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I have been trying to get a key for ages. I really want some items from crates.

As a starter, what would be a recommended way for me to get keys quick?

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If you know the item(s) you want, you're much better off trading for them than trying to get them from crates. The odds of getting something nice from a crate are small. – Dan C Dec 21 '12 at 18:59
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Aside from the occasional key you can get for free from certain TF2 promotions (of which there are very few), the primary way to get keys is to buy them at the Mann Co. Store, or trade items for them.

Keys are a common trading currency, so you can offer gift copies of games or other TF2 items in order to get some. There are several sites that track the price of keys in relation to other items used as TF2 currency.

Bear in mind that the contents of "normal" crates are often items that are worth the same amount or less than the retail value of the key - you're effectively playing a lottery when you buy one and use it to open a crate. It's the only way to get certain attributes or, in some cases, certain items, however. You'll want to weigh the cost of purchasing an item (or trading for it directly) directly versus the cost of opening a crate and not getting the thing you want out of it.

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The only ways to get keys are to buy them from valve or trade for them with other players. On some very rare occasions they are given out as a free gift.

If you want them quick, you are going to have to buy them. otherwise you will need to collect weapons through random drops, smelt them into refined metal, and then trade for keys.

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Only three ways:

  • Buy them from the Mann Co. Store, currently priced at €1.99/$2.49
  • Buy them from the Steam market, currently selling at ~$2.3
  • Trade for them from other players, currently selling at upwards of 4 refined.
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