Bitcoins are a marvelous invention. Most of us turned a violent shade of green when their price rocketed several years ago, instantly turning early adopters into multi-millionaires, and they still have an allure.
That allure means many people see them as an investment, but their price is still more than some are willing to exchange. Many of those people will go looking for free bitcoins…but will they find them? Do free bitcoins exist?
You might be surprised to find that they do.
A Short Bitcoin Glossary
Before divulging our free bitcoin sources, I’m going to give you a short glossary of terms. Then we will be on the same page throughout the article.
- Bitcoins — A digitally traded cryptocurrency.
- Satoshi — The smallest Bitcoin denomination possible for trade.
- BTC — The abbreviation of bitcoin, also used as its trading ticker symbol.
- Wallet — A digital wallet used to store bitcoin.
- Mining — The process of solving mathematical equations to confirm transactions and acquire new bitcoin.
- Blockchain — The public record of Bitcoin transactions, used to verify and protect the currency as well as its users from fraud.
Now we can explore some of the avenues for free bitcoins. I warn, there aren’t many.
Perhaps the best-known source of free bitcoin is a faucet. These “taps” drip minute amounts of bitcoin every few hours. Bitcoin faucets vary in the amount they pay out, although as a rule anything above 1,000 Satoshi is rare (at the time of writing 1,000 Satoshi = $0.0060295000…so good luck trying to spend that).
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of bitcoin faucets. The actual worth in subscribing to and collecting payments from bitcoin faucets is an interesting value question: are the payments so small that it really isn’t worth your time? Or do you ascribe to the “value added over time” theory?
Either way, to make best use of a bitcoin faucet, you’ll need to sign up to a third-party faucet service such as FAUCETbox or Paytoshi. These services specialize in processing the micropayments you receive from the myriad faucets, helping to
- reach payout limits faster;
- declutter your bitcoin wallet(s);
- negate transaction fees;
- control payout thresholds.
Prior to the advent of third-party faucet services, collecting and processing payments could be troublesome. Aside from the minute payments and payout thresholds, faucet users could see their carefully collected coins wiped out before collection due to payment processing.
Transaction fees are processed by bitcoin miners. When a new bitcoin block is mined, according to the bitcoin wiki, “the information for all of the transactions is included with the block and all transaction fees are collected by that user creating the block, who is free to assign those fees to himself.” Early faucet users found their payments wiped out or severely penalized due to their size. A payment generally can be sent without a fee if
- it is smaller than 1,000 bytes;
- all outputs are 0.01 BTC or larger;
- its priority is high enough.
Accordingly, faucet payment bundling services were created, allowing the cumulative payment to be larger than 0.01 BTC while remaining under 1,000 bytes.
You might be wondering how the faucets make money. Most faucets’ primary income sources are advertising and tracking, though some offer additional bitcoin-related services. The vast majority of bitcoin faucet sites also require an email signup, something I imagine leads to a significant amount of spam mail.
Prizes! Giveaways! Competitions! Piñatas! Wait…one of these isn’t like the others.
However, ignore the latter and you have another source of free bitcoin. Giveaways are not the same as bitcoin faucets. The FreeBits subreddit regularly contains threads offering free bitcoins for users who post their bitcoin wallet address. For instance, a very passionate bitcoin user populates this thread, occasionally resending to addresses already contributed.
Unfortunately, this particular method of gaining bitcoin isn’t without issue. Some websites offering free bitcoin giveaways have nefarious owners or content. Consequently, your computer may fall foul to unwanted visitors.
Incidentally, the Web of Trust browser extension is extremely useful in these situations. Instead of blindly attempting to navigate through unknown websites, the browser extension introduces a small rating symbol next to each link you might click. It is a user-curated tool, so bad sites are quickly identified.
Bitcoin Mining Pools
I’ve added this section in case you’re interested in what is known as “hobby mining.”
In the early days of bitcoin, the vast majority of mining took place on regular computers. Standard CPUs and GPUs could process the mathematical equations whose solutions would grant more bitcoins. Over time, the difficultly of the equations has risen. Consequently, the hardware specifications required to solve the equations have risen, too. A single bitcoin miner using their regular GPU is unlikely to have much success — though they won’t completely fail.
Instead, bitcoin miners have established global mining pools, combining their computing power to mine more bitcoin at a considerably improved speed. Willing hobby miners contribute some of their own computing power to the pool, receiving a similarly weighted amount of bitcoin in return. Some public mining pools account for the largest amount of bitcoin mined. For instance, the Chinese owned-and-operated f2pool mined over 22 percent of the available bitcoin over the last six months.
Mining one block currently releases 12.5 BTC. Over six months, f2pool mined 6,033 blocks, releasing 75,412.5 BTC. At the time of writing, 75,412.5 BTC = $45,279,173.25 (forty-five million dollars). Now, you may balk. Your jaw may have dropped. But remember, this number is shared between contributors, some of whom own massive bitcoin mining operations.
Games, Books, and More
You can also earn free bitcoin by playing games, reading books, watching videos, and clicking on advertisements.
Some games allow you to earn bitcoin as you play. A number of games offer bitcoin for playing the game a number of times or reaching a particular position on the high-score leaderboard.
Bitcoin faucet casinos and gaming arcades also promise small payouts. The gamified environments set these faucets apart from the others we have covered. Games are available in your web browser, as well as on iOS and Android.
There are other games available if the casino isn’t your style:
- Satoshiquz is a competitive quiz where the right answers will earn you bitcoin payouts.
- BitcoinRiddles offer bitcoin when you solve riddles.
- SparkProfit is an online stock trading simulation with bitcoin payouts for the most successful traders.
- Tremor Games looks and feels like the Flash gaming portals of your youth, but with one added bonus: you’ll be paid for playing. Earn enough Tremor Coins and you can exchange for bitcoin (or Steam games; Steam cards; TF2, Dota, and CS:GO items; and plenty more).
- The Bitles is a puzzle game with a daily bitcoin payout.
Small amounts of bitcoin can be earned by reading books. Head to Paidbooks, create an account, and enter your bitcoin wallet address. Like playing games, reading a book is a vastly more engaging method of earning bitcoins than trawling through faucet sites. The payouts are still small, but at least you’ll feel like it was relaxing and rewarding.
Clicking and Watching
Do you like clicking things? Do you enjoy watching ads? Well, these might be the free bitcoin services for you.
Services such as ads4btc allow you to earn bitcoin for clicking on adverts. You must watch 5–60 seconds of the advert before clicking to earn up to 1,000 satoshi. Likewise, vidybit pays 41 satoshi per video watched.
You Are the Product
“If you’re not paying, you’re the product.” This adage certainly rings true when you consider these sources of free bitcoin. Free bitcoin is offered to lure your eyes to a website, where they will feast upon advert after advert. Third-party aggregation services have somewhat neutered the impact of advertising impressions for the myriad bitcoin faucets — however, as more faucets appear, there is obviously money to be made.
You can now try one of the free bitcoin sources we’ve looked at today, and begin building your bitcoin accounts. If there is another massive price surge, you’ll have some bitcoin ready to exchange!
Do you think faucets are worth the time? How about reading books? What’s your favorite mining pool? Let us know your thoughts below!