Pokémon Rare Cards – Info & Explanation

What are Pokémon Rare Cards?

This page offers an explanation of the different types of Pokémon Rare cards issued for the Trading Card Game (TCG). Traditionally, all rare cards were identified by a small star ★ at the bottom, next to the unique card number. In 2023 new Rarity categories and symbols were introduced making it easier to identify the type of Pokémon Rare card. Up to 2023 sets contained both regular rare cards and Holo Rare cards. In 2023 non-holo Rare cards were discontinued, meaning that from the Scarlet and Violet series onwards all types of rare cards are holographic. 


Regular Rare
Holo Rare Cards
Amazing Rare Cards
Half Art and Full Art
Ultra Rare Holo Cards
Secret Rare Cards
Gold / Hyper Rare Cards
Illustration Rare Cards


What are Regular Pokémon Rare Cards?

Pokémon Rare Cards 013/163 Vivillon

Regular Pokémon rare cards are non-holo cards that made up a small percentage of the total cards for each expansion set until they were withdrawn in March 2023 with the release of Scarlet and Violet series. They were found in booster packs that had no shiny or holographic card.

The Vivillon card pictured is an example of a regular non-holo rare card from the Battle Styles expansion set which released in the Spring of 2021.

Regular Rare Cards look identical to Uncommon and Common cards. They have a background that reflects the colour associated with their type and a small, non-holo image at the top. However, they have a ★ marking next to the card number.

Regular Rare cards generally depict fully evolved Pokémon and are typically Stage 2 but can sometimes depict Stage 1 Pokémon if that is the final evolution. 


What are Holo Rare Cards?

125/195 Klinklang

Holo Rare cards are identical to Regular Rare cards except that the image is holographic. The image shows Klinklang from the Silver Tempest expansion set which released in November 2022.

The holographic pattern has changed over the years with some being more popular designs than others. The different patterns include – Cosmos Holo, Mirror Holo, Confetti Holo and Cracked Ice. The current Sword and Shield Holo Rare cards depict a holographic pattern of vertical lines.

What are Amazing Rare Cards?

082/185 Zacian Amazing Rare

Amazing rare cards were introduced with the Sword and Shield Vivid Voltage expansion set in November 2020. The Zacian card depicted is from the Vivid Voltage set. Amazing Rare cards can be found in any booster pack of sets where they are a feature. 

Amazing rare cards have the same format as regular non-holo cards but have glittery artwork that extends beyond the artwork frame. Card features are also glittery. In place of the ★ marking they have an A Amazing Rare symbol printed on a multi-coloured glitter background. 

The characters depicted on Amazing Rare cards are all legendary or mythical and are at basic level. However they do have ‘Amazing’ abilities e.g. Raikou has ‘Amazing Shot’ which inflicts 120 damage.

Three more amazing rare Pokémon were introduced with the Shining Fates expansion – Kyogre, Reshiram  and Yveltal. It is rumoured that there will be no more amazing rare cards so these will probably increase in value.


Full Art and Half Art Rare Cards

All full art and half art cards are considered Rare Cards.

Up to and including the Sword and Shield series, all art cards, including Ultra Rare and Secret Rare (see below) were  marked with a single star ★ next to their card number. 

With the release of Generation IX, Scarlet and Violet series, the rarity symbol used to mark these cards changed. Half Art cards were re-named Double Rare Holo cards and marked with two black stars ★★. Ultra Rare Cards are now marked with two white stars ★★ and bear numbers higher than the set number, making them equivalent to Secret Rare cards. Hyper Rare cards are Gold Full Art cards and marked with three gold stars ★★★

081/198 Miraidon

Scarlet and Violet also saw the introduction of Illustration Rare cards, marked with a single gold star and Special Illustration Rare cards, marked with two gold stars .

Scroll down for further explanation and examples of the new Generation IX cards.


What Are Ultra Rare Cards?

113/114 Reshiram

Pokémon ultra rare cards first appeared with the Black and White series which released in April 2011. Two ultra rare cards were included in the Black and White Base Set – Reshiram 113/114 (depicted above) which is a full art white card, and Zekrom, a full art black card. 

Ultra rare cards make up the last numbers in the regular set of cards and come just before the secret rare cards. In earlier sets they were special rare holo cards but in more recent sets they are always full art cards. The set mascot(s) usually feature on Ultra Rare Cards as well as other Pokémon, Trainers and Items.

In 2023 Ultra Rare Cards changed from being the last numbers of the regular set to bearing numbers higher than the set number, in effect taking the place of Secret Rare cards along with Hyper Rare cards, Illustration Rare and Special Illustration Rare cards (see below). The rarity symbol for Ultra Rare Cards changed from a single black star to two white stars.


What are Secret Rare Cards?

Dark Raichu  Secret Rare Card

Secret rare cards are cards that are additional to the set they are included in. As such they have a card number higher than the set number making them easy to distinguish.

These cards were launched with the Team Rocket expansion in April 2000. Just one secret rare card was included – Dark Raichu with a card number 83/82. This card featured holographic artwork and was able to use a special Surprise Thunder ability.

The Black and White Base set was the first to feature full art cards and from that set onwards secret rare cards have always been full art.

Over the years, the artwork of secret rare cards has become more stunning including textured patterns in the holographic image. In 2017, the first Secret Rainbow Rare and Gold Secret Rare Cards were introduced.


What are Secret Rainbow Rare Cards?

190/185 Aegislash VMAX

Secret Rainbow rare cards were first introduced with the Sun and Moon series in February 2017 and last released in the 2023 Crown Zenith expansion of the Sword and Shield Series.

The very first rainbow cards were reprints of special GX cards designed with a holographic rainbow colouration. Over the years they have become more detailed and the latest Sword and Shield Rainbow cards have a textured surface which makes them shimmer in the light. 

The card illustrated features Aegislash in VMAX form from the Vivid Voltage set. The card number is 190/185 and it has rainbow colouring over a textured background. 


What are Gold Secret Rare / Hyper Rare Holo Cards?

205/192 Galarian Perrserker

Although gold-coloured full art cards had appeared in earlier sets the first Gold Secret Rare Cards were released with the Sun and Moon Series in 2017.

The Sun and Moon base set included four gold trainer cards and two energy cards with gold borders. The gold finish is holographic and gives the cards a very special look. As with the Rainbow Rares, the most recent cards have a textured background that makes them shimmer in the light. 

The card illustrated is a Gold Secret Rare Galarian Perrserker 205/192 from the Rebel Clash expansion set. It features gold artwork on a textured background.

In 2023, Gold Secret Rare cards were re-named Hyper Rare Holo Cards and given a rarity symbol of three gold stars. 


What are Illustration Rare Cards?

200/198 Dolliv

Pokémon Illustration Rare cards were first introduced in 2023 with the launch of the Scarlet and Violet series. There are two different types – Illustration Rare and Special Illustration Rare cards, both of which are full art holographic cards. Illustration Rare cards are indicated with a single gold star , while Special Illustration Rare cards have two gold stars ★★.

The card illustrated above depicts Dolliv 200/198, an Illustration Rare Card from the Scarlet & Violet Base Set.



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