The Best Crypto Wallets of 2021
Best Crypto Wallets of 2021 are here! If you have been paying any attention to cryptocurrencies recently, you know that space is expanding faster than ever. It seems like every day there is a new token or protocol released. Which promises to be the future of decentralized finance. From cross-chain swaps, smart contracts, or one of a seemingly unlimited number of blockchain-focused applications. With this increase in productivity and public attention comes increased adoption by individuals. Thus with a wide variety of backgrounds and technical expertise. Whether you are a first-time buyer. Maybe who still doesn’t fully understand what a bitcoin is. Or maybe you are an experienced blockchain developer with a garage filled with mining rigs. How you might store and secure your cryptocurrencies is of the utmost importance.
As the options for cryptocurrencies expand, so to do your options for how to store them. There are a variety of different methods for crypto storage. From cold wallets to exchanges to hybrid solutions and everything in between, and all are certainly not created equal. This guide is intended to provide you insights into the best crypto wallets in 2021. So before we dive into our top crypto wallet recommendations, firstly let’s start with a little background. This background is on primary categories of crypto wallets and some of their pros and cons:
Best Crypto Wallets: Hardware Wallets
Hardware wallets are the pinnacle of secure crypto storage. These wallets are almost exclusively “cold” wallets where your crypto is stored offline. This is disconnected from the internet. What this means is that malicious actors cannot access your holdings without direct access to your device. Additionally, they are physical devices that hold your coins that operate independently and interchangeably with your computer, tablet, or phone. They also allow you to manage your own keys. This means that nobody but you can authorize transactions on your behalf. Some notable disadvantages to hardware wallets are that they generally lack some of the features of exchanges. Such as purchase and trading. They are in some cases susceptible to loss/damage/theft/human error (see here), and they cost money to purchase.
Best Crypto Wallets: Software Wallets
Software wallets are the next step in the food chain from hardware wallets. These are programs installed on your device. These devices are mostly free, that can either take the form of cold wallets or “hot” wallets. This means that it is always (or frequently) connected directly to the internet. While these are generally not as secure as hardware wallets. Their security is very good and they allow you to still have control of your own keys.
These keys exist on your device of choice. Be it (computer, phone, etc). This means that there is less friction when attempting to send your coins to exchanges or other wallets. You can manage your holdings without needing to access a separate piece of physical hardware. With the added convenience and lower price. Do note, however, comes some additional concerns. This is including increased susceptibility to hacking. Be it through the internet or a compromised personal device. As well as the added incentive for bad actors to create hardware wallets. This is due to the ease of distribution and lack of physical architecture. Which is often required to create and distribute a physical device. (You can find some examples coindesk and coindesk.)
Best Crypto Wallets: Exchanges
Exchanges are not technically wallets in the traditional sense. These do however give you access to wallets which you can use to send, receive, and store crypto. The best exchanges store your crypto in a combination of their own cold wallets as well as a hot wallet. Hence in which is used for active trading on their platforms. Exchanges are generally free to join, and you can buy and sell various cryptocurrencies directly on the platform. They also offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience. This is because they are accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection. You have no need for your own personal computer or hardware wallet. The best exchanges have free mobile apps to complement their browser-native platforms.
They can also give you access to a variety of cutting-edge services. Which are not available on most wallets such as staking, liquidity pools, loans, interest-earning accounts, and more. Additionally, the best exchanges have state-of-the-art security procedures. As well you have access to customer support in the event that you need to recover your account. The notable disadvantages here are that these are custodial wallets. With a custodial wallet you do not really control your own coins. They are always online, which makes them susceptible to hacks such as the infamous Mt.Gox incident.
The Best Crypto Wallets 2021
Now for the wallets! Before we dive in, it should be noted that all of these selections were made from a security-first perspective. Cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible. This means that storing your crypto should be taken as seriously as guarding a briefcase full of cash. If you accidentally forget it on the subway, you can expect it to be gone forever. Thus placing importance on securing that asset in the first place is paramount. All of the wallets featured here are technologically sound, industry vetted, and produced by reputable companies.
While the older generation hardware wallets are reminiscent of glorified USB sticks. Cobo Vault is like the iPad of the cryptocurrency wallet world. This beautiful piece of hardware is incredibly secure, functionally versatile, and designed for ease of use. The Cobo Vault features a full colored touch screen. It has a metal enclosure, and removable battery to avoid corrosion and potential battery failure. It has the ability to store 1500+ tokens across multiple ecosystems. Cobo Vault comes with native support for its own app which can interact with a number of software wallets. This is including one that we recommend below, and even supports staking.
From a security perspective, this is the most advanced wallet currently on the market. This wallet is air-gapped and transacts through the use of QR codes. Thus this means that it is never connected directly to a machine or to the internet. Thereby eliminating threats from network-based attacks or a compromised device. It also operates with an EAL 5+ Secure Element. This alone has true random key generation and is BIP32, BIP39, and BIP44 complaint (translation: it is really secure). Support for multi-signatures, and in some models even comes with fingerprint scanners and a “self-destruct” mechanism. Lastly, this wallet is open source, meaning that its code is completely in the open. You might ask, “doesn’t that make things easier for hackers?”
The answer is yes if the code is insecure. However, open-source code allows security researchers to thoroughly vet their software. They are the first wallet manufacturer to publish third-party code audits for public review. Overall, the Cobo Vault is one of the most impressive hardware wallets available to consumers today.
Cobo Vault ($119-$479)
For those who prefer simplicity without sacrificing security or functionality, the BitBox02 is an excellent choice. Its minimalist design features a smooth, buttonless, all black enclosure with a white LED panel. It displays text as the device is in use. It is operated by a number of touch sensors around the sides of the hardware. This will allow you to manipulate the content on the screen with ease. Despite its humble outward appearance, the BitBox02 is one of the most secure hardware wallets currently available on the market. It uses a dual chip system and secure bootloader which is highly resistant to software-based intrusion. Additionally, the case features security pins. In which separate and neutralize the device. This helps if someone attempts to open it. Meaning, that it is also resistant to any hardware-based manipulation.
For the more technical users out there. We note it allows you to check the firmware hash signature on every bootup. Thus letting you verify that it has not been replaced with inauthentic (and potentially malicious) code. On top of all of this, both the software and the hardware is open-source. Therefore both have been subjected to an independent audit. They actively offer rewards for anyone who can find a security vulnerability. Using the device is as simple as plugging it directly into your computer or phone through its USB-C connector. This is where all communications are end-to-end encrypted to prevent spyware from making off with sensitive information.
Once connected, you can manage your holdings through the BitBox app. This app which has native exchange integrations and additional privacy feature such as Tor support. It also has the ability to utilize your own full node to transact. Thus allowing you greater control over your presence on the blockchain. And the icing on the cake? The BitBox02 comes with a microSD card that stores a backup of your configuration. If you find your wallet is stolen or destroyed. Which nobody wants! Bitbox is as simple as plugging your card into a new device to pick up right where you left off.
BitBox02 ($109): https://shiftcrypto.ch/
The Exodus wallet is a well-known, easy-to-use, and highly capable software wallet. Beyond its functionality, one of the key appeals of this wallet is that it is designed to be friendly. Even the least technical of crypto users. Its desktop or mobile interface exists completely on your device of choice. Allowing you to control your own keys. All without missing out on much of the convenience and flexibility of using an exchange. Directly from the Exodus platform. So you can purchase crypto as well as execute decentralized coin-to-coin swaps between a wide variety of supported protocols.
Unlike exchanges, there are no withdrawal limits, KYC requirements, or any personal identification required. So you are not only in complete control of your portfolio, but you can also decouple your wallet and holdings. Doing so from any personally identifying information. Already have some crypto in a different wallet? No problem; you can import the contents of your other wallets directly into the Exodus platform with ease. Beyond this core functionality, Exodus has “apps” built into it. This allows you to take advantage of the newest trends in crypto such as staking and interest-earning crypto savings accounts. For the gamblers out there, the platform even allows you to make sports bets using your crypto holdings.
Though Exodus utilizes many well-vetted open source libraries, It is not fully open source itself. Though this concern is somewhat eased by the fact that this is a well-known wallet. Exodus has existed since 2015 and is operated by a reputable company. On top of all of this, the Exodus wallet is completely free! Also, it can interface with your hardware wallet, allowing you to give yourself an added layer of security.
Exodus (FREE): https://www.exodus.com/
From the very beginning of bitcoin. One of the core reasons for the creation of Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology was transparency. Coming out of the 2007-8 financial crisis, it was invented as an alternative to the banking system. Because of the centralization and secrecy of the central banking system. Fast forward to today, and some might see that same transparency as a detriment. What if you do not want your activities on the blockchain to be closely tracked? Wasabi wallet seeks to be the solution.
Wasabi is the most reputable and advanced privacy-focused software wallet currently on the market. Beyond merely acting as a place to store your coins. Wasabi allows for your on-chain transactions to be performed through coin-joins. Coin-joins are transactions that are mixed together with the transactions of others before being transmitted through the blockchain. This anonymizes your transactions and renders them essentially untrackable. To add to this, Wasabi allows you to directly manipulate specific coins in your wallet. Again adding an additional layer of control to your transactions.
Additionally, it is automatically Tor-enabled. Thus, routing your internet connection through a network of proxies and anonymizing your internet presence. Wasabi does this well for an added bonus. This wallet is also completely open-source, which should add to your level of confidence in this platform. A notable downside to Wasabi is that it is Bitcoin-only. It does not have the exchange-like properties of some other wallets. Though however, its position as a leader in privacy is uncontested.
Wasabi (FREE): https://wasabiwallet.io/
Atomic Wallet: https://atomicwallet.io/
If you are looking for all the convenience and features of exchange without sacrificing security. Gemini is one of your best options. The exchange was built from the very beginning with security in mind. Thus it has some of the most impressive safeguards on the market. Though all crypto exchanges have a portion of their holdings stored in “hot” wallets. The majority of Gemini’s crypto is in cold storage. Multi-signature schemas are used in their cold wallets. This means that a loss of any individual private key will not result in a loss of the wallet contents. Hence all cold wallet operations require the action of multiple individuals.
Their internal controls are such that even their founders (the famous Winkelvii). Will be unable to transfer cryptocurrency out of their cold wallets, even in coordination with each other. Gemini is also certified for its security and integrity by regulators. These regulators certify US banks. Meaning that the level of scrutiny their operations undergo is impressive, to say the least. Beyond mere security, Gemini is a high-quality exchange in its own right. Thus it has full-featured charts, a native mobile app, the ability to buy and sell a wide variety of cryptos. Added features such as interest-earning accounts and OTC trade facilitation. Sweeten the deal and they are US-regulator friendly. So you can use their platform from virtually anywhere. No need to worry about it being suddenly zapped off the internet.
Gemini (FREE): https://www.gemini.com/
In many ways, Coinbase is the elephant in the room. They are one of the oldest crypto exchanges still in operation. Now with their recent IPO, one of the most high profile. With this, comes a great deal of public trust and it is certainly not unwarranted. Coinbase goes to great lengths to ensure that its offerings are sound, consumer-friendly, and most importantly, secure. Coinbase takes its security very seriously. Striking 98% of their holdings being stored in cold wallets which are held in safe deposit boxes. Also held in vaults. Add to this the various geographic locations all over the world.
Additionally, all sensitive data at rest is encrypted, disconnected from the internet, and backed up in multiple locations. One striking feature that sets Coinbase apart. Coinbase keeps 2% of crypto that is held online in more vulnerable hot wallets is insured. Thus essentially guaranteeing their ability to restore your funds in the event of a hack or internal theft. While leaving your coins on an exchange is generally not recommended. Coinbase’s combination of cold wallet security and insurance on their hot wallets make it the lowest risk exchange available today.
Their stated company mission is to make cryptocurrencies accessible to everyone. The Coinbase platform is very approachable and easy to use. For more advanced users, Coinbase Pro offers a more comprehensive trading platform. In which they feature a number of commercial products. This is including institutional custody products, OTC brokering. These types of integrations allow your business to accept cryptocurrencies as payments. What if you are a Coinbase loyalist? Yet you want to control your own keys and keep your crypto off-exchange? Coinbase also offers a software wallet that allows you to do just that without leaving their ecosystem.
Coinbase (FREE): https://www.coinbase.com/
Best Crypto Wallets 2021 Conclusion:
The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are a seemingly endless number of crypto wallets available on the markets today. All with a wide variety of different features designed to suit your needs. Looking for a mobile-only solution? There is a wallet for that! Want a wallet that exists as a browser extension? There is a wallet for that! Want a wallet with all the new-age bells and whistles and shiny buttons? You guessed it! there’s a wallet for that! The selections featured here are meant to represent the best of what the current market has to offer in 2021. So whether it is a brand new release. Or maybe a wallet that has existed for years which has stood the test of time. A balance is sought here between functionality, reliability, and of course security.
While seeking out a wallet, it is not only important to ensure that it fits your personal requirements. Yet also that it does not put you at unnecessary risk. Whether that is from carelessness in its design. Or maybe a deliberate backdoor included in the product to benefit its creators to your detriment. If you have read through some of the links included earlier, you will understand why this is so important. The perceived convenience, features, and aesthetics of a wallet offering all become irrelevant if your crypto holdings become compromised.
That being said, you are encouraged to go out there and explore the different available options for yourself. As the space is exciting and constantly evolving. This list is intended to take some of the guesswork out of the process. This is to give you an extra edge in making this important choice. May you find the perfect choice for your needs and may you prosper in this new, exciting, and ever-evolving space!