TF2 Protip #3: Item trading

TF2 item trading

Trading is an essential part of TF2, especially if you’re a hat collector or if you’re looking for keys to open your item crates. Yes, it is possible to acquire keys and hats, without having to spend a single cent in the Item Store. This is because many players are willing to trade their keys/hats for the most basic TF2 currency: metal (eg. Scrap Metal, Reclaimed Metal, and Refined Metal).

This is a simple guide showing you all the resources you need to make your TF2 trading experience easier. It will also introduce you to the basic trading currency of TF2: metals and keys.

Note: F2P players cannot propose trades or send items to other players. All of the stuff written in this guide applies to paid players only.

Basic TF2 currencies

In increasing order of value, these are the main currencies used for TF2:

  • Scrap Metal (2 weapons)
  • Reclaimed Metal (3 Scrap; or 6 weapons)
  • Refined Metal (3 Rec; or 18 weapons)
  • Keys (one key = roughly 2 Ref, 1 Rec; or about 40 weapons)
  • Bill’s Hat (one Bill’s Hat = 5-6 Keys; or 10-12 Ref; or 180-216 weapons)
  • Earbuds (roughly 2 Bill’s Hat; or 10-12 Keys; or 20-24 Ref; or… 360-432 weapons)

Earbuds were a limited edition item awarded to players who played the Mac version of TF2 when Steam was launched on the Mac on 10-14 June, 2010. They are incredibly rare, and thus very valuable. Earbuds are usually used to trade for Unusuals (ie. items with purple text).

The exchange rate for Keys, Bill’s Hat, and Earbuds are constantly changing, and may vary from player to player. The TF2 Wiki pages for those items are usually updated with the latest rates. Use it as your basic starting point.

So as you can see, working towards trading for a key is not that difficult. 40 weapons can be obtained from 3-4 weeks of idling (assuming that you get at least 10 unwanted weapons for each week). A bit tedious, but it’s the best alternative if you do not want to spend money in the item store to unlock your crates.

Backpack Examiner

The TF2 Backpack Examiner site allows you to view your backpack and loadout items without logging in to Steam. All you need to do is key in your Steam UserID in this format:

Here is the link to my backpack, as an example:

The examiner even has a Checklist tab, showing you every item that exists in TF2 and whether you have them.

TF2 Trading Post

The TF2 Trading Post is the place to go for all trading purposes. Note that the actual trading process must still be conducted within TF2; the Trading Post merely makes it easier for you to find a buyer or seller. It is also a useful resource to keep yourself up-to-date with the most popular items being traded, and their exchange rates.

Basic Trading Post step-by-step:
1. Use the Trading Post search function to find the item you want.

2. Once you find a satisfactory offer, click on the “Steam Profile” hyperlink at the bottom of the specific trade page. Copy the hyperlink of the player’s Steam Profile page.

TF2 item trading

TF2 item trading

3. Launch TF2. Go to Items > Trading and click the Steam Profile button under the Trading window.

TF2 item trading

TF2 item trading

4. Paste the player’s hyperlink, and wait for him to respond.

TF2 item trading

5. Make your trade!

Other tips:
– You need to log in to the Trading Post using your SteamID and password (don’t worry, the login process is 100% secure) to access the “Propose a Trade” function. Use this when you have something you want to sell to other players.

– If you’re just looking for something to buy, you do not need to log in to the Trading Post. Just use the Search function, find the item you want, launch TF2, and find the player using the steps listed above.

– Based on my experience as a seller, I’ve managed to complete trades within 10-30 minutes of posting them up on the Trading Post. This is assuming that what you’re offering is specific and reasonable.

For example, if you’re offering 6 Refined Metal for 2 Keys, then state so in your trade page. If you do not specify what you are looking for, then there is a high chance that your trade will be ignored by other players.

– Do not try to “lowball” or scam your way out of trades. By all means, haggle if you want to. But there is a fine line between haggling and lowballing.

– Note that TF2 must be running order for a player to trade you. Therefore, if you have things to sell, the best time to post trades is when you’re about to start a long TF2 playing session.

Putting it all together / TL;DR

  • Weapons are the lowest currency denomination for trades, followed by Scrap, Reclaimed, Refined, Keys, Bill’s Hat, and Earbuds
  • Use the Backpack Examiner to view your backpack without running TF2
  • Use the TF2 Trading Post to find, and propose your own trades
  • Don’t be a lowballer, trade only what the item is worth

Happy trading! And start working towards unboxing all those piles of crates you have stashed in your backpack.

Have your say. Add your comments:

  • Neth

    Actually, the price for bills are roughly 4 keys minimum now, to around 5. Almost impossible to fetch for 6.
    Earbuds are like 2 bills / 9 keys + 1 ref.
    Certain vintage hat gear are worth a key or two as well, misc items like pocket medic, villain’s veil, sore eyes, teddy, made man are worth a few keys.

  • GFoppy

    LoL thanks for the price update. Didn’t know that Bill’s had increased that much in price.

  • Yangchewren

    All yang F2P chewrens be careful. Many cheat monies uncle and aunties on shithub’s trader server. Ellis hat ish sells for 2 ref, don’t buy!


  • Yangchewren

    oso don’t bai de unusual weapon, shithubs sell 1 ref, international trade is sell only 1.67 reclaim. Cheat money huans.