1. Initial delegation to a stake pool
In order to stake your ADA, you’ll need to move your funds to a wallet that supports staking, such as Daedalus, Yoroi, or AdaLite. You’ll then need to decide on a stake pool to delegate your wallet to. With hundreds of active stake pools, choosing the best pool for you can be daunting. When you delegate to a stake pool, you are delegating your entire wallet, not a specific amount of ADA. Whenever you add or remove funds from your wallet, your staked balance that is eligible to earn rewards will be updated.
A 2 ADA deposit is required to delegate your wallet. You can get this deposit back if you undelegate your wallet. There will also be a transaction fee for registering your wallet to stake (about 0.17 ADA), which you will not get back. This fee will also be assessed any time you choose to move your stake to another pool.
Your newly delegated stake will be included in your chosen stake pool at the beginning of the next epoch, as we explain next.
2. First stake snapshot
The accounting periods on the Cardano blockchain are called epochs. These occur every five days, and are the periods of time in which pools produce blocks and delegators earn rewards. The number of blocks a pool is eligible to produce is a random process governed by the amount of active stake in the stake pool. Active stake is the amount of ADA delegated to a stake pool during the stake snapshot that occurred at the beginning of the previous epoch.
Your funds are never “locked” when delegating to a pool and are solely under your control. You are free to spend your ADA whenever you’d like, and the stake pool does not have access to your funds. There is no risk of losing ADA when delegating your wallet.
3. Rewards are earned
Once your stake has been included in a stake snapshot, it will become active during the following epoch, which means it is eligible to earn rewards. You will earn a share of your stake pool’s rewards based on the amount of stake you have in the pool. The more blocks the pool produces during the epoch, the more rewards you will earn.
4. Rewards are calculated
After each epoch has concluded, the rewards for each of the stake pool’s delegators will be calculated based on the number of blocks produced by the pool.
5. Rewards are paid!
The rewards you earned during an epoch will be paid out at the beginning of the next epoch (1 full epoch after the rewards were earned). These rewards will be automatically included in your staked balance (and hence you will earn compounding returns on your delegation!), so you don’t need to manually claim your rewards every epoch in order to have them included. It will take 15 to 20 days between the time you first delegate your ADA and when you receive your first reward payout. After this, you will receive rewards every epoch (5 days) which were earned by your active stake from 2 epochs prior.