In this article, we look at the best bitcoin (BTC) wallets in 2018. Storing your bitcoin in a safe and secure wallet is the most important decision you’ll make in your crypto journey.
We can’t stress enough how dangerous it can be to leave your coins on an exchange after you’ve bought them. Crypto exchanges are often the first target for hackers, so you need a safe and secure place for your bitcoin: a personal crypto wallet.
Before we dive into which wallets you should consider using, it’s important to define the various categories of wallets as well as their potential advantages and disadvantages.
Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Wallet For You
Pro: Most secure option.
Con: Expensive, your crypto is less accessible day-to-day.
Hardware wallets are a bit like an external hard-drive for your bitcoin but highly optimized for crypto storage. From a security standpoint, they are the best option. Hardware wallets are known as “cold storage” because they are rarely connected the internet, making them difficult to hack. You also have complete control over your private keys.
Still, there are a few potential disadvantages of hardware wallets. For someone that has a limited budget, hardware wallets can be expensive. Since they are separate, physical objects, hardware wallets don’t necessarily offer the mobility that many people wish to have and they’re not ideal for day-to-day crypto transactions or trading.
Pro: Easy to use, accessible, and relatively safe.
Cons: If your computer connects to the internet, it can be hacked while online.
Desktop wallets have quickly emerged as a popular way to store BTC and other cryptos. It involves downloading the wallet software onto your desktop. One of the reasons why people choose desktop wallets is because they typically have more features than other wallets. With most desktop wallets, users have full control over their own funds via public/private keys and seed phrases.
Pro: Easy to use and extremely convenient to make bitcoin transactions on the go.
Con: Less secure because they’re often online (known as a “hot wallet”) and you may not control the private keys.
As the name suggests, mobile wallets allow users to store funds on their mobile devices. This mobility means that users not only have the ability to easily store funds but also use them to pay for everyday items in places that accept crypto.
One potential disadvantage is that a mobile wallet could rely more upon continued updates from the app creator than other wallet types. In some cases, users don’t own their own private keys, meaning that each individual doesn’t have custody over funds. While this is the case with some mobile wallets, others are non-custodial.
Pro: Easy to access, intuitive design.
Con: Least secure option, you may not control your private key.
Online wallets have a few main advantages, namely accessibility. While other categories of wallets mostly depend on your own electronic device working properly, online wallets can be accessed easily from any device or internet browser.
However, like some mobile wallets, online wallets typically do not allow each user to control private keys, meaning that they could be considered less secure in some situations.
Pro: Ultra secure (you can’t hack a piece of paper!)
Con: Easy to lose, your crypto isn’t easily accessible day-to-day.
Paper wallets probably offer the most secure crypto storage option of any wallet type. Essentially, ‘paper wallet’ is a general term for writing down public/private keys, seed phrases, and other relevant information on a physical document. Unlike other wallets, paper wallets cannot be hacked.
Unless a user loses a paper wallet or it’s stolen, account information should remain safe. The downside is that, for some people, it might be more difficult to keep up with this type of wallet vs. a mobile phone that offers access to a mobile wallet.
Now that we know the different types of bitcoin wallet available, let’s look at the best in each category.
Best Hardware Wallets
Best feature: Ultra secure offline storage and backups.
Trezor is known to be one of, if not the best, manufacturers of hardware wallets on the market. In terms of cryptocurrency support, it allows you to store over 500 different coins including bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and bitcoin cash (although not XRP as of November 2018). There are two different Trezor models worth considering.
The Trezor One is USB-compatible and enables users to easily access funds on Windows, OS X, and Linux devices. The more expensive Trezor Model T includes a better CPU, a sleeker profile, and improved security features like simple seed recovery. With Trezor wallets, you even have the option of syncing wallet information with a Dropbox account.
Best feature: Super secure offline storage and slick design.
Ledger provides another popular option for those looking to buy a hardware wallet. In terms of functionality, it is comparable with Trezor. The Ledger Nano S is the company’s premiere hardware wallet for 2018. One of the biggest things that sets Ledger apart is the ability to recover a wallet without having to connect the device to a computer. This is very helpful if a Ledger wallet has been lost or stolen.
Besides BTC, Ledger supports more than 700 coins (as of November 2018), which is considerably more than Trezor. However, Leger wallet firmware and integrated wallet software aren’t considered to be quite as good as what Trezor offers. Looking at various head-to-head competitions, it’s hard to go wrong with either Ledger or Trezor.
Best feature: Super secure offline storage and large screen.
KeepKey is yet another BTC hardware wallet option that is gaining in popularity. It comes with a larger screen than both Trezor and Ledger devices. Some might see this as a disadvantage for carrying the device around, but this is actually a positive for one reason. With KeepKey, you don’t have to go from app to app within the dongle to see how much funds you have.
Still, KeepKey does lack some basic features like countervalue, which is your crypto worth equivalent shown in USD (or other fiat currencies) in real-time.
Best Desktop Wallets
Best feature: Open source code for extra security.
Electrum offers users an open-source desktop wallet that delivers on features. For newer users, it might take some time to learn the interface as it’s not the prettiest or most intuitive (check out Exodus below if you want slick design).
Since its code is open source, Electrum is highly secure because there is no single point of failure. Your private key is encrypted and never leaves your computer.
Another innovative feature of Electrum is fee management. While most BTC wallets don’t allow you to decide whether or not you want to pay for a sudden increase in fees once a transaction has been broadcast to the network, Electrum does. It even gives you an option to replace the fee after starting a transaction.
Electrum also offers features like address tagging and signing/verifying messages. It works across all desktop devices: Windows, OS X, and Linux. Electrum is free to download, but there is a flat rate fee of 0.2 mBTC (0.0002 BTC) per transaction sent. This rate could possibly be 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC) or less in some instances.
Best feature: Intuitive and easy-to-use compared to other desktop wallets.
Exodus has continued to enhance its innovation since its initial release in 2016. This desktop wallet, though not open source, shows just how simple and sleek a wallet user interface can be. Compared to Electrum, Exodus is easier for newer users to learn how to use.
Another cool thing about Exodus is its accessibility. Unlike some wallets, it doesn’t require any advanced registration process or KYC (know your customer) check to get started using it.
Another potential reason to use Exodus over Electrum is crypto availability. While Electrum only supports BTC, Exodus supports BTC as well as ETH, LTC, DASH, and other cryptos.
Exodus is free to download and charges a per-transaction fee. According to the project website, Exodus “tracks changes in the Bitcoin network and adjusts the fees accordingly using the dynamic pricing model from https://bitcoinfees.earn.com.” Exodus prioritizes faster transaction completion speeds over lower fees.
Best feature: Use with family and friends; multi-signature technology for added security.
Copay, an HD multi-signature wallet for desktop, provides another innovative choice. This wallet is developed and maintained by BitPay. Because it relies upon multi-signature technologies, many people consider it to be more secure than other wallets.
For example, you can manage shared funds with friends, family, and/or coworkers. To be able to send money, enough people in a group must confirm/approve of each transaction.
One cool feature that Copay includes is the ability to send crypto via testnet. For developers, this is a good way to easily test applications without having to send real funds. Copay is open source with dozens of bitcoin developers having already contributed to the project. One potential downside is that it does utilize central verification. It supports both BTC and BCH. Copay also offers mobile wallet versions.
Best Mobile Wallets
Best feature: Easy access to your crypto, integrated support with Trezor and Ledger hardware wallets.
Mycelium is widely recognized as a top BTC mobile wallet app. According to the wallet website, Mycelium users can expect a massive upgrade coming soon. Some future features will include fiat accounts (fully-fledged, blockchain based), convenient handling of bills and invoices, escrow-protected business transactions and bets, and much more.
From a security standpoint, Mycelium utilizes an “old school” type of account that allows you to delete the private key from your device and import it back when needed.
Most importantly, Mycelium has already established some significant integrations, including support for Trezor and Ledger hardware wallets (mentioned above). Currently, Mycelium only supports BTC. The app is free to download and available on Android and iOS. Mycelium does have miner fees for transactions. Fees range from 0.08 mBTC/kb* for lower priority transactions to 1 mBTC/kb* for ones that need to be processed quicker.
Best feature: “Watch only” mode means you don’t have to go online and risk security to check your balance.
GreenAddress shows just how versatile a mobile wallet can be. If you decide to go with this choice, you’ll have full control over your public/private keys. With GreenAddress, you can expect instant confirmations, improved privacy, and improved security.
Using watch-only mode, you can quickly check your balance or receive funds without needing to have full access to your wallet. This means that accessing the app is secure, even when using public Wi-Fi networks. Each user also has the option to enable two-factor authentication for transactions. Additionally, GreenAddress provides a desktop client to go along with its mobile wallet.
Best Online Wallets
9. Blockchain Wallet
Best feature: Intuitive and easy to use, long-term reputation.
Blockchain Wallet claims to be the #1 Bitcoin wallet. Its user adoption is impressive with 30 million wallets and $200 billion in transactions. In terms of security, you have full custody over your own funds. You can also enable two-factor authentication via SMS code, Yubikey, or Google Authenticator to further protect your wallet from unauthorized access. For mining fees, the wallet recommends an amount based on the current network conditions and the size of your transaction.
As of November 2018, Blockchain Wallet supports 22 currencies (including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and ethereum). It also supports 25 different languages, making it easy for people around the globe to use. It even has an exchange feature where users can trade crypto-to-crypto in 36 countries. In addition to the online wallet, the company also offers apps for iOS and Android and has just launched a hardware option in conjunction with Ledger.
Best feature: 99% of crypto is stored in offline storage.
SpectroCoin offers both a bitcoin exchange and crypto debit card as well as its blockchain wallet. One cool fact about the blockchain wallet is that 99% of digital currency is stored in protected SpectroCoin offline storage (deep cold wallets). This makes it much more secure than hot wallets, which store funds online.
With SpectroCoin wallet, you can store cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, NEM, and dash. For developers, the SpectroCoin Wallet API can help to integrate with various applications. Some uses include the ability to make mass payments, exchange cryptocurrencies, check balances, and more. Similar to Blockchain Wallet, SpectroCoin has both an online wallet and mobile applications.
Best Paper Wallets
Best feature: includes tamper-proof holographic stickers and serial numbers.
Bitcoinpaperwallet.com gives you all the information and supplies needed to make a paper wallet. While you could certainly make a paper wallet without supplies, it can be difficult to make a high-quality one just by writing info on a piece of paper.
This site offers tamper-evident holographic stickers with serial numbers, zip-sealing bags made specifically for this folding wallet design, and more.
Prices vary depending on the number of items you want to buy. Supplies are typically mailed within four days within the US, and 10 days to Europe and Australia. Other locations could take longer.
With this site’s paper wallets, you can even send BTC via mail to someone who isn’t tech-savvy. For shipments, a sealed-shut folded design helps to ensure that private keys remain secure.
Best feature: Easy-to-print PDF with everything you need.
WalletGenerator.net gives you the resources to make your own paper wallet for free. WalletGenerator.net does accept donations to pay its hosting service provider and the owners also plan to use funds to upgrade the site. As the name suggests, this site automatically generates a wallet address.
It also puts on the information you need on a PDF file for you to print out. By following the steps on this site, you can ensure that your paper wallet design is something you can be proud of and isn’t just a crumpled piece of paper.
After reading this article, we hope that you have a better understanding of the differences between various types of Bitcoin (BTC) wallets and can determine for yourself which wallet type is best for you.
These are just a few of the many options currently available on the market in 2018. If you’re interested in a particular wallet for storing Bitcoin, make sure to do your research on fees, customer reviews, accessibility, and other factors that are important to you.
Further reading: 8 Cryptocurrency Best Practices: (Keep Your Crypto Safe)
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