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Modern  bitcoin faucets don’t really give Bitcoin away for free. They earn money from ad traffic, and their profits outweigh the value of the coins that they pay out. As a result, today’s faucets are saturated with advertisements, pop-ups, click-through, automatic redirects, and embedded malware.

On top of that, most faucets don’t let you cash out right away. This means that you need to use a faucet dozens of times before you actually receive a payout in your crypto wallet.

You won’t know for sure whether a faucet is legit until you’ve actually tried. Some faucets are completely fraudulent. In theory, you should be able to look up transactions in a block explorer and see if a site has been paying its users.

But many faucets don’t publish their payouts, meaning that you’ll need to trust reviews to tell you which ones are legitimate. Or, you can invest your time and find out the hard way.

Others rely heavily on referral schemes. If you can persuade other people to join in, you’ll earn a little more crypto. Even if they do really pay their users, most people don’t appreciate being marketed in this way, and it’s another sign that faucet operators are taking an aggressive approach to profit.

Today’s faucets only pay a few hundred satoshis per hour, at most. One faucet user carried out a back-of-the-envelope calculation back in December 2015. After putting in three hours and using 128 faucets, he found 103 that actually worked.

The payout for his entire effort was 0.0038 BTC, which was worth 15 cents at the time. That amount is now worth much more in  2021. That means bitcoin faucets could be worthwhile if you’re holding out for Bitcoin’s price to skyrocket again.

There’s still crypto free for the taking, but almost every respectable project has distanced itself from the faucet model. Brave, for example, offers free Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) if you watch in-browser advertisements.

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