Why Are Pokémon Cards So Expensive?

Why Are Pokémon Cards So Expensive?

When it comes to Pokémon cards, there is no doubt that they can be expensive. But what makes them so costly? Are the rarest cards really worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars? In this post, we’ll take a look at the factors that make Pokémon cards so expensive and try to answer some of these questions. So, whether you’re a collector who’s looking to expand their collection or just curious about why these cards are so expensive, read on!

There are many reasons why Pokémon cards are so pricey. Recently we saw a huge peak in the popularity of the hobby, and this drove prices up, but basic supply and demand is typically the root cause of expensive products. 

7 reasons why Pokémon cards are so expensive 

#1- Youtuber Logan Paul

If you’re unfamiliar with Logan Paul- he’s a famous Youtuber with over 20 million subscribers. Being a millennial, he had Pokémon cards growing up. 

Right before the pandemic hit, Paul decided to purchase some very old and very expensive original Pokémon booster packs and open them on Youtube. This gained unprecedented popularity and exploded the Youtube-Pokémon scene. 

Paul’s Youtube videos helped fuel the huge Pokémania boom that came next.

Charizard, a favorite among collectors.

#2- The COVID19 pandemic 

Before late 2019, Pokémon cards were not as they are today. A first edition Charizard was still a considerable amount of money, but rarely reached the five-figure price range. Crazy to think, right? 

We saw the biggest spike in the hobby’s history right around the time the pandemic hit. While many factors were at play, COVID lockdown was a big one.

Millions of North Americans were suddenly stuck at home with nothing to do. What happens when you get bored of watching TV and playing video games? You clean out your attic or go through old stuff in your room. 

Suddenly everyone was unearthing their old Pokémon card collections and boom, Pokémania was at an all-time peak.

This led to a huge uptick in supply and an even larger increase in demand. At this time, Americans were receiving unemployment funds or stimulus cheques. With Paul’s videos and extra cash on everyone’s minds, everyone had the same idea at the same time: “Why not buy some Pokémon cards?”

#3- Supply chain issues

The global supply chain is just one part of the process to get Pokémon cards from the manufacturer to your hands. Unfortunately, the pandemic slowed this process down drastically, and we’re still experiencing these interruptions today. 

Even though the huge peak in the hobby has leveled off, demand is still high and the supply chain is still struggling. This means that distributors only get so much product to deliver to big box stores and hobby shops. 

#4- Basic supply and demand issues during peak popularity

The supply chain isn’t all to blame when it comes to Pokémon card supply.

The Pokémon Company (TPC) has stated on many occasions, usually through Twitter, that production is at an all-time high. This means that their factories are running overtime and have likely sped up the printing process.

A key complaint from Pokémon card collectors in recent years is poor quality. Many of the modern booster packs you can buy today contain cards with rough edges, poor centering, mild defects, or misprints. This is a byproduct of poor quality control and usually results from ramping up production.

This is evidence that TPC really is pumping out as many cards as they can. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. When demand for Pokémon cards is at its peak, even TPC cannot match the supply.

#5- They’re collector’s items

At the end of the day, Pokémon cards are collectibles, and collectibles are almost never cheap. There is a finite amount of cards, and once a sought-after card has finished its print-run, it’s never printed again.

This results in customers and hobbyists scrambling to get their hands on the pretty card, driving prices up.

As we’ve recently seen, the most popular cards of the past have skyrocketed in value and everyone is looking to find the next best card to invest in.

#6- Pokémon is the largest franchise in the world

With total revenue at $110 billion, Pokémon sits on the throne of all the franchises in the world.

Pokémon is almost ubiquitous, as every child knows who Pikachu is, and every millennial can tell you about their first edition Charizard that they totally had when they were ten.

It’s no surprise that a rare card would fetch thousands of dollars when there are so many eyes on it. Some of the more famous cards that have sold often have over 10,000 users watching the auction on eBay. 

#7- Scalpers

Finally, we come to the bottom of the list, which is exactly where scalpers belong- the bottom.

Scalping is the act of purchasing a product for the purpose of reselling at a higher price and became popular in the sneaker industry before Pokémon cards. Every couple of months, TPC releases a new set of cards, and when popularity is peaking, the scalpers are there waiting. 

The metal cards included in the UPC.

This becomes a problem when TPC releases special products, such as the Ultra Premium Collection in 2021, which contained the first-ever metal Pokémon cards. Most stores and online retailers were sold out, and the UPCs we’re selling on eBay for 5X MSRP.

Final thoughts

The hobby of collecting Pokémon cards can get really expensive really fast. There is a gambling aspect when it comes to booster packs, but it can get expensive even before you factor this in. Some vintage cards such as Charizard can get up to six figures when graded highly. Even lesser-known cards that you remember from your childhood are going for over $1,000 on eBay. 

Our advice here at Sleeve No Card Behind is to be precise and know exactly what you want to collect before you go shopping for it. Impulse buying will crush you in this hobby. So be smart when buying cards!