box is one of the ultimate investments moving forward. As noted earlier, a 1999 Base English 1st Edition Box fetched $433,000.00 recently at PWCC Auctions. Thatâs almost six times the value from as recently as 2019 and the more boxes that are opened, the less remain in existence â which should cause the value of the remaining boxes to rise.
PokÃ©mon artists have become rock stars as well. Mitsuhiro Arita (Charizard & Pikachu Base Set artist) signed cards have soared in value and created a whole new market for collectors. Illustrations on the cards have also become a major part of collecting and the sales are staggering.
Error cards have shown to be major value opportunities for collectors. There are many error cards, such as the Red Cheek Pikachu in the 1st Edition and Shadowless sets. 1st Edition cards, the stamp itself can be grey, which is highly desirable. There is a ghost stamp 1st Edition Pikachu where the 1st Edition logo is barely noticeable: this card is a grail. In 1st Edition and Shadowless there is a Vulpix with a Green Dot on its butt.
1. The Grading Company
PSA is the king of PokÃ©mon card grading with BGS a close 2nd. Both companies command top $ for their graded cards and have proven that grades do matter in the PokÃ©mon realm, with a BGS 9.5 1st Edition Charizard selling for nearly $73,000.00 in July of 2021.
2. Supply of the card (Population reports)
PokÃ©mon cards have low populations compared to sports cards. The number of graded cards can be the biggest indicator of value, but some cards, such as Pikachu or Charizard, have insane demand regardless of populations. Supply is outmatched by current demand, and after two decades since these cards were produced, that wonât change. Check the PSA 1999 PokÃ©mon Game Population report to get more info on how limited the Base set cards are.
3. Buying Raw vs. Graded
Thanks to modern technology, getting clear photos of cards is easier than ever. That said, until you hold a card, you donât know how clean it really is. Graded cards are the safest indicator that youâre getting what you want. When buying graded cards, think of the price paid for the grading and that there is no wait time besides shipping. There is much less risk buying graded cards, but raw (loose cards) can be the best bet to make profits faster. You never know what you can find in a binder someone is selling, but be careful and do your best to inspect those cards.
4. Surface, corners, edges, creases & centering
In the process of card grading, the most important aspects are the surface, corners, edges and how well the card is centered front and back. For PokÃ©mon cards, are there any scratches on the holofoil? Do you see whitening on the edges? Are the corners nicked? Grading is subjective with individuals determining what a card is valued at, based on its condition.
5. Your negotiation tactics
How you negotiate will go a long way in collecting and flipping. Knowing market value, monitoring auctions, and making offers when possible are great ways to limit risk and help you score deals. Never be afraid to message a seller, feel them out and potentially make a long-term outlet for purchases while building trust. Networking is a major component.
6. Nostalgic elements
PokÃ©mon culture is wide-ranging, with the PokÃ©mon Go app, video games, movies, TV shows, merchandise, and more, everyone knows something about PokÃ©mon. Pikachu is as recognizable as Hello Kitty, PokÃ©mon is unisex, and the cards are a major component for the culture. This wonât change. The cards are a major part of PokÃ©mon Lore and will continue to be the biggest aspect of nostalgia moving forward.
The safest online marketplace to buy and sell PokÃ©mon cards. Check sales for a quick look at where cards are at price wise. Check seller reviews and buy with confidence from high rated sellers. eBay is the largest online marketplace and is your best chance to locate inventory. When searching for cards, look at items nearest you, and contact nearby sellers, potentially creating a local network. It saves on shipping and more. Load up your watch list to get faster alerts when cards sell or are pulled.
WhatNot is at the pinnacle of auction sales by live streaming their auctions. Sellers have the ability to add prizes and a multitude of different other ways to entire buyers to participate. They also frequently do large charity box breaks with influencers, bringing additional light to the hobby.
2. Facebook groups & Instagram:
Look for feedback from sellers to check legitimacy, these are great places to score deals and build relationships within the collecting community but beware of scams.
Marketplace designed to help you buy individual cards, specializing in set collecting.
Popular marketplace to buy and sell cards. When hunting for low population cards, itâs important to utilize all options.
5. Card Shows & Stores:
If you can find a show or store with vintage PokÃ©mon cards, go. You get the chance to look at cards in person, check sales online, network and decide whatâs of value. You never know what you can walk away with.
âShillingâ is when a card bids for an overly high price, but the sale never gets completed. Bidders often times will try to manipulate the market this way, to pump the value of their own identically or near graded cards. Check recent sales and bidding history on a sale to identify if itâs legit or not. There is a number rating next to buyerâs names in the bidding history. Often times itâs safe to trust the highest bid from a legitimate account.
When purchasing loose cards, make sure to research what you are buying, check the indicators (years, artwork) to make sure you are not getting scammed. The fake PokÃ©mon cards are easily spotted, you can see through them, although there are some impressive forgeries of Charizard and the Illustrator Pikachu.
First off, check whom you are buying packs from. Ratings, reviews, make sure the seller is legitimate. Packs can easily be resealed and if you donât know how to look, you can easily be scammed. Ask for as many pictures as it takes to see the entire pack, look at the top and bottom of the foil to see if there are any discrepancies, such as the foil looking different in one spot, and check for how crumpled up the pack is to indicate if the cards inside have been damaged.
Assume every Booster pack you buy is weighed. If it says Unweighed, itâs almost certain to be a light pack. Light packs wonât contain a hologram. Heavy packs will. When listed as heavy, make sure to tell the seller you intend to open the pack upon arrival, which will ensure they send a legitimately weighed pack otherwise they face ramifications of bad reviews, refunds, and can be labeled a scammer. The safest way to purchase individual packs is in Blisters. Blister Packs are sealed in plastic and cardboard, they canât legitimately be weighed or tampered if sealed. Sealed packs get more limited by the day because people wonât stop opening them. Nostalgia is a major factor. Also, the dream of pulling a perfect Charizard or Pikachu canât be overstated.
Given this is vintage, the original high graded cards, sealed boxes and packs are scarce. The probability for further profits is strong. Due to demand, desire and drive, the PokÃ©mon Game appears to be safe. Over $10 Billion in card sales since 1996 is staggering.
Long term investing paid off in a short term for collectors in 2020. Prices have come back down a bit since, due to population growth and declining recent exposure from celebrities and influencers. Itâs a winning proposition due to PokÃ©mon culture being bigger than any competing market. Pokemon is the #1 ranked media franchise on the planet, slightly besting Hello Kitty. They flat out win. Television, video games, cards, it’s still going strong. The children collecting today know all about the original cards and they covet them. Can you name the top 10 sports cards to own pre-1980? The children collecting today can name the top PokÃ©mon Cards from 1999.
Even though prices have fluctuated a bit, if you zoom out and look at the growth over the last five years, it has been astronomical. The main concern moving forward is liquidity drying up, but that has also impacted the entire card market, crypto, the stock market, the NFT market, and more.
The first generation of collectors is dropping record money on these cards because all the indicators show PokÃ©mon is still wildly undervalued. The new investors who research and make rational decisions should see major profits moving forward. If you are selling, make sure you pay close attention to detail.