What Are Cryptocurrency Airdrops and How Do They Work?

Cryptocurrency Airdrops Explained

Cryptocurrency Airdrops have become an intriguing phenomenon in the crypto world, often leaving both newcomers and seasoned crypto enthusiasts with questions. This comprehensive guide fully explains cryptocurrency airdrops’ intricate details, mechanisms, purposes, types, advantages, and disadvantages. We also provide real-world examples, potential scams, and how to avoid them. 

This article is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

The Crypto Airdrop Short Guide

Get quick information about cryptocurrency airdrops:

  • Cryptocurrency airdrops distribute free tokens to holders or those completing specific tasks in blockchain networks, aiming for promotion and community building.
  • They use smart contracts on platforms like Ethereum to automate token distribution based on predetermined criteria, including holding a certain amount of tokens or completing tasks.
  • Types of airdrops include standard, holder, bounty, exclusive, raffle, and hard fork airdrops, each with distinct purposes and eligibility criteria.
  • The primary purposes of airdrops are to introduce new cryptocurrencies to a broader audience, distribute tokens fairly, and enhance community engagement.
  • While airdrops have pros like widespread token distribution and user engagement, they also face cons such as scams, token dumping, and blockchain congestion.

Cryptocurrency Airdrops and How They Work Explained

A cryptocurrency airdrop is a method of distributing free tokens to specific cryptocurrency holders or to individuals who perform certain actions within a blockchain network. These actions can range from simply holding a cryptocurrency in a compatible wallet to completing specific tasks. That includes participating in a project’s social media campaigns or referring new users.

Airdrops typically serve a promotional or community-building goal. Hence, crypto projects can quickly distribute tokens to a wider audience.

Furthermore, smart contracts execute cryptocurrency airdrops on blockchain platforms like Ethereum. These contracts automatically send free tokens to eligible addresses based on predefined criteria.

Here’s a simplified step-by-step process of how cryptocurrency airdrops work:

  1. Selection criteria: The project conducting the airdrop defines the criteria for eligibility. It could include holding a certain amount of their native token, participating in specific network activities, or completing tasks.
  2. Snapshot: The project takes a “snapshot” of the blockchain at a particular block height or date to record eligible addresses.
  3. Token distribution: The smart contract then automatically sends the allocated token amount to the eligible addresses.
  4. Claiming: Token recipients must access their wallets or the associated platform to claim their tokens.

Types of Cryptocurrency Airdrops

There are several types of airdrops, each depending on their purpose. The most common ones include:

Standard Airdrops

Standard airdrops are one of the most common forms of cryptocurrency giveaways. They are open to the general public and often require participants to complete specific tasks or meet certain criteria to receive free tokens. These tasks can include:

  • Signing up for a project’s newsletter.
  • Following the project on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Telegram.
  • Participating in a referral program and inviting others to join.
  • Completing KYC (Know Your Customer) verification.
  • Interacting with the project’s content or community forums.

Blockchain projects typically use standard airdrops to increase their user base, create awareness, and foster engagement. Participants may receive tokens directly into their wallets after completing the required tasks.

Holder Airdrops

Holder airdrops aim to reward individuals who already hold a particular cryptocurrency in their wallets. Moreover, they encourage continued loyalty and investment in the project.

Here’s how they work:

  • If you hold a specific cryptocurrency, you may receive free tokens from a new or existing project as a bonus.
  • The amount of free tokens you receive is often proportional to your original cryptocurrency. For example, if you hold 100 coins of the initial crypto, you might obtain one token of the new one for each original asset you have.

Holder airdrops can occur for various reasons, including the launch of a new project, a token migration, or as a reward for long-term support of the original project.

Bounty Airdrops

Bounty airdrops participants earn tokens by completing specific tasks or challenges the project sets. These tasks can vary widely and may include:

  • Promoting the project on social media platforms.
  • Creating blog posts, videos, or graphics about the project.
  • Referring new users to the project.
  • Participating in bug bounty programs to identify and report security vulnerabilities.

Additionally, participants usually receive rewards based on the quality and quantity of their contributions. These airdrops are a way for projects to leverage the skills and efforts of their community members to promote their projects and achieve specific goals.

Exclusive Airdrops

Exclusive airdrops target a specific group of individuals within a project’s community. This group may include early supporters, loyal users, or investors. Consequently, the goal is to recognize and reward their dedication and contributions.

These airdrops often come with specific eligibility criteria, such as:

  • Holding a minimum amount of the project’s tokens.
  • Being an active member of the project’s community.
  • Participating in particular events or activities.

Exclusive airdrops aim to strengthen the bond between the project and its most committed supporters. Also, they may offer unique rewards or bonuses to this select group.

Raffle Airdrops

Raffle airdrops operate similarly to traditional lotteries. Participants enter a drawing, and winners are randomly selected to receive free tokens. Individuals must complete a simple entry process to participate in a raffle airdrop, such as providing their email or wallet address.

Hence, these airdrops seek to generate excitement and engagement within a project’s community. While the chances of winning are random, raffle airdrops can be an entertaining way for participants to receive free tokens.

Hard Fork Airdrops

Hard fork airdrops occur during a blockchain’s hard fork, a fundamental change to the blockchain’s protocol. It can result in creating two separate blockchains, each with its own cryptocurrency.

Here’s how it works:

  • When a hard fork occurs, existing holders of the original cryptocurrency may receive an equivalent amount of the new cryptocurrency created due to the split.
  • The distribution takes place on a one-to-one basis, meaning that if you held ten tokens of the original cryptocurrency, you would receive ten tokens of the new one.

Therefore, hard fork airdrops are a way for blockchain communities to maintain continuity while introducing changes to the network. Holders of the original cryptocurrency are automatically included in the distribution of the new tokens.

What Is the Purpose Behind a Cryptocurrency Airdrop?

Cryptocurrency airdrops serve several key purposes within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

Firstly, they are an effective strategy for introducing a new cryptocurrency to a broader audience and building brand awareness. By distributing tokens widely, projects can garner attention and interest from diverse participants.

Secondly, they play a vital role in distributing tokens fairly and in a decentralized manner. As a result, early adopters, existing token holders, and potential users can acquire digital assets without traditional purchases.

Lastly, airdrops are instrumental in boosting community engagement. They encourage users to actively participate in project-related activities, such as social media campaigns, forums, or contributing to a project’s development.

In essence, cryptocurrency airdrops act as a catalyst for community-driven initiatives, strengthening the bonds between users and the projects they support.


  • Widespread distribution: Airdrops allow projects to distribute tokens broadly, potentially reaching thousands of users.
  • User engagement: They incentivize users to actively participate in a project’s ecosystem, contributing to its growth.
  • Cost-effective marketing: Compared to traditional marketing campaigns, airdrops can be a cost-effective way to promote a cryptocurrency project.


  • Scams: Airdrop scams are common, where fraudsters impersonate legitimate projects to steal users’ private keys or personal information.
  • Token dumping: Some recipients immediately sell their airdropped tokens, leading to a temporary drop in the token’s value.
  • Blockchain congestion: Large-scale airdrops can congest blockchain networks, causing delays and higher transaction fees.

Most Common Crypto Airdrops Scam

While cryptocurrency airdrops can be a legitimate way to distribute tokens and engage with a community, there are also scams associated with airdrops. Here are some of the most common crypto airdrop scams to be aware of:

  • Phishing scams: Scammers create fake websites or social media profiles that mimic legitimate projects. They often ask users to provide private keys or sensitive information to claim airdropped tokens. Once they obtain this information, scammers can steal funds from users’ wallets.
  • Impersonation scams: Fraudsters impersonate well-known projects or team members and announce a fake airdrop. They might ask users to send a certain amount of cryptocurrency to a specific address to participate in the airdrop. However, users receive nothing after sending funds.
  • Fake wallet scams: Threat actors promote a phony wallet, claiming to support an upcoming airdrop. Users are encouraged to download and use the wallet, but in reality, it’s malware designed to steal private keys and cryptocurrency holdings.
  • Pump-and-dump scams: Scammers distribute free tokens to generate hype and attract buyers. Once the price of the token increases, they sell their holdings, causing the price to crash and leave unsuspecting investors with worthless tokens.
  • Social media scams: Cybercriminals create fake social media accounts and pose as official project representatives. They announce airdrops and direct users to click on malicious links or provide personal information.
  • Token swap scams: Scammers claim that an airdropped token is undergoing a “token swap” and ask users to send their existing coins to a specified address to receive the new ones. Users who fall for this scam lose their original tokens and receive nothing in return.

How to Avoid Airdrop Scams

Airdrop scams have proliferated alongside legitimate airdrops. To protect yourself:

  • Verify the source: Only participate in airdrops from reputable sources and official social media accounts.
  • Never share private keys: Legitimate airdrops don’t require sharing your private keys or sensitive information.
  • Beware of fees: Avoid airdrops asking for participation fees or payments.

Cryptocurrency Airdrops Examples

The first airdrop occurred in 2014 when Auroracoin gave away 50% of its native token AUR to the citizens of Iceland. Since then, there have been several airdrops, including:

  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH): Bitcoin Cash was created in a hard fork from Bitcoin (BTC) in 2017. Bitcoin holders received an equivalent amount of BCH during the airdrop.
  • Uniswap (UNI): Uniswap, a decentralized exchange, conducted an airdrop of its UNI tokens to users interacting with the platform.
  • Flare Networks (FLR): Flare Networks airdropped its FLR tokens to XRP holders as a utility token for its network.
  • Stellar (XLM): Stellar, a blockchain platform focused on cross-border payments and asset exchange, conducted a significant airdrop of its native cryptocurrency, Lumens (XLM), to a broader audience. It aimed to promote Stellar’s network and encourage the adoption of cross-border remittances and micropayments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discover additional information about crypto airdrops.

Are airdropped tokens always valuable?

Can I participate in multiple airdrops?

Are airdrops taxable?

How can I safely claim airdropped tokens?

Are airdrops a guaranteed way to make money?

Cryptocurrency Airdrops Definition – Final Thoughts

Cryptocurrency airdrops continue to shape the crypto landscape, offering a unique way for projects to engage their communities and distribute tokens.

While they present opportunities for users to acquire free tokens, it’s crucial to exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of airdrop campaigns to avoid falling victim to scams. Whether you’re an airdrop participant or an enthusiast, understanding the intricacies of this ecosystem is essential for navigating the crypto space effectively.

Please note that cryptocurrency investments carry inherent risks. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and seek professional advice before engaging in any financial transactions.

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