Trading is the lucrative activity where a CMDR can generate a reliable source of income wherever there be demand of a commodity. Trading involves transporting commodities from different market to other markets usually from a market offering low sale prices, and trading it to a market that offers higher prices. Prices are driven from Elite Dangerous' back ground simulation.
The market economy is determined by a number of factors that play into the Elite Dangerous supply and demand market, most of which are driven by Background Simulation, an influence-driven political system that ties with a station's imports and exports and its supplies and demands.
A system state is responsible for driving the supply-demand for certain commodities within the station, sometimes, benefitting the supply and demand of a station. Stations are owned by a minor faction, which in turn has its own allegiances and government type which affects which commodities a station will import and export. Every system will have a governing body that rules the entire system, which is called the "controlling faction". This faction is responsible for the overall economy of the station's imports and exports within a system. A market's economy relies heavily on a minor faction's primary state and secondary states.
A minor faction's happiness, economy, and security will indicate the measure of wealth the station has at the current moment.
Happiness measures the outlook of a faction's future influence based on positive and negative states that the faction is currently facing.
Economy measures the relative wealth and trade activity of a faction.
Security measures the faction's stability from external and internal factors.
A minor faction can also have secondary states, those of which can indicate the growth statuses of a faction and spontaneous events that are triggered randomly. These secondary states are conditional and occasional.
Growth states are triggered when a minor faction reaches certain conditions. These secondary states of growth allows a minor faction to grow and stabilize on wealth.
Spontaneous states are triggered randomly, sometimes benefitting on the wealth a faction offers for certain commodities.
Currently, there are 10 system economy types, with 2 station statuses and 2 unique economies specialized to Rescue Megaships and Fleet Carriers only. All 10 market economies will have a defined list of imports, and exports based on their economy. Generally those commodities the station's economy consume and produce will have a higher sell price and a lower sale price respectively, making some of the profits made more lucrative for CMDRs to trade with.
This station state is unique to Damaged Stations. This happens when stations come under attack due to Thargoid Incursions or Galnet story-driven events.
This station state is unique to Repair Stations. After all survivors has been rescued from the station and brought to a rescue megaship, the station will undergo repair status.
This economy is unique only to Fleet Carrier owners. Since the CMDR is in charge of their carrier's market, the carrier can supply and demand based on the CMDR's desires.
For stations that houses large landing pads, there are different interiors that does not correspond to a system's economy type. You may see a Agricultural station interior that has an extraction system economy type. There are currently 6 station interiors, including damaged and repairing sub-station interiors for those states.
Commodities can only be sold to the market if it is not prohibited there. The market can be accessed after docking at a station, outpost, settlement or planetary station. The market is split between a list of its supply (buy) and demand (sell) pages. The market is categorized into their unique categories.
Supply and demand of a station corresponds with a station's offering sale and buy prices. These prices are often compared with the commodities' galactical average price. A green indicator often indicates a good sale or buy price, while a red indicator indicates the opposite.
In some stations from notable systems, like Shinrarta Dezhra, markets will often sell rare goods. Rare goods are special trade goods that can only be purchased from one place and are often in short supply. You cannot store rare goods onto a fleet carrier.
These rare goods are unique because they increase in value the further you take them from their source of origin. The optimal range where price is at its highest is usually within 150 to 200 light years from the source.
Here are the known 140 rare goods that you can obtain.
Prohibited commodities are illegal commodities which are dictated by the controlling faction's government. Trading illicit cargo to a black market will negatively impact the minor faction owning that particular station. You can also obtain prohibited commodities by obtaining stolen commodities. Stolen commodities can happen should you obtain from a NPC or other CMDRs by jettisoning commodities and not abandoning it or deliberately failing delivery missions while possessing mission-related cargo.
As per mission-related commodities, the faction will fine you for failing the mission and if you do decide to sell the stolen mission-related cargo to another station in a different station, you'll be slapped with an additional fine if you are caught.
Carrying illegal items will not lead to the destruction of your ship, however if you are caught with it, you will be fined by System Authority. Prohibited commodities are not only limited to a faction's banned list of commodities, stolen cargo can also lend you to a fine. The value of the fine will be proportional to the value of the illegal cargo. You can avoid detection rather easily. Since you are scanned by System Authority / Security vessels, there are three ways of breaking that scan:
If you do get scanned and fined, the fine is best paid off immediately at the station under the Contacts section in Station Services. You can also pay at Interstellar Factors anywhere in the galaxy at a 25% premium. Note that most of these actions requires you to fly without the assistance of an Auto Docking Computer.
A good trade ship should have a good jump range, good defenses and enough cargo spaces for mass transports. While it is certainly more lucrative to outfit a min-max trade ship for maximum profits, however it severely sacrifices its survivability against NPC pirates, and players in open. The NEWP trade ship builds list considers survivability in the worse case scenario.
In supercruise, you can get interdicted by pirate NPC's, System Authority and Security Vessels, and other CMDRs if you are connected in an instance together. Interdiction is the objective of successfully attempting to pull your target out from super cruise, disabling their ability to escape for a bit if successful. During an interdiction, a player has the chance to voluntarily drop into normal space by submission which lowers the Frame Shift Drive cooldown from 30 seconds to 10 seconds.
When you get interdicted by a pirate, system security, or another CMDR, you'll see a pointer to the "Escape Vector", a blue bar to the left and a red bar to the right. The objective is to continue pointing to where the escape vector was until the blue bar fills up.
If a CMDR pulls you, the chances of winning an interdiction is almost impossible. Learn to gank evade in open.
There's two different types of waking:
A Frame Shift Drive charging for a low wake usually takes lesser time than a Frame Shift Drive charging for high wakes. However the charging rates of a low wake is usually impaired by the Mass Lock Factors of a ship should there be other ships near by. Mass Lock Factor is a multiplier that every ship has that slows down the charging rate of a low wake frame shift charge within a 3-5 km radius of the ship's relative position.
If the ships around you all have a smaller or equal value in their respective mass lock factor, you will charge your frame shift drive much quicker. However, if you are surrounded by heavier ships, your mass lock factor will be affected by the ship with the highest mass lock factor and therefore slowing down the charge.
Interdiction is a required mini-game that is used in Piracy. Just like the escape interdiction mini-game, your objective is to fill the blue bar to successfully interdict your target. The red bar is the target's escape bar, once that fills up, you will drop out of supercruise, forcing a 30 second cooldown of the Frame Shift Drive.
It is advised to traders to keep some credits in reserve in case of a accidental collision when docking or failing an escape attempt from pirates. The reserve in credits are meant to help aid with the ship's rebuy insurance in case it was lost during transport.
Everything is insured except for the commodities on your ship. So be warned, when doing delivery contracts from minor factions, if you lose mission-related cargo you'll be fined for losing any amount you have lost.
Piracy is another form of trading, however it involves stealing commodities from other CMDRs and selling these to a market for credits. Four important modules are required in Piracy.
Destroying a trade ship will destroy all commodities on board that ship. You can also force pirate ships from any resource extraction site to jettison stolen cargo. If the target jettisons its cargo, the cargo will be marked as stolen which is required to be sold on the Black Market.
However, in the modern Elite Dangerous era, there exists little to none piracy gameplay.
Fleet Carriers have a economy of Private Enterprise, which means they are run and maintained by the carrier owner. You can manage trading with your fleet carrier by setting up buy orders and sell orders. A commodity cannot have both a buy and sell order be set at the same time.
When you access your Fleet Carrier's Commodities Market menu, you can set a buy or sell order for a particular commodity. You can buy and sell as many commodities
The maximum profit you are allowed to allocate for a commodity trade is 2 Billion Credits. By restricting your carrier's docking permissions you can sell commodities to a certain group of people.
Passenger transport are another trading activity CMDRs can part take in. Passenger Missions can be obtained from the Passenger Lounge from the Starport Services menu when you dock at a station.
There are two types of passenger missions, Bulk Carrier Missions and VIP Carrier Missions. Bulk Carrier Missions are missions that local sightseeing tours where anyone can request a private chauffeur to transport them to the local destination, usually a few jumps away. VIP Carrier Missions are longer ranged, more demanding, and are highly sensitive in their environment when something goes wrong.
Satisfaction is a progress bar that determines the payout of a VIP carrier contract and the condition of the clients on your ship. Low satisfaction may risk the client terminating the contract altogether. If a passenger mission fails, you can either dump the passengers at any local station, or jettison them into escape pods for Search and Rescue to come collect them up. Some clients' satisfactions will degrade if the ship gets damaged, some will outright terminate the contract for hull damages.
You may choose to accept passenger transport missions from Wanted Criminals or VIP, either passenger will be haunted by System Security Forces and Mercenary Hunters and Pirate Groups respectively. Neither the VIP and criminals will require you to avoid being scanned by either group as you'll be fired upon and wanted by the groups until you jump out of the system.
In Elite Dangerous, the extensive use of a 3rd party tool for provides traders with recent information about stations with commodities that can earn you a massive profit or the station that is providing the cheapest prices. 3rd party tools can also help aid the CMDR in searching for commodities as the information displayed in the Elite Dangerous galaxy map is very limited.
Information is gathered through Elite Dangerous Data Network listeners such as Elite Dangerous Market Connector and Elite Dangerous Discovery. These data listeners help populate databases which presents players to a market with up-to-date information regard market from across the galaxy. The most common market tools that CMDRs use is EDDB.io and INARA.cz.
Commodity Menu on EDDB:
Market Menu on INARA:
Generally, you're going to be searching for a particular commodity and the station with the highest buy price and lowest sale price. One of the biggest cash-grabs are profits made from wing mining missions. Wing mining missions only work with deliveries of Bertrandite, Cobalt, Coltan, Gallite, Gold, Indite, Silver and Uraninite as these minerals can be purchased from stations. Here are some market information for the mineral Cobalt.
Market Information for Cobalt in INARA:
Market Information for Cobalt in EDDB:
As you can see, you will need to look at these following columns to get the best and most reliable sources of the commodity being sold or bought at a station's market.
Last updated is the time of when the market's been last updated by a user using a EDDN Listener like ED Market Connector or ED Discovery. Generally when searching a suitable market, anything as recent as 6 hours ago would have a somewhat accurate reading on the prices offered at the market. However, the longer the timer since the market was updated, the more inaccurate the market information will be.
Demand / Supply
Demand and Supply is the next thing you'll want to look at. Demand and supply is the amount of minerals that the station is offering to pay or sell for that amount. If you over supply a demand, you will get paid less than what the price is offered for the same commodity. If you buy all of the supplied commodity, there will be none left and a higher price is then offered for the next batch of commodities produced. A general tip of advice is to look for:
Landing Pad Size
Landing Pads are another restrictive property you'll have to pay attention to. Stations and outposts are split between Medium and Large sized Landing Pads. If you're in a Large Sized ship, you cannot land at and outpost. You can transfer commodities from one ship to the other however, if the ship you are attempting to transfer over has smaller cargo space than your current one, you'll need to abandon some commodities before you can transfer to a different ship.
Price is the final thing you'll want to worry about, unless you are super greedy about finding the station with the highest sell prices or lowest sale prices. Generally, it is better to sell and purchase your commodities from a safer, more guaranteed market, than a more sporadic, non-guaranteed market.
Both INARA and EDDB provide trade routes for CMDRs to make good profits from doing round trips. The trade routes displayed on Inara is rather vague and limited in details, the route trader from EDDB is more preferred.
Trade Routes from Inara:
More Detailed Trade Routes from EDDB with using default parameters:
For more optimal searches, you may use these search field parameters on any system you are currently at:
Trade routes are good for early gameplay for those who are willing to get some quick credits before hauling some of the bigger and more challenging trading missions or mass hauling commodities between stations.