GTA 5 – Beginner’s Guide (GTA Online)

To new players, it can be confusing trying to learn how to play GTA Online. There’s a lot of information, both true and false, out there on the internet. This guide is designed to consolidate the key information you, a new player, will need to get into GTA Online as fast as possible.

For more experienced players, this guide will probably cover stuff you already know, but you might find something you didn’t.

Other GTA 5 Guides:


So, you’ve just bought Grand Theft Auto V. Great! Now that you’ve finished the Singleplayer tutorial you can play Online. Even better! Unfortunately, this game has been out since 2013, and like every large multiplayer game, has gone through dozens of major updates and minor patches. As such, it can be difficult to discern what information is accurate for the current version. This guide will attempt to clarify what courses of action are best for new players.

Getting Started

Welcome to Los Santos! You’ve just touched down on your flight here and are met by Lamar, who will be your in-game guide for a few hours. Finish the tutorial if you want (I’d reccomend it). Your next goal will be to reach level 5. You can do this quickly by either doing races either by yourself or with friends, or by robbing stores.

“How do I rob a store?” I hear you ask.

First, look for the following icon on your map.

Next, walk inside. After that, it’s a simple matter of aiming your pistol at the owner and waiting for him to finish loading a bag with money. You can speed up this process by shooting around him, but not at him. Should you be carried away or he draws a weapon on you and you fire, you will need to fill the bag yourself. Walk behind the counter and press your interact key to do this. once you’re done, you’ll have the police after you. Steal the nearest car or bike and speed away. Be aware that if you steal a locked car, you’ll need a few seconds to hotwire it.

Learning to evade police early in the game is key. The fastest way to do this is to hide in the tunnels around Los Santos. The best place to hide is the under-construction subway tunnel. To access this, drive into the tunnel on the main freeway below the Arcadius Busness Center.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)
GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)
GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

Just drive into the tunnel and wait until the police call off their search. After that, simply head out and rob another store! Be aware that once you reach three stars (usually by attacking police), helicopters will come after you. They are much more difficult to evade than regular police cars, but the aforementioned tunnel will greatly assist you.

Once you reach level five, contact missions become available to you. These pay significantly better than robbing stores, and can easily be played with your friends. To start, open your phone (up arrow key), navigate to your contacts, then call either Lamar or Simeon.

Before you begin, stop by Ammu-Nation. At level 5, you’ll have unlocked the Micro-SMG. It’s good enough for low levels, but becomes outclassed in every way by the AP Pistol at level 32. For now, this is your primary weapon.

Simeon’s missions revolve around retrieving cars that he ‘rightfully’ owns. There’s little to no combat in these missions, but a lot of driving and evading police.

Lamar’s missions are simple combat missions. Generally, you will drive to a location, fight a few enemies and pick up either a package or vehicle, which you need to return to a location.

Keep doing contact missions until you reach at least $20,000.

Home is Where the Car is

Do you like cars? Do you want a car or bike right now? If not, then skip this part. If you do, keep reading.

Once you have $25,000 open up your phone, and navigate to your internet browser. At the home page, click ‘Money and Services’. Then, navigate to Dynasty 8. From there, click ‘view property listings’ and sort lowest to highest. You should see a building called Unit 124 Popular Street.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

This is a two-car garage that you can use to store vehicles and spawn at when you log in. Sure, it’s not the prettiest, or even the most functional. But it’s cheap, and that’s what matters.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

VIP – Very Important Player

With the Executives and Other Criminals DLC, the VIP system was introduced. As a VIP, you and up to three other players have access to a variety of abilities, from spawning vehicles nearby, to starting extremely well-paying missions. We’re here for the latter. Until you upgrade to CEO status, you will only have 4 hours of VIP time, so use it wisely. After your time expires, you must wait 12 real hours to start again. Luckily, this time ticks down even when you’re not playing, so feel free to end your contract once you’re done playing for the day.

Please note that passive mode is disabled while a VIP, CEO or MC President.

To commence your contract, you need $50,000 (changed from $1,000,000 in the Gunrunning DLC) in your account. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend this money. You just need it in your account.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The company SecuroServ will handle your protection contract. If you complete jobs for them, they will pay you well. Very well. $20,000 for one mission well. Once you’re ready, start up the mission by the name of ‘Sightseer’. To complete this mission, you need to complete three minigames, and find three briefcases. They can be anywhere in the state of San Andreas, but the VIP will have an objective marker on them.

The minigames are relatively easy, with only the number finding minigame being somewhat difficult. To complete it, you need to find a series of four two-digit numbers in a sea of duds. Take your time, don’t panic and establish a pattern.

Once you’ve finished the minigame, drive to the package. Then, complete the next minigame, and repeat. After you have all three packages, you’ll earn over $20,000. The mission will then have a 10 minute cooldown before you can attempt it again. Other missions will have a 5 minute cooldown, so feel free to try those in the meantime.

Before long, you’ll be rolling in cash! Well, maybe not, but it’s a start.

Heisting Your Way to Success

I would recommend you be at least level 32 and own the AP Pistol before starting heists.

You’ve probably heard about heists at this point. If you have three friends or don’t mind spending hours frustrated by braindead randoms (or good randoms, if you’re lucky), you can start heists. To begin, you need a high-end apartment, the cheapest of which is Del Perro Heights, Apartment 7 (Apartment 20 is $5,000 more for a slightly better view).

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)
GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

From inside your apartment you can access your heist planning room. While its location differs from apartment to apartment, its functionality is the same.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The heist planning room allows you to commence one of five heists. The first heist, the Fleeca Bank Job, is by far the easiest, and only requires two people. The remaining four heists all require four people.

Just don’t try Criminal Mastermind yet. Please.

Keep in mind that the person who starts a heist pays an upfront fee, and those who join the heist gain about $20,000 for each completed setup they are a part of. As such, in the finale, the leader should receive about 40% of the cut, with 20% for each other player.

Before actually playing past the Fleeca Job, you and your friends should buy the Heavy Utility Vest from a clothes store. This vest, when worn in a heist, slows you to a jog but massively increases your defense. To equip it, save it as part of an outfit and make sure the heist leader selects ‘Player Saved Outfits’ in the heist setup screen.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

After completing the Fleeca heist, you’ll have unlocked a discount for the Karin Kuruma (Armored) from Warstock Cache and Carry. Buy it as soon as possible. This thing is heavy, turns poorly and almost completely bulletproof. By sitting in it with your friends and firing AP Pistols, you can trivialise most heists and contact missions. Keep in mind that the Kuruma is extremely weak to explosives, a weakness which other players will exploit.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

As for weapons, any sort of automatic weapon will serve you fine. Personally, I find the Special Carbine (G36C) to be the most useful at lower levels, until you unlock the Combat MG at level 80.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

Direct Rule from your Office

You’ve broken a guy out of prison, raided a government facility, helped sell some drugs and done a classic bank job. Or not. Either way, for the next part of this master plan, you need an office. To get an office, you need one million dollars. By buying an office, you upgrade your VIP status into CEO, which is permanent, and can be activated and deactivated at will. Don’t worry if you resign, you keep your office. The cheapest office is located at Maze Bank West. You can access the office buying website through Dynasty 8 Executive.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The only difference in the offices is their location. Their functionality and interiors do not vary.

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

In addition, if you bought an apartment at Del Perro Heights, your office is right across the road! Isn’t that convenient?

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

Once you own an office, you can more consistently gain money through Sightseer and other missions, such as Headhunter. By this point you should have plenty of money to do as you see fit, and ways of earning more.

Post-CEO Purchases

Congratulations, you’re in the big leagues now. Unfortunately, this also means that purchases come much slower, as they’re often over a million dollars each. Here I’ll give my recommendations as to what to buy next.

Vehicle Warehouse

GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The vehicle warehouse is your key to loads of money. You can purchase it via the computer in your office. Of extreme importance is the fact that the Import/Export missions can only be done in Public sessions. If you want to play solo but still do these missions, you can force a solo public session through the following steps:

  • Alt-Tab
  • Open Task Manager
  • Click ‘More Details’
  • Click ‘Perfomance’
  • Click ‘Open Resource Monitor’
  • Under the CPU tab, find GTA5.exe
  • Right click GTA5.exe
  • Click ‘Suspend Process’
  • Wait about 7 seconds
  • Click ‘Resume Process’
  • Alt-Tab back into GTA Online

Once these steps are completed, you should see a barrage of ‘Player left’ notifications. If not, try suspending the process for a few seconds longer.

The Vehicle Warehouse has two components: Import and Export. Import missions are started from your office terminal, and require you to retrieve a car in a number of missions. You will need to pay money if you damage the car, depending on the damage. Export missions are started from the Ad-Hawk Autos terminal in your warehouse, allowing you to export as many cars as there are people in your CEO Organisation. I recommend the third option for exports, which costs $20,000 per high-end car, but gains you $100,000 per high-end car.

If you want to make even more money this way, do not export low or medium tier cars. Your assistant will not source duplicate cars for you to steal if they are already in your garage.

By purchasing a vehicle warehouse, you also gain the ability to purchase Special Vehicles. You can try these out in Special Vehicle Missions launched from your office computer, but in general, these vehicles are far too overpriced.

If you have further questions about the Vehicle Garage System, leave a message in the comments.


GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The Buzzard is arguably the most effective vehicle in the game. It’s fast, agile, well-armed, decently armoured and can carry up to three passengers. At $1.75 million it isn’t cheap, but can pay for itself rather quickly. The best feature of this helicopter is the fact that it can be instantly summoned nearby from the CEO Vehicles menu whilst you are a CEO. If you do not own a Buzzard, this has a price tag, but if you own one, it’s free every time. The helicopter makes contact missions and CEO missions a breeze.


GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The Insurgent is a heavily armoured vehicle capable of carrying a number of friends in safety. Unlike the Kuruma, this vehicle is heavily resistant to explosive weapons, such as RPGs, tanks and the dreaded Hydra. Keep in mind that its windows are not bulletproof, and as such players and NPCs can easily shoot you there. The Insurgent costs $675,000 after completing the Humane Labs Raid heist.


GTA 5 - Beginner's Guide (GTA Online)

The almost undisputed king of the skies. If you’ve played in a public session you have almost certainly seen one of these. Prior to the Gunrunning update there was almost no way of defeating these, but unlocking explosive rounds for the Heavy Sniper will take you a very, very long time. If you see one, either run and hide or enter passive mode.

If you want to buy one, it will cost you $3,000,000 after completing the Humane Labs Raid heist. The Hydra is VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), so can go pretty much anywhere and spawn at helipads. It is equipped with an explosive cannon (effective against everything) and homing missiles (effective against stationary targets). Just please don’t go and grief, or you might find yourself on the receiving end of a .50 explosive round.

I hope you’ve learned something new while reading this!

Written by T-65B X-Wing.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13955 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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