In March of 2022, a Holographic Charizard was sold for $420,000 — and that's not even the most expensive Pokémon card that's been sold.
Yes, you read that right.
Ever since Pokémon's inception in the mid-'90s, these collectible cards have been wildly popular all over the globe. Over the last five years, Pokémon cards have experienced a huge resurgence in popularity and have not only become fun collector's items — they've become serious investments.
In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about buying Pokémon cards and how to find the best deals. Keep reading to learn more.
The History of Pokémon Cards
Pokémon recently past its 25th birthday since it was introduced to the world, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. Since then, the franchise has sold more than 368 million Pokémon video games worldwide.
It was originally invented by a Japanese man named Satoshi Tajiri and an illustrator named Ken Sugimori. Together, they started a video game company. Eventually, inspired by his childhood love of exploring forests and finding bugs and tadpoles, he invited the idea of Pocket Monsters (or Pokémon) and pitched it to Nintendo.
The games went on to sell millions of copies and became one of the most popular franchises in the world.
After the popularity of the games, a company called Media Factory created the Pokémon Trading Card Game and released the first set in 1996, containing a set of 102 cards.
The cards were a hit and were later introduced to North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999.
Soon tournaments and even world championships were created. Since then, over 30 billion cards have been printed, and old cards are selling at wildly high prices.
Why Invest in Pokemon?
As mentioned earlier, Pokémon has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity over the past 5 years. There are several reasons why.
First, Pokémon is the premier non-sports cards in the world to invest in. The company has recently hit a net worth of $105 billion, and card sales have topped $10.25 billion.
The current highest buying demographic are adults aged 24-36 years old. This group will continue to make more money and gain a higher spending threshold — which can only mean more money being invested into the cards.
One side factor of Pokémon's (and sports cards) resurgence was due to the pandemic. People craved a new and nostalgic hobby, leading to a huge upward trend in collectible card purchases.
Top-tier Pokémon cards are being seen as valuable pieces of modern art, with prices rising over hundreds of thousands of dollars, and demand is only going up.
How Do You Build a Strategy to Make Money With Pokémon Cards?
If you're interested in making money with Pokémon cards, it's not that easy. You'll have to develop a strategy that fits your needs and budget. Let's take a look at a few steps you need to go through to start making money with Pokémon cards.
1. Set a Budget
Just like any other investment-related hobby, it can be incredibly easy to spend all your money without knowing when to stop. The first step you'll need to do is set a budget so you know exactly when to stop buying.
Winning auctions can be addicting, so you'll need to set some boundaries. Otherwise, you can go overboard quickly.
First, go check out websites like eBay and monitor recent sales. This will give you an idea of how much you'll need to spend and how to set your budget.
2. Decide Your Financial Goals
It's also important to clarify why you're getting into Pokémon cards in the first place.
Are you looking to make long-term profits? Are you trying to make money as quickly as possible? Or do you just want to enjoy collecting as a hobby?
This will help you decide which of the many routes to take when you start investing in cards. There's a way to go for every budget.
3. Choose a Card Buying Strategy
Not every money-making strategy is the same when it comes to buying Pokémon cards.
If you're thinking about long-term investing, you can buy cheaper, $10 cards to get value in the long term. An example that many collectors follow is by collecting Mint raw cards and Near Mint graded cards, as these have been shooting up in value over the past year.
Finding lower grades of higher-tier cards of the original 1999-2000 set are great long-term investments.
If you're looking to make quick profits as quickly as possible, you might be more interested in flipping cards. To do this, you must be very well educated about the market.
This includes understanding population reports, recent sales, sets, and errors, and understanding what cards are rising in popularity. If a card suddenly becomes incredibly popular, card flippers can capitalize on the opportunity.
And of course, Pokémon cards are all about collecting in the first place. The slogan says it all: "Gotta catch 'em all." Many collectors go down the route of trying to complete an entire set.
These full sets' value has only been increased by people's emotional and nostalgic attachments to the cards, lowering the supply of what's available.
Types of Pokémon Cards and Their Rarities
Not all cards are worth the same (obviously).
But even a Pikachu that looks exactly like another Pikachu can vary in value wildly depending on several factors. If you're looking to dust off your old collection to see what it's worth, first check out these factors to see if you have any rare cards worth holding on to. This is a good place to start when determining how to buy Pokémon cards (as well as selling).
1. Holographic Cards
You can easily tell these from one look at the card. These have shiny and reflective backgrounds on the illustration in the picture of the Pokémon itself. These are referred to as "holo" cards and are worth more. In the original set of 102 Pokémon, only 16 were holo.
2. First-Edition Cards
On the bottom left of the illustration, you'll be able to see if there is an "Edition 1" logo. These incredibly rare cards are part of some of the most original cards and are seen as some of the most valuable cards available.
3. Shadowless Cards
These cards are almost identical to first-edition prints but don't include the first-edition logo. You can tell the difference between these older cards and their newer counterparts by the 3D-like shadow given to the newer cards. These are also very rare and sought-after.
4. Unlimited Cards
Although these don't contain the first-edition symbol and have shadows added, they are still old and rare. To see if these are part of a base set, look on the bottom right of the picture box. If there is no symbol there, it is part of the base set and is an unlimited card.
Other Variables That Can Affect Value
Of course, those original sets aren't the only factors that determine a card's value. Let's look at several important factors that come into play when pricing your cards.
The next most important factor in a card's value is the condition that it is in. Even if you have an ultra-rare, 1st edition holographic card, it won't be worth nearly as much if it's not in good condition.
If you find a card that you think might be worth more than $100, it could be worth getting it graded by a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). They don't just grade sports cards — they'll rate all sorts of card collectibles and give you an official rating to determine the card's worth.
These card-grading services usually cost about $20 or more per card depending on the service that you choose, so make sure to factor that in when deciding whether or not to get it graded.
But if you find a rare card in good condition and get it graded, it could help you reap huge rewards in the future. This process also removes any doubt about the authenticity of a card as well.
Supply and Demand
Just like any other collectible, the lower the supply, the more a collection can be worth. Compared to sports cards, Pokémon cards have pretty low populations. After decades of popularity without any new cards being produced of the original set, prices will only rise.
Different kinds of Pokémon have their popularity wax and wane over time, so pay attention to what is popular to take advantage.
Your Ability to Negotiate
The job isn't all in the cards. As you begin collecting and flipping Pokémon cards, your knowledge and ability to barter will be crucial in how much money you can make.
If you're serious about it, make sure you go into deals knowing market value, monitoring similar sales and auctions, and making offers at the most advantageous times.
Networking is another important part of collecting cards. You can always message sellers and start conversations that can help build trust between seller and buyer.
Where to Buy and Sell Pokémon Cards
Once you've decided to start your collection (or you've started and want to start selling your cards), you'll need to know where to buy Pokémon cards. Here's a list of some of the best places.
eBay is still the safest marketplace to buy and sell cards. You can quickly look through recent sales to gauge the value of specific cards. You can look at seller reviews and purchase cards with confidence knowing that you found a high-rated seller.
Because they are the largest online marketplace, you'll have the best chance of finding what you want. You can find sellers and products that are nearest to you and possibly even create a local network.
eBay is a great place to start your watch list and get alerts when new cards are listed and sold.
WhatNot is one of the best auction sales websites that features live streaming of every auction. Sellers can add prizes and establish creative ways to get buyers to participate in their auctions.
3. Instagram and Facebook Groups
There are several private groups as well as Instagram profiles that flip cards. You'll need to do your due diligence to ensure their legitimacy, but they can be great places to find awesome deals and build relationships. Make sure to watch out for scams, though.
COMC (stands for check out my collectibles) is a marketplace where you can find individual cards. People use this platform to help people complete sets.
5. Breaking Bangers
Breaking Bangers has a huge selection of great deals on popular collectible products, like Pokémon, sports cards, comics, memorabilia, and more! Start your collection with great-priced booster boxes.
6. In-Person Card Shows and Stores
Just like when you were a kid in the 90s and this was the only option — you can still go to card shows and stores in person! This is a great way because you can actually check out cards in persons, network, and see what's of value.
Collecting Pokémon cards is not without its risks. There are plenty of sketchy people out there trying to make a quick buck through nefarious selling tactics.
When buying single cards, make sure you do careful research to ensure what you're buying is real and not fake. This means checking the rareness indicators we mentioned earlier.
If you're looking to buy packs, make sure you're buying from a reputable source with good ratings and reviews. Packs can be easily resealed and made to look like they were unopened, which can leave people with an untrained eye scammed.
Another tactic sellers use is weighing packs. Heavier packs often have holographic cards in them while lighter packs don't. Always keep an eye out and do careful research before investing money in Pokémon cards!
Buying Pokémon Cards: The Most Fun Investment?
Pokémon cards have always been one of the most fun collectibles out there. Whether it's the beautiful artwork, the game you can play, or just the pure nostalgia of ripping those packs open with your friends and finding those rare holographic cards — it's no wonder why they have remained popular to this day.
Whether you start buying Pokémon cards as a serious investor or as a casual collector, Breaking Bangers offers great deals on authentic packs to help build your collection. Shop with us today!