Trading has always been one of the core pillars of the Elite experience, and while the profitability of the profession doesn't seem quite as strong this time around, there's still plenty of cash to be made if you can track down the best trade routes. In this section of the guide, we'll run you through the basics of finding the most efficient haulage routes in the game, and then maximising the money you make from each market endeavour.
How to find a good trade route in Elite Dangerous
The first thing to establish here is what exactly makes a good trade route in Elite. It should, of course, feature complimentary economies that need to supply one another with goods. This makes the time you spend trucking goods back and forth as profitable as possible. Just as importantly, you want to find a trade route that involves minimal travel both between the systems involved, and also within them - some Stations and Outposts are placed an impractical distance from the sun you arrive at, and you'll spend more time twiddling your thumbs in Supercruise than you will making cash.
To get started, have a look at your local commodities market via the Station Services section of the interface, then use a site like the Elite Dangerous Wikia hub to find out which economy types value your mega-cheap local goods highly, or where you might be able to find items that are in demand at your current location. The Galaxy Map can then be filtered by economy type to paint a picture of your region's connected economies.
Always keep in mind though that just because an economy should specialise in certain goods, there are no guarantees that the specific item you want will be available at any time. Make sure you scout out your route before investing heavily in an area of the market, and poke your head into a number of Stations before writing off a system entirely. Good trade routes take time to find, and are worth the effort of tracking down.
The best items to trade in Elite Dangerous
There are many factors that will determine the goods you should be trading in the game: the size of your cargo hold, the relative values of the goods involved, the best items to take back to your starting destination, and the amount of cash you have to slosh about in the markets. Much will depend on your individual circumstances.
It won't come as any surprise, however, to learn that the simple principle of buying low and selling high lies at the heart of market capitalism in the game. From this basic starting point, you should look for items that are in high supply in one station, but in high demand at another - preferably nearby - location. The best way to gain this information is to experiment, explore, and investigate using the advice in the trade route section above.
Maximising your profits from trading
If you really want to get the most bang from your space bucks, it's really important that you find markets that feed into one another, so you're never travelling with an empty cargo-hold. This ensures that the money keeps flowing with a minimum of downtime - idle travelling time is expensive.
You should also aim to get into a Hauler as quickly as possible, and upgrade the ship's cargo racks from a capacity of two to eight. Chuck out your scanner and replace it with a two-slot capacity rack, and upgrade your Frameshift Drive to a D2 or higher. This will give you loads more space, and allow you to zip around the galaxy a little more quickly.
One last tip: when you arrive at a Station, check the Bulletin Board before blindly selling your goods on the market. You may be able to make more profit by using your goods to complete a very lucrative mission, rather than just flogging them off on the Commodities market.
Read on for our starter guide to all of the other Elite Dangerous professions.
You can find the rest of our Elite Dangerous guide from the first page of this article.