Pokemon TCG collage
Image via The Pokémon Company

The 20 best Pokémon cards of all time, ranked

Are you ready to battle?

The Pokémon Trading Card Game (Pokémon TCG) has established itself as one of the most popular card games in the world—both in physical and digital online variants.

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The different ability effects players can use to beat their opponents emphasize creativity to build great decks that can dominate the meta, but which cards are best? Also, it’s not just the cards’ abilities that make their value higher. Others collect expensive Pokémon cards based on their design, as well as the demand and rarity of these cards in the market. 

With that, here is our list of the best Pokémon cards of all time, ranked according to abilities, design, rarity, and overall impact on the community.

20 best Pokémon cards of all time, ranked

20) Blastoise

Original Blastoise card
A Pokémon classic. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best rare Holo card

In a list where multiple variants of Charizard can be seen, a Blastoise is also worth a spot in our list of the best Pokémon cards of all time. This Blastoise from the Shadowless Base Set card list was considered one of the most dominant cards in the meta when it was released. But what makes this card more valuable is its rarity, especially with it being a Holo rare card.

Other Blastoise cards could be regarded as collectibles, such as the Dark Blastoise and Blastoise ex variants with the galaxy holofoil treatment. But these can’t match how popular and valuable the classic Blastoise from the Base Set is, especially because this is one of the oldest cards ever to exist.

19) N

N Trainer Supporter card
Yes, that’s his name, N. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best banned game-changer

One of the most powerful cards to exist in the Pokémon TCG meta over the years, the Trainer card N changed the course of the competition because of how game-changing its effect is. Just by playing it alone, both players could then shuffle all of their hand cards back to their respective decks and both of the draw cards according to the number of their remaining prize cards. This joins the company of other overpowered Trainer cards, such as Lysandre’s Trump Card.

N’s effect can instantly turn games around, making it a banned card after The Pokémon Company saw how it could provide a lopsided advantage once played. But fans will forever remember the legacy N cemented as one of the most powerful cards in the history of the Pokémon.

18) Rayquaza star

Rayquaza star card
Another classic. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best star card

Star Pokémon cards emerged in the EX series in the early 2000s, and one of the most prominent cards in this classification is Rayquaza star from the EX Deoxys expansion. In terms of skills, this card possesses an average to above-average performance, depending on the situation. But the consistency it can bring during a match may not be that useful, especially with its Holy Star move that only applies to the opponent’s Pokemon ex.

But what made Rayquaza star’s value erupt is that star Pokémon cards are the TCG counterpart for the Shiny versions of Pokémon, which can be seen in video games. This card’s price went as much as $1,000, especially with Rayquaza’s Shiny Version being aesthetically immaculate.

17) Chansey

Original Chansey card
Scrunch. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Shadowless card

The Base Set Chansey may not be the best option in terms of skills and moves that you can use in a match. Not only does it have a costly Scrunch move that could provide damage immunity through flipping a coin but its Double-edge damaging move has a large recoil of 80 damage despite the 80 damage it can deal to your opponent. But Chansey being a part of the Base Set and being a Shadowless card just made its value go higher than ever.

Chansey’s design is plain. It may not be considered as elegant as the designs of the other cards here on our list. But the demand for a copy of this card went high in the late 1990s up to the early 2000s, and it is now regarded as one of the “must haves” for a grail Pokémon card collector.

16) Poliwrath

Graded Poliwrath card
Only a grade 7? Image via The Pokémon Company

Best early print card

Poliwrath is considered a holy grail. Poliwrath is from the Japanese Base Set and has a monstrous value because of its rarity in the world. Not only is it a holo rare, but the fact that it has no rarity symbol makes it an early print which is very hard to get today. PSA even gave a rating of 10 to the card, proving that it is truly a collectible in the Pokémon TCG.

Only three copies of this Poliwrath have been found so far. One of those was sold in 2020 at a staggering $25,015. In terms of skills, it may not be that powerful since both moves of this card are costly in terms of the energies needed and the lack of damage it could deal to the opponent. Still, a Pokémon TCG collector may see this as a must-have because of how popular this card is.

15) Tapu Lele GX

Tapu Lele GX card
Image via The Pokémon Company

Best for competitive matches

A once formidable staple in the meta standard and expanded decks as part of the Sun and Moon: Guardians Rising expansion, Tapu Lele GX provided an abusable advantage with its Wonder Tag ability that allowed players to fetch a Supporter card from their decks for free. Its value became high because of the demand for competitive players who wanted to include at least one of these.

14) Charizard Star

Charizard Star card
Not your dad’s Charizard. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Dragon Frontiers card

The first of multiple Charizard variants in our list, Charizard Star was released in 2004 through the Dragon Frontiers expansion. And during that time, 150 damage was already a large amount.

What made this card’s value erupt is Charizard’s shiny variant being used in a card, making this massively popular with fans worldwide.

13) Charizard ex

Charizard ex card
Another one? Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Fire Red card

Charizard ex’s dominant damage capability of dealing around 200 points made it a force to be reckoned with during the release of the Fire Red and Leaf Green expansion in 2004. During that time, it could already kill a Pokémon in an instant. 

Today, its value is still high, though it is just being collected as a collector’s item. Its days among the best Pokémon cards are already over.

12) Lucario and Melmetal GX

Lucario and Melmetal GX card
Image via The Pokémon Company

Best defensive card

It’s not always about the high damage a Pokémon card can deal in a single blow or the effect that can dismantle your opponent’s defense. Sometimes, moves that focus on defense can become a problem to your opponent, and this is what Lucario and Melmetal GX did when it became a meta deck, thanks to its Full Metal Wall GX move that can permanently decrease 30 damage from the attacks of your opponent’s Pokémon for the rest of the game.

11) Pikachu Vmax (Rainbow Rare/Full Art)

Rainbow Rare/Full Art Pikachu Vmax card
That’s one big Pikachu. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best-designed card

One of the recently released cards, which gained popularity because of its rarity and design, the Rainbow Rare/Full Art version of Pikachu Vmax became a must-have for Pokémon card collectors. 

Its starting price as of now is listed at $185, making it a prized card for everyone who would want to bolster their collection of Pokémon cards. While that’s a considerable price, it’s still lower than the most costly cards you could find out there. In terms of skill, it may not be that useful. But in desperate times, dealing up to 270 damage can be game-changing.

10) Ancient Mew

Ancient Mew card
To think I had one after I saw it in cinemas… Image via The Pokémon Company

Most iconic promo card

It may not be expensive compared to the other cards on our list, but the Ancient Mew card could be regarded as one of the most iconic Pokémon cards to ever exist. It was released as a promotional card to market the film Pokémon: The Movie 2000, and has since become a must-have for collectors due to its popularity and aesthetic.

9) Arceus VStar

Arceus VStar card
The most powerful Pokémon in existence. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Brilliant Stars card

One of the newest cards on this list, Arceus VStar was just released in February 2022 as part of the Brilliant Stars expansion. But it has already made an impact as one of the best Pokémon cards, especially in the competitive scene, thanks to its powerful moves. Arceus VStar’s Trinity Nova attack deals 200 damage and can attach up to three basic Energy cards to any of your Pokémon V, and its Starbirth VStar Power can give any two cards from your deck to your hand.

8) Zoroark GX

Zoroark GX card
Slice and dice. Image via The Pokémon Company

Most versatile

Zoroark GX established itself as one of the most powerful cards in the Pokémon TCG. It can be considered as a toolbox staple card in competitive decks when the Shining Legends expansion was released. Zoroark GX can deal massive damage thanks to its Riotous Beating move, while its Trade Ability allows players to draw two cards in exchange for discarding one card. This card’s legacy in the competitive scene of Pokémon TCG will always be remembered, for sure.

7) Arceus and Dialga and Palkia GX

Arceus and Dialga and Palkia GX card
Three for one. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best offensive card

Arceus and Dialga and Palkia GX has been one of the most used (and best) Pokémon cards in the history of the game. 

Both of its attacks are powerful, but its Altered Creation GX move made it super valuable to decks when it was released as part of the Cosmic Eclipse expansion. 

The additional 30 damage to the attacks of all the Pokémon of its user is game-changing, making this card’s value higher when it is still playable in the standard format.

6) Charizard GX (Rainbow Rare/Full Art)

Rainbow Rare/Full Art Charizard GX card
My eyes! Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Sun and Moon card

One of the most valued cards in Sun and Moon, the Rainbow Rare/Full Art version of Charizard GX became massively popular as a collector’s item when it was released. 

Collectors went on a hunt to get the prized card during its time of release in the Burning Shadow expansion. Its current starting price in the market is listed at $300, which is quite expensive for just one card already. Skill-wise, though, Charizard GX is not very powerful compared to other Pokémon GX.

5) Lysandre’s Trump Card

Lysandre’s Trump Card Trainer Support card
OP. Image via The Pokémon Company

Most OP card

If we talk about the most overpowered cards in the history of Pokémon TCG, Lysandre’s Trump Card should always be included in the list. Why? It can return both players’ cards from their discard pile into their decks in an instant. This card made decks unbalanced because of how it affected the games, changing one’s momentum just because of its effect. Because of this, it is now banned from competitive matches. 

But its value skyrocketed when it was still legal to use, and for some, this was undoubtedly among the best Pokémon cards ever!

4) Pikachu Illustrator

Pikachu Illustrator card
ILLUSTRATOR. Image via The Pokémon Company

Most prized card

Considered a holy grail of card collectors, the Pikachu Illustrator card is one of the most expensive cards in the history of the Pokémon TCG. Currently, only one copy of the card has been graded as PSA 10, and YouTuber Logan Paul bought it for a staggering $5,275,000 in July 2021. Its value skyrocketed that high because of its rarity. 

Only 41 copies of the card exist in the world, and 39 of these served as a prize cards to the winners of promo contests held in 1997 and 1998 by CoroCoro Comic.

3) Mewtwo and Mew GX

Mewtwo and Mew GX card
The unbeatable duo. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best Team Up card

The Team Up expansion from Sun and Moon saw the release of Mewtwo and Mew GX, probably one of the most powerful and best Pokémon cards to ever exist in the Pokémon TCG. It has a devastating Miraculous Duo GX move that can deal 200 damage, as well as the one-time ability to heal all damage from all of its user’s Pokémon given that there is an extra Energy card upon using the move.

But its Perfection Ability made Mewtwo and Mew GX a juggernaut since it allowed players to use the attacks from any Pokémon G or EX in play. This made the card highly expensive when it was playable in the standard format before.

2) Shaymin EX

Shaymin EX card
Colorful. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best card for expanded decks

The dominance brought by competitive decks where a Shaymin EX is included proves this card’s worth as one of the most powerful cards in the history of the game. Its Set Up ability allows the players to draw until they have six cards in their hands. 

Because of its prowess to provide a significant advantage, Shaymin EX became a must-have for both standard and expanded players, raising its value and demand globally. It was so useful and abusive that Pokémon decided to ban the card in competitive matches.

1) Base Set Shadowless Charizard

1) Base Set Shadowless Charizard card
You just can’t beat it. Image via The Pokémon Company

Best for collectors

The last Charizard on our list, as well as the ultimate jewel of all Pokémon card collectors in the world. This Shiny Charizard became so popular with fans when it was released in 1999, especially with its 100 damage from Fire Spin. After more than 20 years, this card has been valued as one of the most expensive cards in any trading card game; one of its copies was even valued at $420,000. 

The Shiny Charizard card could be dubbed as the “holy grail” of every Pokémon card collector, which is why it tops the list of the best Pokémon cards of all time.


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