The thing is, when you google lists of staking platforms, you’ll get mile long lists. But on sifting through all that, most of them are duds.
So let’s start directly with the meaty part. Here below is a list of the best staking platforms.
It only includes cold staking platforms and only platforms with ready-made products at that.
That is, platforms that offer validator node setups ready to deploy via a script in a few seconds, and platforms that run their own staking pools.
Criteria judged in this list:
- Dedicated providers only, no wallets or exchanges (that list is here)
- Cold staking only, no DeFi staking (click here for that list)
- No blackbox yield generation the way BlockFi or Midas do it
- Supports multiple blockchains (ETH2, ADA, ALGO, KSM…)
- Has ready-made servers so you don’t have to configure anything
- Runs staking pools for small stakers
The platforms in the list below are ordered by the best terms for both large holders and small holders who want to use a staking pool while they build up.
Best staking platforms
AllNodes is a US-based staking platform that has the best terms for both large and small stakers. They run a bunch of staking pools with completely symbolic minimum requirements (such as 1 ADA for ADA staking).
The pools charge a cut but AllNodes usually gives discounts to new pool stakers. They call that a grace period of 0 fees. For instance, you can stake MATIC for 115 days with no service fee on AllNodes.
Most popular staking pools on AllNodes:
AllNodes also have one-click apps to run a masternode or validator if you are a larger holder.
The most popular validator app is the ETH validator.
AllNodes is just starting a new ETH product - The Rocket Pool, which is ETH2 Staking with only 16 ETH for 10 USD monthly fee.
- Go To ETH2 Rocket Pool - NEW! 16 ETH minipool
At 32 ETH2, the validator node costs start at 5 USD per month, no service fee other than that.
BlockDaemon is a great staking platform for large holders. Not so much for small ones.
BlockDaemon supports 50+ blockchain networks, and among that all the big ones - ETH2, ALGO, ADA, Elrond, DOT, KSM…
The platform runs very much in cloud platform style: They have high infosec standards, protecting customer nodes from common bot attacks and similar.
They offer a range of one-click apps through a public marketplace, kind of like Docker container images.
Off-topic here, but BlockDaemon now newly offers an DeFi staking product for large holders or institutions.
InfStones runs tiered staking products and is therefore good for small, large and very large holders. They support 50+ blockchains including BSC and run their own staking pools for some of them.
For instance, InfStones have a staking pool for ADA and other cryptos popular among small holders. They won’t let you spin up a node automatically, but if you hold more than 6000 ADA, you are encouraged to contact them for a better solution.
InfStones is a good staking provider because it supports Binance Chain staking and ETH2 staking, which is not that common.
For ETH2 they have a partnership with imToken wallet, and a custom solution for over 320 ETH.
Other popular blockchains supported at InfStones are SOL or Terra.
BloxStaking is a provider that only supports ETH staking, but it is open-source and very OG-style. ETH is a really popular currency to stake as even conservative crypto investors do not think it very risky to hold it. And so if you only care about staking ETH, not about any newer tokens, then BloxStaking might be all you need.
NodeForge is a masternode provider. They specialize in niche coins (Aleph, Syscoin, Zen, Fusion, Anyswap) which are not usually to be found in big node providers. You can also contact them for custom solutions, if you are a whale.
CakeDefi is a popular platform for DeFi staking, but they made it to the (last place of the) list because they run two masternode pools: A pool for DASH and a pool for DFI tokens.
Staking strategy for small holders who want to build up
Set up a DCA into your coin of choice
If you want to hold a coin and stake it, then you are long-term bullish on it. And if you are bullish, it makes no sense to just HODL. You get way better return if you DCA, as shown here.
Join a staking pool with a minimum you can pass
Most pools have a minimum stake requirements. But there’s tons of alt coins where the minimum stake is purely symbolic - 1 ADA is enough to participate at AllNodes ADA pool for instance.
As mentioned above, AllNodes is a good place for small crypto investors who want to start staking little by little. They give a grace period of 0 fees on pooled staking for an initial period. For instance, you can stake MATIC for 115 days with no service fee on AllNodes.
Technically, staking on exchanges is pretty much the same as staking in a pool. That’s what exchanges do - they pool user deposits. The problem is that they charge absolutely outrageous fees for that.
The ToS of Coinbase disclose a fee of 25% on your staking profits. Binance, FTX and Bitfinex do not disclose their fee, but by comparing the exchange staking yield with the raw blockchain yield reported at StakingRewards.com, 25% will be the mark everywhere.
Do not stake on exchanges if 25% of whatever you stake is a nontrivial sum.
Track your staking yields
Add all your DCA’d coins into your staking contract and track your staking rewards. You will probably have to do it on your own and regularly, let’s say every two weeks.
Once you start making decent money, it will be time to decide whether the pool isn’t cutting too much of it.
You can always come back if you find that independent staking is not making more money than the pool.
Move on to a staking wallet
Staking from a wallet is a sort of mid-way. If you hold good enough an amount but you don’t want to be a validator, you can stake from your own wallet. It doesn’t have to be a full-node wallet.
There are several reliable staking wallets that you can get for free, such as Exodus. To stake the Binance chain and related coins, you will want the Binance-owned Trustwallet. Generally, most coins can be staked from a Ledger.
Always choose staking from a wallet over a pool or an exchange if you can - exchanges particularly will kill you on fees.
Why it all matters: The advantage of big money in mining and staking
If you’ve been around in the pre-altcoin times, you will know that in proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, having large amounts of resources available for mining makes for a huge advantage.
That’s how mining rigs on designated hardware, the ASIC miners, even came to existence. In the very beginning, people mined Bitcoin on their laptops and ASIC miners did not exist.
This leverage drove a lot of criticism: Mining of cryptocurrencies became centralized around geolocations witch cheap electricity, cheap labour, cheap materials - that was mainly in Asian regions.
Proof of stake was developed as the alternative algorithm, one that is more environmentally friendly and also one that limits the edge one can get from having a lot of resources available at once.
That does not mean the advantage has gone completely, though.
Basics of cold staking: There is a small advantage
Proof of stake, the algo that powers cold staking, works by randomly selecting participating wallet addresses and including their transactions, while some amount of crypto is staked. You can then calculate an expected return from that.
This means that in network staking, you can’t simply buy the preference of the algo by having a better hardware. The only thing you can do is shift the odds into your favour. Naturally, you have a better chance with more coins available.
Some of the avenues for gaming the system have been removed in newer PoS algos:
- In classic proof of stake you need to have your coins available 24/7 to win the chance of being selected.
- In delegated proof of stake, the probability increases if your coins are available more often.
Still, your returns will vary depending on other users’ stakes - depending on how much they stake vs how much you stske - and it all also depends on the value of the staked amount you provide.
Then there are the natural consequences of compounding interest, which most staking algos support:
If you win a chance to be selected for including transactions to blocks, you can either cash out immediately or continue staking. If you do not cash out, you gain essentially compound interest. Compound interest will naturally be more money if you started with a lot already, but additionally it keeps making you a bigger staker, which has an advantage as you might get picked more often.
So given equal amounts being staked at equal times, someone who stakes large amounts gets larger returns over time than someone who stakes a little.
Staking pools: Staking for a fee, just like on exchanges
If you do not have a lot of crypto available on your own, you can join a staking pool.
Staking pool is a service, provided for a fee, that stakes all the pool deposits at once, making it more likely to be selected for staking than a small holder would.
Pools charge a fee. The return you get from cashing out is thus lower than when you stake just for yourself, but if you have a really small amount to stake, you are better off joining the pool.
- For instance, staking pools on ADA have a minimum participation limit of just 1 ADA.
Most popular staking pools on AllNodes:
- Terra Luna staking pool 0% commisson
- ADA staking pool 0% commisson
- SOL staking pool 0% commisson
- ETH2 Rocket Pool - NEW! 16 ETH minipool
Do not stick with staking pools when you don’t have to
In other words: There is an advantage when staking large amounts, and no advantage in using stake pools at all once you reach certain minimum limits.
Even though there is an advantage in having big amounts available, there is also no point going further than necessary. At some point you will be better off staking independently.
Top-Tier Independent staking: Running a Validator node
Running a validator offers the best possible profits, but also comes with risks.
What is the difference between pooled staking and running a validator? In pooled staking, you send funds to the staking pool who then stakes for you. In independent staking, you run your own validator node and stake from your own wallet.
Running a validator node always requires you to have a substantial amount of crypto. You can’t run a validator as a small holder.
But the returns are better: Validator nodes make profit in a different way than pools or individuals who simply offer their coins for staking. Validator nodes get a % of the transaction fees.
With that in mind though, if they do not win a block reward (getting included into a new block on the blockchain) and all your coins are locked up, they lose money. So validators need to diversify their staking offers.
As for other expenses, the costs of a validator upkeep over a long time are lower than in pooled staking.
A validator node is pretty much a web server running an application, but the setup of the tech is mostly automated into a one-click app. No need to worry about IT costs, other than paying the server - which comes as low as 2-5 USD a month.