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How to make money in GTA Online

GTA 5 online money

Since release, the cost and amount of vehicles, weapons, clothes, and other things to buy in GTA Online has increased substantially. But so too has the amount of money that can be made. Here I've collected up all the best ways of making money (legitimately) in GTA Online to help players get a grasp on what can sometimes be a quite complicated and clumsy process.

We’ll start with a quick beginner’s guide and then go in depth on each of the main money making methods.

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Be aware that there are plenty of ways to make money in the game that are not listed here, such as racing, deathmatches, missions, and various other game modes. But the amount you get for the time invested has not scaled up since 2013, so these are more inefficient than newer methods. Shark Cards have also not scaled up the amount of money you receive since 2013, and with the rampant inflation in price of GTA Online cars, weapons, and other items, they have never been a worse value proposition. Avoid.

New players may find older jobs useful to get started and ultimately as long as you're enjoying what you're playing the acquisition of money will come naturally, however this article will focus on the most efficient ways to make as much money as possible.

Even a lot of what I'll talk about here has been rendered redundant thanks to the recent Cayo Perico heist. If your goal is solely to grind as much money as possible, rather than experience everything the game has to offer, then just follow the beginner’s guide. Just be warned: efficient grinding in GTA Online can start to feel more like a job than a game.

What should I buy first to make money in GTA Online?

GTA

(Image credit: Rockstar )

The key to making money now is the Cayo Perico heist, so for new players it's all about accumulating the $2.2 million needed to buy the Kosatka submarine that unlocks it. Search GTA wiki for the names of anything mentioned below to get more info.

  • Start by doing the special scavenger hunts that are available in free mode—Bounty Targets for Maude, the revolver Treasure Hunt and Los Santos Slasher—for a total of $250,00 each. 
  • In a similar vein, complete the Movie Props and Signal Jammers collectible missions to net $150,000 each.
  • Spin the Casino Lucky Wheel daily for the chance at extra income in the form of cash or chips (which can be converted to cash).
  • Pay attention to double and triple money game modes each week and participate in them, alongside doing missions that are available to you, until you get $2.2 mil. 
  • Buy the Kosatka and work your way through the Cayo Perico heist. 
  • Things will be slow at first, but once you’ve done your first heist you’ll be able to buy better weapons and vehicles to make things quicker—prioritise the Sparrow helicopter for the Kosatka.
  • From this point on it’s a continuous cycle of doing the Cayo Perico heist quicker and quicker, improving your skills and buying items that will allow you to do it even faster, until you’re making approximately $1.5 mil an hour. Then you can enjoy the rest of the game and supplement your money making methods with the others outlined here. 

Cayo Perico Heist

(Image credit: Rockstar )

Potential profits:  $1.5 mil per hour
Prerequisites:  Kosatka submarine (min cost: $2.2 mil) & organisation member (VIP/CEO)

Method: Go to the Music Locker at the casino and meet with Miguel Madrazo. Afterwards you’ll be able to purchase the Kosatka Submarine. Start an organisation as a VIP or CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu, then go to your Kosatka and start the heist from the planning board. You’ll need to gather intel on the island, complete some prep missions, and finally do the heist itself. From starting the intel to finishing the heist should take around 45 minutes to an hour after a few times trying it—as long as you focus only on what is needed. Given its popularity and profitability, there are numerous written and video guides online that can help. 

Tip: Unlike other heists, everything can be done solo and in a private lobby. Most of the time it’s also more profitable to do it solo, and the potential profits per hour dwarf every other money making method in the game. Make sure to start your next heist within 48 minutes of ending your last one to have it be set on hard mode and earn a 10% bonus.

Diamond Casino Heist

GTA Online

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Potential profits: $400k per hour
Prerequisites:  Arcade (Min Cost: $1.2 mil), organisation member (VIP/CEO), & 1-3 Friends 

Method: After buying the Arcade, complete the mandatory setup missions. Then start an organisation as a VIP or CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu and start the heist from the planning board within your Arcade. You’ll need to scope out the Casino and find out what you’ll be stealing from the vault. You’ll then need to choose your approach out of three options and do the relevant prep missions, before completing the heist itself with between one and three friends. Depending on your approach there are certain prep missions you can skip entirely and some that will be extremely helpful to do, and there are plenty of guides online to help you figure it all out.

Tip: Completing the heist with the minimum number of people required to get all the loot is usually the most profitable. For art that’s two people, but the rest are three. Big Con is the easiest approach as you can get in and out without any trouble. Aim to steal a helicopter or go into nearby tunnels to avoid cops more easily and quickly when escaping.

Original Heists

Potential profits: $400k per hour
Prerequisites: High-end apartment (min cost: $200k) & 3 friends

Method: Walk to the heist planning room in your high-end apartment and select your chosen heist to start. You will need to pay an upfront cost to start the heist as host. Invite your three friends and work through the setup missions and finale. It is recommended to have a good group of four people to do this as communication and skill is required to reduce the time taken, and there are numerous guides online for each mission.

Tip:  The Pacific Standard Heist on Hard mode is the most profitable of the original heists when done effectively with a competent group of players, however the income from it is now overshadowed by more recent heists. The host of any heist doesn’t make any money during setup missions and has to spend money to kick things off, so it’s a good idea for the host to take 40% of the final heist earnings with other players taking 20% each so that all four players will earn approximately the same overall.

Doomsday Heist

Potential profits: $300k per hour
Prerequisites: Facility (minimum Cost: $1.25 mil) & 1-3 friends

Method: Walk to the heist planning room in your facility and select your chosen heist act to start. You will need to pay an upfront cost to start the heist as host. Invite one, two, or three friends and work through the prep missions, setup missions and finale. As with the old heists, round up a group of decent players because communication and skill is needed to reduce the time taken to beat it.

Tip: Completing these heists with two players rather than four will naturally mean more money per player, as the overall payout remains the same, but the missions will be slightly more difficult and potentially more time consuming with fewer players. The host of any heist doesn’t make any money during setup missions and has to spend money to start each, so it's a good idea for the host to take 40% (4 players)/50% (3 players)/60% (2 players) of the final heist earnings with other players taking an equal share of what remains, so that all players will earn approximately the same overall. Paying to skip prep missions is almost always never worth it from a monetary or time perspective.

Special Cargo

Potential profits: $200k per hour
Prerequisites: Office (minimum cost: $1 mil), warehouse (minimum cost: $250k) & organisation member (CEO)

Method: Start an organisation as a CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu. Walk to the computer in your office and select "Special Cargo", then "Buy" on the amount of crates you desire. You will need to complete a mission to deliver the crates to your warehouse. You can only carry one crate at a time but you can go back and forth to collect them. You can then use the laptop in the warehouse to sell your collected crates via a delivery mission to turn a profit.

Tip: Buying more crates at once is more time effective, especially if you have friends to help you collect them and deliver to your warehouse. The more crates you sell at once, the more money you'll make per crate, hence a large, full warehouse is the best to build up and sell. Large warehouses cost more to purchase, though, and selling 111 crates at once is a larger risk as you'll either gain 2.2 million or lose everything.

Vehicle Cargo

Potential Profit: $300k per hour
Prerequisites: Office (minimum cost: $1 mil), vehicle warehouse (minimum cost: $1.5 mil) & organisation member (CEO)

Method: Start an organisation as a CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu. Walk to the computer in your office and select "Vehicle Cargo", then "Source Vehicle". You will need to complete a mission to steal a vehicle and drive it back to your vehicle warehouse. Be careful when driving it back as damage will result in repair costs, impacting on profit. You can then use the laptop in the vehicle warehouse to export the vehicle you sourced via a delivery mission to turn a profit.

Tip: Repeat sourcing missions until you fill up your vehicle warehouse with 10 standard range and 10 mid range vehicles with no duplicates. At that point, every source mission will give you a top range vehicle until you get all 12 of those. Only export top range vehicles and sell as many vehicles at once as you can if you have friends to help—this will help maximise profits per hour.

Air Freight Cargo

Potential Profit: $150k per hour
Prerequisites: Hangar (minimum cost: $1.2 mil) and organisation member (VIP/CEO)

Method: Start an organisation as a VIP or CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu. Walk to the computer in your hangar and select "Source", then the type of cargo you want to source. You will need to complete a mission to deliver the cargo to your hangar. You can then use the laptop in the hangar to sell your collected cargo via a delivery mission to turn a profit.

Tip: Stick to sourcing only one type of cargo, and make it either narcotics, chemicals, or medical supplies. You get a 35% bonus for selling 25 crates of these types, and a 75% bonus for selling all 50 crates. Selling a full hangar will require friends to help you, and in general sourcing cargo with friends is much more time effective.

Gunrunning

Potential Profit: $80k per hour passively (while doing other things)
Prerequisites: Bunker (minimum cost: $1.2 mil) and organisation member (VIP/CEO)

Method: Start an organisation as a VIP or CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu. Walk to the laptop in your bunker and select "Resupply", then "Steal Supplies" or "Buy Supplies". You will need to complete a mission to deliver the supplies to your bunker if you choose that option, or they can be delivered without any effort if you buy them. Once you have supplies your staff will begin manufacturing, turning them into stock when you're doing most other things in the game. You can then use the laptop in the bunker to sell your stock via a delivery mission to turn a profit.

Tip: Buying supplies is more time effective, as is setting your staff to only manufacturing and buying the equipment/staff upgrades. This is passive income so you should have this running in the background while you make active income from other methods listed. There is no monetary bonus for selling a full bunker, and doing so will require friends if there are multiple vehicles to be used for the sell mission.

Motorcycle Club

Potential Profit: $80k per hour passively (while doing other things)
Prerequisites: Clubhouse (minimum cost: $200k), business (minimum cost: $650k) and Motorcycle Club president

Method: Start a Motorcycle Club as president from the corresponding option in the interaction menu. Walk to the laptop in your business building and select "Resupply", then "Steal Supplies" or "Buy Supplies". You will need to complete a mission to deliver the supplies to your business if you choose that option, or they can be delivered without any effort if you buy them. Once you have supplies your staff will begin production, turning them into stock when you're doing most other things in the game. You can then use the laptop in the business building to sell your stock via a delivery mission to turn a profit.

Tip: Cocaine production is the most profitable (on par with the gunrunning bunker), with the cheapest cocaine business costing $975k to buy, although sell missions often take longer to complete. Buying supplies is more time effective. This is passive income so you should have this running in the background while you make active income from other methods listed. There is no monetary bonus for selling full stock and doing so will require friends if there are multiple vehicles to be used for the sell mission.

Nightclubs

Potential Profit: $70k per hour passively (whilst doing other things)
Prerequisites: Nightclub (minimum cost: $1.1 mil) & other businesses (minimum cost: $850k)

Method: Walk to the computer in your nightclub building VIP area and select "Warehouse Management", then assign a Warehouse Technician to one of the goods you have available. Those goods will be based on the other businesses you own, such as motorcycle club businesses, a gunrunning bunker, or a cargo warehouse. You can assign up to five technicians, meaning only five of your other businesses will count. Once assigned, your technicians will begin acquiring goods on their own when you're doing most other things in the game. You can then use the computer in your nightclub building VIP area to sell your goods via a delivery mission to turn a profit. 

Tip: The business aspect of the nightclub is really only for those who have many other businesses already, and it will not make you much money on its own in comparison to everything else listed here. It is merely an extra bump to your hourly income in the same vein as gunrunning and MC businesses. Unlike those however, this is completely passive income where you don’t need to keep restocking. There is no monetary bonus for selling full stock and it is actually more efficient to sell earlier. To reach the maximum profits ignore Organic Produce and Printing and Copying, and assign technicians to the other five areas. Then sell goods every time Cash Creation, Pharmaceuticals and South American Imports are full (every 20 hours). 

VIP Work

Potential Profit: $150k per hour
Prerequisites: Organisation member (VIP/CEO)

Method: Start an organisation as a VIP or CEO from the SecuroServ option in the interaction menu. Open up the interaction menu and select "VIP Work", then the mission you want to do. You will need to complete a mission in free roam and will be rewarded with money upon successful completion.

Tip: These missions are a great way to earn some money while waiting for cooldown timers to expire, such as if you're waiting to source another vehicle for your warehouse, as they are completed fairly quickly and pay relatively well. They aren't a replacement for other money making methods, though, as their payout isn't as high, but they're solid filler jobs. Headhunter, Hostile Takeover and Sightseer are notably decent missions to take on.

Premium Races

GTA Online

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Potential Profit: $80k per race
Prerequisites: A fast car/bike, good racing ability

Method: Either drive to the location of the premium race, which is a golden stunt wheel on the map, or hover over it and start the job from the map. When the lobby has filled with eight other players, you'll have $20k taken from your bank account. You must finish third or above to make a return on that investment, with the winner of the race receiving $100k, second place taking home $30k, and third place getting their entry fee of $20k back.

Tip: Premium races change every week and are a gamble, as it can take time to fill up a lobby and there is no guarantee you'll make money. If you're proficient at racing, however, are familiar with the stunt race on offer that week and have a good car (if you don't already know beforehand which car to use then you're not ready for the premium race), this can be quite lucrative.

Time Trials

Potential Profit: $100k per time trial
Prerequisites: A fast car/bike or RC Bandito

Method: Drive to the location of the time trial corona, which is a purple stopwatch icon on the map. Start the time trail when you feel ready and attempt to get to the end point quicker than the listed par time. There are no checkpoints in between so you can take whatever route you like, and there are numerous guides online for each trial. You'll be rewarded with around $100k for successful completion. 

Tip:  Time trials change weekly and you can only gain the reward for completing them once per week. You do have an unlimited number of tries to beat the par time and can respawn back at the start, but of course the longer it takes the less money you effectively make per hour from this method. In general, pulling wheelies on a fast bike will get you to your destination in the quickest way possible. There are also time trials for the RC Bandito but they are more annoying to complete and have a higher cost of entry, given the price of the Bandito to start with. 

Daily Objectives

Potential Profit: $1.6 mil per 28 days
Prerequisites: Rank 15

Method: Open up the interaction menu and select "Daily Objectives". This will display the three objectives you'll need to complete on that day. Simply complete each task and you'll be rewarded with $25k upon successful completion. Some tasks may be more difficult to complete than others and require the use of friends to complete easily.

Tip: This is one of the easiest ways to earn money but only if you keep at it every day, as there are significant bonuses for seven and 28 consecutive days of objectives completed. Completing daily objectives for seven days in a row will earn a bonus of $100k, with 28 days in a row netting an extra $500k. The total amount of money you would make by completing all daily objectives for 28 days in a row would be $1.6 million (28x25k + 4x100k + 500k).

Double Money Events

One final bit of advice is to take advantage of double money events. Almost every week Rockstar will change what you can do to earn double money. Sometimes it will be on races or adversary modes that, even with double money, won't be as efficient as the above methods. However sometimes some of the above methods may have a double money week, such as Gunrunning Bunker or Vehicle Cargo sales. The more options you have open to you, the more you can take advantage of these double money events if they happen to be for something lucrative. And if there's ever double money on Heists (which is very rare) absolutely do some grinding during that week.

Other resources

GTA Online Reddit Mega Guide A great resource for those who want to make the absolute most out of their moneymaking and time with the game. A lot of extra information can be found in their consistently pinned mega guide .
GTA Series Videos Time Trials Guides This shows the way to beat each time trial in GTA Online for easy money each week. Also has guides for premium races.
Broughy1322 Car Testing The best vehicles to use for racing to help get those premium race wins.
Making $500K per hour solo Add the Gunrunning bunker working in the background to this method for the best way to earn money as a solo player.
Solo Cayo Perico Heist Guide An excellent in depth guide that shows you exactly what you need to do to complete the heist from start to finish in the easiest way.