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Red Dead Redemption 2 Bounty and Wanted level - how to pay bounties and lose your wanted level explained

How to pay your Bounty and lose your Wanted level in Red Dead Redemption 2.

A Bounty in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the price put on your head when you've committed a crime, and is an extension of the Wanted system the dictates how the lawmen go about tracking you down.

How to pay off your Bounty and how to lose your Wanted level become pretty pertinent questions then, given the fact you're playing as an outlaw, and all, and so we've explained exactly that, as well as anything else you might need to know about the systems, here on this page.

On this page:

For more help, our Red Dead Redemption 2 walkthrough explains the requirements for fully completing the game's many story missions.

[4K HDR] Red Dead Redemption 2 HDR Fix Tested! Plus Graphics 'Downgrade' Analysis

Red Dead Redemption 2 Bounty and Wanted system explained - what are Bounties and Wanted levels?

The Wanted system in Red Dead Redemption 2 is a little more complicated than in previous Rockstar games like GTA 5.

Instead of a simple star system, Red Dead's is more subtle: sometimes your crimes are witnessed; sometimes they aren't. Sometimes a witness gets a good look at you and can report your appearance; sometimes they can't. It means that the type of investigation lawmen will apply to your crime will differ depending on the context, and likewise the Bounty placed on your head will too.

A witness spots us committing a minor crime of Distubing the Peace.

Red Dead Redemption 2's Wanted system explained - what are Wanted levels?

When you commit a crime, there are three things that can happen: your crime is unseen; your crime is seen by a witness the identifies you; or your crime is seen by a witness, but they can't identify you - say, someone in the distance sees you kill some people in the countryside, but they're too far away to make out what you look like.

If nobody sees the crime take place, then nothing happens - you've got away with it safely. But if there are any witnesses then they'll run to tell law enforcement. If they do so successfully, you'll then get a Wanted level, shown in the top right of the screen.

Lawmen (old-timey police) will come to investigate, and a red circle will appear in the area of the crime on your minimap. If the witness didn't identify you then your Wanted level will say "Unkown Suspect" underneath it, and they'll look around the area for any suspicious people nearby - if they find you in the area, they're probably going to think you did it, and your Wanted level will switch to "Known Suspect".

Likewise, if the witness identified you, the Lawmen will skip the "Unkown Suspect" part and go straight to looking for you in the red area.

As soon as you're identified as the criminal by Lawmen - either by them finding you in the area whilst investigating and looking for a suspect, or when the witness already gave them a description of you - you'll get a Bounty on your head.

What is a Bounty in Red Dead Redemption 2?

A Bounty is a price you have to pay - literally - for your crime. The more severe your crime the higher your Bounty will be.

Bounties can accumulate, too - so if you commit multiple crimes the Bounties will add up to a higher total.

Having a Bounty on your head effectively acts as a low-key Wanted status. More Lawmen and Bounty hunters will appear on roads and around the area, and if any of them recognise you, they'll try to arrest or kill you on the spot.

That means your best bet, once you have a Bounty, is to try and pay it off as soon as possible. We explain how to do that, and how to get rid of your Wanted level, in the section below.

How to pay your Bounty and get rid of your Wanted level in Red Dead Redemption 2

Paying off your Bounty, at least at lower Wanted levels, is relatively easy.

The Valentine Post Office - see the minimap for the little envelope symbol.

How to get rid of and pay your Bounty in Red Dead Redemption 2

To get rid of a Bounty on your head, you need to visit a Post Office, which you can find in most towns. On your map, it's represented by an envelope symbol.

Where to pay off Bounties.

Head inside and talk to the person behind the counter, and you'll have the option to pay your fine and clear the Bounty - after that's paid, you'll go back to being unknown to the law and clear to carry on as usual.

How to get rid of your Wanted level

Getting rid of your Wanted level is slightly different, and depends on just how 'wanted' you are.

If you're Wanted but the Lawmen don't know your identiy - so when the witness that reported the crime didn't see you, for instance - then you can get rid of your Wanted level by simply staying out of the area marked in red that the Lawmen are investigating.

You'll see the red word 'Wanted' gradually drain from red to grey in the top right of your screen, and when it fully drains you're no longer Wanted.

This is the same if Lawmen have identified you as the criminal and a Bounty has been placed on your head - the difference is, whilst your Wanted level will disappear when you escape the area, your Bounty will remain. Each time you're spotted whilst you have a Bounty on your head, either by a Bounty Hunter or the law, you'll become Wanted again and have to lose them all over again.

Other than running, something that can help you lose your Wanted level is changing your appearance - by doing things like shaving and changing your hair, or changing clothes - but if you're caught, you're going to need to run.

Fighting is an option, but should only be used as last resort to buy you some time to flee - the more members of law enforcement that you kill, the more reiforcements they'll send and the more Wanted you'll become, with a higher Bounty to boot.

Finally, you can surrender, by putting away your weapon and acting peacefully in general. This is only possible at lower Wanted levels though, and it'll lead to you being arrested and placed in Jail, where you'll either need to wait out your sentence, or maybe be rescued by some friends...

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Chris Tapsell

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Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Deputy Editor and most decorated Football Manager. He used to write guides, and will send you links to his favourite spreadsheets if you ask him about League of Legends or competitive Pokémon.