The Best Bitcoin Wallets of 2022

  • November 19, 2022
  • 24 Min Read

Bitcoin wallets, including exchange storage, hold over $300 billion in BTC worldwide. A self-custody wallet lets you bring your Bitcoin off the exchange, taking control of your crypto destiny.

Bitcoin wallets provide a secure way to send, spend, or store your Bitcoin on the blockchain. Today’s wallets offer a wide range of features ranging from security enhancements to cost-saving mechanisms that can reduce network fees. In this article, we review the top six Bitcoin wallets and discuss things to consider when choosing the best wallet for your needs.

The 6 top Bitcoin wallets of 2022

Wallet NameSeed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
Exodus12 words2FA (Trezor), passcode (mobile), password (desktop/extension), fingerprint login (mobile)iOS/Android, Chrome extension, Desktop (Mac/Windows/Linux)iOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux, Chrome
Ledger Nano X24 words; 25 with user-defined passphrasePIN code, tamper-resistant security chip, Multi-sig, PassphraseiOS/Android, Desktop (Mac/Windows/Linux)iOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux
Trezor Model T12 wordsPassword, Passcode, 2FA, Multi-sigDesktop (Mac/PC/Linux), Web appMac, PC, Linux
Electrum12 wordsPassword, Passcode, 2FA, Multi-sigiOS/Android, Desktop (Mac/PC/Linux)Desktop (Mac/PC/Linux), Web app
GuardaN/A (password & backup file used for recovery)Password, Fingerprint login (mobile), 2FA (Ledger), Multi-sigiOS/Android, Desktop (Mac/Windows/Linux), Web app, Chrome extensioniOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux, Chrome
Coinbase12 wordsPasscode, Fingerprint loginMobile-only for Bitcoin (iOS and Android)iOS/Android

Exodus Wallet

Difficulty level: Beginner

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
12 words2FA (Trezor), passcode (mobile), password (desktop/extension), fingerprint login (mobile)iOS/Android, Chrome extension, Desktop (Mac/Windows/Linux)iOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux, Chrome

Exodus wallet offers a user-friendly gateway to your crypto holdings, with most features within easy reach from the home screen. Sync your wallet on desktop, mobile, and the Exodus chrome extension. Buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from within the app or swap coins if you need to change your holdings. The built-in exchange is powered by third-party providers.

While Exodus provides support for Bitcoin, including legacy addresses, SegWit (current default) addresses, and the newest Taproot addresses, this versatile wallet can hold over 250 types of crypto.

For Bitcoin specifically, Exodus wallet delivers its biggest advantages in ease of use combined with the enhanced security of Trezor hardware wallet integration through Trezor Bridge, part of the Trezor Suite of apps.

In some areas, however, you have to opt-in for higher security. Password or passcode protection for desktop and mobile devices is optional. However, the Chrome extension requires a password at setup.

Exodus does not support multi-sig or two-factor authentication outside of its integration with Trezor devices. Consider your use case before choosing Exodus for larger balances.

DeFi-nition

Multi-sig: This term refers to a wallet that can be configured to require multiple signatures before releasing funds. With multi-sig, you can require two or more private keys to authorize a transaction.

For many, the appeal of the Exodus wallet is in its versatility. Exodus is a Bitcoin wallet, but also supports a wide range of features outside the Bitcoin universe, including installable apps to enable staking, NFTs, and DeFi platforms like Compound.finance.

Exodus Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface for beginners
  • Available integration with Trezor hardware wallets
  • Support for additional crypto assets

Cons

  • Opt-in password or passcode protection (desktop and mobile)
  • No support for multi-sig
  • No 2FA support, aside from Trezor integration

Security Features of Exodus Wallet

  • Trezor support. Exodus provides built-in support for Trezor hardware wallets.
  • 12-word seed: Restore your Exodus wallet or a compatible wallet with a 12-word seed.
  • Security lock: Lock your wallet with a password, passcode, or biometric login.

Ledger Nano X

Difficulty level: Beginner/Intermediate

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
24 words; 25 with user-defined passphrasePIN code, tamper-resistant security chip, Multi-sig, PassphraseiOS/Android, Desktop (Mac/Windows/Linux)iOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux

For many users, Ledger’s hardware wallets act as a security layer for other wallets, sending transactions to the hardware device for a digital signature before releasing funds. Over 50 third-party wallets support Ledger authentication, including MetaMask and the widely used Coinbase wallet. However, Ledger also works as a standalone wallet with its cross-platform Ledger Live app.

With the addition of Bluetooth connectivity, the Ledger Nano X offers more versatility compared to other Bitcoin hardware wallets, bringing authentication capability to Android and iOS mobile devices as well as desktop applications. Ledger’s Nano X also supports USB C connections, with USB also charging the built-in battery.

Paired with Ledger Live, Ledger’s software interface, you can secure Bitcoin as well as other popular cryptos, such as Ethereum, Cardano, and more. In total, the Nano X supports up to 5,500 coins and tokens. Ledger Live uses installable apps to bring support for each blockchain, providing room for up to 100 installed applications on the Nano X.

Like any wireless protocol, Bluetooth brings security concerns. Ledger addresses these concerns with the design of the Nano. Your private keys never leave the device. In addition, Ledger devices leverage Secure Element (SE) chips specifically designed to protect financial information. Any request for transaction approval requires consent on your device, which you can also protect with a passcode.

Ledger Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Bluetooth wireless or USB C wired communication
  • Support for desktop and mobile devices
  • Multi-sig support for enhanced security

Cons

  • Difficult-to-use two-button navigation
  • Lengthy setup process
  • Non-replaceable battery

Security Features of Ledger Nano X

  • Secure Element (SE): Ledger’s devices use a security chip specifically designed to protect financial data.
  • EAL5+ certification: Ledger devices have been independently certified with the highest rating for penetration testing.
  • Passphrase: Add a user-defined passphrase to your 24-word seed, taking security to the next level.

Read our full Ledger wallet review.

Trezor Model T

Difficulty level: Beginner/Intermediate

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
12 wordsPassword, Passcode, 2FA, Multi-sigDesktop (Mac/PC/Linux), Web appMac/PC/Linux

With the Model T, Trezor adds to its long legacy as the first crypto hardware wallet. The Model T, released in 2018, brings next-generation features to the hardware wallet market, including some features that reach beyond Bitcoin storage. Your Trezor also offers FIDO2 passwordless authentication for supported websites, such as Facebook, Gmail, and more. Use the easy-to-use touchscreen to approve or deny logins or transactions.

As a crypto wallet, you’ll find support for over 1,000 crypto assets, which include popular choices like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Using the Trezor Suite, you can also set your device to Bitcoin-only firmware, giving your wallet laser-focused functionality.

Trezor’s Model T works with several widely used third-party wallets as well. Connect your Trezor to your Electrum wallet or Exodus wallet to secure your Bitcoin while using more convenient online wallets.

Similar to other wallets, Trezor uses a 12-word seed phrase to build or restore your wallet. However, Trezor adds an additional way to store your recovery phrase using Shamir Backup, Trezor’s implementation of Shamir’s Secret Sharing algorithm. This time-tested method disguises your recovery seed and splits the resulting file into multiple files, which you can then distribute to trusted people or store securely. You define how many parts of the puzzle are needed to assemble the recovery phrase.

To enhance privacy, Trezor offers built-in support for CoinJoin, a way to anonymize Bitcoin transactions by mixing multiple transactions with others in the CoinJoin.

Trezor Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Easy-to-use touchscreen authentication
  • Supported by Electrum and Exodus Bitcoin wallets
  • Additional privacy features, including CoinJoin support

Cons

  • No mobile app or connectivity
  • No Bluetooth support
  • Pricier than Ledger Nano X

Security Features of Trezor Model T Wallet

  • Multi-sig: Require multiple signatures for transactions.
  • Password and password: Secure the app with a password and assign a PIN to your device.
  • Open source code: Trezor software and firmware are open-source and open to review.

Read our full Trezor wallet review.

Electrum

Difficulty level: Intermediate/Expert

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
12 wordsPassword, Passcode, 2FA, Multi-sigiOS/Android, Desktop (Mac/PC/Linux)Desktop (Mac/PC/Linux), Web app

With over a decade of history, Electrum wallet has become legendary in the Bitcoin community. Electrum doesn’t support dozens of cryptos. You can’t surf web3 apps or the latest DeFi platforms with your Electrum wallet either. But what Electrum does offer is an unparalleled feature set specifically built for Bitcoiners.

With Electrum, you choose your data source, which can include your own Bitcoin node or a specific one you choose. A node is a computer that stores a copy of the blockchain. By default, Electrum connects to a trusted Electrum server.

Each payment request can use a different wallet address, which you can set to expire in 10 minutes, an hour, a week, or never. Advanced users can also use Electrum with the Lightning network, a Bitcoin layer 2 blockchain that allows for fast transactions at a fraction of the cost compared to the Bitcoin network.

Electrum offers apps for Mac/PC/Linux as well as mobile devices (iOS/Android). You’ll also find options to connect to a Ledger or Trezor device, adding to your security.

Despite the app’s dated appearance, Electrum brings a powerful feature set, including the ability to build an offline cold storage wallet with the help of the Tails privacy-focused thumb-drive operating system and a computer not connected to the internet. You can then add the cold storage wallet to Electrum as a watching-only wallet, keeping your private keys safely offline.

Electrum Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Support for Ledger and Trezor hardware wallets
  • Battle-tested open-source code
  • Multi-sig, standard, or watching-only wallets

Cons

  • Dated menu-driven interface
  • Can be intimidating for beginners
  • Only supports Bitcoin

Security Features of Electrum Wallet

  • Multi-sig: Electrum provides an easy way to build multiple-signature wallets.
  • Multiple wallets: Set up multiple wallets and access, switching between wallets as needed.
  • Cold storage option: Use the Tails operating system to build a cold storage wallet with Electrum.

Guarda Wallet

Difficulty level: Beginner

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
N/A (password & backup file used for recovery)Password, Fingerprint login (mobile), 2FA (Ledger), Multi-sigDesktop (Mac/Windows/Linux), Web app, Chrome extension, iOS/AndroidiOS/Android, Mac/PC/Linux, Chrome

Like Electrum, Guarda wallet shows the open-source crypto community at its best, making key parts of the code available to audit. But each wallet takes a different approach to the challenge of Bitcoin management.

Unlike most wallets, Guarda does not expose the seed phrase to the user. Instead, the app encodes the seed phrase in a long string of characters inside a backup file. With the password and backup file (you’ll need both), you can restore a Guarda wallet to a new computer or additional devices, including mobile devices. This strategy makes Guarda wallet a solid choice for beginners while still offering a powerful feature set.

Security features include support for Ledger hardware wallets, password or fingerprint login (mobile), and support for multi-sig wallets. Multi-signature settings take a bit of digging to find, but more common options and settings are within easy reach for new users.

You can purchase Bitcoin directly within your wallet using a credit or debit card. Alternatively, change your asset mix with the built-in crypto-to-crypto exchange. Guarda also offers crypto-backed loans equal to 50% of your collateral, funded in stablecoins.

Guarda is a multi-currency wallet, bringing support for 10 cryptocurrencies out of the box, including ETH, DOGE, and DOT, as well as the ability to add more currencies. For each currency, Guarda lets you build additional wallets. For example, you might need more than one BTC wallet.

Staking is available for supported crypto assets, underscoring that Guarda offers much more than just BTC storage.

Guarda Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Easy setup for beginners
  • Multi-sig support
  • Multiple wallets for each currency

Cons

  • Some features difficult to find
  • Confusing interface for purchasing Bitcoin
  • Payment requests require an FIO address, a paid service

Security Features of Guarda Wallet

  • Ledger support: Connect your Ledger hardware wallet to keep your crypto under lock and key.
  • Multi-sig support: Larger balances or shared wallets benefit from a multiple-signature requirement before releasing funds.
  • Backup file: Guarda’s easy-to-use backup file makes wallet security easier for beginners.

Coinbase Wallet

Difficulty level: Beginner

Seed Phrase LengthSecurity FeaturesInterfaceCompatibility
12 wordsPasscode, Fingerprint loginMobile only for Bitcoin (iOS and Android)iOS/Android

Coinbase built its reputation as an easy-to-use exchange, an approach that carries over to the Coinbase wallet. Coinbase’s multi-currency wallet is separate from the Coinbase exchange but offers a way to connect your Coinbase account to buy crypto. You’ll find the app easy to navigate and loaded with handy features like QR codes to help with sending and receiving crypto.

Coinbase provides a Chrome browser extension and mobile app for Android/iOS. However, for Bitcoin, you’ll have to use the mobile app. The extension focuses on connecting web3 and DeFi apps based on Ethereum. Search the app store for Coinbase Wallet.

The lack of a desktop app means the Coinbase wallet suffers some limitations for Bitcoin wallets. For instance, there’s no support for connecting a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor, although the Chrome extension supports Ledger devices. There’s also no support for multi-sig wallets.

Limitations aside, the Coinbase wallet is simple to use and provides a safe(r) haven if you want to get your Bitcoin off the exchange and into your own wallet. For beginners or those with basic Bitcoin storage needs, the Coinbase wallet makes a solid choice.

If needed, you can add more wallets for each cryptocurrency using the same recovery phrase, allowing you to keep funds separate.

To secure your app and Bitcoin wallet, you can lock the app with a passcode or fingerprint login. However, the default setting allows the app to open without a password if the device is unlocked.

Coinbase Bitcoin wallet

Pros

  • Easy-to-use for beginners
  • Multiple wallet support
  • Easily connect to your Coinbase account

Cons

  • No desktop or web app
  • Can’t connect Bitcoin wallets to a hardware wallet
  • Default settings don’t require a passcode

Security Features of Coinbase Wallet

  • Passcode or fingerprint login: Set your wallet to open with a passcode or with your fingerprint.
  • Biometric change protection: Optionally, force your wallet to ask for your recovery phrase if your biometric settings change.
  • Hidden balances: Set your wallet to hide balances for privacy and security.

Read our full Coinbase wallet review.

What Are Bitcoin Wallets?

In the physical world, a wallet holds your spending money. In the crypto world, a Bitcoin wallet is a gateway to digital assets on the blockchain. The wallet itself is just a way to control the assets, whether that means secure storage, sending Bitcoin to another wallet, or receiving Bitcoin into your wallet.

Bitcoin wallets come in two basic types:

  • Hot wallets: These are usually software wallets or mobile apps connected to the internet.
  • Cold wallets: These include hardware wallets that prevent your private keys from being exposed to the internet.

How Bitcoin Wallets Work

Each Bitcoin wallet can have one or more addresses, which are locations on the blockchain. Bitcoin uses four address types, the most common of which is called Native SegWit and is supported by the leading wallets.

These addresses are key to sending and receiving Bitcoin because they specify where the Bitcoin was sent from and which wallet should receive the Bitcoin. They also offer a way to see how much Bitcoin is available at a given address, making the need for a secure wallet a must.

When you send or receive Bitcoin, the transaction is sent to computers on the blockchain, called miners, that perform a sort of timestamp for the transaction: This happened before that. These miners assemble valid transactions into blocks which are then added to the blockchain.

Standard Bitcoin addresses look like this:

bc1q2crf8kxgxrrx2fu358h9vjw9k0glu7035zw9lj

Many wallets offer scannable QR codes as well, making it easy to send or receive Bitcoin without typing a long string of characters.

As an alternative, you can also purchase a human-readable name for your Bitcoin address, like this one:

Bitcoin wallets ENS example

This method uses ENS, the Ethereum Name Service, which allows you to point an easy-to-remember name to your Bitcoin wallet address. Because ENS is an Ethereum-based service, you’ll need to connect an ETH wallet to the ENS app and pay for the transaction with ETH. Then, follow the instructions to point your new name to your wallet address. Due to confirmation time, expect the whole process to take about an hour.

Several competing name services, such as .btc names, available through this Stacks portal, or .bitcoin names, available through Unstoppable Domains, offer user-friendly BTC-related names, but support for wallet addresses may be limited (or non-existent). ENS remains the most robust option for many users.

How to Get a BTC Wallet

After you purchase some Bitcoin, you’ll probably want to get it off the exchange and into your own self-custody wallet. Here’s how to get started with Guarda wallet.

Step 1: Download the app

Visit Guarda to download the wallet. You can choose from a desktop, mobile, or web wallet. We’ll use the desktop version in this example.

Guarda wallet download

Step 2: Create your wallet

Once installed, click on “create wallet” and choose a password to protect your wallet.

Guarda wallet create wallet

Step 3: Download your backup file

Guarda doesn’t use seed phrases, at least not visibly. Instead, you’ll need your password and backup file if you need to restore your wallet. Download your backup file and store it somewhere safe.

Guarda wallet backup file

Step 4: Add some BTC

You’re up and running. From your Bitcoin wallet in Guarda, you can copy your wallet address or scan the QR code to send BTC from an exchange to your self-custody wallet.

Guarda wallet receive Bitcoin

Guarda also offers a built-in lending platform that lets you borrow against your Bitcoin.

Guarda Bitcoin loan

If needed, you can set up a multi-sig wallet as well.

Click on wallets and then the gear icon to enter wallet management. Scroll down until you see the section for multi-sig wallet (only BTC and ETH supported).

Guarda wallet add Bitcoin multi-sig

Sync with mobile using your password and the backup file you downloaded at setup.

Guarda wallet sync with mobile

Hardware Bitcoin Wallets vs. Software Bitcoin Wallets

Hardware wallets refer to devices used to authorize transactions, but the moniker also implies a device that ensures your private keys are never exposed to the internet. For this reason, you’ll often see hardware wallets referred to as cold wallets. The user has to authorize transactions using the device’s button or touchscreen interface.

By contrast, most software wallets are connected to the internet, making them hot wallets, possibly more vulnerable to keyloggers, hacks, or other exploits. Electrum wallet spans the gap between the two, offering a software solution to create either a hot wallet or a cold wallet.

Unlike Ethereum and similar altcoins, Bitcoin isn’t used to connect to DeFi services. Many users prefer to use cold storage for Bitcoin because there isn’t the same need to use Bitcoin when traversing web apps.

Tokens You Can Store in Bitcoin Wallets

Some Bitcoin wallets, such as Electrum, only hold Bitcoin. Others, including Exodus and Guarda, can hold a wide variety of crypto assets.

If you choose a Bitcoin-only wallet, it won’t support any other tokens. But if you choose a multi-currency wallet, you might have support for thousands of currencies and tokens. When sending crypto to a wallet, be sure to use the correct address for that cryptocurrency, particularly if you use a multi-currency wallet.

Most wallets use a checksum, a verification function, to ensure the destination address is on the same blockchain. With a wallet that supports this function, the wallet app will flag a transaction that doesn’t comply, generating an error message. But if the transaction happens on a wallet without this safeguard, the coins or tokens you send will be lost forever and the transaction can’t be reversed.

Bitcoin Address Types

Within the Bitcoin world, you’ll also encounter different address types. Sending Bitcoin to one of the newer address types costs less in network fees.

  • Legacy (P2PKH): These addresses date back to Bitcoin’s genesis and start with a 1. Expect wide support for legacy addresses.
  • Nested SegWit or Pay to Script Hash (P2SH): Pay to Script Hash addresses support multi-sig transactions and offer lower network fees compared to legacy addresses. These addresses start with a 3.
  • Native SegWit (bech32): Currently the most commonly used and supported address type, Native Segwit addresses reduce network costs further. These addresses start with bc1.
  • Taproot (P2TR): The newest address type, a product of Bitcoin’s Taproot upgrade, brings lower costs when sending but can be pricier when receiving. Taproot addresses start with bc1p.

Actively developed wallets usually support most of these options but may have limitations. For example, Exodus can send to all these address types but only receives in Native Segwit. Similarly, Electrum defaults to Native Segwit addresses to receive but can send to any BTC address type.

Pros And Cons of Bitcoin Wallets

Pros of Bitcoin wallets

  • Move your Bitcoin off exchanges for safety
  • Limit authorization to a device you control (hardware wallet)
  • Access your Bitcoin anywhere in the world (software or hardware wallet)

Cons of Bitcoin wallets

  • Complicated setup for some wallets
  • If someone finds the recovery seed, they can access your wallet
  • If you lose your private keys (recovery phrase), you cannot access your Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Wallets vs. Ethereum Wallets

Ethereum has become a primary onramp to a growing universe of DeFi and decentralized apps. Today’s Ethereum wallets center around this functionality.

However, the Bitcoin blockchain doesn't interface with external apps in the same way. Instead, Bitcoin wallets often focus on security features, anonymity enhancements, and ways to make Bitcoin easier to use.

Several wallets in our roundup, including Guarda, Exodus, and Coinbase, offer support for both Bitcoin and Ethereum, bringing the convenience of using one wallet for the two leading cryptocurrencies.

How to Choose The Best Bitcoin Wallet

Consider your use case when choosing the best Bitcoin wallet for your needs. For some, that might mean locking your Bitcoin inside a digital fortress. Others might favor convenience, allowing easy access to your Bitcoin for everyday use. You might need both solutions, keeping a small balance in a hot wallet or mobile wallet while keeping the rest of your stack under lock and key.

  • Hardware or software: Software wallets offer more convenience, but also introduce more risk. Hardware wallets bring tighter security but may require both the device and a computer, making them more cumbersome for frequent use.
  • Ease of use: If you use a wallet daily, weigh its usability features. For example, some prefer the Trezor Model T’s touchscreen to the Ledger Nano X’s two-button interface.
  • Multi-sig support: Multi-sig lets you designate which wallets can approve transactions and how many signatures are required. For shared wallets or higher balances, this might be a must-have feature.
  • Passcode or password protection: Some wallets do not require a password to open the app, possibly putting your Bitcoin at risk on unattended devices.
  • Proven history: Crypto is a dynamic space, with new wallets under development all the time. Consider well-established wallets for higher balances.
  • Backup features: Most Bitcoin wallets use a 12-word or 24-word seed phrase, but some use a recovery file (Guarda) while others support split files encoded with your recovery seed (Trezor).

Final Thoughts on Bitcoin wallets

Bitcoin wallet tech has improved over the years, with modern wallets supporting multiple address types and offering several layers of protection. While most wallets share similar features, they diverge in one key area: hot wallets vs. cold wallets. For many Bitcoiners, the best Bitcoin wallet strategy might be to press more than one type of wallet into service, keeping larger balances more secure while making day-to-day transactions easier.

Frequently asked questions

  • Which is the safest Bitcoin wallet?

  • What is the best crypto wallet for beginners?

  • How should I choose a Bitcoin wallet?

  • What are the pros and cons of digital Bitcoin storage?

Contributors

  • Avatar of Eric Huffman

    Eric Huffman is a freelance writer for DeFiRate. In addition to crypto and blockchain topics, Eric also writes extensively on insurance and personal finance matters that affect everyday households.

  • Avatar of Gary Anglebrandt

    Gary Anglebrandt is a US-based editor, copywriter, and communications consultant with a background in business and international news. Beyond the US, he has worked from Seoul and Beijing, and continues to work with professionals based around the globe.