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Steam trading.png
Everything you have is bad, compared to this thing!
The Heavy, commenting on a proposed trade.

Trading is a system that lets players exchange items with other players. Introduced with the Mann-Conomy Update, this system allows players to swap or gift weapons, cosmetics, tools and more with other players. Later on, Valve also added the ability to trade items from different games to each other.

Steam Trading

A screenshot of Steam Trading.

Steam Trading is a feature that was introduced on August 9, 2011 as an open beta.[1] The beta updates were added to the public Steam client on September 6, 2011. With Steam trading, players are able to trade their in-game items for other in-game items and/or gift copies of Steam games. Trade requests can be sent through Steam chat windows or via the Steam Friends List window.



  • At first, the Steam Trading window only shows 8 slots to trade. When the 3rd slot on the last line is filled, more slots will appear. This allows for up to 256 items to be traded at once, eliminating the need for excessive trading.
  • Items can also be searched for by using the search bar, making trades quicker and easier to conduct. A chat box is also available and items are color-coded according to their quality.
  • Once a trade has been made, any received items are placed into the user's in-game Backpack and Steam Inventory, ready to be used.
  • Items from other games can also be traded by clicking the inventory drop down menu and choosing a supported game's inventory.
  • On September 4, 2013 a new feature named "Trade Offers" was released. It allows you to send a pre-packaged trade to a friend, similar to regular trading, except you propose the items for both sides. This feature includes the ability for regular traders to generate their own personal trade offer links, allowing other users to send them trade offers without needing to add them as a friend first.

Trading inside Team Fortress 2

In addition to sending trades through Steam, it is possible to send a trade to another player in Team Fortress 2, though it still uses the Steam trading system to do so. The option for this is in the Customize items section of the main menu, accessible through the "Items" button on the main menu, through the key set to open the menu (the default key is m), or through the console command open_charinfo_direct.

This will open a small window with options to select a trading partner from the friends list, the current server, or directly through their Steam profile. If the friends list option is selected, it will show a list of users on the friends list currently playing Team Fortress 2. The current server option will show a list of users in the current server. Once a user is selected through any of the three options, a trade request will be sent to them, which they can choose to accept or deny.

Once a trading partner has been selected, the Steam Overlay will open with a Steam Trade window, which can be toggled to return to the game and vice versa. If the trade is accepted, any items received will be shown in the in-game chat box, if the player is currently in a server.

It is possible to filter the trade requests received through the game's Advanced Options menu. This option can be set to Anyone, Friends Only, Friends and In-Game Players and No-one

Additionally, Free to Play players are not able to trade any items to players, however they may trade items that they have received from another player.

Item Value

In general, the value of items is defined by their rarity, that is, the difficulty and/or expense in acquiring them by a player. By extension, item rarity is usually tied to an item's Quality. Hence, Unique weapons, the most usual drops in the game, generally have the lowest value of all items, due to them being the most usual drops, as well as being craftable. Mann Co. Supply Crates are also common drops and as such also considered of low value. Vintage items are considered more expensive, due to their originally higher crafting value, and their general unavailability at present. Strange items have a higher value than Unique items since they can only be obtained from Supply Crates, but their price varies wildly depending on each item's specific probability of being obtained from a Crate, their popularity and the availability of the crate they can be obtained from. Genuine item values are often higher than the aforementioned, due to the related expense of obtaining them as promotional items, and the limited time-frame to obtain them this way.

Haunted items are also considered to have a higher value, due to their dropping window being limited to Halloween events and maps. Festive weapons have a similar seasonal limitation, but are considered to be of a much higher value, due to the strict time-frame allowed for obtaining them from special Christmas Event crates, their relative probability of being obtained from crates, and their cosmetic decorations and popularity. Festive weapons of a Strange quality have an even higher value due to their even lower probability of being obtained.

Some items like the Mann Co. Supply Crate Key take a concept called Supply and Demand into account when determining its value.

Items of any quality are generally considered to be "dirty" when they contain additional descriptive text ("Gifted by ___", etc.), have had a Name Tag or Description Tag used on them or when they have certain trading limitations, such as needing gift-wrap or being uncraftable. Dirty items are considered to be of lesser value than "clean" items devoid of any of these attributes.

Items with attributes added by Tools, such as color from Paint Cans or Strange Parts, usually have a fraction of the value of such items added to the total value of the item up for trade.


Metal is often used as a trading currency by traders, and is traded for items according to their value in Metal. The value of specific items is usually given in terms of Refined Metal, or "ref" (e.g. 1.33 ref, 3 ref, etc.). To know how much metal is being asked for an item, the specific values for each type of metal are as given as: 1 Scrap = 0.11 ref, 1 Reclaimed Metal (or rec) = 0.33 ref, 1 Refined Metal = 1 ref. Since a scrap is produced from 2 weapons, a single Unique weapon is sometimes considered as equivalent to 0.05 ref. However, it is usual to see individual Unique weapons sold for a scrap each, by players trying to make profit out of trades.

For items with higher value, higher-level "currencies" are used. Keys are used as the next tier of currency, although their equivalent in Metal is often accepted as substitute when trading. Bill's Hats are sometimes used as the next level of currency due to their high value in Keys and/or metal. Earbuds, or "Buds", considered to be extremely rare and valuable, are often considered as the top tier of TF2 currency, and are used as such to buy and sell the most expensive items available. Alongside these, items of equal or "overpaid" (wanted amount + a certain % (eg 1.5 in item overpay)) value are sometimes used in trades.

Unusual Items

Unusual items are considered to be the most valuable and expensive quality for trade in the game by a wide margin. As such, they are considered to be in their own separate tier of high prices (usually given in terms of Earbuds or in keys to a lesser extent). In addition to the visual appeal of the Unusual Effects these items sport, their 0.1% probability of being acquired from Crates[2] makes them extremely hard to come by, and makes their base trading price extremely high. However, within its own realm of Unusual prices, the value of an Unusual item may vary wildly according to visual or thematic appeal, rarity, and general desirability.

Untradeable Items

All items in the game are tradable with the exception of items with a "Not Usable in Trading" suffix or an achievement milestone weapon. If metal is crafted using any achievement weapon, it becomes untradable. Anything crafted using untradable items also becomes untradable. However, a number of untradable items are gift-wrappable, providing a way to trade normally untradable items.

Purchased Items

  • With the Manniversary Update, all items purchased from the Mann Co. Store will become tradable after two days, as long as the Steam account has made another purchase at least 30 days prior.
  • Additionally, items that are awarded in Genuine quality upon pre-ordering a game on Steam are initially untradable, but generally become tradable once the associated game is released or the promotion period ends.
  • Items purchased from the Steam Community Marketplace are automatically placed in the user's inventory and are immediately available for use in-game, or for the user to trade or place back on the market.

Third Party Websites

There a number of websites created by other users that have many uses for users looking to trade.

Trading Websites

These websites allow for users to offer items for other items, without having to add another user on Steam. Such websites include:

Manned Trading Advertisement Websites

Most of these websites let users post what they want to trade, and what they want in return. Other users can then offer on their items, or add them directly to trade.

Automated Trading Bot Websites

These websites are fully automated and use bots to trade with people. The currencies used are either TF2 Metal or site specific "Credits".

Pricing Guides

The value of items can vary over time, due to current trading trends, novelty of items, desirability, availability, and update modifications to items, among other variables. It is possible to check the current prices for items at these websites:

However, keep in mind that any listed prices are not set prices, but merely guidelines for traders to use as baselines for setting their own trade prices.

Market Analysis

The relative values of the Steam Trading market's de facto currencies and commodities change over time and may be tracked and studied as an online or virtual economy.

Backpack Viewers

Users can check the backpacks of other users outside of Steam. These sites can give advantages over the Steam backpack viewer, such as being able to directly see the price of items. Examples of these websites are:

Some Team Fortress 2 servers that are primarily used for trading may have a plugin that will let users view the backpack of another user on the server. The plugin will usually link you to one of the above sites in-game.

Trading tips

Main article: Community trading tips
When trading for a Strange or Unusual item, look out for the quality colors to avoid being scammed. Note that the Free to Play account cannot give any items in the trade unless they are items that have been given to them through trading in the past.

Keep the following tips in mind while trading:

  • To know how much metal is being asked for an item, keep in mind the specific values for each type of metal: 1 Scrap Metal is 0.11 refined (or simply scrap), 1 Reclaimed Metal (or rec) is 0.33 ref and 1 Refined Metal is 1 ref. Adding these values by increments will give you the exact value of metal that a trader is asking for, and lets you know which and how many items of metal are being asked of you.
  • Check the person's Steam profile to see if the person is on trade probation by Valve, or has a reputation for being a scammer. Also use SteamRep.
  • Use a trusted SteamRep middleman when doing cash trades.
  • Always review the items being traded before finishing the trade.
  • Trades should be conducted without any pressure; don't give into another player's pressure if they're urging you into a trade you do not want to be in.
  • Always have an ideal price for every item you trade to prevent unfair exchanges. You can find out using price guided websites.
  • If you feel that you are offering too much, ask a friend or another player. There are many "price guides" available online that estimate the value of items being traded (though these are often subjective).
  • Inventory items appear in the order in which they are arranged in your backpack. Be sure to preview items by hovering over them in the inventory or trading boxes to make sure you are adding the correct one(s).
  • Always respect the player you are trading with. Being polite, courteous and honest are very important aspects of trading, and are reflected on in real life trading too. Common courtesy is an important aspect.
  • Be aware of renamed items, as a scammer can rename a common item to appear as to be an item of a higher quality. For example, a Vintage Pyro's Beanie can be renamed to appear as an Unusual Pyro's Beanie. However, the cosmetic will retain its blue lettering. The chat box will show notifications about renamed items to help avoid confusion. Hovering over the item will also show it's original name before it was renamed.
  • Check if the items you receive in the trade are gifted or uncraftable, as they are generally valued lower than the non-gifted or craftable equivalent.
  • Make sure the items you are receiving are not duplicated; you can check this by viewing a player's backpack on, and by checking the item history of the item. Most items (especially those of an Unusual quality) hold a lower value if it is a duplicate of the original item so be wary.
  • If you are trading for a strange weapon, its current kill count will be reset to 0 once you receive the item.
  • While trading, verify the trader's last alias (This user has also played as) at his profile. Scamming players often use many different aliases, so they can't be recognized after the trade.
  • Some trading communities have adopted a verify system that can be very useful to the traders. If your trading spot has it, be aware of it.

Types of trading

There are several different types of trading:

  • Scrap banking - an act where a player charges metal for weapons. Scrap bankers will usually exchange one scrap for two weapons initially, and then charge one scrap for one weapon after banking them, gaining them a small profit. This can also be performed the other way around, by trading two weapons to a scrap banker. This is referred to as reverse scrap banking.
  • Weapon banking - an act where a player gives another player a weapon for another weapon.
  • Cosmetic banking - an act where a player purchases Cosmetic for 1.33 refined (the general price for the majority of craftable cosmetics) or lower, then sells them for 1.33 refined or more, gaining the player a profit.
  • Key Banking - an act where a player exchanges their Mann Co. Supply Crate Keys for metal, mainly refined metal.
  • 1:1 trading - an act where a player exchanges a single item with another player for another item.
  • Item overpay - Overpaying for an item by .11 (1 scrap) to 1 key in items compared to the required amount for the other player's item(s)
  • Game trading - involves exchanging items for games and vice versa.
  • Cash trading - involves exchanging items for monetary compensation outside of the Steam trade. This form of trading should always be done with a trusted middleman, if done at all; this practice is very risky, and is not supported by Valve.
  • Pure trading - when a person pays the pure value for a specified item(s), generally in Refined, Keys or Earbuds.
  • Quicksell trading - when a person sells an item (often with the Unusual quality) for pure currency for a value that is less than the suggested price of their item.

Things that should be watched out for:

  • Scamming - the act of stealing from another person, generally when a player promises another player items that they will never give.
  • Phishing/Hijacking - when a user pretending to be a trader sends a phishing link (which redirects the player to a fake site that harvests their login details or other information), or asks for a player's password. Players should always check the name of the link they are clicking and check for a green bar at the top of their browser signifying security. They should never share their password with anyone.
  • Sharking - the act of targeting a player (usually new or inexperienced players) and offering items that are worth a significant amount less than the targeted player's item(s) while telling them that they are worth the same amount.

Update history

September 30, 2010 Patch (Mann-Conomy Update)
  • Added trading system.

October 6, 2010 Patch

  • The Trading dialog now starts with the chat window having focus.
  • Gifted items are now craftable and tradable.
  • Community, Self-Made, and Valve items are not tradable or usable in crafting.

October 20, 2010 Patch

  • Added some anti-scam advice to the chat window.
  • Increased trading slots to 8 slots per person.
  • Added item rarity colors.
  • Added the item’s original name to the item description.

January 19, 2011 Patch

  • Added a note in the trading dialog to let you know when your trading partner is typing.

February 24, 2011 Patch (Community Map Pack Update)

  • [Undocumented] Fixed trades only displaying one of the items traded to the server.

June 14, 2011 Patch

  • Fixed Steam inventory/trading not showing the correct item level for some items.
  • Fixed Steam inventory/trading sort order not matching the in-game backpack.

October 20, 2011 Patch

  • Fixed "Not Usable in Crafting" text not appearing under certain conditions on item tooltips in the trading UI.

November 16, 2011 Patch

  • Fixed an exploit that allowed untradable items to be traded with Steam trading.

November 23, 2011 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Fixed a Steam Trading bug that allowed items to be duplicated.

December 15, 2011 Patch (Australian Christmas 2011)

  • [Undocumented] Players with free accounts can now trade items that have been traded to them.

February 14, 2012 Patch

  • Updated the in-game trading system to use the Steam trading menus.

September 4, 2012 Patch

  • Added a notification to Steam Trading when a user's backpack is full.

February 22, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed a problem where traders that send in-game trade requests would receive the error message "The other player is currently busy trading with someone else" when the problem was actually related to Steam Guard settings.

February 23, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed trade invites not working in-game.


  • If a player is kicked from a server while waiting for a trade request, the timer at the home screen will show over 10,000 seconds.
  • Sometimes users in a trade will be unable to add items to a trade or click the 'confirm trade' button. This can typically be fixed by pressing the 'F5' on your keyboard to refresh the trade.
  • Often items in a trade will not display correctly for a short period of time after they are added. The picture is typically absent in this scenario along with the item's description and name.


  • If you have been scammed, you can file a Steam support ticket and explain the situation. It helps to provide evidence of the scam, such as conversation logs or screenshots/videos of the scammed transaction.
  • There is a 30 second waiting period between unsuccessful trade requests.
  • If a player sends multiple trade requests to another player who declines them, there is a 2 minute waiting period between each trading request to prevent spamming.
  • As of December 12th, 2012, Steam Guard is required for trading items. Steam Guard is required to be on for at least 15 days before trading.
  • When a user changes their account password, the user is then unable to trade for 5 days. This was implemented to prevent or discourage hijackers stealing others' accounts or items by forcing them to wait.
  • You can not trade if your Steam account has been restricted and/or you have been trade banned on Steam.

Old Trading System


See also


  1. Steam Trading: Out of Beta and available to everyone! - TF2 Team
  2. Article on the Probability of Unusual Unboxing

External links