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

Updated March 15, 2021 55.5k 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 $1500

    Why It's Worth So Much: Mewtwo, despite having DNA that contained "the genetic codes of all Pokémon," was one of rarest Pokémon you could capture in the games, and that fact made the critter's card worth a whole lot. While Mewtwo was massively coveted in 1999, the base set shadowless first edition holographic card is exceedingly rare today.

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

    How Much It's Worth: It's so rare you can't find it on eBay. The price is largely unknown, but it's sure to be exorbitant. 

    Why It's Worth So Much: No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 trainer cards are always rare. They're only handed out to winners at official Trading Card Game world championships. This adorable, holographic Pikachu card was only given to four winners of the very first Japanese Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament; therefore it's the rarest.

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

    How Much It's Worth: Up to $6,500

    Why It' Worth So Much: Like many of the most valuable Pokémon cards, Venusaur was the main prize in its own base set. In the '90s, a regular Venusaur was hard to come by through trading because of its sheer popularity - but a holographic Venusaur was even rarer (who'd want to give that up?). Today, a holographic first edition base-set Venusaur without a shadow around the image box is the most coveted.

    Do you wish you still had this one?
  • Photo: garre.fiel / eBay

    How Much It's Worth: Up to $10,000

    Why It's Worth So Much: Though it's never been confirmed by Wizards of the Coast (the company that manufactures Pokémon cards), it's thought that just 10 Prerelease Raichu cards exist. The term "prerelease" was allegedly stamped on the base set card and given out only to employees, friends, and family.

    Do you wish you still had this one?