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Pokemon Go trading, Stardust costs, Special trades and more explained

pokemon go trading
(Image credit: Niantic)

Pokemon Go trading is the mobile take on a key component of the Pokemon franchise. Aside from catching and raising your Pokemon, trading with friends has been a staple of the games since the 1990’s and that trend continues in okemon Go.

However, trading in Pokemon Go is a bit different than in the games. Trainers can’t just swap Pokemon one-for-one in Pokemon Go, instead, it depends on friendship level, the Pokemon being traded and a host of other factors that we’ll get into in this guide.

To trade in Pokemon Go, trainers must fulfil the following three criteria as a baseline:

  • Be level 10 or above
  • Be friends on Pokemon Go with the person you're trading with
  • Be within 100 meters of them in real life

Once these conditions are fulfilled, trainers can begin trading. Here are the specifics on all things trading in Pokemon Go.

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How to make Pokemon Go friends

Pokemon Go friends

The first step towards Pokemon Go trading is to actually become friends within the game. To do this, go to your Trainer section, and hit the Friends tab. From here, tap the "add Friend" button to bring up your Trainer Code. You'll need to share this with anyone you want to be friends with in Pokemon Go, or grab the 12-digit Trainer Code number of any of your friends that play Pokemon Go and add them to your game. 

When someone adds you to their Friends list, you'll get a notification within the Friends tab. You can then just accept that request to become Pokemon Go friends. 

Exchange gifts with Pokemon Go friends to increase your friendship level

Sending and receiving Pokemon Go gifts

It's not just a case of becoming Pokemon Go friends with someone though. There are levels of friendship you can increase you by trading together, battling in raids or Gym battles together, and also by exchanging gifts. 

Every time you visit a PokeStop you'll be in with a chance of receiving a Gift you can send to anyone on your friends list. These gifts contain useful items like potions and PokeBalls, and eggs that will eventually hatch into various Pokemon. You can only send one gift a day to each friend, but doing so builds your trainer level. 

There are four levels of friendship that you can achieve with another player:

  • Good Friend (reached after 1 day of friendship)
  • Great Friend (reached after 7 days of friendship)
  • Ultra Friend (reached after 30 days of friendship)
  • Best Friend (reached after 90 days of friendship)

The good news is you only need to be Good Friends with someone to start trading with them (provided you're both Trainer Level 10 or above), and you can get there by giving each other one gift. 

However, if you want to trade for Pokemon you haven't already caught, you'll have to upgrade your friendship level to at least Great Friends. 

Friendship levels in Pokemon Go

Increasing your friend level with another player gets you a tonne of perks. When you're Great Friends or above, you can battle at Gyms or in Raids together, gaining attack bonuses and Raid bonuses. Those perks only increase as your friendship level rises too, so get gifting.

How does Pokemon Go trading work?

Pokemon Go trading

As long as you've been friends with someone for a day, and have exchanged one gift, you can trade Pokemon with them. Every trade will cost Stardust, although the exact cost depends on a number of factors - more on that in a minute. 

When you know what you want to trade and who you want to trade with, make sure you're physically next to each other (within 100m). Then head to the Friends tab within Pokemon Go, and select the player you want to trade with. Hit the trade button in the right-hand corner, and get your friend to do the same. When you've connected, pull up the Pokemon you want to trade and you'll be informed of the trade cost in Stardust, but also the CP range the Pokemon will hit when it is traded. When the trade is over, the Pokemon's CP level will sit somewhere within this range. The range is affected by your Trainer Level, the level of the receiving trainer and also your friendship level. 

The higher your Friendship Level, the more likely the Pokemon you receive will have higher IVs.

You also get candies for every trade, which is a great added bonus. How many you'll receive depends on where the Pokemon was caught too. The further away you are from its source, the more candies you'll receive. According to Reddit, you get one candy for distances below 30km, two candies from between 30 - 100km, and three candies for anything above 100km. 

Not all Pokemon are regarded the same in Pokemon Go trading though, as there are two types of trades you can do with a friend: Standard Pokemon Go trades, and Special Pokemon Go trades. 

  • Standard trades include regional Pokemon, different forms of Pokemon already in your Pokedex (such as Unowns, Alolan or Castform varients), and any Pokemon you don't have in your Pokedex that aren't Legendaries or shinies. 
  • Special Trades are reserved for Legendary Pokemon like Articuno or Zapdos, and Shiny Pokemon. You can't trade Mythical Pokemon at all in Pokemon Go. They have to be earned I'm afraid. 

Pokemon Go trading costs - How much Stardust is it really?

Stardust in Pokemon Go trading

The actual cost of Pokemon Go trading is quite a complex thing. Every trade will cost you Stardust, and that price will depend on a number of factors: whether you've already caught the Pokemon yourself, your friendship level with the player you're trading with, and the Pokemon you're actually trading - Standard vs Special trades. 

It seems like the Stardust Pokemon Go trading cost is about as follows via Serebii.net.

STARDUST REQUIREMENT
GoodGreatUltraBest
Pokemon in both players’ Pokedex100100100100
Legendary/Shiny Pokemon in both players’ Pokedex20,00016,0001600800
Pokemon not found in one player’s Pokedex20,00016,0001600800
Legendary/Shiny Pokemon not found in one player’s Pokedex1,000,000800,0080,00040,000

Basically, plan ahead if you want to trade Legendaries you don't already own to increase your friendship level with the trainer you want to trade with. Just look at the difference in Stardust cost between trading a Legendary bird with a Good Friend vs a Best Friend:

Pokemon Go evolution trades

Pokemon Go evolution trades

(Image credit: Niantic)

While there's some Pokemon in the core games that require a trade in order to evolve, that functionality has been noticeably missing from Pokemon Go until a recent update. Now, all Pokemon that evolve via trade in the main games also have the option in Pokemon Go, alongside a candy requirement. This includes Pokemon old and new, so for example Graveler now evolves into Golem through either 100 Geodude candy or trading with another trainer. It looks like new Pokemon with this function need 200 candy, whereas existing ones haven't had their candy requirement changed.

Phillip Martinez
Phillip Martinez

I'm currently a GamesRadar guide contributor with a specialty in everything Pokemon GO. If you've wanted to know the best way to take down a Rayquaza, there's a good chance you read one of my guides. I previously have written for IBT Media, Newsweek and Screen Rant. I'm a huge fighting game fan and everything Pokemon, but I've grown to love RPGs.

With contributions from