Staking on Polkadot allows DOT holders to be rewarded for helping secure the network by backing validators that produce blocks and confirm the transactions. In Polkadot, there are two native ways to participate in staking: nominating and joining a nomination pool.

This article briefly describes both forms of staking and compares their advantages and disadvantages.

For more information, visit the Polkadot wiki.



Nominating, also known as "solo staking," allows participants to lock their funds and choose which validators to support. Although funds are locked, they can still be utilized for other on-chain activities like voting on Polkadot OpenGov.

This method offers greater freedom in decision-making but also comes with the responsibility of selecting a reliable set of validators.

Only the top nominators by stake are eligible for staking rewards, creating a "dynamic minimum" threshold that must be met to earn these rewards.

This approach is ideal for nominators who prefer to make their own decisions and have sufficient bonded funds to rank among the top nominators by stake.

Nomination pools

Nomination pools allow members to combine their funds to operate as a single nominator account. The pool creator, or a designated nominator, can oversee and adjust the validator selections for all pool members. This designated nominator can change the validator selections at any time, but a pool member needs to unbond and wait for the unbonding period to end to join a different nomination pool.

Because funds are transferred to the nomination pool's account, members of a nomination pool cannot use these bonded funds for other on-chain activities, like voting on Polkadot OpenGov.


Efforts are currently being made to enable members of nomination pools to use their funds for participation in OpenGov without having to leave the pool.

Nomination pools are ideal for those who prefer not to continually monitor their validator choices or who do not have enough DOT to stake individually. You can join a nomination pool with as little as 1 DOT.

Comparison table

The table below summarizes the differences between nominating and joining a nomination pool in Polkadot.

Minimum 250 DOT to nominateMinimum 1 DOT to be a member
Should bond more than the minimum active nomination in an era to be eligible to earn staking rewards
A nomination pool earns rewards in an era if it satisfies all the nominator conditions
Nominator manages the list of staked validators
The pool operator manages the nominations
Rewards can be compounded automatically or sent to any accountRewards can be manually claimed to the pool member's account or be bonded in the pool again to compound them
Rewards determined by the protocol, minus the commission charged by validators
Rewards determined by the protocol, minus the commission charged by validators and the nomination pool
Staked tokens can be used for participation in Polkadot OpenGov
Staked tokens cannot be used for participation in Polkadot OpenGov yet
If the active validator gets slashed, all active nominators are subjected to slashingIf the active validator gets slashed, all pool members are subjected to slashing
Can bond and stake DOT indefinitelyCan bond and stake DOT while the pool exists
Unbonding period of 28 days. Can switch validators without unbondingUnbonding period of 28 days. Need to unbond before switching to a different pool
Bonded funds remain in your account
Bonded funds are transferred to a pool account administered by the network protocol, not accessible to anyone else
Rewards payout can be triggered permissionlessly by anyone (typically by the validator)A pool member can self-claim the rewards or grant permission to any other account to claim and compound rewards on their behalf


Depending on the type of user you are and the amount of funds you want to stake, you might find one of the two options better suited to your needs. Below are some basic recommendations:

Nominate if:

Join a nomination pool if:

  • Your stake does not exceed the dynamic minimum to obtain staking rewards.
  • You prefer not to make the choice of validators yourself or cannot periodically check their performance.
  • You prefer to choose when to claim or compound your staking rewards.
  • You don't mind not participating in Polkadot OpenGov.