I'm looking to investigate one aspect of the "real world" implications of teleportation as a super power, much like I did with this question.

In this case, I'm trying to figure out the best method(s) for a Teleporter (aka someone who can teleport) to make money. I'm looking for options to go from rags to riches in a standard 1st world nation. At the start the Teleporter is living paycheck-to-paycheck and wants to retire in 2-10 years, living off of investments after that. Obviously this needs to start with options that don't cost anything for a broke Teleporter, but the character is happy to reinvest money from initial ventures into new ones if doing so opens up more profitable options.

We're talking about a standard "good guy" here, so illegal/immoral methods of monetary gain are not allowed. However, since I suspect it is waaaay too easy for a Teleporter to break international laws I want to allow some leeway. As a result I would accept any answers that require breaking laws as long as:

  1. Doing so will not get them in trouble in their home country
  2. The action isn't the kind that will "mar" the person's reputation (potentially ruining chances at fully legitimate business ventures) if splashed across news outlets in their home country

As for the mechanics of the teleportation:

  1. The Teleporter can instantly teleport to anywhere they have previously visited, with ~1 minute of cool-down time
  2. They can bring or send anyone/any object they touch, with a mass limit of roughly twice their own weight (i.e. they can teleport and bring someone else, or teleport two people somewhere else).
  3. The teleportation is "smart" and works like normal movie teleportation. Specifically, velocity adjusts to match the local reference frame at your destination, whether that is on the ground, in a vehicle, etc...

Final note: many businesses fail due to the difficulty in getting their product in front of people, even when it is desirable. For the sake of simplicity though let's assume that the Teleporter is able to effectively use their ability to advertise to a broad audience (imagine teleporting into the middle of the live broadcast of the Superbowl, for instance). Therefore assume that the Teleporter can get himself in front of the desired audience, and just focus on what ventures are most likely to be profitable.

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    $\begingroup$ If the government doesn't pressure him into weaponizing him, the poor guy would probably begin as an Amazon delivery guy. $\endgroup$
    – kikirex
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ Related: How can a colony of teleporters make the most money while keeping their teleportation a secret? $\endgroup$
    – scohe001
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ For "anywhere they have previously visited": How do you define a specific location? If the person has visited an enclosed area which they would normally be considered to occupy, what happens if that enclosed area is moved? Can they teleport to inside the enclosure once it's in a new location? For instance, for the ISS example, if the person has viisted the ISS and the ISS had to maneuver to avoid some object, or just make a burn to avoid having the orbit decay, would the ISS still be a valid target? Would a capsule they only visited on the ground which is now in orbit be valid? $\endgroup$
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ I could avoid violating 1&2 provided I didn't get caught while smelting the gold I stole from everywhere to get rid of the stamps. You're only a criminal after you've been convicted. It's only illegal if you get caught. If you can teleport and there's a crime you can't get away with, then you suck at it. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mazura Actually, "It's only illegal if you get caught" only applies to a specific subset of laws - and most of those have now been changed to "always illegal" anyway. Smuggling used to be an example of that - you couldn't be convicted even if someone proved that you had smuggled goods, only if you were actually caught in the act. There is a specific term for that sort of law, but I can't remember what it is (it's probably Latin though) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 8:57

11 Answers 11


Space elevator.

The cost of sending astronauts and basic materials like water, food and oxygen to the ISS are enormous. The risks associated with firing a tube of metal filled to the brim with volatile chemicals into space are enormous, too. Immagine how much NASA and other space agencies would pay a person that could transport people and material to the ISS without any risk involved.

All they have to do is give him a 1-day tourist ticket to the ISS (he wouldn't be the first person ever receiving one) and pay him a nice sum to teleport supply crates and astronauts back and forth.

Since transport costs are so high, most modules for scientific experiments are within the size and weight limit of his teleportation power anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ Probably once NASA gets the hang of him teleporting supplies up, they'd start work on construction modules to rapidly expand the space available using smaller components that can be teleported. IE instead of using large beams in construction, it'd probably be smaller welded beams (although I suspect the ISS doesn't have many beams in the first place) $\endgroup$
    – phflack
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ Interplanetary or interstellar missions would be a bit easier if we could just teleport there. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ The average human weighs 62kg so our teleporter has a 124kg lift capacity. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator_economics "Prices range from about USD 2,350/kg to USD 40,000/kg for existing rocket transport". Since our teleporter can offer an equivalent lift service with none of the risks associated, they may provide the same price point and remain equally competitive for contracts (USD 4.96 Million per trip). If they optimally teleport back and forth in 2 minute intervals for 2 hours and performs a total of 8 hours of work, then they may make USD 1.19 Billion per day. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMcNamara So to be clear then, if anyone suddenly finds themselves with the ability to teleport, they are morally obligated to spend the rest of their lives turning us into a multi-planet species, which they can single-handedly do... If not the government has the obligation to make them! Then they have to turn evil because the government is trying to control them, and then they have to try to take over the world, and then we have every hollywood movie ever made... $\endgroup$
    – conman
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Would the teleporter actually have to visit each place? Could she instead visit a module on the ground that was then sent to the ISS/Moon/Mars/etc. and transport to that module? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 2:07

Bodyguard / Chauffeur

The ultra rich could pay upto $70 million for a private jet. How much would they pay for a bodyguard / chauffeur who can get them to their destination instantaneously and in the event of an kidnapping, get them out safely.

It would the ultimate status symbol over their rich mates. "What, you fly a private jet? How passé. I prefer teleporting. My time is far too valuable."

You'd earn $20m a year minimum and quite possibly a lot lot more.

It would also be worth more not letting people know what you can do but approach your selected employer directly and state your price. No ultra rich businessman would turn you down or even bargain you down just in case you leave. Once you show what you can do, they'll throw money at you.

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    $\begingroup$ I mostly agree with this, but think your limiting him too much by being only oner persons chauffeur. He could replace the private jet for every rich jet owner at once, since it only takes 2 minutes of his time per person transported (1 minute to transport there, 1 minute to transport them somewhere else). He could try to negotiate with a single rich person for exclusive access, but I suspect the rich won't be willing to pay him enough for exlusive access. He should still be semi exclusive to keep demand up. Probably each rich person signs a year contract with him for millions. $\endgroup$
    – dsollen
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ But if they "...can instantly teleport to anywhere they have previously visited", this would likely eliminate the notion of the teleporter rescuing a kidnapping/abduction victim. $\endgroup$
    – Ealhmund
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ The whole point of a bodyguard is their next to you. A bodyguard isn't much good somewhere else. It's in the name "body" and "guard". A bodyguard that can teleport you out when attacked is very useful. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ You could be every rich person's chauffeur but would you want to? It would be very demanding. Personally I'd prefer as few people knew my abilities as possible so people won't try to exploit you. Last thing you need is a cartel to kidnap your family to gain the ultimate drug mule. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne I would expect an emergency beeper for you to teleport in and grab your guy would work well enough though? Would allow for being "active" for many clients at once. Given instantaneous teleportation, as long as there is someone there to signal him, does it really make a difference if he is there when they come in or not? $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:01

Waste Disposal.

There are drums of highly radioactive waste that would be better off on the moon. The radiation is sealed in but we need to safeguard this stuff for millions of years. I'm assuming we have a way to get him to the moon because we've done this before.

Presidential Ferry.

The President's (and other billionaires') time is valuable and people want him dead. Moving him instantly from one country's guarded compound to another saves both time and eliminates the risk of attack in transit.

Supers' Emergency Transport

Not only is the President's time valuable, but so are other supers (this assumes there are other supers). Superman has a great movement ability but there are tons of others who would be really useful at point X to deal with some emergency but they lack a power which would move them there.

This assumes you have a few hundred "locations" all across the world so you can reasonably have one nearby.

Drugs and/or other vitally needed stuff in hot spots

Not illegal drugs. In the real world getting vaccinations and the like to various places which desperately need them is absurdly difficult because you need to refrigerate them and part of the "desperately need them" often means "transportation is very hard".

These types of situations often last for months so it's not hard to think he could set up a teleport spot.


Not "you going into combat". The army would love to pay for instantaneous evac of injured troops to great medical locations and instantaneous re-enforcement of troops and materials at bases.

Every base in the world could in theory have exactly whatever they need when they need it. This assumes you can do multiple transports but two people per port per minute means 120 people per hour.

Edit: Inter Solar System Travel / Colony Creation

This assumes he can memorize a "vehicle" as a location if it's large enough. You have an unmanned spacecraft which also has life support if it's turned on. He memorizes it, it's sent to Mars, he ports himself and the crew there, instant colony.

This skips needing heavy radiation shielding and other life support for the trip itself which will take years. This also skips the long trip for things the colony needs.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the waste disposal option - that is an option that only exists for a Teleporter, giving him a monopoly over an important niche market. It would definitely be the hardest one to make happen though, but that's just the nature of business. $\endgroup$
    – conman
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 12:47

This person is the ultimate Uber driver.

If you can bring people along for the ride, then what you have at your fingertips is the Concorde of taxi services. You wouldn't even need a special app - just use the Uber App and turn up in front of people. You're going to learn a lot about the city this way, meaning that this is one of those roles where experience does actually get your teleporter some added value because over time they visit more and more places. This means that your 'delivery' points will become more and more precise the more you do the work - you simply walk with the person to the final destination, after teleporting to the closest known spot, doing your Uber funds and rep transfer along the way.

Not only that, but you can actually get people to places that cars can't go - parks, high rise apartments, hotel lobbies, etc. And, it's instant. You really can't beat that kind of advantage in the taxi business.

In the long term, you become the equivalent of a private jet, just without the drinks cabinet. You can visit new cities and find 'landing' points for long distance hires, and you charge more because of the speed of delivery. But, you can also move more people per day than a standard driver, so you make more fares. And, you don't have fuel, traffic accidents and jams, and other 'roadblocks' (no pun intended) to your career as a people mover.

You could of course also act as a safe-hand courier, providing a lower risk hand to hand delivery because you can't be ambushed in transit.

Bottom line is that be it people or parcels, you can get your cargo where it needs to go faster and more safely than conventional transport options and that will make you a fortune working for the right clients.

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    $\begingroup$ Ironically, I think Uber would flag you as a scammer and refuse payment :) cnet.com/news/… $\endgroup$
    – conman
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ Or, food delivery: "3 minutes, or your money back" $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ With few exceptions, this does not sound very lucrative. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist Since it's instant, you could either charge more than Uber or serve a much higher volume of customers for the same rate. The only limiting factor is the 1 minute cooldown time. $\endgroup$
    – Beefster
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ This wont work as the 1 minute cooldown is only one of the limits. Its stated that he has to have visited the place before - so unless he visits every house in the area and possible destination he would not be able to get you/your package there $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 23:43

Ultimate Express Service

Well, not the true ultimate, that would of course be Einstein Express

But this would place a close second.

  • Intel running short of chips in California but the factory in China has them? Getting them in 1 hour instead of 24 hours would be worth a bit.

  • Nuclear power plant needs a critical part to avoid extended shutdown? And can't even wait 12 hours because it would have to go into "safe" mode much sooner than that if the valve isn't replaced? Teleport to the rescue.

  • Airplane made an emergency landing in the Azores (or wherever) because a part (obviously not TOO big a part) broke, with 300 passengers stranded? Saving a night of overnight accommodations, etc. is worth thousands to the airline.

  • Very high value shipment - e.g., diamonds between wholesaler and retailer, artwork transfer between museums - avoid the cost of security during transport by teleporting.

  • $\begingroup$ The first two options are not very realistic. You want reliable safety measures for things like that, e.g. multiple redundancy and a full set of spares in the reactor, large overstock of chips for Intel. A single guy who freelances everywhere is not really all that reliable The second seem more like semi-viable options, especially the last. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:17

My go-to for morally upstanding people to make lots of cash from powers where going public is not really an option has always been this: stealing from criminals. Drug cartels, warlords, dictators and whatnot presumably have a lot of cash lying around. If you can get in and get out without detection, you're technically doing a public good by stealing from them.


Test pilot. In the event of things going wrong he can teleport to safety.

What happens to stuff in the location he teleports to? Clearly the air there must be displaced at least. Is it teleported back to his starting location, or is it destroyed? If it's destroyed he could earn a living disposing of hazardous materials like nuclear waste by simply teleporting into the space it occupies.

Even things like bombs could be neutralized that way.

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    $\begingroup$ He would need to have actual piloting skills in order to make money out of that. And if he does have those skills, teleporting probably wouldn't allow him to raise his salary demands significantly over what ordinary mortal test pilots get. The manufacturers who pay for test flights don't in particular want situations where their pilot would need to bail out, and the percentage difference between "super-expensive prototype plane lost in crash" and "super-expensive prototype plane lost in crash plus paying bereavement benefits" is not all that large. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ theaviationist.com/2015/03/17/sr-71-mid-air-disintegration comes to mind. If it was our teleporter, then he could have gotten out in this case, maybe not in others if it happened too fast to react to, and that's assuming it doesn't take time to focus on where you need to go before you actually jump $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:05


Lame? Maybe. And I suppose it depends on how common these superpowers are, but if superpowers are rare, or at least if this superpower is rare, then all he needs to do is start live streaming. Something like this would get hundreds of millions of subscribers immediately. There are already people making a luxurious living doing streaming, with the hard part being the audience acquisition, but something like this would sell itself.

I kinda like the idea because it opens up all kinds of possible story elements. Is the character a narcissist? Do they use their platform to lecture people? On what topics? And then there's "stream sniping" -- does the teleporter have enemies? Do they keep trying to get him by watching the stream to see where he's at and what he's doing?

But in the meantime, the teleporter is making bank via ads and subscribers.


Organ donation network.

The Teleporter has visited every organ transplant facility worthy of the name in the country, or maybe the world. After all, one that has to wait for a liver to arrive on board a plane or helicopter is hardly worthy of the name! The fees the Teleporter could collect for getting a patient a fresh organ from the donor while it's still warm ... they may beat the ISS.


Expanding upon the space elevator concept some things come to mind:

  1. You're not limited to the ISS. NASA can push a manned craft to geosync or the lunar surface--it's actually a lot easier since there's no need to include return capability. Likewise, you don't need quite so good life support--a failure means the mission is lost but he's fine. (That will save on testing costs.)

  2. With orbits, what counts as having been there? Can NASA give him a ride to geosync, he goes EVA for a day and can he now teleport to any point in geosync?

  3. Does he have to ride the craft to the location? Or can he go study a space capsule at the cape and then teleport to it when it's reached it's destination? This puts Mars and Mercury within much easier reach. (Yes, if you pick the right latitude and dig in you can put a manned base on Mercury without having to deal with the ferocious heat. Do your initial construction at night. And with your teleporter you don't have to worry about how to protect the life support from the day--put him in a suit, don't send life support.)

  4. You say "weight"--that's a property of resisting gravity. Things in space have mass but not weight. And it's possible to temporarily reduce weight even here on Earth. NASA builds a tower, a satellite is lifted to the top, the teleporter dons a suit, grabs it, it drops--it's weight is momentarily zero, can they teleport it even though it's way above the 124kg "limit"? (Perhaps you need to evacuate the tower, but even if you have to it's still cheaper than riding fire.)

  5. They can match velocity which means they can change velocity. I'm thinking of the novel Exo (the protagonist is a teleporter, rather like your character but without the cooldown limit) where she learns to control velocity as a separate thing--self powered flight, reaching space without a rocket--add velocity to ascend, once high enough add horizontal velocity to stay up there. (And note that self-powered flight would be extremely useful when combined with going to another world--now you can get multiple landing points.)

  • $\begingroup$ Personally I feel teleporting to space wouldn't really work. It says you can teleport to placed you've been before but with relative positioning, the thing in space isn't where it was the last time you were there. It's like teleporting into a car. The thing moves $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne this is actually true already. The earth is revolving around the sun and the sun is revolving around the galactic center. No one is ever in the same (absolute) place twice. $\endgroup$
    – conman
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 11:54

Not sure if there was an update to the Question, but now that the nature of Teleporting is "standard movie" style I can revise my answer, it CAN work.

But, is the teleporting something a bunch of people can do, or just one person, and is that person's ability a secret or not. The comment about gov't agencies moving to enslave a teleporter and then weaponise them becomes the key difficulty in either case.

If it is one person with a secret then the discussion becomes how to offer a transportation service that produces incredible results without revealing how it is done. Otherwise it will be an interesting variation on standard commercial competition.

have fun with it

  • $\begingroup$ "not going to work" when we're talking about teleporting is not a useful comment (it's a given in the Q), much less an answer of the specific question here. also, it's not clear who the "you" you're speaking to here is meant to be since the Q doesn't mention the ISS at all. $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @ths generally I would agree with you, but as I originally read the Question I could not see any workable possibility for the story writer. Either I misread the Q or it was edited and now my answer is essentially a duplicate of the accepted one $\endgroup$
    – vulcan_
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 10:18

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