How to make money in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The most important thing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that bells make the island. Without bells, you’ll face criticism from the Happy Home Academy, get hounded by Tom Nook to repay loans, and stare longingly at the amazing items that Nooks Cranny sometimes has to offer. Unfortunately, making bells initially seems tedious. But it doesn’t have to be.

New Horizons is already the most successful entry in the entire franchise. It’s also the most extensive release by far, adding intricacies on top of familiar challenges.
how to plant money tree animal crossing new horizons glowing spot

Farming bells in Animal Crossing: New Horizons starts by simply playing the game daily and often. Your island never runs out of resources, so you’ll never lack for opportunities. To accelerate your bell-making, though, you’ll want to focus your daily routine on the activities below. If you’re patient about selling your resources at the right time and know how to see through Nintendo’s “random” algorithms, you’ll be swimming in bells in no time. So whether you’re in it for the long-haul bells or need bells right now, we have some options to help you make bells fast!

Further reading

Daily activities

A fundamental part of Animal Crossing life, daily activities are like a morning ritual. We’ve touched on them in our beginner’s guide, but there’s a lot more to go through. They’ve barely changed since the first game. If you’re looking to scrape some bells together without much thought, getting these activities done each day will award reliable, consistent income.

Whack-a-rock: The two-hole technique

Animal Crossing money rock method

With crafting being such a main feature in New Horizons, we’re hitting more rocks than ever before. It’s now even more important to learn the tried-and-true tradition of positioning yourself to get the most out of your island’s geography.

Every rock on your island can spit out eight materials per day. Most will be stone, clay, iron, or sometimes gold, but one will have nothing but bank. Getting eight taps out of each rock is a science, though. The moment you hit a rock for the first time that day, an invisible timer begins to count down — and every time you adjust your angle or move closer, you lose bells.

To ensure you’re not pushed back by enough taps to cost you the final whack, make sure to dig two holes behind you before you start the process. This way, you won’t be pushed back enough to fail a strike, almost guaranteeing you get the best result. Just don’t stop spamming that A button until you’ve wrangled the full 15,000. Also, make sure nothing is blocking the space around the rock before you start, or you can’t get the full amount no matter how fast you tap. So be sure to pick up those weeds or fruit that are sitting next to rocks before you start spamming that A button.

Or, if you get sick of digging two holes for each rock, you can carry a piece of fencing around with you instead. Stand directly above or below each rock, then place fencing behind you and center your character’s back against the fence. If you do it correctly, your character may drift a bit along the fence, but not enough that it’ll move out of reach of the rock before you get all 8 resources. Snag your rewards and fencing, then move on to the next rock!

Early (and late) bird gets the worm: When and where to hunt fish and bugs

Animal Crossing sea bass

You won’t know what you’re fishing for until you reel it in. It’s probably a black/sea bass, but it could be something bigger. Something better. But if you’re out fishing in the hopes of reeling in something big, don’t be discouraged by a swarm of bass filling your inventory. Even if a fish or bug isn’t worth a fortune to the Nook twins, that doesn’t mean you should just throw them back to nature. Small sales will add up over time.

If you’re not having much luck finding valuable critters, you may want to change up when you do your daily hunt. Depending on the date, you may find better fish or bugs during a particular time slot. Our monthly fishing guide indicates which fish will only be found in the mornings or evenings, and you can strategize accordingly. For example, some of the most valuable fall fish — snapping turtles, koi, golden trout, and barreleye — can only be found after 4 p.m. or 9 p.m. during the fall in the northern hemisphere.

Also, you may want to take the time to dig up manila clams, which are buried in the beach and give away their location by squirting out water. You can craft them into fish bait, then stay in one place and bait in one fish after another. Rare fish often appear near the pier, in the river mouth that runs into the ocean, or on the clifftops, but it can be irksome running back and forth from them, waiting for a fish shadow. So bait in some rare gems all at once instead!

As for finding bugs, you’ll stumble upon plenty flying or squatting around, but some of the more valuable ones take some work. Certain bugs only appear on flowers or on flowers of a certain color, so having a green thumb will pay off. Plus, again, certain valuable creepy-crawlies will only appear at night, so be sure to cast a wide net.

Greedy gardening: Plant a money tree

Animal Crossing money tree

I’m sure by now you’ve noticed a glowing patch of grass somewhere else on your island every day. Dig it up, and you get 1,000 bells. It may not sound like much pocket money, but take another look. That patch is still glowing when you extract the cash, right? Well, toss a bag of cash back in there, and you’ll sprout a money tree in five or six days with sacks of bells hanging from it like fruit.

These won’t regrow like fruit, and you’ll only get 3,000 bells per day if you throw back in what you get. But play it smart. Instead of that chump change, dump a sack of 10,000 bells in the hole, and you’ll boost the payout to 30,000 per tree. Make it a daily chore, and you’ll gain a net 140,000 bells per week.

However, players have been trying a new trick that seems to be working out. Although most players won’t try it, some gamblers will bury 99,000 bells in a hole. For a long time, players thought this risk wasn’t worth it. But if you wait until a day when, during the morning announcements, Isabelle mentions that her astrology said she will be lucky, then it’s time to bury 99,000 bells. It’s the only way you’ll be able to yield 297,000 bells from the money tree.

Dive for treasure: Pearls and sea creatures

A scuba-diving Animal Crossing character is shown holding up a pearl.

Ever since the first Animal Crossing, we’ve been stuck on shore, running back and forth, hoping a fish’s shadow would show up. Now, thanks to the summer swimming update, you can leave the shore behind and go diving after sea creatures. How the tables have turned, little fishies.

These creatures vary in sale value in Nook’s Cranny, but even the least valuable creature is worth slightly more than a sea bass, which gives you good odds of making a solid profit compared to fishing. The only negative is that you can’t sell them to C.J. for more bells, as we’ll discuss below. Still, it adds some satisfying variety from the status quo of non-stop fishing, which will make it less like work as you build your fortune.

Best of all, occasionally bubbles in the water will draw you to a valuable pearl instead of a creature. These net you 10,000 bells each if sold, or can be used to make the mermaid DIY set before being sold for slightly more money.

Make the most of the hot item: Turn trash (or gold) into bells

Animal Crossing hot item

This isn’t something you’ll do every single day, but it’s one to watch out for at least. Each day, Timmy and Tommy pay double for a certain item. It’s always one you have the DIY recipe for, so you can almost always put this opportunity to good use. I’m not going to suggest you burn through your supply of iron ore whenever they ask for a table, but it’s a good way to turn any excess or common materials into a decent payday. You have a lot of trees on your island, right? So if you’re not using that wood for anything else, why not turn them into a load of benches, chairs, or beds whenever they’re paying out for them?

When you start to learn some more elusive recipes, you can even double the worth of something like gold nuggets. Though you can sell these for 10,000 bells a pop, using one to craft a hot item like the Golden Gears will immediately bump up the return to anywhere over 20,000 bells. That 2x increase can really add up.

Sell duplicate fossils

Animal Crossing fossil prices

When Blathers identifies a duplicate fossil in your inventory, he ponders buying it for his own personal collection. But he won’t. He could have been the Flick or C.J. of the fossil market, but we’re left with only one other option — peddling them off to the Nook twins.

You can find around four to six fossils each day in your town by digging up star-pattern markers. Go get these assessed by Blathers to uncover their true names, donate whatever isn’t in the museum already, and sell the rest. Or just sell them all!

Most fossils are worth a few thousand bells each, so there’s a decent amount of money to be made each day. You can find fossils on Nook Miles Ticket island tours, too, so there’s a bonus incentive to jetting off. More on that a little later.

Grow non-native fruit: How to get non-native fruit on your island

Animal Crossing non-native fruit

If this is your first Animal Crossing title, you might have wondered why everyone shared which fruit their island had at the very start. It wasn’t just to shove it in the face of peach fans who had nothing but pears. Every island is assigned one native fruit: peaches, pears, oranges, apples, or cherries. There are coconuts, too, but you’ll find these on virtually any deserted island you visit.

Your island’s native fruit isn’t worth much to the Nook twins. They’re a common sight. But get your hands on any other fruit not native to your island, and you can start to make some good money.

The trick here is to track down these imported fruits and plant them on your island to begin growing more. You can turn one tree’s worth of cherries into three more trees and nine cherries, and the multiplication can just go from there. Some deserted islands will have non-native fruit, and you have an 80% chance any friends’ islands you visit will have a different local fruit. Plus your virtual Mom ships you a non-native fruit shortly after you arrive on the island.

For the sake of your five-star rating, you don’t want to overcrowd your island with trees. Once you’ve got the full set of fruits, try cutting down most of your beginner fruit trees and swap in a variety of fruit instead. Technically all non-native fruit is worth the same, so you could just plant 100 apple trees, for example; but you’ll need all of them for DIY crafting recipes, which will make you more money than just selling the fruit could.

Turn miles into money

Animal Crossing Nature Day Nook Miles bonus

AC:NH loves to reward you for doing the little things to improve your island. Tasks like hitting rocks or catching bugs and fish — which you’ll be doing anyway to make money — earn you miles, as do other tasks for beautifying your island, like planting trees and flowers. We recommend at least completing your first five daily tasks, as they’ll have miles multipliers that make these simple tasks even more valuable.

Once you’ve built up a surplus of miles, you can spend 2,000 of them on a valuable Nook Mystery Island tour ticket. Mystery islands can be bell bonanzas (more on them below), but they’re also a time commitment. For more immediate returns, you can spend 500 miles for a 3,000 bell voucher, or earn 12,000 bells for the same price as a single island ticket.

Long-term gains

Once you’ve mastered your daily routine and start paying off home upgrades, you’ll want to fill it with more than just DIY tables. But before you spend all your hard-earned bells on Nook’s fanciest furnishings, consider saving them for some of these long-term bell-farming techniques. It pays to be patient if you want to become a bellionaire.

Save your rarest bugs and fish: The most valuable Animal Crossing fish and insects

Animal Crossing tarantulas

If you’re at all invested in Animal Crossing social media, you’ll know people go nuts when they snag the rarest fish and bugs. Dorados, great white sharks, scorpions, horned Hercules, and the elusive coelacanth are all fine examples of specimens for which Timmy and Tommy will pay a pretty penny.

But wait! Don’t sell these veritable gold mines to those capitalist middlemen when you can go directly to C.J. and Flick, the fish and bug geeks of Animal Crossing. They pay an extra 50% compared to the prices you’d get at Nook’s Cranny, which really adds up when you’re selling rare critters. Just look at the adjusted sale prices for the most sought-after catches:

  • Wasp — 2,500 → 3,750
  • Mahi-mahi — 6,000 → 9,000
  • Tuna — 7,000 → 10,500
  • Scorpion — 8,000 → 12,000
  • Oarfish — 9,000 → 13,500
  • Sturgeon — 10,000 → 15,000
  • Barreleye — 15,000 → 22,500

Once you catch a rare fish or bug, it makes sense to stick it in home storage and wait until they come to visit on a random weekday. Unfortunately, C.J. and Flick aren’t guaranteed to appear every week, but if they don’t show up one week, they are guaranteed to show up the following week.

Unless you’re in urgent need of money, patience will reward you handsomely. Say you catch 20 scorpions on a Nook Miles Ticket island tour. Nook’s entrepreneurial offspring will give you 160,000 for the lot. Sounds great, right? Well, sell them to Flick and you’ll net a cool 240,000 bells instead. Take that, capitalism!

The 50% increase also applies to less valuable fish and bugs, too. C.J. will buy a sea bass for 600 bells instead of 400, which may seem like it isn’t worth the wait. Over time, though, you’ll catch a lot of cheap fish on your way to filling your Critterpedia; if you store 100 fish worth 500 bells on average and wait for C.J.’s visit, you’d make 75,000 bells instead of 50,000 on your worst catches. Small gains add up!

Play the stalk market: How to use turnips to make millions

Animal Crossing turnip market

Just like real-life stocks, playing the stalk market is where the big bucks are made (or lost). Turnips are the name of the game, and you can make a killing flipping these root vegetables each and every week. But it’s a bit of a gamble, unless you do the research and use your connections to change it from a guessing game to a science.

You have one week to sell your turnips for more than you paid. Every Sunday before noon, Daisy Mae — granddaughter of Joan, the original turnip queen of Wild World and City Folk— can be found wandering around your island, selling bundles of 10 turnips for an average of 90 to 110 bells. You’ll need around 400,000 bells upfront to fill an upgraded inventory with turnips, but sell these to the Nook twins before they spoil the following Sunday, and you could earn yourself a very tasty profit.

The price the Nook twins will offer for your turnips changes twice each day: Before noon and after noon. That gives you twelve chances to sell from Monday a.m. through Saturday p.m. on your island or a friend’s island. They can offer far below what you might have paid, or several times that on any given day, so it’s incredibly important that you keep checking in and try your luck.

A sample graph showing predicted weekly turnip prices. This graph shows the potential for a large spike.

To win big, though, you can turn to Turnip Prophet or the ACNH Calculator and get rough estimates of how much you can make on a given day — the Animal Crossing equivalent of insider trading. Thanks to AC: NH data miners, we know that Nintendo programmed four types of price patterns across a given week. Sites like Turnip Prophet can take your Sunday sale price and spit out odds on whether Nook prices will be random, consistently drop all week, briefly rise to around 150–200 bells, or jump up to the 300–660 range.

On your best spike weeks, just wait for your best price and you could potentially turn your 400,000 down payment into 1 or 2 million bells. On random or decreasing weeks, though, you can hopefully find a friend with a better price that will let you make one or two trips to their island. Or, you can check #turnipprices on social media, and you’ll usually find people offering to let you visit their islands during their 500-bell spikes. Just be aware that on the turnip black market, some players will demand an entry fee first.

One last bit of advice: You need to spend money to make money. Make sure your Nook ABD has plenty of bells come Sunday, and consider buying more than one inventory’s worth of turnips so you can double or triple your profit margin. On the other hand, strangers probably won’t let you visit their island more than once; so it’s a better risk if you have at least a few AC: NH friends that you trust to tell you if they get good prices, and don’t mind waiting around for you.

Go on island tours: Which Nook islands to look out for

Animal Crossing random island

Nook Miles can buy you everything from furniture to bell vouchers, but trust us: Save your Miles for buying plenty of Nook Miles Tickets. Each Nook Miles Ticket island tour dumps you on a preset island chosen at random, but odds are decent that you’ll find rare resources like bamboo and non-native fruit, rainy weather for coelacanth hunting, extra fossils, and/or more wood and ore from trees and rocks.

Once you visit enough islands, you’ll start to get a thrill once you spot particular layouts, such as the massive circular moat with rocks at its center that signals Money Rock Island. As the name implies, each of the six rocks is guaranteed to contain bells, meaning if you follow our rock-tapping guide you’ll get a whopping 90,000 bells — not a bad payout for just 2,000 miles.

Or, take a midnight flight and you may find “scorpion island” or “tarantula island”, depending on your season and hemisphere. On these auspicious nights, you’ll find the island only spawns these creepy 8,000-bell bugs, and if one attacks you you’ll wake up next to the pilot, so you can keep pursuing them until your inventory’s full.

If luck isn’t on your side, then you can use brute force and make a random island into scorpion island. Bugs typically spawn in or on trees, flowers, and rocks, so you can ensure these bugs don’t spawn by removing all trees, stumps, flowers, weeds, and rocks. Now, either tarantulas or scorpions will be the game’s only bug-spawning option (not counting wharf roaches on the beach). You can also leave a couple of palm trees standing, as the beetles that spawn on them tend to be profitable as well.

Beyond bells

All these tips should be plenty for you to build a bell fortune, and there’s a good chance additional money-making methods will sprout up over time. Nintendo adds new updates every month or so, like the Snowboy activity or Toy Day. You never know if the holiday-themed items you collect will end up being your next bell windfall.

That said, money isn’t everything in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Once you’ve paid off your loans to Tom Nook, you can use your remaining bells at Nook’s Cranny, but we’ve gotten just as much enjoyment out of terraforming our islands and adding custom designs, both of which are free and make your island feel more alive than any furniture your bells could buy.

Until then, we recommend you just dive into your daily bell-making and start living your best island life. Time is money! But don’t forget to lie back and enjoy your magical island vacation once in a while.

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