Using Nostr with Paid Relays

Using Nostr with Paid Relays

Nostr is a new decentralized messaging protocol that has gained significant adoption in recent months. One of the most exciting things about Nostr is the natural synthesis that has formed with the Lightning Network– content, products, and services built on Nostr have found a simple path towards monetization thanks to instant global payments enabled by the Lightning Network.

In recent weeks, a number of paid relays have launched on the network, offering users the ability to purchase access to a relay with premium features.

As we mentioned in our "Getting Started with Nostr" article, Nostr consists of three primary components:

  • users (who are identified by a key pair they control)
  • clients (interfaces that allow users to interact with the network)
  • relays (servers that store, send, and recieve messages from users of the network)

In our use of Nostr, we've found that relays are the single element that most profoundly affects user experience. Clients offer different interfaces and features, but relays affect the content that users see and the speed at which they can see it. In other words, relay selection on Nostr is extremely important.

While there are a large number of free relays available to Nostr users, many users have instead chosen to pay for access to premium relays that offer enhanced performance and spam prevention.

There are a number of possible monetization models for paid relays (Andre Neves does a good job of covering them here), but most relays today are charging a simple one-time admission fee. We expect to see other models emerge in the near future– subscription-based paid relays and usage-based paid relays are both options we're considering internally.

Paid relays are the natural answer to the question raised by Nostr's decentralized architecture– who will be incentivized to run relays? Relays are not free to run– they require infrastrucure costs and operational costs. While there are many hobbyist users running free relays currently, we expect more of them to switch to a paid model as the network grows.

Paid relays offer benefits to both users and operators. Relay operators are able to monetize their services, which allows them to invest in better infrastructure and offer more features to users. Users are able to avoid the spam and low performance associated with free relays and pay for the premium services they desire.

Using Paid Relays

Almost all paid relays on the newtork operate with a simple process. You enter your public key so they can identify you and offer you access, you agree to the relay's terms of service, and then you're given a Lightning invoice to pay the admission fee. Once you've paid the fee, you're free to start using the relay.

To do so, simply navigate to the relays section on your favorite clients and add the new relay to your list.

This process is quite simple, especially if you're using Kollider Wallet to manage your Nostr keys. Here you can see us completing the entire process in less than 15 seconds.


Right now, there are a number of resources you can use to select which paid relay you'd like to use. It's early days for paid relays, and distinguishing between relays is still somewhat difficult. Currently, many users are selecting paid relays based on their existing knowledge and trust of the relay operator. As the network matures, we expect to see even more options for paid relays, as well as more tools to compare the features and performance of individual paid relays. We recommend connecting to at least a few paid relays for the best user experience on Nostr.

Relay.Exchange lists all paid relays, along with known information about the relay operator and access fees. offers a list of relays sorted by latency, with additional information on location and functionality. You can sort by paid relays to compare options.

And if you'd like to get started on the network for free we're currently running a free relay at Kollider. You can connect to it at wss://

We're actively brainstorming features we'd like to build into a paid relay. If you have ideas or specific feature requests, please reach out and let us know.

Finally, if you'd like to start using Nostr on the web with Kollider Wallet, you can sign up for access here.