How to Buy, Sell, and Use Steam Trading Cards

Level up your Steam profile and make money from playing games

A teenager unpacks a Steam Card booster pack.

Steam Trading Cards are virtual trading cards that you can earn for free by playing certain games through the Steam platform. Each card features unique artwork that's provided by the developer of the associated game. You can sell these cards on the Steam Community Market, trade them with your friends, and craft them into badges that you can then display on your Steam Community profile.

Search the Steam store for games that include the Steam Trading Cards tag to find games that can give you Steam Cards. Some free-to-play games even provide them, but only if you've spent money on in-game purchases.

What is the Point of Steam Trading Cards?

Steam Trading Cards have two main purposes. You can sell them for Steam Wallet cash, which you can then use to buy various in-game items on the Steam Community Marketplace, and games on the regular Steam Store. If you obtain a full set of cards for any given game, you can also craft them together to receive rewards.

How to Get Steam Trading Cards

There are a few ways to get Steam Cards, but the only way to obtain them for free is by playing games on Steam. When a game includes Steam Card support, you'll earn them just by playing the game. Each game has a preset number of cards in its full set, and playing the game will allow you to gain about half of those cards.

You can also obtain Steam Cards by trading with friends and strangers, buying them on the Steam Community Marketplace, and opening booster packs.

Here's how to get Steam Cards for free:

  1. Open Steam.

    Steam gaming platform.
  2. Move your mouse over your username, and click Badges.

    Steam menu.
  3. Locate a game that can still drop cards, and click PLAY.

    The Steam badges page.

    Games that include Steam Trading Cards can each provide a set number of cards. If a game can no longer do so, it will say that there are zero cards left.

  4. Play the game.

    City Skylines game.

    You don't have to play a game to earn cards. If you launch the game and leave it running, it will amass cards as long as it remains open. You can even minimize the game and do something else, and the game will continue to earn cards until there are none left.

  5. When you earn a card, you will see the envelope icon in the top right of the Steam window turn green. Click the green envelope icon to see what you earned.

    The Steam badges page.
  6. Click the card to see more information about it.

    A Steam card in a Steam inventory.
  7. Now that you have the card, you can click turn into gems, click sell, or save it for later.

    A Steam card in the Steam inventory.
  8. A lot of Steam games have the Steam Trading Cards feature, so keep playing your games to earn even more cards.

How to Sell Steam Trading Cards

Once you have some Steam Trading Cards in your inventory, it's time to decide what to do with them. You can sell them, trade them, or hold on to them for later. The only use for Steam Cards outside of selling them is to craft them into badges, so if you aren't interested in doing that for any given game, then the best thing to do is sell them.

Selling Steam Cards earns you money that goes into your Steam Wallet, and you can use those funds to buy new Steam Cards to complete a badge or save up for more expensive purchases like in-game items or full games on the Steam store.

Here's how to sell Steam Cards:

  1. Open your Steam inventory by clicking your username > inventory.

    The Steam inventory.
  2. Click a Steam Trading Card that you want to sell.

    The Steam inventory.
  3. Click Sell.

    A Steam card in the Steam inventory.
  4. Enter the amount of money you want for the card, select the box to indicate you agree to the Steam Subscriber Agreement, then click Okay, put it up for sale.

    The Steam marketplace.
  5. Click OK.

    The Steam Community Market.
  6. Click OK.

    Steam gaming platform.
  7. If you use email for Steam Guard, open your email, look for an email from Steam, and click the provided link.

    If you use the Steam Guard app tap the (three vertical lines) icon, then tap Confirmations.

    Steam Guard app.
  8. Tap the box next to the card you put up for sale, then tap Confirm Selected.

    Steam Guard app.
  9. Your card will then appear on the Steam Market. When it sells, you will receive an email.

What Are Steam Gems?

If you've ever sold a Steam Trading Card, or even looked at one in your inventory, you probably noticed the option that allows you to turn Steam Cards into gems.

Steam gems are a relic of the Steam holiday sale that took place in 2014, but they're still relevant. The methods for earning them that were available during that sale are no longer around, but you can turn cards and other Steam inventory items into gems.

Steam gems.

Gems have two purposes. If you collect 1,000 gems, you can pack them into a sack, and then sell it on the Steam Marketplace. You can also use them to create booster packs.

Since gems can be sold or turned into booster packs, and some Steam inventory items are worth so little, turning your worthless inventory items into gems is a valid way to get some extra cash or Steam Card booster packs eventually.

Here's how to turn a Steam Card, or anything else in your Steam inventory, into gems:

  1. Open your Steam inventory, click a card or item, then select turn into gems.

    Steam Inventory.
  2. Click OK.

    Steam gem conversion confirmation.

    This process is not reversible. Once you've converted an item into gems, you can't switch it back.

  3. Tap OK.

    Steam gem confirmation screen.
  4. Return to your inventory, and turn additional items into gems. It's a good idea to convert items worth very little on the Steam Community Market especially if you have a lot of them.

What Are Steam Trading Card Booster Packs?

Steam Trading Card booster packs are very similar to those you might have seen for physical trading card games. Each one contains three cards from a specific game, and you can't tell which cards until you get it.

When you collect all of the available cards from a game, you're eligible to earn booster packs from that game. To maintain eligibility, you must log into Steam at least once each week.

As you level up your Steam profile, your chances for earning booster packs also goes up, which is an incentive to obtain more cards, to craft more badges, and to level up your profile.

You can sell booster packs with or without opening them. In addition to regular cards, opening a booster pack has a tiny chance to reveal a rare foil card. Foil cards can be used to create foil badges, which feature unique artwork.

If you're looking to complete a badge, then opening a booster pack for that game is a good idea. Otherwise, selling it unopened is usually a better idea.

Here's how to use a Steam Card booster pack:

  1. Open your inventory, click a booster pack, then click Unpack.

    Steam inventory.

    This process is not reversible. When you unpack a booster pack, you receive trading cards, and the booster pack item disappears. If the value of the booster pack is likely to be higher than the cards, and you aren't interested in crafting the associated badge, consider selling the booster pack instead of unpacking it.

  2. An animation will play, and then you get to see the cards that were in the booster pack.

    Steam inventory with an opened booster pack.
  3. You can open additional booster packs by returning to your inventory, or use the view badge progress button to go straight to the associated badge in your profile.

What Are Steam Badges?

Steam Badges are a cosmetic item that you can display on your Steam profile. By default, your profile shows the four most recently completed badges, but you can also prominently feature any of them.

You can obtain most badges by crafting together full sets of Steam Trading Cards, but you can also get badges from participating in Steam sale events and hitting milestones like owning a specific number of games on Steam.

The primary purpose of Steam Badges is that every time you earn one, you also get experience points. These experience points are used to level up your Steam profile. As your profile level grows, you gain the ability to have more Steam friends, add additional content blocks to your profile, and more.

Here's how to obtain a Steam Badge through crafting:

  1. Open your Steam profile by clicking your username, then click Badges.

    Steam inventory.
  2. Locate a badge you want to complete, and click it.

    Steam badges page.
  3. This page provides several ways to obtain the cards you're missing.

    You can click the trade button (arrows icon) underneath a friend's name to send them a trade request, or click visit trade forum to trade with a stranger.

    The fastest way to complete a badge is to click Buy remaining cards on the Market.

    An incomplete Monster Hunter World steam badge.
  4. Click place order.

    Steam Community Market.

    Steam automatically sets optimal purchase prices for each card to make sure that you can purchase them right away. If you want to pay less and wait for the purchases to go through, you can adjust the purchase price of each card individually.

  5. Return to the badges section of your profile, and click Ready.

    Steam Badges page.
  6. Click Craft Badge.

    A Steam badge that's ready to craft.

    This process is not reversible. When you craft the badge, the cards disappear. You will be able to view the card art at any time by visiting your badge page, but you will no longer be able to sell the individual cards.

  7. An animation will play, and then Steam will show you the results of the craft. You will typically receive some experience points to level up your profile, and an assortment of profile wallpapers and Steam Chat emotes.

    A crafted badge in Steam.
  8. You can craft additional badges to level up your profile even further and unlock rewards like a bigger friends list and more modules on your profile page.