Animal Crossing time travel is an infamous cheat that has been with the series since inception and New Horizons is no exception. Like those before it, ACNH takes place in real-time based on the Nintendo Switch’s system clock. That means changing the system clock will change the in-game time. This simple time travel cheat can be used to speed through days, letting you get through the game faster, get more resources or cash (Bells), enjoy the day/night cycle on your schedule, check out missed events, and jump to seasons at will to catch different bugs and fish.
But messing with time itself always has its dangers. In previous Animal Crossing games, time travel has resulted in lots of weeds, dead flowers, villagers moving out, and much more. So I had to know… what happens if you do the biggest possible time jump? And how much do I stand to lose and gain by breaking this game completely?
Every Animal Crossing: New Horizons Villager
“Why Would You Ruin Animal Crossing with Time Travel?”
I realize time travel is an upsetting concept to many who may be wondering why I would want to “ruin my game” or why I would “pay $60 to skip parts of the game.” The short answer is: for science. I was assigned to write our Animal Crossing: New Horizons Time Travel Guide, so I was doing this for the silent, large group of players who don’t mind taking advantage of a well-established exploit if it lets them enjoy their time a bit more – for numerous, valid, reasons.
Some people have limited time to play and can’t or don’t want to wait until the next real-life day to progress New Horizons projects. Others may only be able to play at night and wouldn’t be able to see the sun or even buy turnips without some clock manipulation. And, of course, some of us just want to be filthy rich so we can shop to our heart’s desire and move buildings without having to grind for a quick 50,000 Bells a dozen times over.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Visiting Characters
All of this started out as mere research but I have to admit, by the end of the project, I was time traveling just for me. Sure, there are plenty of legitimate strategies to getting money plus some grey area exploits, but for many of us the only way we can make extra money, real extra money, is to go out and cut a few corners. And after everything I’ve seen and dealt with, I’d absolutely do it again.
From 2000 to 2060 and Back Again
So, I began my experiment. I traveled small increments at first, but with each letter I got from Nook Bank awarding me interest, I became more and more curious about how much interest I could accrue. I went for the biggest time jump I could. I was surprised to see the Nintendo Switch clock can go back well before the Switch’s existence. It even predates the GameCube with 1/1/2000 being the earliest date you can set the clock to. I was even more surprised to see that, according to the Nintendo Switch clock, the world ends after the year 2060.
A few leaps from 2000 to 2060 was all it took for me to gain the max interest: 99,000 Bells. It got to the point where I could jump ahead in 2 years increments and net 99K Bells in a matter of minutes.
Later I discovered another, less surefire hack. At this point, you’ve probably realized that burying 10K Bells in the glowing spot that appears every day on your island will grow into a money tree that can turn your investment into a total of 30K. You may also be aware that, despite all the rumors and misinformation floating around, this is the only amount guaranteed from the money tree. Planting 11K and even 99K could grow into a 33K or 297K tree, respectively but it’s rare and totally random.
However, planting 99K Bells in the year 2000 and jumping to the year 2060 will ensure you grow a 297K money tree as long as you don’t use the same two dates twice.
So as I rinsed and repeated my way to my first million, I was hyper-aware of my island and all I might stand to lose. Turns out, it wasn’t much.
A Slap on the Wrist
For the most part, things were fine after extensive time traveling. I had a few extra weeds but my town didn’t turn into an abandoned lot the way it did in New Leaf. None of my villagers left me. A few roaches had spawned in my one-room house but entering, stepping on them, exiting and repeating got rid of them pretty easily. I had some wicked bedhead too, but my character automatically cleaned up (no cost required) which even gave me an extra hairstyle. The biggest negatives were things I didn’t account for.
To me, the worst thing about time traveling was the fact that some surprises were ruined for me. Not only am I aware of what gifts mom sends but I also have several of each kind. They go for nothing at the store but are perfect for regifting. Thanks, mom. And also, I’m sorry mom.
One unfortunate time travel accident put me directly on my birthday so my real-life January birthday celebration happened to me in March. I even rang in a new year with my unaware, soft neighbors.
Using Time Travel to Cheat the Stalk Market
This was pretty difficult to test prerelease but now that the game’s out it’s clear that the Time Travel Stalk Market cheat is the best, easiest, and safest way to make money fast through time travel. It also requires a little help from a friend or person willing to let you on their island when they have good turnip prices.
First, find a friend who has good turnip prices. Set your clock back to Sunday between 5 am to 12 pm to buy turnips from Daisy Mae, but don’t change the time after you’ve made your purchase. Fly to your friend’s island and sell the turnips. Then, repeat this process as much as your friend allows, or until their turnip sales price changes at noon or Nook’s Cranny closes at 10pm). Your friend can’t time travel while you do this, but you can leave them money or buy turnips on their behalf. Depending on their prices, you can make over 2 million Bells each trip.
Back in Real-Time (Sort of)
Now that I’ve learned all there is to know about time travel I’ve spent most of the Bunny Day event playing in real-time. But then I got a text from a friend asking me to time travel so I could buy and bring turnips to her island: Nook’s Cranny was buying them for 512 Bells. So I put on my cheating, time traveling cape once again. I convinced myself it was for the greater good. She just wants to pay off her second loan; she needs the storage.
But hey, after buying over 300K worth of turnips for her at no charge I had to make it back somehow… and a little extra for my trouble. Moments later my coworker announced turnips were selling for 591 Bells on his island and provided a Dodo code. It was already Sunday in my game, so I gave into temptation and netted over 4 million before lunchtime.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – All Bunny Day DIY Recipes
I understand and respect why people don’t want to time travel. Maybe one day, I’ll follow suit. But I have 155+ hours in this game and can honestly say time travel hasn’t ruined a single minute of it. I’m thrilled to spoil my friends and villagers rotten with my wealth until the next Animal Crossing comes out.
Time Traveling Tips and Reminders
At the end of the day whether or not you time travel is a personal decision. But if you’re looking to do it here are some important tips and reminders:
Don’t time travel with turnips or *they’ll spoil! (*jumping ahead one day at a time is fine but if you go back at all they spoil and they automatically go bad after 1 week so sell ’em before Sunday and before messing with time).
Do large time travel jumps early in the game because you have fewer villagers to risk and fewer rooms in your house mean fewer cockroaches you have to kill.
For more on manipulating time check out our time travel and cheats pages in our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons Wiki. Those playing by the book will want to make sure they catch all the April Fish and April Bugs they can while learning every Bunny Day and Cherry Blossom recipe out there.
Janet Garcia is an associate guides editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter to get a glimpse of her corrupt time travel island.