Compared to the in-game economy of single-player, Red Dead Redemption 2 Online is borderline predatory. With costs wildly inflated at every turn, any player would want to know the best way to make money in RDR2 Online.
Short of hacking the game for unlimited treasure chests or buying your way to the top, get-rich-quick schemes aren’t really the bread and butter of this particular market. No, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a few early game tricks to get you started, then you’re onto the really important moneymaker: Roles. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Method #1 – Looting & Selling to Traders
First up on our money guide for RDR2? Looting and selling to traders.
This one may come across as a bit obvious, but you might be surprised at just how lucrative rifling through a dead man’s pockets may be. In addition to hordes of rings, bracelets, and pocket watches to be pilfered from the dead, you can find treasure maps, Collector’s items, and all manner of other goodies.
You can also sell meat and pelts to butchers, which can be a great way to sustain your income early on. And don’t forget that you can still go through houses and abandoned buildings and such, looting whatever valuables you find ensconced therein. Exploration can be a profitable venture in general, but there’s also the hidden virtue of relaxation: if you’re having a calm, enjoyable session, the money will feel like it’s adding up faster anyway.
Method #2 – Finding Treasure Chests
One of the fastest ways to make money in RDR2 Online is finding treasure chests out in the world. In order to do this, you’ll first need to acquire a treasure map — you can get these by unlocking certain ranks (they’ll go straight to your lockbox), purchasing them from treasure hunters you encounter, or finding them as random loot drops on fallen enemies. Furthermore, treasure chests will net you gold as well as cash, which is useful for plenty of role purchases that will make you even more money down the road.
When you actually come to the search area denoted by your treasure map, be sure to have vibration turned on — progressively frequent vibrations form one of your principal means of sniffing out the treasure. Your other major tool is Eagle Eye, which will highlight the treasure orange while active, as you can see above. And that’s about all there is to hunting treasure in the online. Note that while this is an easy, reliable way of making both cash and gold in Red Dead Online, the amount of treasure maps you’ll pick up over the course of gameplay is limited. Consequently, it’s a good idea to use the proceeds from treasure hunting and other quick cash grabs to invest in long-term operations that will accrue money faster over time.
Method #3 – Playing Events & Free Roam Missions
Rockstar frequently holds events in Red Dead Online, and these can be some of the best ways to accrue money early on. The reason for this is that many weekly events offer double the money and gold for Free Roam missions and often have rewards surrounding specific goals. The monetary rewards for missions scattered across the map are normally quite anemic, so events like these do wonders for making them more worthwhile. You can also join multiplayer matches throughout your online session, which will also net you money and gold.
Taken together, these events are perhaps the easiest way to make money in RDR2 Online. And, they can form a semi-regular source of income and can even provide a nice break if you’re getting tired of the routine.
Method #4 – Unlocking The Moonshiner Role
When talking about the best way to make money in RDR2 Online, it’s worth determining what timeframe you’re using. You’ll want to employ different methodology depending on whether you’re trying to make a good chunk of change fast or whether you’re trying to make the most money in the most efficient way possible, which may take more time. Between get-rich-quick schemes like treasure chests and long games like the Trader Role, the Moonshiner Role occupies an interesting middle ground. Let’s dig into it.
Until it is surpassed by the late-game Trader Role sales, the Moonshiner Role constitutes your best bet for making a respectable amount of money in a reasonable amount of time. You need to invest considerably in order to make and sell the best shine, but once you do, your little shack will serve as one of the pillars of your character’s economic endeavors. That said, how best to approach the Moonshiner Role?
For one, it pays to get used to doing Bootlegger Missions in order to reduce the costs of producing the moonshine in the first place. This will include wiping out revenuer checkpoints, helping out saloon owners with miscellaneous tasks, and sabotaging rival stills in order to stay ahead of the competition. This will serve a dual purpose, making your operation more lucrative while simultaneously leveling you up in the role itself, which unlocks upgrades that will make everything considerably more profitable in the long run. You can always eat the cost of the initial mash prices, but this will cut significantly into your profits, especially early on.
You’ll want to invest in upgrades to your still as soon as possible. Stronger moonshine means more dollars per sale. You’ll want to keep track of your recipes and keep a stock of ingredients for your very best shine.
When it comes to actually delivering the stuff, be careful not to damage the goods, as even one broken bottle will eat up an absurd amount of your profits, dropping it down a few pegs on our list of best way to make money in RDR2 Online. If there’s a checkpoint and the revenuers let you through, this will merely be a matter of careful driving. If, however, you have to deal with pursuit by revenuers, your shine is in grave danger of getting riddled with bullets. One effective (if somewhat ponderous) strategy for dealing with this is to halt your wagon once you see red at the edge of your minimap — denoting an approaching foe — and then you can dismount and fight them off on foot, keeping the shine out of the crossfire.
Next, we’ll be learning the best way to make money in RDR2 Online, though it may take your some time to get there…
Method #5 – Unlocking The Trader Role
Here we have it, the king of all money-making endeavors in Red Dead Online: the Trader Role. This is the best way to make money in RDR2 Online. That said, this is by no means immediately apparent. In fact, in my own travails with the online before writing about it, I rushed down the Moonshiner Role as quickly as possible (Mama Bear’s Moonshine was by far my top priority then, you see), finding relatively quick, lucrative returns for my work. The Trader Role, meanwhile, was so slow in the beginning when it came to making money that I thought the Moonshiner Role had essentially rendered it obsolete. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Don’t repeat my mistake. I paid five extra gold bars to unlock the Moonshiner Role early, rather than unlocking it by reaching Trader Rank 5, which I regret in retrospect. If making money is your biggest goal in RDO right now, you should rush down the Trader Role as quickly as possible. Why? Simply put, because a large delivery to a distant location will net you a whopping $625 dollars, a sum utterly unmatched by any other enterprises you can build up in Red Dead Online. But before you learn how to make money in RDR2 Online’s trader role, you have to put in your time in the doldrums first.
The basic gameplay loop of the Trader Role goes something like this: hunt animals and donate their pelts and parts to Cripps, who will use supplies to process the raw materials into trading goods. The supplies themselves can either be acquired by doing resupply missions — which include stealing supplies, trading animal parts for them, or providing services for them — or you can pay $20 and wait a bit for the supplies to arrive in camp.
Once your wagon is filled to the desired capacity, you can enact either a local or distant delivery. The latter will take longer and runs the risk of attack by rival players, but the vast majority of the time, it’s the better of the two options. Players rarely attack your wagon (I haven’t seen it happen once), and the extra time spent on the delivery itself isn’t nearly as bad as putting together an entirely new sale.
As you’re settling into the role and earning XP, your primary focus should be on improving the efficiency of your operation. The most straightforward method for doing this is upgrading the size of your delivery wagon, which translates to a direct boost in profits. The medium delivery wagon is unlocked at Rank 5 of the Trader Role, while the large delivery wagon is unlocked at Rank 10. They cost $500 and $750 respectively — sizeable investments, but well worth the cost. But how to improve the efficiency of gathering and processing your raw materials?
One asset to consider is the hunting wagon. Now, I’m torn on this particular vehicle — on one hand, it undeniably allows for more efficient hunting trips by giving you the storage capacity to haul multiple large carcasses. Bring in a handful of three-star bucks and you’ll make Cripps a happy man indeed. On the other hand, the hunting wagon is an aggravating piece of shit. It spawns in bizarre places, handles like ass, stores none of your weapons, doesn’t allow you to scope out distant prey with binoculars (for some ungodly reason), and it’s absurdly expensive at $875. Good God.
All that said, I don’t particularly regret buying the hunting wagon, it just requires planning and patience to get the most bang for your buck. I typically settle on a particular type of game to hunt (usually deer, they’re plentiful and the bucks are highly valuable) and bring two weapons that can deal with them and any additional animals that might catch my eye on the way. A scoped rifle pairs well with a bow if you want to hunt small game alongside your deer, and the varmint rifle is your best bet for medium-sized critters. Not to mention the fact that it’s undeniably very satisfying to bring in a huge haul for donation.
Making Money in RDR2 Online: General Tips and Best Practices
Sometimes, the best way to make money fast in Red Dead Online is a matter of knowing how to spend your hard-earned dollars. For instance, you won’t regret upgrading your arsenal of guns and ammunition. Better guns and high-powered ammunition will make fights go considerably faster, which will make you money faster in the long run, given that one of your principal impediments where time is concerned is none other than combat. Toss out your obsolete carbine, your dusty old cattleman and get yourself something truly formidable.
Meanwhile, the other Roles — while not as lucrative as Moonshiner or Trader — can provide you with some nice supplemental income. The Collector Role will net you plenty of curios and goodies to sell to Madame Nazar. The Naturalist Role can make your hunting more efficient overall, giving you the option of setting up a temporary wilderness camp so that you can camp out for a few days until your wagon’s full to bursting. You can also mercy kill animals with a knife after Rank 6, so no more ruining dying animals with a second shot or looking the other way while they bleed out (you monster).
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And there you have it — the best ways to make money RDR2 Online no matter how you prefer to play. If you found this guide helpful and/or interesting, stick around at High Ground Gaming for similar content. And if you’ve got an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque love of the High Ground, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and our YouTube channel. Thanks for reading!