The Rarest and Most Expensive Pikachu Cards

Posted on 10/25/2022

Everyone's favorite electric mouse has been featured on many trading cards, but these fifteen entries are by far the most expensive and valuable.

Across all forms of media, there is always one recognizable character, item or concept that people recognize. For Yu-Gi-Oh!, it’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon. For Star Wars, it’s R2D2 or Darth Vader. And for Pokémon, it is none other than our favorite electric mouse: Pikachu! Pikachu has been around since the beginning, and although it was never intended to be the original mascot of the fan-favorite franchise (that honor goes to Clefairy), the electric furry friend nestled its way into millions of fans’ hearts.

As such, it’s very common for beginner collectors to start their collections with a focus on one or two Pokémon instead of a full set, with Pikachu being one of the top contenders. While most Pikachu cards are relatively common, there are certain rarities that are highly prized by beginning and seasoned collectors alike. CGC Cards™ has put together our top fifteen picks for the rarest and most valuable Pikachu cards, as well as some honorable mentions. All sales data reflect sales from the past two years for accuracy.

Here are our picks for the rarest and most valuable Pikachu cards.

The top 15 most expensive Pikachu cards

Number 15: Pikachu on the Ball – 2020 SWSH Futsal Promo ($750)

A Pikachu on the Ball, Pokémon (2020) Futsal Collection - FA Pokémon Youth Futsal Programme graded CGC 9.5.
Click images to enlarge.

In 2020, England Football partnered with The Pokémon Company to create a special futsal competition, called the Pokémon Youth Futsal Cup. The tournament was created to introduce school-age children to futsal, improve players’ football technique, and encourage decision-making and teamwork. Teams who did well in the regional tournaments would have a chance to compete in the national finals.

All teams that registered for the competition were entered into a drawing for a special Pikachu on the Ball promotional card. This card features Pikachu wearing a white futsal jersey, kicking the competition’s signature Poké Ball-designed football into a goal net. It also features the Pokémon Futsal logo to the bottom right of the art box.

After the tournament and campaign ended in 2021, the Pikachu on the Ball promo card was distributed to the public through UK’s exclusive GAME stores. These cards were exclusively distributed in the UK and never saw an overseas release. For that reason, they’re considered rare and sought out by collectors online. One Pikachu promo realized $750 in a May 2022 PWCC sale.

Number 14: “Ivy” Pikachu 1st Edition – 1997 Wizards of the Coast Promo #1 ($1,100)

The Ivy Pikachu is a promo card with a complicated release history. Wizards of the Coast originally produced the card to be part of their Black Star Promo series, only for some of the prints to be mistakenly distributed in a few 1st Edition Jungle booster packs.

The thing is, 1st Edition “Ivy” Pikachu promos aren’t all errors and misprints. During Wizards of the Coast’s 2001 Pokémon League season, players were allowed to participate in “League Events.” One such event was the “Create a Baby Pokémon” contest, where participants could design their own baby Pokémon and send it in for judging. The top 16 entrants each received 10 copies of this 1st Edition Ivy Pikachu, and distribution was supposed to stop there.

Unfortunately, some of these 1st Edition prints made their way into 1st Edition Jungle packs. This erroneous distribution caused fans to believe that the 1st Edition stamp is an error, although it did technically have an official distribution.

Although the distribution efforts surrounding this card are cloudy, the Ivy Pikachu promos that have the 1st Edition symbol are still undeniably rare and are worth significantly more than their other Black Star Promo counterparts. One of these Pikachu promos sold on eBay for $1,100 in 2022.

Number 13: Pretend Gyarados & Magikarp Pikachu – 2015 Special Box Promo Set ($1,899)

A Pretend Magikarp Pikachu, Pokémon (2015) Japanese XY & XY BREAK Pretend Magikarp & Gyarados Promo graded Pristine 10 with sub-grades of 10 for Centering, 9.5 for Surface and 10 for Corners and Edges (left), and a Pretend Gyarados Pikachu, Pokémon (2015) Japanese XY & XY BREAK Pretend Magikarp & Gyarados Promo graded CGC 9.5 with sub-grades of 9.5 for Centering and Surface, and 10 for Corners and Edges (right).
Click images to enlarge.

Poncho-wearing Pikachu cards are among the most popular promo cards in the Pokémon TCG. Popular additions include Rayquaza Poncho Pikachu and Mega Charizard X and Y Poncho Pikachu. However, two of the first poncho-wearing Pikachu cards to come to market were the Pretend Gyarados and Magikarp Pikachu promos.

In 2015, Hiroshima opened its own branch of The Pokémon Center, a retail store dedicated to Pokémon merchandise, memorabilia and more. To commemorate the occasion, they released a special box set called the Pretend Magikarp & Pretend Gyarados Pikachu Special Box that could only be ordered at the Hiroshima Pokémon Center location. Since a shiny Gyarados is the Hiroshima Pokémon Center’s mascot, it was only natural that the key promos included in the box set were centered around Gyarados and its pre-evolution, Magikarp. Both cards feature a full-art Pikachu wearing a Magikarp or Gyarados poncho with a full color background.

Since the commemorative box set was only sold for a limited time, and there were strict purchase limits, there are a limited number of these promo cards in circulation. As such, they are highly valued within the collector community and quite expensive. A Pretend Gyarados recently sold for just under $1,500 in an eBay auction. Meanwhile, a Pretend Magikarp sold for $1,899 on eBay a day before.

Number 12: Pikachu VMAX Rainbow Rare – Sword & Shield: Vivid Voltage #188/185 ($5,300)

A Pikachu VMAX, Pokémon (2020) Vivid Voltage graded CGC Perfect 10 with perfect sub-grades.
Click images to enlarge.

This is where your collection will start getting really expensive.

If you collect modern cards, you’ll likely remember this rainbow version of our favorite electric mouse. The Pikachu VMAX Rainbow Rare quickly became the most sought-after card when Vivid Voltage released it in 2020.

A combination of decent playability and extreme rarity had collectors scrambling to get their hands on this card, driving the value and expense of a single raw copy through the roof, with a single pack-fresh card costing collectors around $350 or more. One spectacular example sold in a 2021 PWCC auction for $5,300, a massive jump from our previous entry’s $1,899.

Number 11: _____’s Pikachu (Birthday Pikachu) – WotC Black Star Promo #24 ($6,750)

A ___'s Pikachu (Birthday Pikachu), Pokémon (2000) Holo Black Star Promo - Wizards Mail Giveaway graded CGC 9.5.
Click images to enlarge.

In June 1999, Wizards of the Coast launched the first Pokémon League using their Magic: The Gathering DCI Tournament structure. This first league, a prototype meant to test player interest in competitive play, was called the “Pokémon League Summer Training Tour.” Beginning at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, stores across 19 cities hosted both TCG and Game Boy tournaments for kids ages 7-14. Once the 19-city tour finished, Wizards of the Coast implemented their leagues country-wide, with tournaments being held in all of its stores, bookstores, Toys “R” US stores, game shops and more.

This structure continued for two years. Year two introduced the second generation of Pokémon, including the Johto series of cards, Johto badges, new prizes and the introduction of “League Activities.” Players who earned the Zephyr Badge by completing a challenge would be allowed to participate in the “Create a Baby Pokémon” Contest — the same contest that won the top 16 entries their “Ivy” Pikachu promos.

Meanwhile, every participant was mailed a special Birthday Pikachu promo card. This card was officially titled ____’s Pikachu, so that participants could personalize their own copy. This promo card is extremely popular among collectors; so popular, in fact, that The Pokémon Company reprinted it for the series’ 25th anniversary set.

Collectors looking for an unpersonalized copy of this promo can expect to spend a good chunk of money to acquire it. A graded copy sold for $6,750 in an April 2021 PWCC auction.

Number 10: “No Number” Pikachu – 1997 Topsun Series ($6,767)

A Pikachu, Pokémon Topsun (1997) Original Series No Number 1st Print graded CGC 9.
Click images to enlarge.

In 1997, Topsun released a series of Pokémon-themed trading cards and included them in packs of bubble gum. Each pack of bubble gum included two cards, for a total of 150 cards to collect, with each card featuring one of the original 150 Pokémon, excluding Mew.

The first set featured a large print of the corresponding Pokémon on the front and a blue backing. This blue backing was only present on the first print of the cards — all other prints had a red backing. These first edition prints are very rare and valuable. In addition to blue backings, some first edition Topsun cards lacked a set number. This Pikachu is one such example, lacking its signature #25 number to the right of its name. Finding one of these early error prints is rare, and they’re very expensive. One such example sold on PWCC for $6,767 in July 2021.

Another Pikachu rarity from the Topsun set is the beautiful Prism Pikachu — an alternate #25 Pikachu with a prism holographic background. This rarity is also coveted by collectors and demands a pretty penny, with one selling for $1,100 in a May 2022 PWCC auction.

Number 9: Pikachu Reverse Holo – 2002 Legendary Collection ($6,900)

A Pikachu, Pokémon (2002) Legendary Collection Reverse Holo graded CGC 9.5 and pedigreed to the Blake Martinez Break 3/12/22.
Click images to enlarge.

Legendary Collection was a main expansion of the Pokémon TCG that revisited popular cards from the Base Set, Jungle, Fossil and Team Rocket expansions. The set introduced several new ways to collect cards, including jumbo cards and reverse holofoil prints, with key holofoil reprints like Charizard, Dark Blastoise, Dark Raichu and, of course, Pikachu.

Any holofoil from Legendary Collection is worth a pretty penny, but Pikachu is one of the most coveted and expensive in the lot. The artwork itself is a reprint of the Pikachu by Mitsuhiro Arita (with red cheeks) featured in Base Set, but the card’s background is filled with a holofoil pattern that resembles fireworks.

Collectors looking to add this beauty to their collections will need to fork over a fair amount of money. In July, one of these cards sold on PWCC for a whopping $6,900.

Number 8: “Red Cheeks” Pikachu – 1999 Base Set ($6,900)

A Pikachu, Pokémon (1999) Base Set Shadowless with Red Cheeks graded CGC Pristine 10 with sub-grades of 10 for Centering, Surface and Corners, and 9.5 for Corners and pedigreed to Blake X IslandGrown Break.
Click images to enlarge.

According to its Pokédex entry in Pokémon Sapphire, Pikachu “has electricity-storing pouches on its cheeks.” Likewise, in the anime, Pikachu’s cheeks will briefly turn yellow when it’s preparing to zap something. Unfortunately, this color-changing technique was a source of confusion for Wizards of the Coast, who released the Pokémon Trading Card Game a mere month after the anime was released in North America.

Pikachu’s Base Set artwork was illustrated by famed Pokémon artist Mitsuhiro Arita. The card’s artwork features Pikachu standing in a forest while discharging small lightning bolts from its cheeks. To better accentuate this scene, Arita intentionally left Pikachu’s cheeks yellow. Pikachu’s cheeks would remain yellow throughout the release of Japan’s Expansion set.

Unfortunately, employees at Wizards of the Coast were confused by the change. They thought it was a simple coloring error and, without checking with Arita, changed the cheeks back to their normal red in preparation for the English Base Set release. The error was later caught and clarified with Arita, but not before several copies of the Red Cheek Pikachu variant had made its way into players’ hands.

It’s estimated that around half of the Pikachu cards released in First Edition and Shadowless Base Sets have red cheeks. There are significantly less red cheek variants in Unlimited, which is why they’re so rare and expensive. One example sold in November 2020 for a staggering $6,900, tying with our previous entry.

Number 7: Mario & Luigi Pikachu – 2016 Pokémon XY Promos ($7,000)

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire introduced a unique Pikachu to be used in contests and special battles. Known as Cosplay Pikachu, this electric mouse wore different outfits depending on what moves the player wanted it to know, with featured outfits including the macho Pikachu Libre and the cute Pikachu Pop Star.

Cosplay Pikachu was adored by fans for its fun and creative use of outfits. Eventually, artists took the trend to the next level by creating fanart of Pikachu wearing iconic outfits, such as cosplays of other Pokémon, Link’s outfit from The Legend of Zelda, and more. Cosplay-wearing Pikachu cards also entered the Pokémon Trading Card Game as promo cards.

One of the most popular cosplay-wearing Pikachu promo cards includes a set of Pikachu wearing Mario and Luigi’s outfits from Nintendo’s flagship series, Super Mario Bros. These cards featuring Pikachu wearing the brothers’ outfits and a fake mustache were exclusive to Japan. A set of four were released in 2016, with the set including two basic promo cards and two full art cards, each branded with a “Mario x Pikachu” logo. The cards have continuously risen in value since 2016, with all four cards selling together in a late 2021 PWCC sale for $7,000.

Number 6: Gold Star Pikachu – 2006 EX Holon Phantoms ($8,600)

A Pikachu Gold Star, Pokémon (2006) EX Holon Phantoms Holo graded CGC 9.5 with sub-grades of 10 for Centering, Surface and Edges, and 9 for Corners.
Click images to enlarge.

If you read our recent article featuring the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards, you’ll know that Gold Star cards are some of the most expensive examples out there. The Gold Star set is widely coveted because it is one of the few sets that depict Pokémon in their shiny, alternate color forms. Popular cards from the set include Gold Star Umbreon, Gold Star Mewtwo and, of course, Gold Star Pikachu.

Gold Star Pikachu is an exceptionally cool card. Pikachu stands boldly in the center, arms crossed and cheeks puffed out in a strong, no-nonsense pose. The body outline extends past the art box, reaching onto the borders of the card to create a 3D image, while the blue and white holofoil background accentuates Pikachu’s dark-orange shiny colors.

Unfortunately, cool cards come at a high price. Gold Star Pikachu’s price tag is exceptionally high, and for good reason. Collectors who bought EX Holon Phantoms boxes only had a chance of pulling this shiny Pikachu once every six boxes. That’s a 1 in 216 chance if we’re talking about booster packs alone. For this reason, this Pikachu is exceptionally rare and extremely expensive, with one PWCC sale reaching $8,600 in 2021.

Number 5: “Sample” Pikachu – 2002 e-Reader Sample Set ($12,500)

The e-Reader was a peripheral system made for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. Players could insert it into the game slot in the system and swipe special e-Reader cards through the peripheral to unlock special in-game events and characters or play minigames.

Pokémon took full advantage of this peripheral by integrating e-Cards into the TCG. During a press conference in August 2002 at the New York Pokémon Center, several special booster packs including 10 sample e-Cards were distributed to officials for demonstration purposes. These cards featured Pokémon such as Hoppip, Koffing, Rapidash, Chansey, Pichu and Pikachu.

The Sample Pikachu e-Card uses the same artwork and card structure as Expedition’s Pikachu #124/165, with the only differences being the number (#016/092), the copyright changing from just ©Pokémon to ©Pokémon / Nintendo and the inclusion of a large bolded “Sample” text in place of Expedition’s set symbol.

These e-Reader sample cards are incredibly rare. Only 20 of each card are estimated to be in circulation and fewer are expected to be in good condition. One Sample Pikachu realized an incredible $12,500 in a 2021 PWCC sale.

Number 4: Gold Pikachu – 2016 20th Anniversary Promo ($29,500)

2016 was a huge year for Pokémon. The franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary by showering fans with hundreds of promotional events in all of its major divisions, including the video games, TCG and more. The Trading Card Game saw no shortage in special promotional material and memorabilia, including the limited Generations set and several promo cards.

One of these promotional cards was a Gold Pikachu sold exclusively in Japan. The gimmick here is that this Gold Pikachu wasn’t just gold in color. This card is a “reprint” of the classic Base Set Pikachu made of 11 grams (0.4 ounces) of 24-karat gold — literally! This collectible was made in limited quantities through a partnership by The Pokémon Company and Japanese jewelry company Ginza Tanaka. It is unknown how many copies were actually produced.

Obtaining this card wasn’t as easy as picking it up in a store or ordering it online. Japanese collectors who wanted to get their hands on this glittery rarity had to enter a lottery just for the chance to purchase it. If their number was drawn, they’d be required to cough up a massive sum of 216,000 yen (around $2,081) within a certain time limit to guarantee their purchase. The card came in a beautiful glass case created by Ginza Tanaka that had the words “Pokémon Card Game 20th Anniversary” imprinted towards the top in gold lettering.

Since these beautiful rarities were only sold in Japan, the only way to obtain a Gold Pikachu here in the United States is through auction or online sales, which are few and far between. One of these Pikachus came to auction in August 2022. It sold through Goldin for a whopping $29,520 with a buyer’s premium.

Number 3: No. 2 Trainer – 2006 Pokémon World Championships Promo ($110,000)

The Pokémon World Championships are an annual event where the best of the best compete for their chance to be crowned Champion of either the Pokémon Video Games division or the Pokémon Trading Card Game division. Players come from all over the world to put their skills to the test, meet fellow fans and win exclusive prizes.

Some of these prizes include special promo cards that are only given out to winners of each division. The first, second and third place winners of each division received special “trophy” cards during the 2006 championship tournament. These cards featured a 3D Pikachu holding a gold, silver and bronze trophy, respectively. Each card also offers the recipient a congratulatory message and an invitation to the 2007 World Championship tournament.

Only one of each card was produced specifically to give to these winners, so only one of each exists. All of the cards can be authenticated by the official Pokémon World Championships 2006 stamp in the bottom right-hand corner of the card.

Since only one of these first, second and third-place trophy cards exist, they’ve rarely come to auction. In fact, only one English copy of the 2006 No. 2 Trainer promo has been put up for sale. It sold for an astronomical $110,000 on PWCC in February of 2021.

Number 2: No. 1-3 Gold, Silver & Bronze Trophy Pikachu – 1998 Lizardon Mega Battle Tournament ($192,000)

A No. 1 Trainer, Pokémon (1998) Charizard Mega Battle 1st Place Promo Holo graded CGC 8.5 with sub-grades of 9.5 for Centering, 8 for Surface, 8.5 for Corners and 8.5 for Edges.
Click images to enlarge.

While the 2006 Trainer promos are expensive indeed, the original 1998 Trophy Pikachu cards which they’re based off are even more rare and expensive. This Pikachu-featuring promo is widely considered the rarest and most expensive promotional winner’s prize in the Pokémon Trading Card Game as of 2022.

Like their 2006 counterparts, the 1999 No. 1-3 Trophy Pikachu promos were given to the first, second and third-place winners of the 1999 Lizardon Mega Battle regional tournament in Japan. We covered this in our Rarest and Most Expensive Pokémon Cards article; if you’d like to learn more about this tournament, click here.

Each card features the original Pikachu artwork illustrated by Mitsuhiro Arita (remember the Red Cheek Pikachu?) holding a gold, silver and bronze trophy, respectively. The cards text offers each winner a congratulatory message and an invitation to the next year’s tournament, just like the 2006 variant. The main difference between these cards is the artwork and the rarity.

Unlike the 2006 variants, the 1999 No. 1-3 Trophy Pikachu promos were given to fifteen total winners across nine junior cup tournaments and six senior cup tournaments. Although this is a higher number than the 2006 Trainer promos, the rarity of these 1999 No. 1-3 Trophy Pikachu cards cannot be overstated. A graded copy of the bronze No. 3 Trophy variant sold for $192,000 in a recent PWCC auction as a testament to their expense.

Number 1: Pokémon Illustrator – 1998 CoroCoro Comics Promo

Click images to enlarge.

It may come as no surprise, but the rarest and most expensive Pikachu card is also the rarest and most expensive Pokémon card in general. It seems only natural that Pikachu should be featured on the most valuable card in the series.

In 1997, longtime Japanese comic magazine CoroCoro Comic ran a series of art contests focusing on Pokémon content. Across all three of these contests, winners received a copy of Pokémon Illustrator — an exclusive promo card never distributed again. Often called “Pikachu Illustrator,” this card features a Pikachu holding a paintbrush with several drawings behind it. Notably, this card’s artwork was illustrated by Atsuko Nishida, one of the original creators of Pikachu. We covered more about these art contests and the Pokémon Illustrator card in a previous article, which you can read by clicking here.

Across all three contests, only 39 winners received a copy of this elusive Pikachu promo card. Since then, two more have entered circulation, bringing the grand total of Pokémon Illustrator cards in existence to a mere 41 copies. They’re not only rare, but incredibly expensive — most auctions see this card selling for an average of $200,000 or more. The most expensive one, however, was acquired by Logan Paul in April 2022. The influencer parted with $4 million in cash and more than $1,275,000 in trades to get his hands on the current highest graded copy of Pokémon Illustrator. That’s a massive total of $5,275,000 for one card, and the most expensive private Pokémon Card sale in history.

With a price like that, it’s no wonder that this card is considered the rarest and most expensive Pikachu card in history.

Pikachu is one of the most widely recognized Pokémon in existence. It’s cute, it’s cuddly and it has an “electrifying” personality. Do you own any of these rare and expensive Pikachu cards? Let us know which one is your favorite, or if there’s any we missed!

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