Over the past year, Pokémon cards have seen a surge of interest that is shocking hardcore fans and economists alike. In the past month alone, there have been dozens of instances of cards selling for over $100k with one pristine, first edition Charizard card selling for a staggering $420k.
With money like that flying around, it’s no surprise that people are taking a closer look at their old cards and wondering if they could be sitting on a gold mine. So, how can you tell if your cards are worth anything? And how do you go about selling them if they are?
Keep reading to find out!
How to find the price of your Pokémon cards
When it comes to collectibles—and especially collectible cards—prices are highly variable. If you look on eBay right now, you’ll see some Pokémon cards selling for $1 and others selling for tens of thousands of dollars. There’s even an extremely rare card autographed by Ken Sugimori himself selling for $800k!
So, there’s clearly a massive range of prices when it comes to Pokémon cards. But what dictates these prices? There are three main factors:
Let’s unpack these three factors!
Pokémon card grade
When you go to buy something, you’d probably be willing to pay more if it was in good condition. That mentality is exactly what makes grading such an influential factor in determining the price of collectibles like Pokémon cards.
For those that aren’t familiar with the term, grading is simply a system for numerically or symbolically describing the condition of a card. There are a few popular grading systems used by Pokémon card collectors and sellers, including:
- The PSA Grading Scale
- The CSG Grading Scale
- The Beckett Grading Scale
By far, the most popular grading system is the PSA system. Here’s a great video showing what graders look for if your goal is to get a perfect score of 10.
While each system (PSA, CCG, Beckett) has slightly different terminology in terms of their grading process, they all do essentially the same thing. Cards are placed on a spectrum ranging from mint condition to poor according to certain criteria.
Here’s another video by an immensely popular lawyer-turned-YouTuber named Leonhart, where he goes through his experience in getting back his Pokemon cards graded via Beckett.
The most important thing to understand is that the grade of a card will have a direct impact on its value. A card with a higher grade will almost always be worth more than a lower-grade version of the same card.
How much does it cost to grade Pokémon Cards?
The cost of getting a Pokemon card graded can vary depending on the grading company you choose and the condition of the card. Some of the most popular grading companies include the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), and the Gaming Guaranty LLC (GG).
Here are some rough estimates of the cost of getting a Pokemon card graded from some of the most popular grading companies:
- PSA: Check here for the latest official PSA pricing.
- CCG: Check here for the latest official CCG pricing. You’ll see that CCG offers a much more affordable price compared to PSA, though it is definitely not quite as popular.
- BGS: The cost to grade a Pokemon card with BGS starts at around $20 for a standard card and goes up to $50 for a rare card, this does not include the cost of shipping and handling.
- GG: The cost to grade a Pokemon card with GG starts at around $20 for a standard card and goes up to $50 for a rare card, this does not include the cost of shipping and handling.
Please note that these are rough estimates, and the cost of grading a Pokemon card can vary depending on the specific card and the condition it is in. Additionally, these costs are subject to change and you should check with the grading company for the most up-to-date pricing information.
Note: As of late, there has been quite some stir that PSA is ruining cards. Something about their process causes the back of submitted cards to get systematically ruined in the top right corner in a concerningly consistent manner. To be fair, some who claim that this has happened have gotten a refund for it, but unfortunately, not everyone has. In fact, it has been increasingly hard to get a hold of PSA customer service, as they claim they have been unable to keep up with massive volume, especially since card collecting has become more popular ever since the pandemic. Here’s a video with someone who gives evidence of this problem at PSA.
Pokémon card rarity
Of course, the grade isn’t the only thing that can affect the price of your Pokémon cards—their rarity is also an important factor. Generally speaking, rarer cards tend to sell for higher prices than common ones.
So, how do you know if a card is rare? There’s one incredibly reliable method.
The old rarity system
The Pokémon card creators were nice enough to provide a handy system of symbols for getting a basic understanding of a card’s rarity. On the bottom left-hand corner of the card, you’ll see one of four symbols:
- Circle: Denotes a common card.
- Diamond: Denotes an uncommon card.
- Star: Denotes a rare card.
- Promo Star: Denotes an extremely rare promotional card.
As you move up the rarity scale, card prices will (usually) increase. But don’t worry too much if your card isn’t particularly rare according to this basic scale—collectors tend to pay more attention to things like autographs and first-pressings (first editions) than they do rarity when it comes to Pokémon cards.
The modern rarity system
Pokemon has more recently decided to change their rarity system, and it’s a bit more complicated, but exciting nevertheless. Check this out:
They’ve added a double rare, ultra rare, hyper rare, art rare, and alt art rare. Collectors have been raving at this new system as it gives much more variation to the type of cards offered. I know I myself love it, especially the hyper rare and alt art versions of certain cards.
The alt art versions are usually highly sought after and are thus worth more, often significantly more. Here’s an example of a card along with it’s alt art counterpart, the infamous “Moonbreon”:
No joke, if you’ve got a PSA 10 Alt Art Umbreon VMAX, you’ve got a $1k+ card in your hands.
How to sort Pokémon cards for selling
Before you start checking the prices of your Pokémon cards, you should first sort them so that you can easily locate them in the future. There are several factors to sort them through, and depending on how many cards you have, you can divide them down further.
The first thing you should do is to sort them by the types of card they are. Are they Pokémon cards, trainer cards or energy cards? Once you have sorted them to the type of card, you can move on to ordering them either alphabetically or by rarity, whichever one would be easier for you.
Pokémon card popularity
The final factor that can have a big impact on the price of your cards is their popularity. This quality refers to how ubiquitous the card is and what kind of audience it has. For example, a very popular card that everyone recognizes—like Charizard or Pikachu—might be worth more than a more obscure card that has less of an audience.
There isn’t a hard and fast set of rules behind this factor like there is with both of the previous factors. However, it’s still an important point to understand.
So, if you’re looking to sell your old Pokémon cards for cash, keep these three factors in mind: check the grade of your cards, consider their rarity, and think about their recognizability.
How to sell your Pokémon cards for cash
Now that you know a little bit about the factors that influence card prices, you’re probably wondering: how do I sell my Pokémon cards for cash? Don’t worry—we’re here to help!
Step 1: Screen Your Collections
The first step to selling your old Pokémon cards is to sort through what you have and screen out the cards that aren’t worth very much (i.e., most of them). You can do this by going through each of your collections individually and keeping track of any card grades, rarities, or other factors that might affect their value.
Cards that are badly torn or worn can usually be thrown away, unless you believe they’re extremely rare. At this stage, it’s best to take a cautious approach—when in doubt, keep it!
Common cards—even pristine ones—typically only sell for a few dollars (at most). So, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the effort.
Tip: If you have a lot of pristine common cards, it’s often easier to sell them as a package!
Step 2: Identify Your Best Cards
Now that you’ve sorted through your collections, it’s time to take a closer look at the cards that might still be worth something.
Ideally, these are cards that are both high-quality and at least a double or ultra rare. If you’ve got an alternate art card, chances are its a decent bet. This step is actually quite a complex risk vs. benefit analysis, and you’ll only get better with time and experience. However, to help you get started, here is a video from a Pokemon veteran who has had over 1,000 cards graded. He helps you how to further decide whether or not to submit a card for PSA (or CCG, Beckett, etc) grading:
Step 3: Do Your Research
Before you try selling your Pokémon cards on an individual basis, it’s important to do your research first! For example, if you’re planning on selling them via eBay, make sure you check how much comparable versions of each card have sold for in the past.
To get started, look up a few different card guides online to get an idea of what your cards should be worth. From there, search on eBay or other similar sites to see how much they actually sell for.
With the rise of the popularity of selling Pokémon cards, there are even apps now where you can scan your card and you can instantly see how much your cards are worth.
Alternatively, you can post your cards to forums, such as:
- Pokémon Card Collections
- Pokémon Community
While different forums have different rules, most will be happy to take a look at your collection to answer your questions about rarity and condition. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to more accurately price your own cards—and hopefully make a nice profit!
Step 4: Get High-Value Cards Graded
Once you’ve received estimates on how much your best cards are worth, it’s time to get them professionally graded. This will ensure that they sell for the highest possible price.
You can find a number of reputable grading services online, such as PSA or Beckett Grading Services. When you send in your cards, make sure you include a note describing what they are and their condition—and don’t forget to attach any pictures of the back or front!
Step 5: List Your Pokemon Cards & Take Profit
Once you’ve screened your collections, it’s time for the best part: selling your cards!
To do this, you have to find online buyers who will be willing to pay you for them. There are a variety of places where you can list your cards and get offers from potential buyers.
After you’ve found some interested buyers, it’s time to close the sale and take your profit!
Both TCGPlayer and Ebay have thousands of listings at any given moment. They also make it very easy to list your card. With Ebay, you’ll probably be doing a bit more picture taking, as buyers like to see the actual card they’re getting, but with TCGPlayer, stock photos are generally used, so it maybe be a good option if you’re not to keen on having to take lots of photos to sell your cards.
Where to sell Pokemon cards for cash
Here’s a list of great places to check out where you can potentially sell your Pokemon cards for cash:
- TCGPlayer (highly recommended): A great, purpose-built trading card marketplace with an active community.
- eBay (also highly recommended): Good for selling cards of all different values, but look out for scammers if you’re selling high-value cards.
- Craigslist: Good for selling low-value cards in high volume if you’re looking to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
- Online Auction Houses: If you’re selling extremely rare cards, it’s recommended that you use a professional auction house (e.g., Barneby’s) to minimize risk. However, I don’t really know of anyone that’s sold a Pokemon card this route in my personal experience, but it’s definitely a legit avenue if an opportunity should arise.
Whichever route you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that investing in Pokémon cards can be extremely lucrative. With some research and patience, you should be able to get top dollar for your cards—and have a blast doing it!
If you’re looking to sell your old Pokémon cards for cash, follow these simple steps! Sorting through your collection, identifying the best cards, and doing your research are all essential parts of the process.
And don’t forget: getting your cards graded can help maximize their value. With a little effort, you should be able to get top dollar for your Pokémon card collections! Good luck!