Hands holding a spread of Pokémon cards

It seems that, no matter how many years Pokémon cards have been around, there is always a substantial amount of interest in this fun trading card game.

But as interest continues to peak, scammers will continue to look for opportunities to take advantage of this trend to make money.

This guide will help you figure out how to tell if a Pokémon card is fake so you can protect yourself from buying a counterfeit card while growing your Pokémon card collection:

How to Tell a Fake Pokémon Card

While there are many ways to tell if a Pokémon card is fake, the first thing you should do is trust your gut.

Sometimes you’ll come across a card that just doesn’t feel right, and you may recognize inconsistencies before your brain clues into its authenticity.

So if something doesn’t feel right, you definitely need to know how to tell if a Pokémon card is fake!

But, overall, to ensure you are investing in and receiving a genuine product, it doesn’t hurt to perform these tests anyway.

Just make sure you don’t rely on only one step to determine authenticity. Fake Pokémon producers are good, so it’s best to combine these tests and use your best judgment:

1. Look for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

One of the first sure signs that you’re looking at a fake Pokémon card is if the card has spelling and grammar mistakes.

In particular, look for cards that are missing the accent over the e in the word “Pokémon” or knock-off terms like “Pocket Monsters.”

You should also look at the attack value of the card. HP and attack values of over 1000 are signs of a fake.

However, keep in mind that many fake cards are direct copies of legitimate cards, so mistakes may not be obvious.

This is why it’s important to look for other ways to tell if a Pokémon card is fake.

2. Look at the Back of the Card

By comparing a card to the back of a card that is authentic, you’ll be able to spot manufacturing errors. If both cards are authentic, the backs should be almost identical.

Pay attention to any bleeding between the blue border and the rest of the blue in the card’s design. Real Pokémon cards have a distinct border on the back.

Take note of any washed-out colors as well.

This is perhaps one of the most reliable ways to tell if a Pokémon card is fake since real cards include many details that are hard to copy.

3. Check the Font

Oftentimes, fake Pokémon cards will use different fonts than those used on genuine cards.

Again, by comparing a card with an authentic card, you’ll be able to spot any differences in the fonts.

Look at the font type and size used. Fake cards often use fonts that are too big or too small compared to real cards, making the text appear on a different line.

4. Check for Irregular or Misplaced Energy Symbols

On the top of every Pokémon card, you’ll find an energy symbol. Fake cards will often have energy symbols that are misplaced or look irregular.

Look for energy symbols that are too big or too small, offset, and distorted.

In some cases, the energy symbol may even be missing on fake Pokémon cards.

5. Pay Attention to the Packaging

Even when you are buying sealed Pokémon cards, you can look at the packaging to determine whether or not the cards are fake.

Fake packaging is often made of cheap materials, so look to see if the product comes with a layer of plastic wrap that is used on authentic boxes.

You can also check to see if the sealed cards have the official trademark symbols on the packaging. If they do, look for spelling errors and compare the shape of the symbol against a genuine pack of cards.

Another simple way to check and see if a package of cards is fake is to look at the cutting methods used on the packs.

Original packs are straight-cut along the bottom and top, and fakes sometimes use a triangle cut.

Lastly, official Pokémon cards should not move easily inside the packaging. Lots of card movement can indicate that the cards are fake or have been repackaged.

6. Look Up the Pokémon To See if it Exists

This may seem like an obvious step, but if you’re new to the world of Pokémon, it’s worth checking to see if the Pokémon actually exists.

7. Compare the Card to One From the Pokémon TCG Database

You can always pull up an image of the card online using the Pokémon TCG Database to use the above steps to compare your card.

Don’t Bother With These Fake Pokémon Card Tests!

The Bend Test

The idea of the bend test is to test the strength of the cardstock by bending it. If the card flattens again, it is likely genuine.

However, this test involves damaging the card, so it is not recommended.

You can simply use your fingers to determine how strong the cardstock is to see if your Pokémon card is fake.

The Light Test

Apparently, you can also use light to check the thickness and quality of the card’s stock by shining a light through the card to see how much passes through.

Even though this test makes sense and will not damage the card, it’s hard to say if it really works to figure out if a Pokémon card is fake.

This is because, since 1999, Pokémon cards have been printed by two different companies that used different foiling techniques - and these techniques react differently to light.

Plus, if you don’t use the same light under the same conditions, you won’t get an accurate result.

The Rip Test

Some people test the genuineness of their Pokémon cards by ripping them in half - which we definitely don’t recommend!

Real Pokémon cards are made by gluing two thin pieces of cardboard together with a black layer in between. If there is no layer, the card is fake.

But if the card is authentic, you’ve just destroyed a real Pokémon card!

What About Pokémon Card Misprints?

While misprints and “error” cards so happen, they are usually documented by collectors so you can find out if the card is actually real.

If you think you have a misprint and not a fake card, you can look it up online to see if anyone else has spotted the mistake.

What Can I Do If I’m Buying My Pokémon Card Online?

All of these tips for spotting a fake Pokémon work great when you’re holding the card in your hand, but what about purchases you make online?

If this is the case, you can always ask for a picture of the card so you can make your own comparisons.

Also, look at the credibility of the seller by looking at reviews.

Overall, there aren’t a lot of reports about mass Pokémon card fraud, so just by following the tips we’ve provided, you shouldn’t worry about getting scammed online.

However, to avoid the anxiety of buying a fake Pokémon card online, you can always rely on an official Pokémon Center store that sells and trades genuine Pokémon products.

Swirl Cafe - Your Official One-Stop Pokémon Shop!

Here at our Pokémon dreamland, we are dedicated to all things Pokémon - and we are dedicated to providing you the best experience!

That’s why you don’t have to worry when you buy Pokémon merchandise from our shop.

Don’t hesitate to stop in or get in touch with us if you have any questions about your Pokémon card collection.

We’re here to help!