This guide will go over the basics of Steam Trading in and outside of Team Fortress 2. In this guide you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to perform a trade, view your inventory and more.
If you're using a Free-to-Play account you will not be able to trade TF2 items until you have purchased something from the Mann Co Store[store.teamfortress.com]. Premium upgrades are also available as gifts[store.teamfortress.com].
Before you can participate in the Steam Community Market you need to have a non-limited account which has been protected by Steam Guard for at least 15 days.
Each new device or browser authenticated to your Steam account will be individually restricted for 15 days before being able to use any features requiring Steam Guard. New devices authenticated within your household and previously authenticated devices and browsers will not be restricted.
You can learn more about how to enable and use Steam Guard here. You can also follow my guide on how to enable Steam Guard below.
Whenever trading items with other users don't trade for anything that can't be added to the trade window, such as money or CD keys. There is no way to enforce or ensure that the other user will ever uphold their side of the trade, the only way to make sure trades are done fairly and legitimately is to only trade for items that can be placed in the trade window.
Every item you own, regardless of the game, can be viewed from your Steam Inventory. To view your Inventory you can click here or visit the link on the right side of your Steam Profile. In this section I will go over the basics of how to navigate and use the Inventory.
At the top of the inventory page you can switch between different game inventories.
At the bottom of the main panel there are arrow buttons which let you cycle through the different pages.
If you click on an item thumbnail within your inventory it will display the item information on the right side. It will also tell you if the item you selected is tradable or craftable.
In the example below the item I selected is not tradable. This means that the item cannot be traded to another player. Keep in mind some items become tradable after a certain period of time.
This is also where you'll see if the item is craftable or not. If it states that the item is not craftable it means that it cannot be broken down in to Scrap Metal or used in any form of crafting.
At the bottom of the item information panel you might see a green button which says Sell. This is used for the Steam Community Market and it means the item can be sold for Steam Wallet Funds. If you'd like to learn more about that you can read my guide on the Steam Community Market below.
As a bonus tip you can drag and drop the item thumbnail from the Steam Inventory in to a chat window and it will display the item as a chat message to that person.
Additionally, all of the information displayed on the Steam Inventory can be viewed from within the game as well. On the TF2 main menu you need to click on Items and then Backpack.
Initializing a Trade
Now that we're familiar with how the Inventory works, it's time to learn how to start a trade. This can be done several ways.
In this first example I'll teach you how to start a trade through Steam. This can only be done if the person is on your friends list.
Open a chat window with the person you want to trade with. Once you have the window open click on downwards facing arrow located at the top right of the chat window. When you have the menu open click on Invite to Trade.
Once you click Invite to Trade you'll see a box appear at the top of the chat window letting you know that it is waiting for the person you invited to accept.
The person you invited to the trade will see a similar box at the top of the chat window. The only difference is when they click on it, the trade window will appear. If the trade is not accepted within 30 seconds it will automatically expire.
If the person on your friends list is away or offline, you can send them a trade offer through Steam. For more information on how to send a trade offer, follow the guide below. This method is also used for sending trades to users on official trading forums.
The other way of initializing a trade is through TF2. You can do this by going to the main menu and clicking on Items and then Trading. The screen that follows will allow you to select friends which are currently playing TF2, people on your current server or by somebody's Steam Profile URL.
Once you send a trade request within TF2 the player you're requesting to trade with will have a popup box appear on the left side of their screen which will give them the option to accept or deny the request. The default key to accept the trade request is J, and the default key to deny the trade request is O.
Making a Trade
Once the trade has begun the trade window will appear. This window is the same no matter which way you initialize the trade and it should feel very familiar to you at this point. There are a few key areas of the trade window you need to remember.
The first step is game selection; this is almost exactly the same as changing inventories on the Inventory page, however this time it's a dropdown menu. You are able to trade items between different games as well, for example you could trade a Dota 2 item or giftable Steam game for a TF2 hat.
Once you've selected the Inventory from which you would like to trade games from you can switch to different pages of your inventory by clicking the arrow buttons located at the bottom. You can also search for a specific item using the search bar if you have a lot of items to scroll through.
Just underneath the Inventory is a chat window which lets you communicate with the person you're trading with. It will also provide a log file of items which have been added and removed from the trade window.
When you've found the item you want to trade simply drag and drop it from the Inventory in to the trade window on the right side. The top part of the trade window is what you're offering, and the bottom is what the other person is offering.
When you're happy with the trade click on the blue button underneath your part of the trade window which says Check this box when ready to trade. When you've clicked the button it will turn green and say Ready to trade.
If the other person changes their offer once you've marked yourself as "Ready", it will automatically revert back to blue and you'll need to click the button again. This is a security feature which is there to make you aware that the person has adjusted the trade.
Once both parties have checked the box, the Make Trade button at the bottom of the screen will light up.
Clicking Make Trade will commit you to the transaction. When both people have clicked the button the item will change hands and trade will be complete. If you made the trade outside of the game, the next time you play you'll receive a pop-up notification letting you know you've received a new item.
Now that you know how to trade, the following categories of this guide will go over some important information that you may find useful before you enter the trading scene.
Each item in Team Fortress 2 has a different quality to it. These can be broken down in to ten different categories and they are each represented by their own color. This information is important to understand before you begin trading, as some qualities are worth a lot more than others.
Normal:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by a grey color, the Normal item quality is reserved for stock weapons. Applying a name or description tag to a stock weapon will create a unique version of that weapon in your inventory.
Unique:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by yellow, every random drop, achievement or store purchased item will be this quality. Before the Genuine quality was released some promotional items were given this color.
Vintage:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by blue, this quality is most commonly given to Unique items which were obtained prior to the Mann-Conomy update. They are almost always more valuable then their unique counterparts.
Genuine:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by dark green, these items are typically given as pre-order bonuses from games on Steam. They are also bundled with certain officially licensed merchandise.
Strange:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by orange, these items are found in Mann Co Supply Crates or from Mann vs Machine: Mann Up Mode. Strange items track the amount of kills or uses that it receives and subsequently levels up at different milestones.
Unusual:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by dark purple, these items are very valuable. You can find unusual hats as a super rare drop from any Mann Co Supply Crate. They are regular hats with an added particle effect which makes them more visible in the game. Practice caution when trading unusual hats to ensure you're not getting ripped off or scammed.
Haunted:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by turquoise, these items can only be found during Halloween by playing holiday events or from unboxing Halloween Holiday crates. Some of these items can only be used during Halloween or on a Full Moon.
Collector's:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by dark red. These items are crafted by combining a large number of a single item using a Chemistry Set.
Self-Made:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by light green, the Self-Made quality is reserved for the original creators of the item. These items have a sparkle effect in the game.
Community:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by light green also, Community Quality items are awarded by Valve to players who have made significant, valuable contributions to the TF2 community or the game itself. These items have a sparkle effect in the game and also have a glossy appearance.
Valve:[wiki.teamfortress.com] Represented by dark pink, Valve quality items are reserved for Valve Employees. They usually have ridiculous stats and are only used during sponsored events.
It's important to understand some of the commonly used trading terminology. In this section you'll find a selection of commonly used terms and their meanings.
Keys[wiki.teamfortress.com] When somebody says they are looking for offers in keys they are referring to the Mann Co. Supply Crate Keys which can be purchased from the Mann Co Store[store.teamfortress.com] or the Steam Community Market. Keys are used as a form of currency in the game and are used by people to unbox Mann Co Supply Crates in hopes of finding an exceedingly rare unusual hat.
Metal[wiki.teamfortress.com] Another form of "currency" within TF2. Metal is created by crafting two weapons belonging to the same class together. This can be done by going to Items from the Menu and then Crafting. On the crafting menu click on Smelt Class Weapon. Place two items you want to use in to the window and then click Craft! Keep in mind the two items will be consumed when you do this, and once you click Craft there is no going back. This will produce something called a Scrap Metal, often referred to as scrap to traders.
From the Crafting menu you can then click Combine Scrap Metal. Three scrap metal will create a Reclaimed Metal, often referred to as a rec to traders. One rec is equal to six weapons.
Once you have three Reclaimed Metal you can then click Combine Reclaimed Metal from the crafting menu to create a Refined Metal, also known as a ref to traders. This is the highest tier of metal. Traders will often advertise that they are selling their item for 1.33 or 1.66, this means that they are selling their item for 1 Refined and 1 Reclaimed, or 1 Refined and 2 Reclaimed.
Earbuds[wiki.teamfortress.com] Considered as the top-tier currency in TF2. Earbuds, or Buds for short is an item which was initially given to people who played TF2 on a Mac during the first month of the OSX release. The item looks like a pair of earbuds you get when you buy an iPod and they have a musical note effect attached to them. These items are very valuable and are worth a lot of Keys and Metal. Most Unusual hats are valued by how many Buds they are worth.
Bill's Hat[wiki.teamfortress.com] Bill's Hat, or Bill's for short is an item that was given to players who pre-ordered Left 4 Dead 2. It's also considered as a form of currency in the game and is quite valuable.
Scrap Banker In trading servers you'll often find somebody who is advertising themselves as a scrap banker. These people will typically accept any two combination of craftable weapons, regardless of the class and will give you a Scrap Metal in return. These people will later try and sell the items for a profit. They are useful if you don't have the right combination of weapons to craft your own metal.
W / H W Stands for want, and H stands for Have. To give you an example of this you might see "[H] Bill's Hat [W] 9 Keys". This means they have a Bill's Hat and they want 9 Keys for it.
BO This stands for Buy Out. You will usually hear this term on Trading websites. If somebody is auctioning an item they will often set a Buy Out price. Similar to eBay, if you pay the Buy Out price you instantly win the auction.
WTB / WTS / WTT WTB stands for "Want to Buy". WTS stands for "Want to Sell" and WTT stands for "Want to Trade". You'll often hear these phrases in advertisements on trading servers.
LF Stands for "Looking For". An example of this would be "LF Backburner" which means the player is looking for somebody trading a Backburner.
BP BP stands for Backpack. It's another term for your Steam Inventory.
S. / V. / G. / U. If somebody is advertising an item with a letter before the name it means they are selling a variant of it. S. means they are selling a Strange variant, V. means Vintage, G. means Genuine and U. means Unusual.
PC PC stands for Price Check. This means they are asking for the current community value of the item.
Low-ball If somebody says that your offer is Low-ball, it means the price you offered is deceptively or unrealistically low compared to the item's community value. Always check the current item price before you increase your offer to make sure you're getting a good deal.
High-ball If your offer is regarded as a High-ball, it means that your offer is excessively high compared to the current community value of the item. This term can also be applied to people selling an item at a price which greatly exceeds the current community value.
Sweets If somebody asks you to add Sweets to a trade, it means they want you to throw in a few extra items to sweeten the deal. This is more commonly used in high value item trading.
Overpay Often some traders will give people the option of overpaying in items. Overpaying means you pay more than the item's value in items, instead of currency items such as Buds, or Metal.
Dirty If an item is referred to as Dirty, it means that it is not directly tradable or it has been purchased from the Mann Co Store[store.teamfortress.com] which makes it non-craftable (With the exception of usable items such as Keys). Items with the "Gifted from" text on them are also considered dirty items as it is not removable like Name and Description tags.
Pure For example, if somebody says "Selling for 5 Buds Pure" it means they are selling the item for nothing but 5 Earbuds, they will not accept equivalent value items.
Promo This is a term used to describe any promotional item. For example, Max's Severed Head[wiki.teamfortress.com], Bill's Hat[wiki.teamfortress.com], Earbuds[wiki.teamfortress.com] or anything of Genuine quality.
Trading Terminology Continued
Festive Festive items are holiday themed weapons which have Christmas lights wrapped around them. Sometimes you'll hear people say things such as "SF Minigun" which means Strange Festive Minigun. These items were obtainable in Naughty crates during the Smissmas event.
Spreadsheet Prices When people refer to spreadsheet prices they are talking about the current community price of the item.
Craft Number If an item is one of the first one hundred to be crafted it will tagged with a number at the end of the name. These are called Craft Numbers and they have a greater trading value. Certain numbers are more valuable than others.
Item Level Below the item name there will be an item level. Certain item levels are considered to be more valuable than others to item level collectors. The level of the item does not provide any additional benefits to the stats on the item.
On the main menu of TF2 click on the Servers button.
This will pull up the Server browser. At the bottom of the browser click on Filters and then type the word trade into the Map field. Almost every trading server runs a map which uses the word trade as the first word in the name, so you should get a large list of servers to choose from.
Find the server that looks right for you and then double click to join it. Advertise your trades in the chat window, by default chat is bound to Y. If nobody has the item you're looking for, or nobody is interested in what you're selling, move on to the next server. This requires patience and it can take a while until you find the right place.
If you prefer you can trade through third party trading websites. Each website is different, so you'll need to read the policy and instructions of each website to understand how each one works. Below I've listed a series of popular trading sites.
If you'd like to know the current, community-voted price of the items you own you can visit a website called backpack.tf. These prices are not set in stone, but they are useful as a guideline price for buying and selling. These are referred to as Spreadsheet Prices.
Keep in mind item prices are subjective and you can buy or sell items as high or as low as you would like. The key to successful trading is making a profit; try to buy low, and sell high.