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Pokémon cards were introduced in 1996 as part of the franchise’s trading card game. Less than 25 years later, some of these first-edition Pokémon have appreciated in price at over 10,000 percent.
Alongside the limited supply and extremely high demand, there are plenty of reasons why Pokémon cards make for excellent investments.
1. The best cards are worth more than you’d think
In 2018, a man named Gary made digital headlines after appearing on Pawn Stars with a series of Pokémon cards, which he claimed were worth half a million dollars.
While this claim initially astounded both the audience and the show’s experts, it’s perfectly true that rare first edition cards can hold immense value. The cards brought in to Pawn Stars by Gary were just a small fraction of his assets, too — Gary’s entire collection was later revealed to be worth approximately $5 million.
Earlier this month, the YouTuber Logan Paul bought a first edition PSA-graded 10 Charizard card from Pawn Stars’ Gary for a whopping $150,000. And that’s not even close to the highest price ever fetched by a Pokémon card — this honor went to The Pikachu Illustrator card, which sold for $233,000.
Though the average price of Pokémon cards is much lower, there are many rare, highly collectible cards with values upwards of $200,000. A 1999 Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Charizard, for instance, is currently worth between $150,000 to $200,000.
Even more common cards can be worth several thousand dollars, depending on their condition. For example, Charizard Holo cards from the 1999 base set have been known to fetch over $5,000 to $10,000 despite the fact that there are over 10,000 of them in circulation.
2. True collectibles are guaranteed to increase in value
Pokémon cards are collectibles, and many sets went out of print years ago. The inherently limited supply of each card type means that as time goes on and cards become more difficult to obtain, the value will steadily increase.
Because of this, the investment model with Pokémon cards is exceedingly simple: After purchasing a rare card, the longer you hold on to it, the more profit you’ll make when you decide to sell. There’s virtually no chance of a card that’s out of print decreasing in value over time.
3. There’s a global market for Pokémon cards
Because the global appeal and popularity of the franchise, trade in Pokémon cards is alive and well in just about every corner of the world including in person, conferences and auction houses.
This means that if you invest in collectible Pokémon cards and decide it’s time to sell, it won’t be difficult to find a buyer. Despite appearances, Pokémon card trade is far from a niche interest. The market is liquid.
4. It’s easy to find out the price of a specific card
There are plenty of resources online for checking the specifications of every Pokémon card ever printed, including the approximate value of each.
Websites such as pokemonprice.com even offer graphs visualizing the history of online transactions pertaining to specific cards. Because Pokémon card value is essentially public knowledge, each of your investments will be a fully informed decision.
5. There are plenty of collectors out there willing to pay for rare cards
The market for Pokémon cards is not only wide-reaching, but also home to thousands of dedicated collectors intent on completing their sets and obtaining every single card out there.
Because of this, you won’t need to put any effort into making the sale when you decide it’s time to get a return on your investment. For rare, genuinely valuable cards, all it takes is an online listing — the offers pour in by themselves.
6. You can get to know the market quickly
Investing in Pokémon cards doesn’t involve a lot of in-depth research or specialist knowledge. Unlike stock market, real estate or bonds investments, Pokémon card trading is straight-forward and relatively simple.
All of the information you need to start investing in Pokémon cards is freely available online, so it only takes a small amount of research to understand what to look out for.
7. There’s an increasing demand for unopened limited edition box sets
It’s not just individual rare cards that are likely to fetch a good return. Box sets are also increasingly difficult to find, which means their value is steadily going up.
Buying cards in bulk and unboxing them during a livestream has become a popular format for several YouTubers. Earlier this month, YouTuber Logan Paul bought a first edition Pokémon card box set for $200,000 to open during a charity stream. The box set didn’t disappoint — Paul found a first edition Charizard card inside the set, which was worth approximately $40,000 at the time.
If you’re not interested in building a collection and going after specific, valuable cards, investing in box sets is a simple way to make a profit on Pokémon cards without the need to understand the market on a deeper level. Provided the box set is valuable and genuine, you can hold on to it for awhile and sell it on for a profit without ever opening it.
8. Detailed information on each card is easily available
There are several sites offering convenient search engines for Pokémon trading cards. Those interested only in investing — rather than playing — will find a wealth of information there, including how many copies of each card are in circulation, which set it belongs to, when it was printed and much more.
This makes it easy to estimate the value of a Pokémon card investment opportunity, as well as being a useful resource for organizing your collection.
9. Pokémon cards are easy to store
Valuable Pokémon cards do need to be stored properly to prevent fraying and accidental damage, but it takes minimum effort and cost to keep your collection safe.
Purpose-designed storage solutions for Pokémon cards are easily available, in the form of individual pockets or binders. It’s therefore exceedingly simple to keep your cards safe and organized.
10. You don’t need to know the franchise
Serious investors are sometimes put off by the seemingly childish nature of Pokémon cards, and the idea that they would need to delve into the franchise in order to make informed decisions and allocate their assets well.
In fact, neither of these assumptions hold true. Although the franchise was aimed primarily at teenagers, there are plenty of adult enthusiasts and a community of serious collectors, as well as professional Pokémon card players taking part in worldwide tournaments. In any case, investing in valuable Pokémon cards is no different than collecting stamps — if anything, the former makes more sense, because Pokémon cards were intended to be collected and traded.
Knowledge of the franchise certainly helps if you want your Pokémon card investments to turn into a hobby. However, it’s by no means necessary — especially because there are plenty of resources online to identify and assess every card.