What is a crypto wallet?
A crypto wallet is an electronic app — known as a hot wallet — or physical device — known as a cold wallet — which stores your cryptocurrency and is used when you make crypto transactions such as buying or selling, possibly on a crypto exchange.
The need for security and ease of use is paramount with crypto wallets, as they are key to engaging in transactions and managing cryptocurrency. There are a number of different crypto wallets with differing features to suit consumers and businesses alike, and this article presents ten of the best options.
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What are the best crypto wallets?
The term “best” can be subject to individual interpretation, but for the purposes of this article I’ll designate the most well known, reliable, easy to use and secure options I’ve researched as the top crypto wallets.
The Coinbase wallet is an excellent option for people getting started out working with bitcoin trading — although it is important to point out it does not support non-bitcoin trading, though it can store non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital collectibles. Its layout is clean and simple, and it can connect to a vast array of bank accounts.
Coinbase does not require you to create an account with any cryptocurrency exchanges, and security is quite good as it relies on multi-factor authentication for access.
One point against this wallet involves the fact that when browsing to the related site you must comply with a tedious and unreliable captcha requirement. There are better ways to achieve security without making users jump through hoops, such as requiring registration via an SMS-based activation code. Their main site doesn’t make it clear how to obtain the mobile apps, which I’ve included in the links below.
Price: The wallet is free, and there are no fees for transactions between Coinbase wallets. For transactions with non-Coinbase wallets, fees will vary depending on the type of transaction — typically between .5% and 4.5% per trade depending on the transaction.
Additionally, Coinbase charges 3.99% for credit card purchases, 1.49% for Coinbase wallet or bank account purchases, $10 for deposit wire transfers and $25 for withdrawal wire transfers.
An alternative pricing option in beta testing mode (as of May 2022) called Coinbase One offers no-fee trades and other elements for a monthly fee of $30.
Electrum is another bitcoin-only trading wallet which is open-source and can integrate with hardware wallets. It offers multi-factor authentication and almost-instant payments over the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Electrum has been around for over 10 years, so it is an established entity, though the interface may present a bit of a learning curve for beginners and customer support is limited.
The above screenshot represents the Linux client, which looks a bit basic, but keep in mind basic is often better when it comes to a crypto wallet in terms of ease of use.
Platforms: Linux, Windows, OS X and Android
Price: The wallet is free and the default fee for exchanging Bitcoin is 0.2 millibitcoins (which is one-thousandth of a Bitcoin). Transaction fees are speed-based, meaning the more you pay in fees, the faster transactions will be conducted.
The ZenGo wallet can facilitate exchanges of Ether, Bitcoin and Binance Coin, and you can make purchases either using a credit card or Apple Pay. Security is excellent (based on 3FA) and facial biometrics as well as encryption are used to protect your account, rather than private keys or seed phrases which are used elsewhere and can be cumbersome to work with.
The platform’s customer service is well-regarded, and this is another good choice for beginners. ZenGo is available in over 185 countries, but it’s worth noting that not all features are available in all locations. For instance, you cannot buy ADA, BNB, BUSD, DOGE, ETH, MATIC or USDC tokens in New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island and the Virgin Islands.
Price: The wallet is free and so are transactions involving cryptocurrency. There are some fees involved with using MoonPay in certain locations, which ZenGo has outlined here.
The Binance Wallet is tied in with the Binance Blockchain and the Binance native coin BNB, which is among the top 5 global cryptocurrencies. The app uses multi-factor authentication and offers over 1,500 global cryptocurrencies with 65 cryptocurrencies available to U.S. investors. One potential disadvantage: Customer service is not noteworthy for its accessibility or quality.
Price: The wallet is free, but trading fees cost 0.10% and 0.5% to buy/sell cryptocurrency, though their site also points out that “trading fees are determined based on your trading volume over a 30-day period (in USD) and your daily BNB balance.” BNB users will get a 25% discount on trading fees. There is a 4.5% charge for debit card purchases.
The Mycelium wallet, one of the original crypto wallets dating back to 2008, is a Bitcoin-only wallet that works well for novices and advanced users. It can be paired with hardware wallets. Users have full control of their private keys and can store them on a USB stick or a Mycelium Entropy USB device.
Price: The wallet is free but transaction charges are quite high; these can vary between $0.25 and $8.00.
The Exodus wallet features the standard set of mobile apps and supports over 145 cryptocurrency assets. Exodus is well-rated, but it does have one limitation: To purchase cryptocurrency with U.S. dollars which you intend to store in the Exodus wallet, you will first need to buy the asset on a centralized cryptocurrency exchange such as Coinbase and then transfer the assets to Exodus.
Exodus can be paired with hardware wallets and their desktop app is routinely updated, proving an ongoing commitment to delivering a quality product by the part of the Exodus team.
Price: The wallet is free and there are no fees for sending or receiving cryptocurrency. Exodus has a revenue model whereby they make money via relationships with exchange and other third-party API providers who offer services within their wallet.
The final hot wallet featured in this round-up, the Crypto.com wallet provides access to over 100 coins and allows you to earn interest on more than 35 tokens. It is what’s termed a “deFi wallet,” where the user is the custodian of their crypto private keys — as opposed to other centralized custodian based crypto wallets, where the keys are maintained elsewhere. Paradoxically, this is known as a non-custodial wallet.
Multiple wallets and importing other wallets is a strong feature. Multi-factor and biometric authentication are the security tools protecting Crypto.com accounts, but it’s important to note if you lose your private key and recovery phrase your funds are rendered inaccessible.
Price: The wallet is free and fees are between 0% and 2.99% and vary based on transaction and payment method. There are no fees if you buy with money transferred from a bank account via ACH, but credit and debit card purchases clock in at the full 2.99%.
The final three crypto wallets in our roundup constitute physical devices which offer increased security and no dependency on a mobile app or device. For each, the platform is the physical device itself.
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is the entry-level crypto wallet. It’s best suited for casual cryptocurrency exchangers or for use as a secondary crypto wallet. It supports over 100 cryptocurrencies and over 1,000 tokens. Private keys are never removed from the device nor can they be accessed by the internet. No Bluetooth connection exists; a micro-USB-B cable is included for access to the device.
Various cryptocurrencies require related apps to be installed and the Nano S only permits a few programs to be installed at once, so it may be necessary to remove one to install another.
The Ledger Nano S has a non-replaceable battery intended for five years of life, so there is a limited life span to the device, though the wallet can be transferred elsewhere if needed.
Platforms: All Ledger cold wallets work in conjunction with the Ledger Live app, which runs on Windows Mac, Linux, Android and Apple iOS. User satisfaction with Ledger is high, and it is well-reviewed.
Price: The wallet costs $59 and there are no wallet fees, but network fees will still apply and can vary depending on the network and transaction size.
Ledger Nano X
The Ledger Nano X wallet is the next level up from the Nano S and is well reviewed due to its number of available currencies, excellent security and mobile trading options.
Bluetooth connectivity is included with the Nano X — which could also be a security concern, it should be observed, although device pairing doesn’t just happen without a formal process whereby only authorized devices are allowed to connect and access or share data — and over 1,800 coins and tokens are supported. It includes a Secure Element chip which is often used for credit cards and passwords to protect from attacks, and it’s compatible with Trezor cold wallets.
Price: The wallet costs $119 and there are no wallet fees, but network fees will still apply and can vary depending on the network and transaction size.
Trezor Model T
The Trezor Model T cold wallet is open source and supports over 1,600 coins and tokens. It features a color touchscreen. The Trezor works in conjunction with a Windows, Mac or Linux app, and while there is a method to use the device with Android, there is no parallel option for Apple mobile devices. Like the Ledger Nano S, the only connectivity option is via a micro-USB cable.
Price: The wallet is $215 and fees vary based upon your selected transaction speed; slower transactions are cheaper and speedier transactions more expensive.
How to determine the crypto wallet which is right for you
It’s important to check out any potential limitations with any crypto wallet before making a selection, whether the limitation is in its functionality, available features or geographic considerations.That being said, if you’re interested in Bitcoin-only wallets, Coinbase, Electrum and Mycelium are both excellent crypto wallets to start with.
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If you want to focus on a broad range of cryptocurrency selections, ZenGo, Binance, Crypto.com, the Ledger Nano X or the Trezor Model will all easily fit your needs.
If you just want to dip your toe into the basics of cryptocurrency, or are interested in a backup crypto wallet, the Ledger Nano S cold wallet is a good investment to help you get up to speed.
If you’re a desktop-oriented user like me who needs large monitors to work effectively, Electrum and Exodus will fit your needs and also offer mobile apps for you to engage in or check on transactions while traveling so you needn’t be tethered to your desktop.
Security is strong with all ten potential contenders, but I myself would choose Mycelium or the Trezor Model T as the top pick based on its high quality of service. However, if you’re interested in being the sole caretaker of your private keys Crypto.com is a good choice for you.
Last but not least, the concept of transaction fees is not to be overlooked. Coinbase (if being used for Coinbase-only transactions) ZenGo, Exodus and the two Ledger wallets are probably the best selections if you want to pay a minimum in fees, whereas Mycelium probably has the highest fees out of all the choices presented in this article.