How to make money fast in Elite: Dangerous in 2020

Elite Dangerous
Elite Dangerous (Image credit: Frontier Developments)

Elite: Dangerous is a fantastic game that I've recently gotten back into — we'll have more on it coming soon, don't worry. But with the launch of the Fleet Carriers, many players are left staring at the buy cost with jaws dropped, and not in a good way. Developer Frontier Developments has since drastically reduced the total costs, but it's still a massive investment, especially upfront.

So, that has left people asking: how do I make enough money to even think about buying one, let alone maintaining and fueling it? Elite: Dangerous is a live service game, and the economies change every so often as supply and demand wax and wane. This is good for content creators who stay up on how to rake in the credits fast but can be frustrating when you have to switch up your money-making routine (like when Void Opals fell out of favor).

How do I make money in Elite: Dangerous?

Elite Dangerous

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There are plenty of ways to earn credits in Elite: Dangerous, but there are a few standout options.

Long-time players of Elite: Dangerous will be familiar with mining, an in-game profession all of itself. I'll be honest, I resisted the call to mining for years, preferring bounty hunting or exploring. And while you can make good money doing those things, they pale in comparison to what mining can bring in during the same period. Newer players can also benefit from this, but you'll want to make sure you get into a more massive ship as soon as you can afford it.

Still others will remember the glory days of Robigo Mines. I'm happy to tell you that it's back on the menu and, though less profitable per hour than Low Temperature Diamond (LTD) mining, you can net multiple millions in just 10-15 minutes.

But running passenger missions is dull. Let's do some mining.

Subsurface Mining

Elite Dangerous

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The Borann mining spot is no more, Commanders, but something else has risen in its place. It's called Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2 1. Doesn't that just roll off the tongue?

I expected some excellent results when I finally made it out there, but I wasn't prepared for how profitable this would be. Whereas Borann A 2 was all laser mining with the occasional deep core, the jackpot here in Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2 1 is subsurface Low Temperature Diamond mining.

Before heading out to Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2 1, which is just over 200ly from Sol, you're going to need a few things. I did my runs in my Python equipped with:

  • 2x 2B Seismic Charge Launchers
  • 1x 2B Subsurface Displacement Missile
  • 2x 1D Abrasion Blasters
  • 1x 0A Pulse Wave Analyzer

Ideally, you'd want one of each for the Seismic Charge Launcher, Subsurface Displacement Missile, and Abrasion Blaster. Although we'll be focusing on subsurface mining, you will come across the occasional core asteroid that you can crack. Oh, and you definitely need a Detailed Surface Scanner.

Otherwise, my ship was outfitted for maximum cargo, plus collector and prospector limpets. Make sure you stock up in the Advanced Maintenance section before making the journey! Here's a quick rundown on how to rake in some serious money.

  1. Head out to Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2, then aim for the first planet.
  2. Once you get there, open your Detailed Surface Scanner and fire it off.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Look for the three overlapping Low Temperature Diamond hotspots, target the middle one, and up your throttle.
  2. Drop into the ring system and wait for the pirate to spawn and scan you.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Trigger your Pulse Wave Analyzer and look for the glowing rocks.
  2. Launch a prospector limpet at them while you make your way forward.
  3. Once it's done analyzing the asteroid, open your Contacts panel and look for Low Temperature Diamond points.
    • If any appear, select one to target. Otherwise, move onto the next glowing rock.
  4. If the readout in the bottom left corner of your HUD says "subsurface," switch to your Subsurface Displacement Missile firegroup, orient your ship correctly, and fire off the missile.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. This is where you'll find a minigame.
    • Hold down on the trigger and wait for the bottom left corner of your HUD to change. You want the scrolling cursor to land on the blue spot (purple in my case). Release the trigger when it lands on a spot.
  2. If the readout says "surface," switch to your Abrasion Blaster firegroup, orient to it, and fire away.
  3. Let your collector limpets scoop everything up while you exhaust the asteroid. You'll find these chunks fill up your refinery fast.

Elite Dangerous

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Whether you've filled up your cargo hold, gotten bored, or run out of limpets, it's time to make the money. Using Inara, check the system with the highest prices (Hajo in my case), set a course, and touch down. Restock on limpets, return to Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2 1, and repeat.

Passenger Missions

Elite Dangerous

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Your first task is to get yourself some passenger cabins. Find a system near you (check Inara) that has them and fill up most of your optional internal slots with them. I used a Python for this, so I had plenty of cabin space. However, I tried it in my Asp Explorer and did fine, too. If you have a smaller ship, then use what you can. Ideally, you want a ship with a jump range of at least 30ly so that you can make the jump to Sothis in just two hops.

Before we get started, bear in mind that these passengers that we'll be ferrying back and forth are considered illegal. If you get scanned, that's a big problem. Luckily, you aren't likely to get scanned whatsoever doing this run.

  1. Set a course for Robigo Mines: In the Galaxy Map, set a course for the Robigo system. If you've already been there or bought the map data, select Robigo Mines as your destination. Make sure you're in a small or medium ship since you can't land a big ship at an outpost. Open the services menu and head to the Passenger Lounge.
  2. Grab as many Sightseeing Adventure missions as you can: You'll first be excited to see missions offering tens of millions, but don't be fooled. Those are often for passengers who wish to go out tens of thousands of lightyears into space. We're looking for ones around the 5mil or less mark that can fit in the cabins we have equipped. You want to pay attention to the goal destination on the right side of the mission board. Look for "Sirius Atmospherics" and something about a sightseeing adventure.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Set a course for Sothis: Open your Galaxy Map and select Sothis. Your goal is Sothis A 5, specifically the Sirius Atmospherics beacon on the far side of the planet. Your first time there, you need to be within 1,000 light-seconds for the beacon to appear in your navigation panel.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Scan Sirius Atmospherics and return to Robigo Mines: Once you've locked in your approach to the beacon, drop out of supercruise when you're within range and immediately target the beacon. You'll get mission update messages when done. Set a course of Robigo Mines again and head off.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Land at Robigo Mines and turn in the missions: Pretty simple here. Just land at Robigo Mines and turn in your missions. You'll get a lot of credits for your paltry amount of work. Load up again and repeat.

It's worth noting that the best missions come from being allied with the three factions at Robigo Mines. If you're not, grinding out rank is pretty straightforward. Just do missions and lower-paying passenger missions for them, and you're fine.

Mining is king

Elite Dangerous

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It sure didn't take the Elite: Dangerous community long to find a new mining spot. While less convenient than Borann was, I made significantly more money a lot faster than Borann A 2 ever netted me. With a few hours of work, you can be in the billionaire's club. I just wish Col 285 Sector CC-K A38-2 1 was easier to type, but just bookmark it in your galaxy map, and you can get back to it pretty easily.

The other bummer thing about this spot is just how many brown dwarfs are around, making refueling a bit more difficult for the journey out to Hajo. If you have a Fleet Carrier, it's not such a big deal, but not all of us are rolling in money.

Once new money-making opportunities pop up, we'll be sure to update this guide as soon as we test them for ourselves. I hope you found this helpful, Commanders. Good luck out there and fly safe.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is a long-time gamer and PC hardware enthusiast. From the mid-90s on, he has constantly tinkered with computers and played every game he could get his hands on. Coming from a varied background, he found his passion in writing about Android in 2016, which also launched his writing career not long after. Now, Jordan is an avid gamer who just loves sitting down with tea or a glass of cold water to play whatever game has his attention (or he's reviewing), and he's lucky enough to make a living out of doing so. You can find him on Twitter if you want to chat: @jccpalmer.