From the moment you’re dropped into GTA Online, your goal is to acquire wealth. However, you’ll soon find that life in Los Santos does not come cheap. You need money to fix your car, restock ammunition, hire associates, buy a garage, start a business, and so much more. In fact, the biggest parts of the game are all locked behind huge, costly purchases. If you don’t have cash, you’re not really experiencing the best of what the game has to offer.
Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to make money in GTA Online. Quite the opposite — nearly everything is designed to reward you with cash. However, in order to make money quickly and easily, you’ll need to save up for one very important purchase. Thankfully, there are loads of easy ways to make cash, even if you’re playing solo.
Best Way to Make Money Fast in GTA Online
The best way to make money in GTA Online quickly is to run through the Cayo Perico heist. Going solo, a single player can earn around one to two million dollars by completing Cayo Perico alone. That number increases as more players join the crew — a team of four can earn up to $5.2 million total per heist.
The catch, because of course there is one, is that you can’t jump right into the action. Before you can start the Cayo Perico heist, you need to purchase a Kosatka submarine. These are quite costly themselves, running for about $2.2 million each, assuming they’re not on discount.
Furthermore, before you can plan any heist, you’ll need to be at least level 12 and register as a VIP, CEO, or Motorcycle Club President. Doing so typically involves buying an office or business, adding even more to the startup cost. Plus, several planning stages require additional funding for tools, weapons, or vehicles. Just like in the real world, it costs money to make money in GTA Online.
Sadly, this means some new and returning players won’t be able to start earning the big bucks quickly. Instead, they’ll need to engage in smaller crimes, take advantage of special challenges, and save toward their goals.
Easy Ways to Make Money Playing Solo
If you’re a new player or someone who just prefers playing alone, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to earn money consistently and easily. All of the methods outlined below can be completed by solo players, and in most cases can be done within invite-only lobbies.
For convenience, we’ll provide tips in order of how soon they can be completed by new players. Some special missions are available right from the start of the game, while other activities have a few basic requirements. Either way, follow this guide and you’ll be rolling in cash in no time.
Sell Cars through Los Santos Customs
You’re allowed to sell one car through Los Santos Customs every in-game day, or 48 real-world minutes. You won’t be able to sell the really nice stolen cars — if you can’t store it in your garage, the auto shop won’t take it either. But you can easily earn $9,500 every hour simply by stealing and selling regular cars.
Look for the Lampadati Felon GT or Ubermacht Sentinel any time you’re roaming the streets. These both sell for $9,500, which is the most you can get for any non-gang-affiliated car. The Gallivanter Baller and Ocelet F620 are also high-value vehicles you’ll commonly see being driven around. If you have a garage, steal and stash these cars any time you see them. That way you’ll be able to drive one to Los Santos Customs and earn an easy paycheck every time you log in.
Complete the Golden Revolver and Stone Hatchet Challenges
Not long after entering GTA Online, you’ll receive two communications: An email about a treasure hunt, and a text message about bounty hunts. These two quests lead directly to two distinct weapons: the Golden Revolver and the Stone Hatchet.
The quests themselves are fairly short, and you shouldn’t have a problem unlocking the weapons. However, once you get the weapons, two more challenges will unlock:
- Get 50 headshots with the Golden Revolver to earn $250,000
- Get 25 kills with the Stone Hatchet to earn another $250,000
These two challenges together earn you $500k, which is enough to kick start your criminal career. Consider spending that money on a Motorcycle Club — doing so allows you to register as MC President, which is among the cheapest ways to start planning heists. It also opens up various criminal enterprises, like drug running and forgery.
Take Part in Promotions and Featured Activities
One of the easiest ways to make money in GTA Online is to take advantage of promotions and featured activities. Rockstar and its partners or affiliates quite literally give away GTA$ all the time; all you have to do is read up on which promotions are available.
For that, simply check out the Rockstar Newswire. Just remember that promotions vary, so money itself isn’t guaranteed. For example, the team gave away a free Gallivanter Baller ST around Christmas 2021. Then, around a month later, players were offered $200,000 just for playing a single match of the new Double Down co-op mode.
Additional rewards for individual activities are also on a set rotation. The Rockstar Newswire will have the details, but you can usually see which activities are featured while the game loads. Cash and RP rewards are often doubled or tripled on select activities, such as special races or battle modes.
Finally, there are outside promotions. For now, Amazon Prime Gaming is offering $100,000 per week to Prime members who link their Rockstar accounts. It’s totally free in-game money — once linked, you’ll get a weekly deposit of one hundred grand. We’re not really sure how long this promotion will last, so it’s best to sign up as soon as you can.
Visit the Diamond Casino
We’re not advocating that you gamble away your hard-earned cash. Instead, you should visit the Diamond Casino for two more obvious reasons: The prize wheel and the daily allowance of chips.
You’re allowed to spin the prize wheel at the Diamond Casino once every 24 hours. The rewards are random, going from small amounts of RP all the way up to the podium vehicle giveaway. More often than not, you’re likely to receive smaller prizes, but there’s still a chance to earn cash. And, if you earn the podium vehicle, you may be able to sell it afterward, depending on what it is.
The Diamond Casino will also give you 1,000 chips per day if you visit the cashier opposite the vehicle display. Chips can be traded one-to-one for cash, effectively giving you $1,000 per day just for stopping by.
Complete Heists With Other Players
This one should be obvious: Heists are the best way to make big money in GTA Online. The online story mode funnels you toward this career path, so it’s the natural one to follow. You’ll start small with the Fleeca Bank job and eventually move up to everything else the game has to offer.
There’s a problem, though: GTA Online has evolved quite a bit since that initial story progression was created. After completing the Fleeca job, you may feel compelled to buy a high-end apartment and start planning the next heist. But what you may not know is that setting up heists costs money, as does hiring the crew and gathering supplies. Plus, older heists have minimum crew requirements; if anyone disconnects during the mission, the whole plan fails.
Instead of running your own heists, you should complete heists with other players. You won’t have to register as CEO, you won’t have to spend on upfront costs, and you won’t have to unlock bunkers or offices or facilities. Plus, you’ll get an early look at how heists work, giving you an idea of what to do when it’s time to run your own.
Invest in Criminal Enterprise Wisely
Beyond completing heists, the other main attraction in GTA Online is building a criminal empire. And, by design, you’ll need a safe location to plan your crimes or store your ill-gotten goods. Each purchasable property serves a distinct purpose; some unlock heists, while others provide business opportunities:
- High-end apartments unlock the original heists:
- Prison Break
- Humane Labs Raid
- Series A Funding
- Pacific Standard
- Facilities unlock the Doomsday heist
- Kosatka submarine unlocks the Cayo Perico heist
- Arcades unlock the Diamond Casino heist and provide passive income
- Motorcycle Clubs offer Motorcycle Club Work and unlock several Open Road criminal businesses:
- Document Forgery
- Counterfeit Cash Factory
- Weed Farm
- Methamphetamine Lab
- Cocaine Lockup
- Offices allow for CEO/VIP work as well as Import/Export work
- Nightclubs consolidate criminal businesses and provide passive income
Since each investment represents a different line of work, you’ll want to consider how you want to play before making a purchase. If making money quickly and easily is your ultimate goal, buy the Kosatka first. Even if you only play solo, the Cayo Perico heist will fund all your other projects. From there, you can buy new properties based on which activities you’re most interested in.
Arcades and Nightclubs Earn Passive Money, But Barely
Don’t be tempted into buying a Nightclub or Arcade in order to earn passive income. The margins are simply too low to be truly profitable. The Nightclub in particular is a waste, as without engaging in frequent support missions, it barely makes any money. It’s only really profitable so long as you are constantly supporting it, and that’s without consideration to upfront cost.
With that said, the Arcade can provide profit eventually, so long as you don’t spend much on the building or the machines within. The cheapest Arcade at Paleto Bay costs about $1.2 million, and when filled with the cheapest machines, generates $5,000 per in-game day.
At that cost, the Arcade will pay for itself in 240 in-game days, which is about 192 real-world hours. That’s a long time to play before you start turning a profit. Thankfully, you’re probably going to buy an Arcade anyway just to access the Diamond Casino heist. So, if you do really want passive income, skip the Nightclub and buy an Arcade. Just don’t forget to stop by on occasion to empty all the cash from the safe.
Other Tips to Help Keep You Rich
We’ve already established that everything in GTA Online costs money. Unfortunately, there are numerous costs that you may not be aware of; passive costs that will slowly bleed you dry. Plus, there are some common behaviors that can wind up costing you in the long term.
To make the really big bucks, you’re going to need to monitor your expenses. Here are some tips and reminders that should help you toward your saving goals:
- Don’t spend needlessly. Needless spending includes topping up ammunition to max before missions, repainting your car, getting tattoos, and so on.
- Use Passive Mode. Especially if you join lobbies with other players, you can expect to get killed, have your cars destroyed, and probably worse. Save some cash by playing it safe.
- Avoid combat with other players. It’s tempting to bomb a player’s car for a quick thrill, but you’ll probably wind up paying their insurance. If you miss and bomb yourself, you’ll have to pay your own. Shooting, killing, dying; it all costs money. Again, Passive Mode is your friend.
- Take advantage of free cars. Several cars are available to “purchase” for free, depending on certain prerequisites. The Annis Elegy RH8 is always free, while returning PS3 or XBO players can pick up the armored Duke O’ Death for free. Several other vehicles have had their prices slashed to zero as part of various updates.
- Join invite-only lobbies. Any time you take part in CEO or heist setup work, your location is broadcast to nearby players. They’re encouraged to hunt you down and disrupt your plan in exchange for cash and RP. Naturally, this ruins your mission, wastes your time, and ultimately costs you money. Fortunately, most heist prep and low-level crime work can be done in invite-only lobbies.
Ultimately, the Cayo Perico heist should be your main goal. Follow these tips, save all the cash you can, and make the Kosatka submarine your first purchase. After that, you’ll be making money quickly and easily, whether playing solo or with friends.
Kevin Tucker is the managing editor of Guide Fall and From Gamers Magazine. When he's not busy exploring or explaining the latest video games, he spends his time riding his motorcycle, reading science fiction, and playing electric bass.