Stardust is one of the most scarce resources in Pokémon Go. If you’re someone who often finds themselves short on Stardust when Powering Up your Pokémon for battle, the tips in this article could help you to conserve it, spend it more wisely, and therefore make it go a lot further. Before we dive into that, however, let’s look at the best ways to stock up your on Stardust in the first place.

Maximising Stardust Gains

There are a number of very effective ways of building up your Stardust reserves, so let’s look at these, starting with the most effective:

Intensive Catching

During periods of intense play like Community Days, Trainers can easily rack up 100 catches per hour. This would equate to at least 45,000 Stardust over the three hours if a Star Piece was used, not to mention further bonuses like weather boosts or wild Evolved forms that you catch.

You can improve on this further by prioritising Weather Boosted Pokémon as they give an extra 25 Stardust each.

You can also stack up to 100 Field Research encounters for any gaps between spawn points to further increase the number of catches you can achieve. If you’ve stacked a few evolved forms, even better!

Make the Most of Stardust Events

If that Community Day was one that incorporated triple Stardust for all catches, that would mean gains of at least 135,000 Stardust would be possible in three hours, if a Star Piece was used.

Stardust events do of course happen during other events that can last several days at a time. Even though these are few and far between, every effort should be made to make the most of them too.

Use Star Pieces Appropriately

Star Pieces are not usually easy to come by, as they aren’t currently available as stand-alone items in the Shop. To get them you’re required to buy a Sale Box which bundles them in with other items, some of which you might not want or need. This can be a costly exercise with the 1480 Pokécoin Ultra Box and Adventure Box often being the best value.

If you can’t afford to buy Boxes all the time, don’t throw a Star Piece on just to do a few Raids or because you’ve found a wild final-stage Evolution, save your Star Pieces until you’re planning to catch intensively and use a few then – your Stardust reserves will benefit from it much more in the long-run.

Reader Contribution

Here’s an intricate yet efficient use of a Star Piece, from the comments section below:
1. Line up your Research Breakthrough and 7 day Catch Streak so that you hit them both on the same day.

2. On day 6 (the day before you hit them), do not do any Trainer Battles or open any Gifts, but do have a Field Research task ready to claim for your 7th stamp tomorrow.
3. Pop a star piece at 11:45pm.
4. Do a Team Leader battle and three Trainer Battles.
5. Open 20 gifts.
6. With any time left before midnight, catch any Pokémon you have stacked from Research encounters and then remote feed any Pokémon in Gyms.
7. After midnight, cash in the research task for the 7 day research.
8. Catch the Pokémon in the Research Breakthrough for your 7 day streak.
9. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 until you’re out of stuff to do or the star piece expires.

With this method, I estimate you could get around 20,000 Stardust from the use of one Star Piece.

Top-up With Small, Free Boosts

Other less efficient, but none-the-less effective, ways of topping up your Stardust at no extra cost are:

  • Raids – Around 5000 average Stardust per day (using free coins from defending Gyms)
  • Field Research tasks – Around 5000 average Stardust per day
  • PvP Battles / Team Leader Battles – Up to 3000 Stardust per day
  • Hatching Eggs – Around 3000 average Stardust per day
  • Stack research encounters and clear them when you have a Star Piece running – Around 1000 Stardust per day
  • Opening Gifts – Average 1500 Stardust per day

(These are all rough estimates based only on my perception of how much the average F2P Trainer plays)

Try to do these smaller tasks as often as you can for small boosts that can really add up over time – over this average player’s day they would have gained between 18,500 and 27,750 extra Stardust, depending on how many Star Pieces they used, and when.

Now, onto the main topic of discussion;

Conserving the Stardust You’ve Gained

It’s far easier to spend your Stardust than it is to earn it, so if you can conserve and spend what you’ve got sensibly, it will benefit you far better over the long-term.

Let’s look at some of the key thought processes that we should be going through before spending any Stardust:

Is This Pokémon Immediately Useful To My Goal?

If a strong Pokémon isn’t immediately useful to you, i.e. it doesn’t counter any of the current raid bosses or isn’t relevant to the current PvP meta, then just hold onto it. You can always put your Stardust into it later, but you can never get it back out…

It may also never become useful, or a new Pokémon could be released before it becomes useful, which out-performs it. Don’t be tempted to power something up just for the sake of it. Make sure you have an immediate and justified use for it first.

Are IVs Crucial To My Goal?

Many people continue to be under the impression that IVs are the be-all and end-all of a Pokémon’s usefulness. Yes it’s great to have that high IV trophy version of each one, but very often, those few extra stat points do not justify the amount of Stardust they would need, to make them useful. If you’re trying to low-man a Raid Boss and are getting down to the last few seconds, higher IVs could help you to reach that next breakpoint. Otherwise, high IVs are really not worth dumping a tonne of your Stardust into.

A much more efficient approach would be to find a weather boosted version of that Pokémon (Level 31-35) and evolve it. You then have a perfectly strong and usable Raid Boss counter for zero Stardust investment, as opposed to the 137k it would have taken to Power Up a hatched one with high IVs.

Is It Worth Powering Up Beyond Level 30?

As I’ve previously talked about in this article, powering up beyond Level 30 is very rarely necessary. At Level 30, a Pokémon is roughly 90% as powerful as it would be if you powered it all the way up to Level 40. The dust costs, however, do not reflect this very slight improvement; This 10% increase in damage output costs you 150,000 Stardust (and 182 of that Pokémon’s candies), which equates to over double the cost, for less than half of the improvement, when compared to powering up from Level 20 to Level 30.

For many Trainers, the relatively small increase in damage output gained by powering up above Level 30 is only worth all that extra Stardust and candy, if the Pokémon is extremely versatile, is relevant in all of the current meta-games (Gyms, Raids, and PvP) and remains relevant in what they expect the future meta-games to become.

Even then, consideration should be given to my point above about holding off on powering up until they’re immediately useful to your goal.

Can I Get A Lucky One Before I Need To Power It Up?

With the Lucky Friends feature, we can now easily Trade powerful, meta-relevant Pokémon, while halving their Stardust costs, and as an added bonus, getting guaranteed high IVs! This is not to be overlooked as one of the most significant ways that we can conserve Stardust today.

If you’re considering Powering any Pokémon up, then why not grind some Friend levels for a few weeks, make some Best Friends and see if they’ll trade you one first? Powering a Level 20 Lucky Pokémon to Level 30 would save you 37,500 Stardust compared to a non-Lucky, and if you ever decide to take it all the way to Level 40, this would save you another 75,000 Stardust!

Does This Second Charged Move Provide Enough Extra Coverage?

Second Charged moves are most commonly used in PvP as they can help give you extra coverage when you don’t know which Pokémon you’re about to battle. But not only are some of them restrictively expensive, sometimes a PvP meta is very unlikely to pit you against certain types due to the type restrictions imposed by its rules.

For example, you may be considering buying a second Charged move for Skarmory. You already have Sky Attack (a very useful move) but wonder whether Flash Cannon would also be useful in some cases. Unless the meta you’re using it in has any prominent Rock-, Ice-, or Fairy-types, then chances are you’ll be wasting 75,000 Stardust. Instead, hold onto that dust and wait for the right moment to use it, which could be several months down the line.

One other important point to make on this subject, is that if the Pokémon you want a 2nd move on has a baby form, always remember to buy the second move before evolving it – Lucario is a great example of a very prominent PvP Pokémon and how you can save 40,000 Stardust just by buying the second move before you evolve Riolu.

Am I Just Powering This Up Because It’s a ‘Trophy’?

It can be very tempting to power up ‘Trophy’ Pokémon, just so it’ll look good in your storage and so you can show it off to your friends – the definition I’m using for ‘Trophy Pokémon’ is “Any Pokémon that is currently useless in all aspects of battling and is therefore a just a Pokédex filler (but has something that makes it special)”.

Examples of Trophy Pokémon would be a 100% Lopunny, a shiny Ho-Oh, or perhaps even a Slaking just because it breaks 4000 CP – they’re all currently useless and will sit in your storage after having consumed great swathes of your Stardust, probably never being able to repay you for it.

My advice would be to admire these beautiful Pokémon at their current CP values and keep reminding yourself, CP doesn’t even begin to matter until you’re trying to win a battle…

Is This Unevolved Form Significantly Better Than Its Evolved Form (In PvP)?

Occasionally, an unevolved Pokémon will perform better in battle than it’s evolved form. This is partly because it can hit a higher stat product when powered up to a much higher Level than its evolved form, while still remaining under the CP cap.

One major drawback to this, however, is that the Stardust cost will often be significantly more for the unevolved version as it needs to be powered up to a much higher Level. Depending on exactly how much this cost is may mean that the slightly superior performance of the unevolved Pokémon isn’t worth spending all of that Stardust on. If the two Pokémon in question are at similar positions in the Pokebattler and/or PvPoke rankings, then you might as well conserve some Stardust and go for the evolved version if possible.

Always be on the lookout for Weather-Boosted, unevolved versions of Pokémon as they could allow you to one day have that unevolved one sitting just under the CP limit for little to no Stardust investment.

Conclusion and TL;DR

Here’s an overview of all of the points we’ve discussed above. If you’re planning to start conserving your Stardust and spending it more sensibly, here are the general guidelines you may want to start applying to your play-style:

Maximising Stardust Gains

Intensive catching – Catch as much as you can with or without a Star Piece!

Make the most of stardust events – As above but always use a Star Piece!

Use Star Pieces appropriately – Don’t waste them on small gains.

Top-up with small, free boosts – Take advantage of small boosts where possible – they add up.

Conserving the stardust you’ve gained – ask yourself:

Is this Pokémon immediately useful to my goal? If the answer is no, don’t power it up yet.

Are IVs crucial to my goal? If the answer is no, try to find a high Level, Weather Boosted one instead (at any IV) so you don’t have to Power Up.

Is it worth powering up beyond Level 30? If it’s not incredibly useful, keep it at Level 30.

Can I get a lucky one before I need to power it up? Try – the stardust costs will be halved.

Does this second charged move provide enough extra coverage? If the answer is no, don’t buy it yet.

Am I just powering this up because it’s a ‘trophy’? Never power up Trophies.

Is this unevolved form significantly better than its evolved form (in PvP)? If the answer is no, use the evolved form.

Parting Thoughts

The methods we’ve discussed here are simply the most efficient ways of gaining and spending Stardust. The most important thing is that you enjoy this game; if any of these suggestion reduce your enjoyment of the game in any way, please discard them and do whatever it takes for you to get the maximum enjoyment from it.

There are many different ways to enjoy Pokémon Go and equally, if the lack of Stardust is reducing your enjoyment of it, hopefully these methods and ways of thinking can help you to improve that.

If you have any highly efficient methods of gaining and/or conserving Stardust that you think I’ve overlooked, please let us know in the comments.