]> Elite: Dangerous - Making money 🌐:aligrant.com

The core of Elite's gameplay is making money. It was radical in the notion of not having levels and powering up, but instead giving you credits to spend on whatever you like. You can progress the game however you like, but money is the key to it.


Combat generates money via killing wanted players (bounty hunting) or redeeming combat bonds.

Bounty hunting is simply the case of targeting a ship and letting your ship passively scan it. The type of ship, name of the pilot and whether it's WANTED or not is listed in the bottom left corner of your screen. A wanted ship is free to be engaged, a kill will grant you a claim on the bounty, you can claim this at the system that issued it (see your transactions tab, on the left hand panel).

You can increase the rate of return from bounty hunting by fitting a Kill Warrant Scanner, this will allow you to collect bounties of ships even if not in the system of origin (N.B. ships must still be listed as WANTED before you can legally engage).

Combat Zones reward a fixed bond for each ship destroyed, these ships are harder to kill as they will all have military armour and more likely to gang up on you without notice.

Bounties and bonds, along with any fines you may have, can be handed in or paid off in the system of origin at pretty much any station. This is done through the 'Contacts' section of 'Station Services'.  In some low-security systems an "Interstellar Factors" broker will be available to cash in for other systems, but with a small cut taken.


Trading profit is made by buying commodities at a low price and selling them elsewhere for a higher price. Whilst simple in concept, in such a large game it can be tricky to find the best trading routes.

Sometimes independent traders can be found in space offering a good price on commodities.

For regular trading, the Elite Dangerous Database web-site provides an excellent source of prices and supply.


Smuggling is similar to commodity trading in that it is bought from a commodities market - the difference is selling it. You can often get a good price by selling cargo that is illicit in some systems on the black-market.
The black market isn't available at all stations, so check before trying to sneak it in past the police.  If you're scanned and found to be carrying restricted goods you may be fined or fired upon.


Similar to smuggling in that your goods are sold on the black-market, but instead of buying them, you steal them from other ships. This is best achieved by shooting out cargo hatches or using hatch-breaker limpets to do the same. Sometimes AI will drop cargo when under attack as an attempt to appease you whilst they get away with their lives.  A manifest-scanner can be used to scan the content of ships holds, allowing you to be more selective over which targets you attack.

Attacking unwanted ships incurs bounties, this will attract attention from AI and humans.

Basic Mining

With Elite: Dangerous - Horizons 3.3, a major update has been made to mining which makes it far more involved and profitable.  Basic mining, as below, is still accessible, which is more useful early on in the game where your ship is small and finances constrained, but later on then I'd recommend you look at the more in-depth Elite mining guide.

Raw materials can be mined from the rings of planets. Only pristine metallic rings produce profitable materials. These materials need to be processed by an on-ship refinery.  It is quite frankly, boring.

You will need to equip your ship with a mining laser (or two); a refinery; a prospector limpet controller; and a collection limpet controller.  Prioritise the refinery, but otherwise get the biggest modules you can fit/afford.  You will also need cargo space for all your mining results.  For now though, fill this cargo space up with limpets to be used with your controllers.

Whilst mining is frequently done by the AI in Resource Extraction Sites (RES), these areas are primarily for bounty hunters looking for some PvE action.  If you want to actually do mining without being attacked by pirates, you should drop into a pristine metallic ring at a random location.  If you are in unexplored systems, you will need a Detailed Surface Scanner to reveal the composition of a planetary ring.

Once you have found a suitable location, you should start by firing off prospector limpets to asteroids.  These will reveal the composition of an asteroid and whether it's worth mining (it will also significantly boost the amount of quality material you get out of an asteroid).  As a general rule, the only asteroids worth mining are those containing Platinum, Palladium or Painite.  These are rare so you will have to go through a fair few prospectors to find them.  Other materials just don't give out money to make it worth while.

Once you have identified your asteroid, release as many collection limpets as your controller will support simultaneously (be sure not to target anything collectable when launching limpets as they'll self destruct after collecting one item).  Then proceed to blast the asteroid with your mining laser.  Your collection limpets will take care of picking up all the fragments.  Be sure they're on-top of the task before moving on to the next asteroid.

Fragments will enter the refinery and put into "bins", once enough fragments of a mineral or ore has been collected, it will be refined into a single unit of cargo and the bin freed up. If you run out of bins and try to collect a mineral or ore that hasn't already been allocated a bin then the refining process will jam up.  You will need to vent a bin that you're not interested in to space before it can continue.

Once you have exhausted your supply of limpets, head off to base to sell your wares.

This basic mining approach is the only way to release engineering materials from asteroids - these materials are used in crafting upgrades and for synthesis to construct ammunition and super-fuels in your ship.

If you're planing to explore the deep-dark depths of space, it's worth bringing a mining laser for this purpose.

Surface Prospecting

Mining can be done on the surface too with the use of a SRV.  You will ideally need to use a Detailed Surface Scanner to launch surface scan probes from orbit, which will highlight any clusters of resources worth taking a trip to.  Unlike mining of asteroids, surfaces deposits do not need to be refined and are generally only give materials for use with engineering, there is no financial gain from this process, but it also doesn't take up any cargo space.


All ships come with a basic discovery scanner, this can be used when in super-cruise to "ping" an unmapped system. This will reveal all stellar objects in the system and allow for further analysis, they will be labelled as Unexplorerd. This data can then be sold to stations over 20ly away from the source system through Universal Cartographics in Station Services.

Further value can be derived by scanning each stellar object, this is done in one of two ways: passively by moving close enough, or by use the Full Spectrum Scanner.  The FSS is used when throttled back (annoying as you can't get anywhere whilst doing it) in Super Cruise (annoying as you're a sitting duck).  First you need to tune the analyser to the correct area for planets, which will be indicated by a frequency symbol along the bottom bar, you can then look around the skybox to find a match source and zoom in on it to resolve that object.  Once you have scanned all planets, the system will be scanned.

You can also scan signal sources which are POIs, but these don't contribute towards discovering the system or exploration.

Finally a detailed surface-scan can be completed with a Detailed Surface Scanner equipped.  This module allows you to fire probes from super-cruise at a planet.  You need to land the probes to provide enough coverage around the entire planet and you will be told when the scan is complete.

Any system or body that you have yet to identify is suitable for exploration and receiving a payout.  You will get vastly more of a payout if you're the first person to discover and scan planets.

The highest paid objects in the galaxy are objects such as: Black holes, Neutron Stars, Earth-Like-Worlds, Ammonia Worlds.  Whilst all of these will have been discovered near "The Bubble", they will still pay out when you encounter them for the first time.  Though with 400 billion simulated stars in the game, you don't have to go that far until you start finding your own set of first discoveries.

For deep-space exploration, you will want to strip your ship back to its lightest configuration and ensure you have fitted:

  • A-rated FSD.
  • A-rated Fuel Scoop.
  • Heat-sink launcher (for accidental encounters with stellar objects).
  • Auto-Field Maintenance unit (preferably two, so you can repair the other).
  • Hull Repair Limpet controller and limpets.
  • SRV bay with SRV for collecting materials on planets.

The only mandatory item is a fuel-scoop.

Between galactic arms and on the outer edges you run the risk of getting yourself stranded if you run out of fuel and can't find a scoopable star (there are plenty of dry patches).  Always keep an eye on your route and fuel levels.

Your scans are worthless until you've cashed them in - you will lose them if your ship is destroyed.


Missions are by far the easiest way to get started, they will generally be about collecting or delivering cargo or information (the latter will not take up any hold space). Or combat related, including assassination that may result in a bounty on your head.

Simply take a mission from the mission board on the station and follow the instructions.  There will be a time limit.  Successfully completing a mission will increase your reputation with the faction that provided it - and ultimately the major power (Federation, Alliance or Empire).  Failure will have the opposite effect.  The better your standing with a faction, the better the missions will pay out.  Some missions are chained with multiple improving ones.

As your rank improves with the major powers, you should keep an eye out for Naval Ascension missions.  These will randomly occur once your naval rank reaches 100% with the power and allow you to move onto the next level.  Many levels unlock permits to restricted systems, or allow you access to specialised ships.

Community Goals

There is often one or two Community Goals running which usually require a large amount of one item being traded or a large number of bounties being handed in at a particular station.

These work on tiers, the higher the tier achieved the more money rewarded to all players. The higher your contribution to the goal, the higher the reward within each tier. These can often provide millions in credits and are a steady source of income.

Be warned, these are focal points for players and can attract unsavoury types who have no interest in your type of role play and will just blast you for the lulz.