Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm within the last 12 years, challenging the dominance of traditional fiat money. Despite the benefits this technology provides, it does take some learning, particularly about securely keeping your coins.
As expected, whether you own or transact with crypto, you will need to use some type of wallet for storage. We’ve created this guide covering the top 7 options you can choose. Moreover, there will be some brief but helpful education about how wallets work and other things to know to best safeguard yourself.
What is a cryptocurrency wallet?
A cryptocurrency wallet is a software application allowing users to store, manage, and retrieve their coins.
However, it doesn’t keep the actual cryptocurrencies. Instead, a wallet is merely a gateway directing the user to a certain location on the blockchain where their tokens are technically stored using their private keys.
When one wishes to receive funds, they issue the sender a unique public address or QR code linked to a particular blockchain.
How does a crypto wallet work?
A crypto wallet simply interacts with different blockchains and transfers ownership of coins from one person to another, which the ledger updates accordingly in traded balances. This service stores two primary pieces of information, the public and private keys.
The former is publicly shareable (like a bank account number) and used when one wishes to receive funds from others. Private keys are like the password owners use to access their wallets, and these are the most sensitive as loss of this data could result in unrecoverable funds.
However, many custodial services keep this information, suggesting less responsibility for users. Both public and private keys are essentially long strings of random alphanumeric characters.
What is the average price of a crypto wallet?
The wallets which cost money are ‘cold’ wallets, physical devices not connected to the internet. In the former regard, the average price is between $50-$200 depending on the brand and features, of course.
Safety of crypto wallets: 2-factor authentication and multi-signature support
The most secure crypto wallet will prioritize security before anything else as it’s a crucial element in dealing with digital currencies. Two of the key features here are two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-signature or multi-sig support.
2FA is a security mechanism where you need two distinct forms of verification to access something. For instance, it might be a simple login and then confirming a code sent via email or mobile number or using an app like Google Authenticator.
2FA is usually an optional feature, but experts recommend having it. Multi-sig simply means a method where you need multiple keys to sign and send a transaction. This feature is common with cold or hardware-based storage and is also optional.
Types of crypto wallets
Below is a list of the common types you’ll encounter in the market. Broadly speaking, we categorize wallets as ‘hot’ / software (connected to the internet) or ‘cold’ / hardware (not connected to the internet).
A hardware wallet is the most common type of cold wallet. It is essentially a physical device, most commonly a USB drive, users purchase to keep their coins.
A wallet of this nature is considered the most secure as it’s shielded from any possible hacking activity on the internet.
The majority of top crypto wallets are software or online-based. Unlike hardware ones, these are merely computer applications for coin storage, accessible via desktop, web, or mobile interfaces.
Although this class is the simplest to use and incurs no upfront cost, it’s not particularly secure, especially for long-term storage or storing a significant amount of coins.
A multisig wallet is a hot or online-based wallet typically used when multiple parties participate in a cryptocurrency transfer. The core concept is having two or more private keys or digital signatures before signing off a transaction.
Full node wallets
A full node is most often associated with Bitcoin. It’s an advanced application containing a locally-built copy of a cryptocurrency’s blockchain on a person’s node or computer.
Rather than keeping the coins within an exchange or other service using a software wallet, the users maintain more control over their holdings without entrusting the responsibility to any third party.
What are the safest crypto wallets?
Most experts agree the safest wallets are hardware-based. For starters, they are more accessible and easy to use. However, the most significant and clearest benefit is their enhanced security.
Since they conduct almost all transactions offline, they are far less susceptible to any cyberattacks than those predominantly online-based. You can use the device on your computer (or a smartphone in some cases) to perform transactions offline.
Moreover, users retain control of their private keys, which, in cryptocurrencies, is considered a big deal. Yet, while these wallets provide immense benefits, one needs to take extra care in retaining such keys primarily through recovery seed phrases.
There is also the cost factor to consider as well. However, a hardware wallet is essential predominantly if you regularly transact using crypto.
What to look for when choosing a crypto wallet
Below are the main considerations to incorporate when choosing a crypto wallet:
This aspect depends on whether you’re using a hot or cold one. For the former, you should enable 2FA so only you can ensure the authority to make changes to your account.
In addition to 2FA, a multisig feature is beneficial for cold wallets, along with any other sophisticated security mechanism. Furthermore, any cold storage facility should offer a simple and easy-to-understand backup process.
Range of cryptocurrencies
The top crypto wallets allow their users to transfer as many coins as possible for added convenience. As expected, this prevents users from using extra additional services.
This factor applies to hardware wallets. Ultimately, it understandably boils down to affordability. As previously mentioned, most hardware wallets cost in the $50-$200 range.
Most top crypto wallets will be interoperable with a wide range of other wallets and crypto applications (exchanges, lending services, staking services, etc.). So, you’ll want a wallet working with many unrelated third-party facilities within cryptocurrencies.
Lastly, when purchasing, you’ll want to buy directly from the brand’s official site or an approved third-party provider, so you don’t receive any potentially tampered devices from unscrupulous dealers.
Top 7 best crypto wallets to rely on
|Company||Type||Purchase cost||3rd-party apps compatibility||Platform||Best for|
|Exodus||Hot||Free||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Beginners, intermediates|
|Ledger||Cold||$59-$119||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Beginners, intermediates, experienced|
|Trezor||Cold||$60-$213||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Beginners, intermediates, experienced|
|Coinbase||Hot||Free||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Beginners, intermediates, experienced|
|KeepKey||Cold||$49||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Beginners, intermediates, experienced|
|Electrum||Hot||Free||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Intermediates, experienced|
|Mycelium||Hot||Free||Yes||Desktop, mobile||Intermediates, experienced|
Exodus: Best For Beginners
- 153 cryptocurrencies
- Live charts & portfolio
- Staking is available for a few cryptocurrencies
- Desktop and mobile app functionality
- 24/7 online human support
- Compatible with Trezor
Founded in 2015, Exodus is a well-known name when it comes to the best online wallet. The service was founded by Daniel Castagnoli, who wanted to remove the ‘geek requirement’ at the time by providing a simple-to-use user interface.
Exodus has stayed true to this mantra more than six years later, prioritizing safety, trust, and reliability instead. You can secure, manage, and exchange as many as 153 cryptocurrencies (and growing) in one beautiful application.
Exodus is available in desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux) and mobile format (Android and iOS). With no registration required, you can start buying and selling within minutes. Users can send and receive using a public address or QR code.
For a more advanced experience, owners can pair their Exodus to a Trezor hardware wallet. Overall, most experts recommend Exodus as one of the top crypto wallets, especially for newbies.
- No account signup required
- 153 cryptocurrencies available
- Offers staking for a few altcoins
- Responsive around-the-clock customer support
- No custom network fees for altcoins like Ethereum
- Susceptible to the hacking risks of a software wallet
Ledger: Best For Cold Storage With Wide Range of Supported Coins
- Supports over 1800 coins
- State-of-the-art security features
- 24-word recovery backup phrase
- Compatible with 50+ wallets
- Compatible with 16 CeFi/DeFi applications
- Stainless steel cover with screen and simple user interface
- Ledger Live
Since 2016, Ledger has carved a name as one of the top crypto wallets for cold storage. No crypto wallets list is complete without a mention of this brand. The numbers certainly don’t lie as Ledger has sold more than 1.4 million units of their Nano S wallet, making it one of the best-selling in this niche.
Ledger’s flagship products are the Nano S and Nano X. The former will set you back $59 and is probably the most affordable while not compromising state-of-the-art security. The Nano X costs $199, comes with a bigger screen, heavier weight, 8-hour standby battery power, and a few other features not found on the Nano S.
For extra security, any Ledger product comes with a 24-word recovery backup phrase in the likely case you lose the device or forget the PIN. Moreover, the Nano S and Nano S are relatively durable since they are made of stainless steel.
All in all, Ledger is undoubtedly a contender as the best cryptocurrency wallet for cold storage without breaking the bank for new and seasoned investors.
- Stainless steel cover with screen and simple user interface
- Ledger Live
- Provides one of the most affordable cold wallets
- Industry-leading security
- Supports over 1800 coins
- Has compatibility with more than 50 other wallets
- Wallets are covered in stainless steel
- Cross-functionality with numerous CeFi/DeFi applications
- Limited storage space for crypto apps
- It may not be affordable for everyone
Trezor: Best For Cold Storage With Additional Features
- Supports over 1000 coins
- Top-notch security features
- Cross-compatible with many applications
- Micro SD card (only on Model T)
- 12 to 24-word recovery backup phrase
- Shamir backup (only on Model T)
- Full-color touchscreen (only on Model T)
Along with Ledger, Trezor is another leading name in the best cold storage wallet. It was the first of its kind when it was released in 2014 by SatoshiLabs, a Czech-based corporation.
As expected, Trezor does not compromise on security which various researchers have audited. Some of the features on any Trezor device include PIN and passphrase entries, device recovery, 2FA, and FIDO2 authentication, GPG encryption, and firmware updates.
Users can trade well over 1000 cryptocurrencies on their devices. Trezor has two flagship products, the One, and the Model T. The former costs €53 (about $60), while the latter costs €189 (about $213).
The Model T has more features than its counterpart, like a full-color touchscreen and other functions. However, both wallets work with a USB adapter and are relatively lightweight yet solid.
Ultimately, Trezor is another alternative to Ledger if you’re looking for a specific feature not found in the latter.
- Supports 1000+ coins
- Compatible with many wallets and other crypto services
- Provides regular firmware updates
- Advanced security performance
- Leading brand in hardware wallets
- The Model T is a little pricey
- Only connects to Android devices
- Considered not as physically durable by some users
Coinbase: Best Software Wallet Offering A Range of DeFi Services
- Supports 500+ tokens
- Supports NFT collectibles
- Google Chrome extension
- Available on Android and iOS devices
- Free to download
- Keys protected by Secure Enclave, biometric verification, and optional cloud backup
Coinbase Wallet is Coinbase’s non-custodial wallet, meaning you manage your private keys without the exchange controlling them. Although Coinbase powers this wallet, users don’t need an account with the exchange as it’s a standalone application separate from its primary services.
However, you can transfer funds from a regular Coinbase account to this wallet. Users can have complete confidence and trust in this service as it’s powered by one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges.
The Coinbase Wallet supports more than 500 coins from popular projects like BTC, XRP, ETH, and many other lesser-known altcoins. Aside from simply being a wallet service, Coinbase Wallet allows users to explore the DeFi universe with many applications like decentralized exchanges and NFT collectibles.
The wallet even allows clients to partake in initial coin offerings and airdrops. All in all, you can expect the ‘Coinbase simplicity’ but with a bit of DeFi sophistication.
- Backed by one of the largest crypto exchanges worldwide
- Non-custodial wallet
- No Coinbase account needed for use
- Allows for the storage of NFTs
- Free to use
- Supports more than 500 coins
- Susceptible to risks with hot wallets
- Coinbase is known for having above-average fees
KeepKey: Best Hardware Wallet With The Most Affordable Price
- Supports 40+ cryptocurrencies
- Straightforward backup and recovery
- Top-notch security features
- Customizable transaction speeds
- Compatible with some applications from Mycelium, Electrum, ShapeShift, MultiBit
- Limitless wallet address on one device
- Large OLED screen display with a black aluminum device design
- USB compatible
ShapeShift, the Swiss-based exchange behind KeepKey describes the wallet as ‘the next frontier of crypto security.’ Launched in 2015, KeepKey supports a somewhat carefully-selected bunch of cryptocurrencies, around 40 to be specific. Where KeepKey excels at staying ahead of the competition is price.
A KeepKey wallet only costs $49, making it one of the most affordable options for top crypto wallets in cold storage. Yet, it wouldn’t be wise to assume KeepKey compromises on security as it’s feature-rich in that regard.
What’s interesting about KeepKey is its larger screen compared with most wallets. This feature is useful for viewing long cryptographic addresses and other features on the device, which is convenient. KeepKey’s design overall is quite sleek yet stripped-down.
Aside from working with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems, you can connect via an OTG cable to your phone through the Mycelium app.
Therefore, KeepKey should be a wallet to consider based on the cheaper cost if you cannot afford any of the products from Trezor or Ledger.
- Upholds all the expected industry-standard security measures
- Backed by ShapeShift
- Cheaper than Ledger and Trezor
- It has a wider screen than most wallets
- Easy to use
- Made in an aluminum case
- A limited selection of coins supported
- Slightly heavier in weight than most wallets
Electrum: Best Software Wallet For Only Storing Bitcoin
- Only supports Bitcoin
- Trezor, Ledger, and KeepKey hardware wallet integration
- ‘Instant On’ (meaning faster transactions)
- No downtime
- Cold storage functionalities
- Secret recovery phrase provided
- Two-factor authentication
- Transaction fee calculator
- Proof checking
Electrum is a free-to-download open-source Bitcoin software wallet designed by German computer scientist Thomas Voegtlin in November 2011. This was when BTC was a little-known cryptocurrency.
However, loyal and long-standing Bitcoin holders still regard Electrum as probably the most secure crypto wallet for storing the world’s ‘digital gold.’ At least 10% of Bitcoin transactions are performed through Electrum.
Despite being a software wallet, it offers users full custody of their private keys, meaning it’s non-custodial.
Moreover, you can trade Bitcoin anonymously as no personal information is necessary. Overall, if your holdings consist predominantly of BTC, Electrum may be a considerable choice.
- Been in existence since 2011
- Free to use
- Open-source software wallet
- Password protection
- No user information is stored
- One of the recommended wallets strictly for transacting with BTC
- Only supports BTC
- Still vulnerable to security breaches as a software wallet
Mycelium: Best Online Wallet For Keeping Bitcoin And ERC-20 Tokens
- Supports BTC and ERC-20 tokens
- Email customer service
- Hardware wallet support (Trezor, KeepKey, Ledger)
- Cold storage
- Available in desktop and mobile formats
- No ID needed or other data collection
- Several levels of PIN protection
- TOR network to mask IP address and location
- Mycelium Local Trader (Bitcoin marketplace)
- Watch-only accounts
- 12-word backup phrase
Mycelium is one of the oldest Bitcoin wallets. The wallet has been around since the emergence of BTC, making it a trusted choice for the hardcore ‘Bitcoiners.’ It was founded by a group of hardware engineers in 2008 who seized the opportunity of being involved in new promising technology.
Mycelium is an open-source software wallet but with advanced cold storage security features. Unlike Electrum, Mycelium supports Ethereum and several other ERC-20 tokens like Tether, Huobi Token, Binance USD, and Tether.
The wallet also has compatibility with other hardware wallets, namely Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey. Ultimately, Mycelium is one of the recognized safe wallets for storing Bitcoin and many Ethereum-based tokens.
- One of the oldest Bitcoin wallets
- Offers cold storage of BTC
- Business-level security enhancements
- In-app educational materials
- Not beginner-friendly
- May be vulnerable to the typical risks of software-based wallets
Summary: which is the best crypto wallet?
So, which is the best wallet for crypto? Ultimately, it all depends on your needs and experience. If you trade cryptocurrencies frequently or ‘HODL’ certain coins, it may be wise to consider a proper hardware wallet from either Ledger, Trezor, or KeepKey.
While KeepKey is the cheapest of the three, it lacks in the number of cryptocurrencies it supports. Therefore, Ledger and Trezor could be a better choice in this regard, despite being more expensive.
If you don’t transact in crypto as regularly or don’t hold any coins for the long term, a software wallet from Coinbase or Exodus is probably a decent option, particularly if you’re not so experienced.
While Mycelium and Electrum are also technically ‘hot’ wallets, they are better suited towards more experienced investors or traders as they have advanced security features.
Regardless of your choice, it’s crucial to understand all the necessary steps to secure your cryptocurrencies in any wallet efficiently.