Crypto Airdrops 2024: How They Work & Where To Find Airdrops

Our guide to finding upcoming airdrops to earn free tokens.
Published: June 14, 2023   |   Last Updated: February 15, 2024
Written By:
Matt Pearlstein
Edited By:
Gary Anglebrandt
Gary Anglebrandt
Contributing Editor

What Is A Crypto Airdrop?

An airdrop refers to a protocol or blockchain distributing tokens to wallets and community members at no cost. As crypto projects aim to be decentralized and community-governed, they attempt to allocate tokens to their longest-standing community members. Loyalty in this sense is often measured in usage and activity over time.

Airdrops present an opportunity for users to be rewarded for their on-chain contributions, while also allowing projects to give back to their most loyal users. Users that receive these tokens can immediately use them to govern the project, stake them for rewards, or sell them on the open market.

Note: If you are a U.S. taxpayer airdrops are taxed as income based on the price that you receive them at, which then becomes your tax basis for future gains or losses. If you are not a U.S. taxpayer, local tax laws may apply.

How To Find Upcoming Airdrops

Airdrops have become very popular over the past few months. As a result, information about them can be found in many places:

  • Social Media: Many people have become experts on airdrops and share valuable information across social media channels, with the main platforms being Reddit, Twitter, Discord, and Telegram. Staying posted to these channels and following the major accounts can be a good way to stay on top of new information. Here are a few airdrop information sources that we trust:
  • DeFiLlama: DeFiLlama is one of the most powerful tools in crypto research. Recently they added a helpful dashboard that shows you which projects do not have tokens, but likely will in the future. They also provide other important information such as the project’s valuation, TVL (Total Value Locked), and category. We broke down how we use DeFiLlama to find airdrops in our guide here!
  • Youtube creators: If visual learning is more your style, a group of Youtubers has emerged to cover the niche of airdrop hunting. The content covers everything from introducing potential projects that might airdrop to breaking down past criteria. Here are some channels worth checking out:
  • allows you to use the navigation bar at the top of the page to sort by latest or hot airdrops. By clicking on a project, you will be able to learn more about the project and potential eligibility requirements. This information can point you in the right direction, but airdrops are not always guaranteed.

What Makes An Airdrop Worth Hunting?

When considering a certain airdrop, the following factors are important:

  • Project funding: The valuation and amount of funding a project has raised directly impacts the price of the token when it launches. By targeting tokenless projects with high valuations, you are positioning yourself for a share of a bigger pool.
  • Dilution: The more users that pursue a certain airdrop, the smaller each recipient’s piece of the pie will likely be. It is a good idea to pursue airdrops that few people or small accounts on Twitter are talking about.
  • Tokenomics / Whitepaper: Many projects openly present their tokenomics and other important information within their whitepaper. By diving into a project’s tokenomic breakdown, you can transparently see if tokens have been allocated towards the “community” or “early adopters”. Additionally, wording in the whitepaper around the project reaching “decentralization” or being “community-governed” is usually a strong signal of a future airdrop.

Potential Airdrops To Look Out For

ProjectCategoryDescriptionRecommended Tasks
zkSyncLayer-2Layer-2 blockchain scaling Etherum with the power of zero-knowledge proofsUse the native bridge, explore zkLite, swap and provide liquidity on ecosystem dApps
DeBankSocialFiSocial media platform for wallets who will be launching a layer-2 soonExplore the platform and it’s features, post and follow others, mint badges
MarginFiBorrow/LendThe largest lending protocol on SolanaLend and borrow assets (be aware of health factor)
ParclReal-World AssetsReal estate trading platform that allows you to speculate on geographic real estate marketsTrade tokenized real estate and provide liquidity to the platform
SwellLiquid StakingAllows you to stake your ETH and earn yield while remaining liquidStake your ETH with them, additional points for restaking with EigenLayer after
EigenLayerRestakingA platform that allows you to take ETH that is already staked and restake it to earn additional yield and secure other networksRestake ETH on their platform when vaults reopen
SyncSwapDEXThe leading DEX on zkSyncSwap tokens and provide liquidity
Mayan SwapDEXA cross-chain DEX powered by Wormhole that allows bridging to non-EVM networks such as SolanaBridge funds using Mayan Swap
LineaLayer-2Layer-2 network created by the same team behind MetaMaskUse the native bridge, swap and provide liquidity on ecosystem dApps
MetaMaskWalletThe most popular wallet for DeFiSwap and use functions within the wallet itself
RabbyWalletAn EMV-compatible wallet that offers advanced features and a sleek interfaceReceive points for importing an existing MetaMask wallet, swapping within Rabby, and more
GrassData SharingA way to be rewarded for your unused network bandwidthDownload the browser extension and leave it open, invite friends 
ModeLayer-2A layer-2 network that launched on Optimism’s superchainBridge funds into Mode to collect points for past DeFi activity, complete quests on Intract
Orbiter FinanceInteroperabilityOne of the cheapest and fastest protocols for bridging to EVM networksBridge funds across networks
AvnuDEXThe leading DEX aggregator on StarknetMake swaps
Layer ZeroInteroperabilityServes as the connection point between blockchains, allowing for the deployment of cross-chain applicationsBridge funds using Stargate Finance, stake STG and vote on governance, use Layer Zero powered dApps

Note: Airdrops are not confirmed and you are not guaranteed to receive anything.

Past Airdrop Case Study: Arbitrum

On March 23, 2023, Arbitrum airdropped ~1.2B tokens to ~625,000 users. This airdrop is currently worth $2.4B in total!

As a case study, let’s dive into the criteria used for Arbitrum’s airdrop:

Source: Arbitrum Foundation

First off, it is important to note that Arbitrum is split up into two networks, Arbitrum One and Nova. Arbitrum One is the main layer-2 that is talked about, while Nova is a faster chain catered to gaming. Simply bridging into each of these networks would have gotten you two points. The amount you bridged over time could help with criteria 12-14.

The rest of Arbitrum’s criteria was centered around transactions. They allocated points for the amount of transactions you had, as well as the total value of your transactions. Lastly, they put an emphasis on transacting over time. Users who engaged with Arbitrum over several months were rewarded more heavily.

Based on the amount of boxes you checked, you received the following amount of tokens:

Source: Arbitrum Foundation

With the price of the token trading around $1.50 at the time (and higher now), this proved to be a lucrative airdrop for everyone involved.

How Do Airdrops Work?

Everything that you ever do on the blockchain will be recorded on a digital ledger forever. As a result, projects are able to reward users for past contributions at any point in time. When it comes time to airdrop, these projects take snapshots of the blockchain ledger to record all past activity.

After a project takes a snapshot, they need to decide what the eligibility criteria will be for recipients. In the past, a wide range of criteria has been used, ranging from network usage, to contributing to the project’s open-source development. While it is impossible to predict the exact criteria, using protocols and blockchains as designed is often the best way to qualify.

Once criteria is set, the project will make an announcement that users can begin to check their allocations. Based on certain factors, users may be eligible to varying degrees. For example, someone who has experimented with a project may receive an allocation of 1,000 tokens. While a heavy user of that same project may receive 10,000+.

In addition to the amount of tokens available, users will also be given a date range of when the airdrop can be claimed. Eligible wallets simply return to this page during that time window and can claim their tokens. In most cases, these tokens are immediately vested and tradeable on major exchanges.

The Largest Airdrops So Far

  1. Uniswap (UNI) – September 16, 2020

    220,000 users received an airdrop that was worth $6.4B at its peak.
  2. Apecoin – (APE) March 17, 2022

    Holders of Bored Ape NFTs and other ecosystem NFTs received an airdrop worth $3.55B at its peak.
  3. Arbitrum (ARB) – March 23, 2023

    625,000 Arbitrum users received a total airdrop worth $2.65B at the time of writing.
  4. dYdX (DYDX) – September 8, 2021

    64,000 traders on dYdX received an airdrop worth a total of $2B at its peak.
  5. Ethereum Name Service (ENS) – November 8, 2021

    137,000 users who registered ENS domains received an airdrop worth 1.88B at its peak.

Other Considerations While Hunting Airdrops

While airdrops offer up a great opportunity for crypto participants, there are also downsides to be aware of. Here are the elements you should consider:

  • Scammers: The large amount of money in the crypto space has attracted a lot of bad actors. These scammers have specifically targeted airdrops as people need to connect their wallets to claim them, and often act quickly. It is important to note that airdrop claims last at least a few days, so you should always ensure you are using official links and never rush the process.
  • Gas fees: In most cases, engaging with networks and protocols is going to cost you gas fees. While you can venture outside of Ethereum to make this very affordable, it is still not free and no return is guaranteed.
  • Time: While certain airdrops have proven to be very lucrative, looking for airdrops can be very time consuming. 
  • Opportunity Cost: Some airdrops may require you providing liquidity or locking funds in a smart contract. If you never receive an airdrop, these funds may have been better put to use elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

Information on airdrops has become widely accessible. We recommend utilizing social media to find the latest information on them, including Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, Discord, and Telegram. There are also sites like DeFiLlama and that provide valuable information.

Tokens received in an airdrop are considered taxable income in some jurisdictions, including the US. The value of the tokens at the time of receipt is taxable as income. Additionally, this receipt value also serves as your tax basis for calculating capital gains on those tokens in the future.

The criteria for receiving an airdrop is set by the project and differs in every instance. Generally, you will receive airdrops for being an active participant and using blockchains and protocols as a normal user.

If you are hunting an airdrop, make sure to follow that project’s official socials so you are fully up to date. Additionally, there are tools that allow you to paste your wallet address and see if you have any airdrops to claim. Our personal pick for this is free and called Earndrop.

Matt Pearlstein
Matt Pearlstein
Matt found crypto in 2016 and left TradFi to go full time in the industry a few years back. He is deep in the weeds of DeFi and also likes to go to the beach and play basketball.
Shannon Ullman
Shannon Ullman
Managing Editor
Managing editor working to make crypto easier to understand. Pairing editorial integrity with crypto curiosity for content that makes readers feel like they finally “get it.”

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