Pokémon’s newest set Battle Styles introduced new alternate art secret rares and alternate art ultra rares, with these cards holding steady as the most popular cards in the set. Pokémon’s card rarities have always been evolving over the past 25 years, and this will be your crash course into how to identify these rarities on your own. 

Every Pokémon card has a set card number. It’s formatted as XXX/YYY, where XXX is the card’s number and YYY is the total number of cards in that specific set. The XXX can sometimes exceed the YYY when sets have what Pokémon call secret rares, which first appeared in the Team Rocket set with Dark Raichu being card 83/82 in the set.

Dark Raichu

Within each set are several rarities, and not all sets contain cards from every rarity level. The first place to look to determine a card's rarity is the bottom right or left corner of the card.

Promo cards have a black star with the word "PROMO" printed over it.

Common cards have a black circle.

Uncommon cards have a black diamond.

Rare cards have a black star.

Prior to the release of Legendary Collection, Pokémon card rares could only exist as either holo foil or non-holo foil. Legendary Collection introduced the reverse holo foil rarity which can apply to any card in the set from common, uncommon, and rare. Holo foil rares will have a black star to signify that they are indeed rare, but also the background behind the Pokémon will have a shiny foil pattern that will sparkle under light. Reverse holo foils will have a shiny effect on the entire card’s face except for the Pokémon illustration.

Ultra rare cards are foil cards with a unique mechanic that corresponds with the Pokémon Trading Card Game. They can be cards that have art covering half of the card or exist also as full art cards including both Pokémon and Trainer cards.

 Some examples of Ultra Rares are:

  • Pokémon ex
  • Pokémon star
  • Pokémon LV. x
  • Pokémon LEGEND
  • Pokémon Prime
  • Pokémon-EX
  • Pokémon-GX
  • Pokémon Tag Team-GX (Including Alternate Full Art)
  • Pokémon V (Including Alternate Full Art)
  • Pokémon V MAX



Another rare variety of Pokémon cards that exist is shiny Pokémon (previously known as Shining Pokémon). These cards depict Pokémon in alternate colorations and are generally more sought after than the original color of the same card. Hidden Fates (released August 2019) and Shining Fates (released February 2021) both contain a shiny vault of previously available Pokémon in shiny form.  

Amazing rare
are Pokémon cards that were introduced in the Vivid Voltage set, and also made an appearance in Shining Fates. They are identified by a rainbow background in the Pokémon illustration and an “A” in place of the rarity symbol.

Secret rares as previously mentioned are Pokémon cards that have a set number higher than the total number of cards in the set and are generally considered to be the rarest in each given set. Secret rare cards consist of rainbow versions of ultra rare cards that already exist, gold trainers and Pokémon, and most recently added are Pokémon VMAX Alternate Full Art. 

With all these rarities and subtle differences in
Pokémon cards it can leave sellers in a tough place when it comes to identifying cards on their own, or when trying to teach one of their employees the knowledge of how to identify a Pokémon. This is why sellers utilize TCGplayer Pro Quicklist. This software allows you to turn any employee or even yourself into a Pokémon rarity master. If you want someone to walk you through Quicklist and show you how to use it to streamline your workflow, reach out to a member of our Sales Team for assistance!