Game talk

Dota 2: Trading guide

The definitive guide to trading in Dota 2. Most players don’t know the ways to make the most bucks or to avoid being scammed. Let’s change that.

In this guide, I’ll be explaining a couple of things:

  1. How do you trade your items with your friends so that both of you have something you love.
  2. How can you trade items on the Steam Market to make money.

This is not a trading guide to making money off your Dota 2 items by selling to random strangers and/or using third-party tools and websites. That’s borderline illegal, not to mention potentially risky for the buyers.

This guide is all about how trading can be your Dota side-quest enabling you to enjoy your games in a better way or how it can even be a hobby.

A precursor for Dota 2 item trading

The trading of Dota 2 items is well-known. However, it’s not something reserved only for the elite players. In fact, Steam and Valve have teamed up to provide a seamless, highly intuitive transactional interface to the in-game trading module so that even beginners can easily trade with each other.

Trading is always seen as something sketchy. And it’s a very critical thing to maintain a clean environment for everyone in Dota 2. That’s why I’m writing this guide. There are absolutely clean and 100% hassle-free ways to trade game items with each other without the slightest worry of being scammed. I’ll also be highlighting ways in which you might be duped in the last section.

Besides scamming, another rampant issue that plagues players from across the different MMR brackets is unfair trading. Simply put, an unfair Dota 2 trade is one in which one party receives an item that’s worth significantly less than what they’re giving.

Combating unfair trading and scams wasn’t an easy task but the game has become secure enough now to transact items in a fair way, as you’ll see now.

Gift wrapping in Dota 2

Let’s first talk about gifts – the most basic way to do the trading for good-intentioned Shire-folks. I’m sure all Dota 2 players have had their brief stint with the gift-wrapping feature in Dota 2. It’s the most basic form of trading if done selflessly.

This is how you can trade using gift-wrapping:

  1. Make sure that you have Steam Mobile Authenticator installed on your phone, it will save you a lot of time. With it installed, you can send a gift to anyone whom you’ve been Steam friends with for 30 days. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait a ridiculously long time.
  2. Go to your Armory, right-click the item you want to send, and click on “Gift Wrap Item”.
  3. Now, a window will open displaying a list of all friends to whom you can send this item. If you’ve recently added someone or if their (or your) account is marred by one of these many specific clauses, then things might go south, and either their name won’t be displayed or you’ll have an error message.
  4. Given everything goes according to the plan, you’ll be able to select a friend and send them the gift. There will be a confirmation prompt.
  5. Now, you can only wait for your friend to return-gift you back so that the trade is complete.

So, clearly, there are some glaring issues facing you if you plan to trade using the gifting feature.

First of all, you have gifting restrictions. Second, you have no feature ensuring that you’ll get something in return, simply because gifts aren’t all supposed to have return gifts. Lastly, you also don’t have any clue whether the trade was fair or not – probably, you won’t even check the market price values of the items being traded.

That’s why I recommend upping your game and trading in other ways, reserving this feature for two things only: gifting items that you don’t need to your friends or sending all your items to another account when you delete your previous one.

How do I trade with my friend in a fair environment?

So, you have an item for a hero that your friend uses and your friend has an item for a hero that you use. And you don’t want any complications. You want a 100% secure and reliable trade deal.

Make sure both of you have Dota 2 open. Now, right-click your friend’s name from the bottom-left Friends section on your game dashboard. From the list that drops down, choose “Invite to Trade”. This will launch a Steam overlay module and you’ll both be able to choose items to send to each other.

Note that a number of items might not be available on this screen as a lot of items are not tradable or marketable. The unavailability of a large number of a player’s items is a cause of constant frustration for many since the time Valve has started to reduce post-game item drops to combat bots and then, some would argue, to fulfill their inflated financial goals like selling more TI compendiums.

If you’re not seeing an item on this trade screen, then it’s not available to be traded. Most probably, it was a post-game item drop. You can check each item individually in your Dota 2 Armory to find out whether a particular item is tradable or marketable or not.

Note: I say it’s a fair environment but there are certain complications here. Check the bullet list in the last section.

How do I trade to make money in Dota 2 items?

There’s no sure-shot way of making money trading in Dota 2 items. But a number of players manage to pull off amazing returns on their investments. That’s why I’d like to talk about it in a little more depth.

But know that there is no precise math at work here. It’s all related to wildly swaying variables and a number of unreliable factors. Still, the transactions are arguably safer as everything is happening on Steam.

I’d recommend you start trading Dota 2 items only if you feel a genuine inclination towards it. I always tell my friends who are new to the game that trading should be seen more as a hobby and less as a means to make big bucks.

It’s long-term stuff, requires patience, and might get under your skin if you’re very impulsive. My battle-hardened trading friends are accustomed to waiting for a long, long time to see any huge profit reflected in their bank account.

Buy and sell basics

Steam Community Market will show items for all games you have. Choose Dota 2 first.

This is done using the Steam Market. Fire up your Steam, click on the Community tab, and then choose Market. Select Dota 2 from the right.

Here, you can buy and sell items in your own currency. Surely, to buy for the first time, you must have a balance in your Steam wallet.

Purchasing and selling are both very simple.

To buy an item, you first find it. You can sort items by heroes, rarity, etc. However, the best way is to search by typing the name. You’ll find a lot of item names for your favorite heroes in-game.

I’ve explained this entire process in detail in my previous piece on buying Dota 2 cosmetic items (check the How to buy section).

Selling an item also follows pretty much the same pattern. You go to the Market and click on the “Sell an item” button on the top-right. A lot of items won’t be available here because they’re not marketable. Mostly, only stuff that you’ve purchased can be sold.

Making profits

You buy an item when its demand is low. But make sure it’s a rare item. In a month, 5 months, or maybe a year, its demand might spike. There, you sell this item making a huge profit.

There are countless testimonials from players who have done the same to earn a lot. Way back in mid-2017, there was a live stream by DotaGodTV where he explained how he made over $200 selling a single item.

That was when I was introduced to making money selling items. For my share, I’ve had small profits only but enough to re-invest in higher-end items that will bring more fortune. But it’s not something you should get too serious about or you’ll lose more than you make.

You can see which items are selling at a high price on the front page of the Market after selecting Dota 2 from the right sidebar. You’ll notice that these items get bumps in their value in somewhat pre-defined patterns, like bi-monthly or yearly. You can plan accordingly and purchase these items when their prices come down. When there’s the next spike, you sell them.

What this does is give you a little extra profit, like around $50-100. If you successfully sell 2-3 of these items a few times, you’ll have a quite solid balance. Now, it’s time to eye the higher-end items that will bring you greater profits. Invest in those when their prices drop according to their patterns. And sell out when the prices are high.

With big buck items, you will be making big profits.

Once you reach there you can congratulate yourself on becoming a Steam trader! Although you can never be a true Steam trader in the eyes of many if you haven’t dealt in CS: GO loot crates.

Third party websites

There are a lot of places to get your information from, not just the Steam Market.

You can do a Google search on “trade Dota 2 items” and you’ll find the most relevant results for your place and time period.

The Dota 2 Trade subreddit is an awesome place to get trending items through trade. It’s mostly safe and highly reliable.

If you prefer selling your items through a third party and purchasing from the Market, then I’d recommend trying DMarket.

Trading must-know

Before I end, I’ll tell you about a few general rules that you should always follow.


When you use Steam’s trading interface, you can still be scammed. Items can be renamed and many items are pretty similar having little variations worth hundreds of dollars. Always make sure you check the entire description for the original name and value. A Google search on the name will be enough but I’d recommend a search on the Steam Market for the same item to know exactly what you’re getting and giving.

Account security

Keep your account secure at all times and don’t give items to websites or players before double-checking. Unless you’re hacked, Steam won’t give your items back if you lose them in a scam. During a scam, it’s a pretty handy trick to know how to report effectively. Combine Steam reporting with posting on the Dota 2 trading subreddit so that action can be taken.

Reputation checks

Use SteamRep by the other person’s ID. Always check the reputation of the trader you’re engaging with. It’s a general indicator of their trustworthiness. Always cross-check their Steam ID and verify whether it’s truly the person you’re communicating with. Additionally, see their full Steam profile. Is it private? Does it have negative comments? Does it have only a couple of games? Is Dota 2 only played for double-digit hours? These are all red flags. Also, exchange reputation when the trade ends so that both parties get out of the trade with a higher reputation score.

Determine the right value

Get your item’s value right by searching for it on the Steam Market and the Dota 2 trading subreddit. Feel free to ask around in trusted forums too. Take your time before you initiate the trade but always get your prices right. Once that’s done, you can increase your price but don’t increase it blatantly and spread false rumors around about how that price has spiked – you don’t want to be a market manipulator, trust me.

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By Santiago Vargas

Santiago is a humble gamer from Peru who brings in the much needed breathing space amid all the hardware talk here at Spearblade. We liked his blog so much that we had to onboard him. You'll find Santiago publishing game-related articles.

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