The Best Bitcoin Wallet is one that would keep your Bitcoins secure, recoverable, great user interface, and easy to transport. At the time of this writing in September 2017, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum are still in the early stages of adoption. First time users of Bitcoin with nobody to show them the ropes can be a difficult task. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are still new, and difficult to comprehend. Just as the advent of the internet brought many skeptics who could not see past its basic functionality to communicate information, the same is true for cryptocurrency.
Blockchain Sensei highly recommends hardware wallets for storing cryptocurrency for the following reasons:
Most new Bitcoin hardware wallets come with a built-in screen, allowing you to generate your seed offline, or should I say, view it directly from the device itself. Using a software wallet is great, unless your computer has been infected by malware that is recording your keystrokes or has visual access to your computer screen. Viewing your recovery phrase or private key directly on your computer screen permits prying eyes to take a snapshot of your private key, and later use that key to empty your wallet.
Ledger Nano S
You will feel right at home using the Ledger Nano S to store your Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Ledger Nano S is the best bang for the buck cryptocurrency hardware wallet on the market today. It is less expensive than the TREZOR Wallet, and has a wide range of altcoin support, with more coins being added such as Monero and NEM. SegWit enabled wallets are now compatible with the Ledger Nano S, allowing for much lower transaction fees for Bitcoin transactions.
The Ledger Nano S is small and durable. The metal cover swings open to reveal the screen and protects it when it is closed. There is a video of a HODLer running over his Nano S and then plugging it in afterwards to check if it still worked… and it did! Durability is an important when it comes to hardware wallets. You should not worry that an accidental drop could put your entire net worth at risk.
The TREZOR Wallet is the original Bitcoin hardware wallet, also known as The Bitcoin Safe in their advertising campaigns. It is a direct competitor to the Ledger Nano S with an added password manager feature. While we have not fully tested the Password Manager feature, we do see this as playing a larger roll down the line for the average consumer. We are only a few more hacks away from everyone starting to change their passwords to something more complicated.
The TREZOR Wallet user interface is extremely easy to use. Simply visit TREZOR.io, plug in your device, enter the PIN, and off you go. The Web interface makes switching between cryptocurrency wallets just a click away. A dropdown allows you to easily move from your Litecoin wallet to a Dash wallet, and back to a Bitcoin wallet. Ethereum is managed by
The Ledger Blue is the latest hardware wallet from the Nano S maker. It is the first of its kind, app store-like feel, touch screen device. You will be able to install multiple wallet apps on the device via the quick-launch dashboard, just like you would on your iPhone or Android device. The Ledger Blue sports a 3.5 inch LED-backlit display in full color, 320x480 pixels, plenty for a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.
“Ledger Blue is the most advanced hardware security gear on the market. It boasts multi application execution, and packs enterprise-level crypto-capabilities into a lightweight handheld device designed and crafted in France. It is architected around a Secure Element, featuring a touchscreen and USB & Bluetooth* connectivity”
The Ledger Blue is the most expensive of the group, by a wide margin. Including shipping costs, it could run you over $250. Pre-order batch two is currently up and running, with an estimated shipping date of November 30th. High demand for the Nano S and Blue have caused massive shipping delays. It reminds me of trying to pre-order an iPhone 4s and watching the shipping date get pushed back week after week. Funny, that is currently happening with the new iPhone X.
If you hold a vast portfolio of altcoins that you wish to get off of the exchange, the Ledger Blue might be the best pick for you. I emailed Ledger support to ask why I could not install more than 4 different cryptocurrency apps onto my Nano S and they responded by saying 4 to 5 is the max. The Ledger Blue will allow you to store between 8 and 10. I personally like having one wallet, and will experiment to see how many coins I can manage to squeeze on the device!
KeepKey is a clean and simple Bitcoin hardware wallet that works with a Chrome extension to manage the device. The KeepKey manages private key generation, private key storage, and transaction signing. It supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Dash and Namecoin at the moment. You can now also exchange between cryptocurrencies directly on your KeepKey through ShapeShift. Erik Vorhees’s ShapeShift recently acquired the hardware wallet maker in the summer of 2017. A strategic acquisition, indeed.
While the KeepKey is significantly larger than a Ledger Nano S, it is still a smaller footprint than the Ledger Blue. The size and readability of the screen is the easiest to read of the bunch (excluding the Ledger Blue), making it a good choice for beginners. Each transaction must be manually approved on the device as an added security benefit. Recovery is also very simple with the KeepKey. Simply take out your 12 word recovery seed that you jotted down during the initiation phase to recover your cryptocurrency on a lost or stolen device.
Coinbase is a company headquartered in San Francisco, California which operates as an exchange to buy and sell digital assets. Coinbase currently allows the purchase of Bitcoin (BitcoinSign.svg), Ethereum (Ξ), and Litecoin (Ł) with fiat currencies of over 30 countries. In addition to purchasing Bitcoin (or Ethereum/Litecoin), you can also store your digital assets on the Coinbase wallet.
Although leaving your digital currency on an online exchange is not recommended, Coinbase has proved to be a reliable and legitimate company. You can deposit and withdraw your coins from the Coinbase wallet. Having some assets stored i your Coinbase wallet can make it easy to sell for USD if needed.
Hot Wallets and Software Wallets
You also have the option to keep your Bitcoin on a Hot Wallet or Software wallet. This is the fastest and cheapest way to store your Bitcoin, but it is not the safest. These wallets do one thing that Hardware Wallets do not, and that is online seed generation. These wallets require a computer, tablet, or a phone in order to complete the process. The reason for this is that you need a way to capture your private key or seed. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is to generate the private key online, visible on a computer screen or cell phone that is connected to the internet.
Cyber security expert John McAfee is an extremely paranoid man, and he believes that many of our phones, computer, and tablets are infected with malware. This malware is recording our keystrokes or even the images on our screens. McAfee so plainly stated that if you have ever visited any popular porn sites, chances are your device has been infected. He also believes that there will be a BIG HACK in the future, where all of our wallets and bank accounts will be hacked and emptied, all in one fell swoop.
“If you do not have a hardware wallet, do not keep much money on your wallet. Because if you keep your wallet on a smartphone, on your computer, I promise you it will be hacked.” – John McAfee
When I generated my very first Paper Wallet from MyEtherWallet.com, it was a very eye-opening experience. For something that was supposed to make transacting with others much easier, it seemed exceedingly convoluted. I was faced with new terms that I was unfamiliar with, Private Key, Public Key, Keystore File, QR Codes, etc.
Now that I know what I am doing, it all seems very simple, and I promise that if this is your first encounter with Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, or the blockchain, it gets easier.
Paper Wallets fall victim to the same issue of generating your private key or recovery seed directly on screen. If your computer is compromised, consider your private key compromised as well. To be completely transparent, I moved all of my Ethereum off of my paper wallet and put it directly onto my hardware wallet.
Best Bitcoin Wallet – Which one is best for you?
Choosing the Best Bitcoin Wallet for you can only be done after understanding exactly what you goals and aspirations are Cryptocurrency HODLing and investing. While we always recommend using a Hardware Wallet to store your Crypto, we realize that isn’t the perfect answer for everyone.
To some, spending an extra $100 on a Bitcoin Hardware Wallet might not be possible. In these cases, we recommend utilizing a software wallet such as the Coinbase Vault service or Exodus Wallet. If this means limiting yourself to only investing in tokens that have a dependable wallet, then so be it. Always keep your cryptocurrency off of the exchange.
Please keep in mind that Cryptocurrency stored on Software Wallets or exchanges such as these have a much higher probability to get hacked than a physical device, period. Blockchain Sensei does not take responsibility for any funds that may stolen in the event of the hack of a wallet or exchange, BOTH OF WHICH HAVE HAPPENED (Read Mt Gox. Hack).
Best Bitcoin Wallet – Entry level
The Ledger Nano S takes our top spot for the best entry level Bitcoin Wallet. It checks all of the boxes in terms of safety and security and is extremely easy to setup and secure your Bitcoin and altcoins. You can store between 4 and 5 different cryptocurrencies which is plenty for the average user. Ledger also provides some of the most extensive altcoin support relative to the other Hardware Wallets (mostly the TREZOR Wallet) which is important due to the recent explosion in the number of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) during 2017.
Ledger products are also compatible with Ripple’s native token, XRP. Ripple has gained popularity throughout 2017 and has made inroads into the global banking system. It is expected for Ripple to announce new banks that are jumping onboard to their global settlement platform, and potentially become a tradable cryptocurrency on Coinbase.
Best Bitcoin Wallet - Password Manager and Web Wallet
The TREZOR Wallet is our top choice for those looking to utilize the added benefits of the Password Manager feature. While this is not the most useable feature at the moment, the recent Equifax Hack and impending hacks of other large firms or financial institutions will drive adoption for Password Manager functionality.
It is important to not use the same password for all of your separate accounts, ranging anywhere from Facebook to online banking. If a hacker obtains your most commonly used password in a hack, all of your accounts are now compromised. I would be most concerned with using your favorite password on your exchange of choice, as the hacker can now login to your account and send your funds to their own wallet, with no recourse.
The TREZOR Wallet has one of the best user experiences. Accessing funds can be done right from the TREZOR.io website, no Chrome extension or anything else needed to send, receive, or manage your Bitcoin holdings.
Best Bitcoin Wallet – Simple display and ShapeShift Integration
ShapeShift users may find themselves gravitating towards the KeepKey Hardware Wallet. If you are unfamiliar with ShapeShift, it is a service that allows you to convert a cryptocurrency into a different cryptocurrency without using an exchange. This service can also be used without signing up or registering for the site. ShapeShift is not the cheapest way to convert cryptocurrency (using an exchange like Bittrex is still cheaper), but it is one of the easiest ways to purchase altcoins at the moment.
This also might be your Bitcoin wallet of choice if you are looking for a clean and easy to read device. The large screen makes validating transactions extremely simple, especially when double checking destination addresses. If I were purchasing a Hardware Wallet for a Baby Boomer or someone who is technically challenged, the KeepKey would be at the top of that list.
Best Bitcoin Wallet – Touchscreen and Bluetooth
If you are the kind of person who wants the most high-tech and advanced Bitcoin Wallet available, we would recommend splurging for the Ledger Blue. The touch screen enabled Ledger Blue will feel much more like interacting with a smartphone than a cryptographically secure Bitcoin Hardware Wallet. You might not even feel like you are interacting with the blockchain at all!
The Ledger blue is also the Hardware Wallet of choice if you have a diversified portfolio of cryptocurrencies that you wish to store on a single device. I reached out to Ledger support after realizing I could only store between 4 and 5 different cryptocurrencies on the Nano S. They confirmed that the Ledger Blue had the capacity to store between 8 and 10 different cryptocurrency wallets, perfect for altcoin investors. Now I can keep my entire crypto portfolio on one device, safe from hackers and off of the exchange.
Best Bitcoin Wallet – Conclusion
Most people can get by with either the Ledger Nano S or the TREZOR Wallet. They are both secure, easy to use, and recoverable if needed. The average person who has heard of Bitcoin will most likely only have Ethereum and Bitcoin in their portfolio, thus fitting the bill of either the Nano S or TREZOR Wallet. More advanced users may like the added ShapeShift functionality of the KeepKey, or require a larger display to easily read the device. Early adopters or altcoin investors might want to go for the Ledger Blue as the best all-in-one hardware wallet solution. Only you can decide what type of cryptocurrency investor you are!