How Much is a Complete Base Set of Pokémon Cards Worth?

How Much is a Complete Base Set of Pokémon Cards Worth?

How much is a complete set of Pokémon cards worth? Well, it depends on the set, and if it’s 1st edition or not. Every trading card collector knows that completing a set is one of the toughest and most satisfying achievements in the trading card world. As vintage cards go up in value, the original sets become more challenging to complete. But some sets are way cheaper than others.

Sold eBay listings range from $650- $1,200 for a complete 102/102 Unlimited Base set. (Prices in USD)

Click here to see what complete sets cost on eBay right now.

If you’re interested in purchasing a complete Base set

Decide which printing run you want

There are multiple different prints of the original North American Base set.

  1. Shadowless First Edition
  2. Shadowless
  3. Unlimited
  4. 1999-2000 

pokemon card collection

All four print runs happened in the span of two years and your childhood collection probably included cards from all prints. The price of each print descends from the order they were printed. For example, if you’re looking to buy the cheapest print, that would be 4. 1999-2000.

Shadowless first-edition Charmander

Of course, eBay has complete Base sets that are a mix of all four prints. This kind of listing would be best for an expert to purchase, as they could look through the photos and pick out the more/less valuable cards and determine a value. 

The first print (first editions) will cost 4X as much as the unlimited printing, and this is because of rarity. Pokémon cards were getting more popular by the day, and each print produced more cards than the last. 

Where to purchase a complete Base set

The quickest and best place to purchase a complete Base set from is eBay. Simply type in something like, “Complete Pokémon Base set 102/102” and see the results. Be prepared for a big purchase, and probably $50 in shipping. 

When it comes to trading cards, the condition is the biggest factor in value. Avoid any listings that do not provide photos containing every single card from the set. It’s important to zoom in and look for any scratches, whitening, creases, or dents in the cards.  

If you already own a complete Base set

Is it smarter to hold or sell?

Back in the 1999 or perhaps the early 2000s, you were eager enough to complete the Base Set of Pokémon cards. It didn’t cost you (or maybe your parents) too much, but it would cost a small fortune today to complete. 

So do you sell it now for a long-awaited profit, or continue to hold in hopes of another boom in the market? 

As always, it depends. 

Obviously, if you need the money, you’ll lean toward selling. And that’s ok, they’re just cards. But choosing to hold onto them can lead to a larger profit. 

The value of Base Set cards had seen a slow but steady growth up until 2016 when the incredibly popular mobile game Pokémon Go was released. This was the first big increase in the card market. A few years later, a popular YouTuber named Logan Paul single-handedly created another jump in the market by opening Base Set booster packs before a large audience. This is when card values began to go sky-high. 

Then the pandemic happened, and prices sky-rocketed. 

So if you managed to hold your Base Set master set until now, congrats. You saw a 500%+ increase in value over the last few years. But it’s important to remember that up until 2016, they still weren’t worth very much. It took 17 years for prices to spike. 

If you decide to hold, you’ll see slow growth as long as there isn’t another spike in the market. 

Where to sell your set

You have two paths to consider: local or online. 

Local options include local card shops, Facebook marketplace, and word of mouth. 

Online options include eBay. 

If you want to make the biggest profit, eBay. If you want to sell fast, eBay. You get the idea. The reason eBay is so lucrative for card selling is that it is already the largest second-hand market for Pokémon cards. You can try other sites like tcgplayer or trollandtoad, but you’ll get the most eyes from eBay. 

How to store them if you decide to hold 

If you decide to hold onto your set, good for you. It’s a long-term investment! But you’ll have to store them correctly, to avoid any potential damage or loss to the overall value. We have a full card storage guide here.

At the very least, you should protect your cards with sleeves.

A binder with stitched pages and side-loaded pockets is best.

There are three main factors to consider when storing your cards. Moisture, sunlight, and kids/pets. 

  • Moisture- Make sure to keep your cards in a cool dry area. Water will obviously destroy the cards, but humid climates and moisture can be a threat as well. When a card absorbs moisture from the air, it can warp. Warping doesn’t always hurt the value of a card, but no collector wants to see their cards warped.
  • Sunlight- This one shouldn’t really be an issue if you have your cards in a binder or box or keep them in a closet. UV rays can suck the color from a card, seriously hurting the value of the card. Be sure to keep them out of sunlight. 
  • Kids/pets- This is pretty obvious. No one wants to come home to find their $1,000+ Base set ripped up or damaged from their dog. Keep them up high, or have a talk with your kids about them. 

Conclusion 

A complete Base set is nothing to scoff at. Even if it’s the cheapest print, and in rough shape, it’s an awesome piece for any collector. If it’s from your childhood, the nostalgia is palpable and the smell brings back memories. 

But they’re worth a lot of money now! So if you’re looking to buy a set, check eBay and look at the photos closely. If you’re lucky enough to have the set already, eBay is the best place to sell or hold onto them for a growing investment.

Author: Oliver CopelandOliver has been collecting Pokémon cards for a long time. He had a crush on Misty when he was 10.