How to Sell Pokémon Cards on eBay & Make the Most Money Possible

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by Erin Schollaert

Updated

Anyone alive in the late 90s can recall the wild obsession with Pokémon that swept the world.

Some may assume this craze died down, but in fact the opposite has happened – it’s booming!

Today, people are scrambling to figure out how to sell Pokémon cards on eBay to not miss out on this opportunity, so make sure you are using all the best strategies.

What Pokémon Cards are Valuable?

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The top question people ask when they pull out their binders and shoeboxes overflowing with Arboks and Chansey’s is which cards get the most money.

It’s a little more complicated than just finding specific Pokémon or specific print runs.

Fan Favorites

Nearly every Pokémon out there has a following of people who love it. The cute designs, fun personalities in the shows and games, and endless merchandise make it easy to fall for Pokémon.

Some are far more popular than the rest, with Charizard at the top.

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A forum on Reddit ran a poll asking what everyone’s favorite Pokémon was and received over 50,000 responses.

The top ten fan favorites were:

  • Charizard
  • Gengar
  • Arcanine
  • Bulbasaur
  • Blaziken
  • Umbreon
  • Lucario
  • Gardevoir
  • Eevee
  • Dragonite

Naturally, the first three of them are the first-generation Pokémon: their original print cards are some of the most valuable. Not only that, selling the most in demand characters is one way how to sell fast on eBay.

First Run Cards

The popularity of first editions isn’t unique to Pokémon!

Collectors want the first iteration of a card because of how the original art looked, its age, and the fact that the first run had fewer cards than subsequent runs.

A first edition Charizard can be sold for over $1,200, but that doesn’t mean all first editions are so valuable!

A first edition Psyduck earns the headache it’s well known for since it can only be sold for fifteen dollars.

Although first runs are worth a lot more, pairing it up with rarity, fan favorites, and holographic cards can boost how much it’s worth.

Holographic and ‘Shiny’ Cards

Anyone breaking into figuring out how to sell Pokémon cards needs to know what a holographic card is. Only a minimal number of cards in any run is holographic.

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These shimmery rainbow metallic cards have the same Pokémon art, but the sheen on them boosts their rarity.

Shiny cards, or cards that have alternate color schemes for Pokémon are even rarer. This goes along with the rarity of these color variances in the video games and Pokémon Go.

Circles, Diamonds, and Stars

All Pokémon cards have a small black symbol on the lower right side of the card’s front surface.

This symbol will either be a circle, a diamond, a star, or the letter ‘H’ with a start to show it is holographic.

Cards with circles were considered common at the time of printing. 

A diamond means that the card is scarce. Although you have a lower chance of finding these, it’s not uncommon to have one or two of these per pack of cards you open.

The star is what everyone wants because these are promotional cards that don’t show up in packs.

These cards are usually worth a good amount of money, even if they’re from recently released sets.

How to Sell Pokémon Cards

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Here’s the key information you should know before selling your cards, and extra tips to be successful.

Better In Single Card Sleeves

Pokémon cards are printed on cardstock with a shiny surface, and therefore very susceptible to damage from bending, water, and scratches.

If you’re trying to figure out how to sell Pokémon cards for high margins, you must purchase card sleeves to hold them.

You can purchase a 100 pack of card sleeves for less than ten dollars, and they’ll protect what you’re selling and make it look more professional.

Quality Matters

How good or poor is the quality of the cards you’re selling? A simple bend or fold can half the value of the card, and water damage can drop it down even lower. Mint condition is the goal, with a need for cards to look like they just came out of the pack.

The top issues cards have are:

  • Centering and edging
  • Whether it’s been graded by a professional
  • Bent corners
  • Dented edges
  • Scuffs on the design itself
  • Water stains
  • Tears

Although some of these are obvious, it’s essential to look at your cards from multiple angles in good lighting to see if there’s any damage.

A scuff on the design might not be noticeable unless you look at it at the right angle, but it will take away the value.

Why Open A Pack

There’s a lot of debate about whether to open card packs or sell them as-is. The top reason to open a pack of cards is the potential of what’s inside.

Most card decks will gradually gain value over time, going from 10 dollars to 20 in a few years: but the cards within it may increase exponentially.

This could mean that you accidentally sell a $1,200 card for forty dollars because you didn’t open the pack.

At the same time, many people disagree.

Why Leave A Pack Sealed

Many sellers refuse to open a pack before they sell them. It’s a Schrodinger’s Cat situation where if the package is closed, it can gain value exponentially, but if you open it, you might be throwing all of that away.

Many sellers elect to keep the pack closed and sell it as one unit as a ‘mystery’ item. These rise and fall in popularity, but if you time it right, you could make a significant profit off of a small investment.

Should You Sell Them In Sets?

Another option many consider when selling is whether or not they should put the Pokémon into matching sets before selling them. This could mean selling a collection of the evolutions or selling a set of each printing of Goldeen.

If you think you can increase your value and your likelihood of selling by doing this, try it! It’s just vital that you do your research on these sets first before looking at where to sell Pokémon cards.

The 7 Steps To Sell Pokémon Cards

When selling Pokémon cards, here are the main steps you should try to stick to.

  1. Decide whether or not to open packs
  2. Put card covers on all cards
  3. Look for damage
  4. Research the value of each card
  5. Take good quality pictures to show it’s real
  6. Post online, or take into a shop
  7. Rinse and repeat

Although there’s no guarantee that every card will sell well, you can help a card sell with timing and perseverance.

Where to Sell Pokémon Cards

Not every online market is set up for trading cards since their current value changes day by day. Here are the top places that will turn those cards into money.

How to Sell Pokémon Cards on eBay

Known for allowing the sale of everything from lawnmowers to potato chips, selling on eBay is the number one place to cash in on trading cards.

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Because of the bidding function, the low risk for sellers, and the ability to see all other similar sales happening, you gain many advantages from selling here.

Unfortunately, this site does take a small fee from all sellers, but this may be worth it if you’ve tried on other sites and failed.

To list cards on eBay, you can either start a new listing from scratch or go to the page of a card for sale and click the button on the left side of the screen that says ‘sell one like this.

This shortcut is better for those selling many different cards and who don’t want to redo an entire listing for every card.

Another great option with this site is that you can track how the card market is looking. If you notice many cards are selling, and for more, you can post your cards.

If, instead, you find that it’s a buyer’s market, it’s better to save the cards and wait.

The market can shift at any time, so be aware of when it’s in your corner. eBay is an incredibly versatile platform, whether you want to recycle computers for cash or sell other things around your house.

Gaming and Collectables Shops

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This option is for people who want to sell in person because they think eBay fees are so high, or don’t have the time to create individual listings.

Gaming and collectible shops purchase Pokémon cards at a discount and then sell them higher than the current value. Because of this, it’s okay to haggle a little.

Many will allow you to drop off a deck of cards and then call you back within the next couple of days with which cards they want to buy and how much they can offer you. Don’t waste their or your time with energy cards or old Psyducks.

Drop off what’s valuable, barter against what they offer you, and then reap the benefits!

Forums Aimed At Pokémon

Forums on Reddit, Serebii, and other sites with large Pokémon fandoms often have a corner where people will buy and sell cards.

These forums are fantastic because you know that you’re getting in touch with more fans than you can find on any other site.

However, there’s a lot of trust required for this. Most people don’t click links, so instead, you’re selling directly through the site.

Buyers have to have faith that you do own this card and are going to mail it to them, and sellers have to believe that the buyer will admit when they’ve received something and not try to scam the seller out of their money.

The best plan of attack on this is to be active in the forums so that people can tell your account is authentic. This part is easy since these places are a fantastic resource for researching and informing yourself on cards.

If a buyer tries to say they didn’t get it or initiates a refund on a card you sent out and have tracked: you can fight against it.

Although this may seem like a lot of extra trouble, you can often sell things for higher through these forums because people can’t see the competition besides your post like they can on eBay.

Most Expensive Pokémon Cards

Although all Pokémon cards have some value, these cards are worth enough that you could buy an entire house with them.

You won’t find any of these in decks released in the last twenty years, but keeping a keen eye while looking at a collection might make you some money!

Common-Print Holo First Edition Charizard

There’s a lot to unpack on the value of this card, but it’s not one you’re going to find by opening a new deck.

Rarer cards, especially holographic ones, have markers to let you know what they’re worth.

Some of the first edition Charizards, around ten percent, were printed without that marker which made them seem ‘common.’

Ironically, this misprint has made it, so some of these cards have sold for over $20,000 as recently as 2018.

Family Event Kangaskhan

One of the Pokémon that unfortunately get forgotten the most often, Kangaskhan, was given a chance to shine by being handed out to participants in a parent-child Pokémon card tournament in Japan in 1998.

There are barely thirty copies known right now, and some have sold for over $150,000.

Shadowless First Edition Charizard

Another misprint in early Pokémon cards is that Charizard didn’t shadow some of the earlier prints. These cards vary in value based on their condition, but the average price is around $1,200.

In October of 2020, controversial YouTuber Logan Paul started showing an interest in buying and selling Pokémon cards.

He purchased a shadowless first edition Charizard, in all of its holographic glory, for $150,000.

The Pokémon card selling and buying markets went haywire, with thousands of more people getting into the game of buying and selling.

Because of this, the price of some cards is highly inflated right now.

Pikachu Illustrator

Every Pokémon card collector knows and loves the idea of these cards. When Pokémon trading cards were first released, Nintendo held a competition to see who could design the best card art for their favorite Pokémon.

Thousands and thousands of fans in Japan sent in their designs, but only thirty winners were selected.

Each of these winners was given a unique card, with Pikachu holding onto a large pen, surrounded by Pokémon cards.

These cards no longer sell for anything less than $200,000.

Unfortunately, because less than forty were ever known to be in the rotation, these are nearly impossible to get your hands on.

Is Flipping Pokémon Cards Profitable?

Because of the high return on Pokémon cards recently, many wonder if they should purchase cards to resell or flip them.

Here’s a rundown on when that could be profitable and why you might avoid it.

Shop Locally

The most important thing for you to do when you buy Pokémon cards is to find someone who doesn’t know what they have.

The top places to find second-hand Pokémon cards are:

  • Garage sales
  • Church sales
  • Estate sales
  • Second-hand shops
  • Local listings on Craigslist
  • Look for binders of any type; sometimes, they’re nondescript
  • Pay attention to moving sales as well

These types of sellers often put a bulk amount of Pokémon cards together for a meager price. Seek these out, and try to buy them as an extensive collection to break down later.

Sell Singles

When you purchase Pokémon cards in bulk, you have a big chance to return on your investment. Decide where to sell Pokémon cards, and then make singular listings for any card worth more than five dollars.

It might take some time to go through an extensive collection, but if you find a random card worth a couple of hundred dollars, it’ll be worth it.

This can be a long and challenging line of work, but if you’re dedicated and stick to it, you can make a pretty good side-income from buying low and selling high.

When Not To Try It

Flipping isn’t an excellent idea for everyone. If you’ve never sold Pokémon cards, or you’re not clear on which Pokémon are from which generation, or how to spot a fake, you should wait before you start trying to flip cards.

Reselling these fun collectibles is a lot of work and research for a newbie. Try to go with safe bets when you start before bridging up to more risky ventures.

Wrapping Up

The Pokémon franchise feels like a large part of the cultural identity of the late nineties until more recent years. Because of this, Pokémon cards will always continue to gain value and attention.

As long as you have quality cards and when the market is ready for you, you can make a profit.

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About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.