You might be overwhelmed by the number of activities and properties in GTA Online and don’t know what to do. Here, I will propose a sequence in which those activities and purchases could be done, which will hopefully allow you to get more from the limited resources you are given when you join the game for the first time and eventually build a successful GTA Online career.
This roadmap is intended for players who don’t know an experienced player that can assist them in missions and grinding, and wish to get money by themselves rather than purchasing Shark Cards. If these do not apply to you, then you may consider skipping some start-up steps. Also, there is not a canonical order to do these things, and what I am offering is only a rough idea, so feel free to make adjustments.
I will divide those activities and purchases into stages of your game progress. These stages are only for the sake of this guide and were defined by myself, but I will try to give clear boundaries between them so that you can know which stage you are currently in.
The Rule of Thumb
In general, the most important thing you should do before you own most of the properties available in the game is to unlock more ways of grinding. Once you have got access to a business from which you can earn a decent amount of money, you can just keep it running and accumulate your wealth, until you are ready to invest in another business and gain more income.
When you join GTA Online for the first time, you will be asked to create a character who represents you in Los Santos. You can customize your character’s sex and appearance however you like.
You will also get a chance to customize your character’s stats for different abilities, which affects your character’s performance in relevant activities. If you follow my suggestion about setting these stats in this article, you can save a lot of effort to max them out later. The same article also offers tricks for boosting those stats, which will greatly improve your character’s ability to perform many essential tasks in GTA Online.
After creating your character, you are now in the game, owning almost nothing. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that are friendly to beginners to get some start-up fundings. Follow this guide to earn your first $1.25M, then buy yourself a high-end Apartment, which can be used as a spawn point.
If you have purchased the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, you should have another $1M to spend and plenty of properties to claim for free. I would suggest you not claim all of those immediately but read this article about the Starter Pack to learn more about things included in it.
GTA Online has a player level system where the levels are called “Ranks”, and the experience points for leveling up are “Reputation Points”, abbreviated to “RP”. At higher Ranks, you unlock more activities and purchasable items. During your start-up period, you should try to rank up quickly to unlock more items which will be helpful in your entire GTA Online career.
Once you reach Rank 12, you can find some teammates and start doing Heists. They are challenging but also interesting missions with decent payouts. If you can’t find a reliable crew who can complete all the Heists with you, Contact Missions are an alternative choice of money and RP grinding. Although they have smaller payouts, most of them can be done by yourself; there are a few Contact Missions requiring multiple players, but they don’t require significant team collaboration. In addition, there are also some other ways to earn some quick cash.
Don’t spend too much of the money you earned; save it for something big. When you have $2.5M to $3.5M, you can purchase the first business you will ever own in GTA Online.
Starting Your First Business
You now have enough money to invest in a business, which allows you to grind for more money completely by yourself, so you no longer need to worry about not having enough teammates for a Heist, at least for a while.
Depending on how you want to play this game, you have two choices:
If you want to be actively involved in something new, you can start doing Vehicle Cargo, a.k.a. “Import/Export”. This is a business in which you steal cars and sell them for a profit. With an active business like this, you must do the activities for the business to earn money from it.
If you can leave the game running on your console or computer while you are away for work or school, and/or you want to focus on Heists or other activities while you play the game, then the Gunrunning business is your best choice. You can receive a passive income from it: as long as you are online, your business can generate profit, even if you are participating in other activities. In the Bunker you purchase for the business, your workers use the Supplies you bought or stole to make Products that can be sold at a higher price. All you need to do is to deliver the Products to the buyer.
The minimum cost to start Import/Export is $2.5M; a good Bunker with recommended upgrades costs about $3.4M. If the $900K price difference is all that makes you prefer Import/Export to a Bunker, you should be able to make it up with two Heists.
Here are the reasons I recommend these particular businesses:
For Import/Export, it has the following advantages over other active businesses:
Its up-front cost is lower than Special Cargo. To do Special Cargo missions efficiently, you should own an aircraft or a flying vehicle, adding extra expenses to your bill.
Comparing to Air Freight Cargo, Vehicle Cargo allows you to earn more money in the same period of time. Some people might also say that driving a car is easier than flying an aircraft.
For Bunker, the following reasons make it the best choice for the first passive business you own:
It gives the highest hourly passive income among all businesses.
Its sell missions only spawn land vehicles for the delivery job, whereas for MC Businesses, you can get land vehicles, boats, planes, and helicopters.
It is very easy to ensure that your Bunker will not be hit by random events in the game that will cause you lose your unsold Products; for MC Businesses, however, those random events can still happen frequently even if you have purchased the Security upgrade, which is supposed to make them less common.
A Nightclub Warehouse cannot generate any income solely by itself; if you don’t own any business yet, the Nightclub Warehouse is useless, so you shouldn’t choose it as your first business.
As long as you can make a sustainable development using the business you invested in, you can spend some money on items you like. A wiser choice would be saving for future investments in other businesses, which gives you the potential to earn even more money.
Setting Up a Different Type of Business
Using your first business, you might have earned enough money to start another business. I would suggest choosing a different type of business to maximize your profit.
For example, if you have been doing Import/Export, which is an active business, you can make some passive income by purchasing a Bunker. Or, if you are already running a Bunker, then you can start doing Import/Export.
Then, you can maintain your active business while your passive business is running by itself. Before you leave the game and call it a day, you sell the products generated by your passive business. Suppose you run Import/Export and Bunker concurrently. First, you ensure your Bunker still has Supplies. Then, you steal cars, sell them, and receive the money. Your Bunker is generating Products at the same time, and after you finish Import/Export, you sell those Products to get another income. Now you have earned money from two businesses!
Completing the Set of Properties You Own
You can purchase more properties if you have enough money to invest and are willing to do so. Because you already have some businesses running and providing good incomes, you don’t have to rush your purchases; instead, keep an eye on the discounts Rockstar offers for different properties every week. You can save money in your bank account and buy properties when they are on sale.
One significant benefit of owning a complete (or almost complete) collection of properties in GTA Online is that you can maximize the profit of Nightclub Warehouse should you own one. Every business you already own might give your Nightclub Warehouse an additional Goods type to accrue, increasing the profit; however, if you don’t have any business the Nightclub Warehouse depends on, then it will not function at all.
Eventually, you might want to buy a Nightclub. Its Warehouse does not even need supplies since the Goods are accrued by your Warehouse Technicians, and you only need to deliver the Goods by yourself. This is truly a more passive business that requires less input from player than the Bunker and MC Businesses. If you want to purchase Pegassi Oppressor Mk II, the flying motorcycle, which is very useful in grinding, you should also have a Nightclub first to be able to unlock a cheaper price of the motorcycle.
Upgrading Your Equipment
Once you have enough ways to earn money, you can start buying useful and powerful equipment that makes your grinding more efficient or help you defeat tough enemies in Missions and Heists.
First and foremost, buy all the essential weapons. The weapons in GTA Online are unlocked mainly by getting higher Ranks. Since all of the business activities you have been doing should give you a lot of RP, you should have reached a Rank high enough to unlock most weapons. So, complete your arsenal by purchasing the weapons you weren’t able to buy at lower Ranks. However, don’t buy all the weapons you have unlocked! You can refer to my minimum collection of weapons to check what you should buy.
If you have passive businesses other than the Bunker, you can let your Bunker Staff do research instead of manufacturing. This will temporarily stop your Bunker generating profit, but the research projects provide useful and powerful upgrades for your weapons. For example, the Thermal Scope for Heavy Sniper Mk II is very helpful in the Avenger Setup Mission of The Bogdan Problem (Act II of The Doomsday Heists).
You may also consider buying the Oppressor Mk II if you don’t own it yet. Although it is unfortunately many griefers’ favorite vehicle, it is still essential and very helpful for Special Cargo and The Diamond Casino Heist. You should first own a Nightclub and a Terrorbyte, and complete five Client Jobs to unlock the cheaper Trade Price of Oppressor Mk II. Then, if you don’t need it immediately, you can wait until it is on sale so that you can buy it at a even lower price. Otherwise, you can just pay the original Trade Price if there is a current Double Rewards event on Special Cargo or Casino Heist, and involve in those businesses with your new vehicle, because chances are the extra money you can make thanks to the productivity given by Oppressor Mk II might exceed the discount.
With better equipment, you can start doing the more challenging Doomsday Heists and The Diamond Casino Heist whose Prep Missions can be completed faster with a flying vehicle.
Saving for a Pension
After you have purchased most of the essential properties for grinding, you will have less demand for new businesses and probably have saved a lot of money to spend. Feel free to treat yourself! Buy the super sports car you love, the luxuriuos Casino Penthouse, a Yacht, or a vehicle that has a lot of fun to drive. But keep in mind, those items will also be on sale sometimes, so you might want to wait for a discount.
If you still need a great amount of money for your wish list, keep an eye on Double Rewards events that usually rotate every week. In a Double Rewards event, one or several select activities and businesses will offer double cash and RP. For most activities and businesses, the up-front cost is still the same as usual or even decreased in a few occasions, so your profit is more than doubled.
After grinding during a few Double Rewards events, you will have a lot of money for your pension and claim your GTA Online career to be a successful one.
Occasionally, Rockstar may also give away cash rewards to players who log in GTA Online during a specified period. Be sure to stay tuned for any such event.