Pokemon Trainer cards may be a viable cardboard investment, but what should you be looking at, and why?
We’ve come up with a list containing 10 of the best Pokémon Trainer cards on the market right now. There’s a selection of both modern and vintage sets to choose from.
The Best Pokémon Trainer Cards
We’ve listed the cards in no particular order, so there’s a mix of rarer releases to go along with a few attainable options.
10. 1999 Pokémon Pokedex Trainer #87 (eBay)
We’ll start off with a card that isn’t going to break the bank, but is still iconic in it’s own right.
The Pokedex is an important piece of equipment in the Pokémon games. It was first released in the 1999 Base Set as a Trainer card.
As with all cards from the original base set, you’ll be able to find Shadowless 1st Edition copies, with a stamp found next to the silver bolt in the bottom left corner.
9. 2017 Pokémon Japanese Sun Moon GX Battle Boost Lillie SR #119 (eBay)
Next up is a more recent release, from the 2017 Pokemon Japanese Sun & Moon GX Battle Boost collection.
Lillie is one of the player character’s allies during the course of the Sun & Moon game. She quickly became a firm fan favourite.
Her hidden card from the set is a full-art print, complete with Japanese text. Expect to pay a four-figure fee to add a copy to your collection, while graded copies also sell for a premium.
8. 2005 Pokémon Mew Victory Orb (eBay)
The Victory Orb (Battle Road promo) is an unnumbered Trainer card.
It was originally awarded to the top three competitors from each age division in each of the regional Japanese Battle Road Summer 2003 tournaments.
For the 2005 season, it was reprinted with different artwork featuring Mew. This version was awarded to the top three competitors from each age division in each of the regional Battle Road Summer 2005 and 2006 tournaments.
As you might have guessed, it’s incredibly elusive, especially if you’re looking for a version which also features the psychic Pokémon.
7. 2017 Pokémon SM Promo Champions Festival Staff #SM78 (eBay)
The 2017 Pokémon SM Champions Festival print features Pikachu, Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio. They’re riding a Rotom Pokédex-themed roller coaster complete with Psyduck, Drifloon, and Alolan Exeggutor.
Part of a collection handed out to participating players at the start of the 2017 Champions Festival tournament, a set of promotional cards were also given to staff, and can be identified thanks to a large stamp at the bottom.
Staff copies are exceptionally rare, and should be the one you’re looking for.
6. 2010 Pokémon Japanese Promo Master Scroll Daisuki Club #055 (eBay)
In Japan, the 2010 Master Scroll card was released as a L-P Promotional item and was available as a Master Rank prize to members of the Pokémon Daisuki Club.
To achieve Master Rank, players had to accumulate at least 8,600 Action Points (AP).
The Holo card is exceptionally rare for this reason. For example, there are only 26 PSA 10 copies, and 24 PSA 9 grades at the current time of writing. There aren’t many on the resale market, and they’re priced according to the scarcity.
5. 2000 Pokémon Gym Heroes Lt. Surge 1st Edition #17 (eBay)
A set that focused on the first four gym leaders of the Kanto region, 2000 Pokémon Gym Heroes has a couple of interesting Trainer cards to look out for.
One option is Lt. Surge, so named because of his tendency to use electric-types.
The image has been given a Holo finish, and you’ll be able to find a 1st Edition stamp on the bottom left corner.
4. 2000 Pokémon Gym Heroes Misty 1st Edition #18 (eBay)
In a similar theme, 2000 Pokémon Gym Heroes also features Misty, who is the leader of the official Gym of Cerulean City. Of course, she travels along with Ash, Brock, and Pikachu in the original anime.
Another Holo gym leader card, many collectors were wise enough to keep their copies in perfect condition. Even when looking at 1st Edition copies, there are 142 PSA 10 versions at the current time of writing.
3. 2009 Pokémon Promo Tropical Wind World Championship Japanese (eBay)
Part of a rare nine-card commemorative collection given to participating players at the start of the Pokémon World Championships, this trainer card is available in English and Japanese.
The Worlds 2009 DP Promotional print features Bidoof, Weavile and Shaymin Sky Forme in the artwork, with Psyduck in the background.
362 copies were handed out as part of the tournament. Further copies were also given to staff, and can be identified thanks to a large stamp at the bottom.
2. 1999 Pokémon Grand Party Trainer Promo – Double Black Star (eBay)
To celebrate the beginning of the Pokémon Fan Club in April 1999 and the start of the first Grand Party, the “Passport Challenge” was introduced to those who attended the Challenge Road ’99 Summer events between July and August 1999.
You had to send off for this Grand Party promo card. That’s after jumping through various hoops such as recording battle data.
It was originally thought to be significantly rarer, due to double star rarity and the official Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game logo. It features the original trio of legendaries on the artwork.
1. 2000 Pokémon Japanese Promo No. 1 Trainer (eBay)
The No.1 Trainer card was awarded via several tournaments before becoming the first place prize in the Pokémon World Championships.
Copies weren’t given to the overall winners of the tournament finals, in fact they were awarded to the qualifying event winners. (The same applies to the Tropical Mega Battle and Super Secret Battle prints.)
This means that they’re not hyper-rare, but they’re still some of the most elusive Pokémon cards in existence.
Pokemon Trainer Cards: Buyers Guide
The majority of older Pokemon Trainer cards were probably thrown away, or gathered dust for years as they sat long-forgotten. However, many vintage options now sell for respectable amounts, and hyper-rare versions have always carried a premium price tag.
If you’re looking for cheap options, the majority of ungraded copies should be relatively affordable. (Unless you’re looking at some of the rarer Trainer cards to make the list.)
Take the 2000 Pokémon Gym Heroes Misty 1st Edition #18 card. It can be found for less than $100 if you’re looking at ungraded versions. It could be worth sending off to PSA/BGS if you happen to own a pristine copy.
When considering the best investment card, any rare tournament prize card, or any copy labelled as a ‘Staff’ version is always going to carry a premium price tag. The Trainer No.1 is always going to be immensely popular. Any graded copy is arguably the best Pokémon card overall if you’re sticking with non-monsters.
Trainer cards can be just as exciting as the Pokémon themselves. Especially if they’re vintage options, or were given away as part of an old-school tournament decades ago.
Many have turned out to be valuable in the long-term, and Trainer cards have to be seen as viable investment options as time moves on.
We’re going to start adding to our personal collection of Pokemon Trainer cards, as we think they’re still undervalued compared to the average Charizard.