Amassing credits is in many respects the name of the game in Elite Dangerous: Horizons. Your trade and exploration ranks are based on how many credits you amass with trading and exploration activities. The faster you amass credits, the quicker you can upgrade your ships and get bigger and better ones for combat, exploration, and trading. Completing missions is the most obvious way to boost your credit balance, but there are other ways to amass credits. These are some of the various ways you can amass credits in Elite Dangerous: Horizons.
1. Go bounty hunting
Bounty hunting is a combat role in which players destroy wanted (criminal) ships. You can do lots of bounty hunting beyond missions around Nav Beacons in star systems where you’ll find lots of wanted NPC (non-player controlled) ships. Targeting and scanning ships will reveal if they’re wanted or not. You’ll get a Bounty Voucher for wanted ships you take out in a specific star system, which you can redeem at local stations. Taking out one big wanted ship, such as an Anaconda, can net between 50,000-300,000 credits alone.
The good thing about bounty hunting is that it is low risk. You don’t need to be an ace combat pilot to amass credits bounty hunting because you’ll have the security ships on your side around Nav Beacons. Security ship support makes it somewhat easier to destroy wanted targets without losing your spaceship.
2. Trade valuable metals and rare commodities between stations
Trading commodities is one of the most common ways to amass credits in Elite Dangerous. Players amass credits trading by selling commodities at different stations for more credits than they purchased them. Even many non-trader pilots probably do a bit of basic trading to boost their credit balances.
Serious traders amass big bucks by trading the most valuable metals between stations. Gold, silver, and palladium are among the most valuable non-rare commodities you can trade in the game. Therefore, it’s worth finding some stations where those metals are available at lower than average prices to make some big profits.
You can also do some decent trading with rare commodities. Rare commodities are limited-availability ones that rise in value the further away you sell them from the original stations you acquired them. There are about 141 rare commodities in Elite Dangerous. You can find stations that sell rare commodities with the tool on this webpage.
3. Go mining for commodities
You don’t have to trade commodities by purchasing them at stations. Instead, you can acquire commodities for free by mining for them. Add a Mining Laser and Refinery to your spaceship to do some mining at asteroid belts or rings. Then you collect ore to refine it into commodities you can sell at docking stations. Mining at metal asteroid belts can be especially lucrative. Check out the in-game Elite Dangerous Mining tutorial for a more detailed guide to mining.
4. Decode the Ancient Ruins
Those who visit Felice Dock station in the Meene star system will receive a decoding Ancient Ruins decryption mission. That mission offers one million credits for each decrypted data item you return to the engineer Ram Tah. You can amass a maximum total of 100 million credits by decoding all data items.
To complete that mission, you’ll need to decode data found at the Ancient Ruins site on moon 1 B within Synuefe XR-H d11-102. There are numerous Ancient Ruins sites, which are the remains of an advanced communications network left behind by the Guardians. The specific coordinates for the Ancient Ruin site you need to complete Mr. Tah’s mission at are -31.7877 -128.9711.
If you don’t fancy decoding the obelisks at that Ancient Ruins site, you can still do some artifact collecting there. You can detect and collect six different ancient artifact cairns at the Ancient Ruins on moon 1 B and other sites. There are also Relic Towers at Ancient Ruins sites from which you can pick up some relics. You can sell both artifacts and relics at docking stations’ markets for thousands of credits. So, the Ancient Ruins sites at moon 1 B and other destinations can be good places to amass credits at.
5. Jump into unpopulated star systems
Jumping into unpopulated star systems for which there is no available data is a quick and easy way to amass credits in Elite Dangerous: Horizons. When you jump into a star system with no infrastructure (population) you’ve not been to before, your ship will usually automatically collect some exploration data for it. You’ll see a blue discovery message whenever your ship acquires new exploration data. Then you can sell exploration data for credits to Universal Cartographic contacts at docking stations 20 or more light-years away from the star systems you collected data at.
6. Engage in Powerplay
Powerplay in Elite Dangerous: Horizons is an ongoing intergalactic territorial battle between key individuals aligned with major and minor factions in the game. You can pledge your support (or allegiance) to one of the Powerplay figures. By doing so, you’ll automatically get a Powerplay rating of one that will give you 1,000 credits for every weekly Powerplay cycle. You don’t have to do anything other than pledge your allegiance to somebody to receive the minimum 1,000 credits a week.
You can amass many more Powerplay cycle credits by raising your rating with active participation in your supported figure’s preparation and expansion attempts. There are five ratings in total, and you can receive up to 50 million credits per cycle for the highest one. Actively playing the Powerplay game can be very lucrative for players with higher ratings.
7. Find commodities from unidentified signal sources
You can also amass credits in Elite Dangerous: Horizons by discovering lost cargo at unidentified signal sources. All you have to do is enter supercruise and then look for and fly to unidentified signal sources you spot within a star system. When you get to a signal source and drop out of supercruise, you can often discover lost loot at them. Then you can collect lost loot you discover with your ship’s cargo scoop. Not all the ‘loot’ you discover will likely be worth much, but you can find valuable lost cargo, such as gold, at some signal sources.
Note that any lost loot you collect at signal sources will be deemed stolen goods. Therefore, you won’t be able to sell the loot you discover at standard markets. However, you can sell the stolen cargo to the Black Market contacts some stations have.
So, there you have seven different ways to amass credits in Elite Dangerous: Horizons without completing any standard missions. You can even become an elite combat, exploration, and trading pilot by amassing lots of credits with the methods above without needing to complete any faction missions at all!