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How to make money in GTA 5

Money is hard to come by when you first start playing Grand Theft Auto V. Few missions are available, side quests are all but nonexistent, and powerful weapons to help pull off lucrative heists are locked behind a price tag you can’t afford. But, after you’ve put a few hours into the game, things quickly start to open up.

Once you’ve established your criminal roots, your problem isn’t that you don’t have any options when it comes to making money — instead, it’s hard to figure out which activities are the most profitable. If you want to get rich in Grand Theft Auto V, these are the best ways to do it.

Further reading

Play the stock market

Arguably the best way to get rich, playing the stock market offers players a passive way to generate massive amounts of cash. There’s not a guaranteed way to hit it big, but there is an easy auto-save trick you can take advantage of. Here’s how it works:

  • Save your game, then turn off the auto-save feature.
  • Invest all your cash into a stock of interest.
  • Head to your safehouse, then rest — but don’t save!
  • Check your stocks. If they’ve declined, load your last save and try again.
  • Otherwise, keep waiting for the peak to come around before cashing out.

Rob ATMs

It’s not the most lucrative way to earn cash, but if you’re looking for an easy way to earn a couple bucks, you can always count on your local ATM. This is one of the best ways to earn side money during your first few hours, but it’s still a fun diversion for high-level players looking to get into trouble. Simply wait for someone to withdraw money, then go ahead and rob them for easy cash. Do it a few times and you should have enough to invest in most of the good starter weapons.

Rob armored cars

Not content with stealing petty cash from ATMs? Then keep your eyes peeled for armored cars making their way through the streets of Los Santos. They’re also indicated by a blue dot on your mini-map, and a few spots on the map are more likely to be frequented than others. Here’s a quick rundown of the general hotspots:

  • Downtown Los Santos (Multiple locations)
  • Little Seoul
  • La Puerta
  • Cypress Flats
  • Vinewood
  • Paleto Bay

If you’re looking for the exact spawn locations, you can refer to this detailed map.

Follow the main story

Grand Theft Auto 5 864-1280
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Believe it or not, completing missions in the main story is one of the best ways to start earning stacks of cash. Along the way, you’ll be thrown into various heists that are both exhilarating and profitable. Playing the main quests is also a great way to introduce yourself to the world of Los Santos and quickly unlock new weapons, find side quests, and build your criminal empire.

Rescue the mob boss’s daughter

The world of GTA V is full of random encounters, but there aren’t many as lucrative as this. In order to come across it, you’ll need to head to the northernmost tip of Paleto Bay, following the off-road dirt trails. With any luck, you’ll stumble upon some mobsters who are about to execute a woman. Take care of her captors then drive her to Vinewood. Later, you’ll get a call from her — turns out she’s the mob boss’s daughter and rewards you with $60,000 for saving her life.

Assassination contracts

Lester will frequently send Franklin requests to rig the stock market by taking out high-profile corporate personnel. Pay close attention to the details of this mission, as he’ll usually tell you which company will be impacted by the “change in management,” so make sure to invest your money accordingly.

However, before you start these missions, it’s highly recommended you have a load of cash already stashed away. The stock market gives better returns the more you invest, so finish the main story, then take all your cash and sock it away in the according stocks before — and after — each assassination contract. If done properly, you can easily become a billionaire.

Compete in street races

Grand Theft Auto 5 Screenshot_335
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re great behind the wheel and have a decent car, taking on street races as Franklin is an easy way to pull in extra money. It’s best to save these challenges until you can fully customize a sports car; otherwise, you might get yourself in over your head and lose the race. Check back on these later with a powerful vehicle to guarantee a victory — and a big cash reward.

Loot the pot farm

This is another lucrative random event, but you can only trigger it with Trevor on Thursday mornings and afternoons. If all that checks out, head toward Mount Chiliad. Near its eastern face, you’ll see a short road that dead-ends into a warehouse. It’s heavily guarded, but if you clear it out, you can loot the place for at least $60,000. Better yet, the location will repopulate at random times, meaning you can keep cashing out indefinitely.

Ways to save money

There’s a lot of stuff to waste your cash on in Grand Theft Auto V, and it’s easy to get caught up in a shopping spree. However, if you’re trying to cross that coveted billionaire threshold, you’ll need to be smart with your money. Here are a few tips to help you get there:

  • Don’t buy cars too early. Instead, steal the best vehicles you come across on the streets. Cars are incredibly expensive, especially for those who are just starting the game, and they leave a huge dent in your wallet.
  • Instead of buying cars, invest in better weapons. These will help you clear difficult missions, progress the story, and move you along on your path to the one percent.
  • Ammu-Nation offers discounts to folks who complete all the shooting-range challenges. If you’ve got some free time, thing about heading down to your local store and knocking out these missions. If you get Gold on all of them, you’ll receive a 25% discount, while completing them with any rank nets you a 15% discount.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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