A Pokémon Master's Guide: Collecting Stardust

Updated on August 10, 2020
Joseph Mordente profile image

Joseph is an aspiring video game journalist who is a fan of the survival horror genre.

Since the start of Pokémon GO, stardust has been a crucial resource to collect. Originally, it was only used as one of two items needed to level up your Pokémon (the other being candies). Nowadays, not only is it still used for that, but also for purifying Shadow Pokémon, teaching a second charge move, and as the cost for trading.

As stardust has gained more uses trainers have also gained more ways to earn this resource. In the early days, the only ways to obtain stardust was from catching Pokémon and hatching eggs. You can still gain stardust from those two methods listed, but now you can also collect it from:

  • Daily Catch Streaks
  • Completing Raids
  • Beating Team Leaders or other Trainers (up to three times a day)
  • Beating Rocket Grunts/Leaders/Giovanni
  • Feeding berries to Pokémon in Gyms
  • As a reward for a win streak in GO Battle League
  • As a set completion reward in GO Battle League
  • As a rank-up reward in GO Battle League
  • Completing Researches and Special Researches that give stardust
  • Achieving a Research Breakthrough
  • Adventure Sync (25km, 50km, & 100km)
  • Occasionally from Gifts (Sponsored and Friends)

The amount of stardust you receive from each of these activities is different, and I’ll get into each one throughout this guide, but as you can see Niantic has made the stardust grind much less tedious and much easier for all of its trainers. However, it is still very easy to run out of stardust so the grind for it never stops.

In this guide, I will be going over every way that stardust is obtainable. So whether you’re Level 1 or Level 40, now is always the perfect time to start optimizing your grind.

Catching Pokémon

Let’s go back to the basics and start with the stardust gained from catching Pokémon since a lot has changed over the years. You still gain stardust at the normal rate when catching Pokémon, but there are now modifiers that come in three forms; weather boost, catch streak, and star pieces.

A chart showing the stardust gained from catching Pokémon with certain boosts active.
A chart showing the stardust gained from catching Pokémon with certain boosts active.

When weather was introduced to Pokémon GO, it brought with it a “weather boost." There are several different types of weather that correspond to the current real-life weather of wherever you are located and updates every thirty minutes. Each of these weather types affects a certain group of Pokémon. For instance, in Sunny weather Pokémon that are Fire, Ground, and/or Grass are “weather boosted” and have a white swirl animation around them in the over-world when they spawn. When you catch these Pokémon, you will get additional stardust equal to a fourth of the base amount.

Note: Weather also affects the damage of weather boosted moves. However, since this guide is about stardust I will not be getting into battling.

Slugma, Chikorita, Rhyhorn, and Trapinch are all being boosted by the weather.
Slugma, Chikorita, Rhyhorn, and Trapinch are all being boosted by the weather.

Another stardust modifier is the seven-day catch streak. When you catch a Pokémon for the first time each day you'll get an additional amount of stardust. The first six days of your catch streak will reward you with an extra 600, and on the seventh day of your streak, you will receive 3,000 for your initial catch. Once you have completed your seven-day streak it starts over, and you have to rebuild another one. By logging in and catching one Pokémon a day for seven days straight you will be able to get 6,600 stardust from just the streak bonuses alone not counting the base stardust from the catches themselves.

This leads us to the biggest game changer for collecting stardust: star pieces.

Starpieces available for purchase in the store.
Starpieces available for purchase in the store.

A star piece is a consumable item that is purchasable from the store, and obtainable through Special Research, that increases the amount of stardust you receive by 50% for 30 minutes. This does not affect every source of stardust—namely end of season GO League rewards at the time of this writing—but it does affect most of them namely catching and hatching Pokémon.

When you are hatching eggs it is absolutely crucial to have a star piece active, especially when you have several 10km eggs about to hatch. If you are going to be catching a lot of Pokémon, like on Community Days or other special events, using a star piece is a no-brainer.

Hatching Eggs

The amount of stardust you receive from hatching eggs hasn't changed, but with the introduction of star pieces, it has become even more important to sync your hatching times. It's usually the best practice to hold on to your 10km eggs until you have 8 or 9 of them before putting them into incubators. This way you can use just a single star piece right before they all hatch and increase your stardust gains dramatically.

Normally, with 10km eggs, you can get anywhere 3,200 – 6,400 stardust from a single egg. If you have a star piece active that jumps to 4,800 – 9,600. If we have a full inventory of 10km eggs hatching without a star piece we are getting a minimum of 28,800 total stardust. That's not bad, right? If we have a star piece active when they all hatch, however, we are increasing that minimum to 43,200. That is an increase of 14,400 stardust!

So, if you aren't doing it already, try getting your egg hatching in sync. Do not put any eggs into incubators until you have a full inventory, and wait to start hatching 10km eggs until you have 8 or 9.

If you have super incubators try to only use them for 10km eggs.
If you have super incubators try to only use them for 10km eggs.

Raids

Raids are an impractical way of farming stardust considering you are using a Premium Raid Pass, or Remote Raid Pass, to participate in them. You only get 1,000 stardust, which is boostable by star pieces to 1,500, when completing a raid regardless of if it is a Tier 1 or a Tier 5.

You do still receive stardust if you manage to catch the Raid Boss, which will in turn increase the total amount of stardust you get per raid encounter. However, stardust is just a bonus to completing raids, and not something you specifically set out to achieve when you go raiding.

If you plan on doing a lot of raids within a short amount of time (i.e., joining a "Raid Train") then using a star piece with a lucky egg might be worth considering. If you are able to do 10 raids in 30 minutes (or one raid every three minutes), you'll earn 10,000 stardust, or 15,000 with a star piece active—not counting the stardust from catching the raid boss.

The rewards from a Tier 3 Raid.
The rewards from a Tier 3 Raid.

Gyms

An uncommon way to gain stardust is by feeding berries to Pokémon currently in Gyms. You only get 20 stardust per berry fed, and if you have a star piece active it ends up being a whopping 30 stardust. You're not going to be setting any stardust records using this method any time soon.

Since you can only feed a hungry Pokémon ten times, and there can only be six Pokémon in a Gym at once, the most amount of stardust you can get per Gym from this method is 1,200 (or 1,800 with a star piece) at the cost of 60 berries.

It’s not the most practical way of farming stardust, but if you find yourself with a full bag and a lot of extra berries hanging around (looking at you Nanabs), then instead of just trashing them consider finding a Gym and using them there. There is also a very small chance that you'll earn a candy for the Pokémon you're feeding.

Battling

You're able to battle each of the Team Leaders as many times as you want to practice fighting with your Pokémon. The first three times you battle them each day you can earn some stardust as a reward. If you do manage to get some stardust it will either be a 300, 400, or 500 bundle, depending on the difficulty you choose. You can also get twice those amounts if you happen to get lucky and get a "double bundle" of stardust. I will not get into the exact drop rates or "rolls" from battling Team Leaders, but just know that there is a pretty good chance of stardust as a reward from them.

You can also battle other trainers—this is different than battling in the GO League—instead of battling the Team Leaders and you will have the same chance at getting stardust. When you do receive stardust it will be either a 500 or 1,000 bundle. If you choose to fight another trainer three times, you cannot fight the Team Leaders and receive rewards. The same is true if you choose to fight the Team Leaders three times before fighting another trainer. The "three times a day" restriction is shared between the two activities.

There are no restrictions, however, on the amount of times you can battle Rocket Grunts/Leaders and receive stardust. You will always receive 500 stardust from defeating a Rocket Grunt, and you will always receive 1,000 stardust from defeating a Team GO Rocket Leader. This is not a good farming method outside of special events considering Rocket spawns are random, and the stardust reward is more of an added bonus to the real reward: Shadow Pokémon.

In-game journal entries depicting the stardust rewards from beating a Team Leader and a Rocket Grunt.
In-game journal entries depicting the stardust rewards from beating a Team Leader and a Rocket Grunt.

Gifts

When gifts were introduced to Pokémon GO, they were a huge boon to rural players that aren't near PokéStops or Gyms. You can get a wide assortment of items from opening a gift, mostly Pokéballs, but you can also receive stardust. You can get 100, 200, or 300 stardust from opening a gift depending on how many "bundles" of stardust you happen to get.

This seems like it would be a decent way to farm stardust—just send gifts back and forth to friends all day. However, you're only able to send 20 gifts and open 10 of them a day (with the exception of during special events). Once you send a gift to a friend you are unable to send another gift to them until the following day and only if they have opened the first gift.

So even if you have a full friends list, and you have 200 gifts waiting to be opened, you're only going to be able to open a small portion of them a day. This means that at most you'll be able to get 6,000 stardust a day, or 9,000 with a star piece, if you get lucky enough to get 300 stardust from every gift you open.

A screenshot of the contents of a gift from a friend.
A screenshot of the contents of a gift from a friend.

Pokémon GO has also just introduced Sponsored Gifts. When you visit a sponsored PokéStop, or a PokéStop or Gym near one, you'll receive one of these gifts. It's Niantic's way of introducing in-game advertisements. At the time of this writing it is unclear how much stardust you can get from one of these gifts, but they seem to be operating similar to how normal gifts work. There looks to be a "bundle" mechanic, and depending on how many bundles you get for stardust ultimately determines how much stardust you receive from that gift.

I will update this section as more research is done on just how much stardust is gained from opening these Sponsored Gifts.

Research

As we go through all the ways to gain stardust, you’ll notice that a lot of the new ways to gain this resource aren’t exactly efficient farming methods.

There's a limit to how many gifts you can receive per day, and how many times you can battle the Team Leaders. It's far too tedious and time-consuming to try to grind stardust from feeding berries at gyms. Completing raids solely for the stardust rewards is incredibly expensive costing you a Premium Battle Pass (i.e., 100 Pokécoins), and as you'll soon find out completing Field Researches are incredibly inefficient as well.

The first time you spin a PokéStop each day you will get a new Field Research, and you can hold up to three at a time. The rewards for completing these tasks range from Pokémon encounters, Pokéballs, rare candies, berries, and stardust. The harder the task, the better the reward. If you manage to find a research task that rewards you stardust upon completion you can receive anywhere from 100 – 1,500.

A chart showing the possible rewards for completing some field researches.
A chart showing the possible rewards for completing some field researches. | Source

They are boostable by star pieces, so if you happen to have a research that rewards a high stardust amount, you might want to hold off claiming it until you have some eggs about to hatch. This way you'll be able to make more use of a star piece.

Research Breakthroughs offer a greater stardust reward, but you will need to complete at least one research task a day for seven days. On the seventh day, after completing your last research, you will unlock a Research Breakthrough. The main appeal of a Research Breakthrough is the (usually) rare Pokémon that you get depending on the month—like Moltres, Larvitar, Snorlax, etc.—but 5,000 stardust is also part of the reward. The contents of the Research Breakthrough change monthly, but the stardust reward is always the same.

Collect seven daily research task stamps to unlock a Research Breakthrough.
Collect seven daily research task stamps to unlock a Research Breakthrough.

A Special Research is a series of research tasks that are sometimes purchasable from the in-game shop, but most of the time are available for free to all Trainers when a new Pokémon or feature is introduced to the game. The Special Research “A Mythical Discovery” introduced Mew, and “A Troubling Situation” introduced Team GO Rocket and Shadow Pokémon. The total stardust reward for completing most of these Special Researches is usually around 10,000 or more. “A Mythical Discovery” nets you a total of 30,000, “Let’s Go, Meltan” gives you 29,000 stardust over the course of all its tasks, and the “Jump-Start Research” had a whopping 60,000! These are all boostable by star pieces too.

The Special Research tab in "Pokemon GO".
The Special Research tab in "Pokemon GO".

Note: Some Special Research are only available for a short time. For example, there are Halloween events that you can only get if you happen to be playing during those few weeks. The “Jump-Start Research” was only available once initially but did come back for players who didn’t already complete it as a build-up to Pokémon Go Fest 2020.

Adventure Sync

Adventure Sync is a feature that tracks your distance even when the app is closed. This lets you hatch eggs while you are at work or doing errands around town or even running on a treadmill. There is also a rewards system based on the number of kilometers you walk each week.

The 100km reward is a hidden tier.
The 100km reward is a hidden tier.

There are four tiers: 5km, 25km, 50km, and 100km. You won’t receive any stardust if you only walk 5km in a week, and the stardust amount you do receive from the other distances is a little lacking:

  • 5km – 0 stardust
  • 25km – 1,000 stardust
  • 50km – 6,000 stardust
  • 100km – 22,000 stardust

Again, while the inclusion of stardust as a reward is nice, this isn’t an effective way to farm stardust unless you’re able to consistently walk 100km each week. It should be noted that these amounts are affected by star pieces so if you reach 100km you could be getting 33,000 stardust.

GO Battle League

This is by far the best new way to gain stardust once you hit Trainer Level 10. You can choose to battle through either the “Basic Rewards” set, or through the “Premium Rewards” set which requires a Premium Battle Pass to access. Each set is only good for five battles before it resets which allows you to earn the rewards for winning battles all over again. This includes the stardust rewards.

My rewards from competing in the second season of the GO Battle League.
My rewards from competing in the second season of the GO Battle League.

When you complete your five battles along either of the sets you can claim a set completion reward which amounts to a very decent chunk of stardust. This is alongside the stardust you won through the progression of battle wins in that set. The Premium Set will always offer slightly more stardust that is easier to obtain than the Basic Set.

If you choose the Basic Set path you only have to win one battle in order to get some stardust, however, you have to win four more battles (so you need to win all five battles in that set) in order to get the final stardust reward.

In the Premium Set path you must win at least three battles, but the stardust you get as the reward is more than the total stardust from the Basic Set.

The Basic Set rewards for Rank 3.
The Basic Set rewards for Rank 3.
The Premium Set rewards for Rank 3.
The Premium Set rewards for Rank 3.

The amount of stardust you can win also increases as your rank increases as well. For example, at Rank 2 you can win 1,100 stardust from winning three battles in the Premium set, and at Rank 3 you can win 1,500. So, the more you battle, the more stardust you will obtain. At the end of the battle season, which is usually a little more than a month long, you will receive stardust according to your rank. If you make it to Rank 10, you will receive 100,000 stardust!

Special Events

Pokémon GO has had numerous events since 2016 with the main one that comes to mind being Community Days that happen once a month. The bonus incentive to participate on these days changes from month to month, but a common one is increased stardust for catching Pokémon.

These special events, or bonuses, are always announced several weeks in advance so you'll have ample time to prepare for them. You'll need to keep an eye on the in-game news section, as well as the "Today" tab, so you know when to expect an upcoming event with a stardust boost. One of the worst feelings is realizing you missed out on a double, or triple, stardust event.

Some of these events do not directly affect how much stardust you receive from certain activities, but they can indirectly affect them. For instance, decreasing the distance required to hatch eggs means that you'll hatch them more often which, in turn, means you'll be gaining stardust more often.

Examples of bonus/special events that affect stardust.
Examples of bonus/special events that affect stardust.

That's All, Folks!

That's it. That's every way possible to collect stardust that is currently in the game at the time of this writing.

The most efficient way to farm stardust is still catching Pokémon and hatching eggs with a star piece active (preferably during a double, or triple, stardust event). You can earn a lot of stardust through battling in the GO League, but as you climb higher in the ranks you'll need better Pokémon and that means using more stardust. It's not the most ideal strategy for newer/lower level players, but for more experienced players it can be a great source of stardust.

I hope you found this guide useful, and feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in the next one.

GO League and Special Research stardust rewards are not listed due to them being inconsistent.
GO League and Special Research stardust rewards are not listed due to them being inconsistent.

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