How To Start iRacing on a Budget
With iRacing offering a subscription based model with in-game purchases, it can quickly become an expensive hobby. However, you can race iRacing on a budget. Here is the best way to start iRacing on a budget.
iRacing on a budget
While it’s almost certain that you will spend more money playing iRacing than you would from playing other racing sims, iRacing doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. You can pick and choose what cars and tracks you purchase to ensure you’re not spending more than you need to. And you can make use of bulk discounts when you do make purchases.
There are a number of other methods to reduce your overall cost of iRacing. In this guide, I’m going to run through a variety of ways to start iRacing on a budget.
How much do you need to spend on iRacing
Before jumping into ways to save money iRacing, I thought it’d be beneficial to quickly look at how you pay for iRacing. Understanding the different ways to subscribe and buy items in iRacing is the first task before learning how to minimise costs.
iRacing operates two forms of monetisation, a monthly subscription and additional in-game content.
The subscription is mandatory for you to access iRacing and is charged monthly or annually. This subscription includes a variety of content that allows you to start racing in the rookie racing series. There are currently 16 cars and 22 track layouts included with your subscription.
If you want to race in more competitive series as you progress through iRacing, you will need to purchase individual cars and tracks. Almost every series outside of the Rookie license features tracks that aren’t included in your membership. Many of the series also includes cars that aren’t included.
Additional content is priced individually with cars costing $11.95, and tracks costing either $11.95 or $14.95. From this, you can see that buying multiple tracks for a specific series can quickly get expensive.
Read our guide to how much iRacing really costs.
1 – Make use of introductory offers and promos
Our first top tip about starting iRacing on a budget involves making full use of introductory offers and discount codes when signing up. As a new sim racer to iRacing, you can use some of the promos that iRacing offer all new members.
The introductory offers give all new members a 40% discount off their first subscription. This promo is always active and can be applied to different durations of memberships.
You can choose to purchase just a single month of iRacing using this discount, all the way up to 2 full years of discounted membership. When buying multiple months, you’ll save yourself the most money. However, you’ll have to be certain that you’ll be playing iRacing for a long time to make the most of your membership.
The intro offers currently are;
- 1 month for $7.80
The regular price is $13
- 3 months for $19.80 ($6.60/Month)
The regular price is $33
- 1 year for $66.00 ($5.50/Month)
The regular price is $110
- 2 years for $119.40 ($4.97/Month)
The regular price is $199
As mentioned above the best way to maximise your savings here are to purchase a 2-year membership. This equates to just $4.97 per month for 24 months.
If you purchase a lower duration, when your initial discounted months expire, you’ll then be renewing at the full price which is $13 per month. If you are purchasing for 2 full years though, be certain that you’ll be playing for that long. If you are unsure about iRacing, maybe a shorter duration is a safer option.
Occasionally, as well as the intro offers, iRacing also runs discount codes allowing for even better membership prices. Much like the intro offers, these discount codes normally only apply to new members. Although some do work for previous members who no longer have an active membership.
View our guide using the link below to see all currently working iRacing discount codes.
2 – Plan ahead which series to race in
When you sign up to iRacing, you’ll have access to all of the content you need to complete a full rookie series. However, as soon as you are promoted out of your rookie license and into D class, you’ll then see racing series that feature cars and tracks that you don’t own.
Before jumping straight into a series and purchasing all content, it is well worth examining every series through all license classes. This way you can target certain series as you progress through the licenses. This will also allow you to see which cars and tracks each series uses.
If you know which tracks each series features, you can plan to participate in series that share the same cars and tracks. By doing this, you can limit having to purchase additional content as you progress.
For example, the GT3 Fanatec Challenge B class series uses the exact same cars and tracks that are featured in the GT Endurance VRS C class series.
This means that you can participate in a full season of the GT Endurance VRS series while you’re in C class. Then as you progress to B class, you can then participate in the GT3 Fanatec Challenge without purchasing any additional content.
That example is ideal if you’re planning on mainly racing GT cars in iRacing. There are lots of other similar examples throughout iRacing’s different series where multiple tracks are re-used in different series.
Use an iRacing planner
One of the best ways to plan your progression through iRacing is to utilise an iRacing planner tool. These tools let you keep track of which content you currently own, as well as showing you what specific content is required for each series.
One of the best iRacing planners is IRBG (iRacing Buyers Guide). This platform is free to use and lets you input which cars and tracks you currently own. Then as you view other series, you’ll see what additional content is required.
Limit additional content purchases
Using a planner such as IRBG can help you really limit how much additional content you purchase. By planning out which racing series you wish to participate in further down the line. You can then better plan which content you purchase now.
Don’t race every race in a series
To progress your license, you don’t necessarily need to participate in every race in a series. You can earn your next license simply by meeting the minimum participation requirement (MPR) which is normally “participate in X number of races”. You’ll also need a safety rating above 3.00.
You can re-race the same track multiple times during a week and earn the safety rating required as well as meeting the MPR.
If you know you wont be able to race on certain weeks due to other commitments or holidays, you can simply skip a week. Using the iRacing scheduler you can see all upcoming races for the current season. This lets you know which tracks are coming.
If you spot a track on a week that you aren’t able to race on, there is no need to purchase that specific track.
I would recommend trying to participate in at least 8 of the 12 races in each season. This will earn you race participation credits. I’ll talk about this in more detail further on, but it is essentially credits earned from participating in races in iRacing.
3 – Use iRacing bulk discounts
When it does come to buying additional in-game content such as cars and tracks. One of the best ways to minimise the cost of iRacing is to make use of the bulk discounts on offer. As standard cars cost $11.95 and tracks cost either $11.95 or $14.95.
When you purchase multiple pieces of content together you can access discounts of up to 30%. These discounts are tiered depending on how much content you purchase and how much you currently own.
Currently, the iRacing bulk discounts are;
- Purchase 3 or more cars or tracks at once = 10% off
- Purchase 6 or more cars or tracks at once = 15% off
- Purchase 40 or more cars or tracks at any time = 20% off all future content
- Own everything in-game = 30% off all future content
When looking at specific racing series to race in, and any future series that you may race in, it may make sense to purchase all tracks required at once. If you purchase over 6 pieces of content at once, you can save 15% off your whole order. This is probably the most common form of discount, as most series will require more than 6 new tracks to race a full series.
If you own everything in the game, you then get 30% off all future content. However, since this is an iRacing budget guide, this discount isn’t one that we should aim for. Instead, focus on reducing how much content you buy using the planner method that I mentioned above.
4 – Earn in-game iRacing credit
As you undertake certain activities within iRacing, you’ll have chances to earn back credit. Any credit that you’ve earned can be spent on new content, or to pay for your upcoming subscription. There are a couple of ways to earn iRacing credit, with one being given out just for participating in races.
Race Participation Credit Program
The race participation credit program was designed to reward racers for participating in races each week. As long as you race at least 8 races in any series, you can earn credit. This credit can be redeemed on new cars and tracks or to pay for your monthly subscription.
How to earn money via the race participation credit program
Earning race participation credit in iRacing is as easy as just racing in an individual series each week. If you race in at least 8 races in an individual series and score championship points each race, you’ll be paid your credit during the 13th week.
How much can I earn from iRacing participation program?
How much you earn each season depends on the class of the race series you are participating in. The licenses are split into two groups, with different amounts of credit being offered.
- Class D or C series – $4 iRacing credit
- Class B or A series – $7 iRacing credit
You can stack the participation bonus and earn credit from multiple series. However, there is a cap of $10 each season, meaning you can never earn more than that every 13 weeks.
This accounts to a maximum of $40 credit each year if you earn the credit every season. That will give you 3 new in-game items, or just under 4 months of iRacing free each year.
Referring friends to iRacing
The second way of earning credit is to refer friends to iRacing. For every friend you refer you will receive a $10 credit. This can add up pretty quickly with the credit available to spend as soon as your friend joins iRacing.
Head over to the iRacing referral page to learn how to generate your own referral code. Then simply share the code with someone signing up to iRacing.
5 – Don’t spend a lot on your sim racing wheel
iRacing is a game that really requires a racing wheel and pedal setup to really get the most out of the racing. You can race iRacing with a controller, however, it is a hardcore racing simulation that leans heavily towards sim racers with wheels.
When it comes to buying a racing wheel, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a decent product. There are two fantastic racing wheels that are both incredibly capable and fun to race with for under £300 / $300.
Those two racing wheels both offer good force feedback allowing you to feel how your car is behaving with the track surface. This will allow you to adjust your steering and pedal inputs to maximise your lap times.
Read our complete Best Budget Racing Wheel Guide for information on the best low priced wheels.
Hopefully, this guide provides some helpful tips for keeping down the cost of iRacing, allowing you to race on a budget. Utilising these will minimise the cost of your subscription, allow you to focus on which in-game content you buy and even let you earn back some credit.
While iRacing will always remain a more expensive way to competitively race online. It is one of the most popular and is often seen as the pinnacle of competitive online sim racing. These tips should help to reduce your overall spending in iRacing.
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