A Guide to Collecting Valuable Pokémon Promo Cards

Updated on October 31, 2018
Coro Coro Shiny Mew Promo Card issued in the May 2001 issue of CoroCoro Comic.  Shown with the packaging it was sealed in.
Coro Coro Shiny Mew Promo Card issued in the May 2001 issue of CoroCoro Comic. Shown with the packaging it was sealed in. | Source

Which Pokémon Cards are the Most Valuable?

Regardless of what you believe or what a price guide may say, your Pokémon card is only worth what others are willing to pay for it.

As with most collectibles, there are two parts to the value of them, rarity and desirability.

What's the Most Valuable Promo Sold on eBay?

The most valuable promo recently sold on eBay was a Pikachu Illustrator promo. This one was graded PSA 9 and sold for a whopping $90,000!

This promo is the rarest with only six copies ever printed. It was awarded to the winners of the Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest held in Japan in 1997.

Japanese Neo Hinoarashi Double White Star Promo PSA Gem Mint 10
Japanese Neo Hinoarashi Double White Star Promo PSA Gem Mint 10 | Source

Types of Collectible Pokémon Cards

A fun and inexpensive way to start your collection is to choose a character and see how many cards you can collect that feature that character.

If you desire to collect cards that have the best chance to increase in value over time there are five basic types that are normally considered the most valuable:

  • Holofoil
  • Secret
  • 1st Edition
  • Error
  • Promo

The Holofoil 1st Edition Machamp is NOT considered to be rare.  This card is shown in the original packaging as it was presented in the 2 Player Starter Set.
The Holofoil 1st Edition Machamp is NOT considered to be rare. This card is shown in the original packaging as it was presented in the 2 Player Starter Set. | Source

Holofoil

Holofoils are found in the mass produced sets and booster packs. The booster packs are sold with 11 each. Each card in the pack varies in its rarity and there should be one that is rarer than all the others. Approximately 1/3 of these rares are Holofoil.

Because these come from mass produced sets they are not as rare as some others and are usually considered the least valuable of the collectibles.

Secret

Secret are numbered higher than the number of cards that are available in the set. For example a secret is numbered 103/102. These are very limited in number and are usually Holofoil.

Secrets first appeared in the Team Rocket set with the addition of the Dark Raichu card number 83/82.

Secrets are only found in booster packs. Each booster box contains 36 booster packs. There is an average of one or two secrets per box depending on the set or series.

First Edition

These are the very first cards sold for each set. These have a special symbol on them showing it is a first edition.

Because there is only a limited number of these made, they are usually much more valuable than their unlimited counterpart.

Example of the 1st Edition symbol.
Example of the 1st Edition symbol. | Source

Error

Sometimes cards that have mistakes on them are produced and sold to the public before the factory realizes and corrects the mistake. These are known as errors.

Errors often have spelling errors, errors in the graphics, or incorrect or missing portions.

Due to the limited number that are released to the public, these are often highly sought after and are highly collectible.

The one on the bottom is the famous Japanese Ancient Mew Error card.  The error was the misspelling of Nintendo spelled as Nintedo.
The one on the bottom is the famous Japanese Ancient Mew Error card. The error was the misspelling of Nintendo spelled as Nintedo. | Source
The very rare Trade Please (Trading Please) Promo
The very rare Trade Please (Trading Please) Promo | Source

Promo

Promos are created for a specific event. These vary in their rarity depending on the event or purpose of the card.

Promos were never sold but were given away at special events or as part of a packaged product. Some of those events include movies, product releases at toy stores, tournaments, inserts in magazines, airline giveaways, inserts in CDs, and other products.

In rare cases there are different versions of the same promo released.

For example the Japanese Ancient Mew Card had three different versions. The first one, known as the Japanese Ancient Mew I Error, contained a spelling error. The second one released was the Japanese Ancient Mew I Promo. This one was the corrected version. The third version is known as the Japanese Ancient Mew II Promo. This one is much more rare than the other two.

Japanese Mew 1 Promo (bottom) and the much more rare Japanese Mew II Promo (top).
Japanese Mew 1 Promo (bottom) and the much more rare Japanese Mew II Promo (top). | Source

Gold Foil Stamp Promo

Sometimes you will find cards with gold foil stamps on them. These are promos that were included in magazines or special events.

Some of the more valuable gold foil promos you may wish to collect are:

  • 1999 "E3" Pikachu (red cheek)
  • 1999 "E3" Pikachu (yellow cheek)
  • 1999 "W" Pikachu (1st Edition)
  • 1999 "Gold Bordered" Meowth
  • 1999 "PRERELEASE" Clefable

Extremely rare Japanese Mew II Promo card.  PSA 9 and 10 cards of this variety are extremely difficult to obtain.
Extremely rare Japanese Mew II Promo card. PSA 9 and 10 cards of this variety are extremely difficult to obtain.

Types of Promos

Promos are relatively easy to get when they are first released and usually increase in value over time because they have such a limited production time and supply.

The following is a list of a few of the Promo types:

  • Black Star Promo
  • White Star Promo
  • Double White Star Promo
  • Gray Star Promo
  • Coro Coro Comic Promo
  • Pokémon Public Fan Club Promo
  • Play Mat giveaway Promo
  • Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament Promo
  • JR Train Rally Promo
  • Toyota Campaign Promo
  • Nintendo 64 Campaign Promo
  • Pokémon Movie Promo
  • Trade Please Campaign Promo
  • Nippon Airlines Promo
  • Pokémon Song Best Collection CD Promo
  • Tropical Mega Battle Promo

Venusaur CD Promo PSA Mint 10
Venusaur CD Promo PSA Mint 10 | Source

Special Promo Sets

Sometimes promos are released in sets. Such as the 9 card NEO Promo Set, the Pokémon Best of CD Collection Promo Set, and the Japanese Southern Islands 3 Card Promo Pack.

2000 Pokemon Pocket Monster Best Colleciton JPN Anime CD (Japanese Import) Pokemon Hit Collection
2000 Pokemon Pocket Monster Best Colleciton JPN Anime CD (Japanese Import) Pokemon Hit Collection

Don't miss out on getting your own Pokémon CD with Promo. There are eleven cards total with some great holofoils.

 
Pokémon Best of CD Collection
Pokémon Best of CD Collection | Source

Rarest Promos

Here are some of the rarest and most valuable Promos:

  • Pokémon Illustrator: Given to children during a drawing contest in Japan. Said to be worth $10,000 to $20,000! Recently selling on eBay for $100,000.
  • Tropical Mega Battle: Given as prizes in a Pocket Monsters tournament.
  • Secret Super Battle: Given as a tournament prize.

Cards with the highest value usually have been authenticated and graded by PSA or Beckett.

Single Cards Sold on eBay for Over $1000

Pokemon Promo Card
Sold For
Sold Date
POKEMON PIKACHU ILLUSTRATOR PROMO GRADED PSA 9 MINT RAREST CARD HIGHEST GRADE!
$90,000.00
May 08, 2014
Torchic Holo Card And Toy
$10,000.00
Apr 02, 2014
Pokemon Dark Dragonite 1st Edition Error Card 5/82 Near Mint/Mint Condition
$9,999.00
Jun 05, 2013
Faded Marowak Error
$8,000.00
Oct 03, 2013
POKEMON TROPICAL MEGA BATTLE PRIZE CARD THE ORIGINAL ONE IN PSA 10 CONDITION
$8,000.00
Nov 12, 2012
PSA 10 MISPRINT Shadowless First 1st Edition Dragonair Rare Pokemon Card Mint!
$4,000.00
Apr 27, 2014
1st Edition Shadowless Charizard 4/102 Pokemon Card PSA 10 MINT HOLY GRAIL!!!
$3,650.99
Apr 13, 2014
1999 Pokemon Game 1st Edition #4 Charizard Holo PSA 10 GEM MINT
$3,350.00
Sep 28, 2014
1999 Pokemon Game 1st Edition #4 Charizard Holo PSA 10 GEM MINT
$3,050.00
Jul 10, 2014
Pokemon Card Gold Star PSA 10 GEM MINT ESPEON (POP 5) Rare
$3,000.00
Jun 22, 2014
PSA 10 1st Edition CHARIZARD Base Set Holo Shadowless Pokemon #4/102 Gem Mint
$2,800.00
Nov 07, 2012
POKEMON CARD " THICK " CHARIZARD HOLO 1ST EDITION * REAL PSA 10
$2,300.00
Oct 09, 2012
1ST EDITION SHADOWLESS CHARIZARD POKEMON CARD PSA 9 MINT CARD NUMBER 4/102
$1,895.95
Nov 03, 2014
Pokemon Card KEN SUGIMORI SIGNED 1st Edition Skarmory 13/111 MINT SUPER RARE!!!!
$1,879.99
Aug 16, 2013
Pokemon Promo 2012 No 3 Trainer World Championships Trophy Card PSA 9 MINT
$1,799.99
Feb 10, 2015
Pokemon Card: 1999 Charizard HOLO 4/102 SHADOWLESS BASE SET 1ST EDITION PSA 9!
$1,750.00
Nov 30, 2014
1st ed Charizard PSA 6
$1,602.87
Oct 18, 2013
Pokemon Japanese 3nd place trophy card Victory Cup
$1,599.99
Nov 14, 2012
Pokemon Trophy Promo - No. 4 Trainer - World Championships 2014 English Mint
$1,499.99
Sep 19, 2014
1ST EDITION CHARIZARD RARE GRADED PSA 9 MINT CARD NUMBER 4/102
$1,495.95
Apr 30, 2014
Pokemon Daisuki PSA 10 Master's Scroll Promo Gem Mint! ONLY 2 EXISTING!
$1,375.00
Nov 13, 2014
1st Edition Shadowless Charizard 4/102 Base Holo Pokemon Card PSA 9 MINT!
$1,295.95
Sep 20, 2014
1ST EDITION SHADOWLESS CHARIZARD RARE GRADED PSA 8 NM-MT POKEMON CARD 4/102
$1,295.00
Nov 09, 2014
Pokemon 1999 Charizard Base Set Shadowless Card Graded PSA 10
$1,275.00
Dec 24, 2012
Charizard Gold Star 100/101 Frontiers ULTRA RARE Pokemon Card PSA 10 GEM MINT
$1,250.00
May 11, 2014
1999 Pokemon Base Set 1st Edition Charizard Graded PSA 9 MINT First Shadowless
$1,200.00
Dec 08, 2014
POKEMON CHANSEY FIRST 1ST ED EDITION BASE HOLO PSA 10 THICK VERSION
$1,195.00
Nov 24, 2014
Pokemon Japanese Charizard Gold Star 1st Edition PSA 10!! Dragon Frontiers!!
$1,124.68
Oct 09, 2014
Pokemon Zapdos 1st Edition Base Set Shadowless Card Graded PSA 10 Gem Mint
$1,000.00
Apr 24, 2013
Pokemon Charizard 1st Edition Base Set Shadowless Card Graded PSA 9
$1,000.00
Dec 28, 2012

The Rarest Promo Error

The rarest known promo that was ever produced was a Prerelease Raichu.

A handful of these were accidentally produced while producing the prerelease Jungle Clefable.

There are said to be less than thirty of these in existence and some estimate less than six.

Notable Promos

Here are some of the cards that might be of special interest to collectors.

Pikachu #1 (Ivy Pikachu) 1st Edition Error (1999)

Accidentally released in a small number of Jungle booster packs, this black star promo is the only promo ever released with a first edition symbol.

#2 Electabuzz, #3 Mewtwo, #4 Pikachu, and #5 Dragonite Misprint (1999)

There were four cards that were specially stamped for release of Pokémon The First Movie.

Each of the special release promos had a stamp that read “Kids WB presents Pokémon the First Movie".

These were #2 Electabuzz, #3 Mewtwo, #4 Pikachu, and #5 Dragonite.

A few of these were accidentally printed with the gold foil stamp upside down and in the opposite corner. It is estimated that only 30 of these were ever released to the public.

Imakuni? CoroCoro Promo (1997)

This was the first promo to have an image of a real-life person.

Trade Please (Trading Please) Promo (1998)

One of only two (Ancient Mew was the other) ever produced with a holographic back.

Dark Persian #17 Error (2000)

A few of these black star promos were printed without the HP.

Beware of Pokémon Fakes!

High valued cards often get counterfeits made. Watch out for ones that don't have the plastic center, faded or smudged graphics, or show other signs of being a counterfeit.

If you are unsure, it may help to compare the card to another. Don't forget to check the back, often there are slight differences in color or position of the graphics. There are also some that are produced by others as pranks or April Fools jokes.

These could be a great collection themselves.

Fake Pokémon Illustrator Card

Do you have a Pokemon card collection?

See results

Questions & Answers

© 2013 Marty Andersen

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Jason 

    2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    Thanks for this article (Even though I just found it 2 years after its posted!) its was very helpfull. I know there where also a Shadowless run printed of the base set when these cards first came out. I wonder has anyone found any actual figures on how many cards where printed? I can verify that these (shadowless) cards came out in Australia at the same time as the first edition Base set was released. I was working in a collectable store and we got our first look at them before the actual release date.

  • profile image

    CajunCutie 

    3 years ago

    I have the Machamp Edition 1 Holofoil Card

    How to post pic of it

  • SimilarSam profile image

    Sam 

    3 years ago from Australia

    Still have all my Pokemon cards (well over 200) but unfortunately I never had anything close to rare, had good fun playing Pokemon Cards with friends though!

  • flash167 profile imageAUTHOR

    Marty Andersen 

    5 years ago from Salina, Utah

    This was a fun Hub to write. I'm sure there will be additions from time to time. It was fun getting the cards out of storage and seeing what I have. I know there is another box with more cards somewhere. Hopefully I'll find them and add more images.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    5 years ago from New York

    I bet there will be Pokémon collectors from all over the world reading this one flash. You've included excellent pictures of the cards and your chart of Pokémon cards that have sold for over $500 could get collector's mouths watering!

    Voted up, useful, and interesting.

  • Winterfate profile image

    Darrin Perez 

    5 years ago from Puerto Rico

    Awesome hub! I used to collect Pokémon cards and still have one or two promo cards lying around. Thank you very much for the info!

  • whonunuwho profile image

    whonunuwho 

    5 years ago from United States

    My son enjoys this card collection every much. Since he was about ten years of age, he has collected these cards and traded with friends. Thanks for this nice hub. whonu

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