7 Elite Dangerous: Horizons Trading Tips for Trader Pilots

This game guide provides several Elite Dangerous: Horizons trading tips for wheeling and dealing across the Milky Way. Is trading a bit of a slog for you in Elite Dangerous? If so, check out the game tips below that might propel you to the Elite trading rank!

7 Elite Dangerous: Horizons Trading Tips for Trader Pilots

Elite Dangerous: Horizons is a massive space flight simulator game that includes four Pilot Federation ranks for players to climb. Trader is one of those ranks, which is based on cargo-hauling missions, mining, and buying and selling commodities at station docks. Trader space trading has always been one of the core pilot roles in Elite ever since Acornsoft released the original 1980s game. Here are some Elite Dangerous: Horizons trading tips for becoming an elite trader pilot.

Read also: 5 of the Best Third-Party Tools for Elite Dangerous: Horizons

1. Dock at stations in boom state star systems

Star systems that are booming include docking stations with booming economies. Docking stations in boom states will typically have markets selling lots of commodities in high supply. Those are the best markets to snap up goods at, as high supply commodities are always cheaper to purchase. Furthermore, you’ll find more lucrative boom missions at docking stations with booming economies.

So, you can do the most lucrative trading and missions within boom state star systems. To highlight star systems with booming economies on the map, click Map on the Galaxy Map. Select State > Boom on the filter drop-down menu. Then you’ll see plenty of light blue boom star dots on the map.

Boom star systems

Boom star systems

2. Trade gold, silver, and palladium

The gold, silver, and palladium metals are among the most valuable non-rare commodities you can trade in Elite Dangerous: Horizons. Although they’re also among the most expensive, gold, silver, and palladium have some of the biggest trading profit margins in the Elite universe.

You can potentially make a 45,000-65,000 credits per unit profit by trading gold, silver, and palladium between docking stations’ markets. At the very least, it’s relatively easy to make a 5,000-10,000 per unit profit by trading those metals. So, you can amass hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of credits on single trade runs by snapping up those metals in large volumes at high supply markets.

Metal commodities

Metal commodities

3. Mine for gold (and other metals)

Why purchase gold at docking stations when it’s freely available in some star systems? You can mine for and collect gold at planets with metal asteroid rings. All you’ll need to do is purchase the minimum required mining gear at docking stations (a mining laser and refinery), and then find a planet with a metal asteroid ring on the map to mine at. Click the planets and their data tabs on star system maps to view the data on the type of rings they have as in the snapshot directly below. When you’ve found a suitable planet, fly to its metal asteroid belt and blast your mining laser at its asteroids to collect some gold ore to refine.

A metal-rich planet ring

A metal-rich planet ring

If you’ve never done any mining before, check out Elite’s in-game mining tutorial. Press the Shift + D hotkey, and select Codex on the right system panel. Then click Training and select the Mining tutorial to start it.

4. Increase your ship’s jump range

Trader pilots need to do lots of Hyperspace jumping between the stars to complete missions and trade commodities. Increasing your ship’s Hyperspace jump range will enable you to reach star systems at bigger distances with fewer jumps. Thus, you’ll reduce the number of stars you need to jump to on longer trips by expanding your spaceship’s jump range. The bigger your jump range is, the quicker you can fly through the galaxy. So, your ship’s jump range is one of the most important things to upgrade (along with cargo storage for commodities).

The best way to boost a spaceship’s jump range is to upgrade its Frame Shift Drive. Frame Shift Drives are available in five different numerical classes (two to seven), each of which has five different grades. A grade ones are the best for each numerical class. Always check out what kind of FSDs are available at Outfitting services when you dock at stations. When you find one that will increase your spaceship’s jump range, snap it up ASAP.

A 5A Frame Shift Drive

A 5A Frame Shift Drive

5. Check out the Elite Dangerous Database

Elite Dangerous: Horizons includes a Galaxy Map tool that provides import and export price details for commodities, but that’s restricted to stations you’ve already docked at. It’s better to utilize third-party tools on the web, such as the Elite Dangerous Database, to find the most lucrative trade routes.

The Elite Dangerous Database website provides a comprehensive database of docking stations’ prices for all commodities. By entering the star system you’re at in that site’s search box, you can quickly and easily find the best reasonably nearby stations to buy and sell a specific commodity at. EDD also includes a handy trade router finder utility.

The EDDB website

The EDDB website

6. Eliminate player pirates by playing solo

Space pirates are the bane of trader pilots throughout the Elite universe. Pirates are players or non-player-controlled (NPC) ships, usually with bounties attached to them, that steal cargo from traders. They usually interdict trader pilots in supercruise and then issue ultimatums for them to hand over their cargo. Pirates attack ships when players reject their ultimatums. When pirates shoot you down, you’ll lose your ship and all its cargo, which isn’t insured.

You can easily reduce piracy in the Elite universe by playing in Solo Play mode. That will eliminate all player-controlled pirates from your game. NPC pirates will still target your ship. However, NPC pirates are pretty easy to evade and aren’t as dangerous as player pirates.

The Solo Play option

The Solo Play option

7. Establish wing support to cover your back

If you must play in multiplayer Open Play, establishing wing support is one way to counter player-controlled pirates. Wings are groups of four players who fly together with up to three winger escorts protecting a ship. Player escorts who are invited to form a wing each receive five percent of the trader’s profit at a station.

You can establish wing support for your ship via the Comms Panel. Press the 2 key to open that panel, and then select the Comms Contact tab. Select a local commander listed on that tab to open a small submenu. Then you can select an Invite to Wing option to send an invite to the commander. If accepted, the commander will escort you to a docking station within a wing formation. The video directly below provides further details about co-op wings in Elite Dangerous: Horizons.

Pilot Training - Wings

If you don’t have any friends/contacts to invite to form a wing, try applying to join a squadron. Joining a squadron will give you a chance to meet and chat with some Elite Dangerous players. Then you can ask your squadron contacts about providing wing support.

Becoming an elite trader is one of the biggest goals for many ED players. The above Elite Dangerous: Horizons trading tips will help you amass credits and reach the coveted Elite trading status quicker. Good luck!

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