What is a cryptocurrency hardware wallet?

A cryptocurrency hardware wallet is a type of cryptocurrency wallet that securely stores a user’s private keys in a hardware device specially designed to store data on cryptocurrency transactions. It is a small, physical, plug-in device that allows you to store your crypto assets offline and safely access them from anywhere.

Besides securely storing your private keys, hardware wallets also allow you to sign and confirm cryptocurrency transactions.

To access and manage the cryptocurrency assets stored in your hardware wallet, you will be required to plug in the hardware device through the USB port to your computer and log in to your account on the hardware wallet’s website using your PIN to unlock the device.

If you want to create a transaction, once you initiate the transaction on the wallet’s website, you will be required to sign and confirm the transaction using the buttons and screen on your USB wallet device. This ensures that your cryptocurrency assets are secure.

In addition to the PIN, hardware wallets is that also has an optional passphrase to add an extra layer of security to your wallet in case it is stolen by a thief.

Also, in case you lose the hardware device, your cryptocurrency assets are backed up using a single seed phrase, also called a recovery phrase. The seed phrase is a list of letters forming a word phrase that enables you to re-generate your private keys once you replace your hardware wallet.

Top 3 crypto hardware wallets

1.    Trezor

Trezor was built by SatoshiLabs and it was the first legitimate Bitcoin hardware wallet. It resembles a small calculator with an OLED screen.

One of the most outstanding features of Trezor is that it can be used with Android devices, something that most hardware wallets do not allow.

There are a variety of models of Trezor wallets that incluide Trezor One and Trezor T.

Trezor One Hardware Wallet
Trezor One Wallet
Trezor T hardware wallet
Trezor T wallet

Trezor wallets can store the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Stellar (XLM)
  • Ripple (XRP) – can only be stored on Model T

2.    Ledger

Ledger wallets are produced by a Paris-based company called Ledger that was launched in 2014. Ledger wallets look like USB flash drives.

There are two Ledger flagship wallets namely Ledger Nano X and Ledger Nano S.

Ledger Nano S
Ledger Nano S
Ledger Nano X wallet
Ledger Nano X

Ledger wallets can store the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Binance Coin (BNB)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Eos (EOS)
  • Tron (TRX)
  • Monero (XMR)
  • Stellar (XLM)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Zcash (ZEC)

3.    KeepKey

KeepKey hardware wallets are produced by a US-based company called KeepKey that was founded in 2015 but later acquired by a Switzerland crypto exchange, called Shapeshift.

The wallet resembles a USB flash drive but with a large OLED screen at the front protected by a polycarbonate casing. The backside of the wallet is built of aluminum.

KeepKey wallet
KeepKey Hardware wallet

KeepKey hardware wallet can store the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • DASH
  • Dogecoin
  • Bitcoin Gold
  • Litecoin
  • ERC-20 Tokens