Pokémon: A Guide to the Most Expensive Charizard Cards

Posted on 3/14/2023

Pokémon collectors and investors prize Charizard cards. Read our guide to the most expensive Charizard cards on the market.

As one of the original 150 Pokémon, it's no wonder Charizard is a popular character with fans and collectors. Even so, the prices that the most expensive Charizard cards sell for are stunning.

Charizard is a Fire- and Flying-type Pokémon. In Pokémon lore, it is the evolved form of Charmeleon and the final evolution of Charmander. Beyond these levels, kids tend to fall in love with Charizard because the character vaguely resembles a fire-breathing dragon .

As Pokémon became a pop culture institution in various media, Charizard emerged as an iconic figure. The original Pokémon Base Set was printed in limited runs, with the original Base Set Charizard card (known as Charizard Holo) unevenly distributed across booster packs. That distribution technique made the card even more elusive. Now, the Charizard Holo can easily fetch five figures in high-grade conditions.

The most expensive Charizard cards can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apart from their rarity in general, these cards are extremely scarce in top condition, which has led to their skyrocketing value. And with Pokémon more popular than ever, prices continue to rise.

Investment Potential for Charizard Cards*

Long-term trends in the value of Charizard cards often indicate whether a particular card is a good investment. However, collectors and investors should remember that the collector's market fluctuates frequently. The prices discussed below come from online news reports and Price Charting, a price tracker for Pokémon and other collectible cards. As these sources are updated constantly, prices can change on any given day.

Here's a look at the Charizard cards that are most popular with collectors and investors.

1999 Pokémon Base Set #4 1st Edition Charizard Holo ($420,000)

For Pokémon collectors and investors, this card is the Holy Grail. The 1st Edition Charizard Holo is the iconic, rare and valuable card everyone would love to have today. Of course, no collectible gains grail status if it's easily found and affordable. As such, this is also the most expensive Charizard card you will find on the market.

This card's value is partly due to its rarity and uneven distribution in Pokémon booster packs. Buying the original Pokémon Base Set was the best way to acquire one in 1999, but most people didn't intend to stash the set away as a precious collectible. They bought it to play Pokémon. That preference has led to a scarcity of 1st Edition Charizard Holo cards in high-grade conditions.

Add in Charizard's iconic status, and you have a perfect storm of collectible value. It's also a beautifully designed card, with the Charizard shown with flames bursting out of its mouth and tail. The holographic effect adds a reflective element that gives the card a premium appearance.

On top of all that, the original US Pokémon Base Set had two print runs, with the first more rare and valuable. The main difference is that the second run doesn't feature an "Edition 1" logo.

Fans and collectors call the second printing "Shadowless," meaning no drop shadow appears underneath the card's art box. It's a bit of a misnomer, as both print runs were shadowless printings. However, the term has stuck as a way to identify the second printing. The first run is generally known as "1st Edition."

In March 2022, a Gem Mint example of the 1st Edition Charizard Holo sold for a jaw-dropping $420,000. That's a good indication of how desirable this card is to collectors, especially in top condition. Meanwhile, Price Charting reports that even ungraded cards sell for around $1,000.

1999 Pokémon Base Set #4 Shadowless Charizard Holo ($63,000)

Collectors and inventors also prize the Shadowless variant of the original Charizard card. Although it typically sells for less than its 1st Edition counterpart, the Shadowless card is still one of the most expensive Charizard cards on the market.

Visually, it looks nearly identical to the 1st Edition card, but a close inspection reveals the absence of the Edition 1 logo. Regardless of any differences, collectors still consider the Shadowless Charizard Holo a grail card.

In April 2023, a card with the extremely rare CGC Pristine 10 grade sold at auction for $63,000. This was the highest-graded example in the CGC Cards Population Report at the time.

These cards tend to sell for high prices in any condition. Price Charting's sales trackers note that Grade 9.5 cards have sold for up to $17,500.

2021 Pokémon Japanese Creatures Deck Corporate History 25th Anniversary 1996 #1 Charizard Promo ($33,600)

Wizards of the Coast released the Pokémon TCG Base Set to US fans in 1999, marking Pokémon's debut in English-speaking territories. The first Pokémon cards had debuted three years prior in Japan. This 2021 Charizard Promo reuses Mitsuhiro Arita's artwork from that set and immediately became a collector's favorite.

The 30-card Creatures Deck set was rare from the outset, with distribution limited to Pokémon artists and Creatures Inc. employees. When a Charizard card from this set hits the market, it can fetch very high prices. In January 2023, one graded a Pristine 10 by CGC sold at auction for a record-setting $33,600.

This promo's rarity translates to higher values even in lower grades. Price Charting has tracked many sales, noting that Grade 9.5 cards routinely sell for over $300.

1996 Pokémon #6 Charizard Japanese Holo (No Rarity Symbol) ($25,750)

As you might expect, the original Japanese card from 1996 is also highly collectible. Like the 1999 US 1st Edition and Shadowless sets, the Japanese Base Set received a couple of print runs. Cards without the rarity symbol are considered to hail from the first Japanese Pokémon edition.

The artwork and design will be familiar to American collectors; the only difference is the Japanese text. The 1996 Charizard Holo is also rare, making it one of the most expensive Charizard cards.

Due to limited sales activity, the highest grade Price Charting can report on is a Grade 8 card that sold for $25,750. If a Gem Mint or Pristine 10 example were to emerge, the 1996 Japanese Holo Charizard might quickly sell for six figures.

2002 Pokémon Neo Destiny #107 Shining Charizard ($12,000)

In the game, catching a Pokémon is an outstanding achievement. The only thing better is catching a shiny Pokémon. Collectors feel the same way, as shiny Pokémon cards are rare in the marketplace. The 2002 Neo Destiny 1st Edition set featured the most desired shiny Pokémon: the Shining Charizard.

It's an elegantly designed card, with the Charizard's black scales against a shiny background. Perhaps more important, the Neo Destiny set was the last Pokémon product to feature the Wizards of the Coast logo.

Price Charting has recorded several sales for this card in Gem Mint condition, with most coming in around $12,000. They also note a Grade 9.5 card selling for $10,000, proving that the Shining Charizard is consistently one of the most expensive Charizard cards.

How Are Pokémon Cards Graded?

Trading card certifiers use a universal numeric grading system that all dealers, appraisers and collectors recognize. The grades range from ungraded to a Pristine 10.

Grades are calculated according to the following standards:

Pristine 10: The best a card can be, with Gem Mint scores across all four criteria: surface, edges, centering and corners. These cards are perfect even when viewed under 10x magnification.

Gem Mint: Perfect, with bright colors, perfect centering, undamaged edges, sharp corners, and no condition or manufacturing issues or flaws.

Grade 9.5: A Near Mint card with one minor flaw or condition issue.

Grade 9: Excellent, with a few minor condition issues or flaws.

Grades 8 and below: These cards are graded lower because of production flaws or condition issues.

Ungraded: Never been graded.

Raw: Just removed from its packaging and new to the market.

Pokémon card values are determined according to three components: condition, rarity and collector demand. Of the three, collector demand is the most difficult to predict because it can change at any time. A once-desirable card may plummet in value if collectors lose their interest. On the other hand, a more typical card may catapult if collectors suddenly rediscover that player or character.

Escalating auction prices due to bidding wars can also cause card prices to spike. A rare card in Gem Mint condition may be challenging to sell because it commands a premium price, while a lesser-grade card that's more common may suddenly find favor with fans and soar in price.

Should I Have My Pokémon Cards Graded?

Before investing, remember that many variables determine a Pokémon card's value. Obtaining a certified grading is one of the most important things you can do to add value to your cards.

Having your cards graded can make the difference between a few dollars and a few thousand dollars or more. Grading helps verify your cards so that you can accurately assess their value, and it preserves the condition of your card for maximum value. For serious collectors and investors, grading is an essential step for maintaining the long-term value of any given card. To learn more about the grading process for your Pokémon cards, visit the CGC site today.

*Any mention of "investment potential" is for entertainment only and should not be construed as investment advice. The Certified Collectibles Group does not provide investment advice and is not liable for any buy, sell or trade decisions made by any parties.

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