How to tell if a Pokémon card is fake in 5 easy steps: a guide for collectors

A collection of pokemon cards sprawled out, overlapping each other

How to tell if a Pokémon card is fake in 5 easy steps: a guide for collectors

Are you a Pokémon card collector? Whether you're just starting your Pokemon collection or you’re an experienced collector, it's important to know how you can tell whether a card is fake or authentic.

So many counterfeit Pokémon cards are constantly circulating online, and this increases your chances of getting duped into buying a fake card if you don’t know how to spot a fake Pokémon card. In this guide, we'll explain the five steps you can take to determine if a Pokémon card is fake or real.

Test 1: Inspect everything on the card

The first thing you can do is read all the text on the card and check for any spelling or grammar mistakes. These mistakes are super common indicators that a card is fake because a real Pokémon card is printed to a high standard.

Though this is the easiest way to tell that a card is fake, the text of fake Pokémon cards is copied from real cards. This means it’s unlikely that there may not be any obvious mistakes, so make sure you get a good look! On the other hand, some old authentic Pokémon cards actually had some misspellings and grammatical errors due to printing errors, which are accounted for online.

Things to look for:

🅰️ Spelling mistakes

📝 Poor grammar

é❌ Instances of the word "Pokémon" missing the accent over the e.

🚫🐲 Any term used in place of "Pokémon," like "Pocket Monster."

📈💥 HP or Attack values of 1000 or higher. (Note that no Pokémon card printed since 2021 has an HP value higher than 340.)

If you do find any errors in the text like these then the chances are that card is not authentic.

Test 2: Compare the back of the card to the back of a card you know is authentic

Ultimately, the back of a genuine Pokémon card will be identical to the back of another authentic card, making this the most reliable fake Pokémon card detector test because the back of an authentic Pokémon card is packed with detail that fraudulent cards either miss or don’t get right.

The most obvious detail to pay attention to is the border on the back of a Pokémon card. Look for bleeding between the blue border and the blue in the rest of the print as the border should be distinguished from the other blues.

Always remember that every authentic Pokémon card has the exact same back, no matter when it was printed (despite specific exceptions like Trainer Packs, World Championship Cards, and so on). Therefore, it’s always wise to compare the back of the card you're unsure about to the back of a card that is authentic. If you spot any differences then the card is a fake.

Take heed here though. If you don’t have much experience with Pokémon cards you’ll need to use a Pokémon card that you are certain is authentic for an accurate comparison. It’s equally important to remember you cannot perform this test when buying or trading a card online and the seller hasn’t uploaded a picture of the back, so that’s an instant red flag.

Test 3: Compare with a known genuine card

Another test is to find an authentic copy of the same card and compare it with the suspicious card. If this isn’t possible then find a card with as many similarities as possible. Examples include cards from the same set, rarity, and type of foiling.

Now, examine the two cards side by side and look for any differences in the printing, the cut of the card, or the texture of the cardstock. Note that a fake Pokémon card isn’t made the same way as an authentic card, so it’s common to find multiple manufacturing oddities on a fake Pokémon card.

Aside from spelling and grammatical mistakes, manufacturing oddities can include:

⚖️ An immoderate difference in weight.

📄👎 Cardstock that’s too thin or weak.

🌫️✨ Flat, untextured foiling when the foil should have a texture.

📦🧹 Cardboard residue (fluff) around the edges.

Of course, if you don’t have that much experience with Pokémon cards then you’ll find it harder to tell if small variations are normal or suspicious. Consequently, this test is better suited to those with enough experience to understand what variations shouldn’t be present.

Test 4: Look for inconsistencies online

In this fourth test, you can determine if a Pokémon card is fake by comparing it with an image of the same card online providing that you can’t find a physical copy of the same card.

Look for any inconsistencies between the two cards such as variations in colours, font, layout, etc.

Keep in mind that this test is more suited to those with enough experience and familiarity with Pokémon to find the exact card in an online database. So many authentic Pokémon cards have multiple versions and there isn’t an online database that is fully complete. Additionally, be sure to use a reputable Pokémon TCG database such as the hoardboard Pokémon database.

In any case, if you're looking at the same version of the card you're questioning then the card should look identical. Any significant differences indicate that the card is likely a fake.

❗️ Things to look for:

🅰️❌ Wrong font or font size.

⚡📏 Wrong energy symbols, or energy symbols the wrong size.

❤️‍🔥❌ Wrong HP value.

⚔️🚫 Wrong attack damage values.

🛡️🔀 Wrong weakness, resistance, or retreat cost.

🔢🚫 Wrong set symbol or set number.

✨🔄 Foiling when the card shouldn't have foiling / no foiling when the card should have foiling.

Test 5: Use hoardboard’s fake detector

We here at hoardboard are committed to fighting against fake items in the marketplace and protecting you from scams and fraud.

That’s why we’re building our fake detector - a new way to tell if you’re right to question the authenticity of a card. The only problem is that it’s not quite finished yet and we need your help!

If you’re asking yourself what to do with fake Pokémon cards We’re looking for as many images of fake Pokémon cards as we can get so that we can train our AI in what it needs to look for. So, if you do have a fake card or you know where to find an image of one then please upload it here! Final thoughts These five tests will help you determine whether your Pokémon card is fake or genuine. Always remember to take your time and inspect the card closely because many fake cards can be difficult to spot without a closer look. It's important to protect yourself as a Pokémon collector from counterfeit cards if you want to build a collection that you can be proud of.

Have you ever been duped by a fake Pokémon card? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments so that others can learn from your mistakes!


Can you sell fake Pokémon cards?

No, you cannot sell fake Pokémon cards. Fake cards aren’t authorised or produced by The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) so selling or distributing fake Pokémon cards is a copyright infringement, and is therefore illegal.

Are fake Pokémon cards worth anything?

As The Pokémon Company doesn’t authorise fake cards, you cannot sell them or use them in official events. This makes fake Pokémon cards worthless.