The Best Hardware Bitcoin Wallets 2018
Bitcoins can be stolen just like the money in your back pocket. And the sad truth is that any time your money is connected to the internet, there is at least some risk of a hack. Plenty of Bitcoin investors have lost fortunes due to hacked exchanges, crypto scams, and tragic mistakes that have seen tens of thousands of dollars lost in a split second.
The only way to ensure your money 100% safe is locking it away in a safe where you and only you have the key. You must totally disconnect it from the outside world.
Behold, a Bitcoin hardware wallet.
Personally, I have seen too many fellow Bitcoiners GO BROKE because they left their money on exchanges that were hacked or exposed their BTC to someone they shouldn’t have. If you are serious about Bitcoin long-term you must invest in a Bitcoin hardware wallet.
If you’re new to crypto, all of the lingo can be a bit intimidating (if the idea of a Bitcoin wallet is foreign to you, read about what a Bitcoin wallet is here). If you are going to trust your future fortune to a device, you need to be 100% sure you get the best one.
I’ve reviewed the absolute best hardware Bitcoin wallets for 2018. They are all great products and the differences between them are relatively minimal. However, they could make a big difference to you depending on what you’re after.
3 Best Hardware Wallets We Recommend
Quick: What is a Hardware Wallet?
In case you’re absolutely new to this whole wallet thing, I’ll cover this quickly.
A hardware wallet is a piece of hardware (it looks like a USB usually) that stores your cryptocurrency. It is not connected to the internet so it is not susceptible to security breaches or theft. That means no employees of a hot wallet can compromise your BTC; no Russian spies can get into your stash; no nothing like that. They offer major advantages, such as:
Why You Absolutely Have to Have a Hardware Wallet
Over 13,000 victims of fraud have been scammed out of millions of dollars in Bitcoin in recent years, according to a university study. Any time your Bitcoins are connected to the internet, you are at risk.
Also, with an online or “hot wallet” you are never in full control of your coins. You always need to put some trust in the company. I don’t know about you but that really puts me off. That’s why I personally NEVER KEEP MORE MONEY IN A WALLET THAN IS NECESSARY. That means just for trading or daily expenditures (hot wallets are still necessary in my opinion. So choose one of the best online Bitcoin hot wallets to pair with your hardware wallet). And, if you store your coins on a desktop wallet, what happens if your computer gets hacked?
A hardware wallet is a type of “cold storage” where you and only you are in control of your coins. They are equipped with multiple lines of defense:
EVEN IF SOMEONE STEALS YOUR HARDWARE WALLET, THEY CAN’T STEAL YOUR BTC. Imagine if your wallet had a secret code that only you knew and more lines of defense behind that. If a pickpocket ever stole your wallet, they’d never be able to open it. Same thing for a hardware wallet.
OK, now that you know you’ve got to have a hardware wallet, let’s cover which ones I think are the best.
The Best Hardware Wallets for 2018
The biggest name on the market and the one I personally tried first is the Ledger Nano S.
As soon as you take it out of the box, it screams class and sophistication. The smooth design has a European touch (it’s based out of France) and it is extremely straightforward to navigate. For only €79, it gives you a great mix of high-level security and currency flexibility. It also comes with a range of lightweight and easy-to-use apps that increase the functionality and user experience.
What I really like is that there’s no battery. You just connect it to a PC or mobile device using a USB.
The compatibility is limitless. It works on ANY COMPUTER. Mac, Linux, Chrome, etc. The design of the software ensures that all Bitcoin processes are done inside the heavily protected microchip, so your private keys are never held by Ledger or any other 3rd-party as long as you seal them inside.
The best feature is probably the range of currencies it supports. Most hardware wallets just support the major players: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin. The Ledger Nano S is great for serious investors and traders because of its support of altcoins. Here are few it supports:
Overall, the sleek design and range of altcoins is what pushed the Nano S over its rivals. It’s definitely the best name out there in the hardware wallet market right now. And at its current price tag, the functionality can’t be beat. Get it before they realize it’s worth double the price!
How to Add Bitcoin to Your Ledger Nano S
When setting up your Ledger Nano S, you’ll be prompted to set up a 4 digit pin code and to write down your RECOVERY PHRASE. ALWAYS WRITE THE PHRASE ON A PIECE OF PAPER. In the event your Ledger Nano S is lost or stolen, you can recover your BTC with this phrase. Do not write it on a computer, because this is basically like storing your BTC in a hot wallet (your password could be compromised).
Once you’re ready to go, adding money is simple.
1) Go to the Apps Tab
2) Choose the Bitcoin Ledger Wallet
3) Connect Your Wallet
Once you have the app, you just connect your BTC wallet to the application.
4) Click the Send Tab
Inside the wallet, click send and it’s easy from here. Enter the amount, address, and click send. Now the money is there!
The original hardware wallet, the Trezor Bitcoin hardware wallet is the oldest and most reputable name in the business. They pioneered hardware wallets and continue to be on the leading edge of the market.
Trezor functions similarly to the Ledger Nano S, so I won’t go into too much detail. It looks like a tiny pocket calculator and comes with a very easy to grasp interface. Operation is simple and setup takes no time at all. You can be ready to go in minutes by following simple prompts on your computer.
The advanced cryptography and durable hardware push it close to the top spot. The minimalistic design means it fits right in the palm of your hand, and anything important will require your direct physical approval.
The only reason I didn’t put it in the top spot is it doesn’t support as many currencies as the Ledger Nano S. At this point, it supports 14. However, some of them are extremely rare. The ones you need to know are:
At €89, it is slightly more than Ledger. You pay for the name, but it’s worth every penny.
KeepKey is a relatively new name on the market (founded in 2015). I decided to review it because I heard of its great security features.
What first struck me about KeepKey was the grandiose design. Unboxing it was AWESOME! It came in a giant box with the seal on the front showing that nobody had opened it but me. It weighs in at nearly double the size of the Ledger or Trezor models. It feels like a heavy power bank in your hand.
The extra size gives it a big screen that makes it easier to navigate and digest information. However, the downside is it isn’t nearly as convenient as the Trezor. You can walk around all day with a Trezor in your pocket and never even notice. With KeepKey, it will weigh you down if you keep it on you.
What sets it apart is its security. It is a hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallet, so think of it as a mini computer. It integrates with the wallet software on your computer to generate private keys, store the keys, and sign transactions. The price tag has recently dropped dramatically, too. It’s now $99 instead of over $200!
It works a lot like the other models with a PIN code, recovery sentence, and direct private key storage. You also have the option of adding a passphrase for it yourself. One of the downsides that made me put it in 3rd place is its lack of coins. Currently, it only supports BTC, ETH, BCH, DASH, DOGE, LTC, and NMC.
How to add money to your KeepKey: Putting money into your hardware wallet is a bit different than the other models. You have to download 2 chrome applications. One generates the wallet and the other connects to KeepKey through Chrome. From there, add your account and select the currency you want to add. Now you can deposit and even exchange on your KeepKey.
You can get KeepKey directly through the company’s website or on Amazon. Only buy from trusted sources ALWAYS.
4) OpenDime - the Bitcoin Credit Stick
The “Bitcoin stick”, OpenDime is a tiny USB device that allows you to spend Bitcoin like a dollar bill. It might come in a tiny package, but it is PACKED with features. I loved the convenience and functionality of it. It’s basically like a piggy bank that always displays the current balance!
All you need to know about OpenDime is that it’s a disposable hardware wallet. It makes it easy to store BTC and hand it over to someone else for payment. There is only one private key and it is never revealed until “unsealed”.
As your Bitcoin piggy bank, you can’t spend it until you break it. It’s physical Bitcoin just like Bitcoin was meant to be.
It is extremely affordable at only $37.50 for a 3-pack. OpenDime doubles over as a both a method of payment AND as cold storage. Just leave it there safely in the stick or pass it along to someone else.
For anyone into Cypherpunk, this is for you. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a revolution in the way our economies work in the coming years. Payment methods like OpenDime will be a pivotal part of the next-gen of payment processors.
Of course, since it is just a USB stick, the functionality isn’t quite on par with some of its rivals. But this type of hardware wallet serves a different purpose. It is meant to be more of a direct and secure payment method. However, the security is top notch since nobody knows the private key...not even you.
WARNING: Hardware Wallets Are Not Bulletproof
Yes, a hardware wallet is the safest way to store your Bitcoins. They aren’t 100% secure though. To date, there have been no incidents, but at least in theory there are ways your crypto can be compromised on any cold storage device. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Hardware Wallets vs. Paper Wallets: Which is better?
I’d like to add that hardware wallets are not the only means of cold storage. A paper wallet is a printed piece of paper with with the address and private key of your BTC. They are accessible via a QR code. Once you’ve got the piece of paper, store it in a safe place where nobody can get it.
There are a few issues with this, though. First, if you ever lose the paper and don’t have a backup, you’ve lost your currency forever. Second, if anyone gets their hands on it, it’s theirs.
In my opinion, though, the biggest issue is the lack of convenience. If you spend or trade your coins regularly, paper wallets are a hassle. A hardware wallet is just as secure and way more convenient since it can be connected directly to your computer. And, if you need to use your computer to set up the paper wallet in the first place, there is still some risk involved. You might as well go with the more convenient and secure (but more expensive) option of a hardware wallet.
This article is a great tutorial on how to set up your first paper wallet!
Conclusion: You NEED a hardware wallet. So choose wisely.
In conclusion, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Personally, I like the Ledger Nano S, but it’s up to you. The security, convenience, and flexibility are hard to beat.