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How To Identify Fake Pokémon Cards Before Buying

As Pokémon cards have captured the hearts of millions, the allure of owning these cherished collectibles has reached unprecedented heights. Consequently, with the continuous growth of the Pokémon community, the risk of encountering counterfeit cards has become more prominent. Thankfully, knowing How To Identify Fake Pokémon Cards Before Buying will safeguard your collection and elevate your Pokémon card adventures.

The significance of identifying fake Pokémon cards cannot be overstated. Counterfeit cards not only devalue a collection but can also tarnish the authenticity and joy of card hunting. So, understanding the markers of genuine cards is essential to protect collectors from scams and maintain the integrity of their treasured collection.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the intricacies of spotting fake Pokémon cards before purchasing. From scrutinizing card design and packaging to leveraging online tools and authentication methods, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and skills to navigate the Pokémon card market confidently.

Understanding the Rarity and Value of Pokémon Cards

Whether you’re a collector or a player, understanding the rarity and value of Pokémon cards is crucial to building a prized collection or making informed purchasing decisions. Let’s explore the critical aspects of this captivating domain:

Differentiating Between Common, Uncommon, and Rare Cards

In the Pokémon TCG, cards are classified into different rarities, ranging from common to ultra-rare. Common cards are abundant and easily found in booster packs, while uncommon cards are slightly less common and have unique features.

Rare cards, conversely, are the gems of a collection, boasting eye-catching holographic designs and higher collectible value.

Knowing the Market Value of Genuine Pokémon Cards

The market value of Pokémon cards can fluctuate based on several factors, such as card condition, rarity, and demand.

Collectors often refer to reliable sources, including price guides, online auction websites, and specialized Pokémon card communities, to determine a card’s value. Researching recent sales and comparing prices from different sources can help ascertain the approximate value of a genuine card.

Suspiciously Low Prices: A Red Flag

While hunting for Pokémon cards, encountering suspiciously low prices should raise alarm bells. Unusually low prices may be an indicator of fake or counterfeit cards. Scammers may attempt to exploit unaware buyers with counterfeit cards that mimic the appearance of genuine ones.

It’s essential to be cautious when dealing with significantly discounted cards and to verify their authenticity through various means, such as examining the card’s design, comparing it to genuine cards, and utilizing online authentication tools.

Read also: Top 15 Most Expensive Gold Pokémon Cards in 2023

How Do I Scrutinize Card Design and Quality?

Here are some essential aspects to consider when examining card design and quality:

Examining Card Stock and Texture

Legitimate Pokémon cards are known for their high-quality card stock, which feels sturdy and durable. Counterfeit cards, on the other hand, may have thinner or flimsy stock.

When holding a card, pay attention to its texture. Genuine cards are often smooth and consistent, while fakes might feel rough or grainy. Counterfeiters may struggle to replicate the exact texture of authentic Pokémon cards, making this an essential factor in spotting fakes.

Analyzing Print Quality and Colors

The print quality and colors on Pokémon cards are usually vibrant, sharp, and well-defined. Genuine cards exhibit clear and crisp artwork with no blurriness or smudges.

Counterfeit cards, however, may display noticeable print defects, pixelation, or faded colors. When comparing a suspected fake with a genuine card, carefully scrutinize the artwork and ensure it matches the high-quality standard Pokémon cards are known for.

Spotting Fakes through Card Dimensions and Corners

Authentic Pokémon cards adhere to specific dimensions and have uniformly rounded corners. Counterfeit cards might deviate slightly from the standard dimensions or exhibit irregularly shaped corners. By measuring a card’s dimensions and inspecting its corners, you can identify inconsistencies that raise suspicions about its authenticity.

What are the Authenticity Markers and Watermarks?

Let’s explore the key markers that set authentic Pokémon cards apart from fakes:

Identifying the Official Pokémon Card Watermark

One of the primary authenticity markers is the official Pokémon card watermark. This watermark is a subtle pattern embedded into the card’s background during printing. It serves as a telltale sign of a genuine card.

Tilting a card under light makes the watermark become visible as a faint image, often featuring the Pokémon logo or other Pokémon-related symbols.

Holographic Stickers and Stamps: Genuine vs. Fake

Holographic stickers and stamps are a hallmark of many rare and ultra-rare Pokémon cards. Genuine holographic features display a dynamic and eye-catching shine from different angles.

On the other hand, counterfeit holographics may appear static or show inconsistencies in the holographic effect. By gently angling the card, you can verify the authenticity of holographic elements.

Authentic Pokémon cards bear the Pokémon Company logo and copyright information, usually at the bottom or back of the card. This information confirms the card’s official origin and ensures it’s a product of The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and Game Freak. Counterfeit cards may omit or inaccurately replicate this essential detail.

Card Back and Symbol Alignment

Authentic Pokémon cards have a distinct back design featuring the iconic Poké Ball pattern and the Pokémon TCG logo. When examining the back of a card, ensure that the pattern is consistent across the entire surface and aligns properly with the card’s edges. Counterfeit cards may have misaligned or off-center patterns, which can clearly indicate their inauthenticity.

Set Symbol and Rarity Markers

Each Pokémon card is part of a specific card set, and authentic cards bear set symbols corresponding to their respective expansions. These symbols are located below the artwork on the right-hand side of the card. To verify the authenticity of a card, cross-reference the set symbol with official Pokémon card databases or checklists.

Additionally, cards often have a rarity marker (such as a circle, diamond, or star) to indicate their rarity level within the set. Ensuring the correct set symbol and rarity marker match the card’s attributes is crucial in confirming its authenticity.

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How Can I Spot Discrepancies in Pokémon Card Details?

Spotting discrepancies in Pokémon card details is crucial for every discerning collector. These five key areas will help you identify potential errors and ensure the authenticity of your cherished cards:

Spotting Errors in Pokémon Names, Types, and Descriptions

Genuine Pokémon cards accurately represent each Pokémon’s name, type, and description. Pay close attention to spelling errors or inconsistencies in these aspects. For example, misspelled Pokémon names or descriptions that don’t match the Pokémon’s characteristics could be red flags for counterfeit cards.

Checking for Proper Symbols and Energy Types

Authentic Pokémon cards feature symbols for different card attributes, such as energy types (Fire, Water, Grass, etc.) and status conditions (Poison, Burn, etc.). Counterfeit cards may exhibit irregular or incorrect symbols. Ensure that the energy symbols on the card match the Pokémon’s actual type to avoid falling for fakes.

Verifying Attack Points and Weaknesses

Each Pokémon card’s attack points and weaknesses play a vital role in gameplay. Genuine cards display accurate attack points, reflecting the Pokémon’s abilities.

Additionally, legitimate cards correctly indicate the Pokémon’s weaknesses, making it easier for trainers to strategize during battles. Inconsistent or incorrect attack points and weaknesses could be indicative of counterfeit cards.

HP (Hit Points) Accuracy

Hit Points (HP) represent a Pokémon’s health and endurance in battles. Genuine Pokémon cards clearly state the correct HP value for each Pokémon.

Be cautious of cards that display unrealistic or oddly high HP values, as they might be counterfeit. Comparing the HP with official Pokémon databases or established card sets can help verify its authenticity.

Proper Card Number and Set Symbol

Every Pokémon card has a unique card number and belongs to a specific set. Counterfeit cards may display incorrect card numbers or set symbols that do not match official records.

Cross-referencing the card number and set symbol with legitimate Pokémon card checklists or databases can aid in confirming the card’s authenticity.

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How Do I Inspect Pokemon Card Packaging and Seals?

Inspecting card packaging and seals is crucial in ensuring the authenticity and integrity of Pokémon cards. Here’s how you can navigate this aspect of collecting to protect yourself from potential scams:

Authentic Booster Packs and TCG Boxes

When purchasing Pokémon cards, it’s essential to verify that the booster packs or Trading Card Game (TCG) boxes are authentic. Authentic booster packs typically feature high-quality packaging, crisp colors, and clear logos. Counterfeit packs may have lower print quality, faded colors, or misspellings on the packaging.

Check for the official Pokémon logo and copyright information on the packaging to confirm its legitimacy. Additionally, purchase booster packs and TCG boxes from reputable sellers and authorized retailers to ensure you receive genuine products.

Ensuring Seals and Barcodes are Genuine

Pay close attention to the seals and barcodes on booster packs and TCG boxes. Genuine Pokémon products have clear and well-defined seals that are difficult to replicate. Counterfeit packs may have poorly printed or uneven seals.

Examine the barcodes for any discrepancies or signs of tampering. Authentic barcodes should be clear and scannable, whereas counterfeit ones may be blurry or distorted. Scammers may attempt to reseal booster packs with fake cards or lower-value cards, so inspecting seals and barcodes can help avoid such traps.

Avoiding Resealed and Tampered Packaging

Be cautious when purchasing Pokémon cards from unknown or unverified sources. Resealed and tampered packaging is a common tactic scammers use to deceive buyers.

If the packaging appears to have been opened and resealed, or if the seal doesn’t match the original manufacturer’s design, it could indicate that the cards inside are not genuine.

To minimize the risk of falling victim to resealed or tampered packaging, consider purchasing Pokémon cards from reputable retailers, official Pokémon events, or authorized online sellers.

Read also: How To Get Graded Pokémon Cards Professionally In 2023

How Can I Purchase Pokemon Cards from Reputable Sellers and Retailers

Purchasing Pokémon cards from reputable sellers and retailers is vital to ensure that you’re acquiring authentic and high-quality cards. Here are three essential steps to consider when making your purchases:

Researching Trusted Online Sellers and Stores

When buying Pokémon cards online, take the time to research and identify trusted sellers and stores. Look for established websites and online marketplaces with a track record of selling genuine products. Reputable sellers often have clear product descriptions, high-resolution images, and detailed information about their cards.

Check for any customer reviews or ratings for the seller or store to gauge the quality of their service and the authenticity of their products. Opt for sellers with positive feedback and a history of delivering authentic Pokémon cards to ensure a smooth and secure purchasing experience.

Reading Reviews and Customer Feedback

Customer reviews and feedback are valuable resources when assessing the credibility of a seller or retailer. Look for reviews related explicitly to Pokémon card purchases to gain insights into the quality of the products and the seller’s reliability.

Pay attention to any recurring complaints or red flags mentioned in reviews, such as receiving counterfeit cards or encountering issues with customer service. Positive reviews and satisfied customers are strong indicators of a reputable seller, providing added confidence in your purchase.

Seeking Certificates of Authenticity (COAs)

Some Pokémon card sellers offer Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) as an extra layer of assurance for their products. COAs are official documents that verify the authenticity and origin of a card. They may include information about the card’s rarity, set, and other relevant details.

When purchasing valuable or rare Pokémon cards, inquire about the availability of COAs from the seller. Authentic COAs are typically professionally printed and include details about the card’s provenance. Be cautious of sellers offering homemade or unverifiable COAs, as they may not provide the level of authenticity you need.

Can I Use Online Authentication Tools?

Using online authentication tools is an innovative and proactive way to ensure the authenticity of Pokémon cards. Here are three effective methods for utilizing these tools:

Utilizing Pokémon Card Databases and Resources

Leverage the power of Pokémon card databases and resources available online. Reputable websites and platforms maintain extensive databases of genuine Pokémon cards, including images, set information, and specific card details. When in doubt about the authenticity of a card, cross-reference it with these databases to confirm its legitimacy.

These resources often include information about known counterfeit cards, providing valuable insights into common characteristics of fakes. By familiarizing yourself with these databases, you can become a more informed collector and swiftly identify any suspicious cards in your collection.

Engaging with Pokémon Card Collectors’ Communities

Joining Pokémon card collectors’ communities is an excellent way to gain knowledge and share experiences with fellow enthusiasts. These communities often have dedicated forums or social media groups where members can discuss various aspects of collecting, including spotting counterfeit cards.

Engage in conversations, ask questions, and seek advice from experienced collectors. Sharing images of potential counterfeit cards can prompt valuable feedback and insights from the community. Together, the collective knowledge of these communities can help you develop a keen eye for identifying fake Pokémon cards.

Spotting Fake Pokémon Cards through Specialized Apps

In the digital age, several specialized apps have emerged to aid in spotting counterfeit Pokémon cards. These apps use image recognition technology and algorithms to compare card images with known genuine cards and detect potential fakes.

To utilize these apps, take a clear photo of the card in question and upload it to the app. The app will then analyze the image and provide feedback on the card’s authenticity. While not foolproof, these apps can be a valuable tool in your arsenal for ensuring the legitimacy of your Pokémon card collection.

Read also: 10 Most Valuable Pokémon Cards In 2023

FAQs on How To Identify Fake Pokémon Cards

How can I determine the value of genuine Pokémon cards?

Determining the value of genuine Pokémon cards can be done through various methods. Consider consulting reputable price guides, online auction websites, or Pokémon card community forums where collectors discuss recent sales and market trends. Factors such as card condition, rarity, and demand all play a role in determining a card’s value.

Are there specific online platforms that can verify the authenticity of cards?

Yes, some online platforms and tools can help verify the authenticity of Pokémon cards. Specialized apps use image recognition technology to compare card images with known genuine cards, offering insights into potential fakes. Additionally, official Pokémon card databases and resources can be used to cross-reference card details and ensure legitimacy.

What should I do if I suspect I bought a fake Pokémon card?

Taking immediate action is essential if you suspect you purchased a fake Pokémon card. Document the card and its packaging with clear photos as evidence. Contact the seller to express your concerns and request a refund or exchange. If the seller is uncooperative or you encounter fraudulent activity, consider reporting the issue to the relevant platform or authorities.

Can holographic stickers guarantee a card’s authenticity?

While holographic stickers often feature genuine rare and ultra-rare Pokémon cards, they alone cannot guarantee a card’s authenticity. Counterfeiters can replicate holographic features, making it essential to examine other authenticity markers, such as watermarks, card dimensions, and set symbols, to confirm a card’s genuineness.


The importance of authentic Pokémon cards cannot be overstated. Collectors with knowledge about authenticity markers can confidently safeguard their collections from counterfeit cards.

Examining details like card design, symbols, and packaging, enthusiasts can ensure they own genuine treasures. Genuine Pokémon cards hold not only monetary value but also sentimental worth, preserving the true magic of the Pokémon universe and providing a source of joy for collectors worldwide.




Onwukwe Mina Chidiebube is a content marketer, scriptwriter, copywriter, and voiceover artist at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited.

Brought up in the sciences with a fundamental love for the arts, she wields a degree in Chemical Engineering and flexes her writing muscles, as seen in her articles at and

She sees movies, reads, or listens to music when she is not writing.

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