As someone who doesn't play Team Fortress 2, I occasionally get people asking me to trade, but I have no idea what's a "fair" price for these items. I don't really get this whole trading thing (I've seen people ask for "63 buds", I have zero idea what that means), but I don't want to get ripped off.

Some recent examples would be:

How can I figure out how much an item is worth? What "lingo" do I need to know in order to trade?

  • 6
    A better way to ask would be, "How do I determine what my items are worth?" The way you have it here makes it very localized, and we try to prevent questions of that sort.
    – Frank
    Dec 4, 2012 at 23:19
  • @Django Reinhardt Regardless of the final status of this question, I'll attempt to help you quickly. Max Severed Head is one of more valuable and rare items in the TF2 World. You could pretty much ask for 2 of any normal(read: not unusual) hat and/or misc item. The two pistols, depending on Vintage/Genuine quality will fetch less, but are still worth almost any normal hat/misc item. As far as monetary value, at a time Max was worth $100+. But those days are long gone. Best of luck. Check out the TF2 Steam Trading Forums.
    – tiddy
    Dec 4, 2012 at 23:51
  • 1
    I've edited your question to make it acceptable on the site. As @fbueckert already noted your original question was too localized, since TF2 item prices are always changing.
    – Wipqozn
    Dec 5, 2012 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


Well, define "worth." In order for you to understand what these items are "worth" you need to understand the context that gives "worth" to these items: the TF2 trading economy.

The idea is that while accumulating refined metal is good and easy to make and doesn't require interactions with other human beings, it's not a practical unit of trading "worth" in transaction of items "worth" several hundreds times a refined metal. These things take valuable space in your backpack, in your trade windows and, while they are were the most natural unit of worth they're just impractical. Think of it as the one dollar bill: it's fundamental, but you wouldn't buy a car with several thousands of them. (They've also lost half of their value in the last year since this was a thing that happened, as if it was hard to have multiple accounts on TF2 before.)

So, we need units of worth that are worth more than a refined metal, making do with what items are available in the game today. This brings us to a shoddy, shifting, complicated system that makes the Imperial measurement system look sane by comparison.

The following are guidelines; the relative values of these items are always shifting.

  1. A ref is crafted from 18 weapons (or, in terms of time, roughly two thirds of a week.)
  2. A key is worth somewhere around 35 refined.
  3. A bill's is worth around 1.5 keys.
  4. Buds are worth around 1.5 keys, around a bill's.
  5. A Max's is worth around 19 keys or 12.5 buds.
  6. A Hat of Undeniable Wealth And Respect is worth around 56 buds [4.5 max's].

Finally, there are TF2WH credits for the users of the service. A refined is 2,300 credits. And if you're a fan of the US dollar, well... tf2finance.com says earbuds are about $28, which makes a key worth about one dollar.

Q: How can keys that can only be obtained by paying $2.49 be worth less than half as much?
A: Scammers buy keys with stolen credit cards for money laundering purposes. (It's not quite as simple as that, but what were you expecting from a footnote?)

Why use these particular hats as currency? The community chose those hats as units of worth because:

  • They are relatively rare (indeed, rarity is the main source of their value.§)
  • They can no longer be obtained (so they're only going to go up in value.)
  • The original trading system didn't let you trade more than 8 items at a time. Trading more than this was extremely risky and this is why there are so many "currency hats" that are only so much more valuable than the next.
  • There's only so many items to go about anyway.

Perhaps irritatingly, this means for example that whoever happened to log in on TF2 on the Mac release week has a small fortune out of nowhere. Who preordered an entirely unrelated game has twice that fortune for it. It's arbitrary, but that's the way it is.

Now, for your question. The answer is: who knows! It depends! It changes! There are many possible sources that attempt to answer such questions:

  • TF2WH.com in terms of the TF2WH credit.
  • backpack.tf in terms of ref, keys and buds.
  • The (in)famous TF2 spreadsheet.
  • Price checking threads in all kinds of forums, sites and subreddits.
  • trade.tf uses math to find the price for each item, and will also find you the best deals from other TF2 trading sites

In the end, however, your item is really only worth as much as you can sell it for§. The single most reliable tool at your disposal is searching for similar trades on trading websites:

See what people are selling your item for. See what buyers are willing to buy your item for. Ask in public when in doubt and never get rushed into a trade. These are the only way to make sure you don't get ripped off. (Indeed, data from trading sites is where the fancy graph you see in tf2finance.com comes from!)

§ Rarity isn't everything. Consider this frequency distribution of effects on unusual hats: it's pretty obvious that not all effects are equally likely (and basic statistics will confirm this is no uncertain terms). Now, the "Circling TF logo" effect is pretty rare and yet it is one of the least valuable effects because people just don't like it very much. As a result, they're not willing to pay as much for it.

For example, at the time of writing, a Towering Pillar of Hats with Circling TF2 logo goes for $80, whereas the version with searing plasma goes for $500 — and yet, searing plasma is roughly as rare as Circling TF2 Logo. See also: "themed unusuals" (Blizzardy Storm is relatively common, but couple it with A Rather Festive Tree...).

So what about the valuable monstrosity of a hat that is a Bill's? Just look at it, it's a disgrace.Well, those hats are the exception because they're used as currency. People seek these hats because they're rare, not because they're dozens of times better of a Towering Pillar of Hats. If Valve released more of these items today, their value would take a pretty deep dive and much teeth would be gnashed.

Prices have been changed to be accurate as of 12/18/2017 where possible.


There's now a much easier way to calculate an item's worth:


The follow comes up the for the items in my original question...

Max's Severed Head = $104

Lugermorph = $0.50

Big Kill = $25

  • While this can work for simple price checking anything more can get very inaccurate. Unusuals, killstreak items (killstreak, spec., prof.), and weapon skins can have very inaccurate prices. killstreak items in particular is not accurate.
    – Tyler
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:07

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