Guide to Bitcoin Wallets

Not your keys, not your bitcoin

In this post we are going to cover:

  • What a wallet is
  • Storing private keys securely
  • Finding hardware/software wallets

Continue on to find the most-trusted Bitcoin wallets that work for you

What is a wallet?

A Bitcoin wallet can be a device, program, or service which allows you to store your Bitcoin.

A wallet is used to track ownership, receive, or send your coins. Contrary to popular belief, your Bitcoin wallet doesn't actually store your Bitcoins, but rather the private key needed to access them.

Wallets are available in many forms including hardware devices, mobile applications and web-based.

Hardware Wallets for Bitcoin

To store your Bitcoins safely and securely, you need to choose a wallet that is compatible with your needs.

Our Top Picks


Nano Ledger S is the most popular hardware wallet with over 1.3 million users

Buy Ledger


Electrum is a recommended desktop wallet app that is downloaded and installed on your computer

Download Electrum


Trezor prioritizes security above all else with both its' hardware and firmware completely open-sourced

Buy Trezor

What is a private key?

Your Bitcoin wallet is a combination of your public and private keys. Your public key is your Bitcoin wallet "address" and your private key acts as the "password" to access the coins in your wallet.

A Bitcoin private key is a secret number that allows you to access coins. Every Bitcoin address (public key) has a matching private key. The private key is mathematically related to the address, and is designed so that the Bitcoin address can be calculated from the private key, but importantly, the same cannot be done in reverse. Every private key is 256 bits long.

Bitcoin Private Key Explanation

This is how the Bitcoin private key looks (it always starts with 5)


The public key is the address of your wallet and the private key works as a password. Because the private key works as the password to your account, it is important that these keys are kept secret and safe. Every public key is 160 bits long.

This how the Bitcoin public address looks (it will almost always start with 1)


Public addresses starting with 3 are also possible and can be Sewgit, or a Multi-signature Non-Segwit address.

What is a seed phrase?

A seed phrase is a random string of 12 to 24 words that can be used to recover your Bitcoin wallet in case you lose access to it. This seed phrase can also be referred to as your recovery seed (mnemonic seed or mnemonic phrase). This word sequence, when entered in the correct order, is converted using formulas to numbers that gives access to a wallet and the public/private key pairs that it contains.

An example of a seed phrase

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It's important to never store your seed phrase on a device that is connected to Internet (computer, tablet, smartphone) or on cloud storage, for instance an email, notes application, text message, or in an image. This is dangerous because connected devices are generally unsafe and can be hacked easily.

Your seed phrase needs to be kept somewhere extremely safe, protected from fire, water, and any other kinds of potential damage. Most people will store their seed phrases on a piece of paper. We recommend using an indestructible stainless steel enclosure like the Billfodl or the Cryptosteel.

Cryptosteel Wallet Recovery Seed Phrase

Hardware Wallets

A hardware wallet is a physical device that stores and manages your private keys securely, in an offline setting.

Secure Offline Expensive

Nano Ledger XWallet

Nano Ledger X

The Ledger Nano X is an updated version of its predecessor, the Ledger Nano S. Available for 119, its' improvements offer a larger OLED screen and Bluetooth connectivity allowing for easy integration with your iOS or Android devices

  • Price: $119 / $$$
  • Released: 2019
  • Multi-currency: Yes
Nano Ledger SWallet

Nano Ledger S

With over 1.3 million units sold worldwide, Ledger’s Nano S is a popular hardware wallet that is priced favorably at 59. Connecting to your computer via USB, it features a built-in OLED display, brushed stainless steel sleeve, and buttons on the device to manually verify transactions.

  • Price: $59 / $$$
  • Released: 2016
  • Multi-currency: Yes
Trezor TWallet

Trezor T

Trezor’s newest model, the Model T, was launched in early 2018 and boasts an LCD touchscreen, double verification for transactions, PIN protection and PIN lockout.The Trezor T prioritizes security above all else with both its' hardware and firmware completely open-sourced and available on GitHub.

  • Price: $170 / $$$
  • Released: 2018
  • Multi-currency: Yes
Trezor OneWallet

Trezor One

Trezor is one of the oldest and most reputable hardware wallets available. Trezor One provides multiple layers of security for your coins and tokens. It features PIN protection, a 24-word recovery seed, an in-built screen and physical buttons for transaction confirmation.

  • Price: $59 / $$$
  • Released: 2013
  • Multi-currency: Yes
ShapeShift KeepKeyWallet

ShapeShift KeepKey

Launched in 2015, the KeepKey is a hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallet featuring a large OLED display screen and an aluminum body. Since releasing, KeepKey has added a feature allowing the trading of tokens directly on the device bypassing the need for a cryptocurrency exchange.

  • Price: $79 / $$$
  • Released: 2015
  • Multi-currency: Yes
Coldcard Mark 3Wallet

Coldcard Mark 3

Coinkite’s Coldcard MK3 is a third generation bitcoin hardware wallet that allows users to securely store and submit transactions without exposing (or transmitting) your private keys. The Coldcard is a small palm-sized device which can easily be mistaken for a mini-calculator.

  • Price: $120 / $$$
  • Released: 2019
  • Multi-currency: Bitcoin Only


The BitBox02 is a hardware wallet designed and engineered by Swiss company Shift Cryptosecurity. The BitBox02 allows users to independently generate and securely store private keys. A dual-chip approach allows the use of a secure chip for device hardening and, importantly, a general microcontroller for keeping the software open source and verifiable.

  • Price: $130 / $$$
  • Released: 2019
  • Multi-currency: Bitcoin Only

How are private keys actually stored?

Bitcoins are not actually stored within the hardware wallet itself, they always live on the blockchain. The hardware wallet device merely stores your private key which opens the lock to your address on the blockchain where your bitcoins actually live.

Hardware wallet devices are often referred to as cold storage, as they isolate your private keys from the Internet, mitigating the risks of your bitcoins being compromised in an online attack.

When you create a Bitcoin transaction, you’re “signing” a special message. This “signature” proves ownership of your private key. It’s impossible to forge this signature without the key, so no one else can make a transaction on your behalf without it.

Signing your transactions will require your private key to confirm your ownership of the address. This "signing" action is usually confirmed on a hardware or mobile wallet

If your hardware wallet is lost, your bitcoins are backed up with your seed phrase, which you can enter into any other compatible wallets, to restore your coins should anything ever happen.

Hot Wallets

A hot wallet is a digital wallet that is connected to the internet and online.

Accessible User-friendly interfaces Less secure

Electrum Wallet

Electrum Wallet


Electrum is a desktop bitcoin wallet, created in 2011 by German computer scientist Thomas Voegtlin, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is designed to be lightweight, efficient and secure. The server code is open source and anyone can run a server. It also allows support for hardware wallets such as TREZOR, Ledger Nano, and KeepKey.

  • Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin
  • Founded: November 2011
  • Founded by Thomas Voegtlin
Electrum Wallet
Mycelium Wallet



The Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet is available for Android and iOS, with its source code open-sourced and available for review on Github. With its simple and intuitive interface, the Mycelium Wallet has emerged as one of the most popular products in the cryptocurrency market. The wallet was awarded the prestigious "Best Mobile App" award by in 2014. Both experienced users and novice users can benefit from wallet’s seamless functionality, numerous third-party integrations, and bank-grade security.

  • Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin
  • Founded: September 2013
  • Founded by Megion Research & Development
Mycelium Wallet
Breadwallet Wallet

Breadwallet (BRD)


Breadwallet is a standalone bitcoin client and one of the easiest wallets to get started with. The streamlined design allows for a quick login, account creation, and Bitcoin transactions. Breadwallet is designed to protect you from malware, browser security holes, and even physical theft. With AES hardware encryption, app sandboxing, keychain, and code signatures, Breadwallet introduces significant security advances over alternate mobile wallets.

  • Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin
  • Founded: 2015
  • Founded by Aaron Voisine
brd Wallet
Edge Wallet



Edge is a mobile application designed to simply store and trade Bitcoin, as well as many other cryptocurrencies. The wallet is also integrated with ShapeShift to allow easy conversion of coins and tokens. Edge uses client-side encryption to encrypt all of your private data on your device which means you retain complete control of your digital assets.

  • Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, BCH, ETH, LTC, XMR, XRP, DASH, + more
  • Founded: January 2014
Edge Wallet