How to earn cryptocurrency

Find out how to get started earning crypto with staking, lending, crypto savings accounts and more.

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As decentralised finance has gained popularity over the last few years, there are now lots of ways to put your assets to work. In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the most popular options to show you how to earn cryptocurrency if you're already holding it.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.

What is crypto earning?

Crypto earning is a way to put your digital assets to work to passively grow your holdings.

The simplest way to do this is to deposit your assets into an eligible exchange account or use a specialised lending service. If you're more experienced with crypto, you can also use a personal wallet to access blockchain-based services to generate yield, but this tends to come with higher risk.

Potential earnings vary widely depending on the method used, with riskier options known for offering rates north of 20% APY.

In a period of low-interest rates and high inflation, crypto earning offers an alternative to traditional savings accounts – but it's not without some unique risks.

How to earn crypto

There are 7 main ways to earn cryptocurrency:

1. Crypto savings accounts

Crypto saving accounts work by holding or locking up your assets in return for receiving a fixed or variable reward rate. Many major crypto exchanges now offer this type of yield-bearing product, which is often marketed as an "earn account." In some cases, you can even deposit Australian dollars into an account to earn yield without owning any crypto first.

But unlike a high-interest account held with your bank, crypto savings accounts tend to come without safety nets. Very few account providers offer insurance in the event of your funds being compromised.

Read our detailed section on risks below to make sure you understand the pros and cons.

2. Staking

Staking cryptocurrency is the process of locking up your assets in a smart contract to assist a network with verifying transactions. It's a way of getting involved in the fundamental operation of a blockchain without requiring significant capital. Most modern blockchains have replaced mining with staking because it's more environmentally friendly.

By lending your crypto to the blockchain, you become eligible to receive freshly minted coins (known as block rewards) and a portion of gas fees. Potential earnings are determined by the number of other people staking, gas fees and network congestion.

Staking can be performed through eligible exchanges and wallets or through a service like Lido.

Read our full guide on crypto staking

3. Crypto debit cards

Crypto debit cards are one of the most accessible crossroads between traditional finance and cryptocurrency. They work just like any other Visa or Mastercard, except that they can be loaded up with crypto and used at supported merchants across the world.

Crypto cards often come with a set of unique rewards to incentivise spending, often in the form of crypto cashback. For example, Crypto.com's debit card offers a variable cashback rate in the form of CRO on eligible purchases as well as Spotify and Netflix subscription rebates.

Compare crypto debit cards

4. Lending

Crypto lending is the process of lending crypto or fiat currency to borrowers on an eligible exchange or specialised lending service. Lenders deposit their cryptocurrency into a pool that borrowers can access.

As the loan is paid back, lenders earn a percentage of the interest repaid by the borrower, which varies based on the loan size, how much collateral is in the pool and the asset being borrowed.

There are unique risks involved for both lenders and borrowers, so read our guide below to weigh these up first.

How crypto lending works

5. Yield farming

Yield farming is one of the most advanced options for earning crypto and isn't suitable for everyone. It involves locking your cryptocurrency in a protocol, known as an automated market maker (AMM), which provides liquidity for users in need of assets for other activities.

Liquidity providers then receive a portion of the transaction fee as a reward. Bonus tokens may also be issued by the AMM as an added incentive. Experienced liquidity providers often move liquidity between high-yield pools to take advantage of market movements and to maximise returns. There are even applications and algorithms that can do this automatically, known as yield aggregators.

Higher earnings may be possible with yield farming, but it's also a much higher risk strategy, so read our full guide first.

Dive deeper into yield farming

6. Mining

Mining is the process of high-powered computers solving complex mathematical problems to verify transactions on the blockchain. In return, miners receive a portion of cryptocurrency, sometimes called a block reward.

Mining popular coins like Bitcoin requires a hefty investment, as the computational power required to earn a decent return can't be achieved with a personal computer. For this reason, it's no longer a viable way to earn crypto for most people.

Certain blockchains like Monero and Ravencoin have attempted to limit the use of mining farms and to make earning crypto with the right GPU and know-how still possible.

7. Earn free crypto

There are also plenty of ways to earn free crypto without using your existing assets. You might have already heard of popular options like play-to-earn (P2E), using a dedicated browser extension or performing microtasks, but there are plenty of others.

It's worth keeping in mind that most ways to earn free crypto are less profitable than the options we've listed above, and the space is particularly susceptible to scams.

Legitimate ways to earn free crypto

Know the risks

Putting your crypto to work to earn generous passive returns may sound appealing, but it's not without risks. Make sure you fully understand them before placing your assets into any kind of crypto-earning product.

  • No FCS protection. The Australian government's Financial Claims Scheme guarantees ADI-held assets up to AUD$250,000, but crypto savings accounts and other earning protocols aren't covered. In the event that your digital assets are lost or stolen, you could lose your capital. As the market matures, some popular crypto platforms have introduced insurance funds to mitigate against this risk, but it often doesn't apply to earning accounts – so read the fine print.
  • Counterparty risk. Entrusting your funds to any third-party platform – no matter how reputable – puts you at risk of loss. In the event of theft or platform insolvency, you're unlikely to be able to recover assets held on an exchange or in an earning account.
  • Market volatility. Cryptocurrency is volatile and unpredictable. Many earning protocols require you to lock up your crypto for a fixed period. If the price of your cryptocurrency drops, you risk losing some or all of your capital. Stablecoins – cryptocurrencies pegged to an underlying asset like the US dollar – are often used by crypto-earning products to help shield against some of this volatility.
  • New technologies. Smart contracts are what make earning with crypto through staking, lending and yield farming possible. However, they're still a relatively new piece of tech that's vulnerable to bugs and hacking. Insecure smart contracts are nearly always the point of attack for bad actors, and in the past, this has seen millions in locked-up tokens stolen.
  • Tax may apply. Many crypto investors are unaware that buying, selling and trading assets might be a taxable event. This applies to most crypto-earning methods too. Crypto tax is complex, so seek professional advice, read our guide to cryptocurrency tax in Australia and defer to the ATO for the latest information.

Watch out for scams

The growing popularity of legitimate ways to earn cryptocurrency has seen a simultaneous rise in scams.

Be wary of new platforms that offer "too-good-to-be-true" rates, like 1,000x returns. Although a select few may be credible, many are "rug pull" scams where the developers abruptly shut down the platform to steal deposited assets.

Perform due diligence on any platform you plan on using – but especially those offering unbelievably high APYs – and stick to protocols with a large userbase and reputable track record.

Bottom line

There are now several ways for crypto holders to put idle digital assets to work earning a return. But while rates may be high, crypto-earning products aren't as well regulated as traditional bank accounts and there's no FCS guarantee.

Investors who fully understand the risks and are willing to overlook short-term market volatility may find allocating a portion of assets into a crypto-earning product to be a good way to earn passive income.

The more you research, the better equipped you'll be to decide if earning a return on crypto is for you, so keep learning with one of our guides below.

Learn how to earn crypto returns

Compare rates for different coins and project your potential earnings with our step-by-step crypto-earning guides and APY calculator.

Learn more about staking

Learn more about one of the more popular ways to earn a passive income with crypto: staking.

Crypto banking explained

Earn yield on, spend or withdraw loans against your crypto assets with crypto banking.

Crypto mining guides

Mining is no longer profitable for most coins, but it can be a way to earn crypto in some cases.

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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