Should You Collect Pokémon Promo Cards?

Should You Collect Pokémon Promo Cards?

Each Pokémon set has chase cards that everyone is going after, but promo cards can sometimes be more of a chase, harder to obtain, and more exciting. Some vintage promo cards are now extremely valuable, so what about modern promos- should you consider them a smart investment? 

What are Pokémon Promo Cards?

“Promo” is short for promotional, meaning that the card’s intended purpose is to promote the Pokémon TCG. Today it’s uncommon that any product more expensive than a booster pack or Mini Tin would not include a promo card.

Pokémon card products will include promos but also events and special releases will warrant a promo giveaway. Gamestop and Toy R’ Us commonly have promos to hand out with a purchase to accommodate the release of a new video game or TCG expansion.

Cinemas also often have cards to include with your ticket. The first reverse holo card ever printed in English was actually a promo card given away at the theatrical release of Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown: Entei on April 6, 2001. 

Wizards’ Black Star Promo 4

Pokémon League tournaments are events where people get together to play the Pokémon TCG. League events often have promo cards given out as a reward for participating. There are also prerelease League events that produced a lot of prerelease promos from the WotC era. 

Another rare and increasingly valuable promo card is a staff promo. These are promo cards given out to only staff members and volunteers to help organize the League events. These promo cards are very rare and have ‘STAFF’ printed right on the card in gold stylized lettering. 

How Many Promo Cards Are There?

Since multiple promo cards are released all the time, the total number is always increasing. Our best estimate is that there are over 2,000 unique promo cards already. 

A Venusaur promo from the Japanese 1996 “Trade Please” event

Each era expansion of the TCG has its own set of promo cards, usually totaling over 200 by the time the TCG shifts to the next era. This includes the promos found in most TCG products but does not count other events such as the Mcdonald’s collection or special products like the Pikachu World Collection

So far we’ve only touched on English promo cards, but Japan has dozens of exclusive promos printed every year that most of us don’t even know of. In rare cases, even other countries like France will get exclusive promo cards. 


Are Pokémon Promos Valuable?

Some promo cards are printed to the moon and back and therefore are in high supply and relatively inexpensive. Others are, well, expensive

The price of a card is determined by supply and demand. If a card is very limited in how many copies are printed, supply is low and the value often increases. An example here would be the Japan Post Pokémon Stamp Box. This collection was only available for a short time at Japanese post offices and featured highly unique and beautiful promo cards. The value has been steadily climbing and will no doubt continue to rise in the future.

What Are ‘Black Star’ Promos?

Black star promos are the promos that accompany the main Pokémon TCG expansions, started by WotC. Every promo has a black star with the word ‘PROMO’ written across it where the rarity symbol would normally be.

The WotC era of Pokémon didn’t last long but included a lot of very special and sought-after promo cards. Wizards produced 53 promos before their exit in 2003. These are now referred to as Wizards Black Star Promos since the black star promos were continued after Wizards’ left the franchise.

Picking up right where WotC left off, Nintendo of America and Pokémon USA began the next black star promo collection in 2003. Today, the Pokémon Sword & Shield black star promo collection is growing, but will soon be replaced by the upcoming Scarlet & Violet promos.

A modern black star promo

Final Thoughts

Collecting promo cards is absolutely a must if you haven’t been so far. From a collector‘s standpoint, promos often have the best artwork and represent a special moment in the TCG or the Pokémon franchise. Some promo cards are valuable enough to be the grail of a collection.