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- Storing bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency requires using a bitcoin or multi-currency wallet
- There are essentially 5 types of wallets: hardware wallets, desktop wallets, mobile app wallets, wallets on bitcoin exchanges and paper wallets.
- The best bitcoin wallets allow users to back up wallet funds with a wallet passphrase for easy recovery should wallets ever be lost or stolen
- Bitcoin wallets will give you a bitcoin wallet address, which is the unique identifier of your wallet
There is no one wallet that is right for everyone, because the right wallet for you depends on a combination of:
- how much you plan to invest in bitcoin
- if you want to invest in other altcoins as well
- how frequently you plan to trade
- if you want a free wallet or are willing to spend money on one your technical expertise
- if you are investing long-term or doing short-term trading
Also important to be aware of is the fact that, as of 2018, there are several bitcoin wallets on the market which are either outright scams or simply not as secure as they should be.
This is why we have compiled a list of the best bitcoin wallet offerings currently available, as well as details of which might best serve your storage, trading, and investing requirements.
Before looking at the five choices below, it should make it easier for you to choose if you first consider the following 3 questions.
- How much do you plan to invest in cryptocurrencies? And how much does this represent of your net worth?
- Do you plan to hold long-term, trade frequently or trade every now and then?
- Do you just want to invest in bitcoin or are you interested in other altcoins as well?
Ok, let’s get down to business and look at the 5 top bitcoin wallets.
1. Ledger Nano S – The Best Bitcoin Hardware Wallet
Overall, if we had to choose one, this is the single best bitcoin wallet. However, it really depends on your goals.
The Ledger company, makers of the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet, is one of the most talked about bitcoin wallet manufacturers on today’s market. This is due to the fact that the Ledger Nano S hardware wallets provide what is arguably the most robust security that bitcoin users could ever ask for.
This is currently the best bitcoin wallet if you:
- Plan to invest large amounts in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
- Care a lot about security and want to ensure that you don’t lose your cryptocurrency
- Are willing to pay for a wallet
- Are interested in multiple cryptocurrencies
Reasonably priced at 79.00 € (About $97 USD), the Ledger Nano S wallet allows users to store cryptocurrency completely offline, but still easily transact tokens, even when using virus and malware infected PC’s.
The Ledger Nano S currently can store 24 different cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin, with plans to add more in the near future.
There are other hardware wallets, but for the price, security, and ease of use the Ledger Nano S is the best bitcoin hardware wallet.
Ledger Nano S Pros:
- Physical Ledger Nano S wallets are much more rugged than a regular USB
- When plugged into a PC, all transaction operations take place on the Nano Ledger S itself (rather than online or on your computer)
- Embedded wallet displays prompt users to authenticate any and all transactions manually
- Wallet environments are locked down with a pin code and state-of-the-art encryption technology
- Nano Ledger S wallets can be easily backed up and restored in case of theft, loss, or accidental damage.
Ledger Nano S Cons:
- Aside from being small enough to lose down the side of the sofa, Ledger Nano S wallets really don’t have any drawbacks.
- Some users feel that wallets could be made even more secure if WiFi and Bluetooth features were disabled by default.
2. Electrum – The Best Desktop Bitcoin Wallet
If you use a laptop or desktop computer as a wallet, one option is to use Bitcoin’s own core wallet applications (many other cryptocurrencies offer a core wallet as well).
However, for many people, using core wallets simply isn’t feasible due to the fact that it needs to be downloaded and constantly updated with vast amounts of blockchain transaction data. This is generally too much for the average person’s desktop or laptop computer.
Thankfully, a developer by the name of Thomas Voegtlin found a compromise in 2011, with what has since become known as the Electrum wallet.
Electrum is a ‘client’ bitcoin wallet. This means that Electrum stores bitcoin private keys in a native PC wallet application, but does not participate in updating the entire bitcoin blockchain.
Electrum Wallet Pros:
- Being a client wallet, Electrum is fast and allows users to store and transact several forms of digital currency
- Electrum can be installed on USB devices to create a DIY hardware wallet
- Easy to backup and restore, thanks to the ability for users to create unique wallet recovery passphrases
- Electrum is simple to use and is sometimes considered the best Bitcoin wallet for people new to the cryptocurrency market
- 7-years of robust development history makes Electrum one of the safest and most trusted client wallets on the market
Electrum Wallet Cons:
- It is not as secure as a hardware wallet. Electrum is basically as safe as your computer. With the Ledger Nano S, your private keys never leave the device, whereas Electrum is managing them through your computer.
- Electrum cannot be run on mobile devices such as smartphones. This makes Electrum unsuited for anyone who wishes to transact or trade cryptocurrency when on the go via anything other than their PC.
3. Jaxx – The Best Bitcoin Wallet for Android & iPhone
Thanks to a simple user interface and wide-reaching device support (Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and available as Google Chrome and Firefox extensions), Jaxx gives users almost everything they will ever need from a cryptocurrency wallet.
Jaxx Wallet Pros:
- Jaxx makes it easy to send and receive payments on the go from any location
- Support of several altcoins means that users can store their entire cryptocurrency portfolio in a single app
- In-app support for Shapeshift & Changelly means that novice traders can exchange cryptocurrency in just a few touchscreen taps
- Jaxx is easy to backup and restore in the event of a device malfunction or security problem
Jaxx Wallet Cons:
- Not open-source, which is a big con. Jaxx may be hugely popular among cryptocurrency users, however, the wallet is often criticized for not being open-source like other client wallets. This means that the code which underpins Jaxx wallet privacy, functionality, and security, can’t be peer reviewed by independent coders and developers.
- Private? Who knows.
- Secure? Who knows.
So, while we consider Jaxx to be the best bitcoin wallet app, we’d recommend only using it for short-term trading, not storing bitcoin.
4. Coinbase – The Best Online Bitcoin Wallet (Exchange Wallet)
If you plan to regularly trade cryptocurrency, using the other recommended wallets here often isn’t the best option.
Storing your bitcoin and altcoins on an exchange would make things significantly easier for you, especially if you don’t want a delay when trading.
However, as a basic rule, one of the worst things long-term bitcoin investors can do is keep cryptocurrency coins in online exchange wallets. This is due to the fact that Bitcoin exchange platforms are the targets of almost constant cyber attacks.
Q: So, what can a trader do?
A: Store on the safest bitcoin exchange: Coinbase
The good news, is that cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase offers what is arguably the best and most secure bitcoin wallet for traders and long-term investors alike. Why?
Unlike most other cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase has gone to great length to make it safe for you to store your crypto on their exchange. Read the pros below for an explanation of why this is.
Coinbase Wallet Pros:
- Using a Coinbase wallet allows users to easily trade cryptocurrency on GDAX, as well as buy and sell coins on Coinbase itself
- 98% of Coinbase wallet funds are held in cold storage. This means that even if Coinbase security was compromised, user deposits would be safe
- Your Coinbase funds are insured, meaning that they’d be safe even if the exchange somehow got hacked
- If you are a U.S. investor, your Coinbase funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000, which is a protection unique only to Coinbase
- A Coinbase wallet in the US can be linked to a Shift debit card which allows users to spend cryptocurrency just like regular fiat cash
Coinbase Wallet Cons:
- One significant problem with Coinbase regards the fact that not all wallet features, are available outside of the United States.
- Coinbase has been known to freeze user wallet balances and not credit users with funds in the event of cryptocurrency forks.
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5. Paper Wallets – The Best Bitcoin Wallet Option for Tech Savvy Long-Term Investors
If you are the kind of Bitcoin investor who is determined to hold no matter what (in other words you hodl), you might well feel deterred from keeping coins in any kind of web wallet or USB-like device.
Thankfully, it is possible to store Bitcoin just like regular fiat cash or stock certificates. All that long-term holders need to do, is visit www.bitaddress.org and follow the appropriate steps required to create a printable paper wallet.
Paper Wallet Pros:
- Paper wallets can be printed and stored safely without any risk of stored data being hacked or degrading thanks to hardware wallet malfunctions
- Paper wallets are free and easy to create
- Paper wallets can have funds added to them without users needing to login to wallet apps or use dedicated wallet devices
- Paper wallet funds can be sent to web wallet and hardware wallet addresses instantly thanks to scannable QR codes
Paper Wallet Cons:
- They are still pieces of paper and just as easy to lose or get destroyed as any piece of paper.
- Paper wallets themselves are not recoverable in any way should wallets ever be lost, stolen, or accidentally destroyed. There is no back up.
- If you don’t have the technological know-how, you could really screw this up.
The right bitcoin wallet for you may be different from someone else. Also, you may want to use more than one of the wallets listed above.
In general, we recommend:
- Electrum or Jaxx for people who just want to get their feet wet with a small amount of bitcoin
- Coinbase for people who want to profit from bitcoin trading
- The Ledger Nano S for serious bitcoin investors, especially for those who plan to keep large amounts long-term
Once you’ve chosen your wallet, the next step is to learn how to buy bitcoin.
Remember, always make sure you understand what you are investing in. For some help with understanding bitcoin and blockchain see our guides:
What do you think? Comment below and let us know what you think are the best wallets for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Richard has developed and ran multiple online websites and communities with tens of millions of monthly visitors. He first discovered bitcoin and blockchain in 2012 and has been helping to educate others on its potential since then. Richard is very passionate about the crypto community. Read his inspiring story into cryptocurrency here.