Broke on Steam - Sell Trading Cards and CS:GO/TF2/Dota 2 Items for Steam Cash

Being broke during the holiday sales is depressing. Make some dosh!

'Tis the season to not be broke, but unfortunately some years just don't work out that way and Steam sales wait for no one. No one.

In my borderline poverty (see: sadness), I've begun selling my Steam trading cards and Dota 2 cosmetic items to pick up some of the new indie releases. Let me tell you: it feels amazing.

Selling those paltry trading cards has net me enough dosh to grab a couple of games off my wishlist, and it feels like hard-earned money. Even if it's, you know, not hard-earned. It still feels great, and is something all you similarly money-lacking individuals out there should take a crack at as the holiday sales edge ever closer.

Selling trading cards and whatnot is nothing new on Steam, but this is the perfect time of year to delve into it if you want to be ready for the incoming sales. So let's get crackin' for those of you uninitiated in land of wonder that is the Steam Marketplace.

What can you sell?

You can't make any money without having to sell first, and not everything that lands in your Steam inventory can be sold.

What can't be sold:

  • Games
  • Coupons

What can be sold:

  • Trading cards
  • Profile backgrounds
  • Emoticons
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive items
  • Team Fortress 2 items
  • Dota 2 items

What can and cannot be sold on the Marketplace is fairly straight-forward, as evidenced in the lists above, but if you are particularly curious about a single item in your inventory, you can click on it to check. If there is no green 'Sell' button, the item cannot be sold.

It is worth mentioning there are some exceptions in the listed game items. For instance, The International 3 player cards cannot be sold.

Note: If you sell $200 worth of items/cards on the Steam Marketplace, it will request your social security number and personal information for tax purposes. Non-US citizens must prove they do not reside in the US.

Do keep in mind it is highly unlikely you will even come close to $200 by casually partaking in the Marketplace.

How can I start selling my cards and cosmetics?

This is as simple as going to your Steam inventory or wandering to the Marketplace itself. Items that are eligible for sale will have the green 'Sell' button as seen here:

From there, you are prompted with the median sale prices chart and can choose the sales amount.

Do note the prices listed include the fees tacked onto each sale. Price your items a few cents lower to adjust to this additional fee.

Additionally, you can use the Steam Marketplace in just about any region. The market will display prices in your currency.

Is selling stuff for a few cents really worth it?

A few cents add up pretty quickly, if multiple items are sold.

Trading cards and other items generally sell for $0.03 to $0.30, depending on the game they came from and how in-demand those items are. Selling something for less than $0.09 feels like a bit of a waste of time, but if you sell ten items/cards at that price, it's $0.90. You can't really complain about that.

CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, and Dota 2 cosmetic items have prices that vary much more widely than cards because of the rarity of certain items. A common Dota 2 item will sell for less than $0.10, but a rare and above can sell for $0.20 to far more than that. As with any other market, every item has a value and that value can fluctuate from day to day.

In general, items sell more highly on weekdays than weekends because there are less on the market. If you're looking for the biggest bang for your efforts, shoot for selling on weekdays. Be sure to pay attention to the sale prices chart before putting an item up.

No way am I selling this right now.

Taking a gamble with trading card booster packs

This is something I personally like to do, but is understandably not everyone's cup of tea.

Because the prices of individual cards can fluctuate (and vary) so much, at times it can be worth a try to pick up a trading card booster pack in hopes of getting cards that will sell for more than the value of the pack itself.

This is a gamble because you receive three random trading cards, and some may not be worth much while some may be worth just enough. Doing this requires that you search for a game's booster pack in the Marketplace, and then look up the value for each card in that series. From there you can decide whether to take the risk of a booster purchase.

It is worth noting that you will rarely turn a profit using this method on cards for popular games. Dota 2 cards, for example, are generally worth very little. You must follow the paragraph above and research/compare before diving into booster pack gambling.

Go forth and sell!

While you won't be getting Steam-rich off of selling your items (and you can't withdraw the money you make), it can be great for getting some extra money for the upcoming sales. Perhaps you too can get some games on the technically free!

Associate Editor

Ashley is pretty lost in most things, but not the FFXIV smol life. Oh yeah, there's someone impersonating me. Trust me: I didn't email you.

Published Dec. 16th 2013
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I've racked up somewhere around 5 bucks off of all the card sales. I very very much like the system. It's nice to get $1 or so off each steam purchase.

    I should probably try to stock pile for the upcoming sales though
  • Clay
    Featured Contributor
    DOTA2 has a frostivus event right now that gives you about 10 chests. The market value of all the stuff inside of it is ~$10.
  • Chai Chien Liang
    Worth a try, never really noticed this feature before, need to check what sort of cards I have...
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    This is fantastic news! I may be able to purchase Starbound! Merry Christmas to me.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    Good luck, new Marketplace user! /salute
  • Landon Sommer
    I had no idea you could even sell those.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    It's been that way for quite some time, but a few of my friends asked "You can do that?" so I figured I'd just write an article on it for those who didn't know. :)

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