Money in Red Dead Online is possibly even more important than in the story mode, as weapons and horses can only be obtained by first unlocking them in stores and then purchasing them.
There are also fewer ways to earn cash in Red Dead Online, so you will likely end up being poor for a long time if you don't know the best ways to earn money.
Red Dead Online features two different types of currencies: regular money, which is obtained by completing story and stranger missions, winning in the competitive multiplayer modes, and selling items.
The second type of currency in Red Dead Online is Gold Bars, which can only be obtained by either: (1) earning 100 Gold Nuggets (which are then converted to a single gold bar); or (2) by purchasing them with real money. Gold Bars allow players to bypass the rank unlocking system and purchase any item even if it has yet to be unlocked, so they are a real commodity.
In this guide, we will cover the best ways to earn regular money in Red Dead Online (without resorting to any exploit or hack either).
Kill Them All, Each And Every One
Currently, Red Dead Online features a few story missions collectively known as the "A Land of Opportunities" missions. A total of ten are currently available in the game, but two of them are only unlocked if your character's Honor rating is low. Completing these missions for the first time will allow you to get money, XP, and Gold Nuggets as rewards.
As this money making method involves playing story missions in a random order, you may want to avoid using it if you care about the story. These missions aren't particularly long or difficult to complete, however, so you can just play through them regularly to make some good money.
To make some decent money early on, you want to play the Kill Them All, Each and Every One late story mission. You are rewarded $250 for completing the mission the first time and slightly more if you manage to complete the secondary objectives, making it one of the better-paying missions currently available in the game.
Other missions aren't that lucrative, but they will still help you make some decent money early in the game. Once you have made enough money to purchase a good weapon, such as the Bolt-Action rifle, and the Varmint Rifle, you can start using other real money-farming methods and make yourself some cash.
As a side note, repeating story missions through the story mission On-Call option is a good way to make additional XP to rank up.
Getting a powerful weapon that is unlocked relatively early, like the Bolt-Action rifle, will allow you to make the most out of hunting, as bigger and more resilient animals yield the best items to sell.
With the recent economy changes, hunting has become the most reliable activity in Red Dead Online to earn regular cash, as it does not depending too much on chance and luck. The best hunting spot is undoubtedly an area found in the western part of the Lemoyne region, to the east of Kamassa River on the map.
This area is the best hunting spot thanks to: (1) the variety of animals that can spawn there, ranging from big animals like alligators to herons, eagles, pekin ducks and spoonbills; and (2) its location, as it's conveniently close to Rhodes. The animals are spawned randomly, however, so the amount of obtained money per hour will change depending on which are spawned and on your ability to make perfect kills to get the highest quality pelts possible
As most of the animals that spawn in the area are small, the only way to get a perfect kill on them is with a Varmint Rifle, which is unlocked relatively early, at rank 8. For medium-sized animals, the bow is the best weapon to use to get Perfect Pelts.
Against alligators, however, you need to use the best weapon you have obtained, so this is where the Bolt-Action Rifle comes in. It's high firepower will help you kill these fearsome animals with a couple of well-aimed headshots.
Fishing used to be the best money making activity in Red Dead Online, but the recent economy changes dropped the price of salmon considerably. With fishing, it's currently possible to make around $180 per hour, which is not a bad amount, but far from the $300+ per hour that could be earned when Red Dead Online originally launched.
While definitely a good money making method, fishing requires players to have played the game long enough to have met a couple of requirements: you need to get to rank 14 to unlock the fishing rod and rank 30 to unlock the Lake and River Lures, which are needed to fish salmon. In case you have some Gold Bars to spend and don't want to wait for rank 30, you can use one to purchase either lure.
There are a few fishing spots where salmons can be caught, but two of them are the absolute best thanks to the fact that they are very close to towns. These spots are Owanjilla Lake, to the west of Strawberry and the Dakota River, to the southwest of Valentine. Owanjilla Lake is probably the best possible spot, as there are lower chances of being interrupted by other players, since most people don't travel here unless it's for fishing.
Once you have caught 10 salmons, head over to the nearest butcher and sell them. Each trip will net you $25.00, which is not a bad amount of money at all.
Even with the recent economy changes, finding treasure maps is still the best money making activity in Red Dead Online. It's not the most reliable, however, as chances of finding maps outside of ranking up are low.
Treasure maps in Red Dead Online work differently than they do in the single-player story mode. Online, treasure boxes are placed in random locations found in the areas highlighted by the maps, so you will need to keep attention to your controller's vibrations, which indicate how far you are from the box. Once vibrations become strong, use Eagle Eye and search for the yellow particles. Items found inside treasure boxes are also random, but they are usually worth a significant amount of money.
Maps can be obtained in two ways in Red Dead Online. They are a reward for ranking up every 5 ranks past rank 10, so you will be getting a new map at rank 15, 20, 25, 30 and so on. You will eventually reach rank 100, however, and won't be able to obtain more maps this way once you do.
The second way to obtain Treasure Maps in Red Dead Online is via clearing Gang Hideouts. These hideouts have the chance of spawning at several different locations found all over the map.
Once you have killed all of the gang members found in hideouts, you will confront the leader, whom you can kill or spare. Your decision doesn't seem to influence the chance of getting a treasure map, so do whatever you feel like doing. Even if you don't get a treasure map from the gang's boss, you can still make some money by looting all corpses. The amount obtained will usually be relatively little, as looted items have incredibly low sale value compared to that of the single-player campaign, but it's still better than nothing.
If you're really not hunting and fishing, and the random nature of obtaining treasure maps is not for you, you can earn some decent money playing the Showdown Series and Races multiplayer modes.
For the fastest possible results, winning horse races is the best way to go, as they tend to be shorter than a full run Showdown Series run. There are three different types of horse races in the Race playlist, but they are not all that different from one another, so get yourself a good horse, like an Arabian or the Missouri Fox Trotter, and win as many races as possible.
In case both horse types are way out of your league due to either low cash or rank, you may want to use the Red Chestnut Superior, which is available for free, or the free Thoroughbred Horse if you have purchased the game's Ultimate Edition.
As already mentioned, playing the Showdown Series is also a good way to make some money while having fun, but completing a full playthrough of the playlist takes longer than completing horse races. There are 5 different play modes, called Make It Count, Name Your Weapon, Shootout, Hostile Territory and Most Wanted, each one coming with its own rules and winning strategies. The amount of earned money varies depending on your placement at the end of each round.
Every week, Rockstar introduces a new event that gives players some kind of earning bonus on some activities. Maybe it's Showdown Series, maybe it's A Land Of Opportunities missions, but every week, something is paying out more RDO$ than usual - typically by 30%. It's worth keeping an eye out on these periodic bonuses and taking advantage of them to make a bit of extra money on the side.
These weekly events also include discounts, meaning you'll have a chance to get some of the items you've wanted to buy at a lower price. Saving money isn't making money, but it's halfway there.
Daily Challenges are a set of rotating objectives that are cycled every 24 hours. These are smaller, relatively easily completed tasks that test players' skills in all of Red Dead Online's mechanics. They are a great way to bring variety into your money farming routine, and if you manage to rack up streaks then it is a fantastic earning opportunity.