The Basics Of Team Fortress 2 Trading

Team Fortress 2, while being a great FPS , also has an active trading community: a very accessible one, at that. Using Steam’s trading system one can take part in the community be they a casual or hardcore TF2 player.

This will be a full overview of the basics of TF2 Trading, if ever you're stuck, refer to it and see if it can resolve your issues.


Before you start trading TF2 items, you'll need a premium TF2 account. TF2 accounts are by default free-to-play, which means that some features of the game are restricted, such as the Trading feature.

To make a TF2 account Premium, you'll have to buy something from the Mann Co. Store (TF2's in-game shop). The item can be anything, no matter the price.

Once you've bought your item, your account will become premium and you can start trading items.


Before we start actually trading on TF2 we must gain an understanding of how the in-game currency works.

In-game currency isn't official, exactly. If you're familiar with TF2's Crafting system you'll know that metals can be crafted from weapons (I'll go into more detail on that in a bit). These player-crafted metals have been assigned a value by the trading community, and are used as a reference point for the price of all items within the community.e

If you're not familiar with metal crafting, here's how it works:

You can combine 2 weapons that belong to the same class to create a Scrap Metal. Scrap Metal is the foundation for all other metals: combine 3 Scraps and you get a reclaimed metal. Combine 3 Reclaimed and you'll get a refined metal.

The lower tiers of metal (Weapons, Scrap Metal and Reclaimed Metal) are given a percentage value of a Refined metal.

  • 1 Weapon = 0.05 Refined
  • 1 Scrap = 0.11 Refined
  • 1 Reclaimed = 0.33 Refined
  • And of course, 1 Refined = 1 Refined

But what if you want to go to a higher unit of currency? For this we have two higher units: Keys and Earbuds.

Keys are just normal Mann Co. Keys that can be bought from the store in order to unlock the Supply Crates.

Earbuds are a miscellaneous item given to players who launched TF2 on an OS X system between the dates of the 10th and 14th of July 2010. As such, there are few in circulation and no more can be spawned.

At the time of writing, the prices for Keys and Buds are as follows:

  • 1 Key = 7 Ref
  • 1 Buds = 19 Keys

The prices for this are taken from a website called, a website which defines prices for TF2 items based on community votes. We'll be using it a lot during this tutorial, and I'll expand on its uses a little later on. For now just know that it's a useful tool for valuing items.

It's also worth noting that in the trading community these units have shortened names. Scrap metal is simply referred to as “Scrap”, Reclaimed metal is referred to as “Rec”, and Refined as “Ref”. Keys are just referred to as Keys and Earbuds are “Buds”. As such, this is how we will refer to them from hereon out.

Item Qualities

Before we get into practical trading, there's one more aspect of it that we need to understand: Item Qualities.

Item Qualities are aspects applied to items which alter them in some way. The majority of them only serve the use of increasing the item that the quality is bound to. There are a great many Item Qualities in existence, but here we're going to be focusing on what I consider to be the primary 2. We'll touch briefly on the others, though. If you already know about Item Qualities, click here to go to the TL;DR of this segment.

Since this is just an overview of what Strange items are, what they do and how to get them, if you already know this stuff you can skip through it.

So, first up we have the most common and most practical of the three: Strange. Strange items (weapons specifically) count the kills of the item it's bound to and have a light orange name. Since this is just an overview of what Strange items are, what they do and how to get them, if you already know this stuff you can skip through it.

Strange items are usually obtained through Mann Co. Supply crates, and in general they raise the value of the item - although in a few cases the contrary is the case and it lowers the value, but this is very rare so it’s not something to worry about.

There are, however, a few more ways to get strange items: Chemistry sets. Chemistry Sets are a random drop that require a set of ingredients. The ingredients differ between Chemistry Sets but they usually require a bunch of normal weapons and a strange weapon. Each Chemistry set is for a specific item, for the sake of this Tutorial we’ll be using the example of a Chemistry Set for the Professor Speks misc item. Upon completion, the Chemistry Set will give you a “Strangifier” for the item the Set is bound to: in our case we’ve received a Professor Speks Strangifier, so if we use the Strangifier on a Professor Speks, it will turn it into a Strange Professor Speks. Since it’s a misc item and not a weapon, it doesn’t just count kills, it counts points in general (Points being earned for Captures, Kills etc.) earned by the class that is wearing it.

Strange items can also “level up”, so to speak. Once you reach certain milestones in kills with a strange weapon, the prefix changes with differing levels of hilarity and insanity. Take this, for example: after getting 10 kills on a Strange Sydney Sleeper it becomes an Unremarkable Sydney Sleeper, and this continues to change the more kills you get with it.

For those who skipped through the Strange part, here’s where you start listening again. Our next item quality is Vintage.

Vintage items aren’t exactly useful outside of trading: they don’t have any unique features that set them apart from normal items like Stranges do. Instead, their name is Blue, and that’s pretty much it.

The Vintage item quality was given to items generated before the Mann-Conomy update which was released in September of 2010, the same patch that introduced the trading system itself, and was intended to increase the value of the item. There are some exceptions to the pre-Mann-Conomy rule, but Vintage items are rarely generated now. As with Stranges, some items’ Vintage counterpart is worth less than their Unique version, but again there are few cases of this.

There’s one more I want to touch on, though I do not consider it to be primary: Genuine. Genuine is a Quality bound to items gained through cross-game promotions run by Valve and in-game events. Like Vintage, there’s no special feature to them, but their name is a dark green and the value of the item is raised.


Right, here’s where things get fun and I get to plug a load of resources. Let’s get the technical part out of the way first before we move on to business plans and such.

First, let’s tackle trading with someone on the same server as you.

To trade with a player on the same server as you, hit escape and click on Items, then on Trading, then on Current Server.

At this point you need to select the player you want to trade with, which will send them a trade request that they have 30 seconds to respond to; if they do, a trading window will open up in the steam overlay. If for some reason the overlay is hidden you can press Shift + Tab to bring it back.

Here you can negotiate prices and such using the chat box on the left of the screen, and you can put your items up for trade by dragging them into the trading area on the right from your inventory on the left. It's worth noting that you can also trade items from your Steam Inventory, as well as items from other games. We want to select the TF2 Inventory so select it from the drop-down menu. If the TF2 inventory doesn't show up at first, try pressing F5 to refresh it.

Once you're both ready, click the ready button and then click on Make Trade to complete the transaction.

To trade with someone on your friends list, press Shift + Tab to bring up the Steam overlay, click on the View Friends List button on the right, find their name, and select the “Invite to trade” button.

This will send them a trade request, if they accept it a new window is opened up with the same interface as the one we used for the Same-server trading. Your TF2 inventory might not be your default one if you use this method, so you may have to select it from the drop down list on the left.


So now we've got an understanding of everything practical, let's discuss the more optional stuff.

As a TF2 Trader there's a bunch of resources at your disposal. The one I'd recommend using most is, which is traditionally used to view people's backpacks, but they also define priced for items based on community votes, and have a handy price list which you can use to value your items.

As for actual trading, I recommend, a Craigslist-esque website for TF2 trading. Users can post and respond to ads and it's always a great experience to use the website.

If you're looking for something automated, wins. It's an automated trading and banking website which uses a number of bots to trade with the community. You can sell hats, keys, weapons and more to them for a quick and easy experience. You can also purchase specific items from the bots if you click on their profile, and they'll sell them to you for a 1:1 price. The site goes down sometimes, due to Steam's item servers screwing up, but it usually comes back within a day.

TF2 Warehouse is another automated trading site. They use their own credits on their website to represent value, but you can also exchange the credits for metals. I think they also accept Bitcoin as payment for buying Warehouse Credits.

There are plenty more resources at your disposal, though, and so here’s a short list of others:

I also suggest looking up some trade servers. They’re generally quite fun, usually take place in a relatively small arena, and most importantly have a bunch of people playing on them that want to trade. It’s all subjective with these things so I suggest you experiment and see what works for you.

My method of finding them consists of searching for the keyword “Trade” in the map title, and then sorting by number of players, highest to lowest. It usually gets a result, if only to entertain me for a while. For faster trades I recommend trading at something like TF2 Outpost, but if you’re just looking to hang out and trade then a trade server is what you’re looking for.


We've now covered the basics and practical parts of TF2 Trading, with a little practice you can work your way up to bigger and better items. This will not be the last TF2 Trading Tutorial from me, but for now it should keep a beginner going.

Thanks, and happy trading!

How_To | Games | Shooters

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