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Pokémon Go: How to get the most XP and level up the fastest

Pokemon go on iPhone. Player reaching level 40
(Image credit: iMore/ Rene Ritchie)

Like most any game, leveling up is important in Pokémon Go Levels aren't just a way of charting your progress either. The higher your level, the more game elements open up to you, including Gyms, Pinap Berries, Max Revives, the level of Pokémon you can hatch and catch, and even the limits to which you can power them up. You can do most things in the game at level five, but to get the fullest experience in Pokémon Go, you'll want to aim for level 50!

To level up, you need XP. To get XP, all you have to do is play the game. To get max XP and level up as fast as possible, though, you gotta play smart. Here's how!

What is XP in Pokémon Go, and why do you want it?

XP stands for Experience Points, and it's what you need to collect to increase your level while playing on your iPhone or Android phone. As your level goes up, you get access to Gyms, to Max Revives, to Pinap and Nanab Berries, to Great and Ultra Balls, to Evolution Items, Friendship, Trading, Special Research, and more.

It also lets you hatch and catch higher-level Pokémon from eggs and in the wild, and power up your Pokémon's CP and HP, so they survive longer and do more damage in battles.

The amount of XP you need to level up is different for different levels. For example, it only takes 1,000 XP to go from level one to level two. But it takes 25,000 XP to go from 19 to 20, and a whopping 5,000,000 XP to go from 39 to 40. Getting to level 50 takes a combined 176,000,000 XP (so don't expect to pull that off overnight!)

How much XP do you need for each level in Pokémon Go?

As you increase in level, it takes more and more XP to keep increasing in level.

LevelAdditional XPTotall XP
100
21,0001,000
32,0003,000
43,0006,000
54,00010,000
65,00015,000
76,00021,000
87,00028,000
98,00036,000
109,00045,000
1110,00055,000
1210,00065,000
1310,00075,000
1410,00085,000
1515,000100,000
1620,000120,000
1720,000140,000
1820,000160,000
1925,000185,000
2025,000210,000
2150,000260,000
2275,000335,000
23100,000435,000
24125,000560,000
25150,000710,000
26190,000900,000
27200,0001,100,000
28250,0001,350,000
29300,0001,650,000
30350,0002,000,000
31500,0002,500,000
32500,0003,000,000
33750,0003,750,000
341,000,0004,750,000
351,250,0006,000,000
361,500,0007,500,000
372,000,0009,500,000
382,500,00012,000,000
393,000,00015,000,000
405,000,00020,000,000
416.000.00026,000,000
427,500,00033,500,000
439,000,00042,500,000
4411,000,00053,500,000
4513,000,00066,500,000
4615,500,00082,000,000
4718,000,000100,000,000
4821,000,000121,000,000
4925,000,000146,000,000
5030,000,000176,000,000

Can you just buy XP in Pokémon Go?

(Image credit: iMore/ Casian Holly)

Kind of. You can't buy XP directly, but you can buy Lucky Eggs, which temporarily double the XP you get while playing the game. The effect lasts for 30 min., and you can get them in different quantities from the Shop:

  • One Lucky Egg for 80 PokéCoins.
  • Eight Lucky Eggs for 500 PokéCoins.

Lucky Eggs are also sometimes included in the Special Boxes that are made available during events, allowing you to save some PokéCoins.

So, how do you get more XP in Pokémon Go?

By playing! Almost everything you do in Pokémon Go earns you XP. Sometimes in minimal amounts, like the 10 XP bonuses, you get for throwing curveballs or hitting "nice throw" targets. Occasionally large quantities, like the 2000 XP bonus for spinning a Pokéstop or catching Pokémon on the 7th day in a row. Here's the complete breakdown:

XP for catching Pokémon:

  • Curve Ball bonus: 10 XP
  • Nice Throw bonus: 10 XP
  • Pokémon Flees: 25 XP
  • First Throw bonus: 50 XP
  • Great Throw bonus: 50 XP
  • Excellent Throw bonus: 100 XP
  • Catch a Pokémon: 100 XP
  • Catch 100th Pokémon of a species: 100 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 500 XP
  • Daily Catch Streak (Days 1-6): 500 XP
  • Daily Catch Streak (Day 7): 2000 XP

XP for spinning PokéStops and Gyms:

  • Spin a PokéStop: 50 XP
  • Spin 10th PokéStop in a row: 100 XP
  • Spin a PokéStop for the first time: 250 XP
  • Spin 10th PokéStop for the first time in a row: 500 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Basic): 25 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Bronze): 50 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Silver): 75 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Gold): 100 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Basic): 31 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Bronze): 63 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Silver): 94 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Gold): 125 XP
  • Daily Spin Streak (Days 1-6): 500 XP
  • Daily Spin Streak (Day 7): 2000 XP

XP for hatching Pokémon:

  • Hatch a 2K egg: 200 XP
  • Hatch a 5K egg: 500 XP
  • Hatch a 10K egg: 1000 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 500 XP

XP for evolving Pokémon:

  • Evolve a Pokémon: 500 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 500 XP

XP for battling at Gyms and Raids:

  • Feed a berry to a friendly Pokémon: 25 XP
  • Beat a Gym defender: 100 XP
  • Beat all Gym defenders: 25 XP
  • Beat a Raid Boss: 3000 XP
  • Beat a Legendary Raid Boss: 10,000 XP

XP for Friendship:

  • Sending a Gift: 200 XP
  • Become a Good Friend: 3,000 XP
  • Become a Great Friend: 10,000 XP
  • Become an Ultra Friend: 50,000 XP
  • Become a Best Friend: 100,000 XP

How do Lucky Eggs work in Pokémon Go?

You get Lucky Eggs as rewards for leveling up, but you can also buy them in the Pokémon Shop, either singularly or at a discount for 8-packs. Once you use a Lucky Eggs, you get double XP for the next 30 minutes. That's 30 minutes as counted by the Pokémon Go servers, mind you. If you stop playing to do something else, the time still goes down. Here's the difference a Lucky Egg makes:

For catching Pokémon:

  • Curve Ball bonus: 20 XP
  • Nice Throw bonus: 20 XP
  • Pokémon Flees: 50 XP
  • First Throw bonus: 100 XP
  • Great Throw bonus: 100 XP
  • Excellent Throw bonus: 200 XP
  • Catch a Pokémon: 200 XP
  • Catch 100th Pokémon of a species: 200 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 1000 XP
  • Daily Catch Streak (Days 1-6): 1000 XP
  • Daily Catch Streak (Day 7): 4000 XP

For spinning PokéStops and Gyms:

  • Spin a PokéStop: 100 XP
  • Spin 10th PokéStop in a row: 200 XP
  • Spin a PokéStop for the first time: 500 XP
  • Spin 10th PokéStop for the first time in a row: 1000 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Basic): 50 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Bronze): 100 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Silver): 150 XP
  • Spin a rival Gym (Gold): 200 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Basic): 62 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Bronze): 126 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Silver): 188 XP
  • Spin a friendly Gym (Gold): 300 XP
  • Daily Spin Streak (Days 1-6): 1000 XP
  • Daily Spin Streak (Day 7): 4000 XP

For hatching Pokémon:

  • Hatch a 2K egg: 400 XP
  • Hatch a 5K egg: 1000 XP
  • Hatch a 10K egg: 2000 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 1000 XP

For evolving Pokémon:

  • Evolve a Pokémon: 1000 XP
  • Add a Pokémon to your Pokédex: 1000 XP

For battling at Gyms and Raids:

  • Feed a berry to a friendly Pokémon: 50 XP
  • Beat a Gym defender: 200 XP
  • Beat all Gym defenders: 50 XP
  • Beat a Raid Boss: 6000 XP
  • Beat a Legendary Raid Boss: 20,000 XP

For Friendship:

  • Become a Good Friend: 6,000 XP
  • Become a Great Friend: 20,000 XP
  • Become an Ultra Friend: 100,000 XP
  • Become a Best Friend: 200,000 XP

Are there any other ways to get double (or more) XP in Pokémon Go? Events?

Absolutely. Pokémon Go has run several events so far that have offered XP multipliers. During some of them, it was a blanket 2x multiplier for all XP — essentially a constant Lucky Egg — all day, every day, for the duration of the event. And yes, if you used a Lucky Egg at the same time, you got quadruple the XP.

Pokémon Go has also run events where the multiplier for XP was specific to catching, hatching, or some other action. It's essential to pay attention to what specific action in the game grants these bonuses and focus on those. Like other multipliers, these also stack with a Lucky Egg.

Keep an eye out for them.

What's the fastest way to earn XP?

There are a few good ways to "grind" XP in Pokémon Go and level up fast. Most of them involve using a Lucky Egg to get the maximum XP possible at any given time.

Time vs. money

You get Lucky Eggs when you level up, but you can also buy them from the Pokéshop. If you don't have much time but don't mind spending some money, you can buy all the Lucky Eggs you need.

As mentioned previously, you can get:

  • One Lucky Egg for 80 Poké coins.
  • Eight Lucky Eggs for 500 Poké coins.

Since Legendary Raids offer 10,000 XP a pop, and 20,000 XP with a Lucky Egg — and 40,000 XP during a double XP event! — you can quickly climb the levels by doing those raids. If you work with a group in an area with many Gyms, especially during a Legendary Raid Hour, it's possible to get tons of XP with only a couple of Lucky Eggs.

You'll need a lot of Premium Raid passes, though. Sometimes they're part of the Special Boxes, but usually, the cost is:

  • One Premium Raid Pass for 100 Poké coins.

If you want to grind, using Pokémon Go Plus, the Bluetooth accessory that lets you spin PokéStops and catch Pokémon faster, can speed up your progress. It also costs some money up-front but can be used at any point in time, even with the game running in the background.

With it, though, you can go through a ton of Poké Balls in a short time. You'll either need to stock up by going someplace that has a high-density of PokéStops for you to spin, like downtown streets, or buy them from the Pokéshop as well.

Pokemon Go Buy Pokeballs (Image credit: iMore/ Casian Holly)

It varies from region to region, of course, but in the U.S. you can get:

  • 20 Poké Balls for 100 Poké coins.
  • 100 Poké Balls for 460 Poké coins.
  • 200 Poké Balls for 800 Poké coins.

That's a lot of money, enough to buy a fast-food lunch or a couple of fancy coffees, but it's less than most movie tickets and can provide you with a similar amount of fun if Pokémon is your jam.

Either way, time or money, grinding XP can cost you.

Mass Friending

The XP for increasing friendship levels is substantial as well:

  • 3,000 XP for Great Friend
  • 50,000 XP for Ultra Friend
  • 100,000 XP for Best Friend

So, if you can time Friendship level increases and drop a Lucky Egg before they hit, you can wrack up a ton of XP. However, you can only increase your friendship level once per day per friend. While the pay off is definitely worth it, it takes 90 days of interactions to reach Best Friends.

Mass-raiding

One of the fastest ways to gain XP and level up in Pokémon Go is by Raiding — Legendary Raiding, specifically — a lot. You get 10,000 XP per Raid. That's 20,000 XP with a Lucky Egg and 40,000 XP with a double XP event and a Lucky Egg.

  1. Stock up on Premium Raid Passes.
  2. Join your local Raid group. They'll typically use Discord, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or a similar app to coordinate Raids.
  3. Set up a Raid Train (where your group goes from one Raid to another, one after another) so you can Raid as much as possible at any given time.
  4. Complete as many Raids as possible.

You'll also need Revives and Potions to keep your Raid Teams up and running.

You can easily burn $10, $20, even $50 or more a day doing mass Raids. But, if money is no object, you'll level up in record time. (Especially if you use your Go Plus to mass catch and your time moving between Raids to mass evolve — see below.)

Even if money is an issue, shopping smarter by picking up special Boxes with lots of Raid Passes and playing a lot to keep yourself stocked up on potions and revives still make this a great way to level up fast.

Mass-catching

The first method requires both a Lucky Egg and a Pokémon Go Plus accessory. The Plus lets you catch Pokémon swiftly and efficiently, and since it's binary — you either catch them or you don't — every catch nets you 150 XP. Add a Lucky Egg to that, and it's 300 XP per catch. If any Pokémon flee, instead, you still get 25 XP or 50 XP with the Lucky Egg.

Pokemon Go Plus

Pokemon Go Plus (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Go to an area with plentiful Pokémon mass spawns. Busy cities with lots of PokéStops work best but any park or shopping mall that does a lot of traffice (especially on Community Day!) will work.
  2. Connect your Pokémon Go Plus.
  3. Start a Timer for 30 minutes.
  4. Drop your Lucky Egg.
  5. Optionally, drop an Incense to increase spawns.
  6. Start catching Pokémon with your Pokémon Go Plus.
  7. Travel slowly. As one mass spawn depletes, move on to the next one.
  8. When the timer goes off, your Lucky Egg will be, done and you can stop.

Depending on how many Pokémon you average, your Lucky Egg and catching spree can net you tens of thousands of XP at a time.

  • One a minute: 9,000 XP
  • Two a minute: 18,000 XP
  • Three a minute: 27,000 XP
  • Four a minute: 36,000 XP

It's expensive because you need the Pokémon Go Plus and it uses a bunch of Poké Balls, but it works. And if you mass catch during a double XP event, your totals will be twice as high. If you can pick a spot that has a lot of Pokémon and a lot of PokéStops, you can save yourself some money because the PokéStops will help you replenish your PokéBalls.

This method works especially well during an XP event like the Solstice event, where catches were multiplied by 3x — 6x with Lucky Egg, or any of the monthly Community Days.

Mass evolving

The second method requires a Lucky Egg and a large quantity of a common Pokémon that is cheap to evolve and an even larger amount of their respective candy, to evolve. Since Caterpie, Weedle, Pidgey, Wurmple, and Whismur only require 12 candy to evolve, and each evolution nets you 500 XP — 1000 XP with a Lucky Egg — they are the top choices for this incredibly efficient method of leveling.

Pokemon Go Evolve Pidgey

Pokemon Go Evolve Pidgey (Image credit: iMore/Casian Holly)

You do need to catch enough common Pokémon to make it worth your while. Doing the mass-catch above is a great way to stock up while earning XP at the same time. There are also a host of Pokémon that only require 25 candy to evolve, including Rattata, Lebdya, and Sentrat, and more that can fall back on if you need to.

(If you have any Pokémon with evolutions that will get you new Pokédex entries, you can fold them in for an extra 1000 XP — 2000 XP with Lucky Egg — a pop.)

To make things as efficient as possible, you can rename all the Pokémon you want to evolve before you start. Use punctuation like ! to push them to the top of the list. Otherwise, Caterpie, Weedle, and Pidgey are all really close together in Pokémon number, so sort that way and get to it.

  1. Rename, sort, or otherwise prepare your Pokemon for evolution.
  2. Start a Timer for 30 minutes.
  3. Drop your Lucky Egg.
  4. Start evolving your Pokémon, fast as you can.
  5. When the timer goes off, your Lucky Egg will be done, and you can stop.

It takes 20 seconds to do an evolution, plus whatever time it takes to switch to and start the next one. So, depending on how many Pokémon evolutions you average, your Lucky Egg and evolving spree can net you tens of thousands of XP at a time. If you can manage two a minute, that's 60,000 XP!

That's not including new Pokédex entries. And, of course, if you mass-evolve during an XP event, your results will be even better.

Double catch-and-evolve dip

Because Pokémon Go Plus is so easy to use, you can actually double up on mass-catching and mass-evolving. It's especially useful for squeezing every ounce of value out of your Lucky Eggs, even if it does cost more in terms of Poké Ball usage.

  1. Go to an area with plentiful Pokémon mass spawns.
  2. Connect your Pokémon Go Plus.
  3. Start a Timer for 30 minutes.
  4. Drop your Lucky Egg.
  5. Optionally, drop an Incense to increase spawns.
  6. Start catching Pokémon with your Pokémon Go Plus.
  7. Start evolving your Pokémon, fast as you can.
  8. Travel slowly. As one mass spawn depletes, move on to the next one, evolving at the same time as you go.
  9. When the timer goes off, your Lucky Egg will be, done and you can stop.

The additional overhead that comes from having to hit the Pokémon Go Plus and the evolve button on your phone at the same time can slow down your catch and your evolve rate, but you should still end up way ahead in total.

And yeah, XP events make this even more profitable as well.

How about cheats? Can you beat the Pokémon Go XP system?

Some people try to force-quit the Pokémon Go app once an evolution starts, betting their phone is fast enough to relaunch before the evolution animation would have otherwise ended.

Others try to use multiple phones to get multiple concurrent evolutions at the same time. That kind of stuff can get your account banned, though, so you're better off taking the huge amount of XP you can get legitimately and leaving it at that. While it might be appealing to get even that little extra XP out of your Lucky Eggs, there are plenty of legitimate ways to level up fast that don't run the risk of getting banned from the game.

Level on up in Pokémon Go 

It will take a lot of effort and time before you make it to the last possible level in Pokémon Go. Over time, Niantic will likely add even more levels for us to reach. Keep up your daily activities and eventually, you'll be able to gain more and more XP. 

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

With contributions from