When planning out your trade routes, things that should be taken into consideration
What type of commodity are you planning to trade?
Knowing what you are planning to trade will make many of the following questions much easier to answer. When deciding which commodity to trade your first, best consideration is to find the commodity that gives you the best profit for the least cost. This reduces risk. The best traders in the Verse are the ones who can effectively minimize their risk.
Which ship do you plan to use?
While many players select the ship with the greatest Standard Cargo Unit (SCU) capacity, this is not ALWAYS the best decision. If you are travelling long distances, the ship with the best Q Drive may make the route more profitable by decreasing the time you spend in quantum travel. If your trade route involves multiple stops on a moon or planet, a smaller ship that can quickly get in and out atmosphere may be a better choice. If you are starting out and can barely fill an Aurora, using a Starfarer means you are paying some comparatively high operating costs in fuel to run a ship you can’t fill.
The important thing here is to realize that there are many factors that need to be thought about before you just grab the biggest ship and head off into space. Always try to take a ship that best fits the needs of your route.
How much aUEC are you planning to spend on each leg of the route?
Bugs, server crashes and griefers are just some of the ways you can lose an entire load of cargo in the blink of an eye. If all your money is tied up in the cargo on your ship, you just bought yourself a one way ticket to bankruptcy. It can be hard to do early on in your trading career, but investing only 50% of your capital in commodities is a really good idea. There’s a BIG difference between losing half your capital and having to start over from 0 aUEC.
Also, knowing how much you are going to spend will give you an idea of how much cargo space you are going to need. That brings us to…
4. How long does the run take you?
5. How much overall profit are you making?
6. Are you flying through or landing in PVP zones?
7. How long will you be exposed to PVP danger while your ship is being loaded/unloaded?
8. Are you bringing escorts/turret gunners to mitigate your risk?
9. How much of your profit will go to escorts/gunners?
10. Consider the risk of any run as compared to the profit per minute
11. When calculating time spent, you have to consider the supply or demand at a given location. Some locations will not have enough commodity to fill your ship, while others may not be able to buy all your cargo in one go.
12. Trade terminals have buy/sell limits, once these limits have been reached, you will need to wait for the kiosks to generate more commodity to buy more or use their stock to sell more. This is important because it adds a time delay that can cut into profit margins. Additionally, the rates at which commodities are generated or used vary from location to location
3.6.2 Trade Progression Sample
If you are like most Citizens, then your aUEC balance at the start of a patch probably looks pretty thin. Trading commodities for profit in the Verse is a pretty good way to increase that number fairly quickly. However, conducting profitable trade is not always as easy as it sounds. If you are coming here for help, then it’s likely you just need a basic trade route to get you started.
We will start by assuming that you have roughly 10,000 aUEC to begin trading (if you have more, then skip ahead a little bit). Instead of trying to run cargo immediately, it is more profitable and less time consuming to do Bounty Hunter, Delivery, Maintenance, Mercenary and many other forms of missions to build your capital to approximately 100,000 aUEC.
At 100,000 aUEC cargo trading quickly outpaces missions in profit potential. If you have a Cutlass Black or Freelancer, you can start by running Laranite from Arial to Lorville CBD for about 28,000 aUEC per run. That’s 28,000 in PROFIT for about 20 minutes of time flying from Hurston to it’s moon and back. You’ll want to do this several times until you start maxing out your profit around 250K aUEC.
At 250,000 aUEC it becomes far more beneficial to run cargo in a larger ship like the Starfarer or Caterpillar. The increase in hauling capacity is tied directly to an increase your profit margins. This allows you to invest more and haul more. The run from Tram & Meyers on Cellin to Port Olisar is profitable and quick for larger ships. You can continue to run Laranite while also being able to top off your cargo hold with Titanium for a profit in the 100K aUEC range per run. Moreover, once there is a deficit of Laranite and Titanium at Tram & Meyers a profit of ~70,000 aUEC can made from running solely diamonds in large ship such as the Caterpillar.
Assuming all goes well, your net worth will reach approximately 1,000,000 aUEC after several runs. At this point, there are many options for continuing to increase your wealth. All of them have some measure of risk. Determining which routes to take and which commodities to trade is better left to you, now that you have enough experience to make better decisions in these matters.
For example, you could start trading drugs at this point. The profit margins can be extremely high for a Caterpillar full of E’tam, but you’ll be risking millions of credits worth of cargo as you operate in non-armistice zones most of the time. Additionally, it often takes a lot of time to fill, then empty your ship at kiosks that buy and sell in small quantities. The choice is yours to make.
Alternatively, you can make multiple fast, runs of less expensive cargo in armistice zones to earn credits. While the profit margins are not as big per run, the runs are safe and fast letting you get more done while risking less.
Please note, there are thousands of routes and commodity combinations. Finding the route that works best for you and how much risk you are willing to accept is part of the fun of the trade profession. What is detailed above is definitely not the only way to make a profit, but it is a tried and tested example to get you started. At the end of the day, always do what you find engaging and worthwhile in Star Citizen and let the credits fall where they may.