The Best Hardware Wallets for 2021
As cryptocurrencies become more and more of a household name and conversation opener at dinner parties, we’d like to provide an overview of crypto wallets and help you understand if hardware wallets are what you need for your crypto investments.
Below, we'll provide some of the best hardware wallets currently available. With so many options out there, we hope you find the best crypto hardware wallet!
Table of Contents
The Best Crypto Hardware Wallets 2021
We’ve evaluated several wallets based on a few criteria: cost, size, security, number of coins supported, and the material of the device.
Below, you’ll see five of the best crypto hardware wallets this year and why they’re worthy of all of the attention that they're getting on this list.
1. Ledger Nano S
As one of the most sophisticated hardware wallet brands, Ledger is going to show up in your search one way or another.
In particular, its Nano S model is a widely used, compact USB device that supports 1,100+ coins and tokens, and is often said to be one of the best Bitcoin hardware wallets.
Ledger Nano S locks your funds by using an 8-digit PIN code. To make it even safer, your private keys stay on the secure chip and never leave the device.
Additionally, you have to push both buttons on the device at the same time when purchasing altcoins, so there’s no chance for cyber-criminals to chime in here.
You can run Nano S on Android smartphones. To make it an even better deal, this convenient gadget comes in a few different colors and costs around USD $59.
2. Trezor One
Trezor One is a clever and popular wallet that supports 1,064 coins and requests randomly generated PINs every time you use it. It weighs less than half an ounce and has a bright OLED screen that can fit up to 6 lines of text. Also, there are only two buttons you need to worry about. It’s a beginner-friendly brand with a gentle learning curve.
When you want to move your crypto funds with Trezor One, you have to manually verify and confirm all actions on the device’s screen. This is how the device makes sure your transactions are kept secure.
Trezor One is universally compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux and costs only USD $59!
KeepKey is a hardware wallet that looks like a hard drive and has a large LCD screen for easy user interaction.
KeepKey requires manually approving each transaction by using the confirmation button, which gives the user control and visibility over their transactions.
When you first start using KeepKey, you’ll have to create a 12-word recovery sentence. It’s there to help you retrieve your private keys when you lose or break your wallet.
You can also customize your transaction speeds and add as many wallet addresses on one device as you like. The best part? A KeepKey wallet only costs USD $49.
4. Prokey Optimum
Prokey Optimum is a mini Game Boy-looking wallet that supports 1,500+ coins. It’s made from ABS plastic and doesn’t use any batteries. You can carry out crypto transactions on a web browser, so no need to download any software on your computer.
The user interface is also quite simple so beginners can start trading right away.
Prokey Optimum comes in black and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, and costs around USD $59.
5. Billfodl Steel Bitcoin Wallet
Billfodl advertises itself as a powerful “fireproof, waterproof, shockproof, and hacker-proof” wallet. It’s made from indestructible 316-marine grade stainless steel and is a perfect backup for other cryptocurrency hardware wallets. This wallet can withstand a melting point of over 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and any electrical hazard.
You can get it as part of a bundle for USD $99. With the bundle, you also get a set of 10 tamper-proof stickers that let you know when someone has taken a look at your seed, and a wall-mount sleeve that can hide the wallet itself so you can keep the device out of sight.
What is a Hardware Wallet?
A hardware wallet works similarly to an everyday wallet that stores your bills and coins. It’s a type of cryptocurrency wallet and a physical device that can securely store your cryptocurrencies and private keys offline.
Private keys are what you use to access your funds and they’re made with sophisticated cryptography to protect you from theft and ban unauthorized access. By using hardware wallets, your funds won’t be lingering around on the Internet, which means the chance they’ll be hacked is significantly lower.
Hardware wallets usually look like a mini PIN pad or a USB, something small and convenient for you to carry around in your bags. To send funds, you simply need to connect the hardware to a computer, enter your PIN and send the funds!
When you’re done, disconnect the hardware and your funds will be back offline.
With a hardware wallet, you have complete control over your funds and private keys.
How Does a Hardware Wallet Work?
When you want to carry out a crypto transaction, you plug the hardware wallet into a computer, and the wallet will ask the software running on your computer to provide payment details like the transaction amount and target crypto wallet address.
When the hardware wallet receives those details, it will ask you for confirmation, sign the transaction, then send a digital signature back to the software.
It’s important to understand that it’s your hardware wallet that carries out the entire transaction validation process, not the computer.
With a hardware wallet, your private keys also won’t be revealed to anyone.
How to Choose a Hardware Wallet
There is a wide variety of hardware wallets out there so it’s important to choose one that suits your needs.
Since this device may hold a large amount of your funds, you should look specifically for products manufactured by reputable and trustworthy companies.
Another important factor to consider is security. Generally speaking, hardware wallets are pretty safe as they all give an air gap of a separate wallet. Though, some wallets may employ more security measures.
Of course, advancement comes at a price. You could purchase pretty trustworthy hardware wallets for less than USD $100, but if you’re planning to hold large crypto investments, then you might want to spend a bit more for enhanced security features.
The best crypto hardware wallets out there can cost up to USD $2,000!
Our Final Thoughts
Hardware wallets are great for those who prioritize security and want to have complete control over their private keys, instead of letting third-party apps and web services take a hold of them.Since your funds are separated by an air gap, they’re in a safe place and unlikely to be exposed to online hacks. Additionally, since these wallets are small, you can easily carry them to places or store them securely in a safe. That said, hardware wallets don’t come for free as software wallets do. They mostly cost around USD $100, so it’s a bit of an investment.
Same as any everyday wallet, hardware wallets can be lost, stolen, or damaged. Needless to say, when you want to make a crypto transaction, you’ll need your wallet, so you’ve got to be prepared at all times.
Lastly, there may be a learning curve with some advanced hardware wallets so expect to spend some time getting used to everything in the beginning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hardware and software crypto wallets both act as secure storage for your cryptocurrencies. While a software wallet is an app that lives on a website, your computer, or smartphone, a hardware wallet is a physical device that you need to connect to a computer to carry out transactions. Typically, it looks like a USB flash drive.
With software wallets, your funds are stored online in a third-party service; with hardware wallets, your funds are stored offline in a physical device that you can keep in your bag.
Lastly, software wallets are mostly free, whereas hardware wallets cost money, with the more reputable ones going upwards of USD $100.
Although you can’t “touch” your money like you can with traditional bills and coins, crypto wallets are actually pretty safe and secure.
Between hardware and software wallets, hardware ones are generally considered to be safer as there’s an air gap between your funds and the net.
Though, you have to do your part by using a trusted hardware provider and making sure you store your wallet in a safe place. When it comes to software wallets, a lot of safety measures are in place.
For example, many crypto exchanges employ two-factor authentication to make sure only you have access to your funds.
Typically, your wallet is also covered up to USD $250,000 by FDIC insurance in case your platform got hacked and you lost your funds. To reduce risks even further, many exchange platforms only hold a tiny percentage (less than 5%) of their customers’ funds online.
All in all, crypto wallets are very safe. Still, always do your research and pick a wallet that you trust.
While you don’t necessarily need a crypto wallet, it’d be much safer if you do. Many beginners simply buy and sell crypto on an exchange or brokerage website and keep their funds there. Many of these websites offer free crypto wallets and they’re very secure software wallets.
However, if you’d like to level up and make larger crypto investments, then purchasing an external wallet to store your funds is a good idea. As always, think about how much you’d like to invest and how safe you want your funds to be.
Remember, you can always get your feet wet by trying out small amounts first. See how you like software wallets, and when the right time comes, go for a hardware wallet. Good luck!