The only way to truly protect your cryptocurrency investment from hackers, exchange outages, and your own potential paper hands, is with one of the best crypto cold wallets. Using a hardware wallet means that no one can access your Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies without that specific hardware device or its backup seed phrase. With pin codes, passwords and biometrics, hardware wallets are the best way to protect your cryptocurrency tokens whilst making sure that those keys are yours and yours alone. Because remember, “not your keys, not your coins.”
Whether you’re looking for a USB hardware wallet to take with you wherever you go, or want a metal-stamped seed phrase reminder that will survive even if your house burned down, these are the best cold wallets you can use to protect your Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
Note: This guide will include some big-box store links, but only to the official stores of the cryptocurrency wallet manufactures. Never buy wallets second hand or through third-party stores as you risk the device having been interfered with before arrival.
The Best All Round Cold Wallet
Trezor Model T
Satoshi Labs created the first real cold wallet (see below) and the Model T is a fantastic evolution on that design. It features the same excellent security as its predecessor with a more convenient touchscreen for inputs, and it has support for a broader array of cryptocurrencies. Along with top currencies like Bitcoin, Ethererum and Dogecoin, the Model T also supports Ripple (XRP), Cardano, and Monero, among more than 1,600 others.
The reason the Trezor name and design has lasted for well over half a decade and continues to top the lists of the best crypto cold wallets for cryptocurrencies is thanks to its excellent security and the Model T continues that pedigree. It secures your private keys on the device itself, making sure it’s impossible to retrieve them remotely. Your own personalized pin-number protects the device itself from interference, and the Model T’s code is is both open source and audited by security researchers to give you true peace of mind of its protections.
The device itself is sturdy and well built, plus it doesn’t have any kind of battery or wireless connectivity, so you can know that when it’s attached to your keyring or even tucked away in a safe, that there’s no way it can be accessed or attacked without your knowledge. Although there are some cold wallets which offer greater security, the Trezor Model T combines great security with ease of use in a way that is hard to beat.
The Cheaper Option
If you want the Trezor Model T, but think it’s too expensive, thne opt for the Model One. This is the original cryptocurrency hardware wallet and it shows, but that doesn’t make it any less secure. It doesn’t have a colorful touchscreen and doesn’t support as wide an array of cryptocurrencies, most notably XRP, but it still gets regular firmware updates, will give all the protection you need for Bitcoin and over 1,600 other currencies, and it’s much, much more affordable.
The Trezor One has the same pin-code security system as the Model T, and the same strong encryption. It can also tie in with popular software wallets like Electrum and Exodus for improved access and monitoring. Alongside its lower price compared to the Trezor Model T, it’s also much smaller, making it easier to fit it on your keyring or hide away in a small lockbox.
The Model One is no longer the best cryptocurrency wallet out there, but it’s still one of the best, and at this price, it’s one of the most affordable ways to securely protect your cryptocurrency investments.
The Most Secure Hardware Wallet
The Coinkite Coldcard is at the cutting edge of hardware wallet design, offering the same offline cold storage as other cryptocurrency wallets, but with a number of exciting extras to further improve security. It is designed to work entirely independently from a computer, so will allow you to fully store your Bitcoin, sign transactions and generate your backup seed phrase without any possibility of oversight.
Its numeric keypad makes it intuitive to use and highly functional compared to other wallets, and its 128×64-pixel OLED screen is bright and easy to read. It employs a security chip to prevent anyone with physical access to the device from stealing your seed phrase and a pin code to prevent attackers from accessing the device without your knowledge.
It also employs an optional “Brick Me Pin,” which means that should you find yourself under duress, you can input a different pin code to brick the hardware wallet, making it impossible for anyone threatening you to ever access it.
The Big Display Wallet
Eschewing the pen-drive or key-fob style of its hardware wallet contemporaries, KeepKey employs a larger display for greater clarity and ease of use. It employs the same kind of offline, cold-storage mechanism for your public and private keys, and has a backup seed phrase (default is 12 words, but can be adjusted to 16 or 24) in case you lose or damage your KeepKey.
Designed to work intimately with the ShapeShift currency exchange platform, KeepKey makes it easy to securely trade between currencies, great for those who want to take a stab at timing the market to make the most of their investments and ride any waves of interest. The important components of KeepKey’s software are all open source and can be scrutinized on GitHub if you like, and the device is protected by a customized pin code of your choosing, further improving security against physical theft.
One warning before buying a KeepKey: Be aware that the Chrome app is no longer in use, but there are scam versions out there. Be sure to only use your KeepKey with the ShapeShift web platform to remain secure.
Fire Proof Backup
Billfodl Steel Wallet
The 12-24 seed phrase is the only way to recover your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency in the event you damage a hardware wallet. That creates a dangerous point of failure in the case of house fires or flooding. Why not enhance your seed phrase security with a steel wallet, like this excellent solution from Billfodl?
The Billfodl steel wallet comes with all the pre-engraved letter tiles you need to create an indestructible reference to replace or back up your paper seed phrase document. It uses the BIP39 word list, where you only need to put in the first four letters of each seed word to identify them. Just slide the letters in to each line of the steel wallet to backup your 12-24 word seed phrase for extreme peace of mind.
The laser cut pieces are designed to slot smoothly into the wallet, and remain in place for as long as you need them. The wallet has been tested against water, fire and electricity, surviving just about anything you could throw at it.
A Great Alternative, With One Caveat
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is a longstanding trusted cryptocurrency hardware wallet that combines an intuitive design with strong protections for your cryptocurrency in a compact and lightweight form-factor. It supports over 1,000 cryptocurrencies and tokens, and can integrate with many of the best crypto wallet apps for ease of use for transfers and transactions from your wallet.
Like many other cold wallets, the Ledger Nano S has full support for BIP39 seed phrases, converting your private key into a 24-word phrase for ease of backup should you lose or damage your Ledger Nano S.
The Ledger Nano X is a newer, more feature-filled alternative to the S. It supports a greater array of currencies, has a higher resolution screen and can interact directly with your smartphone for easy trading. However, many consider its included battery and Bluetooth connectivity as more of a security threat than an asset, making the Ledger Nano S easier to recommend.
One note on Ledger cold wallets, however: Until recently, Ledger hardware wallets were considered right alongside Trezor as the gold standard of hardware wallets. While the wallets themselves are excellent, Ledger did suffer a breach via its retail partner, Shopify, in 2020. This lead to attackers gaining addresses and contact details of Ledger buyers, which has lead to extensive and protracted phishing campaigns against them. Ledger security today has been much improved, but it’s an important consideration to make when it comes to buying the best cold wallet for you.
Why should I buy a hardware wallet for crypto?
The saying “not your keys, not your coins,” is an apt one. With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies there is no one who can help you if you lose access to your coins, whether they were stolen or you sent them to the wrong address. You are your own bank, which means you need to take the security of your cryptocurrency seriously. That includes where you store them.
Hardware wallets are far more secure than even the best crypto wallet apps, and certainly more secure than keeping your Bitcoins or other cryptocurrency on an exchange. The best crypto cold wallets store your personal private and public keys, making it impossible to access your currencies and tokens without having physical access to the hardware wallet.
These sorts of wallets are also protected by pin codes and/or biometrics, adding a secondary layer of protection, and some are even airgapped from any other electronics entirely, letting you control your wallet and your cryptocurrency completely from the hardware wallet itself.
Although you’ll still want to make efforts to protect your seed phrase and may want to consider storing the cold wallet somewhere safe, a hardware wallet is the best way to protect your cryptocurrency. They make it virtually impossible for hackers or malware to steal your coins.
What’s the difference between a hot wallet and cold wallet?
A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet. That makes it super simple to use it for regular trading on an exchange, or for temporarily storing your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies after purchase or before sale. It also makes them vulnerable to being hacked, stolen or—in the case of storing directly on an exchange—losing access to them altogether if the exchange goes down temporarily or performs an exit scam.
Cold wallets aren’t as convenient, but are far more secure. They store your private wallet keys offline, making it nigh impossible for hackers or malware to steal your cryptocurrency. They can continue to receive payments—making them a useful longer-term storage platform—but transferring out of them requires your manual approval.
Which crypto wallet should I buy?
If you’re storing a large amount of cryptocurrency, or plan to “hodl” for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to invest in a hardware wallet. After all, if your investment is going to be worth thousands of dollars more than you invested in the years to come, what’s $100 or so now to protect it?
The best crypto cold wallet for you, very much depends on how in-depth you want to get with the technology, what other security measures you have in place, and how many hoops you’re happy to jump through to protect your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. The Trezor Model T or Model One represent some of the easiest hardware wallets to protect your cryptocurrency, without requiring heaps of technical know how. The Ledger Nano S is slightly more secure on the hardware front, but Ledger itself has had some backend security scares worth taking into consideration.
If you want the best cutting edge security, the Coinkite Coldcard is the best hardware wallet, but it is a little more complicated to use and setup. If you already have a hardware wallet but want to further improve your security, a metal backup for your seed phrase is the best way to go.