The Ultimate Playbook for Earning Crypto Airdrops

Many users have earned cryptocurrencies for free (or very little effort) through airdrops, with some notable examples over the years including Stellar’s XLM, ENS, UNI, and more recently ARB and OP. Anywhere between a couple hundred to tens of thousands of dollars have been earned by avid users just by HOLDing or being an active user of a protocol.

Want to go on a crypto treasure hunt and earn some easy money through airdrops?

Read on as this playbook will cover the ins and outs of airdrops, explaining the different methods that can be used to earn your first stack of cryptocurrency or grow your portfolio without breaking the bank. We’ll also highlight the best resources to help you stay updated on the latest airdrops.

What are Cryptocurrency Airdrops?

Airdrops are used by projects to distribute tokens to existing holders of a particular cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin or Ethereum) and to bootstrap a community by rewarding early adopters.

As the most cost-effective way for investors to get their hands on new cryptocurrencies, users can potentially earn substantial profits, especially if the distributed tokens increase in value over time. Although airdrops are perceived as ‘free money’, there’s nothing guaranteed about their value or even if an airdrop will take place, since many projects will deny that a token is in the works or may not distribute a token at all.

For projects that go ahead with an airdrop, they can be categorized into two broad types: retroactive and takeover.

  • Retroactive airdrops: reward users who have contributed to or been involved with the project before a certain date. This type of airdrop is often used to generate buzz around a soon-to-be-launched token, serving as a mechanism for bootstrapping community growth and creating liquidity.

  • Takeover airdrops: targets users and liquidity providers who are highly engaged in activities such as staking with the goal of attracting them away from competing decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols. This type of airdrop is often used to lure users from rival platforms and retain them by offering higher rewards.

6 Tips for Earning Cryptocurrency Airdrops

Now that you have an understanding of what a crypto airdrop is, you’re probably keen to learn how to take part in this ‘digital gold rush’. In the following sections, we’ll outline 6 ways to find the best opportunities to increase your chance of claiming the next big airdrop.

1. Discover New (and Tokenless) Protocols Early

The early bird gets the worm as they say. And this concept also applies to airdrops, with the highest yielding opportunities being the ones no one is talking about yet. You have to be super early to a protocol and frequently interact with it to have the best shot at earning a substantial airdrop. Of course, this is more difficult and riskier than some other options in this list, but here are a couple of pointers.

One way to find recently launched projects is to use Etherscan’s newly verified contracts page. Not all of these contracts will launch a token, but it can be a useful tool to stay on top of the latest developments and trends. After scouting newly verified contracts, some further research is required to assess the safety of a new project. The following tools can be used to help you to avoid being rugged: Rug Doc and Token Sniffer.

A more straightforward way of ‘being early’ is to check the airdrop page on DeFiLlama for a list of tokenless protocols.

By being an early adopter of tokenless protocols, you’ll have interacted with the protocol’s contract more often and you’re more likely to become eligible for a potential airdrop. Another tip: filter DeFiLlama’s list by TVL and/or total money raised for a higher chance of success.

2. Join Earndrop Alpha’s Discord

Earndrop has a website that provides notifications of drops you’re eligible for. They also have a great Discord server, called Earndrop Alpha, where you can find more potential token drops and discuss a variety of opportunities with the community.

To stay updated on the latest opportunities, you should also follow the brains behind Earndrop on Twitter (olimpio.eth).

3. Follow Airdrop Hunters on Twitter

As well as olimpio.eth, there are plenty of other airdrop hunters on CT. Here are 4 of the top airdrop hunters worth following that are posting alpha:

4. Monitor Claimable and Upcoming Airdrops

There are a host of websites dedicated to airdrop hunting, with some good examples listed below:

  • Airdrops.io: shows the latest, hottest and potential airdrops. They also have a Telegram channel and weekly email updates.

  • Airdropalert.com: the first airdrop alert platform that’s been running since June 2017 listing new and sponsored airdrops Airdrop Alert also has a Telegram channel and sends out a weekly email.

  • Airdropbob.com: like the two previous entries, airdrop bob provides a list of airdrops but also a calendar so that you know when the window of opportunity closes for a particular token.

  • Airdrops.one: a list of airdrops in the Cosmos ecosystem. Stakers of ATOM and OSMO are often eligible for newly launched tokens.

  • Earni.fi: join to find unclaimed airdrops and get email notifications of when you’re eligible to claim new tokens.

  • Daylight: a website that helps you discover claimable airdrops and wallet abilities (minting NFTs, POAPs, and so on).

5. Copy Trade the Most Successful Airdrop Hunters

Another great way to increase your odds of earning some tokens is to track the wallets of the most successful airdrop hunters and copy their on-chain actions. The Dune Analytics dashboard linked below ranks the addresses that have received every large airdrop in the past few years.

Add these addresses to a watchlist using a platform like DeBank and then tag them using a label such as ‘airdrop pros’. Frequent monitoring of what they’re doing next provides you with a better likelihood of catching the next big airdrop.

Another pro tip: snoop on Vitalik Buterin’s address to find new protocols!

6. Become a Power User of DeFi & NFT Platforms

Becoming a power user of DeFi protocols pays dividends in many cases!

Several projects have airdropped their token to addresses that have generated high volumes on competitor platforms through ‘takeover airdrops’, which is a variant of the vampire attack.

For example, ApeXDex airdropped their token to power users of the most popular decentralized exchanges (dYdX, GMX and Perp).

Blur did something similar for power users of OpenSea, where users that only listed NFTs on their platform rather than other marketplaces received more rewards.

Risks of Airdrop Hunting

While airdrop hunting sounds like fun and can be a profitable exercise, it requires you to put in the time and some of your funds at risk. Below we outline three key risks to be mindful of:

  • New protocols are unaudited. Because they have no track record (or a very short one), there’s an increased risk that the protocol will suffer from a bug or an exploit. To avoid losing your entire holdings, use a burner wallet for each prospective airdrop.

  • Another risk is that you’re using your own funds and taking the time to interact with a protocol, but it ends up not launching a token. Or you might miss out on the criteria. There’s also an opportunity cost: instead of using your funds to farm an airdrop, you could’ve invested in or traded a token that delivered a real return in a shorter time period. Remember, the more transactions and volume you do on a protocol that you think is going to do an airdrop, the greater the likelihood you’ll receive a higher amount.

  • Always be cautious and DYOR before participating in any airdrop or investment opportunity. Be vigilant against scams on social media that pretend to offer airdrops. These impersonators link to malicious websites that will compromise your wallet. Never reveal your seed phrase, private key or send money to any account that’s claiming to offer an airdrop.

  • Pro tip: use the Rabby browser wallet, which decodes transaction data for you, does a security check on every transfer and offers an address whitelisting feature.

Airdrops offer an exciting opportunity to earn some crypto with very little effort (at least compared to trading). By staying informed, becoming a power user of different DeFi projects, and/or trying out new protocols early, you can maximize your chances of reaping the rewards.

Once you’ve been rewarded for your time and efforts, don’t forget to claim the tokens in time and lock in your profits! The dashboard created by Messari (which is displayed above) shows that selling airdrops within the first week a new token begins trading on exchanges delivers the best return (while forever HODLing has so far been the least profitable strategy).