Some people let wine age in their basement cellars knowing every day gets them closer to a more desirable and higher-quality product. Others do the same with their Pokémon cards, hoping their delayed gratification will help pay off their student loans some day. Knowing how much a card is worth is easy now, thanks to the ability to trade and sell online to anyone in the world. Here are some tools you can use to tell how much your cards are worth, as well as some of the most valuable Pokémon cards out there (or, hopefully, in your basement).
The Pokémon card-trading resurgence
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There could be a lot of factors to explain how a children’s card-trading game from the 1980s is now a serious way to make money. Perhaps it has mostly to do with those kids being 40-somethings now with cash to spend, coupled with a deep sense of nostalgia. The pandemic, in particular, saw a boom for a niche market that has sustained its hype since then. The market for trading cards was already good before the pandemic, and even outperformed stock market indexes in 2020 and beyond. The PWCC 500 Index, which is like the S&P 500 for trading cards, has reported a 15-year ROI of 855% compared to just 175% for the S&P 500.
Pokémon collectors have also fed the frenzy. A sealed box of Pokémon cards from the early 2000s retailed at around $100; that same box would cost up to $50,000 20 years later, according to BBC News.
Sports cards are popular, too, with many high-profile sales, including a Michael Jordan rookie card which sold for over $2 million, and an “ultra rare” LeBron James rookie card that sold for $5.2 million.
How to determine the value of your Pokémon cards
There are a lot of cards out there, and only a small fraction of them are highly valuable. You’ll want to do your own research first unless you want to pay for the services of an appraiser. The card-collecting site Cardboard Connection suggests eBay as your first step, particularly under “sold items,” as it will tell you how much your cards are worth without having to spend any money (there are also price guide services that are useful).
If your trading cards have value, you’ll want to get it authenticated and appraised by card-rating services like the Professional Sports Authenticator, or PSA. Whether you choose to actually sell it is up to you.
Is investing in cards today a good idea?
The most important thing to remember about trading cards is that they’re only worth what someone else is willing to pay. If the market dries up suddenly, the book value from a price guide will mean nothing. Traders will also tell you that it’s not always easy to line up a buyer, and some cards will vary in terms of how easy they are to sell.
Plus, you have to know what to look for. The odds of finding a Honus Wagner card in your attic is exceedingly low, so you’ll need to identify undervalued cards by keeping up with new collections and trends (for this reason, most professional traders start as hobbyists).
Lastly, just because trading cards have remained popular doesn’t mean it will last forever. Will Gen Z collectors adopt niche cardboard rectangles with the same zeal as boomers and millennials in twenty years? Will the market be impacted by NFTs, or is that just a fad? No one knows for sure.
The most valuable Pokémon cards, per the PSA
Now that you know how to see the value of your trading cards, it’s time to dust them off and hope you have some golden nuggets in your collection.
Here are the most valuable Pokemon cards by resell value according to the PSA’s latest appraisals. Remember the value of the card will depend on its condition (determined by an appraiser) and if it’s a first edition, as well as the final grade given by an appraiser. The prices below are for cards are in “mint” and “near mint” condition:
1. Charizard (Holo): $181,900. Near mint: $7,500.
2. Blastoise (Holo): $38,600. Near mint: $1,400.
3. Chansey (Holo): $33,000. Near mint: $350.
4. Mewtwo (Holo): $20,600. Near mint: $500.
5. Venusaur (Holo): $20,000. Near mint: $1,000.
6. Clefairy (Holo): $15,000. Near mint: $500.
7. Gyarados (Holo): $12,000. Near mint: $375.
8. Ninetales (Holo): $9,700. Near mint: $400.
9. Alakazam (Holo): $8,200. Near mint: $400.
10. Hitmonchan (Holo): $7,800. Near mint: $350.
11. Raichu (Holo): $7,100. Near mint: $350.
12. Nidoking (Holo): $5,400. Near mint: $300.
13. Pikachu (Red Cheeks): $5,300. Near mint: $275.
14. Magneton (Holo): $4,600. Near mint: $250.
15. Poliwrath (Holo): $4,400. Near mint: $250.
16. Zapdos (Holo): $4,300. Near mint: $325.
17. Bulbasaur: $2,200. Near mint: $75.
18. Wartortle: $2,000. Near mint: $60.
19. Dragonair: $1,400. Near mint: $120.
20. Pikachu (Yellow Cheeks): $1,400. Near mint: $100.