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This can be an intimidating proposition for people who are new to crypto, but it only takes a few minutes. In general, there are four basic steps. Choose the type of wallet that works best for you. Sign up for an account, buy the device or download the software needed. Set up your security features, including a recovery phrase. Purchase cryptocurrency or transfer coins from another wallet or exchange. There are three basic types of wallets for virtual currency. One option is a software wallet or hot wallet that stores your crypto on an internet-connected device that you own.
Another option to consider with added security is a cold wallet, a specialized piece of hardware that keeps your crypto offline. Custodial wallets, which leave your crypto in the control of a company you trust, such as a crypto exchange, are another storage method to consider. The steps for setting up your wallet will vary based on which type you choose.
Here are the primary considerations for each. Image courtesy of Coinbase. Hot wallets are often free to use and may offer add-on services such as staking and lending. Pick a wallet app and download it on a desktop or mobile device; many software wallets have both options. Create an account.
When you make your account, the app generates a random or word phrase corresponding to your private key. Add crypto to your wallet.
You can do this by transferring tokens from another wallet or linking your account to an exchange in the app settings, which will require additional verification. Here are our top picks. Image courtesy of Blog. Hardware wallets are non-custodial, but they store your keys on a physical device that you can connect to your computer or phone through a USB plugin, WiFi or QR code.
Buy the device. Hardware wallets can be purchased directly from the companies that create them; some are available at stores like Best Buy and Walmart. Download the software. In addition, some desktop applications have built-in tools that can connect your wallet to exchanges or decentralized finance apps. When you create an account, remember to write down your or word seed phrase and keep it in a safe place.
Connect your device. There are a few different ways to connect your hardware wallet to online software so you can transfer tokens. Your device should come with instructions on how to set this up. Some cold wallets have features that help you buy crypto and load it onto your device for offline storage. Using your wallet address, you can also migrate tokens from an exchange or another existing wallet.
Image courtesy of Gemini. Custodial wallets , also known as hosted wallets, are managed by third-party providers. They allow users to store assets directly on the exchange for easy trading access.
The intricate cold storage solution supports buying and staking crypto via dApps connections. You can stake popular cryptos like Cardano and Polkadot and buy and swap Bitcoin via the Ellipal Titan wallet.
With Ellipal, you can convert your coins to any supported currency without needing to transfer to an online exchange. Bitcoin remains the top cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Whatever the vicissitudes of the crypto market, investors remain committed to Bitcoin as both a buy-and-hold asset and as a means of exchange. Like other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin requires a crypto wallet for storage. Most of the leading crypto walletsï¿½hot or coldï¿½support BTC. There are a few specialized wallets that do not support Bitcoin. Other wallets may have a few quirks. Coinbase Wallet Web3 only supports Bitcoin via its mobile app, for example. Here are some leading crypto wallets that support Bitcoin and other top major cryptocurrencies by market cap.
Forbes Advisor performed an in-depth assessment of the features and options offered by the leading crypto wallets. The data was collected between Aug. From the data gathered, each wallet was scored and assessed based on seven key variables:. For each ranking, the sum of weighted values across all or some of these key factors was calculated to award each crypto wallet an overall rank.
Cryptocurrency exists as nothing more than a string of code on a larger blockchain. When you purchase a crypto, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, your proof of ownership is based on a public key and a private key.
If you lose the private key, you could lose access to your crypto. Likewise, any person who gets ahold of your private keys has full access to your crypto. The connectivity to the web makes these types of wallets more accessible. But it comes with a trade-off: security.
Online wallets are more susceptible to hacks. These hardware wallets come in several shapes and sizes, and they can be a USB stick that connects to the web or a device that scans a QR code, linking to a software application. Hardware wallets help keep your private keys safe from hackers who would need to steal the physical wallet to gain access and usually involve a PIN as an extra layer of security.
Cryptocurrencies exist on a blockchain, and a wallet allows you to store and transfer your crypto securely. You might be interested in holding a portfolio of different coins and tokens in one wallet.
Opening a crypto wallet will vary by the type you choose. Generally, personal information and a two-step verification process are required. Follow or DM me on Twitter at farranpowell. Select Region. United States. United Kingdom.
Farran Powell. Reviewed By. Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Read more. Crypto Buying Guides. What Is a Hot Wallet? Coinbase Wallet. Our ratings take into account a product's cost, features, ease of use, customer service and other category-specific attributes.
Why We Picked It. Coinbase is a leading crypto exchange, and it offers three different crypto wallets. SafePal Crypto Wallet. SafePal is a hot wallet that serves more than 6 million users across more than countries.
Not intuitive for beginners Limited customer support. Learn More On Crypto. Exodus Crypto Wallet. The Exodus crypto wallet supports more than cryptocurrencies.
Ethereum staking is not available Not integrated with any centralized exchanges. Coinbase dApp Wallet. Ledger Crypto Wallet. Ledger is a well-known name in the crypto sphere. Experienced a July hack Limited customer support. Trezor is known for being a dependable hardware solution for stashing the keys to your crypto. Compatible with several exchanges.
Supports an extensive range of crypto assets Integrated with Exodus. No support for Solana, Tron and Polkadot Security flaws identified in Ellipal Titan Crypto Wallet.
Ellipal may not be as well known as Ledger, but the wallet eliminates the USB or Bluetooth connection, which are common sources of attack, by using QR codes instead. It eliminates transferring crypto to an online wallet Supports 46 blockchains and thousands of tokens.
From the data gathered, each wallet was scored and assessed based on seven key variables: Stablecoins. Top cryptocurrencies. The number of supported major cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.
We put a specific focus on the availability of the most popular 20 cryptocurrencies. But both types of wallets were measured for exchange integration s and staking accessibility. This metric also measures utilization, such as the ability to convert coins within the wallet. Customer service. Costs and fees. Additional data sets were used to evaluate costs and fees for Best Cold Wallets, such as the initial cost for a hardware storage solution. Some of the features assessed in both rankings include whether the wallet recoups stolen assets and provides several security measures e.
Previous security breaches or hacks were also noted. Additional features. Other areas measured include, but are not limited to, whether the wallet provides educational resources and live charts and support for non-fungible tokens.
Some services may ask for a private key address instead of a wallet address in order for you to make a purchase. Some websites have a button that allows you to connect your wallet to the site for things like making bids on NFTs or investing in tokens to earn interest.
Different blockchains may have different fees associated with transferring money and digital goods. Some exchanges warn buyers to wait until off-hours or low-use times when gas fees are low to make their purchases or investments. Many other emerging blockchain technologies have put an emphasis on keeping these types of fees minimal.
A burner wallet would ensure that only the funds in that wallet are at risk, not all the funds you may have in your primary wallet. You could use a burner wallet to, say, buy an NFT, transfer the NFT and any remaining funds to your main wallet once the transaction is complete, and then delete the wallet. You could also use this method to spread your cryptocurrency across different wallets in order to not have all your digital currency eggs in one basket, an approach Dave Bitcoin says is a reasonable one.
Hardware crypto wallets holding a lot of currency should have a backup. Software wallets can also be backed up, either as a software backup or to a hardware device. Software wallets are more likely to be hackedï¿½not by some nefarious online group targeting your precious NFTsï¿½but by user error. Trusting sketchy cryptocurrency projects or websites that want to connect with your wallet or sending cryptocurrency to fraudsters who lured you into a scam are more likely to happen than someone targeting your Metamask.
Keep your crypto safe by limiting what sites you connect your wallet to and whom you give out your wallet address to especially your private keyï¿½do not post it online. The learning curve for crypto wallets used to be incredibly high for those new to cryptocurrency, but they've gotten much more user-friendly in recent years. Scott Gilbertson.
Gilad Edelman. Matt Burgess. Garrett M. Most Popular. Set Up and Use Your Wallet. Keep Your Wallet Safe and Secure. Omar L. Gallaga is a Texas-based culture and tech writer who was a longtime reporter, podcaster, and columnist at the Austin American-Statesman. Contributor Twitter. Topics bitcoin cryptocurrency money Blockchain Passwords Commerce. They thought their payments were untraceable. The encrypted-email company, popular with security-conscious users, has a plan to go mainstream.
Exodus, which is free to use, also has a solid library of explanatory content for people who are learning about crypto. Exodus supports about cryptocurrencies, including many of the most popular assets. However, that number is smaller than some of its competitors who say customers can store tens of thousands of different types.
Assets supported: More than The company operates the largest U. But Coinbase Wallet is a separate product that allows users to store cryptocurrency themselves rather than keeping it in the custody of Coinbase. The free application has some other strengths, such as mobile and browser-based connections to decentralized applications.
It also lacks some functionality offered by competitors, such as a desktop app, though its browser extension connects to the Ledger hardware wallet. MetaMask has mobile and browser-based wallets, though it does not have a desktop app.
MetaMask also does not have staking directly in its app. You can, however, easily stake tokens using the apps that connect to MetaMask on the web. Atomic Wallet allows users to store more than 1, cryptocurrencies, and it also provides options for people who want to buy, exchange, or stake digital assets directly from their wallets. One feature that distinguishes Atomic Wallet from its competitors is that you can buy a paid membership, which allows you to earn rewards when you carry out a transaction using its platform.
Unlike some other hot wallets, however, Atomic Wallet does not offer a browser extension, which can be a big help in using cryptocurrencies to interact with decentralized applications. Can convert to cold storage: No. Trust Wallet is another storage product that operates in partnership with a major crypto exchange. It is the official wallet of Binance, the international digital asset firm, and that partnership gives users the ability to buy, sell and trade directly from their wallet.
It says it supports more than a million types of digital assets. It is, however, fully open-source ï¿½ a distinction that only a handful of competitors share. Assets supported: More than 1 million. Electrum is an outlier among wallets reviewed by NerdWallet, in that it only works with one cryptocurrency. That cryptocurrency, however, is Bitcoin ï¿½ far and away the most valuable cryptocurrency on the market. What Electrum lacks in altcoin offerings, however, it makes up for in security and transparency.
This free, open-source product offers two-factor authentication, straightforward connections to cold storage, and support for multisignature transactions which require the signoff of multiple users. Electrum offers only a desktop app, but the tools it offers to Bitcoin power users make it a standout. Assets supported: One Bitcoin. While there are ways to do this yourself, hardware wallets come preloaded with software and other usability and security features that make the process smoother. Ledger is one of the best-known names in crypto wallets.
Ledger has a highly rated mobile app, plus a dedicated desktop app, and its developers are in the process of rolling out a browser extension. Ledger also has two-factor authentication available, and a library of educational content for users. Can convert to online storage: Yes. Trezor offers some of the highest-end hardware available in crypto storage. Trezor has integrations with other crypto firms such as Exodus, though it also provides built-in services such as staking and crypto purchases through its software products.
SafePal is something of a hybrid wallet, with both offline and online elements. It says it supports about 30, digital assets, which is the most among hardware wallets reviewed by NerdWallet. It does not, however, have a dedicated desktop app. Assets supported: More than 30, How do we review cryptocurrency wallets? Our aim is to provide our independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs.
We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity. The final output produces star ratings from poor one star to excellent five stars. For more details about the categories considered when rating wallets and our process, read our full methodology. How to choose the best crypto wallet. Guarda: 4. Exodus: 4. Coinbase Wallet: 4. MetaMask: 3. Atomic Wallet: 3. Trust Wallet: 3. Electrum: 2.
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