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Animal Crossing: New Horizons guide to making money (Bells) fast

Looking to pay off that mortgage? We’ll show you how to do it in no time

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Standing around a pill of Bells in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

Making money (or Bells, in this case) is a big priority in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch. After you upgrade your tent into a house, all of the subsequent house upgrades will cost Bells, and the prices get pretty astronomical, in typical Tom Nook fashion.

New Horizons offers several productive avenues for making lots of Bells in a short span of time. Here are some of the most productive methods we’ve found.

Hit the Money Rock

A gif of an Animal Crossing character hitting a rock and having bells pop out Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Each island has five rocks scattered around. Hitting most of these with a Shovel or Axe will yield Stones or Iron Nuggets, but one of the rocks will produce Bells when struck. There is only one “Money Rock” each day, but hitting it 8 times in a row will net you around 20,000 Bells.

Note: If you keep getting thrown backwards when hitting your rocks, try digging two holes (as seen in the gif above) to keep you in place.

Sell Non-Native Fruit

A grove of trees in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

When you first start on your island, you’ll notice there is a single fruit type growing. It’s randomly chosen from five options: Cherries, Apples, Peaches, Pears, and Oranges. This is your “native” fruit, and each piece of this fruit will sell for 100 Bells each. Not terrible but not great.

Now, if you manage to get ahold of a non-native piece of fruit (one of the other four fruits) and bring that back to your island, those will sell for 500 Bells each.

Early on you may find non-native fruit trees on the various Nook Islands you visit when spending a Nook Ticket. Bring that fruit back to your island and plant it for an enormous harvest in a few days. (If you’re feeling fancy and want to speed up the process, you can bring entire fruit trees back, but it will require you having eaten one piece of fruit per tree you collect.)

If you’ve got a friend playing, this process becomes even easier. Not only can you collect your friends’ native fruit and sell them in your town, but you can also bring your native fruit and sell it in their town for the 500 Bell price.

Once you have an orchard of non-native fruit in your town, you should be making decent money. Having 20 trees filled with fruit will net you 30,000 Bells whenever they can be harvested. Plant more trees for more of a return.

Note on Perfect Fruit: Thus far, we haven’t been able to find so-called Perfect Fruit. In past Animal Crossing games, Perfect Fruit sold for outrageous amounts of money, but it was also a bit finicky to grow and maintain. We’ll be sure to update this guide if we figure out a way to grow Perfect Fruit, but it doesn’t seem to be an option in the game’s first month.

Sell ‘Today’s Hot Item’ at Nook’s Cranny

Selling a bunch of Hot Items in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Once you build the Nook’s Cranny store, you can start selling Hot Items. Every day the item rotates, but it’s always a DIY project you already have the recipe for. Because it’s the day’s Hot Item, it will sell for twice as many Bells as usual.

Most of the Hot Items are not worth selling back to Timmy and Tommy. The ones you want to keep an eye out for are the fruit-themed TVs and electronics. The Juicy Apple TV, for example, sells for 7,000 Bells when it’s the day’s Hot Item. The cost of the ingredients (10 Apples and two Iron Nuggets) would normally sell for a little under 3,000 Bells, so it’s a really nice profit margin.

And don’t stop at just one! You can keep selling duplicates of the Hot Item for the same Bell value. If you make 20 Juicy Apple TVs with 200 Apples and 40 Iron Nuggets, that’ll be worth 140,000 Bells! It’s actually not a bad reason to keep stacks of Native Fruit in your house’s storage, in case a piece of fruit electronics pops up as the Hot Item for a given day.

Catch and Sell High-Value Bugs and Fish

Finding a sturgeon in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Thanks to New Horizons’ increased inventory space, you can make a ton of money just by catching and selling various kinds of bugs and fish.

Obviously some are more valuable than others, but if you’re playing on launch day in March, you should keep an eye out for Paper Kite Butterflies (white and black wings), Emperor Butterflies (light blue wings), and Peacock Butterflies (green and black wings). Each of these will sell for between 1,000 and 4,000 Bells and are well worth chasing.

Other valuable bugs include the Tiger Beetle and the Tarantula, which you can spot just chilling on the ground in your town. Just be ready with the Tarantula, as it will charge and you’ll have to time your net swing perfectly.

Fish are more inconsistent because you won’t know what type of fish you’re catching until you pull it up. There are plenty of low value fish with giant shadows and high value fish with small shadows, so there’s no great rule of thumb for which to go after. That said, filling your pockets with 20 fish is very likely to net you several thousand Bells so it’s never a waste of time.

The one high value fish we’ve seen that’s a little more consistent is the Sturgeon. They have large shadows and only appear at the mouth of a river as it exits into the ocean. So if you see a large shadow in that spot, it’s always wise to go after it.

Growing Bell Trees

Standing in front of a money tree in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Every day, there will be a glowing spot somewhere on your island. If you dig at that spot, you’ll net an easy 1,000 Bells. But after digging out the Bells, you’ll notice that there’s now a glowing hole.

Pull open your inventory and tap the number indicating how many Bells you currently have. This will allow you to pull bags of Bells directly into your pockets.

Once you have a bag of Bells in your pockets and you’re standing next to the glowing hole, you can choose to plant that bag, thus growing a legit Bell Tree. Once the tree is fully grown (after five days or so), you can harvest three Bell bags from it, thus tripling your initial investment.

Update (Mar. 31): After experimentation, we’ve discovered that you are guaranteed to triple your investment so long as you initially plant 10,000 Bells. Planting more than that may yield even more Bells, but the return is not always guaranteed at those levels, so you’re taking a risk.