Blockchain hardware wallets are the most secure way to store your Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. A hardware wallet is a small physical device that safely stores your private keys in an offline location. If you are serious about trading crypto and the security of your digital assets, it is essential to invest in hardware wallets. Some seasoned traders even have multiple hardware wallets. There are a lot on the market so we will run through the best hardware wallets to help you make an informed decision.
Hardware wallets can help crypto traders feel more connected to their funds and provide peace of mind that those assets are secure 24/7. Many traders may argue that most exchanges have reasonable security measures in place, but they are by no means bullet-proof. There have been a number of breaches over the years with some investors losing millions of dollars worth of crypto. Not worth the risk, right? A crypto wallet that offers cold storage mitigates this risk.
You’ll find some exchanges that are a little shady or don’t invest enough in their security, unbeknown to their clients. Even if you are storing your crypto on the most well-regarded exchange, the bottom line is you are not in control of your assets. Your private keys are held by the exchange so if something goes awry, there is nothing you can do about it.
The top crypto exchanges make security a top priority, often storing funds in cold storage - an offline mode that adds a layer of protection against hackers. Most will also require a Know Your Customer (KYC) process on sign up and have two-factor authentication in place. The drives that hold users private keys are sometimes even stored in highly secured vaults, lauded over by armed guards. Does this deter hackers? Definitely not…there is too much money at stake for them to steal. With new technological advances everyday, hackers can eventually find loopholes and ways around the most fortified security systems.
In addition to this, is the question of ownership. You have invested in the crypto so should have full control over what is done with that investment, including having the keys to it in your possession.
So what happens now if you decide you no longer want to store your crypto on an exchange. There are three options available to you. The first option is storing your crypto on a mobile wallet via a mobile app. Mobile wallets do provide you with greater control over your digital assets and give you more freedom to use the funds to pay for goods and services. Their downside? These crypto wallets are connected to the internet so remain vulnerable to attacks.
Your next option is a paper wallet. With this route, you will print out your private keys, usually in the form of a QR code and store them somewhere secure. This does have its benefits, particularly if you plan on storing your crypto coins for years without selling or trading.
The third option is a hardware wallet, the best crypto wallet for serious traders who hold large amounts of crypto. Read on for an explanation of what a blockchain hardware wallet is and for a list of the best hardware wallets. Each hardware wallet we cover below includes a very important security feature which is enabling backups of your private keys. This way if you ever lose your wallet you have the ability to restore your wallet and funds. It's vital to keep your security seed phrases somewhere safe to be sure you never lose access to your digital assets and lose money.
What is a blockchain hardware wallet?
As mentioned above, blockchain hardware wallets are physical devices that allow you to store private keys offline (cold storage), adding a layer of protection against hackers and scammers. When you create a cryptocurrency wallet, you receive a public key and private key. The public key is used to generate your public cryptocurrency address so you can buy and sell crypto. The private key is used to verify transactions and confirm ownership of the crypto and wallet on the blockchain, essentially acting as your digital signature.
If someone gets ahold of your private key, they have access to your funds. This is why it is vital that private keys are stored securely. When you create a hardware wallet, it will generate a mnemonic phrase - also called a seed phrase - which lets you recover your wallet if you lose it.
Hardware wallets use two-factor authentication (2FA) so when you need to access your crypto, you will need to provide proof of identity through the physical wallet and wallet PIN code.
Hardware wallets can be connected to your laptop, desktop or mobile device to safely manage and use your crypto. All transactions are facilitated on the device, preventing anyone other than you from accessing your private keys. There is a separate screen on the device where you can verify and approve transactions so that none of your private information is shared with devices connected to the internet.
When selecting a hardware wallet, there are some important factors to consider:
Security: obviously security is of the utmost importance, so be sure you are choosing the most secure hardware wallet.
Supported Coins: there’s no use selecting a hardware wallet that doesn’t support the cryptocurrency coins you hold. Most hardware wallets hold the major coins like BTC and ETH, but if you hold a number of altcoins, some blockchain hardware wallets might not be suitable for you.
Costs: if you hold a small crypto portfolio, then it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on a fancy hardware wallet. Prices for hardware wallets vary so select one that is in line with the value of your crypto.
Buy Direct: it is essential you only buy your hardware wallets directly from the makers. Some scammers may buy hardware wallets, extract the seed phrases and then resell them. When buyers load their crypto onto the device, the scammers then have access and can withdraw the funds. So never buy off eBay or any other marketplace other than directly off the suppliers website.
User-friendly: the hardware wallet should be easy to use and set up. If the set up is too complicated, you run the risk of losing all your funds if you make mistakes.
Compatibility: check whether the hardware wallet is compatible with the operating systems used by your devices.
Hardware wallets can do more than simply holding crypto, in fact there are many useful things you can do with a blockchain hardware wallet. Software, like Ledger Live, that connects to your hardware wallet allows you to buy, swap, lend and stake cryptocurrency securely. In addition to this, you can access DApps, DEXs, NFT marketplaces and connect with software wallets by providing the public key.
Some people confuse hardware wallets with Bitcoin wallets or other software wallets. A Bitcoin wallet doesn’t actually hold any Bitcoin. It is a piece of software that holds private keys. The keys give you access to your Bitcoins that you hold on the blockchain.
When you use a Bitcoin wallet, you will be given a Bitcoin address, also referred to as your public key. If someone wants to pay you in Bitcoin, you will send them your Bitcoin address. Think of it as your crypto email address!
The second key issued to you is a private key. The private key is what you use to access and control the Bitcoins you hold. You can think of your private key as the password to your email account.
Not only does the Bitcoin wallet hold your private key, it also signs transactions on your behalf using the private key and shares them with the Bitcoin network. So when you want to send someone Bitcoins, you need to prove ownership of the coins in order for the whole blockchain network to agree to the transaction. The Bitcoin wallet will sign the transaction on your behalf using your digital signature (private keys) and broadcasts this to the network. It is a similar process to signing a cheque to authorize the transfer of funds. Bitcoin wallets are only a part of the picture, there are many other software wallets that support blockchains like Ethereum, Solana and so forth.
A software wallet is vulnerable to attacks, especially if the device you are storing your software wallet on becomes infected with malware. This can expose your private keys to hackers. Malware allows hackers to take control of your device and see what is displayed on your screen. When your private keys have been exposed, you no longer have control over your crypto assets.
Benefits of cold wallets
Private keys are under your control
When you store your crypto on an exchange, the exchange controls and holds your private keys. Storing your private keys on a hardware wallet gives you full control over their security and access.
Enhanced security access
Hardware wallets provide offline storage - also called cold storage - of private keys which prevents any would-be hackers from getting hold of this sensitive information. All transactions are facilitated and approved on the device itself so even if the connected device is infected with malware or compromised, your private keys remain secure.
Compatibility with multiple blockchains
Most hardware wallets are compatible with multiple blockchains, especially common blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Many also support altcoins for traders who have diverse crypto portfolios.
Unaffected by exchange hacks
Even the most secure exchanges are susceptible to hacks. Hardware wallets mitigate the risk entirely by keeping your transactions offline. Your private keys remain secure and out of reach of hackers.
Top crypto hardware wallets
We have taken a number of important factors into consideration ranging from security features to design and features to compile our list of the 12 best crypto hardware wallets.
Ledger Nano S Plus
Ledger Nano S Plus is an upgrade to the original Ledger Nano S. It has a greater storage capacity than its predecessor along with a bigger display screen to facilitate easier transactions (no more squinting!).
It does not offer Bluetooth connections to your devices, so if this is an important requirement, the Ledger Nano X would be better suited to your needs. It has to be plugged into your device to connect.
The Ledger Nano S Plus does allow you to access all Ledger live features and integrate with software wallets on various blockchains.
Because it lacks some features experienced traders may need and is significantly cheaper than the Nano X and Trezor Model T, it is a good option for beginners or to use as a backup wallet.
Trezor Model One
The Trezor Model One is the original hardware wallet, first coming to the market back in 2011. It supports Mac, Android, Windows and Linux, but not iOS.
The Trezor One has a less user-friendly design with 2 buttons instead of a touch screen. It does however have a decent 128 x 64 pixel OLED screen. The Trezor Model T allows the recovery and backup process directly from the touchscreen, so it offers a higher level of security for seasoned traders.
Unlike Model T, Trezor One doesn’t support as many coins, have Shamir Backups or an SD card slot.
As the oldest hardware wallet on the market and the first of the Trezor wallets, the Trezor One is pretty cheap and a basic, entry-level solution best kept as a back-up crypto hardware wallet.
Ledger Nano X
Ledger Nano X is the second generation of Ledger hardware wallets with a storage capacity of up to 100 blockchains, a bigger screen and bluetooth connectivity for easy connection to mobile devices.
It supports the following operating systems: iOS, Mac, Android, Windows and Linux. It connects to desktops and laptops via a USB A cable and to mobile devices via bluetooth or USB C.
Ledger Nano X supports 5500 coins and tokens. With only two buttons, it is a very user-friendly hardware wallet. When confirming transactions or accessing the Nano X menu, simply press both buttons down at once.
Nano X offers top-notch security, with a custom designed BOLOS operating system and separate crypto wallets. You can use Ledger live to install blockchain wallets or to buy, sell, swap and lend crypto assets.
This feature-rich hardware wallet is surprisingly cheaper than many other hardware wallets on the market, making it a great option for both new and experienced traders.
Trezor Model T-Next Generation
Trezor Model T is the next generation following the success of the Trezor One hardware wallet. Trezor Model T is up to scratch with all the same impressive security features offered by Ledger Nano X.
It boasts an impressive color touchscreen with a legible display. It supports 1800 coins and tokens - less than Nano Ledger X but still compatible with the most popular currencies. If you choose to do so, you have the option to switch to a Bitcoin-only firmware to handle Bitcoin transactions exclusively, turning the Trezor wallet into a Bitcoin hardware wallet.
The Trezor Model T is open source so continually updated and improved by experienced programmers. The software used in the Trezor One has been entirely rewritten to enhance the wallet’s security.
The device supports Android, Mac, Linux and Windows but not iOS, making it unsuitable for iPhone users. Trezor Model T uses the Trezor Suite software to connect with your devices, with desktop or web versions.
Trezor Model T is highly regarded as one of the best hardware wallets to securely store and manage your crypto. It seamlessly and securely integrates with a number of software wallets, only providing them with the public key and addresses without ever sharing your private keys.
This blockchain hardware wallet is quite pricey, so is often favored by seasoned traders with a lot of money at stake.
Unlike the previous SecuX W10, the SecuX V20 is designed for both desktop and mobile users. It uses USB and bluetooth to connect to mobile devices, PCs and laptops. iOS, Mac, Android, Windows, Linux and Chromebook are all supported.
Data is secured by state-of-the-art AES-256 encryption and has EAL 5+ security certification. SecurX V20 supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, BNB, DigiByte, Dash, Doge and Stellar.
It is a well-designed hardware wallet, with a 2.8-inch full color touchscreen and attractive diamond-shaped metal frame and long-lasting 600mAh battery.
It is priced in the middle of the range compared to other hardware wallets.
The SecuX W20 is touted as a hardware wallet for urban nomads. With a large 2.8-inch color touchscreen for clear-view signing and sleek design, it is a hardware wallet favored by beginners, experienced traders and professionals.
It features a military-grade security chip and tamper-proof technology for a super secure device and zero transaction leakage. The SecuX W20 supports over 1000 coins and tokens.
You can use the secure SecuXess web-based app to manage your cryptos. Send and receive crypto anytime and anywhere with cross-platform support via bluetooth or USB. For added security, it has a dynamic keypad to circumvent finger tracing. The wallet will reset itself after 5 unsuccessful pin entry attempts.
Ngrave Zero is new to the scene and is making waves, being tipped as the coldest wallet on the market. The Ngrave Zero does not allow you to connect to the internet at all, not even via USB or bluetooth. Instead, it uses one-way QR code communication to share information between devices without ever connecting to the internet.
The Ngrave Zero has a nifty feature called “Everlasting Backup” which provides an eternal backup for your seed phrase. The stainless steel sheets are fire-resistant, waterproof and entirely recoverable, so storing your seed phrase has never been safer or simpler. The Ngrave hardware wallet has the highest security standard in the world - EAL 7 and is also ROHS and CE certified. Other standout features include biometric access, pin protection, a light sensor and anti-tampering measures.
Many seasoned traders report finding the Ngrave Zero more user-friendly than the Ledger or Trezor hardware wallets. It has been built using military-grade materials with a durable metal case, making it much hardier than its plastic counterparts.
Another remarkable feature is the “Perfect Key” technology which allows for seed phrase recovery without any third-party interference. There is zero risk of third-party recovery phrase intervention, making it the most secure wallet in the world.
The Ngrave Zero is perfect for those who want complete peace of mind over the security of their crypto assets and for frequent travelers. If you hold high value crypto, then despite its high price tag, this is a hardware wallet worth investing in to fortify your crypto like never before.
SecuX Nifty is the world's first hardware wallet designed exclusively for NFTs. You can view all your NFTs on your device without connecting to the internet.
It has an EAL 5+ certified chip, offering military-grade protection for your private key and crypto assets. Design-wise, it has a large 2.8-inch color touchscreen for clear-view signing of transactions.
For added security, the SecuX Nifty offers dynamic keypad protection by shuffling the position of numbers upon pin entry.
SecuX Nifty allows users to access NFT Marketplaces such as OpenSea and Etherscan with a function that allows you to check their rankings on rarity trackers. Builtin NFT marketplaces and DeFi apps make trading and buying NFTs safer and easier than ever.
The blockchain hardware wallet supports NFTs, coins and tokens on Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Polygon. This enables you to receive, send and buy crypto assets in one convenient place.
It is on the higher end price-wise but well worth the cost as an all-in-one crypto management and NFT hardware wallet.
The SafePal S1 is a hardware wallet backed by Binance Labs. It makes use of air-gapped connection and EAL 5+ security certification with a self-destruct function in the event of brute force attacks. Despite these impressive features it is the size of a credit card with a 1.3-inch screen and 400mAh battery.
SafePal S1 supports 20 blockchains and over 10000 tokens, so if you trade a lot of altcoins this is a great option for you. It integrates with the SafePal mobile app for Android and iOS devices.
If you’re into DApps, you can use the built-in DApps Explorer which has a user-friendly layout with apps sorted under network tabs.
You can use the Ellipal app’s integrated swap for coins and tokens, and the exchange - the Binance DEX Exchange - without ever having to leave the app. The SafePal S1 facilitates quick swaps of coins and tokens, access to buying tokens and to access DApps on a number of networks, including DEX and NFT marketplaces.
D’CENT Biometric Wallet
If you prefer to manage your crypto through your iOS or Android device, then the D’CENT hardware wallet is a great option for you as it has been designed to integrate seamlessly with mobile devices using an encrypted bluetooth connection.
The device makes use of a fingerprint scanner to unlock it, making this a biometric wallet. The biometric feature adds to the wallet’s security - in addition to its EAL 5+ security certification) and makes signing transactions faster.
Navigation is simple and user-friendly, with only 4 buttons surrounding the fingerprint scanner to select what you need. In addition to its sleek design, the D’CENT hardware wallet has a 128x128 pixel OLED screen, making it easy and clear to see what you’re doing, reducing the risk of mistakes.
The D’CENT biometric wallet supports over 25 blockchains and all Ethereum tokens with the option to add custom tokens that are stored on blockchains such as Binance Smart Chain and more.
If you’re an NFT collector, you can navigate to the collectibles tab for an overview of your NFTs. D’CENT supports Ethereum, Polycon, Klaytn, Luniverse and HECO NFTs. If you navigate to the discover tab, you can use the built-in DApps explorer.
The ShapeShift cryptocurrency trading platform created the KeepKey hardware wallet. Their mobile app has less than favorable reviews but they are making a move towards a decentralized exchange which will make for faster and easier exchanges without the cumbersome KYC process.
KeepKey is well-designed, with a large screen to easily set it up and navigate through the wallet. KeepKey integrates with a number of software wallets and DeFi platforms.
KeepKey connects to ShapeShift to make it easy to trade and exchange digital assets through ShapeShifts exchange platform. It supports over 40 cryptocurrencies.
KeepKey is on the cheaper end, so it is a great option for beginners or as a back up hardware wallet.
The Ellipal Titan hardware wallet uses air-gapped security measures. This means your Ellipal hardware wallet is physically, electronically and magnetically isolated from all other networks.
The majority of hardware wallets use bluetooth or USB to connect to other devices, whereas the Ellipal Titan only uses QR codes to sign transactions through the Ellipal app. The entire circuit board of the Ellipal Titan is not compatible with WiFi, bluetooth or cellular connections, automatically blocking any and all physical connections to networks. This protects your device against remote attacks
The Ellipal has an anti-tamper and self-destruct mechanism in the event of offline attacks. When it detects an attack, it erases all information (such as your private keys) from the device. Your secret seed phrase can be used to recover the wallet.
The 4-inch color touchscreen makes set up easy and gives your clear visuals when signing transactions. It supports over 40 blockchains and 10000 tokens.
You can buy and exchange a number of cryptocurrencies or stake them for rewards using the Ellipal app. You can access and make use of Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain DApps using the DApps explorer.
The bottom line
If you are serious about trading and holding cryptocurrency and NFTs, it is essential to invest in cold storage of your digital assets through a reputable hardware wallet. The best hardware wallets do come with a price tag and the more features they have, the higher the cost climbs. The security these devices provide is invaluable, especially if you hold crypto worth thousands or even millions of dollars.
As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, it is very important you always only purchase hardware wallets directly from the manufacturer. You run the risk of being scammed or falling victim to fraudsters when buying off of eBay and similar marketplaces.
For high-value traders: the Ngrave Zero is without a doubt the best option, offering world first EAL 7 security standards and “Perfect Key” technology for the ultimate hardware wallet solution. With no connection to any networks, there is zero chance of your crypto being attacked making this the safest crypto wallet.
For NFT holders: look no further than the SecuX Nifty, the world's first NFT hardware wallet that allows you to manage all your crypto assets in one place.
For Beginners: crypto newbies don’t want to spend a lot on hardware wallets so KeepKey is an affordable entry-level hardware wallet.
Ledger Nano X and Trezor Model T also come highly rated and aren’t badly priced. They are both feature-rich with great security.
Obviously technology can only go so far at protecting your crypto. If someone has you and your hardware wallet cornered and forces the seed phrase out of you, that is out of your control. The best way to avoid that unfortunate situation is to keep your crypto assets and fancy hardware wallet on the down low. Nobody else needs to know about the ins and outs of your crypto trading. That’s the best security there can ever be…privacy!