How to Earn Money Fast in Need For Speed Unbound

Image credit: Electronic Arts

Cash is king, and in Need For Speed Unbound, it is the definitive need for every racer out on the streets of Lakeshore. Cars are expensive in Need For Speed Unbound, and so are the parts needed to upgrade them both visually and performance-wise.

There are also buy-ins for events as well as side bets to consider and to enter these events and gain more additional money from side bets, you will have to have some money banked in order to “invest” it into more money.

Not to mention the garage upgrades that you will need in order to access even better (and much more expensive) performance and auxiliary parts for your ride.

Simply put, money is the center of progression in Need For Speed Unbound, and with you starting off with chump change by the time you pick your starter car, you will have to think quite a bit about where to spend your money and if certain events are even worth it to do due to the whole risk-reward gameplay loop that Need For Speed Unbound employs.

In this guide, we will be looking at how to earn money fast in Need For Speed Unbound by tackling the several activities you can do within the game as well as some tips and tricks that you should be doing in the early game to set yourself up better for later in the game.

Plan Your Day (and Night) Sessions Ahead

A unique factor with Need For Speed Unbound is that the game employs a day and night system wherein you are only allowed to leave your garage once a session, and when you go back into your garage, it moves forward to the next day (or night), essentially wiping the map clean of race events.

This system sort of gets rid of grinding as once you complete an event, it disappears from the map and you are forced to go to another event to race.

What makes this unique is that your heat carries over from your morning session to your night session. Each race you do will raise your heat level, so if you do too many races during the morning, your night session will be an absolute nightmare with more aggressive cops.

You can see how much heat a race adds to your heat level when you preview the event. Most of the higher-paying races will have a higher heat gain so be cautious when doing those as you will be setting yourself up for a cop-filled day.

Just like in Need For Speed Heat, going back to your garage banks your cash into a safe place. Any money won during a session is essentially volatile and can be used to enter races with buy-ins and place side bets with other rival racers, but if you are busted by the cops during the session, you lose all that volatile money and the session progresses forward onto the next.

Heat level also cannot be reduced at all unless you finish your night session of the day so it is something to think about whether the event that will net you at most $3,000 is worth it to do rather than just banking your cash. Once you start the next day, your heat level resets to 0.0 and you can once again roam the city worry-free.

Another tip is to always have some cash left over so you can use these in races with buy-ins and take on side bets. Without money, as you leave the garage, you might be missing out on otherwise higher-paying races and get stuck doing the lower-paying ones. Worse is you might miss out on the events completely.

Do as Many Races as You Can During a Session and Start Collecting Cars Early

Now that we are ready for our session and you know the ins and outs of the day and night system, we can now set out to race, which will be your main source of income in this game. Races will only appear in meetups (the yellow-green marks with an “M” symbol on them).

Early in the game, you will notice that there will be some races that require an A-class vehicle and a B-class vehicle even though you have one car. Need For Speed Unbound entices players to have multiple cars in their garage in order to tackle as many races as they can.

This is very apparent in how they handle The Lakeshore Grand event as it requires you to have 4 cars of different classes in order to compete.

But as said above, cars can be quite expensive to buy, and with the small payouts on the early races, it makes it quite a daunting task to save up to get a second car to attend both class races.

My advice is to not worry about missing out on the first few days and wait for Week 1’s Wednesday night as this is where you will be able to get your first chance to get a prize car.

The car in question is a ’70 Plymouth Barracuda which has been tuned a bit to be in A-class. The buy-in for these prize car events is quite large ($6,000 for this one in particular) so always have some money saved up before leaving your garage.

Once you win this car, you will now be able to race in both A-class and B-class races, with your choice of whether you want to use the Plymouth Barracuda as your A-class car or detune it down to B-class and use your starter car as your A-class car.

As the days go on, there will be more chances of winning cars, and their buy-ins will increase. If you don’t fancy the car, you can always sell it to essentially get your buy-in back.

But be a bit wary when selling these cars as the buy-in for these events is pretty close to its selling price, so it is more or less a lot more efficient for you to keep them and repurpose them for another type of event.

You will most likely need a second car in each class especially if you own an AWD or FWD car as your main racing car as those cars have difficulty with drift and takeover events due to their inability to powerslide easily and properly.

Do the Delivery Missions

From time to time while you cruise around the city, you will be rung up by either Rydell, Tess, or Yaz regarding some delivery jobs that need to be done. For Rydell, these happen in the day, and for Tess and Yaz they happen at night.

The Rydell’s Ride delivery missions are all about driving as fast as you can from point A to point B in order to deliver the vehicle to a client in the allotted time. The faster you deliver the car, the more money you earn. Think of it as a glorified time trial.

These missions are fairly straightforward and award just as much as the races. What is good about them too is that they do not raise your heat level, so it is safe money for no risk at all.

For Tess’ and Yaz’s delivery missions though, you will be required to be on a certain heat level during the night in order for them to prompt and call you. These deliveries are called High Heat Deliveries.

These missions require you to get the car from point A to point B, the same as Rydell’s missions, but this time the cops will be hounding you from the get-go and it is up to you to lose them before you make the drop.

There is no timer here so you can take your time trying to escape the cops, however, you will be rated on how much damage the car will sustain during the delivery. Delivering the car in pristine condition will net you the most cash, but if you destroy the car, you will not only lose the mission but you will also be busted and your night essentially ends.

If you have successfully evaded the cops, a good tip is to look for a gas station before delivering the car. By doing so, it repairs the car and you end up with the car in pristine condition before you deliver it, netting you the most amount of cash for the delivery.

Always Take on a Side Bet

Side bets are a new mechanic to the Need For Speed series. These are little bets that you can wager with a rival racer and if you beat them in the race (not necessarily win, but just be ahead of them at the end of the race), then you earn a little extra money. If you lose to them, they take your cash.

Before you start a race, you can opt to challenge a rival racer and take on a side bet with them. These bets are then added to your winnings at the end of the race, so if you challenge someone and they beat you, you might end up being at a loss if you do not place so well during the race.

The amount of money your rivals are willing to bet solely depends on how good your car is performance-wise. If you enter the race with a car that is predicted to come in 7th, then the side bets for the rivals rated higher than you will be a lot higher than if you are predicted to win.

A little tip for you: if you are confident with your skills behind the wheel and you are sure that you can beat your rivals even if you are in an underpowered car, then it is best to detune your car a little bit so you are not the projected winner of the race.

This makes the side bets of the rivals ahead of you much larger and can end up giving you a ton of money in the long run as you will be wanting to do this in every race you enter.

This also acts as a pseudo-difficulty mode as the more difficult you make your race for yourself, the more cash you earn. This once again plays into Need For Speed Unbound’s whole risk-reward gameplay loop.

One thing to note however is that the Saturday Qualifiers / Lakeshore Grand will not have any side bets taking place, so before you set out for the weekend races, make sure to upgrade your car back to its maximum rating for the class in order to be on the top of your game come the races that really matter.

Escape (and Toy With) the Cops

Another way to earn some cash is to get yourself involved with the cops. In Need For Speed Unbound, you actually earn money by escaping pursuits, and the higher your heat, the more money you gain from escaping them. So maybe increasing your heat level is not such a bad idea after all.

If you escape a level 1 pursuit, you earn $100, level 2 earns you $500 per escape, level 3 earns you $1,000, level 4 nets you $1,500, and escaping a level 5 pursuit earns you $2,500 each time. It may not seem much, but if you are a master of evading the cops, this just might be a gold mine.

If you really want to risk it, you can also equip the “Getaway Driver” auxilliary mod which can be found in the Performance menu. This doubles your earnings from evading pursuits but it also shortens the time reinforcements arrive for cops.

In summary, that is a projected $5,000 every time you escape the cops, and if you are good at it, why not just add that more risk to earn bigger?

Take Note of the Session Mini-Challenges

Before you start a session for the day, there will also be a list of mini-challenges that you can opt to do in order to earn a little more cash on the side. These mini-challenges often just offer a rather tiny sum of money in the grand scheme of things, but money is money.

If you are having a hard time completing any of the mini-challenges, then you can just skip them as they are completely optional. Some of them will be downright impossible as the conditions just can not be met at the time they are given.

Whether it is because your car is too slow for a speed run or because you angered the cops too much that they will not be sending out patrol cars anymore for you to take down, just treat these mini-challenges as optional extras instead of a necessity. There are far better ways of earning cash for less effort.

Do the Freeroam Challenges and Collectibles During the Day

As with previous Need For Speeds, there will be challenges strewn across the map for you to complete freely as you roam around the map. I recommend tackling these challenges at the start of a day session so that your heat level is at 0.0 and you can freely get these without the cops being a nuisance.

These challenges include Speed Runs where you need to maintain an average speed through a section of road, Speed Traps where you need to achieve a certain speed at a specific area, Drift Zones where you need to drift by a particular distance within the specified stretch of road, and Long Jumps wherein you need to jump as far as you can from a specific ramp.

Earning one star on these challenges nets you $250, $1,000 for two stars, $2,500 for three stars, and $5,000 for beating the rival racer’s best record on that spot. That is for each challenge, so it definitely accumulates rather fast.

It is best to attempt these challenges once you have an S-class or S+-class car to make them easier, especially for the Speed Runs, Speed Traps, and Long Jumps which require a great amount of speed to clear the rival records.

On a lesser note, you can also collect the Bear collectibles as they give you $250 for each bear you smash. It might seem paltry, but with the number of Bears around the map it adds up pretty quickly.

Online Money Grinding

With online progression different from offline progression, online deserves its own section on how to earn money fast.

In order to earn money fast online, it is much more straightforward as the only way you can earn money online is to do the race playlists that are accessible through the meetups. Every class will have a race playlist available, and each class will have its own payouts.

The higher your class is, the better the payouts will be. If you want to earn money the fastest online, you can always do S+-class races. But the way the prizes are structured, the differences in each class is minimal which incentivizes players to race in different classes.

But the best way is to definitely choose the class that you are most comfortable racing in as the higher you place after the race playlist’s end, the more money you earn and the differences are large.

Another factor here is that the more racers that join in a race playlist, the more money there will be on the line. For example, if there are only two of you racing, you will only be rewarded the base prize pool.

However, if you are racing with 5 people total, there will be a player multiplier of x1.3 for all racers in that playlist. So it is definitely better to grind it out competing with as many players as possible.

The base payouts for each class are as follows:

  • S+-class only:
    • 1st: $22,500
    • 2nd: $18,500
    • 3rd: $15,500
    • 4th: $12,500
    • 5th: $10,500
    • 6th: $9,250
    • 7th: $8,000
    • 8th: $7,500
  • S-class only:
    • 1st: $21,000
    • 2nd: $17,750
    • 3rd: $14,750
    • 4th: $11,750
    • 5th: $10,000
    • 6th: $8,750
    • 7th: $7,750
    • 8th: $7,000
  • A+class only:
    • 1st: $20,000
    • 2nd: $16,750
    • 3rd: $14,000
    • 4th: $11,250
    • 5th: $9,500
    • 6th: $8,500
    • 7th: $7,250
    • 8th: $6,750
  • A-class only:
    • 1st: $19,000
    • 2nd: $16,000
    • 3rd: $13,250
    • 4th: $10,500
    • 5th: $9,000
    • 6th: $8,000
    • 7th: $7,000
    • 8th: $6,250
  • B-class only:
    • 1st: $18,000
    • 2nd: $15,000
    • 3rd: $12,500
    • 4th: $10,000
    • 5th: $8,500
    • 6th: $7,500
    • 7th: $6,500
    • 8th: $6,000
  • Multi-class:
    • 1st: $21,000
    • 2nd: $17,750
    • 3rd: $14,750
    • 4th: $11,750
    • 5th: $10,000
    • 6th: $8,750
    • 7th: $7,750
    • 8th: $7,000

And of course, the player multipliers for the number of racers in a race playlist are as follows:

  • 2 players: x1.0 multiplier
  • 3 players: x1.0 multiplier
  • 4 players: x1.2 multiplier
  • 5 players: x1.3 multiplier
  • 6 players: x1.4 multiplier
  • 7 players: x1.5 multiplier
  • 8 players: x1.75 multiplier