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18 Incredibly Rare Pokémon Cards That Could Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt

Updated April 20, 2021 55.0k votes 13.8k voters 1.2m views18 items

List RulesVote up the Pokémon cards you wish you had in your grade school backpack.

In the '90s, most of us were busy hoarding Beanie Babies in hopes they would pay for our college education once they increased in value. That totally backfired, but another '90s toy hidden in the depths of our childhood bedrooms can actually be worth a boatload. Some rare Pokémon cards can easily pay for your college loans.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is arguably one of the most fun and original card games of the last few decades. Throughout the years, Pokémon has done its best to make these little pieces of paper extremely limited - and some efforts have resulted in outrageous prices nowadays.

The rarest cards were given to a select few master trainers who won tournaments, but you may actually have some of the most expensive Pokémon cards in your regular collection. Factory errors also occurred, from the base set first edition misprint to free promotional movie cards that didn't come out as planned. These are among the rarest Pokémon cards in the bunch.

On the trading circuit, Pokémon cards receive a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) number. Number 10 is complete mint condition and will potentially increase the value of your Pokémon cards by thousands. However, if your card's PSA falls below a 7, it dramatically decreases in value. In August 2019, for example, a 103-piece set of Mint 10 condition cards including a first edition Charizard sold for $107,010 at auction. Each of the cards is considered rare, which proves their increasing value is unrelenting. 

Do you have a secret goldmine hidden in your grade school backpack? There's only one way to find out. These are the Pokémon cards that cost the most money.

  • How Much It's Worth: Up to $11,999

    Why It's Worth So Much: Error cards are some the most valuable of all Pokémon cards, and some of the holographic base sets have a rare error. These cards, known as "Shadowless," are noticeably missing a shadow to the right of the image.

    This error was remedied rather quickly, so not many of these cards exist. Couple that with the fact a holographic Charizard was every kid's dream, and you've got a pretty darn valuable piece of paper in your hands.

    Do you wish you still had this one?
  • 2

    Pikachu Illustrator

    Photo: smpratte / eBay

    How Much It's Worth: Up to $195,000

    Why It's Worth So Much: This card was given only to winners of the CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest in January 1998. Only 20 to 39 of these cards exist in the world and only 10 are in mint condition. As of October 2019, this celebration of Pokémon art the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold. 

    Do you wish you still had this one?
  • Photo: alohapanda / eBay

    How Much It's Worth: Up to $1,500

    Why It's Worth So Much: Like every first edition shadowless base set holographic starter, Blastoise was extra rare in 1999, but it's even more coveted now. You'd be lucky if you find a PSA 9 card for less than $700.

    Do you wish you still had this one?
  • 4

    Shining Charizard

    How Much It's Worth: Up to $3,500

    Why It's Worth So Much: Shining Charizard marks the first time a "shiny" Pokémon was found in the card game. The Pokémon itself is holographic, instead of the background, and it's worth even more if it has a first edition marking outside the bottom left of the image.

    Do you wish you still had this one?