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How to stake and earn Polkadot (DOT)

Earn yield on your idle DOT and estimate your returns with our staking calculator

Polkadot is a third-generation blockchain network with lofty ambitions. It aims to solve the major pain points of the traditional blockchain ecosystem by providing a new way to solve issues surrounding scaling, security, blockchain creation and cross-blockchain transfers.

Polkadot does this through the use of parachains – an interoperable network of blockchains each with their own unique rules and functionality. This is a distinct departure from blockchains such as Ethereum and Cardano, which focus on Smart Contracts to achieve similar results.

Unlike Bitcoin, which uses a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm to validate transactions and mine new tokens, Polkadot uses a nominated proof-of-stake (NPoS) system in which users deposit DOT tokens into specialised addresses in order to validate the chain and earn rewards. This is a process known as staking.

This guide will explore the various ways that you can stake DOT tokens to earn rewards, whether by directly staking on chain or through some of the more novel methods, such as using an exchange or DeFi service.

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.

Earn yield on Polkadot

The easiest way to earn DOT is through an exchange or specialised lending platform. These services lend your DOT to borrowers and pay you with yield (APY) for doing so, similar to a savings account. Although keep in mind that cryptocurrency lending services do not provide the same guarantees as traditional banks, and are not subject to the same rules and regulations.

Use the table below to compare rates on DOT then forecast your earnings using the calculator provided.

1 = $0.00000
Daily earnings

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Monthly earnings

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Yearly earnings

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Cryptocurrency prices provided by CoinGecko. Results are an estimate based on Finder internal data, provided on a best effort basis. Rate data may be delayed up to 7 days. Please check the provider website for the most current rates and information, and to verify any data provided by this calculator before applying for any product.
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Bitfinex Professional Trading Exchange 7% 4.8% Varies Variable Earn now
Bithumb Cryptocurrency Exchange 7.5% 4.8% Varies Variable
CEX.IO Cryptocurrency Exchange 10% 0% Varies Variable
Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange 8% 12% Varies Variable Earn now

How to use the table and calculator

  1. Compare rates. The table and calculator display the annual percentage yield (APY). Rates vary depending on a number of factors like the provider, term length and whether or not the rates are variable or fixed. Keep in mind that cryptocurrency yields fluctuate each day. For a more accurate overview, we've provided an average rate based on data from the past month.
  2. Choose a variable or fixed rate. To protect against fluctuations, some providers offer a fixed rate. These rates stay consistent over time and do not fluctuate with the market.
    Compare lock-up periods. Some accounts require you to keep your funds locked up for a set period, while others will let you withdraw at any time.
  3. Calculate your returns. Use the calculator to project how much you could earn with each provider.
  4. Start earning. Once you've made your choice, click on the green "Earn now" button to go to the provider's website and create an account or log in.

What is Polkadot staking?

Staking refers to the process of locking up cryptocurrency to help validate transactions and secure the network. In return for their efforts, Polkadot staker's are paid out with DOT rewards.

You can stake Polkadot in two ways: as a validator or a nominator. Validators are those who create the blocks, nominators are those who vote on who gets to be a validator. If the validator that you've voted for with one of your 16 votes wins a block, you get part of their bounty.

Similarly to Bitcoin mining, staking Polkadot as a validator requires a high level of technical know-how and investment in a masternode that runs 24/7 before you can realise a profit.

Alternatively, anyone can stake Polkadot as a nominator without any technical expertise or significant investment in equipment. You can do this by depositing funds on a cryptocurrency exchange or by locking them in a wallet.

Lastly, while it isn't technically staking, another way to earn passive rewards from simply holding Polkadot is to transfer it to one of many lending platforms such as Nexo or Crypto.com, where they use it to lend to other investors, earning you a variable amount over your deposit term.

How to stake Polkadot

1. Staking on an exchange

The easiest way to get started with Polkadot staking is through a cryptocurrency exchange such as Binance or Kraken. Using an exchange to stake is as easy as buying DOT tokens, picking your favourite exchange and depositing your tokens into your Polkadot wallet. Once you have tokens in your wallet, it's easy to start staking.

Binance exchange review

Here's how to stake Polkadot on Binance:

  1. Log into your Binance account.
  2. Find the "Finance" drop-down in the top menu bar and click "Binance Earn".
  3. Search for DOT in the coin search box.
  4. You'll be given two options: Staking or Flexible Savings. Click the yellow "Stake" button.
  5. Choose how long you wish to stake for and learn about the APY on the next page.
  6. Add how much you want to stake and click "Confirm Purchase".

Pros of staking on an exchange

  • The minimum locked amount that you can stake with can be as low as 1 DOT.
  • It's easy to calculate your estimated APY (annual percentage yield).
  • You can start staking instantly without any set-up or hardware costs.
  • It requires zero technical know-how.

Cons of staking on an exchange

  • Some exchanges take longer to unstake and unbond (release) your tokens.
  • While you are waiting for your tokens to be released, you cannot react to sudden price fluctuations.
  • What you can earn by staking on an exchange can be reduced due to the presence of fees.
  • You're unable to choose your own validators.
  • You hand over your voting rights to the exchange, which may vote on protocol changes that you don't agree with. It also risks concentrating a lot of power in the hands of cryptocurrency exchanges.

2. Staking with a wallet

Another way to stake Polkadot is with a wallet or node. You can choose from physical hardware wallets such as a Ledger to browser-based wallets like Polkadot JS and mobile wallets like imToken.

It's straightforward to stake with a mobile wallet such as imToken:

  1. Download the imToken app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Create an identity and save your password.
  3. Add your coin(s) from the next screen, select "DOT" and click "Confirm".
  4. Securely back up your new mnemonic.
  5. Find your wallet address and deposit DOT tokens.
  6. Once deposited, click "Staking" from within your DOT wallet and select your validators.
  7. Click "Confirm Validators" and enter your bond amount.
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Ledger Nano X Wallet
Stake DOT with Ledger

Use Ledger Live to securely stake Polkadot and other assets from your hardware wallet.

Pros of staking with a wallet
  • Choose how your funds are used and which validator you want (as a nominator).
  • You're in control of your own security.
  • Once you have transferred DOT funds, all you need to do is redeem your rewards.
Cons of staking with a wallet
  • You need in excess of 200 DOT tokens to participate in wallet staking to ensure you're eligible for rewards and can cover each transaction fee.
  • While choosing your own validators gives you more freedom, it comes with its own risks. It's essential to review a validator's history before nominating them to shield yourself from being slashed and losing rewards.
  • Setting up and depositing tokens on your own wallet requires a higher level of skill.

3. Staking with a masternode

Often reserved for the most hardcore fans, the most complex way to stake Polkadot is via your own masternode set-up as a validator. Even Polkadot's help section recommends having "significant system administration experience" before running your own validator.

Since a masternode is always synced with the blockchain, it must remain running at all times with both the speed and the capacity to cope with this load. Given this, those wishing to go down the masternode route will require significant investment in either hardware or virtual machines (VPS).

Likewise, to be an active validator, you will be required to stake around 2 million DOT tokens to take part.

How to stake Polkadot for parachain auctions and crowdloans

Polkadot's unique parachain-based protocol presents a new way for DOT holders to stake their tokens in exchange for rewards. This can be done by participating in a Parachain Slot Auction.

What is a Polkadot Parachain Slot Auction?

A slot auction is based on Polkadot's two underlying blockchain technologies – parachains and the relay chain.

Parachains rely on the relay chain to execute transactions, but the current structure only supports 100 parachains connected to the main Polkadot network at any given time. As new projects and software being developed on the Polkadot network need to be hosted on a parachain, this means that there is a lot of competition for not many slots.

Polkadot has implemented a "candle auction" system to solve this issue and fairly disseminate slots. Essentially, DOT holders can lock in their tokens to support a project they believe should be hosted on a parachain. The project developer will often incentivise bidding on their application by offering airdropped tokens or other rewards.

The auction will then stop at a randomised time, granting whichever project had the most DOT support access to the parachain.

How to participate in a Polkadot parachain auction

You can easily participate in a Polkadot parachain auction through popular cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance.

First, you have to sign up for an account on Binance. If you don't already own any DOT tokens, you can purchase them on the platform. Otherwise, transfer the tokens to your Binance wallet address.

Head over to the Binance Earn tab, where you will see the option to vote on various proposed projects. From here, you can read about each individual project, their goals, the lock-up period and the potential rewards on offer.

Once a decision has been made, all you have to do is click "Vote" on the desired project and input the amount of DOT you'd like to stake. That's all there is to it.

This process can be replicated on other exchanges, including Kraken and Houbi.

The easiest way to stake DOT for a Parachain Auction is through an exchange, but more advanced users can participate directly on-chain using Polkadot-js. This method is only recommended for experienced crypto holders and requires a degree of technological know-how.

Why stake DOT for a parachain auction?

Participating in a parachain auction allows users invested in the Polkadot network to directly contribute to the blockchain's future. They can become involved in the community and support projects they believe will help improve the Polkadot ecosystem.

Lock-in periods for staked tokens are quite lengthy – generally 2 years. In this sense, participating in an auction is almost like buying a term deposit. The minimum stake for a parachain auction is also quite low compared to some other staking opportunities. Interested holders can vote on a project with as little as 0.1 DOT.

In return for locking your precious DOT away for so long, you are rewarded with quite lucrative APY return. In the first parachain auction (November 2021) projects paid 20-550% APY to attract crowd lenders.

Interest rates screenshot
APY paid to crowdloan lenders

How much can I earn from Polkadot staking?

The good thing about staking Polkadot is that it's almost entirely passive income. Once you've deposited and locked in your stake, you start earning.

While how much you can earn varies depending on how much commission your chosen validators tend to pay out, the number of validators and the number of tokens you initially staked, the returns will always be greater than if you had simply left your tokens idling in your wallet.

Is staking Polkadot safe?

Staking Polkadot is an easy way to earn additional passive income in a relatively safe, low-risk way. However, there is one core drawback: the risk of being penalised and fined if one of the people (validators) that you have nominated chooses to misbehave or becomes reckless with the protocol.

Used to boost network security, "slashing" reinforces the need to nominate validators with a strong performance record.

Benefits of staking Polkadot

There are three key reasons why cryptocurrency fans enjoy staking Polkadot:

  • The passive income and ability to earn new rewards without lifting a finger.
  • The chance to protect their investment by reinforcing the network and making it less susceptible to interference from attacks.
  • The ability to have a proper voice on the issue of network governance.

Drawbacks of staking Polkadot

As with many cryptocurrency projects, there are some things you need to remain aware of:

  • Your tokens are locked in and cannot be redeemed without losing your earned yield.
  • While your tokens are locked in and you are unable to react to changing market prices.
  • Your stake is susceptible to slashing if your validator misbehaves.
  • While some validators reward tokens immediately, others can release them days or even weeks later.
  • If you lose your login details or wallet address and key, you will be unable to regain access to your currency.

Bottom line

Polkadot is a blockchain project that allows you to earn rewards by staking DOT tokens on a cryptocurrency exchange or within a wallet. These tokens are locked in for a period of time and used by validators to facilitate network transactions.

For those interested in holding cryptocurrency for the long term, this is a passive way to earn additional DOT tokens without a significant amount of investment or effort.

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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