The Complete Trader Guide

Nicou   2   Trading 1 February 2017

This post is also available in: Français (French)

Another complete role about something I love in Elite: Dangerous: The Trader. I hope to bring you my veteran techniques & other tricks that will make your life of trader better!

Other guides : Explorer | Miner





The role: Trader

As a trader, your goal will be to buy items at low prices in order to resell them at cheaper prices.

What qualifies a good trader?

  1. A cargo ship, the biggest!
  2. Depending on your route and your ship, weaponry is optional. A Keelback for example can be equipped comfortably.
  3. Modules, good thrusters, and generally light equipment to escape from other players and NPCs while keeping your jump range high.
  4. A minimum jump range of 12 LY, you need as much as possible! 15 LY is usually a good average if your cargo hold is full (Laden)
  5. Trader’s tools on the glorious internet!
  6. Vigilance and patience.



Ships and modules

Every ships can trade in Elite: Dangerous… but some are of course better than others. Let’s see what Elite: Dangerous offers to maximise your incomes. Myself, I have started trading in a Type 6. Take your preferred ship, and have fun!

The ships below are ranked from the cheapest to the most expensive. Each of the links will lead you to the build I prepared in order to start a comfy long exploration trip. Note that they are built with very good modules, which explains why they look expensive.

checklist To drastically reduce the price, I invite you to choose modules of lower ranks. D being the lightest and C the mid-range one.

  • The Hauler? Yes, why not? It is after all the first ship dedicated to transport… transport. We are talking about trading. The ship below offers more cargo with better protection (despite the buffed Hauler in 2.2.03)
  • Adder – 1M 221k 530 credits
    • Some protections, fast and very handy, 22 cargo units for your first missions and trading.
  • Cobra Mk III – 4M 935k 040 crédits
    • The fastest ship in the game with a boost speed beyond 445 m/s! 44 units cargo and a very appreciable jump range.
  • Cobra Mk IV – 5M 834k 610 credits
    • The Mk IV requires the purcharse of both E:D & DLC Horizons within the first year after launch. It is much slower than the Mk III and jumps less. However it has double cargo for slightly more credits to spend! It is also much more robust.
  • Type 6 – 3M 710k 810 credits
    • Fast, 104 units of freight, inexpensive and optimized: the T6 is THE ultimate first trader&transport vessel.
  • Keelback? Why not, however this ship is focused combat/transport. You will want to make it more powerful and resistant, at the expense of freight and this will often lead to less than 50 units of cargo.
  • Type 7 – 32M 576k 900 credits
    • 264 cargo units, your first large trading vessel; It is therefore impossible to land at the outposts, only at the stations!
  • Imperial Clipper? Why not, but Type 7 does better for much less and no Empire rank required.
  • Python – 84M 713k 390 credits
    • 260 cargo units, one of the world’s best protected ships of the game, to transport your goods safely. The Python is nevertheless a versatile vessel, expensive to equip if one wants to do only transport.
  • Type 9 – 104M 930k 870 credits
    • An extremely slow ship with low jump range. However… 500 cargo units! If you have prepared your trade route well, the T9 will prove to be a real cash machine, getting you millions of profits on each of your sales.
  • Anaconda – 197M 050k 250 credits
    • Excellent protection, excellent range of jump, excellent cargo but… excellence comes with a price. Ready to spend the double of a Type 9 for ~ 100 freight units less? Depending on your route, you can make a LITTLE more than a Type 9. It also depends if you engineered your ship or not.
  • Imperial Cutter – 303M 372k 562 credits
    • Well, well… if you love the Empire, here are 728 freight units for you in a classy Gutamaya ship. Excellent protections ensure the ship’s transport of goods in a good and due form.

Heat sinks and chaff are the trader’s friends. Use the chaff to make it difficult to aim at you while your shields are online, and then switch to stealth mode + heat sinks when your shields are broken.

Shields are not designed for combat here! On the contrary, their strength serves to counter the damage of collisions with the station and to wipe some damage after an interdiction. If the enemy is too powerful, stop and give up some items. NPCs also react to abandoned items if they have requested it beforehand.

How to test my Outfit

Be careful with your fast ships, do not crash in a station! I remember having crashed 216 units of Palladium in my old T7 against a station… I had only my eyes to cry ^^

Le T6 de Dilligaf

Dilligaf’s Type 6


About Trading

There are many ways to trade goods in Elite: Dangerous, however the main and important ones are the Rares trading, and the Cycles trading. This first one consists of traveling great distances in order to resell luxury and rares goods, while the latter connects a few stations between them in order to get the best profit by going back and forth between stations.


Rares Trading

Crucial step when you get a Cobra or a Type 6, Rares Trading is not to be overlooked because with only 60 to 107 units of cargo, you could earn between 900k and 1M500k credits per hour! Above 107 units of freighter for your medium ship, stop the rares and start your Cycles Trading.

En short:

  • 1h to 1h30 for a complete cycle (back and forth)
  • A Fuel Scoop is essential, class 2 for a Cobra and class 3 for a Type 6 at least.
  • Between 15,000 to 27,000 credits per item sold!

The principle is simple, the “rare” goods are yellow, a lighter yellow than the other goods in the market. Buy the entire stock. I strongly advise you to play solo for the rare trade because many pirates will have no scruples to stop you, especially around Lave if you have no money. If you do have money, please play in Open! If a pirate interdicts you, it’s her/his gameplay, just giveaway some rares 🙂

Carte par Tom Gidden

Map from Tom Gidden

Start with the system Zaonce and then follow the black path. If you have the time and cargo capacity, follow the grey path and adjust according to your desire. It will take around 79 units max (60 units mini) for the first cluster, and 107 units max (68 units mini) on return with the second cluster. It is best to sell your rares between 145 and 180 LY from where it is originated.

My rares route
FIngerBob's route



With these long journeys you will have to scoop fuel from the stars. Some can be scooped using a Fuel Scoop and others are not eligible like the brown and red stars for example. The stars are of various classes and the scoopables are the stars A, B, F, O, G, K, and M.

Remember this trick:

  • Always
  • Be
  • Fueling
  • Or
  • Gonna
  • Kill
  • Myself

With many of these trips, you’ll be on the right track to get a Type 7 😉


Cycles Trading

From 107 units of freight, you are on the Elite path! The Cycles Trading is quite annoying when you go back and forth many times, but it is the most profitable. Prepare your big thrusters, book your large landing pads and we’re off!


There are two kinds of Cycles: Quick ABA & Developed ABA/ABCA


First, I invite you to visit TradingTool, tab “Find Trade” or even on EDDB and fill the requested information:

  • Your location
  • Your max jump range LADEN x3
  • The size of your ship (Light, Medium, Large)

From here, the website will provide you with the best stations to trade with, and which items to buy and sell between two systems in order to get the most profit out of it!




The trading in Elite: Dangerous is very developed and exciting feature if we understand it correctly. In-game, open your galaxy map and then click on the View tab.


There are multiple economies, here are the best trades you could make:

  • Extraction to Hightech
  • High Tech to Refinery
  • Refinery to Industrial
  • Industrial to Agriculture
  • Agriculture to Extraction
  • (Services, Tourism, Military and Terraforming aren’t interesting at the moment)

Also pay attention to the size of the population. The bigger it will be and the better your trade will be! More population produce more goods.

Then open the ED Trader bible (I am creating a new version). The best goods are quoted here with the economies where they can be bought, and the economies where they can be sold.

  1. Check the economy of your system and your surrounding systems in order to choose an interesting trading route. You can go ahead with an ABA or ABCA.
    1. Pay attention to the systems with several stations, check each of their economies.
  2. Check the list of items that might fit earn you a good amount of credits in system A, buy one of each and then finish your freight with the most resourced good.
    1. These goods are often: Gold, Beryllium, Progenitor Cells, Consumer Technology, Superconductor, Performance Enhancers, Indite, Bertrandite, Advanced Catalysor, Resonating Separators and Battle Weapons.
  3. Go to the system B and target the station where you will sell all your items. Keep in mind the item that brought you the best profit.
  4. Do the same when you go back to system A and keep in mind the best selling item again.
  5. Here is your trading route!

A good profit is between 800 credits per unit sold and 1,500 credits per unit sold. If you have more, bravo!


The best exchanges are based on stations with several economies, for example a trade between an Industrial/High-tech station ↔ Refinery/Extraction (Progenitor Cells ↔ Gold) will bring you a lot of credits!



When you accept a smuggling mission, you will receive a target system and a haul to transport into another system. This is an illegal good, so be careful and don’t be scanned. Practical in Sidewinder and Adder/Hauler, but I already did some in Anaconda, it’s a matter of skill and experience.

It may be required to search for that merchandise in another system if it’s a smuggling/scavenger mission. Head to the system and start searching for “unidentified signal sources” in hyper-space. These signals appear randomly. Keep an eye on your list in the “Navigation” tab and target them as soon as they appear. Generally, if you scanned the Nav beacon, the signal will be blue.

If you do not see them just keep flying around the system, or scan the Nav beacon close to the sun. The latter will provide you with the location of the wanted item.


Before you complete your mission, do not hesitate to look for a few more “unidentified signal sources”. As I mentioned earlier, they appear more frequently if you have a mission to find them (also depend on the system’s sate). You can use it to fill your cargo hold with interesting goods like the “Ancient Artifacts”.

It is common to go out for 2 or 3 units of a resource and end up coming back with 15 or 20. Selling the remaining to the black market or keeping some of them for another mission may be particularly profitable.


Beware of the police’s scanners, mostly around stations! Don’t forget to use your Silence Running to go stealth; Heat sinks are recommended and you should not appear onto the police’s radar.

Locate the missions with an arrow and a container, those with skulls in the background: they are smuggling mission. If there is no arrow, it’s a scavenger illegal mission or a pirate one.

There are also long-range smuggling missions. Very effective in T6, Cobra or Asp, it will give you a good amount of credits! You have to jump very far, so do not underestimate these missions. Keep your weapons and fuel scoop close.



Tips and tricks

1) When you enter a station, green and red lights appear. The green should always be on the right and the red on the left in order to respect the navigation direction.

2) If your ship is massive like a T9 or Anaconda, notify your arrival at the Letterbox of the station in order to avoid collapsing with other players.

For example: “I’m docking my T9, be careful at the letterbox guys!”


3) When you trade in open and you face the star after a jump. First reflex: look at the players list! They may want to steal your hold of goods, so be sure to check their ships and outfits. A cargo-scanner means piracy.

4) If you are interdicted by a player, immediately find out which ship the enemy player owns.

  • If you have a small ship, try to counter the interdiction. Bear in mind that in case of failure, your jump recharge will be very long. If so, stop and obey the pirate.
  • If you have a small ship and the enemy has a slower ship than yours, submit to the interdiction, maximum speed and boost then flee! If he has a bigger ship than yours he will be able to masslock you and you will have a hard time leaving; Obey the pirate.
  • If you have a big ship, do not try anything, you’re done. Submit to the interdiction and obey the pirate. A real pirate will never kill you if you obey the orders, he will ask you for some cargo… if you have any.

5) To approach a station, get closer by the inside of its orbit, near the planet. When you do so, you will always arrive in front of the station’s entrance. By the way when you are at 6s from the target, do not push your thrusters above 75% if you don’t want to overshoot it. 75% at 6 seconds is the perfect balance to approach safely and quickly.

6) When you trade, every second counts! Count 30s to jump from one system to another and 4 minutes to get you docked. If you have two jumps between your systems A→B→A, for example, it would make a round trip of 12 minutes (4′ + 4′ + (30″ x6)) = 11′ // ((jump to 1st star + jump to 2nd star + jump to final system) + 4minutes to dock) x2

7) When you are going to land in the station, observe the reticle as depicted below. It indicates your location in order to dock you at sight.

8) Again, use the reticle to perfectly land at stations. The latter will tell you where and how to place your ship. Proceed to the white/black reticle balance (meaning in front of/behind you). The reticle must be at the bottom of the circle.


9) Several trading tools:


Any comment on these tips or directly the Trader guide? Please share them with us!

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