Parents Guide to Buying Pokemon Cards

As the owner of a card store and long time player I often have parents come into my store looking to buy Pokemon cards. Most have no idea what they are looking at and just know they want pokemon cards. So I want guide to show what I suggest in my store.

First I always ask how old is the person you are looking to buy for and do they play or just collect. This can rule out a few items and make sure you don’t get something they wont use. There are lots of items under $20 that are great gifts for anyone!

EX and EX cards are premium cards you get about 1 in every 7 or 8 booster packs normally. Many of the items I show include one guaranteed so are great to make sure young kids are never disappointed. You can buy single EX or GX cards but unless you know what they want this can be very hard to decide on. Most parents also don’t know if they already have that card.

Stay away from card lots such as “100 card pokemon lot with bonus” these are repacked. The sellers have taken anything good out of them and are just selling the leftover trash no one wants. Even if they say they include a EX or GX they will be the worst of the worst often worth less then $2. Never buy these make sure you buy items with real packaging shown. Trust me no one wants to get one of these trash lots in a sandwich bag.

Booster packs $3 to $5. Great for anyone. If you don’t know what set they want going for the latest set is always the safest bet. You can often find bundle of 4 or 5 packs for a cheaper price. This does not guarantee a premium card. If your budget is $15 plus I recommend a small box or tin instead.
Starter decks $10 to $16. Good for younger players just starting. Includes a pre-built working deck and a rule book.

These are not good at all for experienced players or collectors as they contain no premium cards and a lot of basic energy cards.

Blister packs $12 to $16. These include 2 to 3 booster packs and a promo card or a pin. I don’t often recommend these unless you know they like pins. The promo cards in these MOST of the time are not very good. If you know the card or pin is of a Pokemon they like then feel free to get one of these. This does not guarantee a premium card. If your budget is $15 plus I recommend a small box or tin instead.
Small box sets and Tins $14 to $20. These are great for younger kids. They come with a EX or GX so they wont be disappointed if they don’t get good pulls from the included packs.

Box sets include 3 to 4 booster packs a jumbo card and sometimes a pin.

Tins Have 4 booster packs a EX or GX and come in a tin that’s great for card storage.

Be careful not to get the cheap tins sold at large retail stores like Target or Walmart. The card included in those may not be a EX or GX. They cost a few dollars less but don’t offer the same value.

Elite Trainer Boxes $30 to $40. Great for anyone that plays the game. You can’t go wrong with this and its my most recommended item by far. They include basic energy cards to build a deck, card sleeves, dice and markers needed to play the game.

They are great for beginner players as they include basic energy cards and the supplies you need to play with. Experienced players also like these as you get 8 packs of cards and sleeves always need replaced after a while and the box is great for storage. Even if they already have one of these they will always be happy to get more.

Large Box sets $40 to $80. In general are safe for all types of players and collectors as they just have so much stuff everything is covered. They normally include multiple premium cards several booster backs and sometimes jumbo cards, pins and play mats.
Booster boxes $90 to $100+. They contain 36 booster packs and are generally a better deal then buying 36 individual booster packs. Same as with single booster packs the newest set is always the safest.

Other items that are great for pokemon players and collectors

Binders. I know most of you parents think of 3 ring binders for holding cards but those are out dated now and for good reasons. They tend to get stuck when closing and end up leaving small indents on the cards. This can make the cards worthless the number of cards. I have had to pass on buying cards due to this is in the thousands by now.
Sleeves. They come in many types just make sure you buy standard sized sleeves. Mini and small sleeves are made for Yu-Gi-Oh and will not fit Pokemon cards. You need 60 sleeves for a deck so make sure you dont only get a pack with 50 sleeves or you will need 2 packs.
Deck Boxes. There are all sorts of deck boxes from $2 to $20+ for high quality ones. I personally use a Dex Protection Dualist Deck Box it holds my deck and dice well. Ultimate Guard also makes very good premium boxes.