What is ownership? Furthermore, what does the idea of ownership have to do with determining which crypto wallet is right for you?
Let’s say that I buy a car. I go to the dealership, put the cash down on the table, sign the paperwork, and they hand me the keys. I technically own the car, right? Now let’s say that they won’t give me the keys to that car on certain days, and they can determine when I can and can’t use it. Is it still my car?
The answer is ‘kind of’. Ownership implies that I can use my car whenever I want to. Even if I paid for it, if I can’t use it on my terms, it’s hard to say that I’m in control of it.
The same thing applies for your coins. If your coins aren’t in your own secure wallet, you may have paid for them, but you don’t own them. If you want to keep your coins safe and have ownership of them, you need a wallet to store them in. The only real question is which wallet you should use.
Let’s look at the best crypto wallet hardware and how they keep your coins safe.
What is a Crypto Wallet and How Does it Work?
A crypto wallet is a place where you store your coins. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?
In essence, crypto wallet hardware protects your coins by storing them on a ‘public address’ similar to a bank account number. That number connects to the blockchain of a specific coin and allows you to move, spend, and receive that coin.
Private keys protect your account so that only you can use it. This key has to remain private, so you shouldn’t share it with anyone.
A private crypto wallet (one in which you own the software) gives you complete control. You have the private key and can do whatever you want with it. Custodial wallets, however, are managed by a third party.
Your wallet connects to the coin’s blockchain, which holds the details about public keys, their funds, and what transactions they’ve completed.
The wallet serves is like the platform you use to login to your bank. It gives you full control over your coins, allowing you to spend, receive, and transfer funds.
How to Find the Best Crypto Wallet For Your Needs
The first thing to know when selecting a crypto wallet is that there are several types you can choose from. Everyone has their own preference depending on their needs, the size of their stash, and level of knowledge in the crypto world.
First you should decide between hot wallets and cold wallets. The difference between these two is that hot wallets connect to the internet and bluetooth, making them convenient but also more vulnerable to hacks.
There are also wallets on exchanges, which link to your accounts on exchanges like Binance and Coinbase. These wallets can store your coins inside of the exchange, giving you some extra security, but you should still use caution when using them. They’re still prone to online attacks.
Of course, even physical wallets not online still pose a risk. If you go around flaunting how many coins you have, all it would take is someone with a wrench and bad intentions to get you to tell them your private key.
It’s always best to have a package of wallets, which brings us to our first recommendation on this list of the best crypto wallets.
First, let’s start with my personal recommendations. I would recommend a package deal so that you have an everyday wallet, a backup wallet, and a backup to your private keys so that you can keep your recovery seed safe.
The Trezor Ultimate Pack
The Trezor Ultimate Pack comes with two amazing wallets and a backup capsule to keep your coins safe.
There are a few reasons you’ll want the Trezor Ultimate Pack. First, it protects you against every possibility. If you lose one wallet, have a fire or flood, or one gets stolen, you have a backup. If both wallets get lost, you’ll still be able to access your recovery seed.
The Trezor Ultimate Pack includes:
The Trezor Model T
The model T is an advanced hardware wallet that’s completely isolated, meaning that you can store your keys, coins, and passwords without worrying about security.
You can store up to 1,000 types of coins, from Bitcoin, Doge, XRP, and even lesser known coins like ATLANT. The wallet features a password manager, secure shell, the GNU privacy card, Universal 2nd Factor, and more.
The Model T also has a touch screen, which may not seem like it’s a major feature, but if you’ve ever tried to transfer coins using the typical two button wallets, you’ll know how big of a deal this is. The touch screen makes it easy to carry out any operation you need quickly.
Simply put, the Model T is the best wallet on the market. Getting it in a package deal is a steal.
The Trezor Model One
This is the original wallet, and it’s still the safest one on the market other than the Model T.
The major difference between this and the Model T is that the One uses the two button system for navigation, which is a pain. It still supports 500 coins, makes it easy to back up your wallet, and provides industry leading safety features.
As a backup wallet, it's the best you can get.
This is a hand-crafted steel backup for your Trezor generated recovery seed. It comes with over 250 stainless steel letter tiles engraved on each side. This allows you to assemble the first four letters of each word in your recovery seed, providing you with the ultimate backup.
Cryptosteel helps you protect your information and is virtually indestructible. It can survive flooding, fires, corrosion, and other potential dangers.
With these three items combined, you’ll never have to worry about your coins again.
Trezor Ultimate Pack Conclusion
Using the Trezor model one with cryptosteel is the ultimate way to go. You can have complete piece of mind that your information is completely indestructible. Not to mention how sleek and sturdy the wallet itself feels. It also is extremely easy to use and will work with almost any coin that you have.
Ledger Nano X
I’ve tested almost every wallet on the market, and this one might be the easiest one I’ve ever set up. The Nano X is all about convenience and ease of use.
If you ever used the Ledger S, the first thing you’ll notice is that the X is a much sturdier wallet. One problem with the S was that it felt like if you dropped it, it would explode. The X gives you more confidence when carrying it around with you.
The X also has a larger screen and buttons, making it easier to set up and navigate.
When it comes to security, Ledger is one of the best in the crypto industry. They’ve been making crypto hardware since 2014 and have over 100 million customers around the world. They keep your private key secure on a certified chip. Their device received certification by ANSSI, which is a French Cyber Security Agency that’s known as a leader in its field.
Our recommendation would be to either get a Ledger Nano X as your primary wallet and an S as your backup, or to get the Ledger Nano family pack, which comes with three X’s. You can use these as backups in case something happens to your primary wallet.
Cryptosteel Cassettes and Capsules
Whether you get the X with the S as a backup or the Nano family pack, I’d suggest heading over to Cryptosteel. They offer cassettes and capsules that serve as backups for your private keys.
You can store up to 96 characters worth of information using cassettes. Once you lock these characters into your cassette, they’re protected from physical damage so that you always have a backup.
The capsules work similarly, although the input of letters is a little different. The capsule can withstand a gunshot and other physical damage. Let’s say, in the worst-case scenario, a tank runs over your capsule. Even if crushed, the design would still keep your data inside the capsule safe.
Basically, you need to buy one of these, especially if you have a lot of coins. It’s well worth the money for the peace of mind.
Ledger Nano X Conclusion
The Ledger Nano X is by far the easiest hardware wallet that I have ever set up. Additionally, it feels sleek and smooth. It's not bulky like some of the other hardware wallets that I've tried in the past. If you take advantage of the Cryptosteel capsules and cassettes as well, the Ledger Nano X meets all of your possible needs.
Other Crypto Wallet Options
While the options above are my personal favorites, there are some other great options out there for those that either want a cheaper option or for those that don’t have a lot of coins at this point.
These options aren’t as feature rich as Ledger and Trezor, but they are still amazing options.
Ellipal Titan Bundle
With this bundle, you receive the Ellipal Titan and the Ellipal Metal Mnemonics, along with an SD card. I love this bundle, particularly for those that are getting started in the crypto world.
The Ellipal titan is cold storage, meaning that it never connects to the internet or bluetooth, protecting it from digital attacks. It relies on a QR code to transfer data. It also protects you from physical attacks because of its anti-tampering technology.
The titan is a metal sealed case that protects against water, wind, dust, and many other forms of physical damage. It’s impossible to break into this case without leaving damage, and if the case is damaged, the wallet automatically deletes your data so that someone can’t steal it.
If someone were to trigger data deletion, you’d have the Ellipal Metal Mnemonics to help you gain access to your data again. You can store both 12 and 24 word mnemonics, using 4 letters per word.
While this option lacks a backup wallet, you’ll still have the Metal Mnemonics to help you out.
Ellipal Titan Bundle Conclusion
The Ellipal Titan Bundle is a unique option for beginners. The Titan works using cold storage, meaning it can't be accessed via Bluetooth or the internet, this protects you against digital attacks. The Metal Mnemonics allows you to access your data if your Titan undergoes damage.
CoolWallet S x MEW
If you’re looking for a single wallet solution that can serve as an everyday option, the CoolWallet S x MEW works perfectly.
The CoolWallet is a bluetooth hardware wallet that connects to your smartphone through the CoolBitX app. It’s the size of a credit card, making it easy to carry with you anywhere you go. The CoolWallet also comes with two seed recovery cards.
You can feel good about the security of your coins thanks to the 2 + 1 factor authentication. Both biometric and physical 2FA checks keep your data safe. You can store and trade BTC, XRP, ETH, BNB, LTC, BCH, BNB, Horizen, ICX, stable coins and ERC20 tokens.
The CoolWallet is another great wallet for beginners. CoolWallet works using bluetooth, connecting to your smartphone via their app. The seed recovery cards allow you to recover your data if needed, but it only comes with 2 of them. It offers biometric and 2FA checks to make sure only you have access.
The ShapeShift Keepkey
The Keepkey is a cold storage device that allows you to store your coins offline so that you don’t have to worry about electronic attacks against your stash. This is a good wallet for those that want to store their coins as an investment.
You generate and manage your private keys and set up a 12 word recovery phrase in case something happens to your wallet. This wallet supports over 40 coins and features a large display so that you can view and approve every transaction with ease.
Much like the CoolWallet, it’s recommended that you have a backup wallet and cassette or capsule as well, but if you’re just getting started in cryptocurrency, you’ll do fine with either of these wallets as your primary.
The ShapeShift Conclusion
As another cold storage device, the ShapeShift KeepKey naturally protects you from digital attacks because it never goes online. You are in charge of configuring your private keys as well as a 12 word recovery pass-phrase in case your wallet is destroyed or lost. If you are an advanced user, it's also recommended that you have a backup wallet or capsule.
Final Rankings of The Best Cryptocurrency Wallets
|Trezor Ultimate Package||9.8/10||Great package, gives you everything you need.|
|Ledger Nano X||9.7/10||BEST value. If this model had a touchscreen, it would be up there with Trezor.|
|Ellipal Titan Bundle||8/10||Great security features, and having a backup is nice.|
|ShapeShift Keepkey||7/10||Supports a decent amount of coins. The price point is good for what you get.|
|CoolWallet||6.5/10||Great wallet for beginners. The biggest issue is the number of coins supported.|
Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins...Get A Crypto Wallet to Protect Yourself Now!
You shouldn’t let anyone else maintain control of your coins. Put your coins into your wallet instead of leaving them on an exchange where they’re vulnerable to theft. Leaving them on an exchange also means that you won’t have them when you need them!
By using one of the crypto wallets in this list, you can protect yourself and use your coins however you want. The two bundles mentioned first in the article are my personal recommendation, but the others on this list will work for those without major stacks of coins or beginners.
Cryptocurrency is vulnerable to theft when you leave it on the exchange longer than needed. I generally recommend the Ledger Nano X because it's so easy to use and very safe.
If you prefer to earn interest or yield on your coins, I suggest learning about BlockFi & Celsius.
Feel free to leave a comment below and I'll personally answer your questions!
How do put coins into your wallet? Let’s say I have some coins on Coinbase and I wanted to put them in the cold wallet. How does this process work?
Were you thinking about a paper wallet for cold storage or using a hardware wallet that is a cold storage (air-gapped and never connected to the internet)? Both would have different but similar processes.
Hi Ryan, I signed up for the Coinbase Wallet app. I’d like to Transfer Compound from the wallet back to my Coinbase account but I see there is a hefty fee ( payable in ETH) to send out of my wallet. Is the hefty fee to send out from my wallet usual and is there anything I can do to lower it ? Thanks
Yes, ETH fees right now are very high. There’s not much you can do besides wait for the fees to drop over time and then transfer, sadly. You can keep an eye on the estimated fees and to wait for the opportune time.
Usually I stick to moving around XLM or LTC since the fees are very low and their also super quick.
Helpful article. But leaves many questions, like: How does a backup work? Is it a full copy? Partial storage? How do the steel and capsules/cassettes function? Are these all hot or cold wallets? Are there any good software wallets? Maybe you addressed this elsewhere, but a quick search didn’t reveal anything. When I have more time…
Yes, the backup is an exact replica of the main wallet (using the same passphrase/keys). The steel capsules/cassettes will hold the passphrase/keys for you so if you lose the main wallet, and the back up…. you’ll still have the passphrase/keys to reactivate the wallet. By having all three, you should pretty much never lose your cryptocurrency – unless you lose all three.
Some of the wallets are hot and some are cold. For software wallets, I would stick with the coins foundations recommended wallet – for example, ADA/Cardano recommends Daedalus or Yoroi right from their website. Also, Coinbase’s Wallet app isn’t too shabby – I use it to do swaps on Uniswap quite easily.
Thanks. That clearly answers the questions.
Can I assume that any wallet can be made cold by just disconnecting it?
I’m quite new to this, please bear with me: when you say coins foundations, do you mean there is one foundation or each foundation suggests it’s own wallet(s)?
I hear a lot of chatter about atomic wallet.
I don’t know what uniswap is, I’ll look it up. There’s an endless ocean of info out there. It’s quite overwhelming.
Hardware wallets are cold storage – like the Nano X I recommend. A hot wallet is something like Atomic wallet – it’s a software program connected to the internet.
Yes, exactly. For example, this is ADA’s foundation site: http://cardano.org
Uniswap is a decentralized ERC20 trading/swapping platform – you can swap out coins on it without any KYC.
I think the Coinbase Wallet app is the simplest to use out there right now.
How do I purchase a crypto wallet?
It depends on what type of wallet you want.
Are you looking for a software wallet for your computer or phone or a hardware wallet? Also, what coins do you plan to hold?
Fantastic information here Ryan. I’m new to Crypto and am just looking to purchase Bitcoin and hold on to it for the long term (ie I’m not looking to trade or purchase BTC on a regular basis). What would be the easiest and cheapest way to buy, say, $5k worth of BTC and keep it safe? Based on the fees to purchase BTC and then to transfer it to a wallet, would you recommend Binance, Coinbase, or CoinbasePro? And I’m still not clear on what the costs are of transferring BTC back from a cold wallet to one of these platforms in order to convert it back to USD, and do I have to transfer it out of a wallet to the same platform I used to transfer it into that wallet? Thank you in advance for your guidance!
For simplicity, you could just purchase the BTC on Coinbase Pro and hold that coin in your portfolio with Coinbase. Coinbase is SUPER safe so I would just do that if you want to keep it simple. With that simplicity/safety the buying and trading fees are higher.
If you want to be safe, and have lower fees, buy and hold on Binance.us.
If you wanted to buy and then move that BTC to a cold wallet like a Ledger, here are the options and costs:
BTC Fees for $5000 purchase and transfer
Binance.us – $61 – $63
5000×0.075% = $3.75 FEE
5000×0.10% = $5 FEE
Withdrawal fee to a wallet = .001 BTC or $58
Gemini.com – $12.50 – $17.50
5000×0.35% = $17.50 FEE
5000×0.25% = $12.50 FEE
Withdrawal fee to a wallet = $0 (10 withdraws per month are free with Gemini)
To get those coins back to the exchange will depend on the network fees at that time so I can’t estimate that.
So, if you do plan to move the coins, I would use Gemini. If you plan to hold it on an exchange use Binance.us!
Can you do a write up on the SafePal wallet. I like it but would like to see a comparison and your opinion.
Hey Rob! I just contacted SafePal to get one. I should have something in the coming weeks after I get it in the mail and review it. It does look promising!
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