Credits aren’t hard to come by in Starfield, but every little bit helps. One way to make a lot of money fast is by smuggling and selling contraband items, which you’ll find scattered throughout the galaxy. Good luck unloading it, though: if you try to take it to a settlement like New Atlantis on Jemison or Akila City in the Cheyenne system, you’ll probably get busted as soon as you grav jump into orbit. Whenever you visit a settled planet, some officious yahoo who should be minding their own business will scan your ship, and if contraband is found, you’ll wind up in jail or in an outer space shootout with local law enforcement. There are ways around that, though, and we’re here to explain how.
There are a few ways to lessen the odds of those scans. First off, you can put points into Deception on your skill tree; scanners will be 10% less likely to find contraband when at level one, and if you max it out up to level four a scan will have a 50-50 shot of detecting whatever you’re trying to hide.
It also helps if your ship has a shielded cargo hold. If you have one of those installed on your ship, it’ll also lessen the chance of a scan picking up your illegal items. I’m not sure if this matters, but stay on the safe side and actually put your contraband inside your ship’s official hold through the screen in your cockpit if you’re going to count on the shield. Also, these holds can be expensive, and not always easy to buy; if you want to get one relatively early in the game and without shelling out too many credits, you can tackle The Mantis quest, which will get you the Razorleaf, a ship with a shielded cargo hold.
Scan jammers will also help you defeat a scan in Starfield. These items increase your chance of success based on how powerful they are, and can be found or purchased at various spots throughout the game. Early on, if you head to Porrima 3 in the Alpha Centauri system, you’ll be able to buy both a scan jammer and a shielded cargo hold from an NPC called Lon Anderssen at the Red Mile race.
Once you’re able to beat those pesky scans, how can you actually fence the goods, though? It’s pretty easy: you can just walk up and sell them to any Trade Authority kiosk or window. Yeah, once it’s on planet, nobody really seems to care what you do with your contraband. Weird.
There’s also another way to sell your contraband that doesn’t involve a scan at all. The Den is a space station orbiting the planet Chthonia in the Wolf system, and pretty much anything goes here. You can dock here and unload whatever you’ve got without having to worry about getting busted, making it the most direct and economical way to move your product.
Smuggling contraband will net you a quick infusion of credits while adding a bit of stress and intrigue to your Starfield playthrough. It’s not remotely necessary to enjoy or succeed at the game, but it definitely adds an element of thrillpower to a game that could use it. Good luck, smugglers!