The Most Valuable Old Pokémon Cards to Invest In

From Charizard to Mewtwo, widen your investment horizon with old Pokémon cards to add hit points to your collection. Read our list of the best old Pokemon cards for cashing in on Pokémon nostalgia.

Updated Jul 7, 2023

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Long Term Growth

Since 1996, the Pokemon card frenzy has had collectors on a relentless quest for that elusive mint-condition Charizard or Pikachu. What began as a casual pastime has evolved into an investment juggernaut, with the Pokemon TCG (Trading Card Game) captivating fans and driving serious profits in recent years.

Launched in Japan 27 years ago, the Pokemon Trading Card Game took the United States by storm in 1999, courtesy of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons powerhouse Wizards of The Coast.

The shadowless first edition Holo Charizard [is] worth up to nearly half a million dollars...

Before long, eagle-eyed collectors spotted big bucks in those elusive rare cards and, intriguingly, even the ones with minor defects—the scarcer, the better.

In 2003, rights from Wizards of The Coast transferred to The Pokemon Company International. Pokemon has remained such a critical franchise over two decades later. 

Still, like most collectibles, from art to comics to figures, old is gold, and the same applies to Pokémon cards, with the older ones fetching big numbers compared to their more recent counterparts.

Why are old Pokémon cards so valuable?

Pokémon is now a $100 billion industry, with merchandise covering everything under the sun after decades of cartoons, games, and live-action movies. However, when it comes to profit, Pokémon TCG cards have always been the gold standard.

In 2016 alone, the Pokemon cards industry reached a true behemoth of $2.6 billion mainly due to the launch and success of Pokémon Go—also known as the last time the world was truly at peace because everyone was busy running outside trying to catch Pikachus and Gigglypuffs.

The Pokemon card market peaked the same year, but the world had been enjoying the Pokemon trading card game for far longer, and that was another factor in the investment boost: Nostalgia.

Let’s face it: most people spend big bucks on old collectibles to feel that childhood excitement again. Perhaps buying the 1999 Charizard gold star card with a first edition stamp will make you feel like a kid again.

This nostalgia-driven investment approach could work as it did for YouTuber Logan Paul, who seems more than just a casual collector.

In April 2020, Logan Paul broke the world record for the most expensive Pokemon card ever bought when he bought a 1998 Pikachu illustrator card, which was PSA 10 ultra-rare Pikachu Pokemon card.

Logan Paul bought a PSA gem mint 1998 Pikachu Pokemon card for over $5 million.

Speaking of Logan Paul, he is one of the key reasons Pokemon TCG and Pokemon valuable cards rose even higher in popularity from 2020 to 2021—Pokémon card prices increased by 500% during the pandemic.

Logan Paul played a significant role in boosting the popularity of valuable trading cards like Pokémon. Amid the pandemic, Pokemon card prices skyrocketed by 500%. He and Celebrities like rapper Logic and DJ Steve Aoki can take credit for this surge, as their YouTube unboxing videos, racking up hundreds of thousands of views, ignited widespread investment in Pokémon cards.

With these efforts by popular influencers and celebrities, Pokemon TCG and Pokemon cards, in general, have jumped into the pop cultural zeitgeist, which is lovely for those who still have their old box of trainer cards, starter Pokemon cards, and perhaps a promotional card or two sitting on their shelf.


In the world of collectibles, condition is king. The Pokemon grading scale was developed to accurately determine the value of trading cards. This scale evaluates a Pokemon (or sports) card's condition—a major pricing factor—to ensure collectors have a reliable benchmark.

A PSA 8 Charizard Pokemon card can fetch considerably higher sums than an ungraded one, demonstrating how grading impacts a card's value.


Like Renaissance paintings minus the conspiracy theories, the rarer a Pokemon card is, the more valuable it is and the more money it fetches. For example, an ultra-rare Blasoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram card is one of only two physical cards, with one selling for over $300,000 in 2021.

A rare Blastoise Pokemon card was sold for $360,000 in 2021.


It’s no secret that older collectibles are more valuable; it’s just a standard we as a species have put together for giving things worth. As for Pokemon cards, 90s cards are the ones to go after because they can reach a profit of seven figures.

The 1999 Charizard Holo 1st edition Pokemon TCG card sold for $420,000 at auction in March 2022.
Source: CNN

For instance, a PSA gem mint 1999 Pokemon base set shadowless first edition holo Charizard card sold for $420,000 in a 2022 auction.

Old Pokémon card list

Old Pokemon cards can be a pretty sweet investment, especially with the pandemic seriously boosting the market. Some coolest and most sought-after cards to watch include the 1998 Pikachu Holo Illustrator, the 1999 Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard, and the 1998 Pokemon Commission Presentation Galaxy Star Holo Blastoise.

Check out the most valuable old Pokemon cards that’ll transport you way back.

1. 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Prize Magikarp

  • Price Range: $50,000 to $60,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $66,100
  • PSA 10 Supply: 14

The 1998 Pokemon Tamamushi University prize Magikarp sold for an all-time high of $66,100 on February 28, 2021.

1998 saw Tamamushi University holding a hyper-test battle with this scarce Magikarp card as the reward. This card was a limited edition release for a niche competition, so there are not many of them out there—which means they’re rare.

Though the card has a simple design of Magikarp shooting its traditional lightning-style attack, you only had two options to add to your collection: Winning the competition 25 years ago or coughing up around $60,000.

The Tamamushi University test Magikarp card's price history reveals a noticeable value jump between 2018 and 2020.

2. 1997 Nintendo Pokemon Japanese Promo Trophy Pikachu Gold 1st (1st Tournament)

  • Price Range: $128,000 to $300,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $300,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 1

The Trophy Pikachu card stunned Heritage Auctions after selling for $300,000 in 2023.

Trophy Pikachu cards are rare as they were prizes for the top three finishers in the Pokemon TCG tournament 1997. There were less than 100 cards printed, meaning the only way to acquire one afterward was if the winner did not want to keep their trophy as a souvenir.

With a high selling price of $300,000 in an auction in 2023, the number shocked Heritage Auctions. This coveted card could fetch even more absurd prices in the future.

3. 2000 Nintendo Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Lugia-Holo #9

  • Price Range: $178 to $56,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $129,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 45

The 2000 Nintendo Pokemon Neo Genesis First Edition Lugia is worth up to $56,000.

Lugia is one of the best-looking Pokemon out there, and a card from the rare 2000 Neo Genesis set is truly a sight to behold, given the set’s popularity for printing mistakes that added to the rarity of the cards.

With a pretty simple design, only 45 cards were graded gem mint by PSA, but that’s enough for collectors who could make a gigantic return on investment with a card that used to be worth $1,000 in 2019 and fetched over $120,000 a year later.

4. 1998 Nintendo Pokemon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan-Holo Family Event Trophy Card #115

  • Price Range: $150,000 to $225,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $225,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 12

The Kangaskhan Family Event trophy card's estimated value ranges from $150,000 to $225,000.

The Kangaskhan family event trophy card’s rarity derives from being a prize for the parent-child Pokemon tournament winners in 1998—Kangaskhan’s kangaroo-like pouch perfectly symbolizes family.

As a niche trophy few parents or children would give up, this card has reached mind-bending auction prices of over $200,000.

5. 1998 Pokemon Commission Presentation Galaxy Star Holo Blastoise

  • Price Range: $360,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $360,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 0

Ultra rare Galaxy Star Holo Blastoise sold for $360,000 in 2021.

This ultra-rare Blastoise card is a monument of Pokemon history s because, in 1998, the Wizards of The Coast had two of these cards commissioned to use in a presentation to Nintendo to print Pokemon cards in English. Decades later, one of the two cards found itself in an auction for $360,000 with a CGC 8.5 grade.

The whereabouts of the second card are still being determined—it may be lost to history entirely—but if it does show up and has a higher grade than the one sold, it could be worth a lot.

6. 1999 Pokemon Base Set Shadowless Charizard Holo 1st Edition #4

  • Price Range: $300,000 to $499,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $499,999
  • PSA 10 Supply: 124

The 1999 first edition Holo Charizard remains the most popular Pokemon card ever, fetching $499,000 in August 2021.

The Shadowless first edition Holo Charizard could be the perfect card for collectors and investors to hunt for. Worth up to nearly half a million dollars, this iconic 1999 card features the beloved Charizard, making it a highly desirable collectible.

Since its release, it became the most popular Pokemon card ever. And because the shadowless variant of the Holo edition is a coveted early Pokemon card, it's a surefire hit among collectors.

7. 1998 Nintendo Pokemon Japanese Promo Pikachu Holo Illustrator #129

  • Price Range: $2.5 million to $6 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $5.3 million
  • PSA 10 Supply: 1

The rarest card on the list comes with the biggest price tag for any Pokemon card. With only 39 cards, you would have to be on the level of Logan Paul or Steve Aoki to snatch one. The card is so rare because it won a design competition by CoroCoro Comics in the late 90s.

There’s only one PSA 10 Pikachu Illustrator card—if you happen to find this card in your grandmother’s basement, you might just be set for life.

Are old Pokémon cards a good investment?

Investing in old Pokemon cards is generally more reliable than newer cards or collectibles because their age creates a nostalgia factor, which adds value. However, buying old cards at high prices and doubling your investment takes a lot of work and a little luck.

Given how the incredible surge in demand for collectibles is dying down, now is a great time to invest in Pokemon cards. However, a genuine passion for these collectibles is vital to profit from this trend.

It may sound cheesy, but unlike real estate or stocks, where you don’t need to know every nook and cranny about the property or company, with any kind of collectible, genuine passion and comprehensive knowledge of the items you’re investing in are a must. 

There are no official prices in the Pokemon card market like there are for stocks, nor do stocks have different grades or variants like Pokemon cards do—these inherent difference are what make investing in Pokémon cards so tough.

Without a personal interest in Pokemon cards, it'll be very hard for you to discern which cards are more popular, how to know if a card is graded appropriately, or what a card is worth (sentimentally and in dollar terms).

Just as you wouldn’t deal in comics without reading them first, having a passion for and educating yourself about Pokemon can help you make hundreds of thousands, just like Thomas Kovacs, owner of the Amazing Toys online store.

Kovacs is a successful investor in the Pokemon trading card business, making well over $300,000 a year through his online store selling Pokemon cards, and his advice for all of this is that you have to be interested in what you're doing to be able to do it.

You don't need a massive investment like Logan Paul to begin collecting Pokemon cards. Starting small with more affordable cards can lead to more modest profits before moving on to bigger ventures.

As with stocks, it's best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Instead of seeking a single, life-changing $1 million card, consider acquiring 50 reasonably priced cards. This approach still offers the potential for significant profits, especially if one of those cards ends up being highly sought-after.

Overall, old Pokemon cards can be a gold mine for investing, given the right character, condition, and grading. So do your homework and hedge your bets by building a solid collection before cashing out for that coveted PSA 10 Charizard.

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