Bounties are a feature in Grand Theft Auto Online Free Mode. They are unlocked at Rank 10 after visiting Lester at his house (when it is marked by an L on the map). If a character does not visit Lester but continues to rank up, they will not be able to participate in the bounty system by either setting or claiming bounties, nor will other players or NPCs be able to set a bounty on that player. They will not have access to any of Lester's other services either though.
How to get and set a bounty
Players are able to set bounties on other players by calling Lester. The bounty can range from $2000 to $10000 but Lester takes a $1000 commission on all bounties so the amount claimable will range from $1000 to $9000. A player can only set one bounty at a time until the player with the bounty is killed. There is an enforced delay between Lester accepting requests to set new bounties of 10 real-time minutes. Players with bounties will be shown on the radar as red dots with crossbones on them in order to differentiate between psychopathic players. The 10 minute time limit was introduced in patch 1.12 to prevent the same player from setting a bounty after the previous bounty had been claimed. As part of an exploit fix, players can no longer gain unlimited RP by setting a bounty and then claiming it themselves repeatedly.
If the player steals an NPC's vehicle, there's a chance that a bounty will be set on that player. They will first receive a threatening message from a contact called "Unknown", which notifies them that they will have a bounty on their head. The bounties set by NPCs have the same rules as bounties set by players. There is also a chance that the player may get a bounty from a gang boss if they win five Gang Attacks in one game day.
Claiming a bounty
To claim a bounty, kill the player with the bounty on their head by any means. Players with bounties are targeted by the lock on feature of the Buzzard rockets when they are in vehicles. Prior to the insurance changes in patch 1.16, destroying an occupied personal vehicle of a bounty to achieve the kill did not result in any insurance charges or bad sport points.
Players claiming a bounty are able to use the share cash option to distribute the bounty to other players (or even pay it directly back to the person who had the bounty on their head). Claiming a bounty will also provide RP to the bounty hunter.
How to lose a bounty
To lose a bounty, you have to stay alive outside of safehouses for 24 in-game hours (48 minutes in real-time). You can't lose the bounty by staying in your safehouse. Entering a safehouse or job or leaving the online session will pause the timer and it will resume when the player re-enters free mode. Ways to stay alive long enough to lose your bounty include:
- Taking a strong defensive position and defending it. However high strategic skills are required in order to defend effectively a well-chosen position.
- Flying around in a plane or helicopter
- Riding on a train. Just make sure to kill any other players that get on or near the train.
- Using a Submersible or a Kraken to hide on the ocean floor.
- Changing session from open free-roam to Invite Only, Solo, Crew Only or Friend Only will allow the player to safely wait out the bounty period.
- Have a friend claim the bounty and pay it directly back to you using the share cash function.
- Chilling at your yacht listening to music at your hot tub with Yacht Defenses turned on. Any aircraft coming near will get shot down. And should a player get aboard, they will not be able to draw a weapon.
If you stay alive for 24 hours after having the bounty set on you, it will go away and you'll get the amount of money that was placed on your death, a "You have survived the bounty placed on you" message, and, if it's your first time surviving a bounty, you will get the "Run Like The Wind" achievement/trophy.
Bounties and Passive Mode
The Passive protection mode and the bounty system are incompatible. To ensure fairness, a player in Passive Mode can not have a new bounty set upon them, nor can a player who has a bounty set on them proceed to enter passive mode while the bounty is active. Players can use this to their advantage to attempt to prevent NPC bounties by entering passive mode before stealing any NPC vehicle.
- Even if you kill the owner of the vehicle, they will still send you a text message that sets a bounty on you.
- Players are able to claim the bounties that they themselves have set. However, even though they still get their money back, they will still pay the $1000 commission to Lester.
- Since other players can only see the value of a bounty when a player gets it or changes session, after a few minutes the value of the bounty will no longer appear, only leaving a red skull icon. This makes more expensive bounties somewhat wasteful since it only increases chances of having players attacking during the first few minutes.